26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr GILES presented a petition from certain citizens of Australia praying that the Australian Government set 1% of the gross national product as the target for the annual allocation of aid to the developing countries.
Petition received and read.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. In view of the estimated expenditure this year of $6,500m, will the Treasurer make an effort to find another $40m to enable an additional $1 per week to be granted to all pensioners? Requests for justice for the pensioners have been made by myself and other honourable members on both sides of the House during the Budget debate but have fallen on deaf ears. I again ask for a rise for all pensioners. If the answer is no, I sincerely hope the electors will remember this at the House of Representatives and Senate elections later this year.
– This is the third time a somewhat similar question has been asked in this House.
– It will be asked many more times, too.
– Opposition members may keep on asking; that is their prerogative. I have pointed out on at least two occasions what the objectives of the Government were when it presented the Budget. Our aim then was to ensure that we had a healthy economy and that we also had a progressive economy. I pointed out that the people to whom we thought we could give most assistance on this occasion were those who had not received assistance in Budgets for some time and in some cases not since 1958. Of course, we realise that pensioners deserve the utmost consideration, but I am sure that when the debate on social services takes place it will be mentioned that in the course of the last three or four years, whilst prices have risen by about 11%, assistance to the single pensioner, for instance, has risen by about 24%. So we do keep these matters in mind. One of the first problems we consider in the discussion of any Budget is what should be done in the interests of the base rate pensioner.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Does it cost British migrants and other residents of this country with friends and relations in the United Kingdom more to send a tape recorded message to the United Kingdom than the addressee pays under what is known as the United Kingdom phonopost rate to send a similar message to Australia in reply?
– -Phonopost is an international mailing service for the transmission of recordings on wire, tape or disc. I will give an illustration of the rate of postage. An article weighing up to 3 oz would cost approximately 70c between Australia and the United Kingdom as against the normal airmail rate for recordings of $1.50 at present. A change to bring about a reduction in the rate was included in the legislation that was rejected by the Senate and I know that in the period between 1st July and 1st October heavy additional cost will be borne by migrants who want to send messages overseas by this means.
– I address my question to the Minister for External Affairs. He will recall that last Tuesday week I communicated with him about broadcasts that were directed from Peking to Hong Kong in both English and Chinese and about letters and cables that were reported to have been sent by responsible organisations from Australia to the Governor of Hong Kong. Has the Minister checked with Australian authorities in Hong Kong? Were letters and other messages sent to the Governor of Hong Kong? Did Peking make any broadcast to Hong Kong and say that the messages were from responsible organisations in Australia? Was there any difference between the messages sent to the Governor of Hong Kong and the broadcast from Peking? Is the Minister able to say who sent the messages? Will he assure both the Hong Kong and the United Kingdom Governments of Australia’s loyalty to their people?
– I recall that the honourable gentleman drew my attention to a broadcast that had been made by Radio Peking. We had also in the normal course of events through a monitoring service received a copy of that same broadcast. It was broadcast on 8th August on the Peking international service in both English and Chinese. It carried a Melbourne date line and the character of the broadcast is indicated by the opening phrase, which is:
Melbourne, August 8th. Responsible officials ot more than twenty Victorian and Federal trade unions have strongly denounced the British Fascist atrocities against Chinese patriots in Hong Kong.
Then other matter followed. I can assure the honourable member that the matter which followed was a fair representation of the petition that had been sent by these Australian trade unions to Hong Kong.
The inquiries that we made showed that on 4th August a petition was sent to the Governor of Hong Kong from Melbourne. Apparently the framers of this petition thought that it was in their interests to ensure that Peking knew of the nature of the petition that they were sending, because Peking rapidly became aware of the action they had taken in sending the message to Hong Kong. Of course, Peking made use of it. The fact that Radio Peking made use of it as part of a campaign of incitement and hate which has accompanied all the recent troubles in Hong Kong indicates, and is prima facie evidence, that the views expressed by the petitioners . were views thoroughly acceptable to the Communist Government of Peking.
I will read to the House the letter received by the Governor from the State Secretary of the Australian Builders Labourers Federation. It begins: ‘The Australian Builders Labourers Federation, Victorian Branch, 11 Lygon Street, Carlton, Box 14, Trades Hall, Melbourne.’ It is dated 4th August 1967 and is addressed to the Governor. It reads:
I wish to advise that members of various trade unions here in Australia are deeply concerned at the authorities allowing the trade union dispute to develop into e bloody incident resulting in brutal attacks on trade unionists, journalists, students and other Hong Kong citizens. This concern has been expressed in a petition signed by leaders of twenty-seven trade unions. I am enclosing the petition signed by the leaden of these trade unions and would hope that you would give serious consideration to their views expressed in the petition.
The terms of the petition were a call on the British authorities to immediately stop all Fascist measures; to immediately set free all arrested persons, including workers, journalists, etc.; to punish those responsible for the atrocities - that is, the alleged atrocities committed by the British - and to compensate the victims for their sufferings and losses; and to guarantee against reoccurrence of similar incidents. The names follow.
I think it will be a matter of considerable interest to all members of trade unions to establish to their own satisfaction whether these persons who were described as leaders of Australian trade unions, and who in the Peking broadcast were referred to as responsible officials of trade unions in Australia, acted with the authority of the unions or whether they acted as persons taking a line which can only be described as a thoroughly Communist line. It is for that reason that I will read out, so far as one can decipher them from the list of signatures, not the names of the persons - that is a matter that I would not want to embark on personally at this stage - but the names of the unions which were claimed to be represented through the mouths of these so-called responsible officials as having supported this Communist view.
The unions are concerned with the following: Painters, Clothing Trades, Postal Workers, Transport Workers, Sheet Metal Workers, Leather Trades, Federated Engine Drivers, Miscellaneous Workers, Meat Workers, Plumbers, Victorian Plasterers Society, Painters and Decorators, Seamen’s, Shipwrights, Furniture Factories, Tramways, Waterside Workers Federation, Builders Labourers, Australian Railways, Boilermakers and liquor trades. I think it is of interest to members of those unions to know what it is that their so-called responsible officials are supporting, and it is a matter for consideration by them whether they themselves support these views. We have to examine the aims.
The aims of what has been happening in Hong Kong are clearly the aims of Peking Communism which have since been expressed in even more serious demonstrations against British authority and which are directed at disrupting and perhaps overthrowing British authority in Hong Kong. Perhaps even more serious than the aims is the need for Australian trade unionists to consider the methods which have included the killing of children, the throwing of bombs, the murder of innocent people, the methods of terrorism and the preparation in depth of what can only be described as fortified arsenals of weapons, prepared positions, and in general the conducting within Hong Kong, not only against the British authorities but against the Chinese inhabitants ot Hong Kong, of something that can only be described as guerrilla warfare in an urban setting. This is the sort of thing which these so-called responsible leaders of Federal and Victorian trade unions claim to be supporting in the name of their members.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is he aware that some people interviewed on the television programme ‘Four Corners’ have been dissatisfied with the presentation of the interview? Under the present setup, portion of the replies can be deleted and the questions can be altered to give a different slant to the replies. Will the Postmaster-General consider the advisability and the desirability of requesting the Australian Broadcasting Commission to impound original tapes for, say, one week after presentation?
– I would be very surprised and indeed disappointed if there was a shortening of answers to questions on the Four Corners’ programme or substitution in the questions to which answers were given. I shall be pleased to take this matter up with the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I will ask whether he will perhaps ensure that the original tapes are kept for a period after presentation of the programme so if there are any complaints from those who have been interviewed we may be able to investigate and ascertain whether the complaints are genuine.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Because of the importance of maintaining and upgrading country roads throughout Australia, will he assure the House that the distribution of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement funds will not be disturbed to the detriment of our country development and districts? In view of the increased receipts from petrol tax, is the Treasurer in a position to announce a considerably increased vote for road construction and reconstruction this year and during the next 2 years?
– ‘The House will be aware that the current Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement continues for a period of over 5 years and that the agreement provides that there shall be a minimum proportion given for rural roads. There is no intention whatsoever on the part of this Government to attempt to change that proportion. It will remain as far as we are concerned. As to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question, in the Budget Speech I mentioned the substantially increased allocation of funds under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement. I cannot remember the figure at the moment but I will extract it from the Budget Speech and will let the honourable gentleman have details. As to the future I cannot be precise, but anyone who follows the trend of events in this country and believes in its future must recognise that it follows that there will again be a substantial increase in the amount of funds allocated under the Act next year and it is hoped there will be the same sort of increase in the year after.
– The increase in the amount provided under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement was from $l50m to $160m last year as compared with this year. As well, we are increasing the vote for beef roads by $45,000, so that honourable members will see that there is a very substantial increase in the two amounts for the construction of roads in this country.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service indicate whether his Department, in its endeavours to unearth and control causes contributing to unemployment, has examined the situation in England with its ‘clouds of disaster’, as the Press yesterday so effectively described the critical unemployment position there, and also the current and regrettable rise in unemployment in our own States of Tasmania and South Australia, to ascertain what factors are contributing to this situation?
– My Department does, of course, conduct a great deal of research into these questions. We are constantly on the lookout for first class research officers who are equipped to tackle the problems involved. They are, however, in short supply and difficult to obtain. Most of our research in the United Kingdom is into specific matters that have a bearing on particular ad hoc problems in Australia. Naturally our research is mainly focused on Australia, but unemployment, in reality, is an end product of the workings of the economy. The general level of employment depends in large part, although by no means wholly, on economic policy. Results are influenced by the kind of atmosphere created by governments - whether they seek to promote business and enterprise or whether they rather tend to handicap them and place undue burdens on their workings.
– Is the Minister making an attack on the British Government?
– Since the honourable member invites me to comment on the British situation, all I can say is that I read about these matters, as do most honourable members. I noticed 3 years ago that the policy was to be adopted of bringing a modern Britain into being - there was to be a technological revolution for this purpose and it was to proceed, it was said, at white hot pace. The present situation there is well known.
– Why is the Minister attacking the Mother Country?
– I do not know whether the Mother Country originally spawned the ancestors of the honourable member, but he is always heard. South Australia, until about 3 years ago, had, apart from Western Australia, the fastest growth rate in the Commonwealth, but this is no longer the case. Perhaps Tasmania’s potential development is higher than is being achieved but, from a policy point of view, anyone can look at the Governments concerned and their performances over a period and draw his own conclusions.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that in the Geelong area there is a major industrial centre? Has the Minister received any requests from that area for the appointment of a full time arbitration inspector? Is the Minister aware that because of the limited availability of an inspector in that area employees are not receiving proper coverage? Does the Minister agree that it is proper that union officials should be carrying out functions that properly belong to officers of his department?
– I have received representations and I have gone into them carefully. Compared with the rest of Victoria, Geelong and its area are well covered on a pro rata basis. Visits by arbitration inspectors are sample or surprise inspections. The effectiveness of the inspection service is that an inspector is apt to drop in at any time. If we were to inspect all the factories and premises working under Commonwealth awards every few weeks we would need to employ a vast army of people to do so, but we do get co-operation from many other quarters of which the honourable member will be well aware. We rely very much on reciprocal arrangements in some States and would like to rely even more by extending them to other State inspection services. I informed those who made the representations that I did not consider it appropriate to appoint additional persons to carry out this work at present.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. I understand that the nature of the Sydney waterfront presents difficulties in the control of smuggling. In view of the reported growth of drug addiction in that city can the Minister assure the House, firstly, that there is sufficient control over people who would be able to bring small packages ashore from the many ships which tie up around the harbour; secondly, that there are adequate customs checks of aircraft and air crews moving in and out of Australia; and, thirdly, that penalties are sufficiently severe to make it widely known throughout the world that it is most unprofitable to attempt to bring dangerous drugs into this country?
– I am sure that the honourable member knows that in the last session this House passed an Act to increase considerably the penalties for the smuggling of drugs into this country, indicating that the Parliament is aware of this practice and that it is seriously setting about the devising of means to deal with it. Generally I think the Department of Customs and Excise has the matter of smuggling on the waterfront under control. However, I shall refer this question to my colleague in another place and get a more detailed answer for the honourable member.
– Has the Treasurer seen a statement by Sir William Gunn that the effect which the continued drop in wool prices would have on Australia was not widely appreciated? Is it a fact that recent falls overall have been more than 10%? Will he say what effect this is likely to have on our economy? Was this fall in wool prices, as well as the fall in wheat prices, anticipated when the Budget was passed?
– If the honourable member remembers the Budget Speech delivered a few nights ago in this House, he will recall that I specifically drew attention to the difficult position in which the wool industry found itself. I think I can say that we in the Treasury did think that the wool market could be weak. No-one would hazard too confident a forecast of the extent to which wool prices would in fact fall. First class wools have fallen by about 71/2% and lower quality grades have fallen by 10%, 121/2% and even 15%. I know that this must have an impact on the economy. To some extent it will be offset in terms of foreign exchange, but only in terms of foreign exchange, because there will be a substantial increase in the export of metals and other commodities. Nonetheless this is a matter that requires our most careful thought. As to wheat prices, I was surprised to see that the price of wheat has fallen slightly during the course of the last 3 months. This is another matter that requires the constant attention of the Government but it is something over which we ourselves cannot exert a direct influence.
– In direct ing a question to the Minister for Social Services I refer to my address to this House in the Budget debate on Tuesday night in which I applauded the Government for recognising in the 1967-68 Budget the plight of deserted wives and wives of prisoners. As all honourable members know the responsibility is now in the hands of the States to present a scheme in a format acceptable to the Commonwealth. I now ask the Minister whether everything possible is being done to ensure that such a scheme is presented so that the plight of these women and their children can be relieved as soon as possible.
– The honourable member raised this matter in his speech on the Budget on Tuesday night, I understand. As the House will be aware the Treasurer, in the Budget Speech, announced that discussions between the Commonwealth and the States would be held to determine the way in which assistance could be given to the States to provide for deserted wives and wives of prisoners in the first six months before they become entitled to widows pensions. These discussions are being pursued and it is hoped that shortly it will be possible for the Commonwealth to proceed with the plan that was announced by the Treasurer. There is no doubt that this is yet another area within which the Commonwealth once again is initiating a very notable advance in the provision of assistance for needy members of the Australian community.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. No doubt he is aware of a Press report stating that in England recently a lady, while using a toilet facility and serenely working out a crossword puzzle, was suddenly thrown to the floor by the sonic boom of a supersonic aircraft passing overhead. I ask whether the Minister, in advance of the introduction of supersonic commercial aircraft in Australia, has considered the suggestion that householders in the vicinity of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport in my electorate be issued with seat belts.
– I know that this is a problem that concerns the honourable member in many ways. Some experiments are being conducted in the United Kingdom at present in an attempt, before the introduction of supersonic commercial aircraft here, to assess the problems associated with sonic booms. I cannot recall the particular incident to which the honourable member refers, but I have seen official reports of the effects of sonic booms that perhaps do not go into such great detail. I can assure him that we are keeping very closely in touch with the situation and are receiving regular reports from the United Kingdom. When any other interesting information is available I shall see that the House is informed.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Can he say what the current position is in the supply of building tradesmen in the Hobart area where they are urgently needed for the rebuilding of homes destroyed in the recent fires? What steps has his Department taken to ensure that the additional tradesmen required are in fact forthcoming?
– I am happy to assure the honourable member that the most recent reports I have received indicate that the home building situation in Hobart is satisfactory. I know that the honourable member has been in close contact with me about this matter for a long time. Since it concerns his own electorate this is readily understandable. As to the steps that have been taken, after the fire occurred we collected all the information that we could and cooperated with the Tasmanian Government and with various firms and trade unions in attracting to Hobart the necessary labour to meet the huge extra demand. We recruited or were instrumental in recruiting quite a number of workers from what is known in Tasmania as the mainland, particularly from New South Wales, from which I think about three-quarters of them came. Quite a number went to Hobart on their own initiative, whether prompted by friends there or by the publicity or by other causes.
About a month ago we ceased to take any special steps to recruit. We have, of course, been in close touch with the Building Workers Industrial Union, some members of which became a little concerned that with all the publicity we might in fact produce a labour surplus. Currently we have just over 100 vacancies but’ they are mainly for commercial building or for purposes other than housing. We do have a small excess number of painters registered although usually at this time of the year painting activity falls off. Generally the position now is satisfactory. I think there have been some complaints from various employers about the quality of the labour, but reports of this kind are naturally very difficult to evaluate.
The honourable member may be interested to. know that there is also another large demand for building labour, or there has been, for the construction work at the Australian newsprint mills. This is a $2 8m project and requires quite a lot of extra labour. The House may be interested to know that we have been responsible for initiating a fairly novel arrangement which involves one firm lending its work force to another firm. Several contractors in Launceston, where building activity has been at a low .ebb although it has picked up lately, have made special arrangements along these lines, and these arrangements have worked well. In the period immediately ahead I think the situation will continue to be satisfactory. It has been helped greatly, as the honourable member knows, by the dry season. This may not have helped the rural community but it has certainly induced rapidity of construction.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. He and other members of the Government have in various ways expressed concern, or apparent concern, for the children of Australia, and I note with some interest the extraordinarily large number of children in the galleries of the Parliament today. Will the Minister take this opportunity of informing the Parliament and the children why in a Budget of some $6,000m, which includes $21m for VIP aircraft, the Government charges the children of Australia 124% sales tax on school exercise books and other essential writing paper for schools, including school pads? I am sure that the Treasurer realises that in most schools slates are considered somewhat archaic.
– First of all, the honourable member should know, as he pretends to be somewhat of an economic expert, that the money spent on these VIP aircraft, which are used for many purposes, is a capital item and not a current item, and that the aircraft will be in use for many years. They are not used for VIP purposes only. If at the time they were delivered we had had a difficulty of the same nature as confrontation they would have been used directly for Air Force purposes. As to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question, if he looks at the Budget papers with care he will see that the Commonwealth allocation to the States for assistance in education has gone up by S54m as compared with the expenditure last year. I hope that when he gets on the public platform he will give credit for this very big rise. Although I cannot remember the exact proportion, it is one of the biggest percentage increases in Commonwealth history. So I would hope that when asking questions of this kind the honourable member would at least keep matters in balance. No government has done as much for the education of the young people of this country as has this government. No government will do more. We have plans for the future. One of our main objectives is to see that the young people of this country are properly educated.
– Will the Minister for Social Services make investigations with a view to ascertaining definitely whether a single pensioner with no means other than -the social services pension is urgently in need of additional financial aid? If the investigation reveals that these people are in such need, will he make a recommendation to the Government urging appropriate action?
– There is without doubt a range of need within the Australian community. In some circumstances single pensioners in the situation to which the honourable member has referred find them selves quite adequately able to provide for themselves and to provide the necessaries of life within the Commonwealth provision for social services. In fact, during this week I received a letter from a pensioner who has in her will left an amount to the Commonwealth in return for the contribution that she has received towards her welfare because she feels that it was more than sufficient to meet her requirements. At the other end of the scale there are pensioners who are confronted with difficulties, but these people are not alone in the community. It is extremely difficult in a community such as ours to determine all of the factors because one person can have less than adequate return and another more than adequate return. The needs of different individuals vary. The record of this Government in providing increased benefits for the wellbeing of pensioners is well known. Progressively over the years both the amount of benefit and the range of entitlement have been improved, lt is reasonable to expect that this progress will continue in the future.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Why are donations to overseas voluntary aid organisations not allowed as deductions for income tax purposes? What is the estimated loss of revenue in allowing such donations to be claimed as deductions?
– We have established a policy that unless there are exceptional circumstances, donations to support philanthropic and other institutions will be allowed as deductions for income tax purposes only if the money is spent internally. This is a good policy to start with. In special cases, such as donations for the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, we did allow the donations to be claimed as deductions for income tax purposes. I cannot recall the precise figure, but I think the total loss to revenue from this source is up to $20m a year. I carried out a review of what would happen in one case - only one case - where people seek to claim deductions in respect of gifts overseas, and the amount came to between $2m and S3m. I put this against the background that our assistance in official foreign aid ranks second only to that provided by France. Our record in this field is very good. If there is to be any criticism it must be against the background that we are devoting almost 0.8% of our total national product to assistance for other countries. We are doing this willingly, freely and without any tags attached. No other country gives as freely as does Australia. No other country gives aid without tags.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. What evidence exists that the United States of America has developed fungicides for the destruction of rice crops in Asia? Has the Minister any knowledge to suggest that the United States intends to escalate the Vietnam conflict into an anti-personnel chemical and bacteriological war? Will the Minister indicate his attitude towards these matters, as they are the substance of allegations made about the United States last Sunday evening in a radio broadcast delivered by the official foreign affairs commentator of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Labor Party?
– In the course of operations in Vietnam some defoliation methods are being used in order to strip the foliage from jungle country and reveal emplacements and other prepared positions or the presence of enemy Vietcong in the jungle. I am sure that the greatest care is taken in the use of these defoliation processes. If any damage has resulted to crops it has been accidental and certainly not premeditated. In answer to the general question, I can assure the House that both so far as the United States of America is concerned and so far as the Australian Government is concerned, no form of warfare is being used that is contrary to the international conventions regulating either chemical or bacterial forms of warfare.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. How much money has been remitted with the approval of the Reserve Bank of Australia under the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations to those organisations in Vietnam which are named in the Defence Force Protection Bill?
– Nothing to my knowledge has been remitted since the first day it was drawn to my attention that these amounts were being or might perhaps be remitted.
Debate resumed from 30 August (vide page 641), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Whitlam 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 condemns the Budget because:
it places defence costs on those least able to pay them;
it fails to curb administrative waste and extravagance;
it defers and retrenches development projects; and
it allows social service and war pensioners to fall still further behind their fellow citizens’. ‘
– I have three very important reasons for joining in this debate. Firstly, although I have closely studied the amendment to the Budget proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), I cannot agree with him and I support the Budget as proposed by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). Secondly, I should like to speak on what is to me a very important aspect of the Government’s defence policy. Thirdly, I should like to offer for consideration a suggestion which I think will assist our age pensioners about whom I feel very strongly. Coming from far north Queensland as I do I have become very interested in reading the southern newspapers and comparing them with Queensland newspapers. Recently I have been amazed and angered at a series of articles published in a Sydney newspaper on the subject of defence. The State of Queensland and especially the people of north Queensland are vitally interested in defence matters.
In my opinion Queensland newspapers have always presented defence subjects fairly and honestly. When they have criticised the Government’s policy their criticism has been constructive. I have always considered that newspapers are a medium of education and a guide to the members of the general public who seek factual knowledge without distortion. That is why I cannot sit idly by while a Sydney newspaper attacks this Government and the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), for whom I have a great deal of respect, without punching back at its distorted and harmful articles. I consider myself to be a fairly tolerant person, but the articles annoyed me to such an extent that I made quite a few inquiries about the newspaper and discovered an amazing situation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! I point out that the honourable member for Herbert has already spoken during the Budget debate. He spoke on 24th August.
– I think a colleague from a Melbourne electorate was listed to speak next. As he is not here, I will take his place. Probably at no time in the past two decades has the Press of Australia been so unresponsive to a national budget as it has been to this Budget. Therefore, the amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and which I support becomes all the more important It is recognised that to a very large extent the minds of members of the general public are conditioned by the views expressed in the Press and often the policies of industry are reflected by the Press reports, whether they be for good or bad. This year, the Press has not given such a lead.
Whilst the Budget may appear to many people to be an inoffensive document, it has been cunningly conceived and contains many provisions designed to draw from taxpayers increased revenue in one form or another. I instance air travel charges, navigation charges and postal charges. Only the wealthy and the Government stand to gain very much from the Budget. The Government, as the custodian of the public purse, will certainly gain; the wealthy will Sain from tax concessions, from rising prots and dividends and by participation in subsidy payments or from the increased production of consumer goods and services. he recipients of Commonwealth social services and superannuants have been sh ockingly treated. I hope they will learn a lesson from the Government’s treatment of them and take the first opportunity to do something about it. This will be when the Capricornia by-election and the Senate election are held later in the year.
The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), in a speech that lasted for an hour and twenty minutes, estimated that expenditure for 1967-68 would reach $6,483m. In his speech he made several important references which show that a nation with Australia’s great resources should not be quibbling about what can be done to provide a better way of life or a higher standard of living for its people. The failure of the Treasurer to include in the Budget provision for an increase in the rates of pension and in particular an increase for the recipient of the base rate pension is in itself almost criminal, especially in view of his admission that monetary policy can and will be used as necessary to help keep the economy on the right course. Is it to be assumed that the feeding, clothing and housing of pensioners would tend to make the economy unbalanced? Is that why pensioners receive nothing from the Budget? Let me repeat a statement made by the Treasurer in the closing minutes of the Budget Speech, for it is in direct conflict with the action he is taking. He said: the Government will as always be ready to meet particular needs or eventualities.
In our view businessmen can with confidence make plans with the expectation that the economy will continue to grow steadily. . .
Even the most cautious amongst us can scarcely fail to be confident of the future of this country. Vast new discoveries of resources are becoming almost a commonplace. In this recent phase, each discovery had inspired further effort and further effort has led to new discoveries.
As far ahead as we can see Australia has all the potentialities for sustained growth . . .
Does the Treasurer imply that by failing to stimulate the living standards of pensioners and those on superannuation, in the long term the economy will become stronger? Does he seriously suggest that a married pensioner having to live on $1.68 a day, with which he would feed and clothe himself, pay for fuel, light and all other outgoings, would inflate the economy? If he does he should have to live on that amount himself.
My reading and understanding of the economics which the Treasurer employs in keeping the economy growing at a healthy rate and our resources fully employed appear to be all on the side of big business -the financiers, the investors and the employers, all of whom worship excessive profits and exhibit a lack of conscience as to how they are obtained. Is it not a fact that the Treasurer has already described this Budget as an investor’s Budget? In my lifetime, except, perhaps, for a period of war, I have never known any time when the full resources of this country have been fully employed. From Labor’s point of view, our total resources are not being fully employed, especially at the present time - far from it. Unemployment figures prove that. It is true that the Budget papers show that the Treasurer is using the banking system with advantage to this Government. Labor could do likewise with much greater advantage to those whom it represents.
The Treasurer has taken great pride in the fact that he has not increased the rate of general taxation in this year’s Budget. But, of course, he has exploited many other avenues for increasing revenue, including r couple of new fields of taxation. I remind the Treasurer that he did, of course - reluctantly, I suppose - increase taxation last year by 5% over the previous year. Of course, the whole history of this Government has been ohe of increased taxation. So how can we expect any better of it? The Treasurer, in referring to the vital importance that the increased growth of our population is having on our development, stressed the need to continue at maximum capacity the immigration programme. Then in the same breath he said that this year the Government is providing $25m for assisted passages and S5m to subsidise accommodation costs at migrant hostels, plus $3.9m for improvements to Government hostels. If we are to believe that the immigration programme is as important as the Minister makes out, I would like to know whether he will say why the assisted passage programme has been cut back by $1.8m and the accommodation subsidy cut by $600,000 for the ensuing year. I remind honourable members that it was the Labor Party which initiated our immigration programme. We want it to continue. But we also want migrants to be properly and fairly catered for in every respect. I doubt whether this is being done at the present time.
An aspect of migration which I think needs clarification is the payment of an accommodation subsidy to occupants of Commonwealth hostels. Is any assistance given to migrants who on arrival in Australia seek out and obtain rented accommodation for themselves? Do these migrants receive assistance in meeting their living costs? If they do not, why arc they treated differently from those people occupying Government accommodation? Does it mean that’ migrants who come here and who get out and rough it in various” types of accommodation will be allowed to do so, while those residing in Commonwealth hostels are to continue to get handouts in the form of assistance with their- accommodation expenditure. As I see it one of this Government’s greatest blunders has been its long term handling of migration. According to statistics, in the last 10 years alone the Government has spent over $250m to bring more than 1,000,000 permanent settlers here. Many of these people have been stateless and some have come from war ravaged countries. But, once they have come here, they have been left practically to their own resources without a cent to their name. These people are easy prey for hire purchase pressure agents and all types of confidence men. In particular, all State governments, local government bodies and semi-government authorities have been the bunnies in this Government’s migration programme. It is a case of the Commonwealth cooping the cash and the States the responsibility of citizenship.
The migration target this year is 148,000 persons, the same as last year. From that number the Treasurer hopes to obtain about 70,000 workers to expand his work force and provide . the necessary monetary increase he requires to boost next year’s Budget. As far as I can remember the State governments have complained incessantly of their shortage of funds. Some have threatened to end uniform taxation and others have spoken of recession. Under the Government’s programme tens of thousands of people come to the country ready to work, ready for school and to live new lives in the country of their adoption, only to find a lack of finance which affects public hospitals, kindergartens, schools, colleges, universities, health centres, public parks and gardens, housing, new roads, water and sewerage facilities, transport, sporting centres, swimming baths and public libraries. The institutions 1 have referred to, as well as many others, have to be financed to some extent by State governments which, under the present orthodox system of public finance, are compelled to accept whatever finance this Government, allegedly through the Australian Loan Council, doles out to them. For my part, the method by which the Loan Council makes its handouts, is entirely unacceptable, whether it be financial assistance grants, betterment grants, or any other type of grant it might be doling out.
It is plainly noticeable that while the Commonwealth public debt is being quickly and substantially reduced, the States’ debt is leaping ahead and is now more than treble the amount of the Commonwealth debt. I often wonder if the rat race will ever come to an end, or for how long our people have to put up with impoverishment while the investors flourish on interest bearing investments of one kind or another, on which we pay this year more than $509m in interest. It must be obvious that the Loan Council, which meets about once a year, is not in a position to judge the effect, financially, that an additional 140,000 new people scattered throughout the several States can have on the community, in the circumstances prevailing from year to year.
Earlier this year the Loan Council increased the borrowing programme of local and semi-government authorities from $200,000 to $300,000 where such authorities propose to borrow, in the aggregate, in excess of that amount, but it fixed no limit for councils which were seeking to raise less than $300,000. Apparently the Loan Council has done this to incite councils and shires into a greater borrowing programme which should be the Commonwealth’s responsibility. For many years local government bodies, the water boards and other authorities, have been called upon to bear the financial burden of catering for not only the newly arrived migrants but for the increase in local population as well. The concept of life and the vastly improved living standards which people enjoy throughout Australia demand from all authorities the highest service possible and quite often councils and shires have the labour, materials, machines and know how to undertake all types of work but are stopped from doing so because finance is not available to them.
Only last week the Commonwealth Government members Food and Agricultural Committee agreed that the States could do a much better job if finance were available to them. Yet, when members of this Committee come into this place they become dumb about this. Very often finance cannot be found simply because pensioners and low wage earners do not have the money to pay their rates. As a result, shires and councils are owed large amounts in arrears of rates. Water boards find themselves in a similar position in regard to a shortage of funds. They are unable to extend water and sewerage reticulation or carry out capital works as they would like. In recent years some local government and water board authorities have adopted devastating and ruthless ordinances which allow them to extract from builders of property and from developers huge amounts in fees for the provision of public parking, for the laying of kerb and guttering and the tar sealing of roads. All this adds considerably to the costs to be borne by the ratepayers. Water boards under recent legislation in New South Wales can now require a developer to pay a fantastic amount for sewerage of land that they are developing. Yet, the very same board when carrying out sewerage developments as part of its own annual programme does so without charge to the owner of the land on which the home stands. In effect, all this means that on the one hand some owners can have their land connected to sewerage without cost while others, many of whom have already paid $400 to $500 for septic systems to be installed at their homes, have again to pay through the neck for a sewerage service which a board runs through their property, thus duplicating the cost already incurred.
Recently my sister, who is a pensioner, wished to sell her home and build a smaller one. She was compelled to pay the Hunter District Water Board at Newcastle $400 to have her home connected with the sewerage mains already serving the area where she is now residing, allegedly because she was a developer, although her new home will occupy half the. land on which her present home stands. I mention this to illustrate just what is happening in this modern age to ordinary decent people who are striving to establish themselves in homes but who are constantly at the mercy of authorities who, because they are unable to obtain public finance from this Government, cannot satisfy the standard requirements of their own departments. Consequently, these bodies have to resort to a form of piracy in which often the innocent become the victims. All this is happening in a nation which is chockfull of materials, goods and services and knowhow, and often the machinery and labour is available. But, in the eyes of this Government no money is available.
The Budget papers demonstrate a manipulation and movement of revenue which in my view shows there should be no reason why the central banking system could not be used to provide whatever funds State governments, local government or semi-governmental authorities need to carry out their respective programmes. Strangely enough, the Government can appropriate $S6m for National Capital development in Canberra this year. Yet, in the city of Newcastle, which is the fourth largest city and the third greatest trading port, we cannot get an airport or sufficient finance to sewer fully the city’s suburban areas. It is my view that the Loan Council should be abolished and replaced by a broad full time Commonwealth finance commission headed by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer before whom representatives of State governments, local government and semigovernmental authorities could appear and state a case for the granting of finance to enable them to carry out public works. It would also be the responsibility of such a commission to travel and inspect sites and otherwise investigate proposals that were before the commission.
