26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr JEFF BATE presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government implement Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by providing increased social service benefits for the aged, the invalid, the widowed and their dependants.
– I ask the Minister for
Shipping and Transport where he obtained the documents of which he tabled copies yesterday, and who were the authors of the initials and the other notes shown in the document of 24th August?
– The documents were provided by the Department of External Affairs. I do not know whose are the initials on the documents.
– Can the Prime Minister tell me whether he has recently received a request from the Premier of Queensland seeking Commonwealth assistance for a complete reappraisal of the Burdekin Dam scheme in north Queensland? If he has received such a request, has any consideration been given to it?
– Mr Speaker, a question along these lines is on the notice paper.
– What is the number of it?
– It is in my name.
– Can the honourable member identify it?
– It is in connection with the national water resources development programme. I asked the Prime Minister when he wrote to the Premiers and when they wrote back and on what subjects.
-I think this is a more detailed matter. Anyway I can give the information if it is wanted.
– Very well.
– I call the Prime Minister.
– This is a more detailed aspect, I think, of the general question asked by the Leader of the Opposition. Normally I do not disclose the terms of communications between Premiers and me, but on this matter the Premier of Queensland made a statement in the Queensland Parliament on 6th September to the effect that he was making an approach to the Commonwealth Government in relation to the Burdekin project. We have received an approach from him on that matter and are at present giving it consideration.
– I ask the Acting Treasurer a question. The honourable gentleman is no doubt aware that Mr Askin, the Liberal Premier of New South Wales, when introducing his Budget last week accused the Federal Government of retreating from proposals to increase his State’s share of federal finance. I ask the honourable gentleman: Is it true that Mr Askin is treated unfairly in matters of Federal finance?
-I have read Mr Askin’s remarks. There has, of course, been no failure on the part of the Commonwealth Government to live up to any of its undertakings. Mr Askin, like other State Premiers, does face budget difficulties as does the Commonwealth largely because of public demands for expenditure whipped up in many cases by honourable gentlemen opposite. These demands are very great in total and could hardly be contained within the current national income. The result is that there is a degree of competition for the resources available between the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments. This competition creates a series of financial difficulties. The Commonwealth and the States suffer budget difficulties because there is only a limited national income to satisfy all demands. It is only practicable to extract a reasonable proportion of that income from the people for public purposes.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral’s attention been drawn to the alleged restrictive trade practice operated by Kodak (Australasia) Pty Ltd against Pacific Film Laboratories Pty Ltd of Carlton, New South Wales? If so, what action does he advise the company to take?
– I have seen the allegations and some evidence which it is suggested supports the allegations. Of course, this is a matter within the responsibility of the Commissioner of Trade Practices and I am referring material that I have to him for his consideration.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Does his Department anticipate any high incidence of unemployment in Tasmania as a result of the recently imposed power restrictions following drought conditions, especially among this year’s school leavers? If so, what arrangements are being made to meet this expected situation and to preserve full employment?
– So far I have had no information which suggests that the power restrictions are likely to have any particularly bad effect on the employment position. We are certainly watching it very carefully and I am confident we will be able to meet the situation.
– Will the Minister for Social Services make investigations with a view to establishing a branch of the Department of Social Services in the City of Swan Hill in Victoria? Will he take into consideration the fact that the nearest office of the Department is approximately 120 miles from Swan Hill which was recently awarded the honour of being Victoria’s premier town?
– I was aware that Swan Hill had been accorded the honour of being designated Victoria’s premier town. As such, no doubt, it is attracting unto itself quite a degree of attention. Accordingly, I shall be happy to look into the question that the honourable gentleman has put to me regard ing the siting of a regional office there. However, I would assure the honourable gentleman and members of this House that the extension of regional offices of the Department of Social Services is not practicable to every town and city nor to every suburb throughout Australia. The purpose of extending regional offices has been to facilitate the attention that can be given by officers of the Department to persons making applications for and seeking knowledge of available social service benefits. It is impossible to provide a complete range of offices but it is intended that increasingly offices should be opened in centres where it can be proved both that there is a need for the facility and also that it is reasonably economically justified.
– Is the Minister for Health able to say whether a Japanese fisherman has been landed at the port of Weipa? If so, from what disease is the fisherman suffering? If the Minister does not know whether a Japanese fisherman has been landed at Weipa will he ascertain whether a case of smallpox has been notified in the area? Will he also have investigations made to ascertain whether Japanese fishermen go alongside a mother ship in the area and whether a notifiable disease has been reported on the mother ship?
– I know nothing of a Japanese fisherman in the circumstances described by the honourable gentleman. I am aware that a few days ago a ship registered in Papua and New Guinea was placed in quarantine at Weipa. An alert quarantine officer at Weipa noticed that a Papuan member of the crew had a rash and the quarantine officer placed in quarantine the Papuan and the ship, as well as one person on shore who had been on the ship. The Papuan crew member was examined by a quarantine medical officer from Brisbane and it was ascertained subsequently that he was not suffering from smallpox or any other quarantinable disease.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. Yesterday, in answer io a question about consignments of Australian fruit trapped in the Suez Canal, the Minister said:
Nor was I aware that the growers had already been billed (or freight.
May I recall to the Minister’s attention the contents of a letter which 1 wrote to him on 25 th September last, acknowledged by him on 27th September, in which I outlined the plight of growers who have fruit in vessels trapped in the Suez Canal? Is the Minister now able to confirm that I have made an approach which seeks to assist growers who face financial embarrassment as a result of the delay in the delivery of these fruit consignments?
– The honourable member for Franklin has always been assiduous in his task. Before the apple season opened he was making representations to me. During harvesting he was constantly in touch with me. Likewise, since the apples have been marooned in the Suez Canal he has been in contact with me. 1 give him credit for all that he has done in this regard. If in my answer yesterday to the honourable member for Wilmot I failed to give due credit to the honourable member for Franklin for his activity in this matter 1 correct the omission now. Yesterday I was asked whether representations had been made on this matter bv the Australian Apple and Pear Board and I said that they had not. The Board did see me and indicated quite clearly that its intention was only to keep me informed as to negotiations on insurance matters.
The representations by the honourable member for Franklin came, as he states in his letter, from the Chairman of the Tasmanian Apple Board. I would remind him that any representations from a State Board must go through either the Premier or the appropriate State minister. Whilst in his letter the honourable member did say that some growers were being billed for freight, no particulars were provided which would have enabled me to raise the matter with my Government. These things have to be put in their proper perspective. All these matters must be set out in full so that we know what is involved and representations should be made through the proper channels. In this regard representations would be made by the Australian Apple and Pear
Board as distinct from the Tasmanian Board. No representations have come from that source. However, the honourable gentleman has always done his job.
– Has the Minister for Health read the statement made by Sir William Refshauge, Director-General of Health, at a medical conference in Sydney last week? Does not this statement confirm the charges that I have made in this House against the drug companies? Will the Minister now take action to compel the drug industry to establish an indemnity fund from which victims of the side effects of drugs can be compensated for the expense and personal inconvenience they suffer from the side effects of drugs? Why are drug companies allowed to place on the market products which are not 100% fit for human consumption when manufacturers of other products must abide by this standard or be prosecuted? Do not the remarks of the Director-General of Health indicate that there is a need for a top level inquiry into the activities of the drug industry in Australia?
– 1 have read the remarks made by Sir William Refshauge at this conference. However, I do not place on them the same interpretation as the honourable gentleman because I know that Sir William Refshauge shares my view that the honourable gentleman is mistaken in the construction that he puts on some of these matters in this House.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence. I refer to the Australian lecture tour next week of Mr Hugh B. Hester sponsored by the Victorian Branch of the Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament of which the Chairman is the Reverend A. M. Dickie and the Secretary is Mr S. Goldbloom. Is this gentleman the same General Hester who is well known for his activity in support of the international Communist front organisation, the World Peace Council? Is Mr Goldbloom the same person who was expelled from the Australian Labor Party and, in 1959, was charged by that Party as being a Communist ‘fraction* operating within the Victorian Peace Council? Is not this tour in fact another example of the well organised and sinister campaign being conducted internally in Australia to white-ant our defence effort?
– I believe the gentleman first referred to is the Colonel Hester who retired from the United States Armed Services in 1951 with what was reported as a quite creditable military record. Since then he has been an ardent critic of his own country’s foreign policy. He has been a very prolific contributor both personally and in writing to any number of Communist front organisations around the world and it is true that he is here at present or will be here on a tour organised and sponsored by the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament. I am not aware of the personal history oi Mr Goldbloom who was later referred to. 1 seem to recall that he was mentioned in a report presented to this House by my colleague the Minister for Immigration in his former capacity as Attorney-General back in 1964. I believe also that he is reputed to have had some little difficulty with the Australian Labor Party in Victoria over his well-known Communist affiliations.
I believe that this would be a suitable opportunity, and I am grateful to the honourable gentleman for giving me the opportunity, to warn the Australian people of the concerted campaign which is being run by the Communists themselves and through their Communist front organisations in Australia in a further effort to damage public opinion in this country and certainly to give aid and confidence to our Communist enemies in North Vietnam.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has he seen a report by Mr Donath, a lecturer in agricultural economics at the Melbourne University, stating that China purchased wheat from Australia in 4 of the last 7 years at 9c per bushel less than the average export price to other countries and mentioning that India had to pay 11c mo.-e per bushel for wheat from Australia than China had to pay in 2 of the last 7 years? What is the reason for wheat being sold to Communist China at a lower price than that at which it was sold to democratic India? Is it a fact that the Australian taxpayer is subsidising our wheat exports to the extent of Si 10m per annum?
– 1 have seen the report to which the honourable member refers. Apparently he accepts it all as the gospel truth but I do not.
– I am asking the Minister.
-Order! The honourable member for Stirling has already asked his question.
– Donath makes a general statement, amongst others, that this Government has subsidised the wheat industry to the extent of $23m in recent years. We have never reached the sum of $23m by way of subsidy. The payment of about $22,630,000 one year related to No. 26 Pool which as the honourable member will see if he looks it up, was about 5 years ago. But Donath does not make any reference to the succeeding year when about $1,800,000 was paid. When Donath makes a general statement like that and implies that it represents the present position he is misleading the public. Wheat prices on the world market vary from day to day and from week to week and those variations are expected. At times China may have paid more for wheat than India has paid. In the case of Japan all contracts are made on a tender basis with that country’s food agency and contract prices vary from week to week. Separate tenders are made by the Australian Wheat Board. I have recently given a fairly comprehensive answer to the honourable member. Sometimes I wonder why we are paying these fellows because they are sticking their noses into the business of an industry of which they know very little.
-Order! The House will come to order. I have already asked the honourable member for Stirling to cease interjecting. He has asked his question. I warn the honourable member.
– Perhaps I should repeat the substance of a previous answer and say that the Australian Wheat Board is the authority created to make sales. The Board secures the best possible prices from the countries to which it sells its product.
China buys by far the greatest proportion of our off-grade wheat. If it was not for China’s purchases we would not be selling the many millions of bushels of rain affected off-grade wheat that are available in some years. As we all know there are different qualities of wheat - prime hard, hard, f.a.q. and off-grade wheat. If honourable members opposite think that they can simply make a mathematical calculation across the board, as Donath does, and say: This is the price’, they had better have another look at the facts.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to recent statements made by Mr J. A. Sharp of Branxholme, Victoria, in the ‘Age’ newspaper and to his organised campaign against the attitude of the Liberal and Country Parties towards the wool industry? Can the Minister now inform the House as to what this Government’s attitude has been in the past and what it is now towards this vital industry?
– My attention was directed by the honourable member earlier to the statements that have been made. I can readily state the Government’s attitude to the wool industry and, indeed, to all primary industries. Our attitude is and has been very sympathetic. Let me mention some of the things that we have done for primary industries generally, including the wool industry. Anybody who is interested in this matter ought to look at the tax concessions that have been extended to primary producers throughout Australia. Depreciation allowances have been granted for various kinds of building expenditure, including expenditure on accommodation for employees and on wool sheds. Special depreciation concessions have been extended in respect of machinery and implements which enable primary producers to build up their assets as well as to obtain the benefit of additional tax concessions. All this amounts to considerable assistance.
The Government has given further assistance by means of the petrol price subsidy scheme, which has been a big factor in assisting country producers to meet their costs. Graziers, perhaps more than any other producers, have benefited by the subsidies on nitrogenous fertilisers and superphosphate. I think that the Budget for the current financial year provides for the expenditure of approximately $40m on these fertiliser subsidies. This is another form of assistance that we have given to primary producers. If the honourable member looks at the Commonwealth Aid Roads programme, he will find that total grants to the States under this programme amounted to about $150m last financial year. Of this, 40% must be spent on rural roads. This represents direct assistance to primary producers.
We have also given special assistance to the wool industry. Until a recent amendment of the legislation, we were giving $2 for $1 provided by the industry for research. In addition, we have given special assistance for promotion, on a Si for SI basis, over and above the industry’s contribution by way of levy of $1 a bale. The Government made that commitment. Its assistance to the wool industry and other primary industries is never ending. It is no wonder that Opposition members are calling time as they hear these things. One could go on enumerating the assistance that this Government gives to primary producers. In the Budget for 1967-68, we are providing up to Si 4m for promotion and research in the wool industry.
In the last 16 years, we have enabled the growers, at two referendums, to state their choice of marketing systems. On each occasion they have chosen to stick to the present auction system. While they adhere to this mode of marketing, we can expect fluctuating markets. Our wool markets are affected from time to time by changes in economic conditions in the major wool consuming countries. We cannot do anything about that because we cannot determine the economic policies of other countries that buy from us. I repeat that the growers have chosen to stick to the auction system of marketing. The Government accepts that decision. However, I think I can say that the industry is examining the matter again and that there is still an open door through which further submissions can be submitted to the Government by the industry. We shall certainly consider any proposals that are made.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer him to recent reports that Great Britain has accelerated the rate of withdrawal of its forces from South East Asia and in particular to a report in the ‘Bulletin’ of 30th September that the United Kingdom Government is working to a schedule under which all British ground troops will be withdrawn from Malaysia by December 1968. Has the right honourable gentleman received from the British Government a schedule of its phased withdrawal? Does the information available to him confirm the report that British ground troops will be out of South East Asia by the end of next year? When will he be in a position to inform the House of the results of the major reappraisal of defence policies that the Government has been undertaking in recent weeks?
– As to the first part of the honourable member’s question, I know of no departure by the British Government from the statement made recently in its White Paper, on defence. There had been discussions at the service level and we try to keep closely in touch with the intentions of the British Government on particular aspects of its programme. However, I am not able at the moment to give any further information on this to the honourable member. In regard to’ any statement that we ourselves will be making, the honourable member will know that discussions have been proceeding for some time. These discussions have been supplemented by talks that we had this week with the Prime Minister of New Zealand. In the statements I made associated with that visit I pointed out that we would need to consult with other Governments before our own minds had become finally resolved on these matters. However, I can assure the honourable member that we will keep the House as fully informed as we can as we proceed along our course of examination and thinking and when we are in a position to make some specific statement on particular aspects we shall do so.
– The Minister for the Interior is no doubt aware that the Australian War Memorial Trust has been having great difficulty in adequately presenting many records and relics in their possession. They, along with the Returned Services League, have made repeated requests that extensions be made to the War Memorial. Would the Minister endeavour to see that these extensions are carried out?
– The honourable member for Wimmera along with several other members from both sides of this chamber have made requests that extensions be carried out to the Australian War Memorial. Requests have also been received from the Returned Services League and the Australian War Memorial Trust. These people want the extensions so that they can display records, relics, diaramas and paintings of which they now have a large collection. They have also requested more efficient fire protection for the War Memorial. I am pleased to inform the House that the Government has agreed to these extensions and also to the provision of fire protection. These items will be included in the programme that the Government embarked upon about 1958. It was decided at that time that a modest amount of money would be made available each year for national capital aspects of Canberra.
The programme is to spend $lm or $2m each year in order to build up the status of the national capital either in monumental buildings or display areas. During this period Lake Burley Griffin has been built together with the bridges across it. Also, Anzac Parade has been constructed and in the past four years we have been spending money on the National Library. The work on that building will be completed about the middle of next year and it is hoped that then we might be able to go on with the extensions to the Australian War Memorial. I might also add that the Government has agreed to the landscaping and upgrading of Parkes Place. This is the area immediately in front of Parliament House stretching down to Lake Burley Griffin. In this area we intend making provision for buses. It will be a more pleasant area for displays - and protest meetings if need be. There will also be some modest reflection lakes and a few fountains in this area. This scheme will generally give dignity to the area immediately in front of Parliament House.
– My question is directed to you, Mr Speaker. I ask: Did the menus printed for the luncheon in honour of the Prime Minister of New Zealand last Tuesday include the popular and delicious sweet Pineapple Capricornia? Were the menus reprinted after the weekend victory of Dr Everingham, the Australian Labor Party’s candidate in the Capricornia by-election, and the name changed to Pineapple Cloud? Was the choice of the word Cloud’ influenced by the heavy Canberra weather last Tuesday or the cloud over the Liberal Party and Australian Country Party Senate chances?
-The honourable gentleman has asked a hypothetical question. I inform him that the printing of the menu was beyond my control.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware of widespread reports circulating publicly that Qantas Airways Ltd is having second thoughts about the purchase of the Concorde supersonic jet aircraft? Is this true or just another ghost to be laid in the civil aviation field?
– I have read several reports lately more or less containing the suggestion to which the honourable member has referred. I am afraid this is another ghost that must be laid. The factual situation is that Qantas Airways Ltd has a contract for the reservation of four places on the manufacturing line for the Concorde supersonic aircraft and deposits have been paid. The conditions of the contract do not require the next payment to be made until 6 months after the prototype is flying and we expect that the prototype will fly about February of next year. Other conditions of the contract provide that if deliveries are not eventually made the deposits can be refunded. Evaluation teams from Australia and other interested countries have been in the United Kingdom and have assisted the manufacturers in both the United Kingdom and France by stating what their airline requirements are. At present the BAC-Sud group is examining the evaluation proposals made by our own airline, Qantas, and the American and other airlines throughout the world that have reservations for the aircraft. I anticipate that about the end of next month we may get some further idea of the final design of the prototype and at that stage some idea of the cost. The reports mentioned by the honourable member are pure conjecture, because the final decision about the Concorde will not necessarily be made by Qantas and approved by the Government until the end of next year. However, all the technical evaluation reports that I have seen indicate that the Concorde project will be entirely successful.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, refers to functions that will be held later this month at Port Augusta and Ooldea to mark the Golden Jubilee of the completion of the Trans-Australian Railway. Is the Minister aware that some people from Western Australia have been invited to attend? Will the same travel arrangements and facilities be available to those people who travel from Perth or Kalgoorlie as will be available for people who travel from Adelaide? If not, why not? Was the completion of the Trans- Austral ian Railway equally as important, if not more important, to Western Australia as it was to South Australia? If so, is it intended to hold a ceremony at the Western Australian end of the line also to celebrate the occasion? If only one ceremony is to be held, was any consideration given to holding it in Western Australia? If so, what were the deciding factors against doing so?
– The honourable gentleman is quite correct. There is to be a celebration of the Jubilee of the joining of the Trans-Australian Railway. The Commissioner for Railways has had charge of the organisation of the celebration. I understand that it will take the form of a dinner at Port Augusta and a train journey from Port Augusta to Ooldea, where the line was joined. I think it is quite clear that the dinner of celebration is being held at Port Augusta because that happens to be the operational headquarters of the Commonwealth Railways on the Trans-Australian line. I do n<»t see any reason to repeat the performance in Perth which is not directly the centre of Commonwealth Railways operations. I am delighted to know that some Western Australians have been invited to join in the function. There will be a special train going from Port Augusta to Ooldea to join in these celebrations, but that is connected in part with the dinner which is being held at Port Augusta. I do not think it is likely that it will be practicable to put on a special train from Western Australia to transport those Western Australians who have been invited. I hope that they will be able to enjoy themselves at the dinner at Port Augusta. My only regret is that unfortunately I will not be able to be there myself.
– Does the Minister for Immigration know that a party of Australian rules footballers from Melbourne, including star player Ron Barassi, will leave shortly on a world tour which could be a useful medium for advertising our migration programme? Does he realise that many people overseas still regard us as a nation of jackaroos and that this reacts against our migration programme? Has he seen the picture of Ron Barassi’s cowboy hat complete with matching feathers? If so, will he use his good offices to see whether the hats of these sporting ambassadors can be left at home?
– I believe that I have heard the name Barassi. I watched him for some 9 years until he was filched away by somebody who has the confidence of my friend and colleague the Minister for the Navy. I understand that Ron Barassi and other players are about to go on an overseas tour, but as I understand it, any effect on immigration will be purely accidental. On the other hand, I have no doubt that when these young men who are fit, strong and attractive to look at are seen in other countries it will give a great deal of advertisement to Australia which will be helpful in stimulating interest in this country.
As for the concept of Australia being a land of jackaroos, I think there are some residual pockets of thought in Europe and the United Kingdom which adopt this view; but on the other hand I feel that publicity is more and more bringing to the knowledge of these people that Australia is a vigorous and industrially organised country. It is appreciated that we are tenth in terms of industrial production and twelfth in terms of trade. These things are becoming well known to people overseas. The spotlight on Australia which these young men will help to focus will, I think, emphasise this point of view. I only hope that when people overseas see the manner in which these young men play Australian rules football they will not feel that life in Australia is as rugged every hour of the day as it is on the football field.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Postmaster-General, by pointing out that some time ago I wrote to him regarding a programme called ‘Match of the Day’ which until recently was shown on television by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Melbourne. I understand that this programme has now been transferred to a commercial channel in Sydney and that it is not shown at all in Melbourne. In view of the considerable interest in this programme, particularly by English migrants, I ask the Postmaster-General whether there is some way in which he can arrange for a commercial channel to show the programme in Melbourne.
– I have indicated to the House on many occasions that I accept no responsibility for programmes arranged by the ABC nor indeed by the commercial stations. Nevertheless, I shall bring the honourable member’s question to the notice of the Commission and let him have a reply.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry, refers to insinuations by various people from time to time that the Tariff Board is subject to hidden pressures from officers of his Department. I ask the Minister whether the Tariff Board, on the occasion of its meeting with him, had the opportunity of registering complaints about any such pressure or about any attempts to influence or colour its decisions by departmental officers. If such an opportunity existed, was there any such complaint?
– As I have told the House, the members of the Tariff Board invited me to have lunch with them a couple of weeks ago with the idea of having an informal but, they thought and I thought, a useful chat. The meeting lasted for more than 2 hours. I think all the Board members were present. We had a very useful and very friendly and full discussion. There was no suggestion whatever by any member of the Board that the Board or any member of it was subjected to any improper influence or any influence at all by officers of the Department of Trade and Industry. I think this should deal with the sinister allegation that has been given such widespread publicity by people who want to damage me, damage the Country Party and damage the Government. There is nothing to it.
The Chairman of the Board made one point which I now recount freely to the House. He said - I use my own language but I am sure it correctly conveys the point he was making - that the Board accepted completely the practice of the Government on occasions of writing into a Tariff Board reference a particular point of Government policy of which it wanted the Tariff Board to be fully aware before it conducted an investigation and made a recommendation. The illustration in the simplest form was the occasion when the Tariff Board was acquainted clearly in a reference of the fact that the Government wanted penicillin to be manufactured in Australia. It was against that policy statement that the Tariff Board was invited to recommend the protection that the industry should be granted. There have been other occasions on which a policy point was made in quite simple and unambiguous terms, and the Chairman of the Tariff Board makes it quite clear to me, as I now make it quite clear to the Parliament that the Tariff Board accepts this as a completely proper course.
The Chairman of the Tariff Board then referred to an instance or two in which in his opinion, and in the opinion of Board members also, I think, but certainly in the Chairman’s opinion, a point of policy incorporated in a Tariff Board reference might have been capable of ambiguous interpretation. He pointed out that this would create not only a problem for the Board but also a problem, and at least as important a one, for the parties concerned in the Tariff Board inquiry. I accepted this point quite readily, and I reminded the Chairman that when he directed my attention to a reference quite recently which was capable, in his opinion, of ambiguous interpretation, I wrote back to him elucidating, as I thought and my advisers thought, quite clearly the policy intention of the Government. He wrote back to me and said it was still not clear. I wrote back to him in more simple terms and requested that the relevant text of this unusual correspondence between us should be published - the letters from the Chairman to me and my letters back to the Chairman. In the end this reference was elucidated to the satisfaction of the Chairman of the Tariff Board.
I want no repetition of this. However, the Chairman of the Tariff Board made it clear to me that in his view it would be simpler and less likely to cause misunderstanding if every reference to the Tariff Board were in the traditional terms with no mention of policy at all. T do not accept, and the Government does not accept, that the most efficient way for the Government to acquire advice is for the Tariff Board to conduct an inquiry into an issue in ignorance of the fact that the Government has a firm policy in this respect. It is most useful to the Tariff Board and to those who are parties to the inquiry that the Tariff Board should be acquainted with the fact that the Government has a firm point of policy if that is so. We should not have a state of affairs in which the Tariff Board might make a report in its own judgment without knowledge that the Government has a firm point of policy and with the end result that the Government has to become the Tariff Board in the ultimate and make its own judgment and its own decision. This would not be the best or the most efficient course.
I have suggested to the Chairman of the Tariff Board that for my part I would be perfectly willing as Minister for Trade and Industry - and I am quite sure that anyone who might succed me in this office would be equally willing - to submit to the Chairman a proposed reference and ask him to advise me whether, in his opinion, it contained any ambiguous language. I do not know what the end result of this will be, but it provides me with the opportunity to lay once and, I hope, for all, the charge that the Tariff Board is subjected to any influences from officers of the Department of Trade and Industry or from myself as Minister.