If ever there was a case made out for the use of the central banking system in national development to enable our resources to be used in the real development of this country, it is to be found both in the Budget and in a speech made by the Treasurer last year on the occasion of the second reading of the National Debt Sinking Fund Bill. On a later occasion the Treasurer, speaking of loan fund finance, pointed out that war service homes advances were financed out of loan fund up to 1930-31 and again in 1950-51. The total amount of the advances financed out of loan fund was $90m, but repayments to the sinking fund have already totalled $307m. The sinking fund thus has already received $2 17m over the years, according to the Treasurer, for which no equivalent amount of debt was created in the first place. That illustration, I suggest, is sufficient proof to show that by proper employment of labour, material, goods and services, governments could do much more in the way of development.
The Budget shows that beyond the estimated $5, 887m revenue there will be a need to raise loans of $596m to balance this year’s accounts. Each of the last two Appropriation Bills has shown that the Treasurer has set aside $300m of loan fund finance for defence purposes. The papers reveal, however, that in the 1966-67 year only $198,425,594 of the appropriation was used. Likewise in the same period the Government had appropriated $120m and $ 122.84m of the same sort of money for the Commonwealth and States housing programme, on which money each State is required to pay substantial interest. I mention this because it becomes all the more important in the light of the Treasurer’s inability to give anything to the pensioners in the face of steeply rising prices and the present high cost of living, together with his refusal to face the facts in the provision of finance to State governments and to semi-government and local government authorities to carry out essential works and services, like water and sewerage reticulation which, immediately on completion, become self-supporting and paying propositions.
In 1955 the then Treasurer created the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve, which was established to meet the repurchase and redemption of loans maturing from time to time. Since its creation the Reserve has been able to liquidate about $ 1.600m worth of securities, including $152m of Treasury bills. At the present time it has standing to its credit $915,345,136. In the last two years alone the fund will have had paid into it from the Consolidated Revenue Fund amounts of $227m and $288m, yet this Government, with all this money at its disposal, could not provide $1 a week for its pensioners. I point out that this money has been contributed, by way of taxation, by you, Mr Deputy Speaker, by me and by all the people of Australia. Ironically, while the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve Act 1955 provides that there should not be a greater amount than £48im or $97m appropriated to it each year from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, this Government has been taking much larger sums year after year from revenue for that purpose, yet it cannot provide its pensioners with a decent living. Why? I know a lot of people who would like to know why. I point out that $1 a week to each pensioner would have taken less than $52m of what has been paid into the reserve in that time.
The Government’s refusal to increase pensions in this Budget has been a deliberately cold and calculated exercise. Of course, it is extremely hard to understand the purpose, for it must surely be committing political hari kari in its failure to recognise the needs of the base pensioner, more so when it is known that the Government is spending unlimited amounts on defence, and in the light of its credit arrangements with the United States of America in the purchase of the Fill aircraft, in respect of which a credit for $228,239,000 has already been arranged. I suggest that the tragedy of the Government’s refusal to increase the basic pension lies in the fact that it extended the means test by $3 a week earlier this year to satisfy its election undertakings of last year. In its easing of the means test the Government ignored the fact that base rate pensioners had suffered severe reversals of pension values at least twice over the preceding 18 months and that these had considerably reduced their living standards.
In the first place the introduction of decimal currency in 1966 had a catastrophic effect on basic items which base pensioners purchase. Decimal currency brought about a considerable reduction in the pui chasing value of the pension. Rent increases and high valuations have considerably increased the burdens of home owning pensioners, aged married couples and widows being the worst affected. Many pensioners have had their entitlements to pharmaceutical services taken from them simply because the drugs they need have been removed from the free list of lifesaving drugs. It is known that for some years the Government has been watching the spiralling cost of its health services and, accordingly, the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) has been hiding behind the action of his pharmaceutical committee which, from time to time, has removed many of the drugs from the free list simply to save the Government further increased costs in its health service. Despite what may be said to the contrary, there can be no denying that with the introduction of decimal currency all people living on fixed incomes have suffered an immediate physical reduction in living standards. The proof of this is to be found in the fact that 200c had to equal 240d or £1, the pound having been the basic unit of Australian currency up to that time. To establish decimal currency it became necessary for the Decimal Currency Board to equate the dollar with the pound. Therefore before it could proceed to create a new currency it was necessary to absorb 20d or ls 8d into every dollar of currency. This meant that 40d were to be lost in every Australian pound. The immediate effect that this has had on people on basic pensions has been paralysing. It immediately reduced quite considerably the value of their income. I claim that married pensioner couples have lost the equivalent of 36s a week - that is, on two pensions of £5 10s each, 40d in the £1 would work out at 36s.
The proof of the related values of the dollar and the pound is to be found in the past and present costs of basic commodities on which pensioners live. These consist principally of meat, milk, bread, sugar, flour, eggs, cakes and pastry, fruit and vegetables, canned goods, soap and soap powders, stamps, papers and ice cream. And we must not forget that ice cream still carries sales tax. Almost every day newspapers carry pages of advertisements marking up certain goods at special prices at supermarkets and business houses. These special prices are intended to induce people into those shops. There should be no need for such wasteful use of capital. Such advertisements should be banned and there should be price control over the whole field of consumer goods and services to force down the prices of commodities. Radio and television advertising should, to some extent, be limited.
To illustrate how base pensioners have had their living standards reduced under decimal currency I point out that with milk costing 11c a bottle, 18 bottles can be purchased for every $2, whereas when milk cost lid a bottle, 22 bottles could be purchased for each £1. Cakes and pastry that cost 4d each or 60 to the £1 now cost 5c or 40 to the $2. The cost of beef, mutton and pig meats has increased beyond the ability of the pensioner to buy. Biscuits that once sold for 18d a packet now sell at from 18c to 24c a packet. Cheese now sells at upwards of 60c, or the equivalent of 6s, a pound. Fruit and vegetables are being sold by the pound weight, by the dozen or by the cent, but irrespective of how it is sold no-one can deny that oranges, apples, bananas or any other fruit that was sold by the piece before decimal currency could be obtained in 240 pieces at Id each for £1 as. compared with 200 pieces at lc each for $2. Similarly one could purchase 80 pieces at 3d each and 40 at 6d each as compared with 60 at 3c each and 33 at 6c each. Newspapers which sold at 4d now cost 5c, so for the. same value one procures 8 fewer papers. Headache powders, which once cost 2s. a packet, cost 25c. Stamps purchased . at 4d yielded 60 for each £1 whereas stamps costing 4c yield 50 for $2. Bus fares which cost lOd now cost 10c, so whereas a person could have 24 trips for £1 he gets 20 trips for an equivalent value now. Of course, pensioners enjoy the concession of half rate fares.
The Newcastle ‘Morning Herald*, in its leading article of 18th August, correctly pointed out how the pensioners have had to eke out an existence through 1966 and 1967 with a pension increase of only $1 a week, although wage levels had increased by $4.32 a week during the same period, lt is deplorable that the Government should in this Budget dismiss all references to social services with a 17 line statement, in the light of the rapidly increasing cost of living. Its action in giving meagre increases to large families by way of increased child endowment is somewhat difficult to understand. The increase is totally insufficient. The Government is to be condemned for its failure to recognise the need of old persons who live on their- own and are struggling to pay off their homes or to meet rates and insurance premiums.
There are many other subjects that have been referred to in the Budget, such as child endowment, repatriation, concessional deductions, superannuation, life assurance cover and postal charges, that should be critically analysed but time will not permit for me to do that. I support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition and I urge honourable members opposite to join us on this side of the House in voting the Budget out.
– I regret that 1 did not hear the whole of the speech of the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths). I did hear him say something about decimal coinage a few moments ago but I do not’ propose to go into that question.
– It would go over the honourable member’s head.
– Apparently it went over the head of the honourable member for Scullin because he is lying very low in his seat. There were two matters that I heard discussed during the Budget speeches of honourable members opposite with which I want to cross swords. It was said that the Budget was irresponsible and that it was a do nothing Budget. The remark that it was an irresponsible Budget was made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I forget who said that it was a do nothing Budget. However, I want to take them up on those two remarks. It certainly lacks the spectacular gimmicks that the Opposition like in a Budget but it has been drawn up for the purpose of avoiding the very thing that the Opposition has complained about in past years on the many occasions when I have heard Opposition members replying to a Budget speech. They have always said the Budget was a stop-go Budget. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition said in his speech that he believed the Budget would have been better to have erred on the side of expansion and, if necessary, throttle back later in the year. This is the kind of modus operandi that has caused recessions in the past. I have no doubt that the Opposition would welcome such a situation again, solely for political purposes. Alternatively, of course, we must remember that the Opposition has had no opportunity to exercise a responsible judgment of national budgeting for very many years.
Sometimes a do nothing budget is right for a country like Australia. It is not the easiest type of policy to introduce, but when, by definition, you are right on a point of sound economic balance, as I think this Budget is, any great weight on either side can only do a lot of harm rather than a lot of good. Last year the economy of this country suffered from a mild depression due to drought conditions, which most honourable members know about. If one examines the unemployment figures, the building industry figures or the appliance industry figures, one will see that we are today moving out of this phase. I believe that industry could be and should be encouraged. This is my philosophy and I know that it is the philosophy of my colleagues. This is vital if companies are to spend money on development and the kind of things that we want to be done today. This country is capable of achieving a lot more than it is doing even now without creating the inflationary pressures that have caused trouble in the past.
The facts are that on page 6 of the printed Budget speech under the. item of defence, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) reminds the people of this country that we are providing $1,1 18m for defence; in other words, $700m more than 4 years ago. A percentage of this money will find itself into the Australian economy, particularly as the Government is directing that a greater proportion of the defence allocation be spent in Australia than has been the case in the last 2 years. The central fact of this massive and essential defence commitment, however, dominates this year’s Budget, and it is to this aspect that I wish chiefly to address myself. In the realm of external affairs, ever since this Budget has been brought down the situation in South East Asia has not improved but, indeed, has worsened. What effect this may have on the defence estimates in the future no one would like to hazard a guess - not even the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), who is sitting at the table. It certainly seems unlikely that there will be quick relief from major defence requirements.
The problem becomes a very complex one, particularly when one considers the effects and implications of the statement made recently by the Secretary of State for
Defence in the United Kingdom, in what is known as the White Paper. There is no doubt that Australia will now have to adjust its defence thinking and, indeed, its whole economy to meet the implications that will arise from the United Kingdom’s new defence policy. But this position does not end there. There are other problems, including that of the strategic manpower required in defence of our policies in South East Asia. This country alone cannot solve those problems, particularly with a population approximating 12 million. For something more than 2 centuries there has been a British presence in Asia. Indeed, the fact of the British presence, along with that of other European powers at various periods, is largely the determinant for many ‘ of the political ‘ boundaries and economic circumstances of today’s Asia. True it is that the United Kingdom Government in the White Paper makes some reassuring noises in the direction of those of us barbarians who will have to remain in outer far-flung places. The White Paper says:
In planning withdrawal we must take into account’ the impact of our plans on the peoples concerned and on the policies of our allies . . .
At that point we must be content, according to the Secretary of State for Defence in the United Kingdom. He goes on to say by implication that by 1970 the British military presence in this region will be reduced to some visiting naval and amphibious forces, possibly a few aircraft based in Australia or in the Indian Ocean area, and perhaps a garrison in Hong Kong. With this, too, we must be content.
Australia’s defence commitments in the past have been wisely built round the strategy that in any eventuality of a dangerous nature Australia’s population would be too small to enable her to act by herself and that action would best be taken in association with Great Britain. This has always been our thinking, lt was this approach that led us to send troops to Europe and the Middle East in two world wars without question and almost without national debate. Not that we in Australia were in danger at those times of decision, but we had a moral obligation to help a country that had never been called on to assist us in any similar way. We found a national consensus of respect for an ideal that has been an ideal in this country for a very long time in relation to the British Commonwealth of Nations. Somebody writing in tine of the English newspapers recently suggested that thinking like this is just old hat. We now have it on the very highest authority, Sir, that it is indeed old hat.
The conflict in South East Asia has reached a critical stage and will probably remain critical for some time to come. I believe that the withdrawal by the United Kingdom Government of its forces from this part of the world is an extremely dangerous action. In fact, I believe that all the talk that has gone on concerning the proposed British withdrawal and its time table has undoubtedly encouraged the North Vietnamese to resist peace negotiations. Now that Britain gives notice that she is pulling out of Asia, the question is: Will it be the United States of America pulling out tomorrow? It is thoughts of this sort that are permeating the minds of people in some parts of the Asian continent, quite apart from the leaders of North Vietnam, and this is understandable. I ask: Are we entitled to brush aside the plan of Mr Healey, the United Kingdom Minister of Defence, for rapid military deployment to Asia in an emergency? I think we are - not in defence matters, strictly speaking, but in the preparation of our Budget. Anyone who has had experience of the practical and logistic problems of fighting in the tropics knows that it takes weeks and even months to acclimatise fighting troops. Today’s world crises do not wait on that kind of process.
In any case rapid deployment is clearly not a substitute for continuing presence. The economic and stabilising effects of the British defence presence in Singapore and Malaysia have been quite as important as, if not more important than, the strategic effects. There is in Mr Healey’s plan nothing that provides an alternative to this. Indeed, the point is that the price that the British apparently arc willing to pay to get into Europe is the giving up of this role of economic stabiliser in South East Asia. Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask the question: Out of all this what are the implications for the Australian Government’s policy. This, it seems to me, is not entirely a defence question. It is a much wider subject, and this in effect is the situation that the Treasurer referred to in his Budget speech. The importance of the British withdrawal east of Suez, as men like Lee Kuan Yew must be painfully aware, is that it represents the end of a system. We in Australia are very much caught up in this. Leadership, like peace, is indivisible. The United Kingdom, in renouncing leadership and responsibility in the defence context, does so in every other context. The question for Australia to consider is: Just what are the other ways in which we are affected?
It must be remembered that Australia holds in Britain sterling balances of many millions of dollars. I suppose that our balances in New York are as good as those held in London. We are now doing most of our international trading with nonsterling countries and the problems set for sterling by the recent Arab-Israeli war have certainly posed the question of whether there is wisdom in so much of Australia’s reserves being held in sterling. Holding so much of our international reserves in that currency may even be a risky business in spite of the fact that the British balance of payments is more favourable today than it was, say, 12 months ago. There are still, Mr Deputy Speaker, many who believe that despite the cutting down of British commitments east of Suez it is still only a matter of when the United Kingdom will devalue its currency, not whether it will do so. The English journal, the ‘Economist’, has mentioned that only recently. Presumably it would still be in Australia’s interest for us to go only some part of the way down - say, to par with the United States dollar - should this event occur. But all the circumstances impel us to ask the Government: Why preserve such large holdings of reserves in London?
In the area of external affairs it is pleasing to see that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), while in Bangkok recently, did his best to inject vigour and a sense of- purpose into the Asian and Pacific Council, commonly known as ASPAC, and the goodwill that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) so successfully promoted during his recent trip abroad. We badly need a regional organisation of Asian countries. We should go further and interest other powers in the security of South East Asia, and in establishing such a regional organisation. If we are to get this going, the Treasurer will, I am sure, have to dig much deeper into the national purse. I believe that the non-atomic Asian countries realise today more than they did yesterday that China is coolly plotting against South East Asia and that there is need for a regional organisation. It was a source of satisfaction to note also that the South East Asian countries, at their recent conference in Bangkok, rejected the Indonesian Government’s somewhat over-generalised move against foreign bases in the region.
The increased commitment in foreign aid which is included in this year’s Budget will very likely be followed by further increases in years to come. Australia, the United
States and Japan are the three most industrialised countries in the Pacific area. At least two of them are certainly becoming progressively more so, and all three are becoming more important to one another through trade and the flow of capital. It is axiomatic that defence follows trade. Tn these circumstances one can surely make a realistic assessment of the grouping that must take place.
England’s military withdrawal east of Suez and her preoccupation with the European Economic Community leave Australia little choice. We must achieve closer economic, commercial and defence relations with Japan and the United States. Fifteen years ago imports from Japan and the United States represented only 10% of the total of Australian imports. The share of these two countries in Australian total imports has now risen to’ 33%. The trend of national policy is indicated by this striking increase, and the more this policy can be accelerated the more quickly can an increase of social benefits, which is noticeably absent from this Budget, be granted.
If we are to help Asian countries to. get on with their economic and social programmes, with the assistance of Western countries, a military programme is necessary; without such a programme the increased foreign civil aid in this Budget can , make little impact. I remind the House that Asia and, particularly South East Asia have constituted - and still constitute - a valuable and. profitable market for Great Britain for all classes of British manufactured goods. I must say there , are nasty implications in the idea that Britain will now be happy to let other people do the peace keeping while she gets on with the cash register keeping. If the United Kingdom cannot do anything for the economic and social projects envisaged by her. allies for this part of the world, she can at least leave her troops in the area and maintain her bases. No country in this day and age can have, or even try to have, the best of all worlds in international affairs. Commendably, Great Britain in the past has shown a deep recognition of this fact, but, as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) has said, and as I repeat: ‘We have to learn to work not with the Britain that used to be but with what Britain choses to be in the future.*
As I said previously, a war in Asia is just as dangerous to the peace of the world as a war in Europe. Australia realised this in 1914 and also in 1939. I say again that Great Britain, France and other European countries cannot isolate themselves from what is going on in Asia, just as those countries declared in 1914 and in the early period of the Second World War that the United States could not live in isolation. The United States, indeed, realises today that she cannot live in isolation from the rest of the world. The first thing we must achieve in Vietnam, which is. Australia’s immediate problem in South East Asia, is to bring all parties to the peace table. Secondly, we have to teach the Asians to build an economic and viable continent. But until the first objective in Vietnam, is achieved, military action must go on. There is a part for Britain to play here. If she will not do so and if she turns her back on Asia at this time the effects on Britain herself may well be incalculable.
Finally I would like to make a few comments on the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) because if this amendment were to be passed by the House the Australian Labor Party Opposition would become the Government. The Opposition would then, as a Government, be committed to implementing the resolutions agreed to by the conference in Adelaide of the executive of the Party. To my mind those four resolutions merely confirm the Calwell declaration that a Labor Government would withdraw the Australian troops that are now in Vietnam. There has been no change from this doctrine which the then Leader of the Opposition proclaimed during the last election campaign and which the people of the country turned down so emphatically. The resolutions were, first, to stop the bombing in North Vietnam; secondly, to recognise the National Liberation Front as a principal party to. negotiations; thirdly, to transform operations in South Vietnam into holding operations; and fourthly, to cease the use of napalm and other objectionable materials of war. The Opposition believes that if bombing ceases it may be possible to persuade North Vietnam to come to the peace table. The Opposition knows that the United Slates has declared that it is prepared to cease bombing but that North Vietnam has shown no sign that it wants to negotiate. It is just humbug in these circumstances to suggest a cessation of bombing, because North Vietnam has shown very clearly that it is not prepared to negotiate. In agreeing to these four resolutions the Labor Party, in my view, is simply shadow-sparring.
But I have no time now to discuss in detail these four resolutions. Perhaps the third resolution is the most amazing of them. It proposes the transformation of operations in South Vietnam into holding operations. This, I believe, would strengthen the control of the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese in South Vietnam. Sections of South Vietnam are now held by the National Liberation Front, the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese, and if we transform operations in South Vietnam into holding operations we will be conceding the sections held by the invaders for all time. In other words the Labor Party Opposition says that South Vietnam and the United States must acknowledge defeat in all areas that they do not now occupy, and there are large areas in South Vietnam that they do not occupy. Can you imagine, Mr Speaker, how stable and peaceful South Vietnam could be with sections of the country held by the enemy? As the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) rightly said in London, these resolutions agreed to by the Australian Labor Party Adelaide conference do not alter the policy enunciated by him in 1966.
In conclusion. I hope that this House will reject the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. It comes from an Opposition which, as I said earlier, has had no opportunity for many years of exercising a responsible judgment on national budgeting. In all those years it has obviously learned nothing and it obviously has no ability to make a sound judgment on international affairs.
– I can well agree with much of what the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Haworth) has said. I agree, for instance, that our efforts should be directed towards getting the parties involved in Vietnam around the conference table in order to achieve a peaceful solution. Of course, the honourable member went on to attack those who contend that one thing that is necessary if we are to get the parties to the conference table is to stop the bombing of North Vietnam. The Australian Labor Party is not alone in suggesting that the bombing should cease. It is backed by U Thant and His Holiness the Pope. In fact, most responsible world leaders have appealed for a cessation of the bombing in order to see whether such action will assist to get the parties to the peace table. I concede that cessation of the bombing might not work, but we say that in view of what is going on in Vietnam, it at least should be given a trial. The honourable member for Isaacs said that it is humbug to advocate a cessation of the bombing. Does he like the bombing? Does he not think that cessation is worth a trial? What is going on now is far more than humbug and of far greater consequence to the Australian people than would be a cessation of the bombing.
Escalation of the war in Vietnam has even greater significance for Australia now that Great Britain has announced her intention to withdraw her forces east of Suez. Britain’s action was foreseeable. It is of little use the Government and its supporters claiming that Britain has sprung something upon us. Britain’s action is the culmination of something that has been going on not for months but for years and this Government made no preparations to meet it. Now the Government claims that Mr Healey and Mr Wilson told, it stories; that they told the Government that Britain would not withdraw her forces. All along the line Britain’s action, has been foreseeable. Australia now must make adjustments in order to meet the new situation. The Opposition realises that these adjustments are necessary and it will not oppose any sane and sensible proposition advanced to protect our flanks. But so far the Government has not advanced such a proposition. We are caught now as we were in 1939, when for years this country had been governed without any policy capable of meeting what was to confront it. I will not at this stage go more deeply into those matters.
For all the reasons advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and for many more which commend themselves to me, I support the amendment moved by the honourable gentleman. I heard the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) deliver his Budget speech. I have read the speech. I have taken heed of the advice given so freely to all of us by some Government supporters that the Budget must be taken in conjunction with the paper issued a few weeks earlier describing in glowing terms the future economic prospects of Australia. I have read that paper also. After going through the painful exercise of listening to the Budget speech and. after reading both it and the paper on the economic condition of the nation, I became very suspicious because all of it added up to something like a Stanley Korman prospectus.
In my view the Budget is dull and uninspiring. It offers nothing. As the honourable member for Isaacs and other Government supporters have told us, the Budget was intended to peg the economy and give it a chance to become stabilised so that it might go forward to create the glorious future that we are told lies ahead of us. 1 do not know who will enjoy this glorious future; certainly it will not be the pensioners. The most’ important component of the Budget is the allocation for defence. This is to be increased by about 18%. This is an enormous1 expenditure. The Labor Party does not quibble about expenditure on defence provided the right plans are adopted and the right equipment is bought at the right price. ‘ We feel that it is the obligation of all the people of Australia to defend this nation. The Labor Party has never been remiss in its duty in this respect. It was the forces that are now represented on the Opposition side of the House which rallied the Australian nation to its greatest effort in defence after the Government parties had let the nation down and left it defenceless. Under Labor Australia was rallied to its: greatest effort industrially, politically and militarily. We take great credit for this. We have never lagged in our duty in this respect. Nevertheless, we have earned the right to criticise steps which the Government may take for the defence of this country and the manner in which it takes those steps.
The Auditor-General has been deeply concerned about some of our expenditure overseas on defence equipment. He has referred to the price that we are paying for some of it, and we still do not know the final price for some of this equipment. In his Budget speech the Treasurer said that consideration must be given to these matters because the economy could not continue to sustain the rate of expenditure to which it is being subjected, nor the escalation of the rate, which apparently must now occur because of Great Britain’s withdrawal from east of Suez. To some extent I am a little sorry for the Treasurer. There is not much in his Budget, but he was faced with paying in 1967 the accounts for a shopping spree in 1963. He had to meet those accounts with a 1967 Budget. In 1963, as we well know, Australia’s defences were practically nil. In order to . recoup what it had lost in the 1961” elections the Government sent somebody to America with a blank cheque and away we went. I do not know, because I am not qualified to know-
– Hear, hear!
– I am qualified to know one thing, but perhaps I had better not mention it because it would be too unkind. I am not qualified to know, nor, T suggest, is the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall), whether the Fill aircraft is the best aircraft available. All I can say is that we must take our Service chiefs and other experts on trust in this matter and if it is the best equipment available, I am thankful that we have it.
– Hear, hear!
– Thank you. There is at least one intelligent gentleman opposite. I am satisfied that We have purchased this equipment because we need it. But that does not mean that I should not be permitted to criticise the manner in which the Government went about purchasing it and the price which ultimately we will pay for it. I suggest that no real answer has been given to the criticisms which have been made about the purchase of the equipment. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) has described the Fill aircraft as being the greatest thing with wings since angels. We have been told that it is the best in the world and that it is the cheapest in the world. If this aircraft is such a bargain, for heaven’s sake do not let us lose contact with the manufacturers because we might want to buy more.
– At S9m each?
– We have been told that at $9m each they are cheap. But what I deplore most about the Budget is that little, if any, provision has been made for the most needy section of the Australian community. The honourable member for Isaacs and most other Government supporters have been of the same opinion. The Treasurer has said that this is an investors’ Budget. That is all very well, but many people in our community are not investors. No doubt this expression appeals to Government supporters. We have been told that it is an investors’ Budget and a businessman’s Budget, and someone had the effrontery to say that it is a family man’s Budget’.
The Government has given little consideration to social services. In answer to a question this morning the Treasurer said that in the compilation of the Budget the first consideration is the base rate pension. That may have been his first consideration, but I suggest that he gave it very little consideration. One honourable gentleman opposite said that we must keep things in some order of priority. I can imagine the way that they would go about that. I can imagine them saying: ‘The pensioners are a little overfed anyhow.’ Something of this sort must have been said. The Treasurer admitted this morning that prices have risen by about 10%. Even before the price increases pensioners were not overfed, nor could it be said that they were well catered for. Surely the measure of any nation is the extent to which it will provide for its elderly citizens who have helped to build the nation. Although pensioners were not well off last year, their miserable pittance has been eroded by a 10% increase in the cost of living. After giving them his first consideration when compiling the Budget the Treasurer has kindly conveyed to them that for the next 12 months they are to continue to suffer the erosion process.
I have heard it said by honourable members opposite that in Australia we have the best social services system in the world. I do not agree, with that. Nor am I prepared to admit that the Government was responsible for the establishment of social services in Australia. Government supporters claim that we have the best health scheme and education system. They boast that all these things are the best in the world. But there is another section of the community which I propose to mention. I refer to those who are on fixed incomes and who, over the years, have seen their standards eroded. For years they have made submissions t6 members of all parties. The only tangible response that they have had to their requests has been an attempt by the Labor Party to do something for them. Then there are those who receive a repatriation benefit. Government supporters are very fond of referring to the situation in 1949. Apparently their memories will not go back beyond 1949. Perhaps they do not want to remember what happened before then. However, I propose to remind them.
I have in my hand a letter from the Returned Services League of Australia from which I propose to read. It should not be necessary for me to do so because every honourable member in this place received a copy of this letter, not only this year but also last year. All honourable members had an opportunity to vote on the propositions which have been advanced by the Returned Services League and when it came to a division all members of the Government parties voted against them, just as they will vote against the propositions this time. I hope that the Returned Services League is aware of this. The letter which relates to war pensions and the 1967 Budget states:
In October 1966 this sub-branch directed to you a letter of approach concerning the above matter as it related to the position at that time. j invite the House to note that all members received that letter in October 1966. The letter continues:
Since that date a further analysis of the three main classes of war pension in relation to the current national minimum adult wage reveals the decline in value which has taken place since 1950 when the present Government took office. The year 1949 is also shown for relative purposes.
The letter then contains a tabic which shows the special total and permanent incapacity rate as being 84% of the basic wage in 1949. In 1950, after the Government took office it rose to 101% of the then basic wage. That was largely a reflection on the inflation that had occurred following the rejection of the prices control referendum. The Government had to do something that time so it increased the rate to 101% of the then basic wage. In 1966 the special rate pension was down to 93% of the basic wage and in July 1967 it was down to 81.5%. From 1950 there had been a fall of 19.5%. The general rate 100% pension in 1949 was 43% of the basic wage. Iri 1950 it had climbed to 51% and by 1966 it was back to 37%. In July 1967 it was 32% of the basic wage, 19% below the 1950 figure.
War widows, to whom I have referred previously, make up the next category. In 1949 their pittance was 47% of the basic wage. The Government increased the rate to 55% of the basic wage in 1950. By 1960 it had been reduced to 40%, and in July 1967 it was down to 35% of the basic wage. Do honourable members opposite still want to refer to 1949 when I tell them that at that time war widows received a benefit equal to 47% of the basic wage whereas their benefit is now only 35% of the basic wage and has dropped 20% since 1950? These are not my figures; they have been supplied by the Returned Services League of Australia. If one examines social service benefits one sees a similar pattern. I have referred to repatriation benefits because they have been brought to my notice and I have been able to quote the official figures which have been calculated by the Returned Services League.
I come now to workers’ compensation. The Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act has attracted scathing comment, even from the judiciary. I have repeatedly raised this subject since 1958 and we have been assured repeatedly by various Ministers, by the present Treasurer and by the present Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) that the matter was receiving their earnest and serious consideration. Since 1958 they have all agreed that this matter must be dealt with and that the Act must be rationalised and brought at least to the standard of the State Acts. They have agreed that the injured worker was entitled at least to some more humane consideration than he was getting. As a matter of fact, since the Act has been administered by a different Minister - I do not want to name the former Minister - there has been a little softer attitude and a. little more, latitude in assessing whether a person is entitled to compensation.
However, the point I make is that Ministers generally had agreed that the provisions of the Act were pretty grim. Special attention should be given to this Act now. The Government is conscripting youths into the Army. Until they leave these shores or if they remain within these shores, they come under the provisions of the Act. If we have an Act which the Government admits is outdated and should be brought into line with modern standards, we have one argument at least to support a contention that the Government should not be conscripting people who must abide by its provisions.
I said that this matter had been raised repeatedly. I will refer to the last two occasions on which it was raised. On 14 March 1967, the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls) directed a question to the Treasurer, who is reported at page 592 of Hansard as having replied:
I regret to say that I have not been able to get a report to Cabinet on the matter to which the honourable member has referred. This has been a very difficult and complicated job and I have not been able to get a submission prepared for Cabinet on which to base legislation. However, I have kept asking when the legislation could be ready, and I have recently been assured that within the course of the next few days I will have a submission ready for Cabinet. I hope then to be able to introduce a Bill into the House, not in the next four weeks that the House is sitting but certainly in the autumn sessional period.
This had a somewhat familiar ring, because as far . back as November 1965 the Treasurer, who is now the Prime Minister, said that he would introduce a Bill in the autumn session. But here we have the present Treasurer saying in March last that he would introduce a Bill in the autumn session. This shows the duplicity of the Government on this matter. It is like the fob off that was given to the dairy farmers when a committee of inquiry made proposals about the dairy industry some 10 years ago. Reasonable and sound propositions to rationalise the industry were made. If they had been adopted, some of the sufferings and the undernourishment, if I may call it that, in the fringe farms would have been eliminated.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.28 p.m.
– In the time that I had left I was about to refer to the situation in the dairy industry. However, time is short. In addition to what I have said, my views on this matter are contained in a little pamphlet entitled ‘The Great Hoax’ which was recently issued. It would be of benefit to the members of the Australian Country Party. It is educational and I recommend it to ail dairy farmers.
I should like to say a few words about road safety which the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) mentioned this morning. I refer to a report made by . the Australian Automobile Association which drew attention to the fact that every 3 hours there is a death on our roads and every 7 minutes someone is maimed on our roads. The Association came to some very startling conclusions in this matter. Its main conclusion was that although the States would be willing to do these things which can be done to minimise this dreadful slaughter they are hamstrung by the fact that over the years the Commonwealth Government has never seriously attempted to do anything in this field. Each year it provides very small sums to those who are looking after this problem. The Association drew attention to the fact that under the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads Act, which established the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, the Commonwealth did what it so often does. In section 17 of the Act it provided:
Except with the approval’ of the Minister, the Bureau, or a member (including an acting member) of the Bureau, shall not make public -
any information obtained by the Bureau in the course of carrying out any investigation;
the results of any investigation carried out by the Bureau, or
the whole or any part of the contents of a report furnished by the Bureau to the Minister.
The Commonwealth adopts this policy on this matter although, as I stated before, every 3 hours a person dies on our roads. So if the Commonwealth official who investigates and reports upon an accident comes to the conclusion, as he must do in most cases, that certain factors were involved in the accident, such as lack of adequate road safety, which could be corrected were money made available to bring the road to a condition which suits modern transport, that information would not be made public. If he finds this he dare not report it, and indeed is forbidden to report it, to anyone other than the Minister and it may not be reported to Parliament so that we could at least do something to stop this dreadful slaughter. Also, the officer’s submissions may not be reported to the Australian Automobile Association and to the various bodies which seek to deal with this problem. Whilst they may blame the Commonwealth Government for its inadequate attention to the problem they cannot blame this Parliament. The Commonwealth Government, as a matter of deliberate policy, forbids the presentation to this House of reports that its officials might make concerning accidents.