– by leave - When I announced in the House last week that the Government proposed that the next Senate election should be held on Saturday, 25th November, I said that when all States had agreed on the timetable for the election I would inform the Parliament of the details. I am now able to say that all States are in agreement on the timetable, which is as follows: The issue of writs, Friday 13th October 1967; close of nominations, Friday, 27th October 1967; polling date, Saturday, 25th November 1967; date for the return of writs, on or before Thursday, 11th January 1968.
Mr FAIRHALL (Paterson - Minister for
Defence) - by leave - The Australian Government has decided to allot $20m for the continuation of defence aid to Malaysia and Singapore for the period 1968 to the end of 1970. Of this amount $16m will be for Malaysia and $4m for Singapore. This is a continuation of the Australian defence aid programme which began early in 1964. The new aid programme will follow the lines of the current programme, covering a wide variety of military equipment, training courses in Australia and the secondment of Australian servicemen to the Malaysia armed forces. The items included in the programme are based on requests made to a technical mission which visited Malaysia and Singapore for discussions earlier this year. The equipment to be supplied includes ammunition, rifles, specialist vehicles for air bases, military load carrying vehicles, supply dropping parachutes, engineer plant, workshop and signal equipment and small craft. From early 1964 to the end of 1967, 385 Malaysian and 8 Singapore servicemen will have undertaken training courses in Australia.
The new programme brings the total amount allotted to$45m. The programme is a further indication of Australia’s active interest in the growth of defence capacity in the region and of its policy to support this by material assistance, training and other forms of co-operation as a contribution to the stability of the South-East Asia area.
I present the following paper:
Defence Aid to Malaysia and Singapore - Ministerial Statement. 5 October 1967 - and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr McEwen) agreed to:
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
Motion (by Mr Whitlam) agreed to:
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) and the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
– As Chairman, 1 present the following reports of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts:
Ninety-first report - Treasury minutes on Seventy-third report, Seventy-fifth report and Eighty-seventh report.
Ninety-second report - Index of First to Eightyninth reports.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The ninety-first report contains Treasury minutes on the Committee’s Seventy-third report relative to the Department of Social Services, the Seventyfifth report which relates to expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund 1964-65 and the Eighty-seventh report relative to the report of the AuditorGeneral for the financial year 1965-66. The observations of the Committee on these Treasury minutes are contained in Chapter 5 of the Ninety-first report. In particular the attention of honourable members is invited to the Committee’s remarks concerning the qualifications of internal audit staff and the re-organisation of internal audit establishments in the Department of Social Services. The Ninety-second report comprises an index of the First to Eighty-ninth reports of the Public Accounts
Committee and relates to the reports of the first six Committees.
The need to provide members of the Parliament, departments, universities and institutes of research and learning with a current index of reports has been recognised by successive Committees over the years. With this in mind index reports have been presented by the Committee in 1958, 1959, 1962 and 1965. Since the previous index report was tabled, however, there has been a very marked increase in the demand for the Committee’s reports in Australia as the public interest in our work has quickened and as new universities and other research organisations have been established. Concurrently there has also been a sharp rise in the demand for our reports by the committees and institutes of learning in overseas countries. While the Committee regards these trends with considerable satisfaction, they point to a growing need to service a widening area of interest with a current index of reports. I commend the reports to honourable members and move:
That the reports be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 17 October, at 2.30 p.m.
– I move: That this House -
Noting the Communist-fomented insurgency in Hong Kong;
Regretting the civil strife, damage, loss of life and injury which have resulted;
Supporting the stand of the British Government and the Official Administration of Hong Kong in dealing with the situation;
Being gravely concerned that petitions signed by certain trade unionists and members of the Australian Labor Party in terms corresponding to those formulated by the Peking Government and likely to give comfort and encouragement to the forces of insurrection manifesting themselves in Hong Kong have been sent to the Government of Hong Kong and could falsely represent Australian public opinion on the matters mentioned;
Deplores the sending of the petitions and repudiates their contents.
At the outset it is necessary to give the House some indication of how this debate has been brought about. The question of the petition to Hong Kong by certain Australian trade unionists was first raised in this House in a question from the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson). I think it is important that the House should note that it did not come from the Government side of the chamber but came from the honourable member for Batman, a gentleman whose honour and integrity both sides of the House hold in high respect. That question was followed in sequence, which I shall relate in greater detail later, by questions and debates with a few tentative attempts the first time it was raised on the adjournment by some members of the Opposition to defend the trade unionists’ petition. But this was followed by a silence as if honourable members opposite had taken Trappist vows.
There was a refusal to allow documents to be tabled at the request of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). Exactly why this refusal was insisted on I do not know. The allegation was made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that the documents had to be vouched for by a Minister. He made it clear that in his mind no Minister had supported the honourable member for Mackellar. He said that if a Minister would table the documents and support the honourable member for Mackellar, honourable members opposite would lay aside their vow of silence and be prepared to discuss these matters in the House. I tabled the documents yesterday and, contrary to the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition, on the first occasion when this was raised by the honourable member for Mackellar I had drawn the attention of the House to the fact that this was a matter of some importance to the Australian nation. Let us not get this out of perspective; it is a matter of some importance to the Australian nation. When the matter was raised by the honourable member for Mackellar I said that the House owed him a debt of gratitude for bringing it up in the very restrained and moderate way that he had.
I have no doubt that some honourable members opposite will say - I do not know what the current expression is - that this is a Fascist smear, that it is McCarthyism or that it is kicking the Communist can.
These expressions change with the fashions as each one in turn outlives its usefulness. The plain truth is that they cannot meet solid fact by just tying a tag to it. They cannot run away from realities by tying a tag to it. Again I ask the House to keep this matter in its proper perspective. This was one isolated instance which therefore can be looked at objectively by the House and, I hope, by all Australians, particularly Australian trade unionists. The Australian Government and the Australian people are not directly or emotionally involved in the incident in Hong Kong. It is not like the Vietnam war. It is not like the foreign policy of the Government in relation to Communist pressures in other parts of the world where they have been long and continuing.
In Vietnam there has been a series of arguments and counter-arguments which have built up a situation of amazing complexity. One can excuse the ordinary citizen who does not find time to go through each one of these new arguments and counterarguments as they are raised for being a little bewildered and confused. When he is also emotionally involved one can understand that there is this element of perplexity which comes in. Sometimes he cannot see through to the simple basic issues. Sometimes he cannot realise that here is another instance of Communist pressure which, since World War II, has been extending outwards against the Western world and against which the Western world is trying to contain itself. But this is one instance where the Government is not directly involved and where we can look at what is happening in Australia in relation to Communist activities in other parts of the world.
Let me say further that I believe it is important that the Government should, if the Opposition will not do so, defend the right of private members in this House to bring forward matters of public importance. It is not for the Leader of the Opposition, from the lofty heights in which he feels he exists, to refuse to answer merely because a member of Parliament and not a Minister has brought a matter forward. This attitude is insulting to the traditions of Parliament. It is rather odd that we should find that the Government and Ministers, who are often accused of adopting an arrogant attitude to the rights of private members, should be put in a position of defending their right to bring these matters forward, to be heard and, if necessary, to be answered. The question is whether there is a case to be answered.
I want to deal now with the series of events which have taken place. They fall into three series which I shall describe in roughly chronological order. Firstly there is the series of events related to the incidents in Hong Kong and the British Government’s methods of dealing with them; secondly, there are the Australian petitions and the sequence of events in relation to those petitions; and in the third series there is the manner of treatment of these matters in this House. I go first to the events in Hong Kong. These started on 6th May. It is true that they started by way of an industrial dispute in a flower factory. This was quickly taken up and fomented into a series of riots. The normal processes of conciliation which were available were ignored and a series of riots followed. In the British House of Commons on 1st June Mrs Judith Hart, the Minister for Commonwealth Relations in the British Government, described the incident in this way:
But what began as a genuine labour dispute then changed its character on 11th May. It was taken up and exploited by local Communists with the aid of hooligan elements, some of whom were paid. Organised demonstrations were mounted as a direct and deliberate challenge to the authority of the Hong Kong Government. In some cases these were orderly, but in others they led to disturbances involving police action. There has been open incitement to violence and to disaffection.
Later on she said:
The greatest restraint was exercised throughout by the police, despite extreme provocation. The Secretary of State and I have already paid public tribute to them in Hong Kong, and I so so again now. I would like them to know how much we admire their restraint in these very difficult circumstances.
On 15th May an abusive note was sent by the Peking Government to the British and the terms of that note, which is a very long document, contain demands similar to those expressed in the petitions that were subsequently sent by the Australian trade unionists. It is interesting to note that the industrial dispute was settled before the end of May - I think about 26 May - but the riots and the disturbances did not cease. In the British House of Commons on 10th July, replying to a question about the Hong Kong border incidents on 8th and 9th July,
Mr Bowden, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs, said:
I am grateful to the honourable member for his kind words of sympathy for the relatives and friends of people who died in Hong Kong.
The position is a slightly changed one, as he rightly says, in that, for the first time, demonstrators from over the border have been supported by Chinese militia - if not, in fact, the Chinese Army - and one machine gun was used. The Hong Kong police were for a short while forced to stay within their barracks, where they were fired on. but with the arrival of the battalion, which had no need to fire a shot at all, the position was quietened. The dead and wounded were removed. [ believe that five policemen were killed and a number of others were wounded in the incident. So we see that it has moved from the area of an industrial dispute. The industrial dispute was settled but the Chinese Government intervened with a note to the British Government, which was not accepted by the British Government, and then there were further activities which were more or less openly supported across the border by the Chinese Government. These events continued. But it was not until August that we had intervention by Australian trade unionists.
This brings me to the second sequence of events. On 4th August a petition signed by a number of trade unionists in Victoria was sent to the Governor of Hong Kong. The petition was signed by Mr P. Malone, the State Secretary of the Australian Builders Labourers Federation. His letter to the Governor of Hong Kong reads as follows:
I wish to advise that members of various Trade Unions here in Australia are deeply concerned at the British authorities allowing a trade union dispute to develop into a 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 leaders of these Unions and would hope that you would give serious consideration to their views expressed in the petition.
Similarly, on 24th August a petition was sent to the Governor of Hong Kong from New South Wales by Rex H. Rickard, the General Secretary of the Milk and Ice Carters and Dairymens Employees Union of New South Wales. The letter enclosing the petitions states:
Please find enclosed thirteen petition sheets signed by Australian Unionists who are strongly opposed to the attitude and actions of the British authorities towards their Trade Union Brothers in Hong Kong.
Further, 1 have been directed by a Special General Meeting of the above Union to register to you Sir, the strongest possible protest of the members of the Milk and Ice Carters and Dairymens Employees Union for the recent action taken against the citizens and trade unionists of Hong Kong by the British authorities.
There is one difference between the two petitions. The first petition purports to come from a number of trade union leaders. Honourable members will find that that petition is signed by the trade unionists and indicates the office that they hold in those unions. The House already has on record the fact that there are five members of the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labor Party among the signatories to the Victorian petition. The New South Wales petition contained the signatures of a number of trade unionists - I think that members of the Waterside Workers Federation were by far in the majority - but these people only describe themselves as members of the unions and do not indicate whether they are trade union leaders or accept responsibility as leaders for their protest. One member of the State Executive of the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales is among those signatories.
The House already has on record - through the honourable member for Mackellar - the fact that a number of the signatures on the petitions were those of known Communists. In many cases those signatures are directly above or underneath the signatures of the Australian Labor Party members. The honourable member for Mackellar and I consider that it could not have escaped the notice of the members of the Australian Labor Party that they were joining in something to which Communists were also subscribing. That was the next sequence of events. First there were the incidents in Hong Kong and then there was the demand made on 15th May by the Chinese Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, who summoned the British Charge d’Affaires to China and handed him a statement dealing with these disturbances. According to the ‘New China News Agency’ the demands made on the British Government were, amongst others, that it should:
Immediately accept all the just demands put forward by Chinese workers and resident in Hong Kong;
Immediately set free all the arrested persons (including workers, journalists and cameramen);
Punish the culprits responsible for these sanguinary atrocities, offer apologies to the victims and compensate them for ali their losses; and
Guarantee against the occurrence of similar incidents.
The wording of the Australian petitions was very similar although not quite identical. They called on the British Government to immediately stop all Fascist measures; to immediately sci free all arrested persons, including workers, journalists etc.; to punish those responsible for the atrocities and compensate the victims for their sufferings and losses; and to guarantee against recurrence of a similar incident. One of the interesting points about the petitions sent from Australia is that on 8th August the context of the petitions and the fact that they had been transmitted to the Governor of Hong Kong was broadcast over Peking Radio. This is indeed a disturbing state of affairs. Nobody disputes the right of trade unionists to manage their own affairs. Indeed, this has been the favourite refuge of the members of the ALP in Parliament when the question of unity tickets has been raised. But here is evidence of something more. Here is a gratuitous interference on the Communist side in matters of national or international importance overseas. This is plainly designed to be used to further the Communist cause. As I said in the House on he night on which I supported the honourable member for Mackellar, it comes as something of a shock to learn that there are some Australians who wish the Communists well in whatever cause they undertake, and who. even more than that, are prepared to help the Communists succeed in whatever contest they the engaged in.
I do not believe, Sir. that honourable members opposite would approve of this action. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition is on record as having made some quite positive statements about this on many occasions over a number of years. In 1963, after the Federal General election held in that year, he said:
The ALP in general cannot and should not be indifferent to the political subversion of some trade unions.
I am glad that he is to follow me in this debate, because he will be able to indicate whether that is a correct report. On 7th
July 1965, he was reported in the Melbourne ‘Age’ as having said:
Collaboration between ALP members and Communists in trade union elections had severely harmed public confidence in the Australian Labor Party.
The honourable gentleman will bc able to substantiate or deny that as he wishes. On 31st July 1965, he was the subject of a report in the Melbourne ‘Age’ in the following terms:
Mr Whitlam walked out of the ALP Federal Executive in Sydney and threatened to resign his position. He told the Executive that, he would resign if the Party’s Federal Conference took no action against collaboration between ALP and Communist unionists in Victoria. Referring to the Victorian Railways Union election, Mr Whitlam said it was a most blatant unity ticket offence in Victoria.
Referring to the Executive of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Parly, he later said:
It is scandalous, but no longer surprising, that the Victorian Executive failed to investigate this conduct . . . There would bc more and better ALP men in union and parliamentary posts if the Victorian Executive had been clear and prompt in condemning and combating collaboration with the Communists as it has been loud and quick to. condemn and combat collaboration with the DLP.
These reports are indications - good, healthy indications, I would think - that the Australian Labor Party is aware of the dangers of associating with Communists. It has very strict rules about these things. One of the problems, however, is that these rules are not often applied. Here wc have a situation in which the Leader of the Opposition on one occasion threatened to resign because of co-operation between the ALP and Communist unionists.
We now have what 1 suggest is the most clear evidence that could ever bc offered to the Australian nation that here is something that is of no direct concern to Australian trade unionists in the ordinary affairs of their unions. It is of no industrial consequence to them in relation to their own immediate standards of living. It is a direct scheme concocted by someone - I know not whom - to be help the Communist Chinese in trying to break down orderly government in Hong Kong. This was not done to assist anybody in a general industrial dispute in Hong Kong. The dispute was settled some months before the petitions were sent. This action was taken so that Peking Radio could make use of the publicity. This was done in opposition to the policies of the British Labour Government. The United Kingdom is an ally of Australia and a country whose policies, in general, we support, particularly in offering resistance to Communist aggression. The House should deplore these things, Sir. What happened? The matter was raised in this chamber, as I have said, by the honourable member for Batman in the form of a question. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) answered him temperately and moderately and disclosed the facts. The honourable member for Mackellar raised the subject in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House some nights later.
– He did not mention any names. He cited the fact that trade unionist members of the Victorian Executive of the Labor Party and Communists were involved. He mentioned no names. He asked that photostat copies of the petition that he mentioned be obtained so that the names could be verified. Photostat copies were obtained. The honourable member for Mackellar then sought leave to place those documents on the table of the House, but leave was refused. Everyone knew what was alleged. Everyone knew the substance of the documents. But honourable members opposite, for some reason that I cannot understand - it seems to me that they may have been running away from something - refused the honourable member leave to table the documents. He, to his credit, persisted. In the end, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton), the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) and the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) - strangely enough, they all happen to be from Victoria, where five members of the State ALP Executive were implicated - tried to offer some defence or to draw some red herrings across the trail. After this, with the encouragement of the Leader of the Opposition, honourable members opposite took Trappist vows of silence. Now, merely because the matter is confirmed as being of importance and as requiring some answer for the people of Australia, the Leader of the Opposition has condescended to give an answer to the House. 1 am sure that we all await it with interest.
– Mr Speaker, the reason why I sought this debate is that I am not prepared to abet a situation in which a group of irresponsible Government backbenchers misuses the time and abuses the forms of the House in an attempt to besmirch the Australian Labor Party and its members. If these tactics are to continue, Ministers must be forced to accept responsibility for them. This debate arises from my challenge a week ago to the Leader of the House and Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) to have a Minister make a statement and table the document. In answer to the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch) he had stated that in debates on the adjournment the night before and a week earlier I had not spoken when this matter was raised. By interjection I made it plain that I felt no obligation to attend or speak on the adjournment when the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) did not do so and when a Minister did not speak. The Leader of the House contradicted me and said that the names of the Ministers who had spoken would be revealed in Hansard. In fact, Hansard shows that on the earlier occasion no Minister had spoken and on the later occasion the only Minister to speak did so t in answer to a matter concerning his own Department of Works. I then asked the Leader of the House how soon he would arrange for a Minister to table documents and to make a statement upon them so that we could arrange a debate. In answer he recalled that the Opposition had refused leave to the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) to table the documents. We had, in fact, refused him leave on the adjournment on 20th September and after question time on 21st September. I then asked the Leader of the House how soon he would arrange for a Minister to table documents and make a statement upon them. At last the Leader of the House was forced to say that a Minister would do so this week.
A Minister can make a statement after question time on any day on any subject which he likes. The Minister can give notice the previous day either orally or in writing or he can ask for leave. We have never refused leave to a Minister to make a statement. The Government can commence or continue or resume a debate on any day or any subject it likes. A Minister needs no leave to table any document after question time or at any interval between items in the day’s business or in the course of an answer he gives or a speech he makes. I attend in the House and speak in the House much more than the Prime Minister does. 1 attend in the House as much as any Minister. 1 am rather tired of this suggestion that when I am mentioned on the adjournment or in any speech or question I must make some comment. Of course, it is a familiar technique. If I ask a supplementary question, it is reported that I have jumped to my feet usually’flushed and angry’. Then, of course, if in the diversion on the adjournment at night I speak to my colleagues in the chamber I am said to be standing over members or pleading with them. The simple fact is that I have enough to do without chasing every red herring that someone raises in this place.
Let me refer to the first of the extensive speeches made about my conduct on the adjournment. On the day of the Budget last year the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) sent a message through the Whip that I was to be implicated in an assault he was to make during the adjournment that night. I attended in the House but he did not. I received a messagethe following day, which was the Wednesday, that he was going to speak. Again I was there but he was not. He did not speak on Thursday or the following Tuesday. I was there on each occasion but he was mute or absent. On the Wednesday of the second week he spoke. I was not there and his theme was that I was not prepared to face him, that I had chickened out and that I had been on tenterhooks all this time.
Earlier in the Capricornia by-election campaign, a Democratic Labor Party spokesman in Rockhampton complained that as usual the Liberals would leave it to them to do the dirty work. He said that the gentlemen of the Liberal Party would stand hack. Apparently goaded by this well publicised remark, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) decided to do some dirty work on his own account. No one was going to call him a gentleman with impunity. So he intervened with well known and well deserved consequences.
The third man on the platform with the Treasurer in Rockhampton was the honourable member for Lilley who primed the Treasurer before and during the meeting. At least the Treasurer on that occasion accepted some degree of responsibility for character besmirching of the kind which in this House is largely left to the honourable member for Mackellar, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes), the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) and the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock). The only occasion on which the Minister for Shipping and Transport spoke on the matter was on the adjournment on 6th September when it was first raised by the honourable member for Mackellar. The Leader of the House who was formerly Attorney-General, connived at the irresponsibility of these backbenchers in his speech on the adjournment on 6th September, was in answer to the honourable member for Mackellar 14 days ago and by the manner of his answer to the honourable member for Hinders 7 days ago. Naturally a man with his ambivalent attitude towards violence and subversion by the Ustachi in this country despite having been transferred from the portfolio of Attorney-General to that of Minister for Immigration, could not take the final responsibility for initiating the present debate. The despicable thing is that he or some member of the Ministry with access to documents sent to the Australian Government by the British Government handed these documents to the honourable member for Mackellar who is a back bencher. What will the British Government think of this conduct by the Australian Government in making mischief for its own internal political purposes? What will it think of the Australian Gove rnment’s failure to take responsibility for this matter, waiting for over 4 weeks to take a measure which it could have taken at any time byministerial statement and the tabling of documents by a Minister which tabling requires no leave at all?
The Minister who has at last beenlound to launch a general debate is the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth). He has been a Minister for nearly9 years but is not yet in Cabinet. Six men who were appointed Ministers after him have already leaped over him into the Cabinet. He has accepted the task which the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) refused to undertake and did not permit his representative in another place, who is the present Acting Minister for External Affairs, to undertake. In the Senate 14 days ago Senator Gorton told Senator Laught that he would ask the Minister for External Affairs whether he could obtain a copy of the note and lay it on the table. Senator Gorton said:
I think what Senator Laught has in mind is that I should table at the same time a copy of the petition. … I shall endeavour to do this.
The fact was that the Minister for External Affairs would not sponsor this motion and his representative in another place was not allowed to sponsor it. In fact, the junior Minister who has launched this debate today is no better able to answer the relevant question than the Minister who will follow me. He also will be a junior Minister. The question is: What are the annotations? What is the meaning of the initials and the dates on one of these documents? Ministers of the Government do not even know their own brief. The Labor Party will not have any truck with the motion any more than the Minister himself would have it when he was here. The first three phrases are trite. Thereafter is it pretentious and fallacious to suggest that these petitions are likely to give comfort and encouragement to the forces of insurrection manifesting themselves in Hong Kong? Is it not pretentious and fallacious to suggest that these petitions represent Australian public opinion? Do we kid ourselves that people sit glued to their transistors in Hong Kong listening to the broadcast of these petitions? They take no more notice of such broadcasts than we take of political broadcasts of other countries or, it must be admitted, petitions presented to either House in this Parliament.
To crown this matter, of course we could all say we repudiate the contents of these petitions. However, are we going further to say that we deplore the sending of the petitions? Is law and order in Hong Kong so fragile that it will be subverted by the posting of petitions? Is Australian democracy in such peril that we cannot use the post to send letters or petitions overseas? Let us have some sense of proportion in this matter. Is this House to be used as another one of these clandestine censorship organs with which this country now abounds? If this is to be illegal let us have an Act of Parliament to make it illegal and let the Ministers then say where they stand. At last the Government has chosen to accept responsibility for a debate on a subject of essential irrelevance to the functions and duties of this Parliament. We are to have a full debate on whether and in what circumstances some Australian trade unionists, some of them members of the Australian Labor Party, sent a petition to the Governor of the British colony of Hong King. Clearly the petitioners were ill informed or blind to the nature of the Hong Kong incidents. It is doubtless unfortunate that their petition was given publicity over Radio Peking. But this was not, one would imagine, the most lethal event in the history of cold war propaganda. Some of them were gullible in signing a document worded the same as a Chinese document. But even a member of the Cabinet - of course members of the Cabinet have taken Trappist vows on this-
– How they run.
– Yes, indeed they do. Even a member of the Cabinet was so indiscreet as to sign a petition calling on the people of the whole world to lay down their arms and stop fighting. When he was asked about it he admitted signing the petition. He said he had been uncertain of its contents at the time. He had given his endorsement to the petition on polling day last year. He is not only a member of the Cabinet but the Deputy Leader of a Party in this chamber. He is the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony). Is he coming in on the question of the gullibility of people who sign petitions that are also signed by Communists, or is he fighting shy of this collaboration?
The real reason why honourable members opposite have persisted in trying to give publicity to this document is that one member of the New South Wales Executive and five members of the Victorian Executive of my Party were amongst the petitioners. Is it suggested that I should seek to have them disciplined in some way or have them repudiated? If by repudiation is meant that I should state that I disagree with the contents of the petition: that I think they would have been better advised not to sign it; that I deplore the description of the Colonial Government contained in the petition as unwarranted, ill informed and reprehensible, and that I should positively and publicly declare that this petition in no way represents my own view or the view and the policy of my Party, I do so. There should be no doubt about this at all.
The Federal Conference of my Party frames our platform and the policies. The Conference includes, ex officio, the leaders of the six State parliamentary parties and the four office bearers of the Federal Parliamentary Party. In addition it includes a great number of members of all State and Federal parliamentary parties. The Federal Parliamentary Party decides at what time and in what way the Party’s platform and policies can best be implemented. The Federal Leader expresses and expounds the Party’s principles and objectives. In particular, I have taken it on myself to do so on foreign policy. The views to which the petitioners have subscribed their names have not been moved at any State or Federal executive meeting or at any State or Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party. They have not been moved at any State Trades and Labour Council or at any meeting of the Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions or at the ACTU Congress. They would not hit the deck at any meetings of these party or trade union bodies if they were moved.
The assertions I have made can be verified by any person, because our documents and minutes are published and our conferences are open. Until the Liberal Party has the same structure as the Australian Labor Party, until it gives by right the same representation to its parliamentary leaders, until it gives access to the public and the Press to its proceedings, until it makes available as we do its official documents, we shall not know what its relations are within the Party or with other Parties including the Australian Country Party, the Liberal Reform Group or the Basic Industries Group.
-Order! There are far too many interjections. The House will come to order. The Minister for Shipping and Transport was heard in silence and I think it is the duty of the House to offer the same courtesy to the Leader of the Opposition.