I want to conclude my speech by saying that since we have been here this morning at least one person has been killed and five injured. Before we leave tonight more people will be killed and injured. Yet, the Parliament is not permitted to discuss ways and means by which this slaughter can be prevented. I place fairly and squarely on the Government the responsibility over the years for this slaughter. The blood is on its hands.
Debate (on motion by Mr Corbett) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29 August (vide page 536), on motion by Mr Bowen:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Australian Labor Party deplores the collection of funds to help those fighting Australian troops. It also deplores the furore which the Government has created on this subject. A handful of anarchists and exhibitionists has secured the suspension of the Budget debate and the full majesty of an Act of the Parliament. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) this morning showed how easily the professed objectives of the Bill could have been achieved by mere administrative action. I asked the Treasurer - the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party - how much money had been remitted under the foreign exchange banking regulations to those organisations in Vietnam named in the Defence Force Protection Bill. His answer was that none had been sent since he had learned about the matter. Is it a fact that no funds were sent through these channels until about a month ago, or did he not care? If funds had gone then he should have known and he should have cared. The Treasurer has shown that it was perfectly possible to act without any new Act of Parliament at all. He has made it plain that these funds stopped once he learned about them. It did not need an Act of Parliament; it could have been done administratively. Does anyone suggest that funds have gone overseas in any other way?
The Government’s intentions became apparent a fortnight ago during the first question time of this sessional period. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) himself made it inevitable that something dramatic would be done by the Government on this matter. He based all his strategy on some actions of a Labor Club at Monash University about which a former Minister for the Army came out of retirement to ask him a question. The Prime Minister sought to associate the Australian Labor Party with this university Labor Club. In a very arch manner he commenced his reply to this question on Wednesday, 16th August, by saying:
I am not able to say with any authority what relationship the Labor Clubs at the universities bear to the Australian Labor Party.
It is true that the Prime Minister has never taken the same interest in universities as his predecessor paraded. He has never spoken on the universities. It is clear that he knows very little about their activities. I know that there has been a Labor Club at the University of Sydney for well over 30 years. It has never been associated with the Labor Party. I dare say there has been a Labor Club at the Prime Minister’s alma mater, the University of Melbourne, even as far back as when he was a student. There again, it has never been associated with the Labor Party.
On the first day the Parliament met, my parliamentary Executive issued a statement in these terms:
In view of recent resolutions passed by Labor Clubs at Monash, Melbourne and the Australian National universities, the Executive (of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party) this morning stated that the clubs are not connected with the Australian Labor ‘Party and never have been connected with the Party. The Executive disagrees with the decisions and attitudes of the clubs.
The following morning at its first meeting in this Budget period the Parliamentary Labor Party passed a resolution in the same terms.. The text of each resolution was given, within half an hour of the conclusion of the Executive and caucus meetings, to the Press and radio. It is true that very little publicity was given to these statements at that time. No publicity is given unless there is a furore or a fuss. In this case the whole of this furore has been fomented by the Government.
The Prime Minister affects not to know what the status of these clubs may be.
There is no copyright in the term ‘Labor’ in Australia. There is no copyright in the term ‘Liberal’. Despite very assiduous investigations by the Government, its servants and its agencies, nobody has been able to discover any evidence that any member of the Labor Party has made any contribution to the organisations which are cited in this Bill. However, a statement has been made that a member of this House-a member belonging to the Liberal Party - gave $10 to one of the funds collected for the organisations mentioned in the Bill. The authority for this, as we know, is a candidate for the Liberal Reform Party who opposed the Treasurer at the last elections and who is a continuing member of the Liberal Reform Party. If one looks for connections between parties and these funds, the only link to be formed involves a member of the Liberal Party.
I must say that the Attorney-General has not been responsible for the furore to the same extent as some of his colleagues have been. In fact, at a Liberal seminar soon after these matters were first raised and given publicity he deprecated the efforts to exaggerate their importance. I quote from a newspaper report of his address to the Liberal seminar as follows:
Whilst suggesting that action might be taken against students who were not in the category of perfectly honest’, he continued: ‘I would not like to launch a prosecution which collected a perfectly honest student- who might be a future Prime Minister of Australia - sowing his oats’.
In many passages of his second reading speech the Attorney-General made his own much calmer, more rational attitude clear. There is no question, however, of the damage that was done, possibly to the morale of our troops overseas and also among many people at home, by the exaggerated terms in which the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and later the Prime Minister spoke about this subject. I repeat: All remission of funds could have been terminated by administrative action and, in fact, it was. We have not been told that other funds are leaving Australia now. This Bill, is all window dressing. It is a dramatic. demonstration taking place in a vacuum, because no. funds are going overseas.
The Labor Party supports the avowed objectives of the Bill to protect our troops who are fighting in or near Vietnam. Our attitude is determined by the principle, common to all Parties represented in this House and to all members sitting in this House, that Australian troops in the field must be fully supported in all those things necessary to make their efforts as effective as possible and their inevitable sacrifices as light as possible. We believe that our own troops must be aided as fully as possible and, of course, that the enemy they fight must not be aided at all. This principle was clearly stated by my predecessor, standing where I am today, on 4th May 1965, when he made this declaration to our troops in Vietnam:
We shall do our duty to the utmost in supporting you to do your duty. In terms pf everything that an army in the. field requires, we shall never deny you the aid and support that it is your right to expect in the service of your country.
The Labor Party makes a very clear distinction between the military and the political aspects of our commitment in Vietnam. Unlike the Government, we do not think that the service and sacrifice of our soldiers in Vietnam should be used for political ends overseas or at home. Therefore on the declared principle of this Bill there is no division in this House.
There was one quite remarkable aspect of the speech by the Attorney-General. It was this: While he stated a principle and a purpose with which none of us could disagree - the need for all possible protection of Australian troops in the field - nowhere did he say how this legislation would actually protect them or was necessary to protect them. The Attorney-General said - that the Bill was designed to protect the troops against some of their own countrymen at home who were preparing to send, assistance to the enemy, - yet nowhere did he give any description of the kind of aid to the enemy which he claims is being given, or the purpose to which this presumed succour is being put in a manner likely to be detrimental to the safety or effectiveness of our troops. In his speech he directs the attention of honourable members to the circumstances which have led to the introduction of this Bill. He said that after the decision to commit Australian troops to Vietnam, groups were organised within Australia to express opposition to the use of our troops in that area. He said:
Hie Government has watched the progress ot these groups.
He further said:
The Government did not wish to do anything to assist the aims of these groups by taking steps which would dramatise or exaggerate their dimensions, which were miniscule.
He dismissed, as calling for no action, the activities of a group in Sydney last year which raised funds, directed to the Red Cross, for humanitarian purposes. The Attorney-General referred to the general election of November last year which, he said, resulted in a quietening for some time of even the most vocal of the small obstructionist groups. Therefore, the whole history of the affair up to that stage showed no relevance in this legislation. No assistance had been sent, or it had been sent through the Red Cross. Then the Attorney came to the crux of it. He said:
Last month came the pronouncement from the Labor Club at Monash University that funds would be solicited to send to the so called National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. The handful who supported this motion could hardly have hoped for the widespread publicity which they gained. In retrospect it is a pity that the great majority of university students who condemned these proposals could not have received equal publicity.
I have just given a complete account of the reasons advanced by the AttorneyGeneral for the introduction of this legislation. Nowhere in earlier or later parts of his speech does he claim that there are any other reasons for it. Nowhere in his speech does he make any statement regarding the amount, the nature, the direction or the purposes of the funds solicited at Monash University or elsewhere. Nowhere does he suggest that there are any other reasons for this legislation than the activities of the Monash University students.
Because this is the key paragraph in the Attorney-General’s speech ft is worthwhile to examine it closely. He said: ‘The handful who supported this motion could hardly have hoped for the widespread publicity which they gained.’ This is true enough. How did it happen that they received more publicity than they could have expected? This handful could not have expected that the Prime Minister would attempt to make their totally unimportant proceedings a matter of debate in the Australian Parliament. This handful could not have expected that the Prime Minister would make a point of organising questions to ensure that their totally unimportant actions would receive the widespread publicity that they have gained. This handful could not have expected that the Prime Minister would act so unworthily as to attempt, deliberately but unsuccessfully, to associate the Australian Labor Party with the actions of Labor Clubs at universities. This handful could not have expected that solely and directly as a result of actions and statements of the Prime Minister, his Government and those of his supporters who belong to his Party or to parties which support the Government, their actions would be made an issue in the parliamentary, Press and public debate of this nation. This handful could not have expected that their totally unimportant actions would be the subject of a long and sometimes almost hysterical debate in another place. And above all, this handful could never have expected that their totally unimportant actions would be dignified with all the prestige and significance of an Act of Parliament. In retrospect, it is indeed, a pity, to quote the Attorney-General again, that: the great majority of university students who condemned these proposals could not have achieved equal publicity.
The Attorney-General, as spokesman for the Government in this matter, has little right to complain about the publicity given to the Monash University students. Far from regretting the publicity, the Government engineered deliberately and directly almost all the publicity that was ever given to the affair. In the week or so before Parliament met the Press, even in Melbourne where the Monash University is situated, had given a sanely suitable amount of publicity to these actions. It was only when Ministers, first the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and then the Prime Minister himself, entered into the debate that these activities became noteworthy and notorious. They had no intrinsic importance. Their only importance was that given to them by the Prime Minister and his colleagues. They had very little intrinsic publicity value. The real publicity given to them was given directly and deliberately by the Prime Minister and his colleagues.
– Would the honourable member have ignored them?
– Yes, I did.
– If the honourable member had been a Minister would he have ignored them?
– If any money had been sent overseas to the bodies named in the Bill as a result of these activities I would have taken the administrative action which the Treasurer took. We now read in the Press statements by soldiers in Vietnam or soldiers who have just returned from Vietnam expressing their concern that students should send aid to the Vietcong, whom they are fighting. It is suggested that” this would lead to loss of morale. Is it not evident from such statements that our soldiers may have a completely false perspective of the importance and representativeness of the actions of a handful of university students? If they have this view, who is to blame? If their morale is reduced by this false perspective, who is to blame?
– You are.
– The people who have given publicity to this handful are to blame. The retired Minister for the Army who interjects basks in publicity over the question which he asked the Prime Minister on 16th August. He is enjoying a resurgence of publicity. For more than 3 years he has had to do without the handouts of the Army publicity staff. He became a national figure again overnight; he was resurrected. In the third year he rose from the political dead. If there is any loss of morale because a handful of students were so ill-advised as to raise funds for the National Liberation Fund then the Government and its Leader are infinitely more culpable than are the students themselves for it is the Prime Minister who has given a ?-day wonder all the importance and significance of a great national issue.
The Prime Minister has done more than any student at Monash University or any other person in Australia to raise funds for this appeal. If he had remained silent; if he had taken the course , of prudence and honour and dignity, no one outside a small and futile circle, would ever have heard of this , appeal. Ever since the day he chose in this House to make a great national issue out of the actions of the Monash University students, he ensured not only that the appeal would attract attention but that it would to some extent attract funds. The best that can be said for this legislation is that it is necessary perhaps to undo the harm that the Prime Minister has done. It is certainly necessary that funds should not be sent from Australia to help a war effort against Australian troops. It is certainly necessary that Australian laws should protect Australian troops. It is certainly necessary that Australian citizens should be prevented from assisting those whom Australian troops are fighting on the field of battle. It has become necessary to embody these objectives in legislation not’ because of the action of Monash University students but because of the use that the Prime Minister chose to make of those actions. Insofar as funds were raised at all, the Prime Minister was the chief fund raiser and the chief publicist. Would Mr James, the Liberal Reform candidate, have received any donations for these purposes if it had hot been for the publicity which the Prime Minister achieved for the channels available to transmit such donations overseas?
The basic need in this matter is a sense of proportion. What assistance are we giving to those said to be ranged against Australia? If there was a declared war the present situation would not arise. The enemy would then be legally defined. There are Acts to deal with the situation which would then arise. Those trading with the enemy or assisting the enemy would clearly put themselves outside the law. The Government, however, believes’ that a declaration of war in the present circumstances is not appropriate. There are various reasons why the Saigon Government does not want a declaration of war against Hanoi. There are various reasons why our allies in South Vietnam do <not want a declaration of war against Hanoi. There are also reasons within Australia why the Australian Government does not want a declaration of war against Hanoi. All the anomalies of an undeclared war result from this. The Government is trying to have it both ways; it wants to compel patriotism at home and at the same time it wants to avoid the economical and political consequences of declared war. This Bill is therefore a monument not only to the Government’s panic but also to its hypocrisy.
A declaration of war would have several results embarrassing to the Government. The Government could have unlimited power and the public would expect the Government to use its power to ensure that defence burdens were equally shared. They are not shared equally, as the last two Budgets have clearly shown. The squeeze has been placed on low and middle income earners. The Government has not attempted to assist the transfer of resources from civil to defence fields through such things as capital issues control which applied in the Second World War and in the Korean War. It has preferred to rely on the price mechanism and to place the burden on the weaker section of the community. Except for those who are forced to carry either the physical or the financial burden of increased defence commitments, it is a case of business as usual.
Further, there is the external matter of political embarrassment. The Government has said consistently that behind all the turmoil in South East Asia and behind the hostilities in Vietnam lies China - China’s finance, China’s skills and China’s equipment. This goes right back to the debate at the beginning of May 1965 to which I have referred. The Minister for Defence then stated:
The fact is that the Government knows very well that what is happening in South Vietnam al the present moment is nothing more than an extension of the Chinese inspired Communist drive, the ultimate object of which is to take over the whole of South East Asia and perhaps countries beyond that area.
According to the Minister for Defence, China is behind it all, and has been behind it for 2i years at least, ever since we first sent troops to this area and first became engaged in hostilities there. Throughout this period we not only have continued to trade with the enemy but also have increased our trade with him. It is sometimes suggested that $10,000 may have been sent to the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam, though we do not know what the real figure is. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been gained by Australia in trade with China. Whatever may be the legalisms concerning the categories in which the goods fall, none of us can learn what goods are banned for sale to China. The Government refuses to state what are the goods which the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries and Japan refuse to sell to China. We are asked to take on trust the claim that it is perfectly proper strategically to sell to China steel, chemicals, rutile, tallow, wool and wheat to the value of hundreds of millions of dollars. We are merely informed that this is perfectly legitimate. The United States of America does not approve of Australia’s trade with China in these goods. India regards the trade which Australia and other countries-
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order! The Leader of the Opposition is getting rather wide of the terms of the Bill. I suggest that he come back to it.
– I shall conclude this reference very briefly, Mr Speaker. I was dealing with the purpose of the measure - the protection of Australian forces overseas.
-I trust that the honourable gentleman is not reflecting on the Chair.
– Certainly not, Sir. India unquestionably regards Australia’s trade with China in these goods as increasing China’s strength. The great instance of this has been our wheat trade. Last year 40% of Australia’s wheat exports were shipped to China at 138c a bushel while other countries paid 144c a bushel for our wheat. The cost of production exceeded both prices. As a result the taxpayers were called on last year under the terms of the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Act to pay $l6.2«i to ensure an adequate return to the growers. The taxpayers are expected this year to subsidise the wheat growers to the tune of $13m. The Australian Government not only has been party to selling record quantities of wheat to China but also has sold it at prices subsidised by the Australian taxpayers. In the last six years our trade with China has totalled $863m. Last year we sold to China steel worth $4.lm. In the last 6 years we have sold $7.9m worth of steel to China. No more than $10,000 has been raised for the NLF, compared with $863m gained in trade with China. Which is the more significant assistance to those opposing Australian forces?
This Bill makes two extraordinary concessions/Australians can now rest assured that it is permissible to criticise the Australian Government’s policies. For the first time it is necessary for this Parliament to write into a statute an assurance that in Australia one may criticise the Government.
– That is not so. That part of this measure has just been taken from the Crimes Act and repeated.
– It is extraordinary that it has been considered necessary to repeat that. The much longer section in the Crimes Act provides exemptions in respect of wider actions which would otherwise be offences. Use of the Crimes Act in the Monash University affair was advocated in another place. It was said that under the terms of that Act action could be taken to deal with those at the Monash University who were raising assistance for the National Liberation Front, but the penalty would have been imprisonment for life. Such a penalty would have been perhaps a little excessive and a jury might not have been willing to convict in circumstances which would attract a penalty of that magnitude. So a special Bill has been brought in.
We have the added safeguard which provides that it is legitimate to criticise the Australian Government’s policy. But there is another concession for which we must be duly grateful: It will still be permissible to contribute to the Red Cross. After 100 years of humanitarian activity, which the Australian public has generously supported, this is a considerable comfort and we should be grateful for it. But who would have thought that it would be necessary to stipulate in an Act of Parliament that it was legal to contribute to the Red Cross? We did not have to do this during the First World War, the Second World War or the Korean War. But now things have come to such a pass in Australia as to require the granting of a licence to contribute to the Red Cross by making special provision for its exemption from the prohibitions imposed by this measure.
Though the Government is doing its best to publicise and exaggerate the significance of these anarchists and exhibitionists at Monash University and a few other places where similar groups have been encouraged by the example set at Monash, there is every reason why military aid which would assist forces opposed to Australian troops should be prevented. There is also every reason why civilian humanitarian aid should be not only permitted but also promoted. There has never been a war in which hardship to civilians has been greater than it is in the war in Vietnam. There has never been a war in which the hardship to civilians has been brought home so graphically and vividly to readers and television viewers all over the world. The result has been that very many people have been moved to contribute to organisations which endeavour to relieve the suffering of civilians and also combatants. I remind honourable gentlemen - some have heard it at first hand and the rest have read it - that in hospitals in South Vietnam Austalian doctors, loyal to their Hippocratic oath, have given medical assistance to members of the Vietcong.
– So they should.
– Of course. We acknowledge that this is very proper. It is proper also that we should assist the Red Cross and other organisations in relieving the suffering not only of civilians but also to a considerable degree, when they are disabled, even of persons fighting against Australian soldiers.
The Attorney-General, in his second reading speech, referred to the role of the International Red Cross. In a statement issued on 23rd August Mr Justice Nimmo, Acting Chairman of the Australian Red Cross Society, said:
Our Society’s donations in the past two years were made in response to appeals by International Red Cross on behalf of two sister societies - the North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese Red Cross - whose obligation, like ours, to relieve human suffering. The individual specific donations for the same period totalled $10,952 in the case of South Vietnam and in respect of North Vietnam $404.
Neither the Bill nor the Minister in his second reading speech acknowledged the assistance which has been given by Australians to and through other philanthropic organisations. The National Secretary for
Inter-Church Aid in the Australian Council of Churches, Reverend H. L. Perkins, in a telegram to the Prime Minister said:
Voluntary agencies were supplying small amounts of medical aid to voluntary organisations in North Vietnam through international channels . . . legislation should not prevent aid sent to voluntary organisations, whether it he through Red Cross or international organisations for the sole purpose of meeting human need.
The Bill permits such other organisations to be proclaimed. One would have thought that an organisation which is already in existence and whose work is acknowledged by the Government might have been cited in the Bill in the same way as the Australian Red Cross Society and the International Red Cross. Not only do the Bill and the second reading speech fail to acknowledge the humanitarian assistance which the World Council of Churches has given in both North and South Vietnam; they also fail to recognise the assistance which the Catholic Church has given through Caritas Internationalism whose relief and aid programme operates on much the same basis as the World Council of Churches. In his telegram to which I have referred, Reverend Harvey Perkins, who is on the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, whose assistance the Government has sought for a report on all the forms of aid that might best be given in South Vietnam, said:
The Red Cross and World Council of Churches had sent small quantities of medical supplies to the North Vietnamese Red Cross. The Roman Catholic Church had given some assistance to its Church in North Vietnam.
The Pope recently sent a representative to Hanoi to ascertain what assistance he could render to the intense suffering of the North Vietnamese people. If the Government was prepared to practice compassion more and politics less the whole issue would be seen in a much clearer and better light. The Government has got things completely out of perspective.
Perhaps I might give some more details of aid that has been sent, since the journals containing these details would not be prominent in the reading lists of honourable members in the Government parties. The Catholic Leader’ of 2nd February 1967 gave a detailed account of a visit to North Vietnam by Monsignor Huessler. He had been commissioned by Caritas Internation- alis to report on the need for assistance to North Vietnam. On his return he reported to the Papal Secretariat of State. Monsignor Huessler went to North Vietnam in the company of Pastor Martin Niemoeller, one of the Presidents of the World Council of Churches. Monsignor Huessler revealed that North Vietnamese authorities had asked him for a 250-bed hospital with surgical equipment, machinery for filling pharmaceutical ampoules and equipment for biochemical analysis. He was reported as saying: ‘About seventy institutions of the North Vietnamese health service, from hospitals to small dispensaries, have been affected by United States bombing’. Defending the need for medical assistance, Monsignor Huessler said: ‘Hypodermics are not bayonets, surgical instruments are not bombs’. The Monsignor said that his trip was motivated by the fact that people in North Vietnam were suffering and must be helped by the force of Christian conscience.
On 1st April the New York ‘Times’ reported that a total of $1.5m worth of medical aid for North Vietnam had been donated by Roman Catholics and distributed by the International Red Cross. The Vatican Press Office said:
The Catholic Caritas Internationalis aid organisation is making every effort to meet the most urgent needs of North Vietnam.
The ‘Catholic Weekly’ of the 24th of this month reported that a sum of $70,000 had been earmarked by the German Catholic overseas aid agency, Misereor, for a hospital in North Vietnam. The report added:
Caritas International, the world-wide Catholic charity agency, and Protestant and secular groups are also co-operating to support the hospital at the request of (be North Vietnamese Red Cross.
So, Mr Speaker, it is quite clear that not only the Red Cross, whose efforts the Bill acknowledges, but also the World Council of Churches, the Catholic Church in Australia and, 1 believe, although I do not have any relevant figures or quotations, bodies such as the Quakers who have for generations been foremost and fearless in rendering assistance to the victims of war, are giving aid to alleviate some of the side products of the action to which Australians are committed in South Vietnam. The Bill acknowledges some only. It then begrudgingly says that other bodies can continue their efforts if they are proclaimed. Until they are proclaimed charity on the part of Australian churches must cease; it is illegal. Is any one of us going to say that the aid that the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Church and the Quakers have given from Australia is illegal or immoral or treacherous? Of course not. There ought to be no quibble about permitting this form of aid to continue.
The military aid, of an unspecified nature which these cranks have advocated in a few isolated areas has been effectively stopped by administrative action, as the Treasurer said this morning. If there is any such aid going forward it must be stopped. As far as we know it has been stopped. It should never have commenced, but it has been stopped, not by this legislation but by administrative action. Now because of the furore which the Government has created by its publicity, with the Minister for Defence and the Prime Minister dignifying with exaggerated reactions the actions of a few anarchists and exhibitionists in a few university clubs, it has been necessary for us to suspend all our proceedings today to pass a Bill which merely spells out something already possible to stop by administrative action.
We support the Bill because there can be no question that material assistance to those fighting Australian troops must stop. It should never have been permitted. But it is proper that we should note the way in which the Government has, for its own political purposes, exploited this issue.
– It has been most interesting indeed, not only to the Parliament but also, I am sure, to the people of Australia who may have been listening in, to hear the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I think everybody has been waiting to see what line would be taken by this distinguished gentleman, in view of what has been happening within his Party throughout Australia. I would like to say - and I hope he will not take this as being anything but complimentary - that Fred Astaire in his white tie and tails, dancing, as we remember, over the pond from stepping stone to stepping stone,. could not have done better than the Leader of the Opposition did in his efforts to avoid every issue and come out with the best of both worlds.
It is also interesting to note that the major part of his speech revolved around foreign affairs, and to study the list of Opposition speakers who will follow him in this debate. It is always interesting when we are conducting debates on matters such as the North West Cape Naval Communication Station or the agreement with Malaysia or anything else relating to foreign affairs or defence to note which members speak for the Labor Party. I ask the Leader of the Opposition whether we are to hear from any of the members who were elected by the Labor Party to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. We are going to have the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), who has recently been to Vietnam and returned saying that the whole Labor policy should be reconsidered and rejuvenated - or he said so until he was slapped down. We then find a change in the team; we have the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). It is difficult to say where he fits in. Then we have the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and then that old favourite the honourable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). When one looks at that line up one is entitled to ask: Where are the gentlemen who have been deemed respectable enough to sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee?
The Leader of the Opposition said that the Labor Party would support the Bill. It is reasonable that he should take that line. He has to support the Bill. If we have regard to the motion passed by the Labor Party’s Federal Conference in Adelaide, which was referred to by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) in this place on 29th August-
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member make his remarks relevant to the Bill before the House.
– I am endeavouring to show, if 1 may, why the Labor Party is supporting the Bill and, if I may, I will lead on to refer to further statements made by the Leader of the Opposition.
-Order! The honourable member has been speaking for some 3 minutes and has not once mentioned the Bill. I suggest that he direct his remarks to the Bill. “
– I can understand why the Leader of the Opposition feels that he has to support the Bill now before the Mouse. In view of the resolutions adopted by the Labor Party’s Federal Conference in Adelaide, surely it is enough to give succour to the National Liberation Front and the enemy of Australia without going any further as far as this Bill is concerned.
The honourable gentleman said that without the benefit of this legislation, administrative action had curtailed the sending of money out of Australia. That may be true. But his extraordinary friend and the friend of the honourable member for Yarra - I refer to Mr James, in my opinion an exhibitionist of the first water - has claimed that he has successfully sent money out of the country through the United Kingdom and other sources. This may not have happened; it would fit in with my view of Mr James if it had not. But let us go further. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Labor Club had no association with the Labor Party. Perhaps not, but how convenient. Yet I understand that the Victorian Executive of the Labor Party refused to ban its .members from speaking before the Labor Club for the reason that many of the members of the Labor Club also were members of the Labor Party. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Labor Club was an innocuous organisation having nothing to do with the Labor Party. But what about the statement made this morning by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) that trade unions had sent to the Governor of Hong Kong a message condemning British action in the area and that they had at the same time forwarded the text of the message to Peking for propaganda purposes.
What is the purpose behind the actions of these extraordinary gentlemen - I use the term with reservation - at the Monash University? I know that they are only a small group. They are a group of unimportant people who could not make the grade in any sphere if they endeavoured to measure up to the decent students of these universities. Frankly, if a psychiatrist examined them he would see that they were people who from infancy had had some trouble which they had never been able to over-, come. But the important point is not these young individuals; it is who is behind them and who motivates them at specific times. This is the interesting thing. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the Government had created all the publicity in respect of this matter. At the time of the incidents at Monash University I was outside the country. The publicity did not refer to anything said in this Parliament. The publicity did not relate to any statement by any member of any Parliament. The publicity on the other side of the world was to the effect that university students in Australia were collecting money for the Vietcong. Let us ask ourselves what is the purpose of this endeavour. The money is unimportant. I do not think it matters whether they’ send $200 or $400. But the morale of our troops in the front line is important. The Leader of the Opposition has stated that the Labor Party will support the troops in every way as far as the fighting is concerned, but anything else - their morale or what they feel about things happening to the rear of them - is unimportant to the Labor Party. The honourable gentleman should take stock of those who support him; the decent people of Australia certainly will not support him. A soldier does not mind what dangers he may have to face, because this is his’ duty. This is what he is trained for. But the best way to break down the morale of any soldier in a field of war is to let him know that the people behind him are white-anting him; that they are subverting what he is there to achieve and are giving succour, whether morally or in any other way, to the enemy.
What does the Vietcong or the National Liberation Front gain from this episode at Monash? It gains from the fact that propaganda about these incidents is always disseminated beforehand. The right people know about it. The news is broadcast on Radio Peking.. Radio Peking does nol know that only nineteen children are involved. Radio Peking describes the incident as one involving university students of Australia. The same thing applies to protests held in this country. I remember going to a passing out parade of national servicemen held at Puckapunyal. It was about - the second or third such passing out parade. The ‘Save Our Sons’ group had been there earlier. Publicity was not given to the soldiers passing out; it was given to the organisation with the banner. These protests against Australia’s involvement and against our troops in Vietnam are reported throughout the world. I admit that when I attended the passing out parade I was nervous. I admit that I thought there could be a scene. I arrived at the boundary of Puckapunyal and asked the ^despatch rider who was to lead us in Where the ‘Save Our Sons’ group was. He said that it had been there an hour ago, had met a Press reporter, and had gone home. The next day news of the protest was in all the newspapers. How is it that when an incident takes place in the city it always takes place on & street corner where a Press reporter is conveniently handy? Are these incidents spontaneous or are they organised?
Let us realise that these things are done not only for the effect they will have in this country but also for the effect they will have in the countries of our allies. They are done in an endeavour to undermine the morale of our troops and of our friends. They are done in an effort to make our friends doubt us. The question with which one is met overseas is: Are you fair dinkum in Australia or is this ratbag element typical of Australian thinking? I will be interested to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. According to newspaper reports, which he may or may not have denied, he said that if the Americans are forced out of South Vietnam there is no doubt that the Communists will take over. I am sure that being the man I think he is, he will repeat those statements today. If the organisation of funds for the National Liberation Front is part of a propaganda campaign to force the United States to vacate Vietnam and the rest of South East Asia, it is part of a plan which is dangerous not only to Australian servicemen in the area but also eventually to the homeland and everybody in it.
I congratulate the Government on at last taking some action - it should have acted before now - to show that it is prepared to deal with these people. I do not condemn anybody who wants to give aid to the Red Cross. Let them give it. I do not even ask where the Red Cross Society dispenses that aid. But when the Leader of the Opposition starts to talk about aid. to the North Vietnamese, about hypodermics not being bayonets, I would remind him that no matter what is quoted in respect of Vietnam or the situation in South East Asia an opponent can always find something which completely contradicts it. But in this case there is no contradiction. The Bill prohibits financial aid being sent to the National Liberation . Front or any other organisation or person that may be connected with the National Liberation Front or the Vietcong. I do not think anybody in Australia objects to this provision. It does not prevent criticism of the Government, Ministers of the Government, the policy of the Government or anything else.
I feel that the Leader of the Opposition and the people of Australia should be told that in respect of Vietnam the Government has a responsibility at this moment for the defence of Australia. The Opposition is endeavouring to gain the power to govern this country. What its policy would be if it were in office is its own business and is the business of the Australian community. But when people outside are telling us what we should do or should not do in respect of the Vietcong, the people of Australia should ponder. No member of the Opposition who has gone to Vietnam and who knows anything about South East Asia has come back here without a certain percentage of his viewpoint changed. I think in all fairness I should say that his view would not be changed on everything, but it has most emphatically been changed on certain matters. We know that whilst pamphlets are being sent about this House against the Bill and against our actions in Vietnam, the people who are sending them do not have the responsibility for the protection of our country. If they are clergymen they have yet to prove to the people that they have the divine power in the event of them being wrong to save Australia and the Australian people from what we feel could occur if the situation in South East Asia went wrong.
The Bill is almost identical with a measure which was introduced by Dr Evatt in 1947. It is interesting to read what the Labor Party put into that Bill at that une. That measure was for the protection qf approved defence projects. It was introduced because it was considered by the Labor Government in 1947 that the Communist Party was taking action to subvert essential defence projects in Australia. Included in the Bill was a provision that if boycotts were threatened and if appeals for boycotts were made, published, written or orally made, this was an offence against the Commonwealth. Dr Evatt is reported in Hansard as giving chapter and verse the reasons why this was done. The reasons were exactly the same as the reasons for introducing the Bill which is now before us.
Honourable members opposite try to play down the threat to Australia. They try to suggest that all is well and that we have nothing to worry about. Because of their attitude I propose to quote from a book which is now in my possession. I admit that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition or any other honourable member opposite could produce a book which completely contradicts it. Nevertheless I propose to quote from ‘Communism in Asia’, a publication brought out by the Australian Institute of Political Science. A section headed ‘Is Asian Communism a threat to Australia?’ deals with China and the situation in South East Asia and states:
In terms of this objective, the crucial test of success or failure in the Vietnam war isnot whether the United States will or will not be able to deny South Vietnam to the Communists, but whether she will be prepared to fight the same kind of war all over again in another country if that is necessary. If she successfully balks the Communist attempt in Vietnam but decides that enough is enough and that she will be. involved in no more such wars, then the Chinese objective will have been’ achieved.
To sum up: I believe that a Communistdominated South-East Asia would present a very serious threat to Australia and that arguments to the contrary are quite unconvincing.
I also believe that such a Communist domination of South-East Asia could quite conceivably come about in the next decade or two.
– Why does the Government sell wheat to China?
– I admire the honourable member for Bendigo outside this chamber, but inside it I am not sure which way he is swinging. Surely outside this place he feels the same about this as I do. I am sure that in the Bendigo electorate he knows the right people who believe one way and he probably has a policy for them, but for people who move the other way he probably has another policy.