– I see it as no part of my duty, as the Leader of this Party-
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. I ask for a withdrawal of an interjection from the Government back benches that the Leader of the Opposition is not speaking the truth. It came from the back bench where members of the Liberal Party sit.
-Order! I did not hear the interjection. Who made the interjection?
– It was one of the members sitting in a backbench.
-Order! The point of order is not upheld. The honourable member who made the interjection cannot be identified.
– I see it as no part of my duty as the Leader of this Party to vet and disown the views expressed by members of my Party on subjects on which the Party has not had discussions or made decisions. I encourage free discussions in the conviction that they lead to sound decisions. I have said, and I repeat, that I will exercise my right to repudiate such men as I believe are disloyal to the Australian Labor Party, disruptive of its electoral prospects and destructive of all it stands for. Where a breach of the Party rules is evident, such as with unity tickets or the manning of ships for Vietnam, I will repudiate any member of the Australian Labor Party who is involved and will seek and urge any necessary disciplinary action. The views in the petition would get short shrift at a meeting of any body of the Australian Labor Party. It behoves members of such bodies as State Executives to exercise special caution, discretion and responsibility in all they do. I do not believe that such caution and such discretion have been displayed in this instance, but after all there are degrees of responsibility.
These men are neither participating in nor promoting trade with China. Their sole export is a petition and it has not even been sent to Peking but to the Governor of Hong Kong. This is not trading with the presumed enemy. It is said that the presumed enemy made use of the petition over the radio. But one imagines that a more substantial use was made of Australia’s wheat, wool, lead and zinc, which we sell to our fifth trading partner. There are degrees of responsibility and there are positions that confer a higher degree of responsibility than others. If I am to be held responsible for every opinion on every conceivable subject expressed by every member of my Party, I imagine the Prime Minister should assume similar responsibility, if not for every member of his Party machine, at least for members of the Parliament who follow and support him. What responsibility does the right honourable gentleman accept for the statements of the honourable member for Evans, the honourable member for Mackellar or the Minister for the Army (Mr Malcolm Fraser)? Does he repudiate the first who, with good Christian euphemism, advocates the denuclearisation of China; or the second who, not being in orders, can be less inhibited in advocating preventive war against China as 15 years ago he did against Russia; or the last who in a sense which still rankles with him advocated the bombing of the dikes of North Vietnam to starve and drown the citizens of that country.
We find a supersensitivity about the reputation of the colonial administration in Hong Kong among members of the very group that in this Parliament and in this nation is the most critical of British colonial policy in Rhodesia and is in open and remunerative communication with the rebels against that policy. It is one of the incidentals of my position as Federal Leader of the Australian Labor Party that I should be made the subject of more comments in this chamber than is any other honourable member. The honourable member who burns most midnight oil in producing Baroque effusions about me is the honourable member for Moreton, who after 10 years in the Parliament attained the giddy heights of Deputy Whip and could not retain even that. He has been absent during the current campaign in and outside the Parliament; he has taken refuge from responsibility by accepting a trip to South Africa and Rhodesia. If anybody cared to look at the scribblings of contemporaries of the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), who is interjecting, and officials of the Liberal Party, in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ or any local newspaper in electorates such as Warringah, he would see that this racism, this colonialism and this colour pride riddled the Liberal Party.
If the House is seriously to discuss the situation in Hong Kong, we should be debating the Government’s policy on these matters - colour, colonialism and trade. The important matter is what the Government thinks, not what a handful of trade unionists or citizens happen to have written in a petition. Will the Government state its position on the future of Hong Kong and other British colonies in our area, such as Fiji, the Solomons and the New Hebrides? Will it even permit a debate on our own policy in Papua and New Guinea? The Government knows very well that China will take over Hong Kong as it will Macao, when it chooses, and no British government, Labor or Conservative, will resist it. [Extension of time granted.] The real reason why Hong Kong is not being taken over now is that it suits China not to take it over. Should China at any time decide that it is in her interests to do so, she will do it and Britain will not resist by force. These are the great facts about Hong Kong today, and every supporter of the Government knows them “to be facts. There is every reason to suppose that the propaganda, provocation, indignities and insults to which the British Colonial Government and the British Legation in Peking are being subjected are not a prelude to a take-over but a complete substitute for it. China does not want to take over Hong Kong and see it descend to the position that Shanghai now occupies in international trade. It suits the Chinese regime at present to have Britain there, but it also suits the regime for internal reasons, to sustain a propaganda barrage against the British presence there. It is not too great a paradox to say that by unwittingly providing an instrument for face-saving propaganda against Britain the petitioners have in fact sustained the colonial administration there.
The depressing thing about the honourable members for Mackellar, Moreton, La Trobe .(Mr Jess), Evans (Dr. Mackay) and Lyne (Mr Lucock) and the tactics they choose to use is not their malevolence but their total irrelevance. On Tuesday just before the suspension of the sitting for dinner the honourable member for Mackellar delivered one of the most constructive, illuminating and thoughtful speeches on the subject of northern development ever uttered by a member of the Liberal Party. Yet it is not for such contributions that he possesses a reputation in this country. It is for his destructive obsession and his apocalyptic crusade. In these matters he would be dangerous had he not rendered himself impotent. In the wilful destruction of other men’s characters he has really succeeded in destroying his own. It is tragic that the bearer of the most honoured name in this Parliament has by his habit of collective slander destroyed any power for good to which his undoubted talents would have entitled him. ls it any wonder that my colleagues and I decline to give him leave to table documents which a Minister could table without leave; that I refuse to take him more seriously than his colleagues who have dropped him from the Foreign Affairs Committee, or than Sir Robert Menzies and even his more pliant successor who have refused for 18 years to put him in a ministry.
If the Government were to permit a debate on the real relevance of Hong Kong as the source of the overseas funds with which China pays for Australia’s wheat, the feud between the honourable member for Mackellar and prominent members of the Australian Country Party and wheat spokesmen, such as the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey), would pass beyond rows in the Government parties’ rooms to a confrontation between the coalition parties within this chamber.
The Country Party significantly does not follow this line against the Australian Labor Party, with the exception, 1 believe, of the honourable member for Lyne. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) has twice rebuked a Treasurer for fighting elections by smearing the Labor Party. He did so in November 1961 when the then Treasurer, now the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), attempted to use those tactics in a general election campaign that year when he tried to besmirch the reputation, amongst others, of my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senator (Senator Cohen). The Deputy Prime Minister felt himself obliged to do it once again when he rebuked the present Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in Capricornia. In view of his Leader’s attitude, the honourable member for Lyne may feel, perhaps, that he is showing that independence of Party room which has enabled him to reach after long parliamentary service the position of Deputy Speaker, lt would be well for this country and this Parliament if the lessons of Capri cornia were to be learned by members of the Government parties, and one of those lessons is that kicking the Communist can, which has served them so well for the past 18 years, is producing an increasingly hollow sound with an electorate growing ever more mature, informed and intelligent. 1 deplore the terms of this fatuous petition. On behalf of my Party 1 repudiate its views on the British Government’s actions in Hong Kong. I regret the imprudence of those members of my Party who have signed it. I deplore the use to which it was put. But in the perspective of all that is important to the real interests and needs of this country at the present time and of all that is needful for her security and the wellbeing of her people, I welcome and indeed sought the debate on an utterly trivial matter only as proof that the Government will now take full responsibility for the activities of the irresponsibles in its own ranks.
– Mr Speaker, I would like to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. On two other occasions the Leader of the Opposition has made an accusation concerning something which he alleges I said to members of the United States Administration in the United States in 1964. These allegations are that I advocated dropping nuclear weapons on Hanoi or breaking the dikes and drowning 2 or 3 million people.
– He repeats it. He alleges that I advocated both of these things. I denied these allegations at the time. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that the Leader of the Opposition is using precisely the same tactic in this matter as he has used since the Corio by-election with the Prime Minister of alleging views that he purports were put to him by leading members of the United States Administration which he knows they did not put, and using that to some political advantage in Australia. I again say categorically that what the Leader of the Opposition says is untrue. He knows it to be untrue, and it makes the charge all the worse when he repeats it continually.
– I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have not said about the Prime Minister what I have said about the Minister for the Army. It is because I have disclosed what the Minister for the Army, as he now is, had said and I have disclosed where I got the information that the honourable gentleman is so intent inside this House and outside it on asserting that I have said, on the basis of the same information, about the Prime Minister what I have said about him alone. Hansard and articles will bear out what I have said about the Prime Minister. I have not given as authority for my views on the Prime Minister the terms which I have given as my authority on many occasions about the honourable gentleman who is now Minister for the Army.
– I claim to have been further misrepresented by the Leader of the Opposition. He claims that a member of the United States Administration put to him views which certainly would not have been put to him because I have never advocated those matters which the Leader of the Opposition said I had advocated.
– I have just listened to a speech by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) which is not remarkable at all. He was in a difficult position. He has done his best by the use of the well known feline tactic that he adopts when he is in a corner. He has scratched with all the ferocity and intensity of the female cat. He began by traducing my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth). Then he looked around the chamber to find somebody else to traduce. He then traduced one after the other with the sort of child-like nastiness for which he is well known. The Hansard report of this Parliament reveals his incapacity to control his tongue when he is angry. It also reveals his incapacity to control his physical actions when he is angry, as those who saw a particular incident will remember. None of us will forget the most extraordinary terminology he used to describe the present Chief
Justice of the High Court of Australia when he was a Minister in this House. Nobody will forget the disgusting words he used to describe the present Treasurer (Mr McMahon) when he was Minister for Labour and National Service. He used those words because they were the most offensive words he could think of to use. These things show the character of a man who proclaims himself, in his own words, to be destined to lead. He is the man who threw a glass of water over the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) when he was sitting at this very table.
– A pity it wasn’t a bucket.
– The bucket is yet to come. This is the gentleman who is capable of listening to words and so interpreting them that it was he who issued the challenge to debate this matter. What manner of man can it be who can rationalise in this way? And if he can rationalise in these matters how much easier to rationalise in the councils of the Australian Labor Party.
The Leader of the Opposition said a couple of things which must be replied to although the majority of the things he said need not be replied to. He said that the first two paragraphs of the motion of the Minister for Shipping and Transport were tripe. I will read them to the House.
– All right, if the Leader of the Opposition described these paragraphs as trite let me read them to the House so that honourable members can decide whether they are trite. The motion reads:
Regretting the civil strife, damage, loss of life and injury which have resulted . . .
Trite? What is the principal object of every decent citizen of this country and of every other country? It is the avoidance of civil strife; it is the avoidance of damage and loss of life and injury. Is it trite to say so? I for one believe it and I am quite sure that it is believed by everyone in this House, notwithstanding that it is described in a passing-off way as trite. The next paragraph reads:
Supporting the stand of the British Government and the Official Administration of Hong Kong in dealing with the situation . . .
Trite, said the Leader of the Opposition. Trite, he said, here in this chamber, and he also said it was well known that the Government of Peking could take over Hong Kong at any moment it chose. How does he square these two opposing and conflicting concepts?
The honourable gentleman said that no Minister spoke during the adjournment debate. He has said that before and today he repeated it. It is true, of course, that having said at an earlier point that no Minister spoke, he later slipped in as a saver the remark: ‘Well, of course, the Minister for Shipping and Transport spoke, and of course the Leader of the House spoke.’ So it seems that two Ministers spoke. I said to him: ‘Hansard will reveal it.’ And Hansard does reveal it. It reveals that the Minister for Shipping and Transport spoke and that 1 spoke, I will quote to the honourable gentleman some of the words I used:
Furthermore I would expect loud and clear statements to be made by the Leader of the Opposition of the political organisation of the Australian Labor Party.
And those statements did not come. Who challenged? The challenge was issued before, and yet the rationalising processes of the Leader of the Opposition enable him to stand up and say: ‘I challenged’. He believes that if he repeats something often enough it will become true. We all know the fallacy of that proposition, but we equally know the dangers to which it can propel people who believe it or fall for it.
The honourable gentleman said that he deplores the petition - but not simply the petition; he deplores the fatuous petition. It is necessary for him to square off. He cannot deplore the petition; that would be too dangerous, for reasons which I will point out. He must deplore the fatuous petition. Again he must insert a saver. He says that we shall have a vote on this motion. That will be the time when the degree of his deploring can be tested - when the vote is taken. We will be vouchsafed the opportunity to see which side of the House he goes to at 3.30 or 4 p.m. this afternoon. Then the manifestation will be apparent.
Then there is another thing he said which needs comment and which I will deal with in more detail later. The important thing, says the Leader of the Opposition, is not a petition signed by a handful of unionists; it is our attitude towards the British Government’s dealing with Hong Kong and Fiji and Samoa. The man who issued the challenge to debate this matter then says it is not important. Did he issue the challenge or did he not? Does he want to talk about our attitude to the British Government’s activities in Hong Kong and Samoa? Of course he does not. What he wants to do is, by tactics and by artifice, to avoid the issue which is before this chamber today, and which is before the chamber because the Leader of the Opposition made an error in tactics the other day and found himself hoist with his own petard.
We are concerned with a petition the terms of which I will shortly read. It is worth having them clearly in our minds. This is a petition which was used for propaganda purposes by Radio Peking. Oh’, says the Leader of the Opposition, do not worry about that. It is not earshattering if Radio Peking used it’. I can assure the House that the purpose was that it should be ear-shattering, and if that were the purpose we ought to know what was in the minds of the signatories to the petition and what is their position in the Labor Party. Quite clearly what was in the minds of the signatories was that Fascist methods had been adopted by the police and the Administration of Hong Kong. It was in their minds that there had been police brutality.
What are the facts? The facts are that there was terrorism in Hong Kong. There was a deliberate and concerted effort to disrupt the forces of law and order. There were deliberate acts of violence perpetrated against innocent people who wished only to live in peace. All honourable gentlemen will know that children were killed by bombs, that men who spoke out in criticism of the insurgents had petrol thrown upon them and were set alight. They will know that a favourite little trick of the insurgents was to throw petrol over a policeman and approach him with a torch. They will know that the people of Hong Kong lived in a state of terror. This evolved over a period between the date of the notes from the Chinese Government in Peking to the British Government in May and the time of the sending of the petitions, the letters dispatching them bearing dates in one case 4th August and in the other case 24th August. What happened in the interval of 3 months? One thing that happened was that these so-called fatuous petitions were prepared and sent. We stand for the maintenance of law and order and we deplore deliberate acts which are designed to disrupt law and order in other places. The people who signed this petition are entitled to their view. Of course they are entitled to their view. This is a free country. We are proud that this is a free country, but when people sign a petition they must bear the consequences of a public examination of the petition and the disclosure of what was in their minds at the time. And what was in their minds at the time was a conviction that preserving law and order was Fascism and that to try to protect innocent people was brutal police methods. That was in their minds. All right. They are entitled to sign a petition, and sign it they did, but they must bear examination and criticism. It was a shocking thing for them to do - to sign it. It was even worse for them to send it to the Governor of Hong Kong. It was a worse thing to make it available to Radio Peking for propaganda purposes.
It has been worth while having this debate to ventilate this and to make it known, but unfortunately and tragically this is only a minor aspect. The fact is that signatories to this petition are the repository of power in the Australian Labor Party. There is no doubt that they are the repository of power - the repository in the direct sense and the repository in the indirect sense - because the Labour Party has, for convenience of description, a pyramidal shape. The base of the pyramid, from which flows upward all power, authority and policy, is composed of those people who are members of trade unions or those people who are members of the Labor Party electoral councils. So this pyramid exists. The repository of power is the grass roots of the Labor Party. This is the thing that we have heard ever since we were children. Are we now to be told it is untrue? It remains the fact and the truth and for as far as I can see into the distant future it will remain the same.
When the Labour Party was founded in 1891 the unions had as their policy the foundation of a party which they could control and which could be the exposition of their wishes. Its policy was the subordination of capital to labour. In 1921 came the Socialist objective. But never has there been the slightest deviation from the determination to control the party and its public manifestation and to dominate the members of the parliamentary wing of the party. Why is it that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has adopted the posture he has adopted? Why is it that the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton) has adopted the posture he has adopted, which is a transition from earlier days? lt is because power exists in the organisation of the Labor Party at the grass roots, as it is reflected at State Executive. The Labour Party has, in fact, become what it was designed to be. The unions have control of the Party. This is achieved by the pledge which every member of the Labour Party in Parliament signs. This is achieved by the supreme authority of the rank and file at the conferences of the Labour Party, whether they be State conferences or whether they be Federal conferences. The significant thing about it is that the trade unions have the majority. Is there any member on the other side of the chamber who will deny that ata State conference the numerical strength lies with the delegates appointed by the affiliated trade unions? This is achieved in this way: A delegate’s entitlement to attend depends on the numbers either of the affiliated trade union or of the electoral council. Incidentally it is worth remembering, and it is a significant point indeed, that the delegate from the affiliated trade union is elected by the trade union itself by rules established by the union itself.
The only single thing that the Australian Labor Party’s policy requires is that the delegate be a member of the Labor Party. The method of his election is left te the union. The way the union does it is most extraordinary. The honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) was the delegate from the Wireworkers, Wire Fence and Tubular Gate Workers Union of Australia for years and he was never a member of that Union. The method of his election as delegate can only be left to the imagination. The fact is that delegates can be appointed in this way and, indeed, are appointed in this way. ] The State conference is the dominant power of the Party. It makes policy; it elects the Executive. The Executive, of course, has the day to day authority. In Victoria, it appoints parliamentary candidates. It is assisted, I might add, by three representatives from the electoral area. Otherwise it is made up of the twenty-four members of the State Executive plus the paid office bearers cf the Party. The true power, without doubt, lies in the conference which transfers power to the Executive at the State level, and the State Executive transfers the power to the Federal conference. All of this is done by trade unionists in the ultimate result because of their numerical superiority. The Leader of the Opposition knows all about this. I wonder whether he will deny the correct reporting of his statement when he said:
For countless years the Executive–
And he is referring to Victoria - had consisted of people named on an official ticket drawn up by an ‘inner recommendation committee’ headed by the secretary of the Metal Trades Federation, Mr Percy Johnson who was also the secretary of the Trades Union Defence Committee, which worked against the contemplated Federal intervention in Victoria on unity tickets. . . . The TUDC includes all the affiliated unions which have been accident-prone on unity tickets. … Mr Johnson had been known to telegraph Labor members of Parliament concerning their votes in Caucus. Mr Johnson does not hold high officein this Party, the TUDC is not mentioned in the Constitution of the Party. There is no formal link between the TUDC and the Executive. It happens, however, that the membership of both bodies is predominantly the same.
Mr Johnson is a signatory to the petition, and Mr Johnson is the person who, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, is the determinant of who is to be a member of the State Executive of the Party. There are five members ofthe State Executive who who are signatories to the petition.
– Who are they?
– I do not make the point on the basis of their membership at this time. That is obvious for all. Those who signed were Mr Doyle, Mr Cameron, Mr Allen, Mr Nolan and Mr Healy. The fact is that the Australian Railways Union, from which four or five men signed in a block on the petition, has approximately 15,000 members in Victoria. Honourable members can imagine how many delegates that Union has to the State conference. The Waterside Workers Federation of Australia signed the petition, and it has over 4,000 members. [Extension of time granted.] The Transport Workers Union of Australia signed the petition. Mr Doyle signed it. His union has 17,000 members. Honourable members can imagine how many delegates he has to State conference. Mr Cameron of the Miscellaneous Workers Union, which has nearly 10,000 members, signed the petition. The Seamen’s Union of Australia has about 500 members, but Mr Nolan, the Victorian Secretary who is a member of State Executive, signed the petition. Then, of course, there is the redoubtable Mr Johnson of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia - the organiser of the Federation of Unions, or whatever it is called down in Melbourne. The point about this is that the letter signed by Mr Malone, State Secretary of the Australian Builders Labourers Federation, states that the petition is signed by members of various trade unions who are deeply concerned, and so on. The petition is signed by the leaders of those unions. It is signed, according to Mr Malone, by representatives of the unions. There are two possibilities, either that they signed as individuals without authority to announce themselves as representatives of their unions or that they signed as representatives. The one unfortunately is quite as bad as the other, for if they signed without authority to describe themselves as representatives, they nevertheless held that strong conviction which is expressed in the petition and therefore, when they discharge their obligations and rights in the Labor Party’s councils, they will discharge those obligations and rights consistent with the view they have expressed in the petition. If they did sign as representatives of the union then the matter is more direct: That is a union view and when the unions appoint their delegates with a numerical superiority of three or four to one over members of the electorate councils, those delegates will reflect the union policy. This is what makes it so unfortunate and regrettable. It is a travesty that the elected members of this Parliament should come here through this grass roots organisation and be subject to the influence and control and power of people who hold these points of view.
The ‘New China News* published the note which the Peking Government gave to the British Government but which the
British Government refused to accept. I will not read all of the note. Mao Tse-tung’s thoughts are obvious throughout it. But one particular paragraph is important. The note delivered by the Peking Government contains the words:
Immediately accept all the just demands put forward by Chinese workers and residents in Hong Kong;
Immediately set free all the arrested persons (including workers, journalists and cameramen):
Punish the culprits responsible for these sanguinary atrocities, offer apologies to the victims and compensate them for all their losses; and
Guarantee against the occurrence of similar incidents.
You do not find those words exactly mirrored in the petition - there is a slight deviation - but you find sufficient of them to see a similarity. The petition reads:
WE, the undersigned representatives–
Representatives! How did they become representatives? Was a motion passed in the union? Was there discussion in the union to authorise the signing of the petition? Is this a union view, or have these men, long accustomed to the exercise of true power, abused the trust placed in them and signed purporting to be representatives?
The petition continues: condemn the British Authorities for deliberately turning a minor trade union dispute into a bloody incident by taking brutal police action against peaceful trade union pickets, against journalists, students and Hong Kong citizens.
We call on the British Government and the British Authorities in Hong Kong to accept the just demands put forward by the workers and residents of Hong Kong:
That reference to Fascist measures did not appear in the paragraph in the ‘New China News’ which I read, but you do not have to look far to find it. Here it is in the lead paragraph of the article. It reads: strongest protest with the British Government against the Fascist atrocities committed by the British authorities in Hong Kong.
That is where the reference comes from. The petition continues:
In the petition the word ‘etc.’ is used instead of the word ‘cameramen’ which appears in the note from the Peking Government. The petition continues:
The victims in this case are the people who throw petrol, the people who throw bombs, the people who try to foment insurrection against peace, order and good government. The fourth demand was:
To guarantee against re-occurence of a similar incident.
How the British Government could police this guarantee I do not know. The Leader of the Opposition said that Peking could walk in at any time. That being so, how could the Hong Kong administration guarantee against ‘re-occurence’ of a similar incident?
In mentioning the signatories, twentyseven unionists, representative of trade unions, including as they do members of State executives of the Labor Party, 1 hope I have demonstrated the pyramidical structure of the Labor Party - the true power that lies there at the base and that is transferred from layer to layer in the selection of candidates, in the determination of policies and in the disciplining of members to ensure that the Party pledge will be obeyed.
Now, it comes to this: There is an interaction between the people who signed this petition expressing these views and their discharge of obligations and rights in the Australian Labor Party’s political council. It is deplored by the Leader of the Opposition. What does he now do about it? Everybody deplores it. It is horrid. It should not have been done, and if it should not have been done there is a plain duty on the Leader of the Opposition not merely to get up and say: ‘I deplore this fatuous petition’. Because he is Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, a Leader of the Opposition who claims to be the leader of the alternative government, there is a duty on him to do something about it. A government must be responsible. So also must an opposition be responsible. The members of the Opposition in this Parliament were elected by the people of this country. They are responsible to the people of this country. Let them throw off the shackles of domination, of the power, of the influence and of the mind disciplining of those who signed this petition. They must reject and disown them in clear and absolute terms. Device, artifice and tactics are not sufficient. The people of Australia truly want a viable alternative government. Now is the time for the men claiming to be this to demonstrate resolution. It is a moment for resolution. We will see whether they have the courage to run into conflict with the power source of the Labor Party by voting for this motion.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister quoted from Hansard of 6th September to establish that he and, I think, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, had spoken on the adjournment that night. In my speech I had referred to the passage 7 days ago where the Minister had said:
There was a debate last week on the motion for the adjournment of the House in which certain matters were raised. Again last night there was a debate in which certain matters were raised.
And no Minister spoke on either occasion.
The Minister said:
That is not so. The names of the Ministers who spoke on that occasion will be revealed by Hansard.
I stated early today - Hansard will verify it - that neither in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House on 20th September nor the debate on the motion for the adjournment on 27th September did any Minister speak. The only time when Ministers spoke was 14 days before the occasions to which the Minister referred last week, and which I quoted this morning.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting the last speaker in the debate on the petition sent to Hong Kong by Australian trade unionists was the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden). Apart from the references which he made to the structural organisation of the Australian Labor Party he said very little on the subject matter of the debate. He did not accept the challenge from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). He did not answer the charges made by the Leader of the Opposition. Nor did he answer the very constructive criticism made by the Leader of the Opposition in the debate. However, the Minister made one point which I thought was extremely important. He referred to the question of responsibility. I believe that I am quoting the Minister correctly when I suggest that he said the Opposition must act responsibly in these matters. I suggest that the Opposition does act responsibly in these matters. If any charge is to be made on the question of responsibility it can be levelled at the Government. One needs merely to consider the history of this matter in this- place during recent weeks.
The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) sought to table a document. The Opposition has always adopted the attitude which it will adopt in future that if a document is to be tabled in the Parliament responsibility for that document must be accepted by a Minister. The Minister for Immigration would know that since we have been closely associated with the conduct of the House no Minister has been refused the right to table a document or to make a statement on a matter dealing with his Department. The same applies to documents which have been tabled from time to time by backbench members on matters over which the Parliament has some responsibility. The Minister knows that this is true. He knows also that it is because the Opposition has always adopted this policy that it refused the honourable member for Mackellar the right to table this document. This debate did not take place until the Leader of the Opposition had quite properly pointed out to the Minister for Immigration that if a Minister was pre-: pared to accept the responsibility for tabling the document we would not only approve of it being tabled but we would welcome the opportunity to debate the subject matter of the document. We accepted the challenge and I believe that the Leader of the Opposition, in a very sound and constructive speech, has pointed to the weaknesses of the document which the honourable member for Mackellar sought to table a fortnight ago.