Let me say here and now that if members of the Labor Party at. this time were to oppose the Bill they would be repudiated by the people of Australia. Therefore they dare not do so. They have tried to bring in every side issue. They have brought in trade with China - we are not at war with China, whether we like the Chinese or not - and let it be said that I do not agree with that policy. But at the same time we are fighting and we do have troops in Vietnam. I want it to be plainly understood that any support that they need while their backs are towards me they will be given, however undermined they may be by certain sections of the Communist Party of Australia and anyone in the Labor Party who may so desire to affect them. Their morale is important. Anyone who wants to lower their morale and to increase the morale of the Vietcong is doing nothing but coming out on the side of the National Liberation Front, the enemies of Australia, and is acting to the detriment of the Australian people in the long term.
– I listened with interest to the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). He spoke this afternoon with the usual vehemence he adopts when talking on Vietnam. I was interested to hear him in the closing moments of his address say that he does not agree with the Government’s policy on trade with China. If this is so he should have made some reference to the Government’s inconsistent attitude on this question. This week in another place there was a very lengthy debate on the Government’s attitude to trade with mainland China. The Opposition has always rejected the Government’s thesis that the war in Vietnam represents a downward thrust from Communist China. Government supporters have consistently adopted this attitude when discussing Vietnam. Although the honourable member for La Trobe is opposed to this policy he made no attempt this afternoon to answer the charges brought by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that the Government has been consistently trading with Communist China for many years. As the Leader of the Opposition said earlier in the debate, last year the Government sold steel to the value of $4.1m to Communist China. The total value of the goods that it sold to Communist China last year was $140m. Surely the honourable member is not so naive as to believe that some of the $4.1m worth of steel will not find its way to Vietnam.
– Order! I remind the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the Bill has nothing to do with sending steel to China. It relates to a person who sends or takes money or other financial assistance or goods to Vietnam, or contributes or gives money and so on. The prohibited acts are set out in clause 3 of the Bill.
– I understood we were dealing with the Defence Force Protection Bill. I wanted to point out that the Bill does not seek to prevent only the assistance that is being given by a small section of the Australian community to North Vietnam, but also seeks to deal with difficulties that can arise and have arisen as a. result of the Government’s policy. However, I will leave that aspect now and deal with the propositions contained in the Bill. As the Leader of the Opposition has already said, we do not oppose the Bill but we will be moving certain machinery amendments in the Committee stage. Our attitude on aid to North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front has always been perfectly clear. We are opposed to the war in Vietnam and to the commitment of Australian troops to the’ war in Vietnam. We will strive to achieve a negotiated settlement of the war as quickly as possible. When we become a government we will insist on certain conditions being met if Australian troops are to remain in Vietnam.
AH these principles have been stated firmly and precisely by spokesmen for the Opposition, over the last 2 years. We believe, as the Leader of the Opposition has said on many occasions, that the overriding objective is to stop the war in Vietnam. There can be no doubt about the attitude of honourable members on this side of the House. We believe that is the correct policy and that its consummation will save thousands of lives - Australian, Vietnamese and American lives. There can be no deviation from this policy; it is not subject to modification. But we have always made it clear that while Australian troops are in Vietnam we will sustain them to the utmost. Australian forces in Vietnam are doing their duty and we will not deny them the aid and support that is their right as repre sentatives of Australia. The Leader of tha Opposition, in leading for the Opposition in this debate, said quite explicitly that when the former Leader of the Opposition spoke in this House on 4th May 1965, after the commitment was announced, he said that we would not deny our troops in Vietnam the support to -which they were entitled. This has always been our attitude and it always will be. We are totally opposed to any assistance to North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front that could be used against Australian forces in Vietnam.
When the recent controversy arose over the donation of aid to North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front, we immediately dissociated ourselves from the proposals. Both the Executive and the caucus of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party issued statements making clear that the three clubs which had sought to send funds to the National Liberation Front had no association whatever with the Austraiian Labor Party. These statements had the complete support of all Opposition members and, I am sure, of our hundreds of thousands of adherents in this country. Despite our disavowal, the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) chose to make a shoddy political attack in this House which was intended to impugn the patriotism of members of the Labor Party. Honourable members will recall that during the last war the Labor Party enforced the provisions of the National Security Regulations with the utmost severity. In fact, the Curtin Government was at times bitterly criticised for the sternness with which it enforced these laws. We also enforced the legislation relating to trading with the enemy, which still stands on the statute book, although many honourable members opposite seem to have forgotten it.
Sir, because of our firm conviction that Australian forces overseas must be sustained to the utmost, we do not oppose the Bill. In addition, we do not oppose it because we believe there must not be the slightest suspicion that funds are leaving this country to be used in military operations against our troops in Vietnam. We do not oppose the Bill, but we question the motives of the Government in introducing it. We also question the necessity for the legislation. I believe that the Bill is a piece of petty politics of a kind unparalleled in Australia’s legislative history. The Leader of the Opposition this afternoon clearly revealed the tactics of the Government and its attempt to snatch at anything that may discredit the Opposition. This pattern has become apparent in the Parliament in the past few weeks. Honourable members on the Government side, and especially the Prime Minister, have shown this. The Government has tried ceaselessly and unsuccessfully to discredit our sources and to discredit our facts.
The Bill has been introduced to bludgeon and harry fewer than 200 students and the editor of a religious newspaper. This is a degrading use of the Government’s great powers. It would have been easy for the Government to have frustrated the schemes of a small minority of students to send funds to the Vietcong without flexing its legislative muscles in this way. The Government could have employed its powers over exchange control and the banking system generally to ensure that funds were not sent out of Australia to the Vietcong. This morning the Leader of the Opposition asked the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). a question on this point. The Treasurer said that no funds had left Australia since he learned about the situation. This confirms the contention of the Opposition that had the Government wished to prevent funds being sent, it already had the powers. Of course, aid and comfort should not be given to an organisation that is fighting against Australians. But the rationale of this legislation is open to the gravest suspicion.
The Prime Minister has succumbed completely to blatant emotionalism on this issue with unsubstantiated talk of psychological warfare. I believe that he does not have the full support of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) for this legislation. I believe that the Attorney-General agrees with the principle of free speech in this respect. His legislation points to this fact. Indeed, he emphasises it. Certainly the AttorneyGeneral’s earlier comments in this House and outside it in the Press have been restrained and reasonable. The Minister seemed to realise that there is reason for latitude to students who in the first flush of intellectual activity go to lengths which older people regard as extreme. There is always need for extreme tolerance of such student minorities, even if we regard them as misguided and irresponsible. It is certainly not necessary to introduce elaborate legislation on the scale of this Bill to check these activities. The Government has built a guided missile to bring down a balloon.
As I said before, the Government could simply have ensured that funds designated to the North Vietnamese Government, the North Vietnamese Communist Party or the National Liberation Front did not leave Australia. The Government has used the principle of the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act of 1947. This- was a brief Act of four clauses. It was designed to prevent interference with work on approved defence projects in this country. It was designed in particular to prevent interference with work on the Woomera rocket range. This was an internal project of immense significance at the time, and we believe that the then Government acted rightly to curb interference with work on the project. It rightly chose not to enforce the’ stringent penalties of the Crimes Act, but to impose moderate penalties. It acted in this way because the rocket range was an internal project and the Commonwealth either had to have a new Act or use the Crimes Act.
In this instance the Government had a clear alternative. It could have employed the Banking. (Foreign Exchange) Regulations to prevent funds designed to give military assistance to North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front from leaving Australia. It appears that the Treasurer has now acted precisely in this way. Funds will not leave Australia, not because of this legislation but because of a determination by the Treasurer that no funds will go to assist the National Liberation Front or North Vietnam. I suggest that regulations relating to exchange control, mentioned in clause 5 of this legislation, ought to have been sufficient in themselves if the Government were sincere in its intentions. These regulations would prevent funds flowing from Australia to North Vietnam and the Vietcong. It is completely out of. perspective to compare attempts to interfere with construction of a major defence project. in Australia with the actions of fewer than 200 students.
I want to comment briefly on other aspects of this remarkable Bill. The dragnet clause of the Bill, if such a term can be used, proscribes three institutions - the Government of North Vietnam, the Communist Party of North Vietnam, and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. It provides also for the proclamation of other organisations and persons outside Australia. The only exception to these provisions - and again this was referred to earlier by the Leader of the Opposition - is the Australian Red Cross Society, which has provided aid for humanitarian purposes in North Vietnam. I understand that the International Red Cross has distributed aid totalling $650,000 to the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. There seems to be a considerable gap between the exception and the proscribed institutions. The Red Cross is not the only international organisation to provide medical care to North Vietnam. For example, the Australian branch of the World Council of Churches has channelled through its organisation donations for aid to North Vietnam. It will be interesting to have the opinion of the Attorney-General, when he replies to this debate, on the Government’s attitude to organisations such as the Australian branch of the World Council of Churches.
What does the Government propose in respect of this organisation which has been giving aid of a humanitarian nature? I believe it likely that most of the funds collected in Australia for aid to North Vietnam will flow ultimately through these two great international agencies - the Red Cross and the World Council of Churches. There is also a considerable number of international organisations associated with the Catholic Church which are providing funds for humanitarian purposes in North Vietnam. I believe that this will pose a dilemma for many thousands of people of irreproachable conscience in Australia. These are people motivated by the highest ideals, who want to subscribe money to assist those suffering pain and deprivation in North Vietnam. Are they to assume that if they subscribe funds to be sent to North Vietnam through the World Council of Churches they will meet with the disapproval of the Government? Are Australian Catholics who give money to international Catholic welfare organisations, such as Caritas Internationalis which was mentioned earlier by the Leader of the Opposition, to feel that they are acting against the interests of their country? Are thousands of sincere pacifists in Australia to feel shame if they contribute through their international organisations money for North Vietnam in accordance with their humanitarian ideals? The Government must accept the fact that there are thousands of people in Australia who sincerely want to give money purely for medical and humanitarian purposes in North Vietnam. For many reasons they may not want to give money through the Red Cross. They might prefer to give it through other religious and charitable organisations. The Bill does not do justice to the motives and aspirations of these people. I suggest there are dangers that could cause severe dilemmas of conscience to these sincere people.
In this House last week the Minister for the Army (Mr Malcolm Fraser) attempted to discredit a report from the English journal, the ‘Economist’ which I had quoted earlier in debate. I said then that the report claimed that forty-five hospitals and medical facilities in North Vietnam had been damaged by bombing. The Minister claimed that the report could not be accepted because it came from what he deemed to be a tainted source. I refer the Minister to an article in the ‘Catholic Leader’ of 2nd February of this year. The article quotes Monsignor Huessler, SecretaryGeneral of a Catholic welfare organisation. He visited North Vietnam on behalf of Caritas International to survey the possibility of sending relief to North Vietnam. When he returned the Monsignor said that about seventy institutions of the North Vietnamese health services, from hospitals to small dispensaries, had been affected by United States bombing. The Minister may also have seen a recent report in the American magazine ‘Newsweek’ about the bombing of a hospital in Hanoi.
In view of the accumulation of evidence can the Minister for the Army seriously deny that medical and hospital facilities in North Vietnam have been seriously damaged by bombing. This damage has reinforced the desire of many thousands of sincere people to give medical and humanitarian aid to North Vietnam. I find it incredible that the Government should find it necessary to write clause 4 into this Bill. This clause states that certain acts, if done in good faith, are not unlawful. These are criticisms of the counsels, policies or actions of the Commonwealth Government, a minister, an adviser of the Government, or the Government of another country. It also says that it is not unlawful to incite, in good faith, another person to procure by lawful means the alteration of any such counsels, policies or actions. I suppose in view of the provisions of the Crimes Act we are fortunate to have this clause in the Bill. However, I think it is abominable that the right to dissent should have to be written into such legislation as we have before us. The right to dissent has always been one of the great fundamental principles deemed to be self-evident. I believe it is a reflection on this Government that it should find it necessary to express in this legislation the kind of principle to which I have just referred.
I would like to hear the Minister’s explanation of why the Government found it necessary to incorporate great fundamental principles of free speech into this legislation. Surely we are still entitled to assume their universal application in what purports to be a democratic society.
– Does the honourable member want it taken out?
– 1 do not want it taken out. But the Minister should indicate why he thought it so necessary to insert these words in the Bil!. We cannot oppose the Bill because we insist there must be absolutely no suspicion that Australian funds are being used to assist those opposed to Australian troops in Vietnam. We say that there are grave doubts as to whether the legislation was necessary at all and whether its objectives could not have been achieved in a more rational way. The introduction of elaborate legislation to be used against a very small dissident section of Australian students is unworthy of the Government. We believe that the Government’s primary purpose is political and it is exerting its efforts to smear the Opposition and impugn our patriotism. We believe the Bill will perplex and alarm many thousands of sincere Australians who, for humanitarian reasons, want to give aid to Vietnam through international organisations such as the World Council of Churches, the Catholic Church and the Society of Friends. We believe, further. that it is shameful that the
Government should have to express in a Bill of this sort the right to dissent which should be obvious to all.
– Firstly, might I say it is not my intention, having spoken in the debate on foreign affairs, to turn this occasion into a debate on foreign affairs. The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) is interjecting. There are some words of Shakespeare - I am not sure in which play he used them - to which some members of the Opposition might give attention. They are: ‘Methinks he doth protest too much’. The protestations of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) about what they are alleging to be the reasons for the Government presenting this Bill are almost indictative of a guilty conscience. I want to comment later on what I said in my speech in the Budget debate in regard to the actions of young students at Monash University and some others in this group.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that surely in this country and in a democracy it is taken for granted that we have the right to dissent. Might I point out that this Bill is designed to protect the men who are fighting at present in Vietnam to preserve this right to dissent. It is not the intention of this Government to limit in any way whatsoever the rights of those people who desire to dissent and put forward their particular point of view.
I want to express concern about something that to my mind has been developing in our country. We talk about the right to dissent but that right surely is restricted by the rights and privileges of other people. If we look at some of the demonstrators at present and some of the people who have been objecting we find that they arc putting forward their proposals on the assumption that they are completely and absolutely right. They give no credit and no thought to anyone who has a different opinion. If we look at the so-called dissenters and at their demonstrations we find that they give no right and concede no freedom to the people who disagree with them.
– That is utter rubbish.
– The honourable member for Reid ought to know about rubbish because he speaks more of it than anyone else in Australia. Let us have a look at the particular situation in which we find ourselves at the moment. The Leader of the Opposition said that the soldiers had a false picture because of the over-emphasis by the Government of what the university students were doing. He said that the students were misguided in thenefforts to raise funds but that this was something which should not have been blown up. He also said that not a great amount of money had been sent. To m> mind the point is not the amount of money that is sent; it is the fact that money was raised and sent to those who were opposing our forces fighting in Vietnam. Surely this is the thing that should be given very serious consideration. If there is a false picture, has it not been created by some members of the Opposition and by people who have spoken and written and commented about the situation in Vietnam? People have said that the Vietcong are fighting for independence and freedom and that a civil war exists in Vietnam. Such people say that we should not interfere. If basically this is correct, and if that thought is followed to its logical and natural conclusion, there is no more harm in sending aid to the Vietcong than there would be in sending aid to the South Vietnamese. To my mind, the people who are putting forward this completely warped and incorrect argument in regard to the position in Vietnam are creating the circumstances which we are facing by means of this legislation.
I believe, quite frankly, that it is a tragedy that we need to have legislation of this type presented in the Parliament. In presenting the Defence Force Protection Bill the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) said:
This Bill is drawn for the protection of our troops, who are fighting in or near South Vietnam. It is designed to protect them not against the enemy with whom they are engaged - they have shown in no uncertain manner and with great skill and courage that they can protect themselves in that direction - but against some of their own countrymen at home, who are prepared to send assistance to that enemy.
It is a tragedy that a Bill like this should have to be presented to this House and that the Attorney-General, in presenting it, should have to use phrases such as he used. I would ask those who, in recent months, have been making sweeping statements about the situation in Vietnam to seriously consider the position. This is possibly one of the most complex situations in which Australia, as a nation, has ever found itself. The campaigns in Korea and Malaya were perhaps similar, but many aspects of the Vietnamese war are completely different. In Malaya, Australian troops helped to destroy the threat of terrorists who were trying to establish a regime in that country. I have heard people ask why it is that the United States of America, with all its might and power, has not been able to attain a quick victory in Vietnam. Anyone who is familiar with that country and its terrain knows why this war cannot be concluded rapidly. Persons who fight using guerilla tactics usually have an advantage. This was so in Malaya. In the early days there, the terrorists achieved some successes. Until later campaigns against the terrorists were successful the terrorists wielded tremendous power over the people in the villages and areas from which they operated. Too many people try to over-simplify the position in Vietnam. They talk in airy-fairy terms. I remind honourable members - because this is something that many members of the Opposition overlook - that we are fighting in Vietnam in company with men from the United States of America and from our Asian allies. We are engaged in a conflict whereby we are seeking to establish economic and political security in South Vietnam.
It has been suggested that the forthcoming election in South Vietnam will not be honest or will be loaded against those who stand against the army. It is claimed that there are corrupt elements in Vietnam which are dominating the thinking on the election. I think it is a miracle that there can be an election at all in South Vietnam. It is remarkable that the South Vietnamese have been able to achieve what has been achieved. Credit should be given to them for proceeding with the election. Let us recognise the complexities of the situation in Vietnam. We are committed to a conflict which affects the safety and security of Australia as well as of other countries. All people in Australia should spend every effort to ensure that this engagement is successful and that ultimately in South
Vietnam is established a government - not a democratic government in the sense that we think of a democratic government, because that will take literally years to establish - that will lay the foundations for a democratic government and for the continued development and progress of South Vietnam to the benefit of all people there.
I repeat, it is regrettable that legislation like this has had to be presented to this House, but its presentation was necessary, and it is necessary that it be passed. I give it my complete support. I conclude by referring to words uttered many years ago by Sir Roy Welensky. He said that we should not forget that democracy was established in British lands many centuries ago; that we have made mistakes, but that from those mistakes we have learned; and that we are not yet perfect but are proceeding and progressing. He said that in the newly developing countries of Africa patience and assistance will be needed until they reach the stage we have reached today. This could be said also of the countries in Asia. We have a responsibility, and this Government has always lived up to that responsibility.
– It is remarkable that this debate has come to such a low point of interest: It has completely fizzled out. This afternoon we had a speech by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) on behalf of the Government, and he hardly referred to the Bill at all. We have just heard a speech by the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) and I do not think he made any specific reference to the Bill. He spoke about Malaya and of the forthcoming elections in South Vietnam, but had nothing to say about the subject before the House. This is very remarkable in view of the discussion of this proposed legislation a fortnight ago - a discussion which was raised to a high pitch by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) who answered questions, at question time, with an intensity that gave the impression that this was a serious matter which was going to affect the whole nation. The legislation has been introduced and it is being discussed in an almost empty House. There are a few Liberal Party members on their benches and four members of the Country Party.
– How many Labor members are present?
– Not too many more, which is an illustration of how completely uninterested the House is in this legislation and how completely the debate has fizzled out. The honourable member for Lyne made one or two remarks that ought to be looked at. He spoke about demonstrators - university students - who give no rights to anyone to disagree with them and who leave no room for any opinion differing from theirs. He described their attitude as being that they are absolutely right. I think the situation is just about the reverse. There are a few among those who demonstrate - a few among the university students - who leave little room for any other opinion and who, perhaps, feel that they are absolutely right, but the great majority of those who demonstrate, and the great majority of those university students who are active, have very great respect for civil rights, civil liberties and for freedom of opinion and expression. The great majority are very sincere in everything they do. If one had to test them on the basis of civil rights and sincerity they would come out far better than their political opponents. I think the truth of the matter is that it is among the supporters of the Government that there is little room for any other opinion. The honourable member for La Trobe, and others who agree with him, regard some of those who disagree with them as being psychiatric cases. He so referred to some of the university students. He said that they could not succeed in competition with others. Well. I know a number of university students who have been associated with this matter who are outstanding in their work, have received first-class honours and great distinction in their courses and have had a far better intellectual performance than the honourable member for La Trobe. The truth of the matter is that it tends to be the Government supporters who leave no room for a difference of opinion and say that those who disagree with them are irresponsible, ill-informed, and disloyal. This afternoon the honourable member for La Trobe described some of them as psychiatric cases. I do not think anyone on the other side of the House has any right to point a ringer at someone else and allege that he does not leave room for another opinion.
The honourable member for Lyne said that, if the argument of the university students and others was right and if the National Liberation Front and others had a great deal of support in Vietnam and were backed by the people, it was no more wrong to send aid to the Vietcong than it was to send aid to the South Vietnamese Government. I would state that proposition in a different way. I would say it is no more right to send aid to the National Liberation Front than it is right to send aid to the South Vietnamese Government, and I say that for the kind of reason that was stated in a letter from Air Vice-Marshal Ky to the Prime Minister referred to the other day. In that letter Air Vice-Marshal Ky said:
I take special pride in the fact that we have successfully started the course toward democracy and equality for a society which was imprisoned within the deep walls of feudalism, corruption and intolerable social discrepancies.
That is Air Vice-Marshal Ky’s description of his own society - imprisoned within the deep walls of feudalism, corruption and intolerable social discrepancies. I do not think that any Government which has been presiding over that situation has a right to be assisted by anybody. I also think that those who have opposed it and who have used force and violence to oppose it do not deserve support either. I think that the situation in Vietnam is such that there is little to choose between the sides and that the correct view to take is non-intervention - not to back one side or the other.
The Australian Labor Party and everybody else in this House opposes the sending of aid - money or goods - directly to anyone whom Australia’s forces are fighting, and opposes anything which is or could be converted into military aid, even if it is sent indirectly, or which could aid anyone whom the Australian forces are fighting. But we believe, and the Government also believes, that it should be no offence to send humanitarian aid - medical supplies, food and so on - through some recognised humanitarian channel. I think that these things are not in dispute in Australia and that the principles that are now in this legislation are supported by everybody in this House. Once any action was taken or suggested to send any kind of aid directly to anyone fighting Australian forces it would seem that this legislation was inevi table in the circumstances. But I feel, as both the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader (Mr Barnard) have pointed out, that it was possible to stop aid from going to North Vietnam by using the currency regulations - the sort of thing that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said this morning had been effective because, as he said, from ‘the time he heard about this situation no aid had been sent to North Vietnam. It was possible to do this without the great flourish of trumpets that the Prime Minister made when he dealt with the matter. He did not want to stop it going alone. We wanted to use this matter for his political advantage if he could; hence the legislation. Otherwise it would have been sufficient to have used the currency regulations, which, according to the Treasurer, have stopped any aid going in that direction. But once the initiative was taken by a few university students, as it turns out some kind of legislation has seemed to be inevitable.
I would say that if legislation was inevitable there is not very much wrong with the Bill that is before the House. The Opposition will move a couple of amendments. When I read the Bill and I heard the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) speak on the matter I was pleased to see that the legislation had been so carefully defined, was limited as to its purposes and that there were safeguards provided. In the circumstances of what had been said and done by the Prime Minister and a few other people on the Government side, I thought that the legislation would be far more general and far more objectionable than this. I think the Attorney-General and those who have drawn up this Bill deserve credit for the way in which they have carefully defined it. The essence of this legislation is not simply that it is necessary or desirable to deal with a few university students and others who have proposed sending aid to the Vietcong. I think the first thing that emerges from an examination of this Bill is that this kind of legislation has been made necessary because we are involved in an unofficial war; we are involved in a war that has never been declared or proclaimed; we are involved in a war which in some respects may be actually illegal and which has little legal basis. The Government has had to face a situation with which the
Crimes Act did not deal. That Act was inapplicable because this is not a war within the meaning of the Crimes Act. Therefore, something different and something special had to be drawn up.
The second thing that is apparent about this action of the Government is that the legislation is really a result of politics. I am quite sure that the Attorney-General did not want it. He as much as said so when he first commented on the situation a couple of weeks ago. This legislation was wanted for political reasons and it has fizzled completely.
The third thing that has to be said in general about this Bill is that it exposes the complete inconsistency of the Government. The Bill makes it illegal to provide aid to the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam, to the North Vietnamese Government, to the Communist Party of North Vietnam, and perhaps to other declared bodies, but it is in strange contrast with other things that the Government does and proposes to do. At the same time as it is being made illegal to provide aid, there is no illegality about trade. It is not unlawful to trade with North Vietnam and it is not unlawful to trade with the National Liberation Front. Even in 1966-67 we have still been trading with North Vietnam. As far as I know we may still be trading with North Vietnam.
– We have been given assurances that we are not.
– Statistics issued by the Commonwealth Statistician only a week ago still show trade with North Vietnam.
– Not since the assurance was given.
– This remains to be seen. If the accuracy of some of the things said by Ministers is the same on this as it has been on other things we will wait and see.
– It is remarkable what one can think if one has a suspicious mind.
-Order! The honourable member will address the Chair. We do not want a debate on trade.
– I suggest that the Minister might be warned too, Mr Deputy
Speaker. The position is that this Bill makes only aid unlawful. Clause 3(1.) is in these terms:
A person -
who sends or takes money or other financial assistance or goods to; or
contributes or gives money or goods to a person;
collects or receives money or goods. . . .
It is the act of giving that is an offence, not the act of trading. Trading with the enemy has always been the thing that was an offence. In the eyes of this Government it is an offence for a few university students to give medical aid but it is not an offence for the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, John Lysaght (Australia) Ltd and Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd to sell $7 .9m worth of steel to China, which is supposed to be the enemy behind all that is happening. In the view of the Government it is not an offence for this to happen. This measure is specifically concerned with the act of giving. As the Leader of the Opposition said the other evening, once treason prospers it is no longer treason.
The point that I want to make about this Bill is that it completely exposes the Government’s inconsistency. It plainly reveals the humbug of the national Government of Australia which, with a great fanfare of trumpets and an immense amount of political talk, threatens to impose a 2- year penalty on a few university students who may send a little medical aid to South Vietnam, while, at the same time, it encourages trade worth millions of dollars with the very country that it considers is responsible for all that we are fighting against in Vietnam. The Government’s view is that as long as there is a profit in some activity it is all right. That is characteristic of those who sit on the opposite side of the House. They take the view that once a profit enters into the picture everything is satisfactory. Australian trade with China has already been detailed and I do not need to discuss it further. The Government’s attitude to a few university students is in strange contrast to its attitude to BHP. I noticed in the ‘Australian’ a cartoon depicting some clergymen in a deputation to the Prime Minister. They asked his permission to send their aid through humanitarian channels and he replied: We send our aid through our political arm, BHP. This puts the whole thing in a nutshell. I am sure that if the university students start to trade with the enemy they will be able to get away with it quite well. But the giving of anything by them will be a criminal offence, punishable from now on by a 2-year sentence.
– Does the Opposition support this legislation?
– We do not support the Government.
– Does the Opposition support the action that is being taken?
– We support the Bill. The final point in this debate that I want to take up is the argument that what the university students are doing will adversely affect the morale of the Australian forces. I have been to Vietnam. I know how the members of the Australian forces there think. I know something about men in the Army.
– They do not think as the honourable member does.
– The honourable member may speak for himself. I know that the morale of members of the Australian forces will not be affected by the attitude of a few university students. Our servicemen will just say: ‘To hell with them’. What the university students are doing will not make our soldiers fight any less well and will not affect their morale in the slightest degree. The crocodile tears wept by the honourable member for La Trobe when he alleged that the morale of our men would be adversely affected show that he knows nothing about the attitude of soldiers to university students. Do honourable members think that the Australian soldier cares a damn about wha’t a few university students say? Of course he does not. If the honourable member from Tasmania who interjected a moment ago - I have never been able to learn the name of his electorate because he is so inconspicuous in this chamber - knows anything at all he knows that what a few university students say or do will not affect the morale of our troops. If he thinks it will his attitude shows that he is ignorant about the Australian soldier as well as about other things. What a lot of rubbish it is to talk about our soldiers like that. Does he think they are children or girls? They are far too tough to be affected by this sort of thing.
I believe that with a few exceptions the terms of this measure have been well drawn and that every honourable member accepts that in the existing circumstances - they are to be regretted - it is now necessary. It is necessary to deal with the existing situation, not with anything that has happened in the past. However, a number of points need attention if we are to be clear about what the position is. I want to mention one or two of them now in the hope that they will be looked at in more detail at the Committee stage. First of all, this Bill will not create any enemy, contrary to the reports that have been published in a number of newspapers. It will not make an enemy out of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, out of North Vietnam or out of the Communist Party of North Vietnam. It will simply make the giving of assistance or the inciting of anybody to commit such an act an offence. But this will make no overall difference to the situation. It will not bring about a condition of war or create an enemy. It will not make it an offence to trade even with North Vietnam or the Vietcong. The only offence will be the act of giving. But, if one can trade, there will be no offence in trading.
Clause 3 contains a very unusual phrase. It refers to contributing, giving, collecting or receiving and soliciting the contributing or giving of money or goods ‘with a view to money or other financial assistance or goods being made available’. I have searched in other Acts and as far as I can ascertain this is the first time that this expression has ever been used. Why has it been chosen now? I suggest that the reason is that it is & wider expression than the others that are normally used. It does no,* involve intent or knowedge. Ti is a looser kind of expression than is usually adopted.
– It is a trap.
– To a certain extent it is. When one compares this measure with the Crimes Act, the terms of which, surely, are wide and extensive enough to satisfy anyone, one finds that the words used in the Crimes Act are expressions such as ‘intent’ and ‘knowledge’, not phrases like ‘with a view to’. I think we should hear from the Attorney-General some explanation of the reasons why this expression has been chosen - as I have said, for the first time.
It is worth noting in passing that in clause 3 (1) (e) the Government for the first time recognises that the National Liberation Front is separate from North Vietnam. So far it has always argued that that organisation is North Vietnamese. It now recognises in law for the first time that it is separate from North Vietnam.
– That statement is quite wrong.
– I wonder whether the Minister has read the Bill. Clause 3 provides for the legality of aid in certain circumstances. I think it is accepted by everyone that aid has been given to the enemy for hundreds of years and been regarded by all concerned as proper. I want to emphasise now something that was said by both the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I hope that the Attorney-General will take it up and not just ignore it. Why should exemption from the prohibition in this measure be confined solely to the Australian Red Cross Society? The Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition gave details of other bodies that give aid, such as the World Council of Churches, the Society of Friends and the Catholic Church. Surely it is not necessary to investigate any of these organisations in order to proclaim them as exempt. Why can they not be specified by name in clause 3 (3.)? I specifically ask the Government at this stage to consider doing so. I can see no reason why this should not be done.
– Why does the honourable member limit himself to those bodies?
– Because they have been active in the field already. If the Minister can tell me of one or two others that have been active I shall be pleased to support specific mention of them also in the Bill. Unless such organisations are specified in the measure it will be illegal for them to continue the aid that they give. It would be illegal for the Rev. Harvey Perkins, for example, to continue the activities in which he is engaged at present unless this exception were applied to them. Would the Minister make it an offence for the Division of Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Services of the Australian Council of Churches to continue its operations? Is it the intention of the Government to make it an offence here and now, or as soon as this law is passed? We do not know how long this process of proclamation will take, or how a decision will be made on whether a body shall or shall not be proclaimed. What I submit is that in the case of the organisations that have been mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition it is possible to decide now.
Clause 4 of this Bill has not been altogether welcomed by everybody. This is the clause which says that it is not unlawful to endeavour to show that the Government or the Minister is mistaken in their counsels, policies or actions. I am rather pleased to see this because I believe that the purpose of some of those who have moved for this legislation is to create an atmosphere in which it might be regarded as unlawful or at least dangerous to try to show that the Government or the Minister is mistaken in their counsels, policies or actions. The Bill, however, specifically states that it is not unlawful to do so. This being the case, I think we must infer that it is also not acceptable to imply that it is unlawful to do this. If the Government is going on of its way to say it is not unlawful to disagree with it about the war in Vietnam, then I think it has an oligation to go a step further and say: ‘We will give up implying that it is unlawful to do so.’ But I am sure that all supporters of the Government would not be prepared to go that far.
– The honourable member is dead right.
– That is correct, because the honourable member for La Trobe would have nothing left to say if he went that far. If one excluded such imputations from the speeches of the honourable member there would be nothing left in them.
There are one or two other points of detail that I think should be mentioned. Clause 6, sub-clause (3.), provides for proceedings to be instituted only if consent is given by the Attorney-General or by a person authorised by the Attorney-General. I should think that in cases such as the ones envisaged, where the AttorneyGeneral himself says that care ought to be taken in initiating proceedings, it should be left to the Attorney-General alone to consent to the institution of proceedings.
Sub-clauses (4.) and (5.) of clause 6 provide that where proceedings have been instituted but have not been continued the person proceeded against may be discharged if the proceedings are not continued within a reasonable time. In other legislation that has been in force in this country provision has always been included to the effect that if proceedings are not continued after a reasonable time the accused person is automatically discharged. In the Crimes Act, section 24ac, sub-section (2.), paragraph (d) provides that a person charged shall be discharged if proceedings are not continued within a reasonable time. Why is a different kind of provision being made in this Bill? If it has been good enough to provide in the Crimes Act that if proceedings are not continued within a reasonable time an automatic discharge will follow, why is it not good enough to repeat that provision in this Bill?
Then I come to clause 7, which is a very comprehensive kind of clause and refers to a body corporate. It says that it is not necessary to prove that a person charged was an officer of the body corporate or a branch of it. This is a very extensive kind of dragnet provision. I do not know why it is not enough to rely on section 5 of the Crimes Act for this purpose, because section 5 is surely wide enough for any such purpose. It says:
Any person who aids, abets, counsels or procures, or by act or omission is in any way directly or indirectly knowingly concerned in, or party to, the commission of an offence against any law of the Commonwealth or of a Territory, whether passed before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be deemed to have committed that offence and shall be punishable accordingly.
If that section is not wide enough to catch anyone even remotely associated with some kind of an offence then I would be greatly surprised. Why is it necessary to introduce a new clause like clause 7 of the Bill when we already have such a wide provision as section 5 of the Crimes Act?
The final matter of detail to which I would like to direct the attention of the Minister and his advisers concerns clause 8. The Bill provides:
In a prosecution for an offence against this Act, a recital in a Proclamation under this Act of a matter is evidence that the matter recited was a fact at the date of the making of the Proclamation . . .
It is not necessary to produce evidence to prove it; a recital is enough to prove certain things such as those set out in the various paragraphs of sub-clause (2.) of clause 8 - that a body having a specified name existed at a specified time, that guerilla activities were carried on, that persons named or described in an averment were at a particular time engaged in guerilla activities. No-one could find fault with this. It is unreasonable that in a prosecution conducted under this act the Government should have to bring somebody from Vietnam to prove that guerilla activities were taking place at the time. But I think the recital referred to should be by the AttorneyGeneral and not by the prosecution. This should be a matter for the Minister and not the prosecution.
– It would have the same effect.
– It may have, but 1 can never understand lawyers who say: This will have exactly the same effect, but this we will not say’.
– You just cannot understand them.
– The PostmasterGeneral, from his height of superiority, cannot afford to be ignored, and I quite realise my own deficiencies.
– Your cynicism will not worry me, either.
– I do not think anything would worry you. Your head is so thick that I sometimes wonder whether anything affects you at all.
– Order! The honourable member will address the Chair.
– The PostmasterGeneral seems to spend most of his time in the House when I happen to be speaking. I do not know why.
– I do not either. It is not from choice.
– There seems to be some compulsion upon him to do so.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I have often heard the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) speak in this place and elsewhere and I cannot recollect ever having been frightened of what he has said; but I must confess I am frightened tonight. It is because of the difference between his attitude in this House on this question and his attitude elsewhere. I believe that tonight we have heard feigned moderation on the part of the man who sets the foreign policy of the Australian Labor Party, the man who the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has confessed is his mentor in this matter. I do not believe he is being honest in this moderation. I believe, rather, that it is part of a plot or a trick to hoodwink the Australian electorate and to portray members of the Opposition as moderate when they are really extreme. I am frightened by the moderation of the honourable member for Yarra.
The Bill before the House is drawn for the purpose of preventing material aid being sent to those who are in substance, even if not in formal law, our enemies. It is designed to prevent aid being sent to the people against whom our troops are committed in battle. But what kind of aid? To find the answer to that question we must look to the words of a man who has made himself the spokesman for those who send this aid, a man closely connected with the honourable member for Yarra. I refer to a certain Mr Francis James. On 8th August of this year Mr James spoke in favour of a resolution proposed at a meeting held at Melbourne University, that every Australian has a democratic right to send aid to the National Liberation Front’.
In the course of his remarks he made it clear that he did not mean only civil aid. I shall quote his exact words. These were taken down on tape and the tape is available, so that these words cannot be contradicted. He said:
It is for this very reason, amongst other things, that we support aid, not merely civil aid - aid of all kinds . . .
This is the real Mr James speaking, not the man who writes in his ‘Anglican’ with the same kind of feigned moderation which the honourable member for Yarra has used in this House. Here is the truth slipping out. I have quoted the man’s exact words.
Honourable members on both sides of the House have said, very rightly, that it is not of great importance whether a few hundred or few thousand dollars of aid goes to the Vietcong. This is not enough really to affect the matter. What does affect the matter is the disaffection and subversion that this aid represents and the fact that this subversion can be magnified, can be made to grow by what it feeds on and so help our enemies. I again quote at some length Mr James. He said:
The very first thing, Sir, that we can contribute is the passing of this resolution tonight-
That is, to send aid to the National Liberation Front; aid of all kinds, not just civil aid - because, don’t fall, I beg of you, for this materialistic nonsense that it is the big battalions with all the guns and all the money and all the resources, aircraft facilities and what all, that wins.
The little thing in wartime, which he knows as well as I do, and which he has experienced, and it has got damn all to do with what ammunition you have got, what your signals are like and anything of that sort, it is a little thing called morale and it matters first and it matters last and it matters all the time . . .
Now this is the first thing we will do when we vote on this resolution for the National Liberation Front.
Those are the words of Mr James, the spokesman for these people, speaking not, as I have said, with the feigned moderation which he uses when he is speaking to a wider audience but speaking to his own people at the Melbourne University. Let me continue to quote Mr James, because there is something rather worse to follow. He continued:
If this house accepts by a substantial majority the resolution brought forward . . . and if we send a copy of this resolution to the National Liberation Front, whose postal service I can assure the house from my own experience is much superior to that of the Ky government, then, Sir, we are sending aid to the National Liberation Front and it would be disingenuous for me to make it quite clear that that is what is involved ultimately in your vote tonight, because speaking for my own part I shall see to it that the day after - no, two days after tomorrow, a text of this resolution and your vote will be conveyed to the National Liberation Front.
Is there perhaps some parallel between this and something that was mentioned in question time this morning in relation to certain traitorous union secretaries, Communist or Communist controlled, arranging to send a resolution in similar terms to the Chinese
Communist Government? Of course there is a pattern here. You have exactly the same things. lt may be said - I think it will be - that the official Labor Party has no connection with these Labor Clubs. It may well be that the Labor Party has no official connection with them, but there is a kind of induction, if you can use a term in electrical engineering; an induced current. The two wires may not have any physical connection but a current in one induces a parallel current in the other. Maybe there is no connection officially between the Labor Party in this House and the University Labor Clubs. Maybe it is convenient to disown them, but I believe that there is some kind of parallelism.
If honourable members will consult the record they will find that on 19th September last year, I think, the Monash Labor Club - this disowned Club - was addressed by my friend the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). On 17th October last the same body was addressed by Senator Wheeldon who, I understand, has some official connection with the Labor Party. I am told that on 17th March the honourable member for Yarra himself - the man who has just given the House the benefit of his views - addressed that same body and, to roars of applause, produced what was called a Socialist foreign policy which obtained the approval of the people present. There is nothing wrong with honourable members going to a body, even a hostile body, to endeavour to convert it and change its views. There is nothing wrong in appearing on a platform as an opponent. But there is something wrong when you appear not as a proponent of another view but as the welcomed guest to reinforce the views put forward. It may even be that with respect to some extraneous view you might innocently do this, but here a pattern is shown. I think this House should have the documents of what has occurred; it should have documentation of what communion there has been between members of the Opposition and these Labor Clubs that they so disingenuously disavow. I would like to see the facts.
I have spoken of three occasions where members of the Opposition appeared at the Monash Labor Club. I believe that it is not only one of these so-called proscribed and banned Labor Clubs that gets the support of members of the Opposition. If you look at the journals of these clubs - the roneoed rags they produce - you will find that members of the Opposition come in for a fair share of praise. Perhaps they canot help that. Nobody can be responsible for the people who praise him, but he can be responsible for elaborating a policy which these people will praise.
I do not, of course, deny them the right to have this policy. What I deny to them and what every Australian should deny to them is the ability to have this policy and endeavour to conceal it from the Australian public. What I fear and what every member of this House must fear is this feigned moderation when they are before a microphone in Canberra. When they are with their cronies - their Communist cronies in many cases - the real truth comes out. Although there may be no more physical connection between them and the Communist Party than there is between the two wires in a motor’s induction coil, one induces a current in the other. This is what the machine was designed for and this in point of fact is what it does.
There are people in this House who, by their policy, as shown in public statements both in the House and elsewhere - not the statements of moderation of today but the statements when they were less on their guard - have shown that they have given their hearts and souls unto the keeping of our Communist enemies. But here I do not accuse them of insincerity. I believe that when they have spoken of these things they have said what they really believed. The trouble about these people is that they are on the Communist side on the basis of their published statements. They may have no formal connection with the Communist Party - I do not know whether they have or have not - but they have shown by their published statements, as can be seen from the public record of Hansard-
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. I would be pleased if you would draw the honourable member’s attention to the Bill which we are now discussing.
-Order! The Chair will be the judge of whether the debate is ranging too wide. I remind the honourable member for Mackellar that he is permitted to talk about matters which are indirectly associated with the Bill but that he may not concentrate on them.
– I bow to your ruling, Sir. I believe that I am inside it and have been inside it. No doubt if I go outside your ruling you will call me to order. The Bill is designed to prevent certain unimportant physical things being done by University Labor Clubs and other extremists who are in spirit on the Communist side. It is important that these physical manifestations, which are offensive, be stopped because the real importance is what these manifestations do to morale.
I do not refer only to the morale of out forces. I do not believe that their morale will be adversely affected by the action of these people. However, I do believe that the morale of certain other people can be affected. I refer particularly to the people in Vietnam. This is the real risk behind this campaign. The real risk is that the Communist Party wants to persuade the people of South Vietnam that we are going to abandon them and that it would be better for them to surrender and join the Communists. That is the morale at which this kind of action by the students and other pro-Communists is aimed. This is why Mr James says that morale is the most important thing about passing this resolution and why he said that within 2 days its text would be conveyed to the National Liberation Front. I ask honourable members to hold those words in their memories.
The action against which this Bill is aimed is being carried out for a morale purpose. It is being done so that all over the world Communist circles can infiltrate into journals the news that Australian universities are supporting our enemies in Vietnam. By the time the news gets overseas it will be puffed up beyond recognition. The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), who has been abroad, only a few moments ago in this House told us that he had read this news in the Press overseas. It is a small matter of a few hundred dollars, but hanging on to this action, magnified like a little bit of celluloid is magnified on the cinema screen, for the benefit of the world Press is the story that the Australian universities want to sabotage our troops. This is a fine story, a lovely story to send to Vietnam. It was meant for Vietnam because the sponsors of the resolution have said so. Anything which breaks the morale, impairs morale or is designed to do that in Vietnam is causing death to our Australian troops just as much as if arms were sent to the enemy. This is the truth of the matter.
Let us remember the real point of substance which is behind these Communist moves. Let us remember that it is this point of substance that the Bill is aimed at. But let us remember also what the Opposition has been saying in this debate. Let honourable members opposite examine their own consciences and words - they will be in Hansard tomorrow - in trying to play down this matter of morale, trying to make out that this Bill does not matter very much. The Opposition says it can support the Bill because it does not matter very much, but all the time honourable members opposite are saying that the Australian people in universities have a right to do what they have done. The resolution to which I have referred is not referring only to medical aid or civil aid; to quote Mr James exactly, it is aid of all kinds. This is what they mean to give. What they are giving is small, but the effect of it on morale can be very great. Yet the Opposition has been trying to play down this effect on morale. They feign moderation, but under the cloak of moderation there are those little Communist daggers being stuck into our national effort. The students do not matter, but what does matter is this kind of plot to get a little aid going, to dupe a few enthusiastic innocents who probably only want to kick up against authority, and to use that for the most farreaching and dastardly of political purposes. The text of this Melbourne University resolution, say the sponsors, is to be presented to the National Liberation Front. Why? Will that succour the wounded? Will that give medical care? No. The real purpose is coming out into the open. Those who try to cover up, to overlay and to write down this real purpose are, whether they know it or not, helping the Communist cause.
– The obsessions and the fixations of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) are well known. I have no desire to bandy personalities with him. He is capable of lucidity, of course, but only at very rare intervals. T would quote to him in reply to his own strictures the words of his associate and perhaps mentor, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), who, in a most outstanding speech last Tuesday night, rebuked the Government in no uncertain terms. The honourable member for Bradfield referred to the rude awakening of Australia and the climax that was facing us. He referred to the British White Paper on defence, to the phased withdrawal from Singapore, to Britain’s attempt to enter the Common Market, to the eruption of black power in the United States of America, and then he went on to say:
Clearly a small European outpost on the fringe of an awakened Asia must by the sweat of its brow build alliances and military power and can no longer afford avoidable political frictions, economic inefficiencies and social divisions.
This legislation is designed to do precisely that. The preamble to the Bill states that it is for the protection of the Defence Force in respect of its operations in or near Vietnam. There is not the slightest doubt that the Opposition will give the Bill its fullest support - this has already been stated - but I remind honourable members of an old German proverb which says that God reigns in heaven, money rules on earth and even the devil dances for gold. And so does this Government.
Today we have an instance of the complete and utter contradiction, of which the people of Australia are becoming increasingly aware, between the actions of the Government and its words and utterances. Today war is total and war is being waged. The Government in season and out of season at every possible opportunity, until the recent exposure of certain events in relation to trade with China, cited instances of Chinese weapons being found in Vietnam in the hands of the aggressors. It gave instances of Chinese aid to North Vietnam and paraded China as the friend, guide, philosopher, arsenal, providor and breadbasket of North Vietnam. Now the Government wants to back out of that situation. We are, of course, in the silly season. Since the Parliament resumed, the Government has been electioneering with the forthcoming Senate election in mind. Of course, no-one would oppose the Bill or fail to commend the sentiment in it as it relates to the protection of Australian troops. But the Government is using a sledge hammer to crack an egg. It has introduced the Bill to extract the utmost political mileage from it. It has created its own political stalking horse, which it will not cease to use and from which it will seek to snipe for the remainder of this sessional period. In the meantime it will ignore the legitimate requirements of social welfare, real defence and the development of the nation.
It was the honourable member for Bradfield who only last Tuesday night commented scathingly, and rightly, on the state of futility to which this Parliament so called has come. He attacked his own Government for its failure ‘to take note of the tides and currents of our age and times and to set the courses that will bring this nation to safety and security’. It has been rightly said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Time and again, with endless repetition, we hear the Government parade its prerogatives or its claimed prerogatives of patriotism. It chooses to forget or believes that the people have forgotten that the nation turned to Labor and has always turned to Labor in its darkest days. It forgets the state of Australia’s defences in 1941 when the Japanese came thundering to our shores. I will have a little more to say about that later.
Lurking behind this legislation is the deliberate, calculated political turmoil that can result only in social frictions and national fragmentation. This country has rightly reached a climax in its affairs. In the last 25 years, the period between the fall of Singapore in 1942 and the announcement in the recent British White Paper of the phased withdrawal from Singapore, it has reached a crisis in its affairs. The Government is wrong in its judgment and false in its propaganda. It rates its own political survival above Australia’s future safety, welfare and development. It was the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) who coined a classic phase when he said that this Government had the Midas touch of failure. So it has. Everything it has touched in our relations with Asiatic powers, in our so called forward defence strategy, in our overseas trade and in the real development of Australia has had the Midas touch of failure. The Government has failed in foreign policy, in defence and in its national planning. Today the Government relies or cant, hypocrisy and complete, stark and utter humbug in bringing legislation such as this before the Parliament. We will support it for what it is worth, but we will at the same time choose to expose its worthlessness.
If the Government were sincere in its protestations, it would avail itself of existing legislation, and it is formidable legislation at that. Section 24aa, sub-section (2.) and succeeding sub-sections to (5.), of the Crimes Act give a statutory definition of an indictable offence called treachery. Subsection (2.) reads:
Where a part of the Defence Force is on, or is proceeding to, service outside the Commonwealth a person shall not assist by any means whatever, with intent to assist, any persons -
against whom that part of the defence Force … is or is likely to be opposed; and
who are specified … by proclamation to be persons in respect of whom . . . this sub-section applies.
Sub-section (3.) reads:
A person who contravenes a provision of this section shall be guilty of an indictable offence, called treachery.
Is that not precisely the situation the Government is advancing today? Why the hocus pocus of this legislation, if it is not to provide a further field for politically biased tendentious propaganda?
– Why is the Opposition supporting it?
– We support the principle behind it, but we rebuke the Government, spurn its intentions and expose them to the people for the arrogant humbug and hypocrisy that they are. The Government has seized upon the antics of a group of immature, unbalanced and publicity seeking exhibitionists. For its own miserable purposes it has given them a notoriety and a national spotlight that they neither expected nor deserved. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), may I add, in his second reading speech was prepared to stake out his own position and to point out that within the club and within the university there were many decent young people who were prepared to oppose the ravings of these people.
– Does the honourable member include Mr Francis James in his definition?
– The honourable member is welcome to Mr James because he still claims nominal allegiance to the honour able member’s Party. On the question of Labor clubs, I will quote from a letter that appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 29th August, only two days ago. It was written by a Mr Whittaker and a Mr Carr, the President and Secretary of the University of New South Wales ALP club, Kensington, New South Wales. It is headed ‘Labor clubs and the ALP’, and reads:
The recent decision of the Monash University Labor Club to initiate the sending of aid to the National Liberation Front has predictably provoked a heated debate.
Unfortunately, many members of the public seem to believe that some kind of association exists between university Labor clubs and the Labor Party.
It is important to emphasise, therefore, that no university labour club in Australia is connected in any way with the ALP.
Labour clubs are invariably on the extreme left of the university political spectrum.
They attract student members of the Eureka Youth League and represent an attempt by antiLabor people to cash in on the political appeal of a party to which they are really implacably hostile.
It is obvious, then, that the ALP can in no way be castigated for the decisions of university Labor clubs.
Federal Caucus was perfectly justified in disassociating itself from the recent attempt to aid the NLF.
Australia’s true interest, as Mr Whitlam has pointed out, lies in attempting to bring an end to the tragic war, not in engaging in prolonged partisan support for one side or the other.
The broad mass of people in Australia today is definitely veering in their opinion on this point. People believe that recriminations about the past in Vietnam as to what is right and what is wrong should go into the discard and that every effort should be devoted by any man of good will, by any party of good will and by any government of alleged good will to settle this wretched, miserable, dirty and unspeakable conflict. That is the position today. Whatever attitudes were taken in the past, supporters of this Government well know that public opinion is veering. But they choose to inflame the old Fascists, to revive the divisions, to weaken Australia at a time when it needs great strength, unity and, above all, decent leadership.
– The Labor Party said that in 1939.
– I will deal with 1939 in a minute. It is an attempt at the old technique of guilt by association. University
Labor Clubs have no more association with the Australian Labor Party than the Liberal Arts Society would have with the Liberal Party. Lunatic fringes, of course, have their excesses, and I do not doubt that private members of the Government Parties, when they examine their own political consciences, will agree that they have lunatic fringes even within their ranks. But the introduction of this legislation is no more and no less than a diversionary tactic. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) is losing prestige and support. No leader of any other political party has ever gone down so rapidly in prestige after a smashing election victory as has the Prime Minister today. It was within my own constituency in 1939 - and the honourable member for Mackellar would be well aware of this-that we first took a stand on the export to Japan of materials of war and materials capable of being used for aggression. We then coined the phrase ‘Pig Iron Bob’ in relation to the Prime Minister of the day. We have coined another phrase which will stick because it has been accepted. It is Tinplate Harold’. I know that this gets under the skin of honourable members opposite, but it is the truth. When I asked him a question the other day, the Prime Minister said: I hope mat I have the same reign in office as the former Prime Minister had’. My riposte to that is that within 2 years the former Prime Minister was out of office and Australia was in a shocking state of defence unpreparedness. At the outbreak of war men were being armed with pick handles to guard bridges, culverts and railways. That was the state of our preparedness. Even members of that Prime Minister’s own political party combined with us to tip him out of office. When he returned it was by misrepresentation. He rode the crest of the wave of prosperity created by a sane Labor Government which steered Australia through a war. It was the only Government that was capable of facing up to the crisis in Australia. Australia has always turned to Labor in periods of crisis, and it will turn again just as surely as it did in those periods. Every honourable member opposite knows that it will, that it should and that it must. The defence policy of this Government is disastrous. Let the Government answer this if it can: Some weeks ago General Maxwell Taylor, a special emissary, accompanied by another very prominent man from the United States, visited Australia on a special mission. They were asking for assistance. How many more troops does this Government intend to send to Vietnam? Are not the realities of the situation that at the present time, behind closed doors, the talk within the Government’s upper circles is of Fortress Australia? They realise that their former defence strategy has failed. I remind the House, particularly honourable members opposite, that General MacArthur, the saviour of Australia together with the valour of our own men, once advised the United States President never to fight a land war on the continent of Asia. But this is what we have today. We have a situation which is unparalleled. Even the honourable member for Mackellar was prepared to admit this. We have a situation that is unequalled. We are not in a state of war, officially. We have no enemies officially. But at the same time we can bring people before the bars of justice and put their liberty in jeopardy because they choose to object. I am, as I believe most honourable members in this House are, a patriotic Australian. But what is happening today is nothing short of a sham and a scandal. Ever since this House met after the recess we have beard nothing but the parrot cry, the devil’s litany of hate, division and dissension. As the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) put it, this House has been turned into a sniping gallery of character assassination. If hard knocks are to be handed out, I will hand out a few as well.
We have a tinplate Prime Minister who is leading a tinpot government. A lot of its propaganda today sounds tinny, too. If I may continue the metaphor, the only tin that he is ever prepared to kick is the red can, and he is attempting to give it another kick on this occasion. The former Prime Minister knew when to retire. The man whom he left in charge is not satisfying his own followers. There is very real disaffection in the Government’s ranks at the present time. One can see honourable gentlemen opposite fidget in their places when the Prime Minister is garrulous in answering questions and criticisms. They know that he has not enough discretion to know when to keep silent. They know that there are other men within their own Party who aspire to topple him. They know that within their own Party today there is internal dissension. Apropros of Mr Francis James, he is a member of the Liberal Reform Party, which is a very intelligent, well financed and active party group. It is gathering support.
– From the Labor Party.
– Not from us. You can have it if you want it. It is a rather doubtful bargain, so far as we are concerned. Honourable members opposite put themselves forward as being united. They are anything but united. This is a Government which is hagridden by a rural pressure group. For that reason, today we have the intolerable position in which we trade with China. These gentlemen must flinch at this topic when it is opened. The facts are very simple. I do not propose to elaborate on them in detail, but I shall give some statistics. Since 1960, 600,000 tons of wheat have been sold to mainland China. Wheat is the staff of life. If we want to know whether we are defending or protecting our troops, I point out that wheat is just as much a weapon of war as is steel, petrol, wool, or any of the high explosives.
War today is total and economies of countries are pitted one against the other. That 600,000 tons of wheat have been sold below the world price. The variation has been from 6c to 10c per bushel. That in itself represents a subvention of at least $40m to mainland China. In addition under the dispensation of this Government wheat is grown at the expense of the Australian taxpayer. The financial assistance that has been given under the terms of the relevant legislation amounts to another $100m. When these figures are added together we find that $140m is being given in aid to mainland China by these people. Let the Government answer this charge if it can. It has not an answer and it ought to hang its head in shame. If the Government is correct in its allegations concerning China there should be no trade. If the Government is not correct let trade continue. There is no alternative to that situation.
The text of this Bill contains the usual pains and penalties. It has the usual heavy hand that is traditional for a Federal Liberal Government, It is intolerant, heavy, cruel and merciless. All the ordinary legal presumptions are swept to one side and even the averments within the charges that are to be alleged against a man are to be taken as proof unless they can be proved to the contrary. In the normal criminal jurisdiction we bring a man before a court and say that he is charged and is innocent until he is proved guilty. However, in this case the opposite applies - a man is guilty until he is proved innocent. More than that, the Bill says that we will arrest a person even before the Attorney-General has authorised a prosecution against him. This is getting back to the days of the Star Chamber. Under this Bill we will hold a person without a charge being proceeded with. Is this the Government that wants to talk about democracy? Is this the Government that preaches that by dropping a record load of bombs on North Vietnam those people will be brought to the conference table? Atrocities are being committed in Vietnam by both sides. Let there be no doubt about this. They may not be calculated but in the ultimate result of the acts of war that necessarily take place there must be atrocities. These atrocities are still occurring. It is time, in the name of common decency, that they were ended. It would be just as unreasonable to ask the North Vietnamese to come to the conference table before bombing is ended as it would be to ask the forces in South Vietnam to withdraw until some semblance of law, order and elementary democracy is introduced into that country.
In conclusion I would say that this Government is specious in its approach. It is humbugging and it is prevaricating. The ostensible sentiments on which this Bill is based are impeccable. The Government’s motivation, purposes and execution of it are of course, execrable.
– This is a Bill for the protection of the defence forces in respect of their operations in or near Vietnam. I thought I should mention the title of the Bill because listening to most of the speeches that have come from the Opposition one would gather that the legislation was markedly different from what in fact it is. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) indulged in a mild piece of political hyperbole. I intend to deal with some points that strike me as being vaguely relevant as I proceed.
I remind the House that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), when he began the debate this afternoon said that his Party supported the Bill. I sat with rapt attention and I thought, well, I can now enjoy the ecstacy of the next 30 or 40 minutes in which the Leader of the Opposition will support Government legislation. However, to my infinite surprise he launched into a veritable tirade against the legislation and this tirade has been sustained throughout the debate and has been supported by every Opposition speaker. I hope that those with an odd moment or two tomorrow may care to go through Hansard and pick out all the epithets that have been used by Opposition speakers aimed against this legislation. I believe that honourable members will be astonished by the size and the catalogue of the terms of abuse that have been used by Opposition speakers. When the Leader of the Opposition said he supported this legislation my mind ran back to the time when his predecessor would have a look of anguish on his face when his then deputy said: ‘I support my leader*. If that is the character and the quality of the honourable gentleman’s support I hope that at all times he will be in opposition to me.
The philosophy behind the Bill is simple and stark. May I restate it. It is simply to prevent aid from going to those forces that are fighting against Australian servicement in South Vietnam. Speaking for myself, and I would imagine for the vast majority of Australian people. I find something quite monstrous in the proposition that an Australian serviceman can be on active service in a hot war with bullets being shot at him and at the same time be put in the position of contemplating people who are aiding, in one way or another, those who are fighting against him. This is a most extraordinary thing. I wonder what has happened to the national fibre and the nation’s conscience when we put ourselves in the position of saying: ‘Oh well, under the pretence of some university extravagance by undergraduates, on the pretext of being tolerant, this does not matter very much’. This is a quite obscene proposition and one that I hope will be roundly condemned throughout this country. There are all sorts of queer qualities about Australian servicemen going abroad and fighting in a war, and I may refer to some of them before I sit down. There is something queer about Australian servicemen being shot at and threatened with death. Yet, people say that they should be able to go and help those who are trying to kill our soldiers.
This is an unorthodox -war and this fact should be conceded, but surely the unorthodoxy of the war does not of its own force mean that we are to throw to one side the considerations of those who are involved in it. The Communist conspiracy has, for many years, been waging an unorthodox war. In point of fact, in the conquests that the Communists have made, not one conquest has resulted from a declared war. In all the takeovers and the assertions of authority over territory, there has not been one which has come from a declared war. This was the case in Korea and is the case in South East Asia today. This sort of thing also occurred in Europe. Wherever there has been an extension of Communist authority there has never been a declared war. This, in terms of considering our responsibility as a Parliament and as a people poses tremendous problems, and I suppose this Bill is a manifestation of those problems.
So the immediate political consideration behind this Bill is simply to prevent aid being sent to those who are fighting against our servicemen in South Vietnam. Having said that, we come now to consider the techical provisions of the Bill. For my own part I have the gravest of doubts as to whether the technical provisions will enable the Bill to work satisfactorily. Let me make my position perfectly clear. I am supporting the legislation. I think that a few of the university students at Monash and elsewhere would be better served by being run through a sheep dip for a start and having their hair cut. We have had illustrations of people who are anxious in the extreme that the Vietcong should win in South Vietnam. Here, in Australia, we find people of substance in terms of the community who say: ‘It is our view that we should not support Australian involvement in South Vietnam and we hope the Vietcong will win’. I have made my position clear, and I hope I have left no ambiguity.
This Bill, in my view, can be circumvented easily by a person in Australia, who wants as a deliberate act to support the National Liberation Front or North Vietnam simply sending funds to the United Kingdom to a person or a corporate or incorporate body there and having the funds sent to Hanoi. I appeal to the AttorneyGeneral to strengthen the provisions of clause 3 of the Bill by inserting therein the words ‘directly or indirectly’ in relation to aid given to those against whom we are fighting. If this were done the person who wanted, as a deliberate act of defiance, to send money to North Vietnam and who sent it through the United Kingdom to Hanoi would be covered. The legislation would reach out.
– What about the sending of steel to China?
– I am not going to heed the taunts of the honourable member, so I ask him not to disturb me. I have a settled mind on the question of trade with Communist China and if the honourable member is patient I may be kind enough to reveal some of my thoughts before I sit down, but at the moment I am dealing with a matter of importance to the Parliament if it is determined that this Bill should work. The attitude of the United Kingdom to North Vietnam is not the Australian attitude. Yesterday I asked a question of my friend, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), regarding British flag ships going into Haiphong. A significant percentage of the shipping that goes into Haiphong today is British flag ships. Australia is entitled to something better than humbug. Approximately fifteen British flag ships sailed into the port of Haiphong in the first few months of this year. Australia is being put in an intolerable position. For the first time - at least according to my research - we have the position where, in relation to a third power, two Commonwealth countries have quite markedly different attitudes.
We could have the position where a person in Australia who attempted to send $2,000 worth of goods into North Vietnam would be committing an offence plainly spelt out in this legislation. The same per son could renounce his Australian citizenship and go to the United Kingdom or Canada and meet a quite different attitude. An English person could send out £2,000 worth of goods to North Vietnam and commit no offence whatever. I believe we are on the threshold of a very serious conflict within the English-speaking world, and when I use the term ‘English-speaking world’ I am thinking particularly of the Commonwealth of Nations. I hope that the House will not let go unnoticed the fact that we are putting, as I suggested yesterday to the Minister for External Affairs, the Sovereign in a position where in a very real sense her subjects in the United Kingdom and in Australia are exposed to two completely different sets of laws in relation to a third power. Could I extend this, not as any academic exercise but to illustrate, if nothing else, the way things have changed. Let’ us assume there was a declaration of war in relation to North Vietnam - Australia declares war on North Vietnam, but the United Kingdom does not do so - and British flag ships sail into Haiphong. Is this an act of treason by the captain of a British flag ship going into Haiphong when Her Majesty, as Queen of Australia, has declared war against North Vietnam? This is rather a challenging situation. We have here, I submit, circumstances whereby we are on the threshold of being put in this absurd position. I make no apology for my attitude concerning British flag ships going into Haiphong. I think it is absolutely fantastic that Mr Harold Wilson can ask Australia to impose sanctions against Rhodesia and at the same time allow aid to go into North Vietnam. It is a reasonable proposition for the Government to say to the British Government: ‘Please, while this conflict continues, no more British flag ships into Haiphong’. If this action continues it will make a complete farce of our own attitude to this legislation. I come back to the first suggestion I made about strengthening the legislation. In clause 3 provision should be inserted to provide that if aid is sent directly or indirectly the provisions of the clause shall take effect, otherwise I fear that it will be open to a person who sets out to circumvent the Act so to do. People may say: Well, if it is done secretly, of course there is no political kudos in it’. I recognise that. But the proposition I am putting is that where an individual, for intense political convictions known to himself, says: ‘I want to defy this legislation. I want to get aid to North Vietnam’ and sets out to do it, we should be able to reach out and meet the circumstance that I have adumbrated, maybe by dint of the Crimes Act. I hope that the Attorney-General, before this legislation is passed either by this House or by another place, will direct his mind to this point.
Regarding the general question of trade with Communist China, without transgressing your will, Mr Speaker, but merely to express my attitude, which I hope has the virtue of consistency, I say that I have opposed it and that I believe the Government, possibly in the near future, will have to reappraise its policy on this question. It will be a very agonising business for it, no doubt, but I do not think there has been a sufficient understanding of the psychological ravaging in the Australian community by the Government’s attitude on this matter. With respect to some of the arguments used in the financial sphere, I hold them to be dubious to say the best of them.
The next point I wish to raise is by way of a suggestion to the Attorney-General and concerns the question of whether a person shall be proceeded against by way of summary proceedings or on indictment. I have no overweening views on this aspect. There is a host of statutory provisions throughout the country whereby proceedings are taken summarily - that is to say, not with a jury - but here we are providing for a 12 months term of imprisonment if the charge is proved before a magistrate. I would have thought for an offence involving a term of imprisonment of more than 6 months there should be proceedings on indictment and that the matter should not be left to a magistrate. As I have said, there are quite a number of such provisions in other statutes. For example, in Victoria, by way of summary jurisdiction, a person can be imprisoned for up to 12 months on a charge of vagrancy and up to 2 years on a charge of consorting, living on the earnings of a prostitute or keeping a brothel.