This debate is the culmination of a pattern of irresponsible smearing by a small section of Government backbenchers against a great and responsible political organisation. Since 1954, when I became a member of this Parliament, I have listened to the honourable member’ for Mackellar and some other honourable members smearing not only honourable members in this place but also people outside the Parliament. They never repeat their allegations outside the chamber; they always make their statements inside the chamber. Frequently the honourable member for Mackellar and others, including the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), have been asked to repeat their statements outside the Parliament, but they have never accepted the challenge. While the honourable member for Mackellar and those who support him in this kind of debate remain in the Parliament these smear tactics will continue. How much has the honourable member for Mackellar had to say on the matters that have been brought before the Parliament in this session during the debate on the Budget and other important matters? He has been more concerned with the smear tactics adopted by those members of the Government who from time to time use the adjournment debate in this House to employ smear tactics against members on this side of the House and against responsible and respectable people outside the Parliament.
These tactics have been evident since the Government realised the threat of a united and potent opposition. The Government has not attempted in recent months to fight the Labor Party on the grounds of policy. I qualify my remarks in this respect by excluding members of the Country Party from that statement. Generally, members of the Country Party have adopted a responsible attitude on these questions. It is, therefore, a matter of regret that the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) will enter into this debate this afternoon. I believe that the Country Party, which has a traditional record for decency and fair play, does not subscribe to these tactics. I believe that the honourable gentleman goes against the desire of his Party which is to wage political warfare on policy issues and not by contemptible smear tactics.
These tactics became evident during the Corio by-election when every means was used to try to deride and taint our candidate. The Australian Labor Party did not allow itself to be diverted by such tactics from waging its campaign on policy issues. Instead, the Australian Labor Party has adhered to its avowed policies. It fought the Corio by-election on the Government’s domestic and economic failures. Our spectacular success at the Corio by-election is quite evident. I think that the people of Corio recognised that the Australian Labor Party was prepared to fight its campaign on domestic issues. It would not allow itself to be side tracked by the smear campaign conducted by its opponents.
We have since had the deplorable spectacle of a Budget debate in which speaker after speaker on the Government side has ignored the budgetary issues which .ire the essence of government in this country. The Labor Party sought to debate the Budget along constructive, hard hitting but, I believe, fair lines. We were confronted with speaker after speaker on the Government side who completely ignored the basic issues of the Budget. Speakers on the Government side attempted to turn the debate on the Budget into one on matters outside this country largely for the purpose of conducting a smear campaign against members on this side of the House. The poverty of the contributions by Government members in the debate on the Budget is beyond description. Sir, fortunately the pathetic and sterile tirades of Government members are preserved in Hansard. I am sure that future generations will wonder at the abysmal level of the Government in what should be the basic debate of the parliamentary year.
These tactics were continued in the Capricornia by-election when vile attempts were made to discredit a humane, honest and honourable man who has never spared himself in the service of the community. The tactics of the Government again failed. The smears did not stick. The era when the Australian Labor Party could be damned by vague threats of Communist association has gone. The Communist can has been well and truly kicked out and the electorate has proved conclusively that no longer will it tolerate this futile disguise for positive Government policy.
With a Senate election pending in which the Government faces almost certain defeat, this half hearted attempt Ls made to traduce the Australian Labor Party. This is consistent with the record of the Government. I believe that when this Senate campaign is fought next month the people of Australia will judge this Government on its policies. Personally I do not agree with the action of the members of the
Australian Labor Party who signed this petition but I respect their sincerity and their right to make such a protest if their consciences urge them to do so. As the Leader of the Opposition said earlier in this debate, we did not deny the Deputy Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) the right to sign a petition that was being circulated by a peace and disarmament committee in this country. No member of the Opposition would deny him the right if he felt that his conscience required him to sign the petition. He signed the petition. No honourable member from the Government side has spoken in this debate or will speak in this debate to deny the Deputy Leader of the Country Party the right to subscribe to this kind of petition if he wishes to do so.
It is unfortunate that the petition to Hong Kong was worded in the same way as a statement made by the Communist Chinese Foreign Ministry. The leader of the Opposition has fully outlined the Labor Party’s attitude on this question. We are a consensus party which distills common ground from a wide range of diverse opinion and belief. We are disciplined in that once the policy of our Party is prescribed we are bound to adhere rigidly to it. On matters which are not the subject of policy declaration a member of the Party is fully entitled to express a personal opinion. This is a right that would not be denied by the Australian Labor Party to those people who believe that they have the right to express an opinion on matters that are outside the jurisdiction of the Party itself. Many loyal adherents of the Labor Party will not agree with the action of those who signed the petitions but we cannot deny their right to do so.
The Leader of the Opposition has stated our belief in the civil rights of our members to protest according to their consciences. There can be no doubt that there has been considerable infringement of basic civil liberties in Hong Kong. Certainly the Colonial Government has had to invoke sweeping emergency powers to cope with terrorism and political extremism. However, there is considerable evidence that the powers invoked in Hong Kong exceed the degree of constraint necessary to maintain civil order. Immensely wide powers of arrest and detention have been given to the police and the Colonial Secretary in Hong
Kong. For example, the crucial regulation 31 gives the Colonial Secretary power to direct that any person he names shall be detained for up to 1 year, and he need not give any reason for his decision to have a person detained. This means that a police officer may arrest anyone whom he thinks the Colonial Secretary would like to have detained. Under regulation 29 (1) any policeman except a constable may without warrant arrest any person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be a person ordered to be detained under regulation 31 and may, subject to the provisions of regulation 40, detain him pending inquiries where his detention has been so ordered. Regulation 40 provides that no person arrested under regulation 29 shall be detained for more than 24 hours unless an inspector or above agrees. When a policeman of superintendent’s rank or above is satisfied that the necessary inquiries cannot be completed within a 48 hour period, an arrested man can be detained for anything up to 7 days.
Again, regulation 30 allows any policeman to arrest any person in respect of whom he has reason to believe that there are grounds which justify his detention under regulation 31. Any such person may be detained for a period not exceeding 14 days pending a decision as to whether an order for his detention under the said regulation 30 should be made. All this, I believe, adds up to an extremely dubious standard of civil liberties. In particular, I emphasise the regulation that gives the Colonial Secretary in Hong Kong power to direct that any person he names shall be detained for up to 1 year. This is an absolute power. Obviously, there are considerable possibilities of abuse. Certainly, the regulations contain a safeguard that under regulation 31 detained persons may object to the order made relating to them. However, this provision is virtually useless, because there is no provision for a detained person to be told why he has been arrested. The administration of these regulations imposes an immense responsibility on the Colonial Secretary. Though he may be a man of undoubted integrity - I have no doubt that he is - he should not possess such absolute power outside the rule of law.
Certainly, the Australian Government in wartime has assumed sweeping emergency powers that would be intolerable under normal conditions. These powers are by no means as absolute as the powers given to the Colonial Secretary in Hong Kong, who need show no reasonable cause at all before issuing a detention order. Furthermore, under the British parliamentary system, when emergency powers are assumed, the Government must inform Parliament of the existence of an emergency, and can proclaim a state of emergency for only a limited period. It must go back to Parliament if it wants to extend the proclamation of a state of emergency. These restrictions give public opinion a chance to express itself on the question of whether the Government is justified in assuming or retaining emergency powers. These safeguards are not enforced in Hong Kong, where the Administration is a colonial one and where emergency powers are not limited constitutionally. There is no limitation on the time for which the emergency regulations are to remain in force. The police have been given wide powers to deal with inflammatory posters and speeches, and cases of intimidation, and extensive powers to search premises for arms and weapons. There is no restriction on the time for which these powers are to be enforced. The District Court has also been given power to impose sentences of up to 10 years imprisonment, compared with the normal sentence of up to 5 years.
There are many disquieting features about civil liberties and infringements of the rule of law in Hong Kong that do not appear to be fully justified by the emergency there. I believe that these weaken the British case in Hong Kong, which inevitably, as the Leader of the Opposition said before the suspension of the sitting, will be returned to mainland China. I believe that these are some of the features that the petitioners, including members of the Australian Labor Party, find objectionable. It is unfortunate that the petitioners took over the phraseology of the Chinese Communist Government. I believe that they would better have served their case, which, as I have tried to show, has a considerable measure of justice, had they worded their petition in their own way.
I believe that the Government has reluctantly ordered this debate because the Opposition has forced a debate on it, as I said earlier. The Opposition certainly could not tolerate any longer a situation in which a small group of dissident and frustrated backbenchers of the Liberal Party of Australia could, night after night, impugn the Labor Party while responsible Ministers stood idly by. We have insisted that tha Cabinet assume responsibility for the actions of the way-out fringe in the Government’s ranks. These men have been frustrated and irresponsible in Government. They are destined ultimately to be frustrated and irresponsible in opposition. 1 hope that this will be the end of such futile debates, Sir. Only a short time ago, the Minister for Immigration, who is also Leader of the House, indicated to me that it would be extremely difficult for the Parliament to get through the business with which is is required to deal before the date set for the Senate election. Yet we have the spectacle of Ministers and other members on the Government side bringing forward debates of this nature.
I believe that the great majority of the Australian people undoubtedly repudiate the claim that there are links between the Communist Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party. We do not have to justify ourselves on that score in this Parliament. The evidence of the recent polls shows that the electorate supports us in this. It certainly did not support the allegations made by the honourable member for Mackellar when finally determining the vote in the by-elections in Corio and Capricornia. It came down on the side of the Australian Labor Party.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Speaker, first of all I would like to point out a contradiction in the remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). He said that the Opposition had forced this debate on the Government and immediately went on to state that though it had been said on behalf of the Government that the Parliament had a lot of business to get through the Government saw fit to bring forward debates such as this. This is just one respect in which the remarks made by both the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have been completely and absolutely contradictory. May I say at the outset that if the Leader of the
Opposition obtained any personal satisfaction out of his comments about me, he is welcome. I would just say that all my colleagues in the Australian Country Party are in full agreement with the expressions in the resolution and with the principles on which it was based. 1 have said that the remarks of both the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were completely contradictory. The Leader of the Opposition asked whether we on the Government side of the chamber thought the people of Australia were listening intently to their transistor radios to learn what was said and what was done in Australia. He was implying, of course, that the petitions relating to Hong Kong would have no effect overseas and that therefore a lot of unnecessary noise was being made about the matter. The implication that no-one overseas pays any attention to what is said or done in Australia is difficult to line up with the accusation, which has been made by the honourable gentleman on more than one occasion, that the Americans are following a certain policy only because of statements made by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). The Leader of the Opposition cannot have it both ways. If, in defending himself, he alleges that people overseas do not take any notice of what is done or said in Australia, he cannot immediately switch when it suits him and say that the Australian Prime Minister has so much influence as to be able, just because he has made certain statements and imposed certain pressure, to induce the United States of America to follow a policy that is the reverse of the policy that it would like to follow. In my view, this switching of ground is indicative of the. difficulty that the Opposition faces in this debate.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made some comments about smearing. In this instance, we should ask these questions: Is what has been said by honourable members on this side of the chamber true? Were the petitions sent? Do the signatures on them include the signatures of trade union leaders and top officials of the Australian Labor Party? If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, surely there has been no smearing by honourable members on this side who have brought these facts forward and said that this sort of thing is dangerous to Australia and detrimental to the international situation. One cannot smear a person if the basic fact that one presents constitutes the truth and correctly represents the situation. This is one of the things that the people of Australia must face up to. One of the dangers of the charge that McCarthyism has been indulged in is that those who put forward this cry are creating a smokescreen to cover up the realities and dangers of the situation. Extremists on either the right or the left are dangerous to the community. We acknowledge that there are extremists on the right who are dangerous. But this does not mean that there is no other danger confronting us in this instance. I believe that the people must consider seriously the implications behind these petitions. That is really the point which we are discussing and which the nation must consider. Let us face it. A Government is always unpopular in a byelection and the political trend always goes against it. I was elected in a by-election to this place and this is what happened in regard to the voting in my electorate. In a by-election there is not the same national picture confronting the people because they know that the Government is going to stay in power. They therefore know that there will be no alteration in the international policies of the Government. So there is not the same sort of situation in a by-election as in a general election. As my colleague the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) pointed out the other day, the trend in a by-election is not necessarily indicative of anything that will happen at a general election.
In this debate I want to bring out the general and particular questions that I mentioned at the beginning of my speech. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) have both covered the particular political aspects. However, I believe that we need to consider seriously the general implication in this debate. It has been said that we are a free country. It has also been said that the people concerned have a perfect right to sign and send petitions if they so desire. I query this. We find ourselves today in a complex international situation. I believe that we cannot isolate any incident that occurs because the world is so closely knit together that one incident automatically has an effect on others. In the situation in which we find ourselves in this international sphere at the moment I believe that we have to be extremely careful. In Hong Kong we have a political situation which is extremely complex. It is a situation in which the United Kingdom Government is facing difficulty. I think it is extremely dangerous for a responsible group of people to send a petition worded in the phraseology of this one to the Governor of Hong Kong. It is not only dangerous as far as Australia is concerned but it is dangerous so far as other countries in Asia are concerned. It also represents a danger to the freedom of this area.
Members of the Opposition can scoff at this if they like. I notice that someone has written a letter in regard to the situation in Indonesia, in which it was said that it was farcical for people to say that the stand taken in Vietnam has strengthened the stand of the Indonesians against Communism. It was said that the Indonesians were big enough and strong enough to look after themselves. Anyone who has an understanding of the complexity of this international situation will realise that each event affects other events and each incident in a particular country affects incidents in other countries. In this regard, there are people who are standing firmly against Communist domination. People are endeavouring to establish systems of Government in the South East Asian area that we hope and believe ultimately will parallel our own democratic Government. If we are going to send a petition such as the one that we sent to the Governor of Hong Kong, what will Mr Lee, the Prime Minister of Singapore, think? He is a man who is endeavouring to stand firm in Singapore and to overcome problems and difficulties that are confronting his country. He is endeavouring to make a stand against Communist infiltration and is looking to Australia for friendship and assistance.
Members of the Opposition if they were honest would admit this is true. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) referred to the fact that news of this petition was broadcast over Peking Radio. This in itself could weaken the authority and prestige of Mr Lee, the Prime Minister of Singapore. Therefore it is not only the particular effect that it may have in Hong Kong itself that is important. It is the effect that it can have and will have in Singapore and Malaysia and in other countries in this area. It may be asked: What has all this to do with the Opposition and members of the Australian Labor Party? To my way of thinking, the answer is this: Irrespective of anything else, the Opposition is the alternative government of this country. If it puts itself forward as the alternative Government of this country then its possible responsibility for the future development and progress of this country must be examined in every sphere. We should also know the views of those who would be the power behind the throne if it should form a government and what policies they would put forward. These people are a responsible group in the Labor Party and the Labor movement and must have some effect on the policy that the Party would put forward if it became a government. In that regard it is of concern to members of the Government at the moment and to the people of Australia.
The Leader of the Opposition said that not a great deal of notice is taken of what is said in Australia. However I point out that one of the major factors is what can be used of what we say in Australia by the Communists and by those who are endeavouring to undermine the strength and security in Asia. The mere fact that Peking Radio was able to broadcast this represents a danger. Such action may be acknowledged in Australia to have been taken by only a very, very small percentage of the Australian population. However, used by the Communists and broadcast over Peking Radio, the importance of such an act can be magnified thousands of times. It can be put forward to people behind the Bamboo Curtain and people in Asia as the opinion of the Austraiian people. This is where the danger lies. Those of us who have been to Asia realise the situation. We know exactly what can happen.
If I may I would like to refer to one factor concerning the Vietnam war which was presented in an editorial in the ‘Daily Telegraph’. This article concerns the bombing of North Vietnam and the headline is entitled ‘What Bomb Truce Cost in Allied Lives’. The Minister for the Army (Mr Malcolm Fraser) gave figures which I do not need to repeat because they are well known. However, this proves that a cessation of bombing would cost allied lives in the conflict in Vietnam. This is a fact of life and shows the reality of the situation in this war at the moment. Another editorial in the Telegraph’ was headed ‘Hanoi Deaf to President and Pope’. When one listens to some members of the Opposition in this House one would think that there had never been any moves either by the United States of America or by Australia to try to find a way of achieving peace in Vietnam. One would think that in this regard the only people who had ever talked about peace and looked for peace were those who were on the left. The fact remains - and this is the reality of the situation - that peace in this area will be brought about at a time when the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong become aware that they cannot win this war. If they feel that they can achieve their aims by prolonging this war then they will continue it. The attitude of people who support petitions of this kind will not help the cause of peace but will rather prolong the war. The petition is a further indication of a sense of irresponsibility. We live in a free country. Our arguments, our discussions and our expressions of our views are in the background of this freedom. Unfortunately in other countries and, as I said, behind the Bamboo Curtain, there is not this appreciation and not this understanding. The danger lies in the use to which people can put our expressions. That is why we must be extremely careful and face up to this double barrelled responsibility, as I term it. The danger lies in the use that can be made of what we are saying and doing in this country.
Let us look at the wording of the petition. I want to come back to the point I made at the commencement of my speech about the complexity of the situation and the problem being faced by the United Kingdom. The petition asks the British authorities in Hong Kong to:
We know that the Communists take advantage of any honest endeavours by people or groups of people to improve their conditions. As I say, another of the complexities of the situation is that people and organisations are trying to better their conditions. We must continue to do everything we can to assist them to improve their conditions, but we must acknowledge the fact that at all times the Communists can take advantage of the situation and will try to sway the people so that they will accept authority, power and ultimate dictatorship. When that situation arrives, there will be no expression of freedom; there will be the expression of only one point of view.
The intention of the wording of the petition is to convey the impression that all the atrocities, all the brutality and all the chaos and disorder were being caused by the United Kingdom authorities, by the Hong Kong police and by those who were trying to put down insurrection. To anyone who saw any of the circumstances of the riots, it was obvious that they were caused by the group of terrorists who were trying to terrorise not only the authorities in Hong Kong but also the people of Hong Kong. The tragedy is that a group of people in Australia at this time k) the history of Hong Kong saw fit to act in a way that would not help the situation but would aggravate it and make the task of the United Kingdom authorities more difficult. They added to the difficulty and complexity of the situation not only in Hong Kong but in the whole of this Asian area. That was the point made by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) when he raised this matter in the first instance and that is the point made by every Liberal and Country Party member in this House.
– Before I deal with the reasons that 1 and other Opposition members believe are behind this motion, let me mention a few points of interest in this debate. Firstly, it is interesting to see that all the members of the Australian Country Party are in the House. They seek to convince the people, as the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) tried to do, that it is more dangerous to sign a petition than to send thousands of tons of war material and wool and wheat to Communist China. It is also significant that some members are not participating in the debate. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has not spoken in the debate. When we take this a step further, what do we find? Two Ministers of the Crown have spoken. Generally they are rather good speakers, but today we saw them at their worst. Who moved the motion? The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) moved it. But he is responsible, amongst other things, for the shipment of wool, wheat and other commodities to China. This is the man who tells us that to sign a petition is worse than to ship these commodities to the people who are fighting our soldiers in Vietnam. Then the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) gave the game away completely. He gave a lecture not on the substance of the resolution but on his interpretation of the method used by the Australian Labor Party to select candidates and other similar matters. I waited for 20 minutes for him to touch on the terms of the resolution, but he faded out without fighting on the issue that he brought to the Parliament.
What is the real reason behind the motion? It is not that signing a petition creates a danger in the world. That is merely the point made by that fringe of extreme Liberals who are in the background on this issue. But the Government is now in a lot of trouble, Mr Speaker, as you well know. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) is in a panic. He has again reached the point where he wants LBJ back in this country, so desperately low are his political stocks. He has recently lost the Corio and Capricornia by-elections and, with a Senate election coming up, he must do what he can to load on to the Australian Labor Party that old hobby horse that the Liberals use when they are desperate, and that is the allegation that Labor is tied up with the Communist Party. What other reason could he have for causing this motion to be moved today? The question of VIP aircraft is very important. The Liberal Reform Group is sitting on the flanks of Liberal members. The honeymoon is over and the shot-gun marriage of the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party is just about on the rocks. With all this to worry him, why would a Prime Minister not drag in some red herring and say that the Labor Party is tied up with the Communists or something of this sort?
We are now beginning to understand what the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) thinks of the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr McEwen). It is public knowledge that they are at each other’s throats. That brings to the fore the reason for raising this matter relating to Communists. It is done in an effort to discredit the Australian Labor Party. It is done to cover the fact that the real people doing the damage to this country are the members of the Country Party and of the Liberal Party who are trading with China and sending wheat, wool, steel and other commodities to the people who are fighting our men in Vietnam. The Prime Minister wants to forget Vietnam because the people of Australia have serious doubts about the policy he is following. On one side the Prime Minister has the rebellious extremists like the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes), who is sitting there as though he had a £1,000 brief in a court, waiting to come into this debate to defend the extreme policies he has put on his Government.
Every honourable member knows that the Government is disintegrating in the eyes of the Australian people. That is why this resolution has been introduced. It is an effort to take the minds of the people away from the attacks that have been made so successfully by the Labor Party on the Government. Labor’s successes have been exemplified in Corio and Capricornia and will be again in the forthcoming Senate election. What better suggestion is there to make for political reasons at this time than that the Communist Party and the Labor Party are in some way joined? That is why the issue has been forced into the open by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Having floated it, the Government was frightened to go on with it, but it decided after Corio and Capricornia that something must be done to take the people’s minds away from the Government’s shortcomings.
Let us have a look at the issue. These people have signed a petition. The fact is that the Government at this time is trying to suppress all opposition to any of its policies and to stifle the freedom of expression of the Australian people. The Government is scared of public opinion. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and others have spoken against public demonstrations. The Government has tried to suppress assemblies that have sought to discuss such subjects as Vietnam. It is afraid of propaganda in various forms and is afraid even of protests about its policies on Vietnam and so on. Now it seeks to take away the right of every individual to sign a petition dealing with something which he might believe quite sincerely should be ventilated. This Government is making great threats to the liberty of the subject. It might well learn from events in parts of Europe where governments have fallen almost in a night because some people at least would not stand firm for the right to sign a petition if persons wanted to do so. It will be a sorry day in this country when a person cannot sign a petition without being dragged before this Parliament and criticised for doing so. I say to honourable members opposite who hold the Labor Party, which is a huge organisation, responsible for the actions of every individual member that that is something that no tolerant person would condone at any time.
Let us have a look at the situation in Hong Kong. A few moments ago the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) outlined the laws and regulations that are in force in Hong Kong. Let us face the facts of life. The Government of Hong Kong is a pretty tough Government. The Government of Peking is a pretty tough Government. Neither of them takes any nonsense from any sections of the community. The laws in force there are no doubt rigid. I have here a copy of the ‘Hong Kong Standard’ of Sunday, 24th September 1967. It shows what is happening there and refers to matters to which some people might well object. Under the heading Two girls sentenced’ lt states:
Two 16-year-old girls got 18 months each in North Kowloon yesterday for possession of four Inflammatory posters in Tokwawan on Aug. 26.
The magistrate, Mr T. L. von Pokorny, imposed an additional 2 months on each girl for shouting in court during the hearing.
Then under the heading ‘Boy gaoled’ it states:
A 17-year-old delivery boy got a year’s gaol in court yesterday for painting an inflammatory slogan.
Chan Shu-on pleaded guilty before Magistrate Francis Stratton at North Kowloon.
He was arrested on Thursday night after being seen doing the painting in Sanpo-kong at China Light and Power Building on July IS.
They are very solid sentences. Some people might like to protest against them. Whilst that is their business and whilst it is very foolish to get tied up with Communist phraseology, some people believe that they should protest against these things.
The Government complains that the signing of this petition is damning the prestige of the Australian Government in Asia. The honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), who is the great sponsor of wool and wheat sales, cries his eyes out if Mr McEwen is not in the Soviet Union, Poland, Romania or East Germany signing agreements regarding the sale of primary products. Did honourable members see the crocodile tears? Did they note that the honourable member for Lyne said that the broadcast over the Peking radio concerning this petition destroyed our image in Asia? I. wonder what he says when the Government is thanked over Peking Radio for the sale of wool and millions of bushels of wheat with which to clothe and feed their soldiers, and for the sale of wheat and wool to other Communist countries. We are told that we are damaging the Government’s pestige because Peking Radio broadcast that men in Australia of whom they had never heard, had signed a petition.
Let us have a look at the Government’s policy and record in respect of giving comfort and encouragement to the forces of insurrection. With Australians in action in Vietnam the Government shipped rutile to China. This is essential to make steel heat resistant, lt is necessary for jet and rocket aircraft engines. In this way the Government made an important contribution to the development of Chinese missiles. That is a bit different from a petition. This happened 2 or 3 years ago, but it was later banned when the Government had been awakened to the position by the Opposition. What would the Government say about anyone on this side of Parliament who assisted China in the development of missiles? Of course, according to the Government, rutile was sent not to
Red China’, but to mainland China. The term ‘Red China’ is used only at election time for propaganda purposes. The respectable term for trading purposes is ‘mainland China’. The Government also sent tallow to the Ho Chi Minh Government in North Vietnam. Tallow has two uses. lt is used in the manufacture of soap. But reports indicate that no one has heard of Ho Chi Minh starting soap factories. Tallow is also used to make glycerine for high explosive - an industry which Ho Chi Minh has developed in North Vietnam. People who sign anything handed to them expressing all kinds of sentiments about Hong Kong leave themselves open to criticism. It is true that words might incite, but high explosives and rockets actually kill. This is the material that the Government sends to the enemies of this country. The Government takes no responsibility if China passes on to North Vietnam wheat from Australia. This is treated as just one of those things. The fact that the wheat is actually feeding an army opposed to Australian forces is shrugged off. Yet we are told that petitions are affecting Australia’s prestige. In any event, China safeguards North Vietnam’s flank.
Let us have another look at the Government’s assistance to China to develop rockets - a nuclear delivery system. Peking openly states that it expects China’s nuclear development to be of interest to and an asset for the revolutionary reforms of the underdeveloped world. China is the power best suited by the present Vietnam situation, and by feeding North Vietnam with Australian wheat China’s policy is assisted. Its prestige in Asia among the underprivileged nations is enhanced by its ability to pass on Australian food. All of this is quite obvious. This Government which talks in one way and acts in another has the effrontery to feign indignation about a group of trade unionists who signed a petition. Yet the Government assists Mao’s prestige, his war machine and his development of nuclear capacity. Is it any wonder that the honourable member for Mackellar, when he read of these things, is reported to have said that supporters of trade with China are traitors?
Let us have a look at what the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) had to say about it. The following article appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 7th September:
Canberra, Wednesday. - Anyone who supported trade with Communist China was a traitor to Australia, Mr W. C. Wentwortb (Lib, NSW) said today.
He was addressing a meeting of the joint Government parties.
The honourable member for Moore, as chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, negotiated the first contract, I think in 1962, with those dreadful people whom they will not recognise but from whom they love to see the dollars rolling in. The article continues:
Country Party MP’s later reacted angrily to Mr Wentworths charges.
He was reported to have lashed out after the Minister for External Affairs, Mr P. M. C. Hasluck and the Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr J. McEwen, had justified the Government’s reasons in trading with Peking.
That is nice after the damage that the petition is said to have done. The article continues:
A former president of the Australian Wheat Board, Mr D. W. Maisey (CP, NSW), spoke strongly in support of the sale of Australian wheat to China.
Mr Wentworth opened the debate.
We all know that he generally opens the debate. The article went on:
What developed left very few Country Party members in doubt that it was an attempt by the extreme right wing of the Liberal Party to embarrass the Prime Minister, Mr Holt, on the continuing coalition with the Country Party.
Mr Wentworth said he deplored .the continuing trade with China, which had now reached a point where Australia relied on it.
Is it any wonder that the honourable member could not be trusted to speak in this debate, since he thinks that half of the members of the Country Party are traitors to their country on this score? I ask why the honourable member for Mackellar still supports the Government if he sincerely believes that it is traitorous to trade with China. These are the people who attack the Labor Party because of a petition that has been signed by people who, as the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have painted out, are not responsible to the Labor Party for their actions. We are not tied to any policy regarding the actions of these particular individuals.
I summarise this point by saying it is true that the Government no longer sends tallow to Vietnam, but it did send it while Australian advisers and American forces were engaged in Vietnam. It is also true that the Government no longer sends rutile to China, but it did send it while for electioneering purposes it stressed the Red Chinese menace. To whom is the Government sending these things? I have here an article from the Sydney ‘Sun* of 14th September 1966. It is headed ‘China “hangs like threat over Asia” Holt warns Commonwealth*. Honourable members opposite condemn the Government when it trades with the enemy. If honourable members opposite believe that China is the menace that they say it is, then let me tell them it is not the petitions that are assisting that enemy but the materials that the Government is allowing people to export to that enemy so as to fill the coffers of the Government’s Country Party supporters. This resolution shows that the Government’s crocodile tears are merely for public exhibition whilst the real purpose is to take the minds of the people off what is happening as a result of the Government’s policies.
I do not want to speak further on this Issue. I believe that if ever a case was demolished the case that has been put up today by the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for Immigration has been destroyed. While the speeches made by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader were brilliant, let me say that they did not have much to beat in the case put forward by the Government today. The Government will regret for a long time that it has brought into the open its guilt in the matter of trading with the enemy, and that it has exposed those who are doing the real damage to our nation and letting down our men who are fighting in Vietnam.
Let me say again that it is only at election time that the Government is interested, sincerely or otherwise, in Communism. It should learn from what has happened in Corio and Capricornia. Even though this motion had been foreshadowed the people of Capricornia voted in a Labor member in the face of all that the Government said about affiliations with the Communist Party. The people knew that these things were not true. I suggest that honourable members opposite read all the published information about the image they are creating by dealing with the Soviet Union, with Romania, with certain Eastern countries - trading with the enemy. When they become fully aware of the extent of their guilt, which is apparent to any fair-minded, thinking person, perhaps they will not be so quick to condemn people for signing petitions. Honourable members opposite need not try to link the Labor Party with the Communist Party because that just will not wash any more. Instead the Government should make a sincere attempt to do the things that ought to be done. If it comes to the conclusion that it is a traitorous government, then it should take the appropriate steps, as the honourable member for Mackellar suggests, to change that state of affairs, irrespective of what ultimately happens to the Country Party.
I join with my colleagues in opposing the motion. As they have said, we will vote against it.
– Whatever the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) may have lost in the last year in influence in his own party - and we all know that he has lost a good deal - he has lost nothing of his capacity to act as a clown. During his 5 or 6 months travel in Europe and other parts of the world he probably did a tour of all the important circuses, because he has improved his technique.
In my judgment the Australian Labor Party - particularly its parliamentary leader (Mr Whitlam) and his deputy (Mr Barnard) - has this day missed a great opportunity. It had an opportunity to demonstrate to the Australian people that it would repudiate any attempt by any member of the Australian Labor Party to join’ with Communists in Communist inspired manifestos designed to undermine law and order in a British possession. If he never had an opportunity before the Leader of the Opposition had an opportunity today to show his mettle, but instead of denouncing in unqualified terms members of his own Party - important members who have collaborated with Communists in sending to a British colony a petition subversive of law and order - he has adopted the cowardly technique of going only half way. If 1 may coin an expression, instead of damning them he has praised them with faint damns. Nowhere in his speech did we get any indication that he as leader of his Party - and he would be entitled to do this as leader of his Party - would make a complaint to the Party Federal Executive against the conduct of these six members of the Victorian Executive in -joining in this petition.
Let us examine the petition briefly. Its terms are well known to the House and 1 will not go through them again. The point that should be made, and which perhaps has not been fully explored, is that this petition - I am speaking now of the Victorian one which was sent to the Governor of Hong Kong and to Peking Radio by Mr P. Malone - was a petition obviously inspired by members of the Communist Party. I forbear from thinking that it could have been inspired by or could have originated in the minds of members of the Australian Labor Party. Mr Malone, who apparently took upon himself the responsibility for preparing the petition and gathering in the signatures, is well known, and publicly well known, as an official of the Communist Party of Australia, Marxist-Leninist. Here is the man who was the mainspring of the Victorian petition. No member of this House would be so naive as to believe that those members of the Labor Party, in particular the members of the Central Executive of the Victorian Branch of the Labor Party, who signed the petition did not fully appreciate - at least some of them if not all of them - that this petition to the Governor of Hong Kong was Communist inspired.
These are facts which cannot from any commonsense viewpoint be seriously or at all in dispute. Here, then, was the position with which the Leader of the Opposition was faced - members of his own Party, including ruling officials in Victoria, collaborating with Communists in putting forward a manifesto containing utterly subversive ideas, ideas disloyal to the Crown and inimical to the best interests of the people of Hong Kong.
Having established those facts, let us go back to the brave words of the Leader of the Opposition. They were brave at the time, but he seems to lose his courage as time goes by. He said at the Victorian Conference of the Australian Labor Party in June of this year, as reported in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 10th June 1967:
It is disgraceful that these men -
He was referring to members of the Victorian Central Executive - should be on an ALP executive which can appear to influence Federal policies and selections.
This newspaper article had earlier said:
Mr Whitlam said the present Victorian executive included ‘an influential handful of men’ who hud flouted ALP policy on unity tickets ‘in the spirit if not the letter,’ organised or led political strikes in defiance of the ACTU, disregarded and repudiated ALP and ACTU policy on the manning of ships to Vietnam, and organised demonstrations against the Trades Hall Council executive.
They were the men of whom the Leader of the Opposition said it was disgraceful that they should be on an Australian Labor Party executive which can appear to influence Federal policies and selections. I will say more about Federal selections in a few moments. The Leader of the Opposition was further reported in this newspaper as saying:
This conference will exercise its right to elect its own executive; I will exercise -
Brave words - my right to repudiate such men as 1 believe disloyal to the ALP, disruptive of its electoral prospects and destructive of all that the ALP stands for.
The Leader of the Opposition, 34 months ago, was laying it on the line, it is quite implicit in what he said then that if he found any member of the Australian Labor Party infringing Party policy as enshrined in the platform of the Party - the published platform with the leader’s photograph on the cover - he would be the first to move to have disciplinary action taken. A step that is open to any member of the Labor Party, and particularly, of course, the parliamentary leader, when such a state of affairs is found to exist is to make a complaint to the Federal Executive. We all recall that only last year he received a bit of th.it medicine himself, so he would know well about it. What has he done? He is now confronted with a situation in which it is established beyond any dispute - because there is no argument about this on the other side of the chamber in this debate - that members of his own Party, and ruling officials in Victoria, have broken basic
Party rules by co-operating with the Communist Party and members of the Communist Party in appending their signatures to this petition.
The ALP policy, if it is worth the paper it is written on - and, of course, most people in Australia are coming to believe that it is not, because what is on paper is never carried out in practice - means this: 1 quote from a document, the cover of which is” embellished with a photograph of the Leader of the Opposition:
No Labor Party branch or member can cooperate with the Communist Party.
Well, what else is this petition than plain co-operation by members of the Labor Party with the Communist Party? Does any member on the other side of the chamber who is yet to speak in this debate deny for one moment that the Victorian petition, sent under cover of Mr Malone’s letter to the Governor of Hong Kong, was inspired by the Communist Party itself? I invite the attention of the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) to this question. He may deal with it, and I hope he does. The great oportunity that the Leader of the Opposition has missed is that he has declined, in the attitude he has manifested today, to take any step towards ensuring that these people - the members of the ALP who have signed this petition - be disciplined. It may be - and we must not prejudge this - that they have a perfectly good defence. They may have a defence based on inadvertence, although one would have to be pretty naive to think they would all succeed, if tried before the tribunals of their Party, in making good such a defence. But one would have thought that if the brave words that the Leader of the Opposition spoke in Melbourne at the Victorian conference in June meant anything, they meant that he would, when confronted with a situation such as his Party is confronted with here today in relation to this petition, take steps towards initiating some disciplinary action. The fact that he has not done so is indicative of the truth that the Leader of the Opposition is the prisoner of the left wing of his Party.
The country may think that it is a very significant thing in this debate, which centres around the action of six members of the Victorian Central Executive of the ALP in appending their names with those of known Communists to this petition, that not one member of the Opposition from Victoria has risen to his feet and uttered a word. This is a significant thing, although perhaps, knowing what we do about the workings of the Labor Party, it is not altogether a surprising thing. I suggest to the House that the reason why we have not heard from people like the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) is that he would not be able to get to his feet without offending, if he were to follow his Leader, the members of the Executive who are responsible for his selection; or, if he were not to follow his Leader, he could not avoid creating an appearance of even greater disunity in the ranks of the parliamentary wing of the Australian Labor Party.
I was most intrigued to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition speak in rather pontifical tones today of his Party as a responsible party and a consensus party. The claim that it is a responsible party, is a claim that any member of Parliament is entitled to make in his own party’s interests; but let it not be forgotten that if such a claim be made it entitles those on the other side of the chamber - in this case the Government - to examine and criticise the claim. Is a political party, occupying the Opposition benches and having a clearly stated paper policy about collaboration with Communism, responsible when, if it be confronted, as it is confronted today, by a motion deploring the sort of collaboration that has taken place on this occasion between Communists and members of the Australian Labor Party, goes to water and declines, though its leaders, to initiate any disciplinary action against the recalcitrant members who break or infringe party policies? I think it can be fairly said that the Leader of the Opposition has demonstrated today that he is a latter day Pontius Pilate. He has washed his hands of this problem. He has run away from it, despite his brave words on previous occasions. The only difference, perhaps, between Pontius Pilate and the Leader of the Opposition is that Pontius Pilate washed his hands of the blood of an innocent man. The Leader of the Opposition, one may be pardoned for thinking, has washed his hands of the problem of dealing with guilty men - men why by their signatures to this petition have demonstrated, and demonstrated full well, their guilt of a most serious infringement of the clearly written policy of their Party.
Let us examine the other claim made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that his Party is a consensus party. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition reminds me in this respect of Humpty Dumpty, because Humpty Dumpty said to Alice:
When t use a word …. it means just what
I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.
Consensus’ has a very strange meaning, quite apart from its dictionary meaning, if the claim of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is to be examined. Is it an indication of ‘consensus’ for the Leader of the Opposition to get up and rather faintly, timidly and ineffectively criticise the action of these members of the Victorian Executive in signing the petition while saying, at the same time: ‘We are going to vote against this motion.’? Is it an indication of consensus that when the Leader of the Opposion does this on the one hand the silent - the uniquely silent - member for Wills on the other hand publishes forth to the world, or to such few members of the world who listen to the Party hour on radio station 3KZ Victoria, that he regards the members of his Party who signed this petition as having performed a great public service? I drew this matter to the attention of the House the other night and the honourable member for Wills said that was what he did say. He now nods his approval and I gather from the expression that is now upon his face that he still maintains that these members of the Victorian Executive - his lords and masters - have done a fine public service in joining with Communists in a deplorable manifesto designed to aid people who are trying to undermine, by open rebellion, law and order in a possession of the Queen. This is the great consensus in the Australian Labor Party on the one band, faint criticism, timid, shy, tentative and quite at odds with the brave words of a few months ago from the Leader of the Opposition, and, on the other hand outright support from the member for Wills, who of course, is bound and tied to the Victorian Central Executive. Is this consensus; is this responsibility? Is it responsible-
– I will deal with the honourable member later.
– I am glad to hear that the honourable member will make an attempt. I am very glad to hear him say that, because it would be nothing short of shameful if in this debate this man. the honourable member for Wills, the creature of the Victorian Central Executive, were not allowed to speak from his obviously well prepared though fallacious brief. 1 lor one will be very glad to hear from him.
This is the Party of consensus, so the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said. I would prefer to say that it is the Party of rank cowardice; that it has demonstrated that it is a cowardly party.
– I rise to order. I ask for the withdrawal of the statement that this is the Party of rank cowardice. The term is offensive to me personally and to my Party collectively.
– Order! Only the other night I gave a ruling in relation to statements similar to the one to which objection has been taken. I said that remarks, however undesirable they may be, are nol unparliamentary unless they can be shown to refer to an individual member, a particular group of members or to all members of a parliamentary party who are identifiable. The terms used in debate are a matter for each honourable member but 1 believe that statements such as the one now under discussion are not in the best interests of this Parliament.
– I respect your ruling. Mr Speaker, as anybody in this House should.
– When there is-
– I am glad that 1 have got under the honourable- member’s skin. The truth always hurts. The shoe is pinching. I respect your ruling, Sir, that I should not refer to cowardice. I content myself with saying that the Labor Party has demonstrated today that it has not the courage–
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am sure that if the mentors and sponsors of the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) have been listening to him today they will withdraw and terminate for all time bis political retainer. The ‘Daily Telegraph’ is, of course, his lord and master. He has endeavoured to lash himself into a synthetic frenzy over the alleged wrongs and shortcomings of the Australian Labor Party. We in the Australian Labor Party are always well able to look after ourselves. We certainly do not need the doubtful assistance of the honourable member for Parkes. lt is appropriate that 1 should follow in this debate the honourable member for Parkes, because I have here in the sere and yellow leaf a copy of the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of Friday, 7th December 1906 and if for the word ‘Socialism* wherever appearing we read the word ‘Communism’ we see that what was said back in 1906 has been said in this House today. Let me read an article in that edition and I will read the word Communist’ or ‘Communism’ for the words Socialist’ and ‘Socialism’ wherever appearing. The headlines are: ‘War on Communism. Features of the Struggle’. This was on the eve of another House of Representatives election. The article reads:
Lest you forget.
That the issue is Communism or antiCommunism.
That the issue cannot be ignored.
That there should be no temporising wilh minor issues.
That the only safe way to vote is for selected anti-Communist candidates.
That every elector who casts a vote for the caucus candidate - the Labor-Communist - or the lime-serving Ministerial Communist, or the votesplitting anti-Communist, signs a warrant for the Labor Party to enter upon the scheme of spoliation. . . .
That the motto of the responsible patriotic elector should be: ‘Beware of the thin edge of the Communistic wedge’.
So it is today. You cannot teach old dogs new tricks. The Liberal leopard never changes its spots. But if you want the answer you will find it in an editorial in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 2nd October this year under the headline ‘Capricornia’s sign’. It reads:
Mr McMahon’s role should make the Prime Minister wonder what is to be gained by rattling the Communist can. It can be hoped that Capricornia will convince Mr Holt that it is time for the Government to stop trying to capitalise on the weaknesses of the Opposition by criticising Mr Whitlam and by allegations about Labor’s Communist associations.
The lust seven months have demonstrated that the Leader of the Opposition is not to be stopped by personal attacks;
This is of the utmost importance: and the electorate is showing signs of being bored, if not exhausted, with noises about Communism. . . The Prime Minister and Mr McEwen . . . must see that the Government regains the initiative with policies that will breathe fresh life into tha coalition.
A member of the celebrated Adams family in the United States - I think it gave several Presidents to that country - once said that politics was the systematic organisation of hatreds. This is precisely the motive behind the motion that has been moved today - the systematic organisation of hatreds, in a vain, foolish and stupid hope of attaching some vicarious responsibility to the Australian Labor Party for the shortcomings and indiscretions of a few of its members.
This motion is a crowning example of government by smear and sneer, of rampant McCarthyism and the alarm of the Government at the decline in its political fortunes and above all at the catastrophic slide in the prestige of its Prime Minister. The National Parliament is being prostituted and perverted. We are speaking in a chamber which is becoming notorious for blatant character assassination, for intemperate and intolerant outbursts, not by a frenetic fringe, as was often the case in the past, but with malice aforethought on this occasion by an allegedly responsible and democratic Government. When the Government is prepared to accept the counsels of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and his associates; when a responsible Minister willingly becomes the vehicle of their malevolence and intolerance, parliamentary democracy in this country has fallen to its lowest ebb.
Why is the honourable member for Mackellar not speaking in this debate? Why are his puppets in action in his place? The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) has given the answer: They could not allow the honourable member for Mackellar to speak because not only has he attacked his Government on the matter of trade with China but also he has openly advocated inflicting a nuclear holocaust on that country. Who can touch pitch and remain undenied? Who can condone the tactics of this Government and not merit the collective contempt of all fair minded and clear thinking Australians? If this Goverment is to be judged by this motion, it is vile, unclean and leprous. The political techniques of guilt by association-
– I rise to order. The words vile and unclean, as applied to this Government, are objectionable to me.
– Order! There is no substance in the point raised by the honourable member.
– I was referring to the Government collectively in the terms of Mr Speaker’s ruling. The techniques of guilt by association are daily becoming more unacceptable to the Australian people as a substitute for sane planning and administration. Those who seek to defeat and weaken Australia; those who seek to brand as traitors any man who dares to oppose them or to differ from their point of view are themselves Australia’s greatest enemies. We are today facing an economic Singapore. We need to gird our loins and face the future and all its problems. The best that this Government can offer is dissension, division, aspersions and calumniation. Too many years have passed and too many developmental opportunities have been lost in barren and. bitter acrimony, promoted and fanned by this inept, incompetent, arrogant Government for it to be any longer acceptable to the Australian people. Government supporters well know this. In Capricornia, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) has said, policies triumphed over personalities and reason over ranting. Labor has always hit hard. It has fought fairly and it has shunned the techniques of deception and denigration. Under its new leadership it already has wholly won the respect and confidence of the people who are turning to it for a lead in facing the future and its problems. There is decency and dignity in Labor which this Government has always hated and feared. Hence the baring of its fangs on this occasion. We have contempt for the Government, we have contempt for this motion and we have contempt for the motives behind it. The motion is political humbug, a pious fraud. It reeks of a kind of hypocrisy. It is a travesty of parliamentary procedure. It is provocative. It is false. It is vicious, lt is an insult to the collective intelligence of the Australian electors.
With the certainty of a celestial body in fixed orbit, one can anticipate a spate of blatant propaganda coinciding with the advent of a Federal election. We treat with contempt and scorn diversionary tactics of this nature designed to distract the attention of the electors from the weakness, the feuding, the incompetence and the worthlessness of the present coalition Government. When will the Government learn the lessons of Capricornia? When will it learn the futility of synthetic allegations about Labor’s supposed Communist associations. The electorate is showing signs of being bored. Let us take the position today of this Government which prates so much about democracy. What is happening? I quote from a Press release of the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) in which he states with considerable pride that he is going on a mission sponsored by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. He states that he is to arrive in Johannesburg on 29th September, which has now passed. In Johannesburg he would meet Dr Wylie Gibbs, the honourable member for Bowman, and together they plan to tour South Africa. The Press release continues:
We will be, when we come back from Nairobi, guests of the Kenyan Government and then we will spend at least ‘2 days in Rhodesia as guests of Ian Smith’s Government.
– Two days as guests of Ian Smith’s Government. Now let us hear a little bit about Fascism. Let us hear about the totalitarian Government and all that it stands for. What will those honourable members opposite say to this Government in Rhodesia which is sitting on a tinder box. One spark and up goes South Africa in the greatest racial holocaust. What is the Government’s attitude to that? Is it proud of these people? If honourable members want guilt by association let them say how many among them support the Government of Rhodesia and its activities. Will any honourable member opposite stand up and say that he supports the Government of Rhodesia which at present, although still nominally at least a member of the British
Commonwealth, is in open dispute with it? What is the answer to that? There is none, of course.
The way out totalitarian group responsible for these two men has already caused many misgivings within the Party and as soon as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) had spoken today one could see the glumness that spread over the ranks of the Government. They were discomforted. They realised that they had backed a loser and that, worse than that, instead of smearing the Opposition they had besmirched themselves. The diatribes of the honourable member for Mackellar always carry their own answer and refutation. He is a victim of what could correctly be called a Communist political syndrome. We can always hear from him and those associated with him, including the honourable member for Parkes, hymns of hate, a devil’s litany. They are dedicated fanatics. They are possessed and obsessed. As the Leader of the Opposition has rightly said, the honourable member for Mackellar bears one of the most honoured names in Australia and he stands in his own light, but by his behaviour when he is attacking the Labor Party we can see within him the sublimation of his own political frustrations and we see the totalitarian pack in full cry behind him.
Who came into the debate today to sponsor this motion? Did we see leading Ministers of the Government? Not by any means. We saw the second eleven only and the fall guy, of course, was the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth). These are the gentlemen who now have to throw stones. The Minister for Shipping and Transport is, of course, the burnt offering to the Country Party. No doubt he is expendable. But let us take the electoral position of the Government today. It was returned to office not on a policy but on an emotional issue and the people of Australia are now weary of it. The Menzies mystique was effective in 1966. It did not all rub off, but no Prime Minister has ever tumbled so disastrously in the public esteem as the present Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). No Prime Minister has been so ineffective, so incompetent and so futile since federation. Let us consider the abysmal failure of his overseas trip. Let us consider the mutterings that are going on within the ranks of the Government today. Honourable members opposite know that they are stuck with him.
The former Prime Minister at least had front. He could make things stick. He had charisma, he had mystique, and he could make the most outrageous charges stick. He could make nothing sound like something with all the utmost gravity and transparent sincerity. He was a consummate exponent of political tactics. But the present Prime Minister is a political tyro and the Government knows it. Even a political tyro could identify his political vacuity. He is the political albatross around their necks with which they are to face the electors of Australia at the next Senate election. We will expose the Government and* through the length and breadth of Australia we will flog it, we will flog its supporters and we will flog him. It is correct, of course, that the former Prime Minister surrounded himself with a firebreak of mediocrity, and what a fireman he left behind in charge of Australia. The present Prime Minister cannot master the technique of the big lie, a lie of such magnitude that it will defy detection.
The former Prime Minister was a supremely skilful politician whose special device was to pose as a statesman. He could kick the red can effectively, but that technique is outmoded today and the Government must face up to reality. Much has been said about trade with China. The Government having been caught red handed in this political duplicity, in these political double standards of morality, has attempted to achieve the best of both worlds. It has neither an honest foreign policy nor a sensible trade policy. Let us consider the trade in steel alone. Who would suggest that that, is not a strategic material. In the last financial year $4.1 m worth of steel was sold to China. Tinplate and mild steel can certainly be put to warlike uses. We have exported wheat which will feed the troops and wool which will clothe them. These are just as strategic as weapons or ammunition. On the question of wheat, since 1960 China has purchased 600 million bushels of wheat from Australia and this has averaged in price between Se and 10c below the current world market price. If we take an average of 10c per bushel and we add to that the subsidy which is paid by the Australian taxpayer, we see that there has been a subvention from the taxpayers of this country of no less than $140m.
– The honourable member knows that that is completely wrong.
– It is not wrong. If the honourable member looks at the ‘Financial Review’ of about 4 weeks ago he will see an article by Mr Donath. It was this article which the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) had to evade today in his reply to the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb). In relation to the wheat industry the Government has no answer to our criticism and it is extremely embarrassed. In relation to the wool industry precisely the same situation arises. What is the Government’s answer? It comes along with this humbug today. It has a pack of smearers and sneerers attempting to traduce, calumniate and vilify the Labor Party. We reject this motion. We believe that it is villainous and that it is the product of the minds of men who cannot face up to realities. The Government is bankrupt of ideas, bankrupt of policy, and it will go into political oblivion unwept, unhonoured and unsung.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented here today. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), and I think the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), said that I had signed a peace and disarmament organisation petition on election day last year. The idea was also floated in the Press some 2 or 3 months ago. I do not know how this happened because the story is utter nonsense. The petition that I signed on that occasion was prepared by a resident of the Lismore district who is well known as being a genuine person who is honest in his intentions. The petition, which was sponsored by this person on his own initiative, is worded:
We the citizens mothers and fathers of this beautiful city of Lismore NSW Australia having the welfare of and being responsible for the infants and children of this fair city, call upon the peoples of the whole world to lay down their arms and stop fighting.