I mention this to illustrate the fact that these provisions exist and that people can be sent to gaol for periods in excess of 12 months for such offences. But as a matter of principle I think that there is great virtue in giving a person accused of a charge involving a sentence of over 6 months the opportunity to be dealt with summarily; or otherwise to be dealt with on indictment That is the second appeal I make to the Attorney-General. I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he will give consideration to providing that the proceedings should be upon indictment and that if the individual so desires he can elect a summary jurisdiction. I have no dogmatic doctrinaire views about this. As a question of principle, any offence involving more than 6 months imprisonment should be proceeded upon by way of indictment.
The last point I want to raise concerns the question of averments, which was raised by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). Nobody likes averments but what is the alternative in this case? Is the honourable gentleman serious when he suggests we should whistle out a subpoena and serve it upon Ho Chi Minh to get him to come here? Is the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) or the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) to be sworn in as a bailiff? They would be a formidable pair of bailiffs, and I admit that if they served a subpoena upon me in North Vietnam I would instantly respond to it. No doubt the two honourable gentlemen with their contacts here and the knowledge that they have gleaned and gained would know the address of service and it would present no difficulty to them. Is the honourable member for Cunningham serious when he says that as far as the provisions of this Bill are concerned averment should not be used? If the honourable gentleman has a look at the averments used by the Labor Government during the war years under the National Security Regulations, what hair the honourable gentleman has will stand on end. On this issue I say there is no argument at all; there is no merit and there is no substance in the view that averments represent something quite distasteful. But more critically the House will notice that there is no element of the offence which can be proved by way of averment. The House will also notice that, as far as an averment is concerned, on the plainest of authority the High Court has said: ‘A prosecutor cannot just come along, put a bundle of papers in front of us and say: “Here, the matter is proved’”. The High Court will look at the nature of the documents that are used.
I want to make a final comment on the point raised by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) when he referred to the unusualness of the phrase ‘with a view to money or other financial assistance or goods being made available’ that is used in clause 3. The point that seemed to trouble the honourable gentleman was the term ‘with a view’. It is not an uncommon term at all. It would be difficult to use the phrase ‘with an intent’ in this context. I would say to the honourable gentleman, agreeing with the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), that I thought we heard a singular piece of moderation this afternoon. The honourable member’s moderate mind should not be troubled on this occasion by the use of the term ‘with a view’.
I have made two suggestions regarding the technical aspects of the legislation. I am sure that the Attorney-General will, with his characteristic courtesy, direct his mind to both of them, and if it is possible to accept them I am sure that he will do so.
– We have just heard a learned dissertation from Queensland’s latest acquisition to the Bar. I think it is fair and worthy to note that the date of the honourable member’s admission to the Bar can be set from the upsurge of condemned men who are now overflowing Queensland’s prisons. However, in spite of the observations that he has made on this particular point, the fact is that the Opposition is not opposing the Bill or the principles behind it, but certain points of action that are embedded in a couple of clauses of the Bill for comment. Accordingly, amendments will be moved. There is one particular clause that I will deal with later and on which I shall express some personal views. If the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) is such a stout and effective defender of the rights of individuals, surely he will be concerned with the way in which sub-cluase (3) of clause 3, throws the responsibility for acts upon innocent people to prove that they are in fact innocent by making an application to the Government stating that what they propose to do is quite innocent. I feel that a more reasonable line of approach on this would have been for the Government to introduce legislation which would place this responsibility on the people who do these things knowingly and wrongly. The Bill should not require innocent people to come forward and make some sort of appeal to the Government. This seems far too paternalistic to be allowed and tolerated in a democratic society.
I want to discuss some of the observations made by previous speakers. The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), whose speech is well known - we hear it regularly in this House - spoke about members of the Labor Party who addressed the Melbourne Labor Club. So what? Why should they not do that? I would be very happy to address any Labor club. I would be very happy to address any Liberal Party club or any other club that exists. Why should there be any opposition to this? After all, the young Liberals in Queensland had Mr Gerry Dawson, who is the State Secretary, or perhaps President, of the Building Workers Industrial Union, address them. Mr Dawson is one of the most prominent Communists in Queensland and yet the Young Liberals had him along on at least one occasion to address them. There is no objection taken by honourable members on the other side of the House.
– There is nothing wrong with that.
– Of course there is nothing wrong with that. I am totally in accordance with it. Why should not this happen? I think it is rather silly to criticise such things. I am sorry that the honourable member for Moreton has left these hallowed precincts. The Young Liberals of Queensland also had a gentleman named Mr Butler along to address them on a number of occasions. Perhaps the honourable member for Moreton would be more able than I to explain to honourable members on the back benches on the opposite side the reasons why Mr Butler should be allowed to speak to the Young Liberals. After all he does defend liberal rights. There may possibly be other reasons why he could explain this. As we know, Mr Butler is the representative of the Australian League of Rights. Last but not least, the Young Liberals asked Colin Bennett, a Labour Member of the Legislative Assembly in Brisbane, to address them.
– They did not as& the honourable member.
– That just shows how deficient their tastes are. Colin Bennett - a Labor member of the Legislative Assembly, I repeat - who represents the South Brisbane seat, was asked to address the Young Liberals. A reputable newspaper, the ‘Sunday Truth’ made a major story of this, stating that Mr Bennett was to address the Young Liberals and expected to achieve mass defections from the Liberal Party to the Australian Labor Party. The head of the Queensland Division of the Liberal Party became concerned. Indeed, be became so upset and distressed that he issued an immediate instruction that the Young Liberals were not to have this man address them. That was how the outside body that is the power at the top of the Liberal Party viewed the matter. It was thought that Mr Bennett’s persuasive manner might infect the Young Liberals and cause them to desert the ranks of that Party. But let us waste no more time on this. Let me turn to the honourable member for La Trobe.
-Order! The honourable member is getting well away from the contents of the Bill. The Chair has been lenient, but I think he should now return to the Bill.
– He is only discussing what Government supporters have said about it.
– Yes, indeed. This establishes the correctness of the point that you have made, Sir. Then there was the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock). He sang to the Government, somewhat off key, what was nevertheless a doxology and proved that his views are biased on this occasion as they are on so many others on all manner of things. What a shame it is that the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) is not present in the chamber. I listened to his speech intently and I have here a note of my observations on it. The piece of paper is blank. But that is appropriate, is it not? Perhaps we could also observe Yangste Bill, the last of the gunboat diplomats, and study the misfortunte of this poor man. His view is deflected by a spectrum that causes psychopathically violent fanaticism which distorts his sense of values and his ability to apprehend life and its quality in their true hues. This is sad, but it is a fact.
One could well ask, Mr Speaker, why this Bill has been introduced. For the reason, we have no less an authority than the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), the man in charge of law matters for the Commonwealth - a legal expert. We have the statement in his second reading speech that the provisions that this Bill will introduce already exist in the Crimes Act. Then why introduce this measure? This is a realistic and reasonable question that keeps tearing at my mind. Why must this Bill be introduced? As other honourable members on this side of the chamber have pointed out we have adequate administrative power to prevent the sending of money to any other country. This power has already been used effectively to stop the transmitting of money from Australia to North Vietnam. So I ask again: Why has it been necessary to introduce this Bill? Is it not redundant? The Attorney-General says that its purpose is just to highlight what some university studens and a few others are doing and to make them aware that what they are doing is wrong. They could just as adequately have been made aware of this by the use of the Crimes Act or by a gentle word dropped discreetly after money orders to transmit funds overseas had been denied them by the exercise of the administrative power that exists and has been used previously by this Government.
Why has the Government chosen the course that it has taken? As many in this Parliament and outside it have observed the Government has made martyrs of a few people who were behind the movement sponsoring the raising of funds for the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. The reason why the Government has taken this course is obvious. It is an old reason that has motivated the Government regularly: An election is coming up. In effect it has said: ‘This is an election year. We have to have a scare.’ For creating one it cannot beat a security issue, particularly when it is not handling the economy too well and is sitting back and taking things easy under the philosophy of conservatism to which it adheres. A successful conservative government is one that does least. On the basis of this test, the present Government is very successful, though it is not one that meets our national needs. One could very well imagine the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) telephoning his predecessor. We all remember that round man who used to be about here - that rather broad-backed man, as he was described by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns).
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting we were debating a Bill for the protection of the defence forces in their operations in or near Vietnam. The point I was setting out to make at that stage was that the challenging question which exercises the minds of so many of us is this: Why has the Government found it necessary to introduce this Bill when the very things that the Bill proposes to do are already covered either by the Crimes Act or by the Government’s administrative power to prevent the despatch of money overseas for any purpose at all? The Government has in fact used this power to prevent the despatch of money to North Vietnam.
The point I commenced to make is that it is quite obvious that what has happened in this case is merely another example of the Government’s attempts to create an issue for the purposes of the forthcoming election. After all, this is a Government which feels extremely insecure on domestic issues and because of its failure to handle the economy properly. The facts are that investment is lagging badly and social problems are not being answered in any adequate manner. There is restlessness in the community. The Government knows from experience that if it can create an emotional issue involving security it has a fairly strong foundation from which to launch a campaign. Campaigns have been launched in this way in the past and quits often they have been notable for their lack Of sincerity and their lack of integrity. But in spite of their cynicism such campaigns are quite frequently effective. On this occasion we see that the attempt made by the Government to lay the foundation for such a campaign has failed to get off the ground. The attendance in this House tonight and the attendance this afternoon when this Bill was being debated is indicative, as the honourable member for Yarra said, of the amount of interest which members of this Parliament have in the Bill now before us. The Government has failed in its attempt just as it failed in a similar attempt in 1966 when, as honourable members will recall, the Government introduced a White Paper which impugned the character of a number of people of unchallengeable integrity who were associated with peace movements and similar organisations.
The atmosphere which led up to the introduction of this Bill in the House was an explosive one. The atmosphere surrounding the developments of a few weeks ago which kd to the introduction of this Bill was, to put it mildly, reaching an emotionally explosive stage, at least for some people who appear to be capable of a great deal of noise, if nothing else. The extra-parliamentary stage is not the exclusive territory of such people. As happens quite often in such circumstances, the volume of protest was swollen and amplified by many people who have at best only a faint idea of the causes behind the eventual introduction of this Bill. A recent personal experience of mine endorses this view. I happened to meet a chap who normally is quite a rational and amiable sort of fellow, quite a reasonable man. He said to me: T know what Hitler would have done with these students; he would have lined them up and shot them.’ The implication was clear, that he would endorse that sort of conduct - what was good enough for Hitler ought to be good enough for us. This is a rather staggering conclusion and scarcely a rational one - decidedly one arrived at as a result of considerable emotional influences and not after any careful reflection on the real implications of what was being said. In truth, had this person taken time for some calm reflection I am certain he would not have made such a statement. But the fact is that1 this has been typical of the response not only of individuals but also of influential organs.
The incident, unfortunate as it was, was evidence of a scarcely controlled hysteria which expresses itself irrationally, intemperately and in recent times not infrequently, when emotional chords are struck in an exaggerated manner by Government supporters both in the Government parties and in other parties and organisations. What this chap felt is what many Australians brought up on the strongly nationalistic ingredients of our social mores feel from time to time. In this sort of combustible atmosphere then, Mr Speaker, I say that the legislation brought before this House is all the more remarkable for its restraint. I call it restraint on the basis of comparison with other forms of legislation affecting civil liberties which have been brought before this House by this Government.
I have criticisms of certain aspects of the legislation. My Party proposes to indicate its criticisms, which I endorse, of certain aspects of the Bill. But frankly I expected worse. I thought the Government might easily bow like a reed before the wind as the ferocity and velocity of its way-out wing rose. That it did not is undoubtedly due to the liberal - with a small T - influence of the Attorney-General in- the Cabinet, a refreshing, albeit somewhat rare, influence in the ranks of conservatism which make up the Government benches and which have been prepared in the past to face the problems of Australia with attitudes which shuffle between apathy and radical reaction, but scarcely ever with a sense of progressive reform and a keenly attuned sense of civil liberties.
What was the. cause of the introduction of this legislation? The Monash University Labor Club, followed by the Melbourne University Labor Club and then by the Australian National University Labor Club, carried certain motions to provide aid of an undefined nature for the National Liberation Front. I am sure that most, if not all, of the people involved with these Labor Clubs would on reflection have second thoughts about their actions in carrying those motions. Certainly this Party does not endorse their actions. We have made this very clear. A motion to this effect was carried by the Federal Executive of this Party as promptly as it was possible to do so after the announcement of these decisions of the Labor Clubs which, as I said earlier, are not affiliated with the Labor Party. We of the Australian Labor Party have no responsibility for them. They are completely independent. The Executive carried this motion and the caucus endorsed it the following day.
Then I come to my next point, which puts the integrity of the Prime Minister somewhat in a shadow. I refer to his performance in this Parliament in response to questions asked about this matter and about where the Labor Party stood in relation to the Labor Clubs. The Prime Minister has a battery of staff assistants, including Press secretaries, some of whom are constantly’ collecting newspaper clippings on current issues, and the motions to which I have referred were reported in the Press. The Prime Minister therefore must have been aware of the situation and we could have expected him to say, in answer to a question by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), that he was aware of the actual position, but instead he stated that he was not aware of the dissociation of the Labor Clubs from the Australian Labor Party. Clearly he was trying to imply that there was some relationship either direct or devious, between this Party and these outside bodies. The very fact that he did so was an indication that he was prepared to shuffle principles about in this place for some sort: of cheap- political gain that might flow at the forthcoming election.
We have heard other members on the Government side speak of the policy of our Party, and they, have found it difficult to show any association of this Party with these Labor Clubs. There is one point I would like to make about these students. A good deal of criticism has been offered of students in a very broad manner. I reject this criticism and I endorse the views of the honourable member for Yarra. The overwhelming majority of these young people are responsible people. They are sensitive young people and they are keenly alert to the need to defend civil liberties in their community. They are concerned about the future of this country. They are the thinkers and they will be the directorsof the future course of events in this country. Whether they have long hair or not doesnot matter. It could well be that long hair will be the fashion in 10 years time or less, lt seems incredible that mature, responsible men in this Parliament are prepared to take some superficial manner of appearance in. these people and use this as a cause for criticising and denigrating them, and endeavouring to destroy their character.
– Who are those members?
– Who are the members of what?
– The members whom you hare just described.
– The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) put a lot of work into this. I do not suggest that all Government supporters would say these things. But 1 do say that a number of them would. How many would, I do not know. 1 suggest that the ones who would do this belong to the far out fringe of the Liberal Party. This is self-evident.
Let me get back to the relative policies of the two parties - the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. 1 have the policies here. Honourable members opposite earlier in the debate suggested that the policy of the Labor Party in relation to Vietnam would succour and encourage the National Liberation Front and the North Vietnamese. What utter rot. Let us look at the policy of the Liberal Party. It is fifteen pages of nothing. I have a copy of it here. The most important issue at stake today in the field of foreign affairs is Vietnam, yet there is not one word about Vietnam in the policy and platform of the Liberal Party - the Party which helps to form the Government.
– What is the date of that policy?
– This is the latest copy that 1 could get from the Parliamentary Library. This absence in the policy to any reference to Vietnam is fairly justifiable because the Government does not have a policy on Vietnam, lt waits for the latest airmail to arrive from the White House in order to know what its policy is.
What is wrong with the Labor Party’s policy? The policy is far too long for me to discuss in full tonight. Is it wrong to require a cessation of the bombing in Vietnam?
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member come back to the contents of the Bill before the House.
– With respect, Sir, I will accept your direction because time is running out - and for other reasons. But I would indicate to you, Sir, with deference once again, that the policy of the Labor Party was discussed at great length by the honourable member for La Trobe and one of his colleagues on the other side of the House.
-Order! The honourable member will proceed, but I suggest again that he come back to some of the provisions of the Bill.
– I shall not spend any more time on that point. The policy of our party is responsibly designed, lt is reasonably presented and deserves, and will achieve, support at the forthcoming Senate elections and the by-election for the seat of Capricornia.
Let me now talk about human aid - aid of a non-military purpose - which various agencies have been sending to North Vietnam and to assist the National Liberation Front. Surely nobody is opposed to the provision of life-giving assistance to the long-suffering civilian population of North Vietnam - to the old people, the mothers, the children and the infants who are being savagely destroyed or permanently wounded in that country at the present time. Although this legislation does not propose that such aid be an offence it is fairly obvious that this was the original intention of many honourable members opposite who cannot see anything wrong in the tremendous bombing raids taking place against North Vietnam - raids which are responsible for the need for this sort of assistance to be provided in that country by humanistically inspired people. In a report that I have before me, the International Committee of the Red Cross refers to the need for bandaging material and blood plasma, which would be of considerable aid in view of the situation created in North Vietnam by the bombing. The report refers to aid provided in territory controlled by the National Liberation Front, lt states:
In addition, the ICRC has intervened with the responsible authorities on the subject of the destruction of NLF field infirmaries and stocks of medical supplies uncovered in the course of military operations.
The report states that the organisation has made approaches to the National Liberation Front through agencies’ in Algeria and Poland with a view to providing that aid, but those approaches have been rejected. Many emotional people in the Government ranks - the iron triangle people - have endeavoured to suggest that even humanitarian and humanistic aid of the kind being proposed was treasonable and that such propositions should constitute an offence under the law.
– Hear, hear!
– I beg your pardon.
– Hear, hear!
– Yes, I had an idea it might be an iron triangle man. The strange part about the legislation now before us is that the International Red Cross Association should have to be endorsed as a reputable body by legislation in this Parliament. This is most strange. Surely there should have been no doubt about the position of the International Red Cross; it should have been accepted from the outset. The Quakers are not specifically exempted under this legislation. I know that room is provided in the legislation for a proclamation to cover suitable and acceptable organisations which want to provide humanitarian aid to North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front, but I think that this is placing things in the wrong order, as I said earlier in my speech. Surely the responsibility for an offence should be sheeted home to people who are offenders. Responsibility of this nature should not be placed on the shoulders of people who want to carry out some act of Christian compassion in the world. For instance, it will be necessary for the Catholic Church to obtain the authorisation of this Government before it can continue to provide aid through its international aid organisations - Caritas Internationalis and Misereor which are the two German aid organisations operated by the Catholic Church. Caritas Internationalis has provided a total of $1.5m worth of medical aid for North Vietnam. This aid has been donated by Catholics. The report of this comes from the ‘New York Times’ of Saturday, 1st April 1967. Likewise, Misereor has provided the sum of $70,000 in aid raised from Catholic sources for hospitals in North Vietnam. The Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis, Monsignor Georg Huessler, has- been in consultation directly and personally . with Ho Chi Minh on North Vietnam’s requirements of medical and hospital aid. He has made recommendations and personally reported to Pope Paul VI on the need for aid of a humanitarian nature for North Vietnam. But there are people opposite who would like even this sort of aid banned. As the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Andrew Jones) observed a while ago Hear, hear!’ There are many others opposite who would say: ‘Hear, hear!’
There is a deficiency in this legislation. I have been through it closely and I have yet to see where the machinery is available for an indictment to be presented against this Government for its treasonable act in supplying tremendous quantities of goods to Communist China. I do not say that its act is treasonable on my values, but treasonable on the values of Government supporters.
– You would not know
– I beg your pardon.
– -Ycu would not know.
– Would not know what?
– What you are talking about.
– That would “be true only if I had been listening to the honourable member. Last year Australia sold $132m worth of goods to Communist China. We subsidised wheat sales to Communist China. That is, we subsidised the living standards and the welfare standards of the people of Communist China. Almost $900m worth of goods have been sold by Australia to Communist China in the last 6 years; and this Government believes that Communist China is a threat to the security of this country and that it is treasonable to express any support for that country. After all, on 29th April 1965 the former Prime Minister said - and I can imagine how he rolled the words off his tongue in great grandiloquence:
The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia, and all the countries of South and South East Asia, ft must be seen as a part of a thrust by Communist China between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
That is what the previous Prime Minister, who is now Admiral of the Cinque Ports, said on that occasion. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) said in a question addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) in May of last year:
Will my right honourable friend accept my assurances- that a considerable number of Australians are deeply concerned with both the moral and physical propriety of this country’s trade with Communist China?
Of course, on a number of occasions he spoke in this vein. The honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has spoken about the blood-stained money of this country obtained from trade with Communist China. Although the Government, with its system of double thinking, is prepared to come into this Parliament to justify this sort of thing, now when it suits them to try to single out a small segment of the community who are undoubtedly wrongly inspired or were not thinking logically at the time at which they made their decision, it sorts them out for rather severe treatment.
Finally I want to talk about clause 3 (3.) which places the onus of responsibility on organisations to establish that they are legitimate and to establish their bona fides in their aim to supply humanitarian aid to North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front. As Christians we should not tolerate this; as democrats we should not tolerate this; and as people who live by the rule of the law surely we should not tolerate this because it is alien to these standards. The law is aimed at conscripting patriotism and it has failed.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is my intention tonight to illustrate what I have said so often, that most speeches that I have heard in this place would have been better if they had been shorter. I have found that in most cases on a Bill like this an honourable member will speak for about 10 or 15 minutes of his i hour and after that most speakers, no matter from which side of the House they come, will rehash what has already been said. I might have done that at times in the past, but I do not want to fall into that error tonight. Firstly I compliment the Government and the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) on the introduction of the Bill. I believe that the majority of Australians will compliment them also. The Attorney-General in his second reading speech said probably all that was needed when he said:
This BDI is drawn for the protection of our troops, who are fighting in or near South Vietnam. It is designed’ to protect them not against the enemy with whom they are engaged . . . but against some of their own countrymen at home, who are prepared to send assistance to that enemy.
– They should not be there.
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter will cease interjecting.
– What the Minister said is the crux of the whole situation. I want to reply to some things that have been said in this debate and then speak briefly about the Bill. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in speaking to this measure stated the Labor Party policy to the House and to the people of Australia. Opposition speakers who have followed him have just gone along the same lines. I have not heard anything new about Labor’s policy since he spoke, so I shall concentrate on rebutting what he said. He began by saying that the same result as this Bill achieves could have been achieved by administrative action. It was pointed out by him and by other honourable members that a few students at the university have brought about the situation which makes the Bill necessary. I suggest that we in Australia should block immediately any attempt to send financial aid to North Vietnam, even if only two or three men are involved. We must let the people know that we give no encouragement to such a disgraceful action. If we proceeded quietly by some administrative action as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested there would not be the publicity which is necessary to let the people of this country know that patriotic Australians will not stand for action of this kind.
The Leader of the Opposition went on to say that the whole of the furore had been built up by the Government, I believe that that statement is completely wrong. If I remember correctly, when this matter was first publicised quite a number of Ministers, including the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) were overseas and the Labor Party was complaining about them being away. When it was published in the Press it was the Australian people - not the Government - who condemned it. The people of Australia will not stand for acts of treason. The events that have made this Bill necessary surely must constitute the most disgraceful events in our history. If any fault can be found with the Bill I suggest that it is the leniency of the penalties. Even the last speaker, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), said that he had been told that if this kind of thing had happened in Hitler’s Germany those involved would have been put up against the wall and shot. I do not know who said that to the honourable member for Oxley, but it is true that it would have happened.
I believe that the sending of aid to North Vietnam should be prohibited. Probably these young men at the university are irresponsible, but how do they get these ideas? Is it because they have been brought up in such an atmosphere of treason that they make up their minds that they must do something about collecting money for our enemy, money that could be used to purchase the means with which to slaughter our kinsfolk, our boys who are in Vietnam? Could I be pardoned for thinking that there may be some master mind behind this? Later in his remarks the Leader of the Opposition said that the University Labor Club has nothing to do with the Australian Labor Party.
– Neither it has.
– I accept that and I am not arguing about it. I am merely repeating what was said by the Leader of the Opposition. He said that no-one has a copyright on the word ‘labor’. Surely this must be clear to anyone. If it were otherwise would not the Labor Party have taken very speedy action against the D.emocratic Labor Party? To stand up in this place to explain that is completely unnecessary. We are members of Parliament and are grown men. We know that the Labor Party would like to elimniate the DLP. At one time there was a Liberal Country Party in Victoria and we wanted to get rid of that so we of the Country Party in Victoria did it by negotiation with the Liberal Party with which we are now in coalition in this Government. Everything is satisfactory in Victoria now and we are happy in the coalition. The people of Australia have realised what good work we are doing for the Commonwealth.
– That has nothing to do with the Bill.
– I am merely rebutting what was said. The Leader of the Opposition said that a Liberal member had made a donation to this fund.
– Not only is it rubbish but it has cast a slur on every Liberal member in this place.
– He would not name him.
– He should name him. His remark was on the same lines as the remarks made by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) when he was speaking on the Budget. At that time he said: ‘I know a lot of terrible things about the honourable member for Mallee and if he does not stop interjecting I will tell the House’. I challenge him now to tell the House because my conscience is clear and my record is sound. I challenge him or any other member to reveal these disparaging things that he has said he knows about me. This is the character assassination that the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) said should stop. I agree with him. If the new member for Corio follows on that line and is not overwhelmed by other members of his Party he will have my respect at all times. The Leader of the Opposition said: These young men could not have thought that their totally unimportant action could have brought such publicity’. It brought publicity; but was their action totally unimportant? It was tremendously important to this country. It was so important that we had to bring forward a Bill to combat it. There is no point in trying to tone down the actions of these men, but the Leader of the Opposition did everything he could to play down the importance of the action of members of the university Labor club.
I want to say a few words about the speech of the honourable member for Oxley. I listened to him carefully. He said: One could well ask why this Bill has been introduced’. I gave the reason when I quoted from the speech of the AttorneyGeneral, who explained the purpose of the Bill at the very start of his second reading speech. The honourable member went on to say: ‘This is an election stunt’. Let me deal with that assertion. The Opposition intends to vote for the Bill, but let us suppose that Opposition members came into the House and said: ‘We are behind the Bill. We believe that treason flees before patriotism. We are patriotic and this Bill must be enacted.’ If they said that, how could the Government gain any advantage from using the Bill in an election stunt?
Everyone would be supporting the Bill. The trouble is that the Labor Party is accepting the Bill in a half-hearted way and is advancing all sorts of reasons to show why the Bill should not be enacted. The Australian electors are thinking people. When they make a decision they make a very sound one. If we gain any political advantage for the Capricornia by-election or the Senate election or even for an election in 2 Or 3 years’ time, we have done so because of the action of the Labor Opposition in relation to the Bill and not by the Government’s action in introducing the Bill. If the Government allowed this activity to go - let it ride, as some people say - and did nothing about h, what would Opposition members say? They would say that the Government does not care what happens or what money goes overseas.
The Leader of the Opposition, when asked by interjection whether he would take this action if he were in office, said: Not before some money was sent over’. What is the use of taking this action after the money has been sent there? We must act before it is sent. The money sent overseas might buy arms and ammunition that would kill half a dozen of our young men over there. It would be too late to act then. As it is, we are not really acting very quickly. The Bill has been brought before the House as quickly as the Attorney-General could do so. It had to be drafted before it could be introduced, and he is to be commended- for his prompt action. But we cannot afford to lose a minute in controlling this activity. We must let the people know where we stand. This action of intention to send money overseas is the most disgraceful action ever to have happened in Australia. We speak of the spirit of Anzac and the great brotherhood of the servicemen. Surely these young men in the Labor clubs, who are being educated mainly at public expense, must bc shown that we will not permit this sort of action.
The honourable member for Oxley said that the Bill had failed to get off the ground. I do not know what he meant by that. He referred to the attendance in the House at the time he was speaking. This was immediately after the dinner adjournment. He referred to the statement by the Leader of the Opposition that a Liberal member had made a donation to (he fund but he could not name him. He also said that the Government bad tried to associate the Labor Party with the university Labor club. That is not true. His memory must be very bad if he cannot recall the many occasions on which Labor members have tried to associate the Liberal Reform Group with the Liberal Party of Australia.
– The honourable member should remember his promise. His time is up.
– The Leader of the Opposition strongly maintained that the legislation is absolutely unnecessary. He took pains to explain that the Labor Party had nothing to do with it. He made so many points that were not in any way relevant to the subject that the Chair on several occasions had to call him to order. The honourable member for Scullin has reminded me that I said I would take 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour and that my time is up. However, I want to make one point in conclusion. Australia must at all times have the closest association with her troops fighting overseas. The Government must introduce legislation or take action that will stop anybody - I mean anybody at all - from sending goods or money to the people in Vietnam who are trying to kill our kinsfolk, our young men. I cannot condemn too strongly the actions of the men in the university clubs. I am moved more by sorrow than by anger. This should never have happened in Australia. We have a great record in world wars and we have a great record as a democracy. Indeed, these men claim that they should be allowed to act in this way because they live in a democracy. But they want to give money to the National Liberation Front, which is trying to rid the world of democracy. I understand that this Bill is already producing some result, because the collection of money on the campus is now prohibited. As time goes on and the Bill becomes effective, this activity will stop. Let us hope that we can forget the very sad and gloomy day when young men in Australia took the action that we now condemn.
– The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) and I have one point in common. We were comrades in arms and we fought Fascist Japan together. We- were even the guests of the Japanese and lived on a rice diet for 3± years. But there any similarity between us ceases. The honourable member for Mallee, who once fought Fascist Japan in his stand for freedom and democracy, now wants to restrict freedom; I want to extend freedom. With the exception of the amendment to the Crimes Act in 1960 and the legislation permitting the conscription of our youths and their despatch to the jungles of Vietnam, I know of no legislation that has made me more eager to raise my voice in protest than this Bill. It is aimed at all the critics of the Government’s Vietnam policy.
In the few years that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) has been a member of the House, I have found him to be a reasonable and fair man. It is my personal belief that he did not want to proceed with this regressive and repressive legislation. If he were able to exercise his own personal choice, I think he would prefer to extend our freedoms and not restrict them. I quote his own words. He said:
I feel that on the issues this Bill is designed to meet when passions are liable to run so high, there must be restriction on the right to launch prosecutions and they should be commenced only after a careful study of the facts.
Those are the wise words of the Minister. I have no doubt that the Minister is aware of the prejudice of some Government supporters who are seeking blood under this legislation. It is for this reason that he has restricted the power to pursue prosecution under the proposed Act except with the authority of the Attorney-General. I believe that the Attorney-General was forced into bringing down this regressive legislation by the extremist elements of the Liberal Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party - those desperate men who have no solution to the Vietnam conflict other than to bomb and to escalate the war until it engulfs the whole world and the whole of mankind. Thus they can cleanse themselves in a holy war. These desperate men are frightened to allow the people of Vietnam to determine their own affairs.
I am also aware that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) is prepared to bend to the extremist elements and to use this legislation in a jingoistic way. He wants to exaggerate the position out of all proportion and thus divert the Australian people’s attention away from the real blundering of the Government’s policy. During the last election campaign the Prime Minister effectively confused the Australian electorate with the jingoistic fear of the downward thrust of China. He told the electorate: Draw the line in Vietnam now. Don’t let us have to fight them on our shores.’ Yet during a recent overseas visit, in an interview at the London airport, the Prime Minister said, as reported in the Sydney Sun’ of 13th June:
We are not troubled about the possibility of Chinese Communists invading Australia.
What has happened in the months since the last Federal election to cause an aboutface in Government view? Neither the Prime Minister nor any other member of the Government has ever clearly explained why we should fear the downward thrust of China. Yet we continue to trade with China. Since 1961, we have traded with China to the extent of $800m. Included in this trade was wool, wheat, steel and the strategic material, inedible tallow. Everybody knows that inedible tallow is used to make explosives. Our export of this commodity to the People’s Republic of China has been as follows:
Details are not available for 1966-67 because of the fact that they were camouflaged in the statistics relating to animal fats and vegetable oils.
So even the Government is starting to squirm. Only a few years ago inedible tallow was exported to North Vietnam itself. I ask the honourable member for Mallee and every other member of the Australian Country Party who fears the downward thrust of China: What guarantee have we that China does not trans-ship the tallow to North Vietnam? Why are Government members and supporters so quiet regarding this trade? Why is there a witch hunt after a few university students? It seems that it is a crime to give aid, but it is all right, for the financial interests to export to China.
This repressive legislation was first suggested in the Senate by Senator McManus on 16th August 1967. Senator McManus moved the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance, namely:
The necessity for action under the Crimes Act and/or other applicable legislation against persons in Australia proposing to solicit and send aid to the National Liberation Front of Vietnam.
I reiterate that no accusation or charge has been levelled at the commercial interests who are trading with China, which the DLP and the extremist elements in the Liberal Party claim is our real enemy. Why do they say that it is a great crime to give medical aid yet it is all right to sell goods to China which in fact could be transshipped to North Vietnam and to the National Liberation Front. We have asked honourable members opposite to explain this, but they have not done so. The witch hunt is on. The accused are students who are members of Labor Clubs in several universities throughout Australia.