The petition is then followed by a very nice piece of poetry. It is headed ‘A Christmas box for 1966’ and is as follows:
There may be a few surprises for some little girls and boys
When Santa comes on Christmas night, with his big bag of toys
He may linger for a moment in your presence just a while
To gaze upon the beauty and the sweetness of your smile.
Perhaps He’ll paint a picture most precious in his life
Of a cosy little cottage with his sweetheart as his wife
And somewhere in the future this picture he shall carve
In a world of peace and freedom, and where people shall not starve.
Just a cosy little cottage with flowers so profuse Green lawns and pretty gardens his pleasures to infuse
His home may be the humblest spot in all this southern land
But with you to share its comforts his picture shall be grand.
I don’t think old Santa selfish, nor is he asking much
A world that’s free from foolish wars, atomic bombs and such
A world of peace end freedom is his simple heart’s request
Then he’ll finalise the picture most treasured in his breast.
And about old Santa’s sweetheart, well, believe me girls and boys
She’s the sweetest little sweetheart in his big bag of toys.
She is so very fair of face, the sweetest ever seen,
And I’m sure she is more beautiful, than any fairy queen.
It is signed ‘The Gardener’. I might say that this gentleman looks after the gardens of the Church of England Cathedral in Lismore. He is well known and well liked, and most people who knew him signed his petition. To insinuate that I associated myself in any way with the sort of petition that is being debated here today appals and disgusts me.
– I rise to support the motion presented by the Government. I am glad to know that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), and I would say all members on this side of the House, also support it. But I am sorry to have heard during the course of the debate that the Opposition will not vote for the motion. I shall not belabour this point becauseI do not want to stir up personal feelings in this House, but I want to say a few things which I believe are pertinent, to this debate. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) said that this matter was initiated in this House. That is true because I raised the matter. But when I raised it by way of a question to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) I had no knowledge whatsoever that a petition had been sent to China and I am sure that everybody in this House was of the same mind. I was concerned because some friends of mine who had returned from Hong Kong said to me: Can’t you do something about these broadcasts that are being beamed to us continuously from Peking?’
Just previous to that two Australian ships’ officers had been taken off their ship in Shanghai because one of them - the chief officer on the ship - had had a Mao sign painted out. The chief officer spent a fortnight in Shanghai and then he was sent to Hong Kong to rejoin the ship. Although he was an Australian he was serving on a British ship and I thought that he would therefore come under the laws of Britain. However, I asked the Minister for External Affairs whether anything could be done to help this young man. The Minister said that nothing could be done because the man was sailing on a British ship and under British law. That is how I came to be interested in the matter. The Minister for External Affairs sent a telegram to Hong Kong and a week later in King’s Hall he said to me: ‘If you would like to ask me a question, I will be able to give you some very interesting information that I have received*. I asked him a question in this House. It was then that we learned that a petition had been sent.
As I said, I am sure that no-one in this House would go along with one word in that petition. That being so, all honourable members should vote for the motion. If the Opposition wanted to kill this debate as soon as it started the Leader of the Opposition should have stood up and said: ‘We will not have a bar of this petition’ and left it at that. The matter would then have been left in the lap of the Government. But instead of that we have had speaker after speaker, some being given extensions of time, and the matter has been debated fully. Everything that has been said is now recorded. The fact is that the Victorian petition was originated by a well known Communist in Melbourne - a Mr Paddy Malone - who put his name on the letter and took it around the Trades Hall. It would be no use for a Labor man saying that he did not know Paddy Malone because he is well known in the Party.
I want to read the policy of the Party because when I vote for the motion I will be voting for Labor Party policy. The Party’s policy towards Communism is stated in its Platform, Constitution and Rules at page 48. This was laid down in 1948 and confirmed at the Conference. The section is headed ‘Repudiation of Communist Party (Adopted at 1948 Conference)’ and it states:
Conference reaffirms its repudiation of the methods and principles of the Communist Party and the decisions of previous Conferences that between the Communist Party and the Labor Party there is such basic hostility and differences that no Communist can be a member of the Labor Party. No Communist auxiliary or subsidiary can be associated with the Labor Party in any activity . . .
I emphasise the words ‘in any activity’ -
The petitions we are now discussing were not originated by the Labor Party; they were originated by the Communist Party. The policy continues:
Conference further declares that the policy and the actions of the Communist Party demonstrate that the Party’s methods and objects aim at the destruction of the democratic way of life of the Australian people and the establishment in its place of a totalitarian form of government which would destroy our existing democratic institutions and the personal liberty of the Australian people. We therefore declare that the ALP, through its branches, affiliations and members, must carry on an increasing campaign directed at destroying the influence of the Communist Party wherever such exists throughout Australia.
When I vote on the motion before the House, Mr Speaker, I shall be doing my little bit to destroy the Communist Party, and I hope that it will be destroyed. The policy statement continues:
We affirm that the Labor movement offers the most effective and safest methods of preserving democratic liberties, of protecting and improving workers’ living standards, and we -
Congratulate those sections of the Labor movement who are carrying on a persistent and determined campaign against Communist influence in their respective organisations.
In order that the menace of the Communist Party might be understood by all, we recommend to the Executive that it prepare and issue a report on the working and policies of the Communist Party in Australia.
Those are the rules of the Australian Labor Party relating to repudiation of the Communist Party, Mr Speaker, and 1 propose to vote in accordance with them.
Now I want to say something about the petitions and about the cunning that is evident in relation to them. The Melbourne petition was originated by Mr P. Malone, who is Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Builders Labourers Federation. The Sydney petition originated with what is known as the Milk and Ice Carters and Dairymen’s Employees Union of New South Wales. I do not know anyone associated with that Union. There are two big organisations in corresponding fields in Hong Kong. These are the building workers union and an organisation known as the Hong Kong Dairy Farm. The latter is an institution about the size of the Myer Emporium Ltd and its branches throughout Australia. I know the conditions in Hong Kong very well. I do not want to emphasise especially that I have added knowledge, but both my wife and I worked in Hong Kong for some time. My wife worked as a typist in a shipping office and I served in a company known as the Grey Funnel Line. I was in and out of the place a lot and I know a good deal about conditions there. Anybody in Hong Kong who hears the Hong Kong Dairy Farm mentioned knows that it is a large organisation that employs many people. Everybody there knows, too, that the building workers union in Hong Kong also is a large organisation that employs many people. So the petitions were well thought out.
The distressing feature, however, ls the number of people who, as members of the Australian Labor Party, put their names beneath those of members and secretaries of Communist unions. It is of no use for those members of the Labor Party to say that when they saw a list containing the names of people such as that and added their own names they were carrying out the rules of the Labor Party. So there is a case for the Labor Party to answer, Mr Speaker. Every member of the Party who signed the petitions should be dealt with by the appropriate Executive of the Party. I recall that at the declaration of the poll for the Senate election before the last one, Senator Kennelly said: ‘Surely the time has arrived when we should now speak to the Australian Democratic Labor Party and find out what is wrong between us*. He did not say that the Labor Party and the Democratic Labor Party should get together. He merely said, in effect: ‘Let us talk about it’. But what happened to him? He was taken before the Federal Executive of the Labor Party and censured. Members of the Labor Party who in this business have co-operated with Communists and breached the rules of the Party should be disciplined by it. I do not like saying this about Dr Everingham, who has yet to take his place here, but I feel compelled to say that be had no right to correspond with the management of a Communist magazine. The rules of the Labor Party, as set out in the passage that I read, forbade him to do so. I hope that something will be done about him.
Men who are now described as former revered leaders of the Australian Labor Party have been well to the fore in condemnation of the Communists and Communism. On 7th April 1948, in this House, Mr Chifley said:
The Australian Labor Party is entirely opposed to the principles of Communism, including its economic theories for the management of a country, and its attitude towards religion. 1 speak for the Government as well as for myself when I say that we completely abhor the principles of Communism for the attainment of the Party’s objectives. However, I shall never support any policy which is designed to deprive minorities of the right of expression unless - I qualify that statement - those expressions are subversive, seditious or in some way detrimental to the safety of the country.
A number of speeches in terms like those were made by leaders of the Labor Party. I have not time to go through them now. The late Dr Evatt was a leader of the Labor Party and a man for whom I had the greatest respect. I may say also that I have the greatest respect for the present Leader of the Labor Party, and I do not hesitate to say that publicly. I know that he is a man of courage, no matter what anybody else thinks. It took a lot of courage for him to stand before the Victorian ALP State Conference and address it as he did. Everybody knows that the people who signed the petitions do not give a damn for the Leader of the Labor Party or anybody else in it. I shall not waste my time going through speeches and pointing out that on such and such a date somebody said this or that and that on such and such a date the Leader of the Opposition had to say this, that or another thing. Dr Evatt, when he was Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party, published a pamphlet entitled ‘Hands Off the Nation’s Defences’. It begins with a resolution by the Federal Executive of the Party, in these terms:
The Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party congratulates the Prime Minister and Dr Evatt on the firm stand taken by the Government against the proposed black ban on the rocket range project. It is apparent that the propaganda recently issued by the Communist Party in connection with this undertaking is for the sole purpose of defeating the Australian defence policy in the interest of a foreign power.
What is the purpose of the petitions that have been sent out of this country to a foreign power? Is it not to give aid and comfort to that foreign power and to bring discomfort to the Labor movement? Of course it is. That is the very reason why they were sent out of the country. It is interesting, Mr Speaker, to examine the petition that originated in Victoria. It was signed by Mr B. Nolan of the Seamen’s Union of Australia, who is a member of the Executive of the Victorian Branch of the ALP. Immediately underneath his name is the signature of the Assistant Secretary of the Seamen’s Union, who is a prominent member of the Communist Party of Australia. The names of a number of members of the Australian Railways Union appear. They include that of W. H. O’Brien, who is a member of the Labor Party and who was a member of its Victorian Executive and was expelled from the Party when found guilty of being on a unity ticket. Another is that of E. Bone, a member of the ALP. Another is the name of J. Healy, a member of the Victorian Executive of the Labor Party. Then there is the name of L. Loye, a member of the Communist Party. His name is followed by that of A. E. Leno, who also is a member of the Communist Party. It is of no use for members of the Labor Party who signed this petition to say that they did not know, when they saw the names of Communists, that those persons were Communists. The list also contains the names of Mr A. E. Bull, a Communist, who is secretary of the Australian Waterside Workers Federation; Mr E. McCormick, an Australian Labor Party member of the Central Executive; Mr H. Rourke, an Australian Labor Party member; Mr G. Swayne, a member of the Communist Party; and Mr Hillier, a member of the Communist Party. I am giving these names to put them on the record and to show that these members and leaders of trade unions are not fools. They are people who can go before the Arbitration Court and argue the point against skilled QCs and people of this calibre to get conditions for workers. They do this very satisfactorily. Are we to believe that the people who signed this form did not know what they were signing? Of course we do not. It was a deliberate attempt to embarrass members on this side of the House and everyone in his heart knows it.
Some other notable names are on the list. It includes Mr T. J. Doyle who is also a member of the executive. This is the man who is waiting, at the invitation of the Chinese transport workers, to go to Hong Kong. Mr Clarrie O’Shea arranged this trip. He is a prominent member of the Communist Party in Victoria. He said he would stand down so that a member of the Labor Party could go. So correspondence is coming from China to the Communist Party in Australia arranging for a member of the Victorian Central Executive to go to China at the expense of the Chinese transport workers union. This petition was also signed by Mr Roy Cameron. How he came to sign it I do not know. I was very surprised to see his name on the petition. He is the secretary of the Miscellaneous Workers Union and a member of the Executive of the Australian Labor Party. Members of this House not long ago received from the Communist Party of Australia a report of the proceedings of their 21st congress. I received a copy. Contained in the report is the statement:
Independent action for peace, such as the splendid stand taken by the members of the Seamens Union in refusing to man the ‘Boonaroo’ and the Jeparit’ are far too few.
This was stated at the Communist Party’s convention which was held iri June of this year. However, one of those men who went against the Australian Labor Party policy is a member of the Victorian Executive. He went against the policy of the Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. In voting in this House are we to applaud what he did? The statement continued:
There is room for more action by unionists to emphasise the opposition of the trade union movement to the Government’s policy in Vietnam. Not all action can be of the same nature as that undertaken by the seamen, but action appropriate to circumstances of the particular union or industry would immeasurably strengthen the peace movement in our country. Action such as those taken by the seamen should be given wider support.
Surely we are not going to allow our vote on this matter to be influenced by the fact that these people are in the Labor Party and on the Executive? Surely we do not applaud this? I do not. Mr Dixon who also spoke at this Communist congress said:
At the centre of the struggle for unity of the working class and for the co-operation with democratic, anti-war and radical movements are the relations between the Communist Party and the Labor Party, between the militant and the reformist workers.
These are some of the views-
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Batman who has just sat down is a living example in this House of the double standard which the Labor Party applies. Anyone who violates the Party rules against the interests of the Communists is dealt with with the utmost severity. Anyone who violates the Party rules in the interests of the Communists is condoned and excused and passed over. This double standard is characteristic of the whole Labor Party. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and other speakers have devoted a great deal of their remarks to a personal attack on myself. 1 could be excused, 1 think, for saying one or two personal things in reply.
In my conduct in this House I have never engaged in any smear campaign. The facts that I have presented have been politically relevant. I think the remarks of the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) earlier in this debate were very much to the point. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that I did not say these things outside the House. How untrue can anyone get? He should know that time and time again. after being challenged in the House. I have gone outside and said things publicly. The Leader of the Opposition may have said one thing which was true: That my lack of political preferment was perhaps due to the fact that I had followed this Communist issue. I make no apology for that. Nor am I sorry for it or the consequences of it because this is the great political issue of our time. It takes on a new significance and dimension at the moment because of the operations of the Communist Party in Australia and elsewhere. The Communist Party has now decided that the time has come to abandon its old facade of militancy and has decided to work inside the Labour Party. We are seeing today the most dangerous development in Australian politics - a possible takeover of the Australian Labor Party by the Communist Party.
– The honourable member is mad.
-The honourable member for Wilmot will withdraw that remark.
– Why should I?
-The honourable member will withdraw that remark and apologise.
– I will withdraw it.
-The honourable member will withdraw the remark and apologise.
– I withdraw the remark and apologise.
– The Labor Party is being infected by the Communist Party. The Communist Idea is to use the Labor Party machine without the voters knowing that they are doing so. The degree to which they have succeeded is unfortunately shown by these petitions which are at present before the House. The last congress of the Communist Party was devoted to the theme, Towards a coalition of the left’ This was the theme of their conference last June. Summing up that conference the President, Mr Dixon, said:
In the past the Communist Party made, a number of moves to reach agreement with tn« ALP, which were not successful. In the 1920s and again in the 1940s we sought affiliation with the Labor Party, and on other occasions united front agreements. It logically follows from the coalition idea that at one stage or another we will again seek agreement with the Labor Party for common action, and in preparation for this we must seek out and work with Labor Party members at all levels, develop unity in action for common demands with Labor members and supporters, discuss the programme of demands and unity, and develop further the mass work of the Party.
This is a statement of Communist tactics which are not peculiar to Australia but which are being developed on a world scale at the moment. In these petitions and in the conduct of the Labor Party we see evidence of the degree of success which has met these tactics. The Australian Labor Party is already infected with Communism; the seeds of treason are in its Executive. Nothing proves this more clearly than the conduct of that Party in this debate in the House. Opposition members have tried to run away from the issue, to obscure it, nol to speak of the petitions, to say nothing of the guilt of the people who signed them, to say nothing about any reprimand, because those from Victoria who owe their selection as candidates and their seats in this Parliament to the people who signed this petition - this Communist-front petition - are frightened to say anything against their real masters. The fact that this is so is a terrible fact in Australian political life today.
Already we have this Party, the official Opposition, confessing by its cowardice in this House today that it has already fallen very largely under the influence of the Communist Party. Here in these petitions we have the open signatures of, 1 think, 25% of the Victorian Executive of the Labor Party in open co-operation with the Communist Party in a matter that is virtually Communist treason. That is what this petition is. Some may say: ‘We signed this in ignorance’. Well, if they signed it in ignorance they have had a month to show some sign of penitence. If they were decent people and not potential traitors they would have come out and said: ‘We signed this petition. We know the harm it may have done and we know the way in which it could have been used. We are sorry we did it and we want’ to try to undo the harm we have done.’ But there is not one word of that, not one published piece of pressure brought on them by this vaunted Leader of the Opposition who, it is said, will cleanse the Party of Communism. This is the man the Communists will use as their front because, although not Communist himself, he is a weak and pliable man. This is the man who, when he was contesting the leadership of the Party, went around trying to get votes and saying: In matters of foreign policy, I am to the left of Mr Calwell and I fend to agree with Dr Cairns.’ These were his words. He said this when he was trying to get elected to the position of Leader of the Opposition. This is the man who will do anything for power and office. He is the kind of pliable man who is most suited to the Communist design. Nobody in Australia will vote for a party that he knows is Communist infected.
– What about the result in Capricornia?
– People can be brought to vote for that Party only if they can be persuaded of the lie, as they were in Capricornia, that there is no Communist infection in the Party, if by the conduct we have seen exhibited in the debate today by members of the Party they can be persuaded that this is merely a smear.
Do honourable members opposite for one moment deny the truth of these signatures? Do they try to defend the terms of the petition? No. What they say is that this is just a smear. Here is the fact of political life - the most important fact of political life in Australia. It is a fact that has perhaps cost me a great deal personally for my efforts to speak about it. I am one of the people who had to give up something because I spoke about it. But it is the truth, and it is the most important political truth in Australia today. If the Leader of the Opposition likes to taunt me with the fact that I have not gained political preferment because I have said so much about this issue, he may have the satisfaction of the taunt. I am not unhappy at the bargain, because it is essential to keep out of political government in Australia a party that is so deeply infected with Communism as the Australian Labor Party is. Its condemnation of the motion has shown this. In this debate, not one decent word of condemnation has been said of the Labor people who went on to this unity ticket and signed with the Communists. There has been not one heavy word of condemnation. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) can be thrown out of the Party, but those who do one hundred times worse than he did will get approval, if only it is on the Communist side and not on the anti-Communist side.
Not one member of the Victorian parliamentary party was game to get up and say that the members of the Victorian Executive who signed this petition did so either in ignorance or in malice that comes near to treason. Let us have a look at the terms of the petition. It quotes the letter that was sent on 15th May by the Chinese Communist Government to the British Government. The petition is dated in August. The industrial dispute started in May and finished on 23rd May. Yet the Communists were still using this in August. There is no need for me to do more than refer to the speech of Mrs Judith Hart, a Minister in the British Labour Government, who, in the House of Commons, on 1st June set out the facts, and the following debates that took place when the Hong Kong affair erupted into border violence sponsored by the Chinese Communists. The Labour Government in Great Britain set down the facts. Does the Labor Party here repudiate them?
Here are people who get up and talk about the conditions in Hong Kong in great self-righteousness. Maybe the conditions in Hong Kong are not the conditions that we would want here. But we must remember that the refugee emigration is not from Hong Kong to Red China but from Red China to Hong Kong. The Chinese know where the better conditions are. Hong Kong has a tremendous over-population problem because the refugees are pouring in from Red China. But where are the Peking ducks of this House today? They are not denouncing the industrial conditions in Red China from which people flee. They are denouncing the industrial conditions in Hong Kong to which the Chinese flee. How illogical can the Labor Party get with its double standards?
It has been said that this is an industrial dispute. As I have said, the industrial dispute was a minor affair and finished on 23rd May, a fortnight or 3 weeks after it started. The political aspect continued. If honourable members want to know how much the Red Chinese were implicated in this, we can take their own statements. I read from the note that they sent on 15th May. I want honourable members to understand the extravagance of this violent language that was used by the Chinese Communists. They said:
The sanguinary atrocities wholly perpetrated by the British authorities in Hong Kong show that they mortally fear and bitterly hate China’s great proletarian culture revolution. This great revolutionary movement which is without parallel in history, has dealt a telling blow to imperialism, modem revisionism and world reaction, completely shattered their dream of counterrevolutionary capitalist restoration in China and greatly encouraged and impelled the liberation struggles of the oppressed peoples and oppressed nations of the whole world.
In particular, this great revolutionary movement has caused our Chinese compatriots in Hong Kong to love still more ardently the thought of Mao Tse-tung, and they are vigorously unfolding the movement of creative study and application of Chairman Mao’s works.
Armed with the ever-victorious thought of Mao Tse-tung, the masses of our patriotic compatriots are more militant than ever in fighting imperialism.
Some honourable members opposite “say that it is not political unrest. They say that it is an industrial matter. This is typical, of course, of the Communists who seize on a small industrial matter, magnify it out of all proportion and then use it in order to carry out their revolutionary and violent designs.
There was a campaign of murder. There was an incursion across the border by the Red Chinese. This happened before these famous petitions were circulated. These famous petitions were circulated in order to cover this up and in order to mislead the people. I wonder whether the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) is perhaps so happy about what he has been saying recently. I wonder whether he is happy to have been used - and I put it at the best - as a Communist stooge? This is the best that I can say about it, and in deference to the forms of the House, I shall say no more.
I return to where I started. This is the most important political matter before our country and before all countries. From last June there is evidence that in Sydney there is a campaign by the Communist Party to go underground again to infect and infest the Labor Party and to use the Labor Party as the host body in order to control the Government of Australia. Perhaps this sounds fantastic, but it is not fantastic in view of what has happened in this House today. The fact that the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and their cohorts have run away from this, the fact that they are frightened to face up to this unity ticket and the way in which they are now making excuses and engaging in diversionary tactics shows the extent to which already they fear the Communists and the Communist sympathisers in their movement and on their Executive. It shows the extent to which they are ready to undertake a course of action on this vote which is, by its very nature, wrongful - and they know it to be wrongful. They have been edged into taking it because they are frightened of offending members of the controlling Victorian Executive and 1 am afraid one member of the New South Wales ALP Executive who have shown, by their signatures on this petition and by their failure to repudiate it publicly in the past 4 weeks, how much they themselves are the puppets and pawns of the Communists.
– I do not doubt the sincerity of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) but I suggest that sincere people are not always right. With all due respect, I say the same about my former colleague, the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson). Also I do not think that it is the most pleasant sight to see consciences publicly exhibited in a Parliament. After all, in my view what the House is supposed to be debating this afternoon is nothing more than a political stunt which was actuated in the first instance by the honourable member for Mackellar during an adjournment debate approximately a fortnight ago. lt was designed to try to bring pressure to bear upon the electors in Capricornia. Fortunately the electors in Capricornia showed more sturdy common sense than I think is being exhibited here today by members of the Liberal Party. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who led the debate for this side of the House, has indicated already that we will vote against the resolution that is before us. We will not merely call ‘No’. We will vote No and be counted. lt would have been a great deal easier if this petition had never been produced. But at least we have the right to ask: Are not certain individuals entitled to sign petitions if they want to sign them? Each and every member in this House from time to time has presented petitions, and after all, individual constituents have the right to sign petitions. I sometimes wonder what happens to all the petitions that are presented in this House. Recently a new member introduced a petition which had been signed by 100,000 people. What effect the petitions are supposed to have and what happens to them afterwards, I do not know. But this relatively small petition which we are discussing will go down in history as being much more significant than most of the petitions that are presented here, because it has been the subject of a debate in this House.
Some honourable members have used the word ‘treason’. I am afraid that I cannot use the word quite as easily as does the honourable member for Mackellar. First I want to look at the way in which the petition is cast. I shall go on record as saying that in my view any individual has the right to sign petitions. It is rather gratuitous on the part of others to suggest that these people did not know what they were doing when they signed the petition. I suggest that they knew quite clearly what they were doing when they signed it. What is the petition? It is a document addressed to Sir David Trench, the Governor of Hong Kong, Government House, Hong Kong. I think that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) could have said a little more as to how this document has been returned and circulated and has now become the central exhibit in this debate. After all, the document was not the property of the Department of External Affairs in Canberra. It was addressed to His Excellency, the Governor of Hong Kong. 1 think that we are entitled to know a little more about how it was returned from the Governor of Hong Kong to the Department of External Affairs in Canberra and subsequently - a fortnight or 3 weeks ago - fell into the hands of the honourable member for Mackellar.
I suggest that the document went as a letter to the Governor of Hong Kong. He may have had very good reasons, from his own point of view, for wanting to return it via one channel or another. But surely that ought to be explained. I suggest that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) who is dealing with matters relating to the External Affairs portfolio in this chamber during the absence of the Minister for External Affairs, is the only person who can tell us how this document which was signed by individual citizens of Australia got back into the hands of the Department of External Affairs in Australia and subsequently into the hands of the honourable member for Mackellar who has magnified it in his mind into an act of treason. He said it is an act of treason. I just want to have a look at these words and ask him his view of them. I am afraid he cannot answer me at this stage because he has already made his speech. The petition reads:
We, the undersigned representatives of various Australian Trade Unions, condemn the British Authorities for deliberately turning a minor trade union dispute into a bloody incident -
The word ‘sanguinary’ is not used in this document. The word is not the same as-
– There is a vast difference!
-Order! The honourable member for Mackellar has made his speech.
– Here again we hear the honourable member for Mackellar and also the Minister for Shipping and Trans: port (Mr Freeth), who is prepared to make his case, I presume on the basis of what he calls his own sincerity and integrity. All I hope is that 1 am given the same latitude as he. If anybody wants to question my integrity or suggest that I am a dupe of the Communist Party, let him get up and say so. This is an example of the technique used by honourable members opposite night after night. I hope that some day the Standing Orders of this House will be amended to prevent the kind of debate that regularly occurs here on the motion for the adjournment. Many years ago I was a member of a State Parliament, and I think sometimes that members of State Parliaments are more conscious than we are of the historic origins of their institution.
As I understand the position, proposals to discuss matters of public importance and motions that the House do now adjourn were devices to give private members opportunities to raise matters of urgent public importance, mostly dealing with the administration of the Government or the Parliament of which they happen to be members. Why the structure of the Australian Labor Party should be the subject regularly of attempted verbal assassination by certain members in this House is beyond me. We have all had our time in this place extended by a couple of hours a week over the last few weeks because the previous sitting hours proved to be insufficient. Yet we can spend nearly 4 hours today on this debate. We can put several hours late at night at the disposal of, I suppose, three or four members. The majority of members do not participate in the debates that are held on the motion for the adjournment, and I admire their wisdom. Sometimes I wonder whether the honourable member for Mackellar, whatever he says about his own lack of preferment, realises the inordinate amount of time he has taken up here year after year saying precisely the same thing.
There is, after all, as the Leader of the Opposition said early in this debate, no difficulty whatever in understanding the structure of the Labor Party. There is no attempt to hide how its business is carried on in State and Federal conferences, which are subject to the fullest scrutiny. This applies also to the congresses of the trade union movement. The honourable member for Mackellar has endeavoured to attack unionists acting in what they think is an industrial matter. After all, the purpose of this petition by trade unionists was to condemn the action taken by an authority in another place. I am not arguing whether the authority was rightly constituted or not, because there can be brutality in the best of constitutional systems if tempers run amok. Surety nobody who has been to Hong Kong, and least of all the honourable member for Batman, who I suppose knows that place better than most people, would deny that in the economic circumstances of Hong Kong there are not many things that organised workers have to fight for. I suppose the living standard there is one of the worst iri industrialised societies anywhere. Hong Kong must be classed as an industrialised society. As a city of some 4 million people it could not exist unless it was for the most part industrialised. Workers there are getting the equivalent of $A6 or $A7 a week and I suggest they have a lot to fight for. As I understand the position this petition was sent as a protest against the authorities turning a minor trade union dispute to a bloody incident - and I am glad the cackling Minister who would query the use of the one word rather than another has gone. The petition says:
We . . . condemn the British Authorities for deliberately turning a minor trade union dispute into a bloody incident by taking brutal police action against peaceful trade union pickets, against journalists, students and Hong Kong citizens. We call on the British Government -
And the petition was sent courteously through the right channels to the Governor of Hong Kong - and the British Authorities in Hong Kong to accept the just demands put forward by the workers and residents of Hong Kong.
Then it asks that certain action be taken. It says:
Well, of course, the word ‘Fascist’ is just as tendentious as the word ‘Communism’ and so uncertain is that word that the honourable member for Mackellar can always link the Labor Party with Communism. I am not suggesting that one could not make a similar link, if one wished to, by using the word Fascist’. The petition goes on:
I would not think there was much doubt that anybody reading that petition would know very well what it meant. As I said earlier, it would have been very comfortable for us as a party if it had not been sent, but I for one believe in the right of a trade unionist anywhere to do what he can to protect the rights of trade unionists everywhere. Literally this is what the unionists in Australia have done. They have drawn up a petition and they have sent it to the Governor of Hong Kong. Perhaps I could ask the Minister again to indicate how the terms of the petition got to Peking Radio. I confess I do not know. Of course the Minister suggests by innuendo that it was sent directly. Certainly the petition was not sent back directly, and I suggest that it was sent back with rather dubious motives. But at any rate these people were within their rights in my view in sending this petition.
I do not think those who signed it needed to ask themselves whether they were primarily members of a trade union and incidentally at the same time members of the ALP. 1 do not think that in signing this petition they had to draw such a line. The only people who have wanted to draw that line are people who have taken the petition out of its proper context after a very long and, I suggest, devious and dubious journey back into the archives of the Department of External Affairs, and who have then photostated and circulated a document that was supposed to be for the Governor of Hong Kong only. I do not know whether this sort of thing happens in respect of petitions that are presented in this House. I do not know whether other people have the right of access to them. But it seems to me that a good many privileges and rights have been breached in order to make this document available for the sort of debate that is taking place in this House this afternoon. I for one offer no apologies for the course we are taking. We regard this as a pretty unsavoury political manoeuvre on the part of the Government. It has been done, as the Leader of the Opposition suggested, at a relatively low level in the hierarchy both of the back bench and the front bench, but nevertheless it has been done for political reasons. We would be recreant as a political party if we did not oppose sordid political manoeuvring. We are not voting on the merits of the constitutional relationships of Hong Kong with another country.
The honourable member for Mackellar spoke about double standards, but I point out that he, too, seems to have double standards. He sees evil in people making representations by post, but he sees no evil whatever in millions of dollars worth of exchange of trade. I do not want to intrude in that topic because I believe that the quicker China is recognised in the comity of nations the better it will be for the world as a whole. I fail to see how anything that is called ‘universal’ can exclude about a quarter of the world’s population. To my mind it is sheer stupidity, but, of couse double standards’ is an easy term for anybody to bandy about. I do not doubt the sincerity of the honourable member for Mackellar but I certainly often doubt the quality of his analyses. He has an amazing facility for linking things together - things which, to my mind, have very little internal relationship.
On this occasion certain names that ought never to have been made available to him have been made available to him. He has scrutinised the names and he knows, from the bizarre kind of mentality he has adopted over the years, that Mr Cameron, Mr Allan and somebody else, as well as being unionists are also members of the Labor Party and, in one or two cases, are members of the Central Executive of the Australian Labor Party.
– Five or six.
– Nobody is denying this.
– As usual the honourable member wants everybody to be sincere his own way, whether the road is right, left or centre. If it is the Wentworth path it is the golden path. All I suggest is that sometimes the Wentworth path is very much up the garden path. He endeavours, very late in the sittings of this Parliament, to take honourable members along it with him. I repeat that’ in my view these people were entitled to send a petition if they wanted to do so.
– Where did they copy it from?
– The Minister, of course, is using the linkage or concatenation that other people have used. Because certain words are similar in one document to words in another document, therefore there is a linkage between the document’s. I ask the Minister to look at the petition and to read its terms. In view of the incidents that did happen, I cannot see much wrong with the wording of the petition.
It would have been a lot easier, a lot more peaceful and a lot more time saving if the petition had not been sent, but all we say, even though we do not agree with the sentiments, is that people had the right to send it if they wanted to do so. I resent the way in which it has been brought into this House and I should like some fuller explanation from those who want to sneer about the words of how it got from the Department of External Affairs to this place.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has raised a number of questions. He has endeavoured to play down, to simplify, to quieten and to change the tone of the original terms of this motion and to play down the petition that was sent by unionists in Victoria and in New South Wales to the Governor of Hong Kong. If we accept his simple statement that these people had a complete right to send a petition to the Governor of Hong Kong as trade unionists trying to protect trade unionists in Hong Kong, then he cannot question our right to examine the effect of this petition on the international level, because the terms of the petition were sent, at the same time, to Radio Peking. He cannot question our right because, to use his words, these trade unionists were, incidentally, members of the Australian Labor Party Executive. These, as has been stated in this debate, are matters of major national importance. They come not only to the heart of the Australian Labor Party and of the trade union movement, but also to the very heart and life of this country.
May I refer to one question which the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has avoided? I should like to read a statement made by the Minister of State for Commonwealth Affairs in the British Labour Government, Mrs Judith Hart, on 1st June in the House of Commons. She said:
I wish to make a statement on the recent disturbances in Hong Kong. The course of events was as follows. An industrial dispute in two factories producing artificial flowers led to minor disturbances during picketing on 6th May. But what began as a genuine labour dispute then changed its character on 11th May. It was taken up and exploited by local Communists with the aid of hooligan elements, some of whom were paid. Organised demonstrations were mounted as a direct and deliberate challenge to the authority of the Hong Kong Government. . . . There has been open incitement to violence and to disaffection. . . The greatest restraint was exercised throughout by the police, despite extreme provocation. The Secretary of State and I have already paid public tribute to them in Hong Kong, and I do so again now. I would like them to know how much we admire their restraint in these very difficult circumstances.
What began as a trade union dispute ended as insurrection and rebellion. As has been stated, there was open incursion from across the Communist Chinese border. These matters occurred in May and June and they developed into a more serious situation. It was no longer a trade union dispute, because that was settled. This is the matter that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports avoids. Mrs Hart also said:
There has been widespread and forthright public support in Hong Kong for the measures taken by the Government to deal with violence, intimidation and hooliganism and to preserve order.
This puts a different note on the petition that was sent by Australian trade unionists to the Governor of Hong Kong, for their petition was signed in August well after the trade union dispute had been completed and after it had developed into a far more serious matter. Later, in July, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs, Mr Herbert Bowden, in answer to a question said:
The incident began when several hundred demonstrators crossed the frontier at Sha Tau Kok at about 11.00 hours on Saturday, 8th July, and attacked the police post there. The demonstrators included members of the People’s Militia, a fact which has since been confirmed by the Communist Press in Hong Kong.
That statement places a different complexion on the issues from the one placed on it by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, who stated that although he regretted the incident, the people involved had a perfect right to act as they did. 1 wish to place these matters before the House because in my opinion they need to be ventilated. As I said the other night, the attitudes and beliefs of people who stand for public office must be examined. This does not happen enough in Australia. In the same way, those who select candidates for public office should also be examined as to their beliefs and attitudes. In the case under discussion here we see that there has been close association between members of the trade unions, members of the Australian Labor Party and members of the Communist Party in sending a petition not relating to a simple trade union matter but designed to give assistance to those who were causing the insurrection. I support the resolution that was moved this morning by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth).
– I wishto direct attention to one or two discrepancies in the things that have been said in this debate by honourable members opposite. An attempt was made by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) to show that the trade unionists and others had a perfect right to express their feelings in words of their own choosing in the form of a petition addressed to the Governor of Hong Kong. The implications of what the honourable member said were that these words were in no way proof of the Communist origin of their action. To clarify the matter for those who are in the chamber and those who may be listening to the broadcast, so that they may judge for themselves the grounds on which the Government’s implication is based, I would like to quote word for word the two documents to which honourable members have been referring. The first document is the ultimatum - it is nothing less - handed by the Peking Government to the Governor of Hong Kong, who rejected it. It was an ultimatum founded in extreme language. It instructed the British Government to instruct the British authorities in Hong Kong to:
Immediately accept all the just demands put forward by Chinese workers and residents in Hong Kong.
In the document signed by the Australian trade unionists these words appear:
We call on the British Government and the British Authorities in Hong Kong to accept the just demands put forward by the workers and residents of Hong Kong.
You do not have to be a student of literary higher criticism to see that there is something in common in the phraseology of the two documents. The Peking document states:
Immediately stop all fascist measures.
The petition sent from Australia reads:
The coincidence seems to grow even greater. The Chinese document states:
Immediately set free all the arrested persons, including workers, journalists and cameramen.
The Australian document reads:
The Chinese document reads:
Punish the culprits responsible for these sanguinary atrocities, offer apologies to the victims, and compensate them for all their losses.
The Australian document takes up the tale:
Finally the Chinese document states:
Guarantee against the recurrence of similar incidents.
The Australian petition reads:
It stretches credulity to suggest that the two documents did not have a common origin. Honourable members opposite have gone to extreme lengths to try to dissociate the petition signed by the trade unionists from the Peking document. Any reasonable person - any person in his right mind with any understanding of language - would say that the two documents had a common origin. In short, without beating around the bush, what we have been discussing for all this time this afternoon is something the implications of which will not be admitted by honourable members opposite, namely that in Australia we have leading trade unionists - trade unionists who are responsible for choosing the members who will represent the Labor movement in Parliament; those who exercise power over elected parliamentarians - working not only hand in glove but as emissaries and envoys of Communist China in adopting the extreme measures which have resulted in bloodshed and in the disruption of civil liberties in one of Her Majesty’s dominions. This is the real point which we have been discussing.
No amount of camouflage or smokescreen can dissuade the Government from its duty to make clear to the people of Australia that while we sympathise with the Press and any other section of the community that wants to see a responsible, loyal and democratic Opposition able- to form an alternative government, at the moment we have here, exercising themselves in this place, those who are but the puppets of powers outside Australia which are recognised as inimical to the best interests of Australia and which in this instance have been giving a very undesirable impetus to events which can only lead to the downfall of democracy and the destruction of freedom, peace and decency in one of the peaceful corners of the Asian continent.
– I rise to make a few brief remarks on behalf of the Parliament. This afternoon the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) demolished the Government’s case. The statements made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) and the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) showed clearly that Government supporters have been hiding behind a smokescreen. My purpose in speaking this afternoon is to raise one tiny voice on behalf of the Australian Parliament and what it should mean. For almost all of the day we have been traducing and vilifying Australians who have chosen to exercise their right to associate freely with one another. I thought that this was an ancient, traditional and valued Australian heritage. This is a right that we on this side will continue to fight to uphold. We believe in the right, for example, to associate freely with the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) whenever we will.
I know that to prolong this debate is to delay the debate on the estimates for the Department of External Affairs. Government supporters do not mind this, because they do not want their foreign policies to be discussed. I wish to place on record something said on 22nd October 1963 by my former colleague who is still my friend, the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson), who has his aberrations. He was speaking in the debate on the estimates for the defence services. He was referring to the claim that the Australian Labor Party was directed by thirty-six faceless men. He said:
I do not care whether you call them 36 faceless men. To return to the subject of war, honuorable members will recall that Lord Haw Haw called our troops in the desert by a name which stuck - the Rats of Tobruk. How proud they are of the name. Let us have 36 faceless men. I would rather have them than the headless men on the opposite side of the chamber - the men who had their political heads cut off because they had enough guts to speak against the Prime Minister. I feel very sorry for them. Our 36 faceless men are democratically elected, and I am proud to know them.
All I ask is that honourable members get on with the business of governing this country in the proper Australian tradition, with decent debate and a commonsense association with one another for the goodwill and freedom of Australia.
– This question is much more important than the Estimates which have already been decided and are only being discussed after the Budget has been carried. The business of the House is only a matter of discussion and debate, but the motion now before us is a matter of life and death. During the 1939-45 war we had the privilege of hearing an address by the Honourable Walter Monkton, the British Minister for Information. He said that propaganda was aimed at convincing the enemy that they were losing and convincing your own side that it was winning in a struggle. We are involved in a struggle and Australian lives are involved.The struggle is for the life or death of Australia.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
That the motion (Mr Freeth’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 39
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - It gives me considerable satisfaction to inform the House that an agreement has been completed between the Government of Australia and the Government of Turkey concerning the residence and employment of Turkish citizens in Australia. This agreement was signed in Canberra today by the Ambassador for Turkey, Mr B. V. Karatay, on behalf of the Turkish Government, and by myself, on behalf of the Australian Government. It will operate indefinitely, but either Government may, at any time, give notice in writing of its desire to terminate the agreement! In this event the Agreement shall cease to have effect 90 days after the date of the notice. Numbers are not specified but provision is made for the Turkish authorities to be informed annually of Australia’s requirements. The types of workers selected will also be determined as a result of annual consultation between the two Governments and the aim will be to maintain a reasonable balance between skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled.
Selection of workers and their dependants will be carried out by Australian migration officers in close co-operation with the Turkish employment service. The agreement covers entitlement to temporary accommodation in a hostel on arrival in Australia, if required. Turkish settlers are assured of the same employment conditions, benefits and rights in industrial matters as Australian citizens and other settlers, and entitlement to social service benefits on the same basis as other residents of Australia. In the matter of housing, they will be accorded equality of treatment with settlers from other countries and with Australian citizens according to legislation in force in
Australia. The Australian authorities will use their good offices to assist Turkish workers in finding suitable accommodation for themselves and their families.
Persons 19 years of age and over will contribute SA25 towards the cost of their transport to Australia. The balance of the fare from the point of embarkation in Turkey to the place of employment in Australia will be met by the Australian Government. Persons under 19 years of age will not be required to make any personal contribution to their fares, the full cost being borne by Australia. The 29 articles of the agreement reflect the mutual concern of the Turkish and Australian Governments that Turkish workers and their families shall be able to live and work in Australia under conditions which will safeguard their welfare and which will give them every opportunity to establish themselves happily and securely in the Australian community.
Honourable members will appreciate that it takes a while for the results of a new agreement of this nature to become manifest. The intention is to begin with modest numbers and I would regard it as satisfactory if in the first year of operation we were to receive 600 heads of familiesgenerally accompanied by their wives and children - and some suitable single people. Depending on experience and our ability to overcome successfully any initial difficulties, the numbers over the long term can be expected to increase gradually as Turkish people become settled here and encourage relatives and friends to join them.
Emphasis will be placed on the movement of Turkish people to Australia as family units. Long experience has shown the desirability of family migration. By encouraging settlement of complete families, we reduce the risk of loneliness and other problems. Turkey offers excellent prospects for attracting workers of the type needed in Australia. It represents a valuable addition to the various countries in Europe to which we look for desirable settlers. The qualities of the Turkish people are universally admired. Many thousands have been eagerly sought by employers in Europe who have nothing but praise for them as workers.
I am confident that those selected to come to Australia will receive a warm and generous welcome. I am equally con fident that this new venture will have the unanimous support of honourable members on both sides of the House and the people of Australia, and their best wishes for its success. I might mention that the delegation from Turkey which negotiated the agreement is at present in the diplomatic gallery of the House. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I have enjoyed very much my association with them. We were able to reach agreement in the very best of spirit.
– by leave - I rise to associate the Opposition with the last statement made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and to assure the Minister and the Turkish Government that we welcome the agreement. We appreciate that anything that can be done to improve our migration quota should have the support and indeed it does have the support, of honourable members on this side of the House. This is the second immigration agreement that has been signed by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia within the last fortnight. We appreciate that this has been done. The Opposition realises that because of the decrease in migrants from some of our traditional sources, there is a need for the Government to make whatever approach it can ro improve our migration figures. 1 notice from the agreement that the Government will provide assisted passages for migrants from Turkey. Those over the age of 19 years will pay no more than $A25 to come to Australia and the Government will be responsible for the total cost of bringing out migrants under 19 years of age. There is one other point that I thought the Minister might have dealt with in his statement and that is the number of migrants expected to come to Australia from Turkey. The Minister said that the Turkish Government will be kept informed of our requirements. I would have thought that at this stage the Minister would be in a position to indicate the anticipated number of Turkish migrants. No doubt he has a very good reason for not giving this information <o Parliament at this stage.
I conclude by saying how much we welcome the agreement that has been signed by the Minister, acting on behalf of the Government, and the Turkish Ambassador, acting on behalf of the Turkish Government. We believe that those who will come to this country from Turkey will be extremely good citizens and that’ they will be able to make the same kind of contribution to this country as other citizens who have migrated from Europe. We congratulate the Minister on his initiative and we look forward to the same kind of co-operation between Australian born citizens and those who come here from Turkey as we have with those who have come from other countries.
Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce- Minister for Immigration) - by leave - Even though I expected the warm reception that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) has given to the agreement I welcome it and thank him for it. As to the specific point that he raised regarding the anticipated number of migrants, the position is that we must consult with the Department of Labour and National Service, which advises us of the employment opportunities in different categories. This is necessary to ensure a rapid absorption of migrants into the work force. No action could be taken until the agreement had been signed. We will now proceed. In the circumstances all I can do is to state my expectation of the overall number of Turkish migrants but that will have a relationship to the outcome of the discussions with the other Department.
Bill presented by Dr Forbes, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is, firstly, to authorise the provision of hearing aids for pensioners and their dependants, one of the important social service measures foreshadowed by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in his Budget Speech, and, secondly, to revise the First Schedule of the National Health Act, which sets out the medical services in respect of which Commonwealth medical benefits are payable and fixes the amount of Commonwealth medical benefit payable for each service. It is proposed that the provision of hearing aids for pensioners and their dependants will be arranged by an extension of the hearing aid service conducted by the Commonwealth Acoustic
Laboratories, which are a branch of my Department. The Laboratories at present supply Calaids on a loan basis to deaf school children, pre-school children, repatriation cases where the deafness is attributable to war service, serving members of the defence Services, and certain recipients of social services benefits undergoing rehabilitation training and treatment. It is this service that is being extended to persons who are in receipt of an age pension, an invalid pension, a widow’s pension, a Service pension, a tuberculosis allowance or a sheltered employment allowance. Dependants of all these pensioners will be entitled to the new service also. As under the existing service, the Laboratories will give audiological examinations to pensioners and dependants who have hearing difficulties and, where the examination shows that the pensioner’s hearing will be improved with the assistance of an aid, will provide him with the aid most suited to his needs. The provision of these aids by the Commonwealth will be of tremendous benefit, both physically and financially, to the individuals concerned and will enable them to play a more valuable role as members of the community.
I am sure that it will be of interest to the House to have a brief account of the activities of the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories. They are a unique institution which has achieved outstanding success in its field. The functions of the Laboratories include scientific investigations and research into the physical, physiological and psychological aspects of acoustics. These have been of real benefit to industry, the armed forces, the Department of Civil Aviation and other organisations in advising on noise levels and acoustic problems. Considerable ultrasonic research is undertaken, mainly connected with medical problems in the field of otology, obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology, neurology, dentistry, radiology, breast cancer and cardiology.
The Laboratories’ investigations into hearing aids and their application to the needs of individuals led to the design by the Laboratories of hearing aid instruments of extremely high technical efficiency. These became known as Calaids. The first instrument developed, which is known as the Calaid T. is a small transistorised unit carried on the body. In alL over 20,000 of these aids have been manufactured. They are made available to children with hearing defects, under section 9a of the National Health Act, to ex-servicemen whose deafness is attributable to war service, to serving members of the defence forces and to pensioners who are undergoing rehabilitation training under the auspices of the Department of Social Services. Production of a new miniature type of instrument in the form of an earmould, which is known as the Calaid E, commenced in 1965. Developments in technology had made it possible to manufacture such highly effective instruments of miniature size. The Calaid E cannot be made as powerful as the Calaid T due to problems of auditory ‘feedback’. So it is fitted only where a lesser degree of deafness exists. The Laboratories do not undertake the actual production of the hearings aids. The parts for the aids are purchased from industry and they are assembled to the Laboratories’ specifications by private firms. It is the Government’s hope that the Australian content of the aids will progressively Increase as firms become more interested in tendering for the supply of parts at present imported.
I turn now, Sir, to specific details of the scheme that this Bill will authorise. As a general principle, it is intended that the first step that a pensioner should take towards securing a Commonwealth hearing aid would be to consult his own doctor. For this consultation, pensioners will be able to use their medical service entitlement cards. When the doctor’s examination suggests that the pensioner may benefit from the use of a hearing aid the doctor will refer him to the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories which will undertake a detailed examination of the pensioner’s hearing needs. The Laboratories’ examination will comprise a personal examination by one of the Laboratories’ highly trained audiological psychologists to ascertain the nature of the disability, whether a hearing aid will be of assistance and, if so, the type of aid most suitable to the pensioner’s needs. Each aid is then personally fitted and adjusted to give the wearer the greatest assistance possible. One of the great benefits of the Laboratories’ service is the personal care taken with each individual. The psychological examination alone can be of immense value in re-establishing an individual’s confidence in the face of any disability he may have and so help him to return to a normal life. Of course, the job is not finished once an aid is fitted. Hearing aids are highly sensitive instruments and must be adjusted regularly, usually in step with the wearer’s deteriorating hearing. The effort involved in repairing or replacing damaged aids is significant also.
It is planned to implement the scheme progressively over a 3-year period. It is estimated that in this 3-year period approximately 100,000 pensioners and dependants will be tested and some 36,000 aids fitted. It is hoped to make a start on the actual provision of the aids before the end of this financial year. Before the scheme commences, suitable publicity will be arranged to ensure that all pensioners are made aware of the procedure to be followed if they wish to have tests made of their hearing to ascertain whether an aid will assist them. The Bill provides for the hearing aids supplied by the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories to remain the property of the Commonwealth and be recoverable, for example, when a pensioner is issued with a different instrument to replace an old one. Old aids so recovered can be made fully effective for reissue by reconstruction and reconditioning. Although the aids will remain the property of the Commonwealth, it is felt to be desirable that pensioners accept some measure of responsibility for the valuable instruments that will be made available to them. The Bill therefore provides for each pensioner receiving an aid to pay a hiring charge of $10.
The Bill also provides for the aids issued to pensioners to be fully maintained by the Acoustic Laboratories without cost to the pensioners to whom they have been issued. This maintenance will be on a regular basis and will include the repair of any damage of a kind that can be managed by the servicing technicians. Where an aid is damaged beyond repair or is lost and has to be replaced, a further $10 hiring fee will be charged. The Bill provides that a further fee will not be charged where, for any reason, the Laboratories decide that a new aid should be issued to replace an old aid which is recovered. This will occur in a variety of circumstances; for example, where a user’s hearing deteriorates and a more powerful aid is required. It is proposed that pensioners will obtain their own replacement batteries, which are readily available through normal commercial sources. The clauses of the Bill to which I have referred are simple in content, but the advantages that will flow to pensioners from the scheme that it will authorise are of great value and will add considerably to the generous health benefits already provided by the Government for pensioners. As I stated earlier, this Bill also includes a revision of the medical benefits schedule of the National Health Act. Revision of this Schedule is undertaken periodically to enable anomalies that have developed to be corrected, to include benefit amounts for new medical procedures and generally to ensure that the Schedule is consistent with the medical and surgical procedures of the day. It was last revised in 1964. An example of new procedures that have come under notice since the present Schedule was compiled is radioisotope studies, which are items 1900 to 1946 of the new Schedule. Of course, patients have not been deprived of benefits for any of these new items because they did not appear in the Schedule. Section 15a of the National Health Act provides that the Minister, by determination, may fix an appropriate benefit for medical services not specified in the Schedule, and this machinery is used when necessary. The revised Schedule will incorporate determinations made under section 15a since the present Schedule was enacted in 1964. This necessitates some renumbering of items in the Schedule. Advantage has therefore been taken of the opportunity to revise the numbering in the Schedule. This will assist the administration of the scheme and facilitate the inclusion of new services as circumstances require. The overall financial effect of the changes to the Schedule is negligible. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House: Mackay Airport, Queensland - Development of airfield pavements.