There seems to be a good deal of confusion surrounding the decision that was made at the Labor Club at the Monash University. Various interpretations have been placed upon that decision. The decision was vague in its meaning. Senator McManus, when speaking on the debate in the Senate on 16th August said, as reported at page 40 of Hansard:
In ‘Fighting Words’ last week, one of their spokesmen—- and I take it it is referring to members of the Monash Labor Club: said that they had completed arrangements to send the aid through Algiers. In the newspapers this week, another spokesman said they had arranged to send it through Cambodia. A university student rang me this morning and informed me that he had learned from inquiries in Melbourne that they had arranged to send the aid to Saigon and that al Saigon sympathisers would transfer it to the Vietcong fighting outside that city.
I could find no definite statement in Senator McManus’ speech in the Senate on 16th August 1967 which suggested that money was being raised by students of the Monash Labor Club in order that arms could be sent to the National Liberation Front in Vietnam. With all due respect to the Minister, 1 listened carefully to his second reading speech and I did not hear him say on one occasion that the money was being trans-shipped so that it could be used for obtaining arms for the National Liberation Front. If money has been sent in order to obtain arms for the National Liberation Front I want the Minister to get up and clearly state so. I have checked and rechecked his second reading speech but I have not been able to find any reference to it. If, in fact, money is being trans-shipped in order to obtain arms for the National Liberation Frant, then we on this side of the House are clearly opposed to such action.
This morning I sought information as to the original resolution moved by the Monash Labor Club. I have been informed that the resolution passed on 24th July 1967 was in the following terms:
That a committee be established to give aid to the National Liberation Front.
That the committee be autonomous.
That the committee have two funds-
medical aid to civilians in National Liberation Front controlled areas.
In my opinion the resolution was ambiguous. It gives an open go to those who wish to interpret it as saying that money was being sent in order to obtain arms for the National Liberation Front. That is the interpretation that certain people have placed upon the decision. A statement was made by the Executive of the Monash Labor Club on 31st July 1967. It was as follows:
That unspecified aid would in fact be used for non-military purposes.
I shall quote in part what Mr Bill Hartley, General Secretary of the Labor Party in Victoria, said, as reported in the Melbourne Sun’ of 2nd August 1967:
Sanity returns at Monash.
A general meeting of the Monash University Labor Club on Monday has restored some sanity to the tumult caused by an ill-conceived proposal to raise Australian aid for the National Liberation Front in Vietnam.
The proposal was made originally by a section of the club.
It was proposed to raise and to send it ‘without strings attached’. This aid could have been used militarily, possibly against Australian forces.
This has now been modified by the full club to a proposal to send only aid in the form of medical supplies.
The question remains whether the whole venture should have been launched in the first place, and the Australian Labor Party believes that it should not have.
The report in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ of 2nd August continues:
The Monash University Labor Club, although not affiliated wilh the ALP, should have realised that its actions and confusion over the use of the title ‘Labor’ could hurt the ALP and reduce its influence at a time when it is endeavouring to influence the whole community to support its Vietnam policies.
The Australian Labor Party makes it perfectly clear that students at Monash and elsewhere have acted foolishly and that they were ill-advised in taking such action. I believe that the students have assisted those extreme elements on the back benches of the Liberal Party, particularly the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) who has been interjecting, and the elements in the community which seek to escalate the war in Vietnam. I do not think we can dismiss the action of the university students at Monash and elsewhere, as stated by Senator McManus of some of them, as being the action of crazed, mixed up kids’. We should ask why those students took such action.
A further statement was issued by the students on 20th August, and I received a copy of it by mail only a few days ago. I will quote that statement, which reads:
In the light of recent misrepresentations and confusions concerning the nature of its funds the Committee for Aid to the NLF has two funds. One is for medical aid to the people in the areas under the administration of the NLF and the other is for civil aid- that will not be used for military purposes.
The Committee once again reaffirms that its aid to South Vietnam will not be military aid (that could be used against Australian troops that have been forced to be party to the aggressive role played by the American military machine against the Vietnamese people. No member of the Committee has ever said that the money sent will be used to buy arms as was wrongly reported in various newspapers and wrongly quoted in the Senate.
The Committee feels that the American and Australian military involvement in Vietnam is immoral. Wc believe that the NLF is fighting for a just cause in the context of Vietnam today - with over half a million troops attempting to impose American will on the Vietnamese people. Further, the Committee feels that the NLF is the most viable political force in South Vietnam and that the people under its administration deserve the aid of Australians to restore their society, which has suffered, and will continue to suffer, because of American military activities.
Authorised by K. Jepson, 7 Jasmine Street, Caulfield, on behalf of the Committee for aid to the NLF.
I ask honourable members whether the Government and its supporters could possibly understand the revulsion of the university students and a large section of the citizens of Australia against the barbaric action of the most powerful nation in the world in bombing a peasant economy into the stone age. Over 77,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam last March alone. At the height of the Second World War in northern Europe only 80,000 tons of bombs were dropped in any month. Yet this peasant economy, this nation of North Vietnam, in one month had 77,000 tons of bombs dropped on it.
In the last year of the war against Japan only 29,000 of bombs were dropped. In one month in Korea only 17,000 tons of bombs were dropped. That is what is happening to this peasant economy. Of course young men with feelings and emotions want to strike out. While we do not agree with their decisions and say that they are ill-advised, because they have given a weapon to the most reactionary element in this Parliament and this country to escalate the war and take and restrict the freedom of the Australian people, I believe, as do many of my fellow citizens, that every bomb dropped by the Americans in Vietnam is a nail in the coffin of the American way of life. The Americans will be judged by the uncommitted nations and peoples of the world. This is an era of the struggle for people’s minds, and you cannot win minds by brutality and mass bombings. But that is what is happening in Vietnam.
On 16th August Senator McManus said in another place:
Then we have other stories as to the nature of the aid. Some have sought to pretend virtue by saying that they will bc merely sending medical aid. Surely if they send anti-malarial drugs that is military aid. If anti-malarial drugs will keep on their feet soldiers who will otherwise bc out of action, what is the difference betwen that and military aid?
One can easily understand the callous and inhuman attitude of the honourable senator. One can understand that Senator McManus has never served or suffered .under such conditions. I would deny no brother Australian or Vietcong aid if I could relieve suffering in any way. I support the views expressed in the letter to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) by the Society of Friends, 26th August 1967, and I quote part of that letter:
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has throughout the 300 years of its existence endeavoured to bring relief to human suffering wherever it has occurred. These efforts have arisen from a religious compulsion and a belief in the ultimate work and dignity of every human being. Quakers acknowledge no enemies and our relief work, and our efforts to promote reconciliation in situations of conflict, have always been conducted without discrimination and irrespective of political orientation or national allegiance.
We on this side of the House are against violence, we seek to de-escalate the violence in Vietnam. We have sought to bring sanity; we seek a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam confict. We have expressed opposition to Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. We are opposed to the sending of our young men to the bottomless pit of human suffering in that country. Against our opposition Australian forces are in Vietnam. We on this side of the House would do nothing to place in jeopardy the lives of Australian servicemen. In fact we would do our utmost to improve the conditions under which they must serve.
In 1965 I visited the troops at Saigon. I also visited our troops at Bien Hoa. I saw the hell in which these men were serving. On my return I saw the then Minister for the Army, Dr Forbes, and discussed in private with him how I thought we could best improve conditions for our men in Vietnam. At no time did I try to make political capital out of my visit to Australian troops in Vietnam. Those who have served in the jungles of South East Asia know the horror and hell that men suffer in their struggles there. My heart bled for the conscripted young men serving in that area. I would do anything I could for them. I would not raise a finger to hurt them. I am opposed to their participation in the Vietnamese conflict but I would struggle against anybody who would put their lives in jeopardy. Every member of the Opposition feels this way.
How dare any honourable member opposite, from the Prime Minister down, challenge members on this side and suggest that we are not as good Australians as members on the other side are. I know that there are men of good will on the Government side, and that is why I have spoken as I have of the Attorney-General. I have listened to him speak and I have heard his answers to questions, and it seems to me that he is a man of justice. He believes in freedom. This legislation is not as repressive as some elements of the Liberal Party would like it to be. 1 know that there are various elements in the Parties opposite. I am familiar with the actions of Senator Hannaford. I have grown to love the man for his courage. There must be other men of courage in the Liberal Party.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! I remind the honourable member for Reid that under the Standing Orders he is not allowed to refer to a senator by name in this House.
– I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for your direction. 1 think I got my point across, and I think honourable members appreciate what I was saying. I refer the House to clause 3 (3.) of the Bill, which states: (3.) The preceding provisions of this section do not make it unlawful for:
contribute or give money or goods to;
It is good that channels of communication are available whereby we can continue to give aid to the people of North Vietnam, and even to the National Liberation Front, to alleviate their suffering. Assistance can be channelled through the International Red Cross organisation. This is a good feature of the legislation, but I suggest to the Minister that it should not be necessary for the provision of a proclamation concerning the body or organisation specified to receive such contributions. Before the legislation becomes law we should remove the provision that makes it illegal for the World Council of Churches to send aid; that makes it illegal for the Society of Friends to send aid; and that makes it illegal for the Catholic Church to send aid. We believe it should be made legal for them to forward aid overseas and that they should be brought within the scope of the legislation.
The honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), when speaking to the Bill, said that demonstrators did not allow for any opinion other than their own. He said that they thought they were the only ones who were ever right. With no disrespect to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I point out that I have been a demonstrator for many years. I am proud of the demonstrations with which I have been associated. When a person is struggling for peace and is expressing his views and exercising his democratic right to march, he is proud to find others with him trying to prevent war and seeking to bring tolerance and understanding to people rather than encouraging violence and hate. Demonstrators seek to promote understanding and brotherhood among men. I believe in this, and this is what my comrades in the peace movement believe. The channels of propaganda in Australia have made the term ‘peace movement’ a dirty term. There is a growing movement today against this Government’s policy in Vietnam. The number of demonstrators is growing. A few weeks ago when I marched from Hyde Park to the Sydney Stadium I noted how the . numbers are growing. In that march were representatives of all denominations - not only were representatives of the Protestant churches marching side by side, but representatives of the Catholic Church, including priests, were marching with them in an ecumenical spirit. They were protesting against the Australian Government’s policy on Vietnam. There was widespread representation from all sections of the Australian community in that march, but I am sure that those demonstrators did not believe that they had a monopoly of right on their side. We recognise that we are struggling and that we are a minority group, but we know that our forces are growing and that there is at least one senator who has made the great moral decision to disagree with the Government’s policy. There must be other members who disagree with that policy. There could not really be this apparent complete unanimity. There must be doubts in the minds of members of the
Liberal Party and in the minds of members of the Country Party, because there are men of good will on the Government side. If men who are disturbed at the oppression of the people of South Africa through the apartheid policy can show courage in expressing their views, men who are concerned about the situation in Vietnam should do likewise. The honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) showed courage in expressing opposition to the South African Government’s oppression of the coloured peoples of South Africa. I am sure there are honourable members on the Government side who will join with the demonstrators. Only when we all come together and strive for peace and for the unity of mankind can we succeed. Then, and then only, will the world be a better place for all.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I think it would be appropriate at this time to say a few words about the Bill we are discussing. I listened with great concern to the last speaker, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). If I recall correctly, he did not mention the Bill. The public at large who may be listening - and I know that not many do, but there may be some - should know that we are discussing a Bill entitled the Defence Force Protection Bill, which is designed to prevent certain people in Australia from sending material aid either by way of money or of goods to assist the Vietcong, or the National Liberation Front or other Communist organisaitons in Vietnam. The Australian Labor Party Opposition has expressed, through its Leader (Mr Whitlam), its approval of this Bill. The last speaker indicated that he protested against the Bill. It is interesting to have sat here, as I have have done for some hours, listening to every Opposition speaker from the Leader of the Opposition down to find out how much honourable members opposite do really approve of this Bill.
– They do not.
– The truth is that they do not approve, but they are not game enough to admit to the Australian public that they do not approve of it.
– You are a liar.
-Order! The honourable member for Wilmot will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark.
– I say he is a liar.
-Order! The honourable member for Darebin will withdraw that remark too.
– I withdraw it, having had the pleasure of saying it.
– I do not want to be unfair about this but I have listened and I have made notes of the speeches that have been made. One would expect, of course, that the Leader of the Opposition would state the policy for his Party. This has been a considered policy arrived at by the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and some very prominent members of the Labor Party have spoken during the debate. Let us analyse their speeches. As I have said, I do not want to be unfair to them. The Leader of the Opposition opened his speech with the statement that he deplored the raising of funds in Australia to be sent to the Vietcong. Then he got quickly away from that subject. He then said he also deplored the Government’s action in introducing this Bill. He went on to say that the whole matter could have been overcome without the introduction of a Bill of this character; it could have been overcome by mere administrative action. He said that the purpose of the Bill was to create fuss and publicity and that the matter had been whipped up by the Government to gain some political advantage. If the Leader of the Opposition is a genuine man, he will come into this House and substantiate a statement he made. He said that a member of the Liberal Party had given money to this fund to go to North Vietnam. I challenge him to come into this House and say who this member of the Liberal Party is. He made that statement and he cannot get away with it. He also said that one of the purposes of this Bill was to undo the harm that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) had already done by speaking on this subject. As a matter of fact, the Leader of the Opposition considered the matter of so little consequence as not to require any legislative action at all. According to him, it was of no moment at all, we were only raising it for political purposes. I challenge the Opposition to say plainly whether it agrees with this Bill and whether it agrees that money should not be sent to the assistance of the Vietcong, the National Liberation Front and the Communists in Vietnam. If it does agree, then there is no need to continue the debate. If we both agree, there is no need for all this discussion.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the matter was not important. Yet, apparently it was so important that not only did the Leader of the Opposition speak but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke, too. The latter tried to sidetrack the issue by talking about trade with China, which has no direct relevance to this Bill at all. While he did not oppose the Bill he indicated in the course of his speech that he would, or that his Party would, recognise the National Liberation Front. I do not think that honourable members opposite will deny that. I think that the important contribution from the Opposition side of the House was that of the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), who made some extraordinary statements. He took to task some of our speakers who had perhaps called these university students nasty names. He said that he knew some of the students and that they were very clever lads. I think a couple of them were sitting in the back of the chamber while he was saying that.
I made a note of a statement that the honourable member made. He said that people - and I suppose he was referring to people in this country - had as much right to send aid to the Vietcong as they had to send aid to South Vietnam. That is an important statement. He said also that there was little to choose between the two sides, the Vietcong and National Liberation Front, and the South Vietnamese.
– Yet he supports the Bill.
– How can he support the Bill and make those statements? He said that he is going to- vote for the Bill and he also said that we are engaged in an illegal war. Those were his statements. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) said that this was merely redundant legislation. That was the theme of his speech. The whole of the speech of the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) was a protest against the Bill and a veiled attack upon the United States of America for what it is doing. He also dealt with the student group and during his speech he mentioned some of the statements that they had made. 1 will read the following portion of a statement made by members of the Monash University Labor Club: the Committee feels that the NLF is the most viable political force in South Vietnam and that the people under its administration deserve the aid of Australians . . .
Those are important words. When we look at this statement and the charge that is made that the Vietcong are being bombed and torn to pieces by American attacks, we should also look at this week’s statistics to see what the Vietcong terrorists are doing in Vietnam. These are confirmed civilian casualties. For the week ending 19th August 167 people were killed. The total number of civilians killed this year is 2,027 and the total number of civilians wounded is 3,683. Of course the people are gradually waking up in Vietnam and the total number of defectors from the Vietcong so far this year is 21,335 compared to 1 1,945 for the same period last year.
I think that the Labor Party is not genuine and sincere in its advocacy in relation to this matter. Everyone regrets the necessity to introduce legislation of this type. We sincerely hoped that we would not have to introduce it. One imagines that there is not a single Australian worthy of the name ‘Australian’, who would want to aid individuals or organisations engaged in an activity which was designed to Kill or maim our own Australian soldiers. This is unthinkable but it has. actually happened. It is a deplorable fact. This subject has been simmering underground for a long time - it is not just a matter of a single instance - and. it was only brought to a head by the Labor Club of the Monash University when it came into the propaganda channels and publicly to raise funds to aid the Vietcong and the National Liberation Fund. It was because of this publicity that the matter has been brought to this House and we are now debating it. Otherwise we might never have known of it.
The publicity arose because a public appeal was being made, and this is well known. The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) mentioned it this afternoon. He was overseas and he read about it. It was because I read about it that I asked the question about which the Leader of the Opposition took me to task this afternoon. This, of course, the Government could not have turned its mind against. It was at that time considering it. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) has made some statement on it. I think the Prime Minister has also made some statement in connection with it. But it was brought to a head, as I say, by the Monash University Labor Club.
The Leader of the Opposition and other honourable members opposite went to great pains to assure the House that these Labor Clubs were not associated with the Australian Labor Party. 1 remind the House that the Monash University Club is not the only labor club that is raising funds, or intends to raise funds, for this terrible purpose. There is the Australian National University Labor Club, the Newcastle Labor Club, the Melbourne Labor Club and the Sydney Labor Club, which are a raising funds for the same purpose. 1 do not say that these labor clubs are parts of the Labor Party, but in all my experience in politics - and I have been in politics for a long time and these labor clubs have existed for a long time - I have never heard any public announcement by the ALP dissociating itself completely from the labor clubs in the universities. Only now, when a matter of this kind emerges, do the members of the Opposition say: “They are not our boys. We have nothing to do with them. We have no association with them.’
– We never have had.
– All right, you never have, but it has taken the Labor Party a long time to let the public know that this is so. The Labor Party should be pretty jealous of the title ‘Labor*, but the fact is that these people have cottoned on to the title. Is it that they claim you and you do not claim them? What is it? They are the labor clubs and you are the Labor Party. Do not let us play children about this matter. The Opposition knows as well as I do that even if the Labour Party does not own them these labor clubs at least tryto help the Labor Party in every possible way, politically and otherwise.
– They distribute the voting cards at elections.
– That is right. They give out the how-to-vote cards and everything else. Let me turn now to our friend Mr James, who was mentioned this afternoon by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), and who is the editor of ‘The Anglican’ newspaper. Let me hasten to add that this journal is not published with the authority of the Anglican Church. That is something that should be made clear. Mr James jumped on the propaganda waggon in every possible way. We could not look at television on any night of the week without seeing Mr James. We could not read a newspaper without reading something about Mr James offering to send money to Vietnam, making it easy for the people of Australia to send money, inciting them and encouraging them to send money to help the Vietcong. And for what purpose? For the Red Cross, which we all agree should receive assistance? Certainly not. Anybody who accepts that sort of story is very childish indeed, because the money was not going through the channels of the International Red Cross which were open all the time to receive such money. No, these funds were being raised to assist the Vietcong to win their battle in South Vietnam.
– And to keep up their morale.
– Yes, to keep up their morale. That was the purpose. That is what they were trying to do. This is what Mr James was trying to do. This is the same Mr James who joined Mr Barton in standing as Liberal Reform candidates at the last election. They were treated by the public as they should have been treated. But this Mr James has participated in this action just as the students have, and I say positively that in my opinion, with which I think anyone in Australia who looks at the matter frankly will agree, the action that has been taken is undoubtedly a traitorous action. The intent in my opinion is treasonable.
– Did he not send the money to the Bishop of Hanoi?
– That is sidetracking the issue. Our soldiers are fighting the Vietcong under orders from this Government and this is a porperly constituted Government. Let us not misunderstand that, because this is a point that has been avoided. Nobody has said this. Everyone knows why our soldiers are fighting in Vietnam. I do not want to go into the reasons tonight because this would be turned into a foreign affairs debate, and we do not particularly want to mention these reasons. We know that our soldiers are fighting the Vietcong. We know that the Vietcong’s organisation is the National Liberation Front. We know that the National Liberation Front is a Communist dictated organisation. We know that North Vietnam is a completely Communist set-up in every shape and form, and we are trying to prevent the Communists from taking over in South Vietnam.
The last federal election which was held in November 1966 was fought on this issue. The Labor Party opposition, which has expressed support of this Bill but has not shown any great desire to support it or enthusiasm for it, put its proposal before the people of Australia. This involved the withdrawal of Australian troops from the conflict in Vietnam. This was the issue and the people of Australia decided the issue. They gave a mandate to this Government to send Australian soldiers to fight the battle in Vietnam. Never forget that. This Government is a properly constituted Government elected by the people as recently as last November. The action that was taken to try to defeat the Government’s purpose was in my opinion traitorous because, after all is said and done, the Government is carrying out the will of the people specifically expressed at the last election.
The Government simply had to take this action. It had no alternative. There was no question of trying to get any political advantage. It had to take this action because its authority to govern was being challenged by a minority of traitors. To do nothing would have been to encourage more and more traitors to defy the Government’s wishes in these matters, to kill our soldiers and to bring chaos into the community. It is a dreadful thing to think that we have to pay taxes to support and subsidise a small group of students who can carry out this kind of traitorous act. This is something we ought to give some thought to. We should also remember that these students’ Labor Clubs are only a very small rebel group. They do not represent - and I do not pretend that they do represent - the majority of decent students in the universities of Australia. But they are a traitorous group. This Government does not object, of course, to people holding views about its policy different from those which the Government holds.
– Not much!
– We do not object to this in any shape or form, but there must be respect for the law and there must be respect for the .directions of a properly constituted Government, as this is. This is the important point that I particularly wanted to make. It is unfortunate that so many highly placed people and organisations - and this is why I think these misled and misguided university students did what they did - encourage defiance of law and order in many directions. Consider the expressions of opinion offered from time to time by some of the professors at our universities. How can we expect young students to stay on the right track when many of their professors in the universities express Communistic ideas? The same remarks apply to some of our ministers of religion. They should be ashamed of themselves. They should not make the kind of statements which they make in defiance of a government which is properly elected by the vast majority of the Australian people. The same thing applies in some respects to some trade union leaders, although not to all. In my opinion the disgraceful slanting of some newspaper reports - certainly not all of them - and some television programmes is an encouragement and an incitement to these young thoughtless people to do the kind of things they do. Unfortunately some members of the Opposition - I do not blame all of them for this - have made statements, some of which I have referred to tonight and others of which were referred to earlier today, which could not be calculated to do other than incite people to do the wrong thing by the welfare of this country.
In all these circumstances can one blame these university students for acting as they have acted? They are only young men. They get certain ideas in their heads and then they are propped up with encouragement from people in high positions in the country who should know better. How can you expect these young people to do anything else? So it becomes “necessary for the Government to introduce legislation so that the people at large, including university students, will know what is expected of them. If it were sincere about this matter I would like to see the Opposition much more positive in a denunciation of the action of these, traitors. It is not yet too late. A leading member of the Labor Party is to follow me in this debate. Let him be positive in his denunciation of the action of these traitors in sending money to Vietnam to be used against our soldiers there. I have a high opinion of the honourable member who is about to speak. I ask him not to drag across the trail the red herring of trade with Communist China. The argument on that matter is complete hypocrisy. Honourable members opposite run away from the real issue and talk about trade with Communist China, which is an international matter and one that could be debated in its own context but not one that should be debated in the context of this Bill. I sincerely hope that the people will not be misled by such arguments. Let us deal separately with the issue of trade with Red China. There may be varying opinions on that issue, but they have nothing to do with the issue of sending money to assist an enemy whom our soldiers are fighting at the direction of this Government. I deplore the efforts of honourable members opposite to confuse the public mind on this issue. I ask them to give their wholehearted support to this Bill, which the Government was forced to introduce so that the people of Australia, including university students, will understand that the Government and the people will not tolerate traitorous action of the kind to which I have referred.
– Nothing became the former Prime Minister of Australia so much in his long career as his removal from the Ministry of the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) if that honourable member’s effort tonight is any sample of his capacity. He knew nothing about the project before the House. He spent most of his time vilifying the Labor Party by association and so on. He spent time tilting at windmills. He has added nothing whatever to the thinking of Australia on a problem which is very intense.
I propose tonight to deal with some of the principles involved in the issue we are debating. I say at the outset that we on this side of the chamber agree to the same kind of support for the National Liberation Front or anybody else as does the Government. The Bill defines certain ways in which people may be assisted internationally through the Red Cross. We think that this provision should be expanded through international organisations. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) who has a record second to none as an Australian in defence of this country and in his personal sacrifice for it, described exactly how we feel on this issue. We agree that no Australian soldier will suffer from any action that we can stop and no Australian soldier will lack anything that Australia can give him.
The Bill is described as being for the protection of the defence force in respect of its operations in or near Vietnam. What do honourable members opposite care for the defence force in or near Vietnam? In the two years that our troops have been there we have bad continuing scandals about mail. Government supporters could not care at all about this matter; it was too expensive to do the job properly. Similarly, there have been continuing scandals about the return to Australia from Vietnam of wounded troops. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and his retinue and minions in the cabinet can spend $21m on special aircraft in which to fly around the world but nothing can be spent to return the wounded safely from Vietnam. The repatriation benefits provided for young men who are called up for service in the Army and who may be crippled for life amount to less than the basic wage. These young men are conscripted into a lifetime of poverty in order to support the policies of this Government, yet not a word is said by honourable members opposite. What do they care? The bunch of hypocrites opposite who are responsible for this legislation know little enough of war. and its effects. I express my contempt for all those professional patriots on the Government side of the House and in the Democratic Labor Party who leave all the fighting to other people and demand that we clear our conscience in Vietnam while they themselves stay at home. We on this side of the chamber speak on behalf of the people of Australia and their traditional rights and freedoms. We wish to see certain guaranteed protections accorded to the citizens of
Australia. 1 support the remarks of the honourable member for Reid who said that in some ways this Bill introduced by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) is less repressive than we expected. I make it clear from the outset that we disapprove strongly of any action which assists the people against whom Australian soldiers are fighting. We are not like, the honourable members opposite whose Government, at a time when we were in confrontation with the Indonesians and when we had people in Malaya, still sent telecommunications equipment to Indonesia. At that time not one boo was heard from honourable members opposite with the exception of the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and one or two of his colleagues. The hypocrisy and humbug that consistently come from the professional patriots opposite is a disgrace to the Parliament. Let them stand and be counted when their principles are at stake. They care little about anything but their own political gimmickry.
Tonight we are discussing an issue that has been brought to a head because of the actions of a small group of young Australians. I hope that I have made it clear from the outset that we strongly disapprove of what they did and of the measures they propose to take. But I remind honourable members and other people of the creation of the Red Cross in 1859 when Henri Dunant saw at the Battle of Solferino thousands of suffering wounded neglected. He founded the first international organisation to care for the sick and wounded, irrespective of race or creed or the side on which they fought. This is a principle which we must preserve. So, while preserving the rights of Australian troops and protecting them we must also protect the legal freedoms of the Australian people. We must also protect the general principles of humanity which have prevailed and developed over the last century. In this conflict, when this Government is exercising -its authority, I am not confident that the values that will prevail are those that concern humanity and freedom. So we want to examine what is before the House.
I have been interested to hear in this debate honourable members opposite such as the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), the . honourable member for Morton (Mr Killen) and lastly the honourable member for Bennelong. The first three whom I named have, since I entered this House, consistently. been the McCarthyists of the Australian Parliament. They are known throughout Australia by this name. Everybody should understand this. Their general and continuing political activities in this field are a disgrace to the Parliament and the Australian attitude. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) who is now at the table has been a filling fellow traveller for most of them.
– The honourable member should not talk about fellow travellers. That is good coming from him.
– There will not be much travelling with him as Minister for Shipping and Transport. We have heard in this place a continuing trial by public defamation. The Prime Minister of Australia, the Right Honourable Harold Holt, the member for Higgins, Companion of Honour, and Privy Councillor - it should not be long before he is knighted - has been the leader of the pack. Let us turn back to the time when he was Treasurer, to his attack upon the Senate ticket of the Labor Party 5 or 6 years ago, on the late Dr Max Poulter, on Senator Cavanagh and on other members.
– That is typical of a Fascist.
– He is a smearer, through and through.
-Order! The honourable member for Moreton will restrain himself.
– I would like (o poison him.
-Order! The honourable member for Moreton will come to order. 1 remind the honorable member for Wills of the standing order to which I referred the honourable member for Reid in relation to members in another place. I remind him also of the presentation of the Bill which is before the House.
– He can only make personal references.
– I have got under the honourable member’s skin and I shall continue to do so. I have been speaking for 6 minutes and I am answering matters put forward in the debate by half a dozen honourable members opposite. During the afternoon we have heard these things rolled out about the Labor Party. We have discussed them here and have read in Hansard similar discussions in another place. We have heard public statements of what this is all about. We have sat in this place and heard the Prime Minister of Australia say that the Labor Party by association has given aid and succour to the proposals of the students of Monash. We have heard the Prime Minister denounce people because of their association with organisations, to some of which we belong. We remember the anonymous letters he quoted in the Mrs Michaelis case. We remember all the questions he has answered in this place in recent times and 1 remind honourable members of the original attack on the Labor Party Senate ticket some 6 or 7 years ago. This is trial by defamation.
Although I am not fully convinced that the Bill is satisfactory yet - neither is the Attorney-General because already he has produced an amendment to it - at least I will say for the Attorney-General that we are getting pretty close to the protections which are necessary so that people do not suffer the kind of public defamation and the kind of public attacks which, taken into the court room, prejudice fair trial. I should like to pass a remark in reply to the honourable member for Bennelong. He called people traitors. I think Australians should use this word very lightly indeed. I am proud of the Australian record. I am proud of the fact that Australia has never had a traitor, that’ no Australian has ever sold secrets to the enemy or gone over to the enemy, and no Australian has had to be shot for disloyalty. This is one of the few major communities in the world of which this can be said. I know that honourable members opposite bandy these words about freely and liberally, but I believe it is time they slopped doing so.
I agree with what was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) that most of the exercise in this legislation could well have been carried out either by existing legislation or by administrative action. If, as the honourable member for Bennelong says there are traitors, there are provisions in the Crimes Act about treason and such things. If that is what the honourable member says, let the matter be put into court and tried in the full light of day. Do nor use this place to call people traitors. 1 call people in this chamber McCarthyists and 1 name them to their face. If they want me to do so I shall put it on the record, but I do not use this place to denounce people outside as the honourable member for Bennelong did. Guilt by association is one of the blackest records of history.
– The honourable member would not say these things outside.
– 1 will say them outside.
– He is a slurrer of the first order.
– The honourable member for Moreton has some infinite capacities. He is almost capable of anything.
– He is a smearer of the first order.
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Moreton for the last time.
– ls the honourable member in favour of the Bill?
– 1 agree with the Bill but I would not bring it in myself. Let me put it that way. In other words, the Labor Party is not opposing the Bill, nor is proposing it. lt is agreeing to it. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) may stand up and speak for himself, but usually he is better at sitting down and sniping at people than standing up and taking his place in the debate. He is another one who is likely to use guilt by association.
We have to see that every protective device that the legal system can bestow upon a charged person is available to him. This is my principal concern. If people are guilty of treason, let them suffer for it. If people are not guilty of treason, do not call them traitors. If they arc guilty of treason, charge them in the courts. We saw this episode launched in the first instance by public defamation of certain people, ki the last few days we have denounced the people’s courts. There have been cases in China where people have been taken before howling mobs, tried by incantation and defamation, and then taken out and shot. That is the element that has been introduced into this matter and so it is terribly difficult to bring a proper and appropriate judgment to bear upon it. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. The Australian tradition is built upon loyalty, upon tolerance and upon commonsense. I strongly believe that we are here to protect those things. I might agree or disagree with honourable members opposite. I disagree very strongly with what I would call the McCarthyist tendency of some, but I agree with other things that they do.
This community has a great deal to offer to the world. It has a tolerant attitude to most things, but despite that the Australian record is not free of grievous error.
– The pro-Communist member for Wills.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, you have already directed a warning >o the honourable member for Moreton. I have just heard him refer to the honourable member for Wills as the Communist member for Wills.
– I did nothing of the sort.
– He did say that and I ask for the withdrawal of that statement.
-Order! 1 did not hear the honourable member for Moreton make the remark.
– I did and so did everybody else.
-Order! [ make no comment on it, but I ask the honourable member for Moreton, if he did make the remark, to withdraw it.
– I called the honourable gentleman a pro-Communist supporter. I used the prefix ‘pro*.
– He has not the guts to admit it.
-Order! lt would help the House if honourable members came to order.
– I clearly heard the honourable member for Moreton call the honourable member for Wills the pro-Communist member for Wills. I submit that he should be made to withdraw the statement.
– He has not the guts to stand up to what he said.
-Order! I have already answered the honourable member for Yarra. The honourable member for
Moreton said that he did not use those words. I call the honourable member for Wills.
– I leave it to the honourable member’s conscience, if he has one. So far as I am concerned the honourable member for Moreton may call me what he will. I stand for Australia. If I am proanything I am pro-Australian and proAustralian in spirit. What the honourable member for Moreton may say matters little to me. I do not think the people in my electorate care two hoots what he may or may not say. In fact, it may be a great advantage to me if he came and spoke against me in my electorate.
This Bill is further evidence of the conflict between the principle and practice of the Government. It says one thing and does another. It says that China is our enemy, but it sends wheat and steel to China. It has said for long enough that the National Liberation Front does not exist and we would not negotiate with it, but then it brings down legislation which names the Liberation Front. I want to remind honourable members of some grievous errors of the past when legislation of this nature has come before the Parliament in haste or been implemented through national security legislation. I do this because the AttorneyGeneral is a man of infinite legal capacity. I understand that his reputation at the bar is about second to none. Yet here we have legislation which was brought in only yesterday and already we have one amendment before us. This is a sign of hasty legislation. We should never deal with people’s rights, their duties, privileges and so on in a hasty way.
Let me remind the House of three things from Australian history which show that even with all the protective devices written info our legislation, with all the protective devices of the traditions of the Australian people and the Australian Parliament, great and grievous injustices have been done to people. This House itself back in 1920 expelled one of its members who had attacked the British Government because the Mayor of Cork had died in prison in Dublin, I think it was. Honourable members may read in Hansard from 12th November 1920 onwards exactly what was said about the Honourable Hugh Mahon and what was done about him. They can read the speech of the Prime Minister at the time. They will find it reminiscent of speeches of our present Prime Minister. Speaking in the debate, Mr Tudor said:
We are asked to do that on a statement that appeared in the press. The Prime Minister told us that he has four affidavits as to the accuracy of the report of the proceedings and when the honourable member for Cook (Mr Catts) rose to the point of order that these affidavits were the properly of the House … the Prime Minister . . . preferred not to quote any further from them.
This man was expelled from this House on the evidence before it. Is that not very much like the remarks the Prime Minister made in this House about the Labor Party and its associations only a week ago? These were not legal proceedings; they were proceedings in this House. Then we come to the I WW in the 1920s. Members of this organisation were tried in the courts, but I will outline the qualities of the people who were used as witnesses against them in the court proceedings. They were Davis Goldstein, Louis Goldstein, Scully and McAlister. It was said of them: the two Goldsteins and Scully are persons of such a character that they must justly be described as liars and perjurers, and men who, whenever, it served their own ends, and irrespective of the consequences to other persons, would not hesitate to lie, whether upon oath or otherwise.
The Royal Commission, referring to Hamilton, said:
It ls my opinion that the evidence against him was manufactured by Goldstein and Scully for their own purposes. It is not just and right that this man should have been convicted.
About Besant he said:
My mind is in such a state of serious doubt with regard to the statement alleged to have been made by him that I feel that he should be given the benefit of the doubt. In my opinion, therefore, it is not right or just that, on the first or third counts, he should have been found guilty.
He said, referring to Moore:
I am of the opinion that.it is not right or just that Moore should ever have been convicted.
This report is in the Library. All honourable members can see it and read it. They should remember that these are the methods that are adopted when we are motivated by hysteria and haste. Then there was the Australia First Movement. It was a rather odd body. I will refer to the report of the Royal Commissioner, Mr Justice Clyne. These men were all put in gaol rather hurriedly in 1942. Referring to Hooper, the Royal Commissioner said:
In my opinion Army Intelligence made a mistake in recommending the detention of Hooper.
Referring to Matthews, he said:
Matthews served with some distinction in the last war and was, as he claimed and I believe, a loyal subject of the King. Intelligence officers, in my opinion, committed a grave blunder in procuring his arrest and in recommending his detention.
I refer to those circumstances so that honourable members will remember that we are handling a very delicate apparatus indeed. When we speak about traitors and about legislation to deal with them, we must exercise great care. We should not rush in and we should not produce Bills that must be amended before the debate on them commences.
I disagree with the provisions of the Bill that permit summary conviction. The honourable member for Moreton may be consoled with the thought that I agree with his remarks this afternoon in which he opposed those provisions that allowed a person to be put in gaol for more than 6 months. I see a lot of these instances in which people are summarily imprisoned in gaol. My office is not far from Pentridge Gaol. There is too much of this business of throwing people into gaol. Too much power resides in magistrates and justices, and we should at some stage examine this position closely. I do not like the provision relating to imprints on publications. Honourable members know that any imprint can be put on printed matter. But here it is suggested that a name printed on a publication is sufficient evidence and that a person can be convicted on it. I think we should examine this provision very closely. If it is intended to allege that a person printed a document because his name is on it, I do not think that justice can be done. Much more evidence than that should be produced before a conviction can be sustained. I hope that honourable members opposite will look closely at this, because we will be moving an amendment at a later stage.
I want to refer to several other matters. The first relates to the National Liberation Front. In Clause 3 <1) (e) the Bill refers to: the body known as ‘the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam’.
This is the body we claim should be a party to any negotiations associated with the cessation of hostilities. It is the body that the Government says ought not to be recognised in any way. If it is recognised by the Parliament in the Bill, surely it is logical for it to be recognised in South Vietnam. Honourable members opposite have made great play of the fact that the National Liberation Front and the Vietcong are one and the same organisation. Nobody denies that this is so. It is flying in the face of the facts to suggest that peace can be negotiated without these people being present at the conference table. However, in this legislation the Government has recognised that the National Liberation Front and North Vietnam do exist.
I understand that the President of the United States of America has intimated that, in certain circumstances, he will negotiate with the National Liberation Front. My understanding is that the Government of South Vietnam holds the contrary view, as my friend from Moreton often puts it The more intransigent view is to exclude the National Liberation Front from negotiations. I do not understand how the Government can, with any sort of consistency, pass legislation such as this claiming that the National Liberation Front is a principal party to the operations in South Vietnam, as indeed everybody knows it is, and at the same time refuse to negotiate with it or to negotiate with the negotiators in the hope of getting around to negotiating with it. It is the illogical nature of the Government’s attitude that causes concern and frustration throughout the Australian community, that makes people feel so helpless and that makes them march in processions and demand that something be done.
The Red Cross is mentioned in another part of the Bill. All of us recognise the Red Cross. But is it not at this stage of the legislation rather than by proclamation and appeal later than we should recognise such organisations as the World Council of Churches, the Society of Friends, the Salvation Army and other international organisations that have been mentioned here today. I hope that honourable members opposite will for a moment forget any advantage they may gain from political gimmickry by trying to suggest that we are the friends of the Vietcong, the National Liberation Front and so on. These suggestions and the advantage that flows from them are of small importance in the long sweep of Australian tradition. The important purpose is to ensure that the Australian troops in the field are absolutely protected, that the Australian tradition of proper legal procedures is absolutely protected and that the international process of giving humane assistance to whosoever needs it is also absolutely protected.
What is this debate about? Why has the great machinery of the Australian Parliament and the law been called into being? It is because of the action of the Monash Labor Club, which consists simply of other young Australians. I know some of them. I do not know them very well. I have spoken to them as I have spoken to other people.
– They are your mates.
– Yes. I am mates with many people, including people in the DLP and even Liberals. They sometimes have qualities about them that enable me to get along with them. I exclude nobody. There are people in serious and grevious error. A lot of them sit in this House. But I would be the last to knock away the helping hand that we proffered to them on any occasion. If these young people had contacted me I would have advised them. I would- have said: ‘You are very foolish. The Australian community will not stand for this and I do not think it should.’ But let us look at the resolution that this group carried. It reads:
That a committee be established to give aid to the NLF.
– Why does the honourable member not tell them-
– The honourable member for McMillan is a slow learner, so I will read it again. It is:
That a committee be established to give aid to the NLF.
That the committee be autonomous.
That the committee have two funds -
medical aid to civilians in NLF controlled areas.
I am sure no honourable member opposite would oppose medical aid to civilians in areas controlled by the National Liberation Front. If any member does oppose this, let him stand up and say so. The other purpose of the fund is ‘unspecified aid’ and it is this purpose that we are debating tonight. This is the reason for the legislation and that is why we do not oppose it. That is why we agree with the Government’s action in introducing the legislation. Later the Club added the following:
That unspecified aid would in fact be used for non-military purposes.
Here we are using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who said that there are adequate legal provisions open to the Government if it wants to act against this group. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) can easily stop any remittance of money from Australia. There are countless laws on the statute book to cover any contingency, as honourable members on both sides of the House know. There are adequate legal provisions to restrict all sorts of actions. What I am saying to the members of this Parliament and to the people outside is that this is no country in which to display hysteria in these matters. This is no country in which hasty legislation should be introduced which affects the freedom and legal rights of the people.
– Why did the honourable member not say that to the members of the Monash Labor Club?
– Honourable members opposite can shout as much as they like.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I have twice asked the honourable member for McMillan to remain silent. I remind honourable members that interjections are out of order.
– The difficulty in which the honourable member for McMillan finds himself is that he has not made a speech for years and now he feels one coming on. He has left it too late. He is bubbling to a head and at any moment he may stand up and say something sensible. It will be the first time in 12 years. These are the matters before us: We must protect civil rights, legal rights and judicial procedures. We must protect the Australian tradition of tolerance, commonsense and fair play. We must protect Australian soldiers wherever they are. I ask the Government not to be so damned hypocritical about some of the things that it should have put in order a long time ago, such as the transport of the wounded and of the mail. It should provide proper repatriation benefits for soldiers when they come home. Do not let honourable members opposite tell me about the way they feel about these things. I remember their record. When Australian troops were in Malaysia, Borneo and other places the Government was still supplying vital communications equipment to Indonesia.
– 1 think it might be appropriate at this stage of the debate if I reminded the House of the purpose of the Bill. I refer to the first paragraph in the second reading speech of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in which he said:
This Bill is drawn for the protection of our troops who are fighting m or near South Vietnam. lt is designed to protect them not against the enemy with whom they are engaged - they have shown in no uncertain manner and with great skill and courage that they can protect themselves in that direction - but against some of their own countrymen at home who are prepared to send assistance to that enemy.
The Opposition says it supports the Bill, but anybody listening to the broadcast of the debate would have been struck by the most extraordinary tone of the speeches of members of the Opposition. I speak as somebody who knows something about these matters. The main point in taking the action proposed in this Bill is to stop the position from being exaggerated out of all proportion by overseas authorities and by the overseas Press, particularly in the Communist countries. This builds up the morale of the Communist forces in Vietnam and damages the morale of our own troops. I would liken the university students who have engaged in the raising of these funds to children with boxes of matches in haystacks. They probably do not realise the damage they might do.
The argument has been advanced that this legislation is not necessary. I have the greatest admiration for our AttorneyGeneral, and 1 would say that the legislation would not have been brought down it this matter could have been covered by any other means. Certainly there are ways in which money could be forwarded to the enemy. It would be impossible to eliminate this entirely. But the fact that we, as a Government, have brought down legislation which will prevent the direct sending of funds or the direct soliciting of funds will show to the troops in Vietnam that they have a government that is behind them, a government that is prepared to stop any assistance being sent to their enemy.
In the few minutes for which I wish to speak I do not want to be sidetracked in my remarks. I commenced by referring to the purpose of the Bill. A few points have been raised during the course of the debate. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) used the term ‘guilt by association’. If people do not wish to be accused of having doubtful loyalties they should not associate with people and organisations which are straight-out Communist fronts. That is the situation. A lot of side issues have been introduced into the debate. Mention was made of the fact that we do not acknowledge that the National Liberation Front exists. I have never heard this statement made by any member of this Government. We know that the National Liberation Front exists. We know that it was formed in Hanoi in I960. Tt was formed for a certain purpose. We know that it is a minor force when compared with the forces of North Vietnam which have the moral and material support of the Chinese. They have told us this. There is no argument about that. I support the Bill. I believe that it is necessary because of the damage that could be done, not only in the eyes of our troops but in the eyes of the Australian nation and the world. If we were to allow this matter to go unchecked we would be condemned in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of our allies as well.
The debate seems to me to have turned into a condemnation of the United States of America. One would think that the Americans were the only force in South Vietnam opposed to the Communists. There are a great many other forces in South Vietnam. As a matter of fact, in proportion to population. South Korea has a larger force in Vietnam than America has. In passing. I might say that the South Koreans are regarded by their opponents as being equal in calibre to any of the other troops engaged in that area. The issue is completely clear. I do not think that any government which has troops fighting in Vietnam could permit a handful of citizens to send funds to the enemy, even though the funds are only small. As I said before.
I wholeheartedly support the Bill. I again express amazement at the fact that the Opposition, although it supports the Bill, has conducted the debate in the way it did this afternoon.
– in reply- The Opposition says that it supports the objects of this Bill. It says it will not vote against the Bill, that it agrees wilh it. Yet we have sat and listened to a series of speeches by members of the Opposition - seven of them - which can only be fairly described, I suggest, as being uniformly against the Bill. In the case of some of the speeches, if the Opposition had intended to vote against the Bill it would hardly have been necessary to alter more than a few words. Why is this? The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and some of the other members of the Opposition who followed him made these speeches in order to get’, I suggest, some advantage out of the debate. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that this was the Government’s purpose. I suggest that is rather the other way. In the speech which introduced the second reading debate on this Bill the Government took a purely objective line. It was only when the Leader of the Opposition, carrying on the second reading debate, introduced the highly coloured, political considerations that the debate developed in that way. The Opposition could have left out the long speeches, got on with the business and voted for the Bill. However, members of the Opposition wanted to express these views against the Bill and then when they came up to the final barrier, vote for it. What the students are doing is, I suggest, in large measure consistent with the beliefs of members of the Opposition. This fact is evident from many of the statements made by members of the Opposition. They agree to some extent that the views being expressed and acted on by the student’s were very similar to their own views oh this particular matter. But they know that the people of Australia condemn the conduct of the students. They will talk about the Bill but they will not vote against it.
– That is not so.
-Order! The honourable member for Watson will be silent.
– The honourable member has had his opportunity to take part in the debate. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said that the legislation was not necessary because the Government could stop administratively the funds leaving Australia. Up to a point it is possible administratively to do so, but of course this would cover only a very small part of the aims which are covered by this Bill. Even on the precise point of funds leaving Australia, which was dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition, honourable members will notice that the Government’s administrative position for stopping funds has been strengthened by clause 5 of the Bill. The Leader of the Opposition did not even bother to refer to this. It is simply not true to say that administratively this position could have been dealt with completely. The Leader of the Opposition went on to say that this Bill arose out of publicity created by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) in answer to a question in this House when the session started on 15th August. It is simply untrue to suggest that the Prime Minister caused the publicity. Everyone who reads the newspapers knows that from the time of the first resolution of the students at Monash University, on 21st July, constant publicity was given in the newspapers. Indeed the honourable gentleman quoted from one of the double column feature articles occupying a large part of the ‘Age’ newspaper, where some remarks of mine appear. All this was before the Prime Minister said a word on the subject. The Leader of the Opposition quoted from the Press publicity before the Prime Minister spoke. The Leader of the Opposition must have known that there was this publicity; yet he came into the House and said that the Prime Minister had created the publicity. The Leader of the Opposition ought to return to the House and withdraw that suggestion.
– It is too much to wish that the Leader of the Opposition would apologise for a statement he had made.
– It certainly does no credit to the Leader of the Opposition or his Party, for the sake of finding something to say against the Bill, to make an untrue statement to the House and. to base an argument on it. He even suggested that although I introduced this Bill - and one of the other members …. the Opposition said this also - I did not agree with it. It must be plain from my second reading speech that I do support the Bill, and I do agree with it.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) suggested that he thought it was a terrible thing that clause 4 had been included in the Bill. Honourable members will remember that this is the clause which safeguards the right to criticise the Government, the right to dissent. The DeputyLeader of the Opposition seemed to be unaware that a similar type of provision appears and has appeared for some time in section 24f of the Crimes Act. I asked him whether, if he disliked it so much, he wanted it excluded. He did not want the clause excluded. Like everyone else, he naturally believes that it is a good step to ensure, by an express provision in such a statute , as this, that there is a free right to dissent and that this should be safeguarded. His indignation at the fact that this had been included was ersatz indignation. He went on to deal with the exclusion from this Bill of the Australian Red Cross. He agreed that those who criticised the Government for not including other bodies, some of which he mentioned, such as the World Council of Churches and a number of other bodies. Provision is made for a proclamation to exempt such bodies, after inquiry, from the provisions of the Act. But it is not a simple matter to deal with such organisations in the Bill at this stage. One of the reasons - there are a number - is that you exempt the Australian body and then you have to provide that it is lawful for the Australian body to transmit to the international body. If an organisation wants an exemption, these matters involve a degree of inquiry in ascertaining the constitution, title and general objects of the body. However, that proclaimed power h there, and in the meantime anyone who has genuine motives of compassion or genuine humanitarian motives has a channel open through which funds can be sent in the direction of North Vietnam, if that is the desire.
I mentioned that a number of the speeches from honourable members opposite were almost speeches one might have expected if the members concerned had intended to vote against the Bill. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) criticised the Bill in terms which suggested that he should be voting against it. He quoted a fairly long statement from some students. This was not entirely clear, but the quotation appeared to be a statement with which he broadly agreed.
– Do they not have the right to state their case in this Parliament?
-Order! The honourable member for Reid has already spoken in the debate.
– The matter of significance is that the honourable member for Reid expressed substantial agreement with the aims and objectives set out in this long statement by the students of Monash University. I suggest that he is prepared to quote that because in truth that is where his sympathies lie, but he does not intend to vote against the Bill. There has been talk once or twice about hypocrisy in this Parliament. I suggest that if the view expressed by the honourable member for Reid is bis true belief, that he agrees with the views expressed by the students in this document, he should be voting against this Bill.
– I believe that the Minister is misquoting me deliberately and, as honourable members well know-
– I do not have a copy of the document from which the honourable member was quoting, and I can rely only on his reading from it. It does appear that if these are views with which he agrees, he is inconsistent in saying that the Opposition really supports the object of this Bill. The fact is that the Australian people would support the object of the Bill. They would expect the Government to protect our forces against actions by their fellow Australians which were designed to aid those with whom our forces are engaged in conflict - I commend to the House the Bill in its present form.
– Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) stated that because I quoted a letter received from the Labor Club at the Monash University, and quoted the authority of the person concerned, I was in sympathy with the statement expressed by the Monash Universty Labor Club. The aim of the Bill is to protect Australian forces in or near Vietnam. I clearly stated in my speech that I would do nothing, nor would any honourable member on this side of the House, to hurt or injure any Australian forces in Vietnam. That is why the Labor Party—-
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order! The honourable member cannot proceed to debate the matter.
– That is why I supported the Bill. In fact all speakers on this side of the House have said—-
– Order! The honourable member cannot debate the matter. Will he state in what respect he has been misrepresented?
– The point I am making is that we have stated that the Monash University students, and other university students, have been in error in raising these funds. We believe they should be criticised and we have opposed the decision—-
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. He cannot debate the matter.
– I speak, not on a personal explanation. I would only like to say that if the honourable member says now that he does not agree—-
– How can the Minster speak twice? He has already spoken.
– I am speaking to a point of order.
– Order! There is no point of order.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 6. (1.) Subject to this section, an offence against sub-section (I.) of section 3 of this Act may be prosecuted either summarily or upon indictment, but an offender is not liable to be punished more than once in respect of the same offence. (2.) Subject to this section, an offence against sub-section (2.) of section 3 of this Act is punishable upon summary conviction and not otherwise.
– I move:
Omit sub-clause (1.), insert the following subclause: (1.) Subject to this section, an offence against section 3 of this Act may be prosecuted either upon indictment or, with the consent of the defendant, summarily, but an offender is not liable to be punished more than once in respect of the same offence.’.
The effect of the amendment would be to ensure that any trials for offences under this Act would take place before a judge and jury unless the accused person chose to have a trial before a magistrate. Honourable members will note that sub-clause (1.) of the clause as introduced by the Government reads: an offence against sub-section (1.) of Section 3 of this Act may be prosecuted either summarily or upon indictment,
Sub-clause (2.) reads: . . an offence against sub-section (2.) of section 2 of this Act is punishable upon summary conviction and not otherwise.
My amendment would provide that an offence against either sub-section (1.) or sub-section (2.) of section 3 of the Act may be prosecuted either upon indictment or, with the consent of the defendant, summarily. The Australian Labor Party successfully asserted the principle that trials for what we may call political or loyalty offences should take place before judges and juries. This was done as long ago as the debate on the Crimes Bill 1960. It will be remembered then that as a result of the amendments we circulated to that Bill section 12a of the Crimes Act was amended to provide that offences against section 24 - for treason; section 24a - for treachery; section 24ab - for sabotage; section 78 - for espionage; section 79 (2.) - for communicating or retaining official secrets; and section 79(5.) - for receiving official secrets - are punishable only on indictment. I would have thought that since the offences under this Bill are in the nature of disloyalty, treachery or treason they should be tried in the same manner. I also would have thought that in view of the Government’s acceptance of this principle in the last few months for the trial of offences under the Narcotic Drugs Act, the Customs Act and the Wireless Telegraphy Act, a fortiori the Government would have accepted the principle in this case.
Let me recite the history of these three Acts. On 4th May, in another place, the Government introduced the Narcotic Drugs Bill which provided that where proceedings for an offence are brought in a court of summary jurisdiction the court may either determine the proceedings or commit the defendant for trial. The Labor senators secured support for the clause to be amended to read:
Where proceedings … are brought in a court of summary jurisdiction the court may commit the defendant for trial, or with the consent of the defendant, determine the proceedings. . . .
This amendment was accepted in the other place on 11th May and when it came to this House on 18th May it was accepted without demur by the Government. The Customs Bill was introduced in the other place on 4th May. There again the Bill as introduced provided that where proceedings for an offence are brought in a court of summary jurisdiction the court may either determine the proceedings or commit the defendant for trial. On 11th May the Labor senators secured support for an amendment so that the provision read:
Where proceedings for an offence … are brought in a court of summary jurisdiction the court may commit the defendant for trial or, with the consent of the defendant, determine the proceedings.
On 18th May the Bill came to this House and was accepted without demur in the amended form by the Government. The Wireless Telegraphy Act ever since 1936 had provided, by section 9, that my person proceeded against under that section ‘may be dealt with summarily or may be committed for trial’. When amendments to the Wireless Telegraphy Act came before this House on 16th August the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) unsuccessfully moved that section 9 of the principal Act be amended to read that any person proceeded against under this section ‘may be committed for trial or, with his consent, dealt with summarily’. In the other place Labor senators secured support for the amendment which had been unsuccessfully moved by the honourable member for Stirling in this House. That was on 24th August and yesterday, when the Bill as amended by the Senate came back to this House, the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) moved that this House agree to the amendment made in the other place.
It will be seen, then, that last May and again this month in respect of three Bills, which certainly have less effect on the reputations of our fellow citizens than the present Bill, the Government has accepted the principle that trial should bc before a judge and jury unless the accused consents to trial before a magistrate. 1 reiterate, as far back as 1960 the Labor Party successfully asserted the principle that trial for political or loyalty offences should be before a judge and jury. We have moved amendments to vindicate the principle which we asserted seven years ago and which the Government has accepted in respect of less odious offences than those in respect of which I move this amendment. Offences under this Bill are certainly sufficiently serious to give our fellow citizens or the residents of this country the right .o a trial before a judge and jury. They should only be tried before a magistrate if they themselves consent to that course.
– The Government is prepared to go some distance in the direction asked for in the amendment put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). At least one of the Government’s supporters, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), tonight suggested there should be an option for jury trial in certain cases. The Government proposes to introduce its own amendment, and I foreshadow .that amendment as sub-clause Ia of clause 6. The reason why this is done is twofold. First of all, the amendment which has just been moved by the Leader of the Opposition would give an option of trial by jury in not only the case presently provided for - summary conviction punishable by 12 months imprisonment, with which we would be inclined to agree - but also in the case of summary conviction where the penalty is 6 months imprisonment. The case cited by the Leader of the Opposition in which the Government had been prepared to accept a proposal to give this option, such as the Narcotic Drugs Act and the Wireless Telegraphy Act, were cases in which on summary conviction, the magistrate might have been able to impose a sentence of imprisonment for 12 months. I suggest that there is no case for insisting on an option for trial by jury where offences for which magistrates can give sentences of 6 months imprisonment are involved.
– There will be a fine of $500 on top of the 6 months imprisonment.
– Six months imprisonment or a fine of $500 or both. I have looked at the laws in the various States of Australia and I think it is true to say that in every State the right to impose imprisonment for 12 months is quite commonly or frequently given to magistrates, and in many of the States, including Victoria, magistrates are given power summarily to impose a sentence of imprisonment for 2 years. I am not suggesting in this case that we would insist on that. I am prepared to move an amendment in due time to provide that in the case of the longer period of 12 months we will give an option, but the Government is not prepared to accept that in the case of the much smaller penalty of a $500 fine or 6 months imprisonment or both. Therefore, I oppose the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. Perhaps I should add that there is an additional objection to the proposed amendmentin that it would make it necessary to obtain the consent of the defendant in advance of instituting asummary prosecution, whereas the amendment which I will be proposing would enable the prosecution to beinstituted and the defendant charged and then, before any further proceedings could be taken, for him to make his election as to whether he will be tried by a jury or not. For those reasons I oppose the amendment.
– I simply want to say to the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) that I am grateful that he and the Government have accepted the suggestion that a person may be tried by indictment rather than in the way originally set out in the Bill. I hope the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) will withdraw the amendment because I believe that substantially his point is met.
That the sub-clause proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
After sub-clause (1.) insert the following subclause: (1a.) Proceedings in respect of an offence against sub-section (1.) of section 3 of this Act shall not be heard and determined summarily except with the consent of the defendant.’.
This provision will apply only to the greater offence and will not apply to inciting or encouraging, which is punishable by a fine of $500 or imprisonment of up to 6 months. This is the feature I mentioned, that the offence punishable summarily - the larger offence - shall not be heard and determined summarily except with consent. The defendant can be charged and then at that stage can have his election. I commend the amendment to the House.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8. (1.) In a prosecution for an offence against this Act, a recital in a Proclamation under this Act of a matter is evidence that the matter recited was a fact at the date of the making of the Proclamation and at all subsequent times while the Proclamation remained unrevoked.
– I move:
The reason for the amendment is that the original sub-clause (1.) was not sufficiently specific. It was too general. The amendment has been drafted with greater particularity to make it quite clear that if a proclamation is issued it will be in respect of a body established outside Australia, or if it is issued in respect of a class of persons or person, this will be a class of persons or person resident outside Australia. In view of an interjection about this being evidence of haste, I would just like to say that I think honourable members who have studied the Bill will be prepared to accord congratulations to the draftsman for the job that he has done in the time available. I would say that the drafting of the Bill is up to the usual standard of excellence of the drafting staff of the Parliament.
Amendment agreed to.
– The Opposition will vote against clause 8 and also against clause 9. Perhaps it would simplify matters if I were to present the argument on both clauses and if a vote were taken on both together. I have the impression that the Government will be voting in favour of both clause 8 as amended and clause 9.
– That is so.
– It may be said that clauses 8 and 9 simplify or obviate the ordinary methods of proof in criminal cases. The first is, frankly, an averment provision. The second is, in effect, an averment provision. The normal way in which prosecutions are conducted is for the Crown authorities to carry out their investigations and interrogations and issue a summons or an indictment and then give oral sworn evidence in court. These two clauses permit references to be made, assertions to be made, averments to be made, which simplify or obviate the evidence which the Crown must give. In respect of clause 8 the Attorney-General stated in his second reading speech: . . whilst it is true that probably all of the facts which the clause permits may be averred could be proved by tendering the certificate of a Minister, the Government feels that the evidentiary powers it proposes to use should be clearly defined.
The Attorney-General refers to the settled practice that where matters beyond our shores have to be established in a court the certificate of the Minister for External Affairs is sufficient to prove those facts, although they can be challenged and rebutted in the normal way by other oral evidence. The Opposition does not believe that the traditional method of proof by a certificate of a Minister for External Affairs should bc discarded in this case. It will be noticed that the Attorney-General does not assert that it is only by some such provision as this that these offences can be adequately checked or prevented; he merely states that this method has been chosen. We believe that the traditional method which has not failed hitherto, which has not proved too onerous or invidious, should be preserved and, accordingly, we shall vote against clause 8.
Clause 9 relates to the printing and publishing of documents which are evidence under clause 3 (2.). It provides: . . an imprint appearing upon any writing is evidence that the writing was printed or published by the person specified in the imprint. lt is very easy indeed to take people’s names in vain in polemical literature. There are a great number of pamphlets produced in political matters and industrial matters where persons are very lightly and blithely named as the publisher or printer. I myself have the experience where my name has been put on a document or my photograph has been put on a document not only without my permission but also without my having been consulted at all. lt is the usual thing in printing matters as in all other offences for the police to interrogate persons who, they think, may be responsible or to carry out investigations of another character, come to court and give oral evidence on oath, subject to cross examination, concerning the result of their investigations and interrogations. This should be sufficient in this case. Why do we have to by-pass the normal ‘ processes in this case? Why should we facilitate the conviction of persons without in fact pursuing the normal inquiries that are pursued in respect of other offences? For these reasons the Opposition will vote against clause 9 as well as clause 8.
- Mr Chairman, I will deal first with clause 8. Sub-section (2.) provides for certain very narrow and restricted classes of fact. I may say that 1 am not personally in favour of the use of averment to prove (he actual elements of an offence. I would generally lean against including in a statute an averment, for example, of intent or some of the individual elements applicable to the particular offender. Nevertheless I may say that it has been not uncommon to include averments in Commonwealth legislation. In the National Security Regulations averments became almost a regular feature. However, having said that, I think I should point out to the Committee that these particular averments do not relate to the elements of the particular offence by the defendant but they relate to the bodies whose identities or activities might be difficult to prove because they are outside this country.
It is true that in some cases it might be possible to prove these matters by the certificate of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has said. The exact extent of the cases where this certificate can be given is not entirely clear. Certainly such a certificate can always be given, and will be accepted by a court as conclusive and not subject to rebuttal, where the status of a foreign government is involved. Where, on the other hand, a certificate is obtained from the Minister for External Affairs or a foreign secretary relating to other matters, it may be possible to rebut the certificate. For the reason that this certificate would not necessarily be available to cover the same area, and in some cases might be more disadvantageous to a defendant, it was considered to be fairer simply to aver these particular facts.
It will be noticed that in sub-clause (5.) of clause 8 it is expressly provided that the section will not lessen or affect the burden of proof. This means that even where the averment is used the Crown still has to prove the case, for example before a jury, beyond reasonable doubt. If someone went into the witness box, challenged the correctness of the averment and raised a doubt, the jury would have to consider whether the Government, using an averment, had proved its case to the jury’s satisfaction beyond reasonable doubt. I put it to the Committee that the position of a defendant, owing to the restrictive character of these averments and the burden of proof provision, is fully and adequately protected.
Clause 9 provides: (t.) In proceedings for an offence against this Act, an imprint appearing upon any writing is evidence that the writing was printed or published by the person specified in the imprint.
This is a fairly time honoured provision. There is a section in the Crimes Act going back at least as far as 1932 which provides the same thing, but in a different context not applicable here. I refer to section 30fa which reads: (I.) The imprint appearing upon any book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper shall, in any proceedings under this Part, be prima facie evidence. . . .
In section 85c of the Crimes Act we have the same thing. This is a common provision. It has been used in English law for a considerable period. The basis is that if a person puts out a publication - generally speaking the law may require the name and address to be stated on it - there is a presumption that the law has been obeyed and that that name and address in fact are evidence that what is stated is correct. It is fair to say that it is prima facie evidence of the fact stated if it is printed on a published document which is circulated. This is a time honoured way of dealing with printed documents. The Government presses the clause.
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority .. ..24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 9 agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr Bowen) - by leave- proposed.
That the Bill now be read a third time.
– I do not seek to delay the House for more than a minute or two. During the course of speeches in the second reading stage, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), myself and a number of other Opposition members pointed out that some very well known and respected organisations such as the World Council of Churches, the Society of Friends and the Catholic Church had already been receiving aid in Australia and sending it to North Vietnam and South Vietnam, but they were not included in clause 3(3.) as organisations that can go on doing this. If they continue to do so when the Bill becomes law they will be committing offences. The clause privides that they can be specified by proclamation. I ask the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) to say what course of action he would require these organisations to take, how long he thinks it would be before apppropriate action could be taken to specify them by proclamation and whether he would consider that the organisations I have mentioned - the World Council of Churches, the Society of Friends and the Catholic Church - would be organisations that would be specified by proclamation under this clause.
– in reply- The Bill provides for two courses to be followed, a proclamation of a body in Australia such as those mentioned by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) and then a proclamation of an overseas body, which is perhaps the parent body, to which funds may be transmitted. Both of these matters would need to be put before the Government, and 1 should think that the constitution and objects of the organisations would need to be considered. This would need to be done in respect of both the Australian and overseas bodies. There would probably be no great difficulty in presenting this materia] to the Government, and the Government would consider it. Just what time is involved in this is a matter of speculation on which I cannot express any useful view. However, I should point out that this will operate from the time that assent is given to the Bill.
In a. sense the Government would have no power to act on mis at the moment, but immediately thereafter would have the power.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 11.9 p.m.
The following answer to a question upon notice was circulated:
What is the time-table for the completion of the television station at Mackay, and when will the official opening take place?
Work has already commenced on erecting the building for the television station at Mackay and it should be sufficiently advanced by September 1967, for a start to be made on installing the equipment. All the work should be completed in December 1967, so that transmission can commence late in that month. An announcement regarding the official opening date will be made about 6 weeks before transmission commences .
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 August 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19670831_reps_26_hor56/>.