The proposal involves the extension of the existing runway to 6,500 feet length and strengthening of the existing runway, taxiways and apron for the larger aircraft which the domestic airlines propose to use at Mackay. The estimated cost is $1,250,000. In reporting favourably on the proposal, the Committee has recommended that the Government should re-examine the timing of the terminal building programme at Mackay Airport with the idea of accelerating completion of the proposed long term developments. This recommendation has been noted and the Department of Civil Aviation is considering the possibilities of accelerating the programme. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Bury, and read a first time.
Mr BURY (Wentworth- Minister for
Labour and National Service) [5.28] - I move:
That the Bill be now reada second time.
The main purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment in 1967-68 of special grants totalling $35,407,000 to Western Australia and Tasmania. The payment of this amount has been recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its thirtyfourth report, which has already been tabled. In accordance with the usual practice, the Bill also authorises the payment of advances to Western Australia and Tasmania in the early months of 1968-69 pending the receipt of the Commission’s recommendations for that year and the enactment of new legislation.
The Commission’s recommendations continue to be based on the principle of ‘financial need’ under which special grants are designed to enable the claimant States to provide government services of a similar standard to those of the standard States, provided they make comparable efforts in raising revenue and controlling expenditure. As in recent years, the Commission has taken New South Wales and Victoria as the standard States for purposes of these comparisons. However, the Commission has announced in its report that, as from 1968- 69, it will base its recommendations on a standard derived from the experience of all four non-claimant States. The Commission continues to recommend grants in two parts. One part is an advance payment bused on the Commission’s preliminary estimate of the claimant State’s financial needs for the current year, and is subject to final adjustment 2 years later when the Commission has examined the audited budget results of the States for that year. The other part is an adjustment of the special grant paid 2 years earlier, and is known as the completion payment’. Thus, the total of the completion payment recommended for payment’ in 1967-68 and the advance payment actually made in 1965-66 constitutes the final grant in respect of 1965-66.
The following table which, with the concurrence of the House I shall have incorporated in Hansard, shows the composition of the grants recommended for payment in 1967-68, and the composition of the grants paid in 1965-66 and 1966-67:
The completion payments recommended in respect of 1965-66 yield final grants for that year of $21,018,000 for Western Australia and $17,289,000 for Tasmania. The final grant of $2lm for Western Australia is about $0.5m higher than the final grant for 1964-65. This is a relatively small increase, which leaves the State with a small final budget surplus of $18,000 for 1965-66. The continued rapid growth in Western Australia’s economy is leading to a considerable increase in the State’s own budgetary revenue and to a reduction in the State’s dependence on special grants. Tasmania, on the other hand, is left with a final budget deficit of SI, 132,000 for 1965-66 despite the fact that its final grant for the year is nearly $2.5m greater than in 1964-65. It appears that Tasmania’s dependence on the special grant is continuing to increase.
The Commission has decided that favourable adjustments which are earned in a year, but which are npt reflected in the special grant for that year, should normally be eligible to be brought to account in a subsequent year. As a result of this change, which was supported by the
Commonwealth Treasury, the final grants recommended for 1965-66 are somewhat higher than they otherwise would have been. In the case of Western Australia, the amount involved is $481,000, while the benefit to Tasmania is $318,000. The advance payments recommended for 1967- 68 are based on estimates by the Commission of changes in the budgetary position of the claimant States relative to the budgetary position of the standard States. At this stage such estimates are necessarily very tentative. They are subject to adjustment in 2 years time when the Commission has examined the audited budget results of the States for 1967-68.
I indicated earlier that the Commission has decided that, as from 1968-69, it will use a standard derived from the experience of all four non-claimant States. Prior to 1959-60 the Grants Commission had used a standard derived^ from all non-claimant States - then New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. However, when South Australia ceased to be a claimant State in 1959- 60 the Commission decided to adopt a standard derived from the experience of only
New South Wales and Victoria. The Commission justified the adoption of a twoState standard mainly on the grounds that, in its view, the 1959 financial assistance grants arrangements classified the States into three broad categories: non-claimant States- New South Wales and Victoria; intermediate States - Queensland and South Australia; and claimant States - Western Australia and Tasmania.
At the June 1965 Premiers’ Conference, the Commonwealth made it clear that, while it envisaged that Western Australia and Tasmania would continue to be eligible to receive special grants, it expected that each of the other four States would agree to remain ‘non-claimant’ for the period of the new financial assistance grants arrangements. The Commonwealth had indicated previously that it doubted that a two-State standard was appropriate and the Commission has now decided that, for its purposes, the States should be regarded as falling into only two groups - namely, four non-claimant and two claimant States.
The Government agrees with the Commission’s decision to adopt a four-State standard. On page 58 of the Commission’s report it is stated that ‘there is no reason in principle why a standard based on two States . . . would necessarily be more favourable for the claimant States than a four-State standard’. Nevertheless, the Commission has postponed its introduction until 1968-69 in order to allow the claimant States time to make any necessary adjustments to their policies in the light of possible differences which may be revealed by further detailed calculations. The recommendations of the Grants Commission have been adopted by Parliament in each year since the Commission’s inception, and the Government considers that they should again be adopted on this occasion. Accordingly, I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Webb) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 4 October (vide page 1728).
Department of Works
Proposed expenditure, $48,991,000.
[5.381-1 had understood that three honourable members were to speak on these estimates. As they are not here, I will take the opportunity to make a few remarks about the Department of which I have the honour to be the titular head. Some points should be spelled out about a department as important as the Department of Works is. As honourable members well know, the Department is responsible for the design, supervision and execution of architectural and engineering works for the Commonwealth. For the Territories, it does more than that. It is responsible for the maintenance of various projects in the Territories including sewerage and water supply. It is also responsible for giving technical advice to departments. It undertakes architectural and engineering works for the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the National Capital Development Commission, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other bodies. The Department is responsible for the Commonwealth Experimental Building Station in Sydney. This Station is doing some excellent work. It has undertaken the important and valuable task of trying to have uniform building regulations accepted. I am certain that if we had more uniformity in the regulations we should have a more efficient building industry in the Commonwealth.
One important aspect should be spelled out. During the last financial year the Department was responsible for the expenditure of more than $250m. This makes the Department about five times as big as the Snowy Mountains Authority, for whom we have an overwhelming respect. Not many people realise that the Department of Works, measured by the size of the work accomplished, is about five times as big as the Snowy Mountains Authority. It is worth noting that last year we completed more than 19,880 projects. Some interesting figures have been extracted on the method of operation and overheads. The administrative expenses are in effect a department’s overhead expenditure. In 1962-63 our overhead expenditure was about 13.8% of the value of the work we did and in the last financial year our overheads fell to about 10.7%. In other words, we are getting more work done with less overhead expenditure.
The figure for the output per officer employed in the Department is interesting. I take 1962-63 as the base year and give it a figure of 100. In the last financial year, the figure was 163. To put it another way, we had a 63% increase in the value of output per officer employed between 1962-63 and 1966-67. It can be said that this is due to the fall in the value of money. If we put it in constant price terms between 1962-63 and the last financial year, we find that our output per officer has increased by 39%. I think the Department has every reason to be proud of its efforts. It is true that during this period we have constructed many barrack type buildings and that there is a certain amount of similarity in the work. However, generally speaking, we can look back with a good deal of pride on the improvement in the efficiency of the Department.
I should like to pay a tribute to Mr Maunder, who retired from the position of departmental head because of ill health a little while ago. He would never claim that the general improvement in efficiency was due to his efforts alone, but there is no doubt that he handed over the Department to the new departmental head, Mr Reiner, as an excellent machine. I am proud to be associated with the Department.
I thought I should mention these facts to the Committee, because the Department of Works does a good deal of work but does not talk about what it does. It is not a policy-making Department and it is not a Department of which many honourable members hear much. 1 think it is proper that the Committee should hear about the Department during the debate on its estimates, so that the Committee will know the size of the Department and the quality of the work it is doing.
– 1 wish to comment on the estimates of the Department of Works and particularly on the amount set aside for the repair of the damage done by erosion in parts of my electorate of Barton on the shores of Botany Bay. The erosion, which stretches along miles of some of the finest beach front in Sydney, started when the Department of
Works scooped millions of cubic yards of sand from the north-western portion of Botany Bay in order to provide filling for the extension of the runway into the Bay. There is, I must say, much responsible opinion that believes that the erosion in the Bay would have happened anyway, even without the airport extensions, as there has been serious erosion all along the eastern Australian coastline from Surfer’s Paradise to Eden.
Before the airport extensions began the Government conferred with the world’s outstanding Hydraulic Research Laboratory at Wallingford in England. There are very few hydraulic research laboratories in the world. There are two in the United States of America, one in France and the one at Wallingford. After detailed research, the Wallingford Laboratory gave the opinion that if sand was dredged from a certain area for three projects - the extension of the runway, the filling for the international terminal and the deepening of Botany Bay for a new port - the shoreline would not be affected. Apparently it was wrong. After the sand had been dredged for the runway extension the first storm ravaged the waterfront from Kyeemagh to Dolls Point with tragic results. Miles of sea wall were washed into the sea. Hundreds of tons of beautiful park land collapsed into the beach. Buildings and promenades were damaged and homes were threatened. Subsequent storms intensified the damage and the alarm felt by the people who have such splendid homes in this area.
The Wallingford Laboratory was again consulted and made a number of suggestions for remedial work. These, of necessity, must be short term remedies, and further research is going on and must be completed before a permanent solution will be possible. One of my first duties after becoming the member for Barton was to invite the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly) to visit my electorate and have a personal look at the work to be done. Together with the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman), the Director-General of Works and some of his senior officers, I accompanied the Minister on a detailed inspection of the erosion damage. We walked the whole length of the waterfront and conferred on the best measures to take. As a temporary measure, metal sheeting was sunk into the sand, backed by huge sandstone blocks. But these have met with mixed success. In fact, some of them were washed away by huge seas within 24 hours of their being placed there. In other places, however, they have been effective in mitigating the subsequent damage.
The Rockdale Municipal Council also dumped hundreds of tons of rock in an emergency action one night when the seas ate into the footpath. Its action and that of responsible citizens who helped it undoubtedly saved the roadway on General Holmes Drive, the main artery to Mascot aerodrome, from being cut in several places. In another part of the beachfront the Department of Works had deliberately dumped thousands of tons of sand on the beach. Much of this is being, as planned, carried along the beach and washed up again where it is most needed - and it is badly needed almost right along this part of the waterfront. The lifesaving club at Brighton-Ie-Sands saw its membership drop from 120 to 12, as its beach disappeared from outside its club house. The Ramsgate Lifesaving Club had its membership affected, and I would like to see conditions restored as both these clubs make a most valuable contribution to the community !n Barton.
The Minister for Works again inspected the damage with me a few months ago. I understand that very soon the recommendations made by the Minister as a result of representations made by me and the honourable member for St George may receive financial backing in order to allow further progress to be made in the restoration of this once beautiful waterfront area. I understand that this work will include the restoration of the park areas and the erection of a fence to stop sand blowing into the homes along Grand Parade. Already the Department has spent $240,000 on this area, and I understand that the newly projected work will cost more than a further $200,000. I should point out that the problem is under constant review by the Government and that the Minister for Works and the Minister for Civil Aviation have been most co-operative. The problem is a most complicated one, which needs a scientific solution. My constituents are both alarmed and impatient, but I hope it will not be long before a permanent and satisfactory solution is found.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of External Affairs
Proposed expenditure, $48,924,000.
– -I want to refer briefly to some aspects of the Government’s civil aid policies which the Opposition regards as being most important. Firstly I refer to the aid of $5.2m to Indonesia, as announced recently by the Federal Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in his Budget speech. On 7th September I asked the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) about this grant. In his speech on the Budget the Minister had indicated that this aid would be in the form of a contribution to the Indonesian bonus export scheme. The Minister said that purchases made with Australian bonus export certificates would be limited to goods with the prescribed Australian content. In his reply to my question the Minister said that the aid, in the form of the contribution to the bonus export scheme, conformed to the plan drawn up by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He went on to say that this was the sort of aid which Indonesia herself found most acceptable and had sought in her present effort to rejuvenate the economy. The Minister went on to say that this was the form of aid which was most likely to be beneficial in the estimation of Australia, of other countries and international agencies, and of Indonesia herself.
The Indonesian bonus export scheme is an intricate and highly complex system, the subtleties of which are beyond my comprehension. If this is the sort of aid that Indonesia has requested, then the Government is perfectly correct in earmarking Australian aid in this form. But the Government should not claim repeatedly that Australia’s civil aid abroad is not tied in any way at all - that is, that the grants that the Australian Government has made to South East Asian countries, according to the Minister and other Government spokesmen, have been always in the form of a straight out grant.
In statements on civil aid the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), the Minister for External Affairs, and the Treasurer have claimed that Australia’s aid is entirely without strings. I believe that they should drop this claim. Quite clearly the contribution to the Indonesian bonus export scheme earmarks the purchase of Australian goods. This is a complete contradiction of the claim that Australia’s aid abroad is in the form of grants, not loans, and is not earmarked or tied in any way. The Minister for External Affairs has said that purchases made with Australian bonus export certificates will be limited to goods having a prescribed Australian content. This means that a large proportion of Australia’s $5.2m contribution will flow back to Australia in payment for Australian goods. If this is the sort of assistance that Indonesia wants, well and good. But it completely negates the Government’s repeated claims that Australia is the only country whose international aid is not tied in any way. It is unrealistic of the Government to stress repeatedly that Australia’s aid is in the form of grants, not loans. Even if the aid made available to Indonesia is considered on Indonesia’s own terms, the aid is clearly belated.
Meetings of creditors of Indonesia were held in the Netherlands in February and June of this year. As the Minister for External Affairs indicated in his speech on the Budget, this meeting provided about $l80m for Indonesia’s foreign exchange requirements for 1967. The Netherlands contributed approximately $US15m, comprising $US10m in the form of a gift and $US5m in the form of a loan on comparatively easy terms. This Dutch contribution was in addition to a considerable grant the previous year. It will be seen that Australia’s contribution lags considerably behind the contribution of the Netherlands. The relationship between the Netherlands and Indonesia today is based mainly on history and sentiment. It bears no resemblance to the great vested interest that Australia has in the evolution of a stable Indonesia. In Statement No. 8 attached to the Budget speech external economic aid estimates are given. A table contained in that statement gives figures of comparative relative performances by member countries of the Development Assistance Committee. According to the table Australia ranks second only to France, while the Netherlands occupies eleventh position. In the light of relative attitudes to Indonesia this table grossly overstates Australia’s contribution as compared with that of the Netherlands.
Now I would like to say something about taxation concessions. This is another matter that I have raised in this House by way of a question to the Minister for External Affairs. 1 believe it is regarded as a mutter of very great importance by people in this country who for some years have been giving substantial aid to South East Asian countries, particularly India. Some attention has been given recently in this House and in the Press to the Government’s consistent refusal to grant taxation concessions to people who are prepared to make this sort of contribution. In very recent weeks I think most States have interested themselves in the question of providing food for India. Many of the contributions have been in the form of straight-out money grants. These do not attract taxation concessions.
This is a question that has been raised by honourable members on this side of the House and it has interested many people outside the House who believe the Government should consider seriously allowing these concessions. On 9th March the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch), a supporter of the Government, asked the Treasurer what would be the cost of allowing donations to organisations giving aid through non-governmental channels to be deducted from income for tax purposes. In his answer the Treasurer said that voluntary organisations had raised more than $6m last year, and if taxation deductions had been allowed the loss to the revenue would have been of the order of $2m. A substantial amount has been raised in this country by people who believe this assistance should be given. The Government is not concerned with the amount raised; it is concerned, however, with the loss to the revenue if taxation concessions of the kind suggested were granted. The honourable gentleman claimed that Australia was steadily increasing its aid, and he said that Australia was the only country in the world which gave aid in the form of grants.
On 31st August I asked the Treasurer why these donations were not deductible for income tax purposes and I also asked him to assess the loss to revenue of allowing such deductions. The Treasurer replied:
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 taxation purposes only if the money is spent internally.
In his answer he assessed the loss to revenue from this source at up to $20m a year. He cited one particular case in which people sought to claim deductions in respect of gifts made overseas and in which the Joss would have been between $2m and $3m.
The Minister’s figures are plainly absurd. In his first answer he said that the amount raised by these organisations was some $6m, and he claimed that a loss of revenue of about $2m would result if the donations were deductible for tax purposes. In his answer to me on 31st August the Treasurer claimed that the loss to revenue of making donations tax deductible would be up io $20m. Making a calculation based on the Minister’s earlier answer, this would mean that the total amount raised by voluntary donations in Australia each year would be at least $60m. The Treasurer assessed a loss of between $2m and $3m in respect of one case alone. This would mean an individual agency in Australia receiving between $6m and $9m in donations. These figures, glibly advanced by the Treasurer in this House, are illogical and irrational.’ They are completely absurd, unsubstantiated and inaccurate. If the Treasurer adopts this sort of slovenliness in his approach to budgetary affairs the country’s economy is in a very sorry plight indeed. According to the Australian Council for Overseas Aid - I have received these figures authoritatively from the Council - the amount flowing out of Australia in voluntary aid donations m the last year was no more than $1.8m. On this basis the loss to revenue if tax concessions were granted for this amount of voluntary donations would be no more than $600,000, a paltry amount which could easily be absorbed by the. Treasury. Quite clearly the Government is unprepared to accord to private idealism the lavish praise h gives to its own efforts in official civil’ aid. There is not the slightest justification for insisting that donations to voluntary aid agencies should be ineligible for tax concessions.
I should like to mention briefly some other aspects of Australia’s civil aid. There can be no doubt that much of the total of Australia’s official overseas aid is spent in Australia. The Government includes in its economic aid estimates expenditure in New Guinea which accounts for approximately two-thirds of its total aid expenditure. The lumping of New Guinea aid into the foreign aid total is questionable. But even if it is conceded to be official aid, it is undeniable that a large proportion of this money flows back to Australia in the form of tax payments and payments through departments providing services for the commercial activities of Australian companies, and in the purchase of goods and services from Australia.
A large amount of Colombo Plan aid is spent in Australia. In an answer supplied to me recently the Minister revealed that a great proportion of the $41,751,000 granted by Australia in Colombo Plan aid since 1950-51 would have been spent on the purchase of goods and services in Australia. This aid benefits the Australian economy as much as it does recipient countries. I also questioned the Minister about the amount spent by United Nations agencies in Australia in each of the financial years 1965-66 and 1966-67 compared with the amount they received in Government grants and voluntary donations. His answer revealed that the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund spent some $2,500,000 in Australia in these years. It received $960,000 in government grants and $119,937 in 1965-66 in voluntary donations. Figures for voluntary donations in 1966-67 are not available, but quite clearly UNICEF is spending more than twice as much in Australia as it is receiving. Similar patterns are apparent in the expenditure and receipts of other United Nations agencies.
This is a negation of any principle of equitable foreign aid. The Government has no grounds for complacency about its foreign aid policies. Quite clearly there are anomalies and discrepancies. The enthusiastic picture painted by the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for External Affairs is a flawed one.
I have sought to show that the Government’s claim that it makes foreign aid in the form of grants without strings attached is not a valid one. By refusing to underwrite donations to voluntary aid agencies by tax concessions, the Government is ignoring the idealistic aspirations of hundreds of thousands of Australians who want to make a positive contribution to the relief of human suffering and deprivation. Surely it is not too difficult for the Government to see it this way. lt believes, as we do, that substantial foreign aid to South Bast Asian countries is necessary and will be necessary in the future.
We believe that the Government ought to increase the aid which it is now making available to these countries to an extent considerably in excess of the something under 1 % which the Government claims is now being made available in this way. It could do. a great deal more to encourage the Australian people to help in making greater contributions by granting tax deductions.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) referred to the Indonesian bonus export scheme and criticised the Government, firstly, for the type of scheme that was introduced - and as 1 recall it the Indonesian Government requested this kind of aid - but more particularly because it was an exception to what the Government put forward as a general statement that most of our aid is by direct grant to underdeveloped countries without any strings attached. He criticised the Government for making, as he said, a play on this aspect of the matter. I see nothing wrong with stressing that the great majority of our aid is by direct grant. It seems obvious to me that a grant which entails neither repayment nor an interest cost is a greater burden to the donor country than a loan which is paid back with interest.
In following the Deputy Leader of the Opposition I speak more in sorrow than in anger when I say it was quite noticeable that he did not refer to Vietnam. We are discussing estimates for the Department of External Affairs and I would have thought that, with the great issue of external affairs today being our commitment in Vietnam and our policy vis a vis that nation, somewhere in his speech he would have referred to our commitment. However, this is a very delicate matter for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Shortly after the Deputy Leader of the Opposition visited Vietnam I went there. I can well recall his reference to the fact that the conflict in Vietnam was not a civil war but, of course, we did not hear that from him tonight. I feel sorry for him because his controllers and those who determine what the Labor Party’s attitude will be disagree with him. The outmoded attitude of the Opposition towards foreign policy is akin to its attitude to economic policy at home. Just as Socialism as a philosophy is an outmoded concept so also is the Opposition’s attitude to Vietnam an outmoded concept. Members opposite still think that the conflict in Vietnam is, as the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) said in an address recently, a civil war. This is looking at the conflict there as a pre-1954 war. Before 1954 it was a straight colonial war but after that South Vietnam became a country in its own right with at least as much independence from outside powers as North Vietnam. The present Vietnam conflict is about which system is to rule in Saigon and in South Vietnam. lt is a conflict of the post-colonial period, but the Opposition does not appear to have appreciated the change that has occurred.
In the past 13 years a lot of blood has been expended and there is no reason to believe that the estimate of 50,000 civilians murdered or kidnapped by the Communists since 1954 is exaggerated. There is absolutely no evidence to show that the South Vietnamese wish conditions of slaughter, pillage and destruction by the Communists to continue. I say to the Opposition that the surest way of finding a guide to what these people think is to go to a village or hamlet which has been raided the night before by the Vietcong and have a look at the faces of the people. Let members opposite see the terror, shock and fear that engulfs them all and then ask whether these people want the Vietcong to rule them rather than the present Government; and then ask whether these people want the allies to leave because they cause inconvenience. This, after all, is crucial to a basic understanding of the conflict in Vietnam. We are talking of people and their rights and desires for the future. We are talking of their right to be able to determine for themselves the type of government that they want. We are talking of them as people and not as units in society, as the Australian Labor Party regards people both internally and externally. Australia is in Vietnam primarily to establish conditions in which the Vietnamese can choose for themselves. The attitude of the people at the present moment is therefore of the utmost importance.
I now wish to turn to a matter on which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke at some length. I refer to Australia’s aid programmes overseas. Arnold Toynbee wrote:
Our age will be remembered not for its terrifying crimes or its astonishing inventiveness but because it is the first generation in history in which mankind dared to believe it practicable to make the benefits of civilisation available to the whole human race.
– The Prime Minister uses that quote.
– That is quite so. I do not mind quoting him. In 1966 this intention cost the aid-giving world something like $ 10,500m, of which Australia contributed approximately $US140m.
– That was quite a good effort.
– This was money that we could use and, as the honourable member for Robertson has interjected, that was a good effort. There was a time when only war or some comparable crisis could have caused expenditure of that order each year. There is a crisis today in Asia, Africa and South America. There, a drop of one or two cents in the selling price of several major commodities not only would retard progress but also could change the course of our history. Nations are not developing socially as fast as their aspirations. This is our problem.
The devil riding behind us is population growth. In 33 years the population of the world is expected to reach 6 billion people and could go as high as 7.5 billion people. If we cannot quickly resolve the social problems of today’s 3 billion people the problem will fast become unmanageable, irredeemable, and catastrophic. The distinguished American, Eugene Black has said:
There is no more explosive political material than the doctor who knows what modern medicine can do but does not have the facilities to do his work; or the teacher who must teach, if at all, without text books; or the engineer without access to capital equipment; or the businessman without a place of business.
Aid is a continuation of war by other means. We fight for the minds of men. seeking allegiance to those concepts of government and social organisation which we value. We battle those circumstances of ignorance, poverty, disease, apathy and envy which militate against peace and progress and about which I have not heard the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), who is trying to interject, speak for some time. I will be very pleased to hear him speak later in the evening.
– I think the honourable member is going well.
– 1 thank the honourable member for Reid. It is hard to foresee the political results of providing capital, technical and other assistance to many foreign nations. Regimes come and go. Alliances form, break and re-form. Loyalties shift. At best, directing foreign aid can be said to be like pinning the tail on the donkey when one is blindfolded. At worst, in (be middle of the game somebody shoots the donkey, or you.
Aid is a sobering exercise because it uncovers our ignorance. We know little about the causes of poverty and probably more about how to get to Mars. Many of our assumptions are innocent, uninformed, contrary, and based on the chance of our own success. There are many claimed causes of poverty. Yet, to prescribe treatment on the basis of any one of them can be dangerous, costly and wasteful. If ignorance is the cause of poverty, provision for capital for airports will not help. If poverty is caused by land laws, better seed will not help. Most countries are caught in a vicious circle of shortages. These are shortages of education, good laws, investment cash and so on.
Although without diagnosis of a country’s poverty there can be no cure, some assumptions are necessary. Vietnam, for example, is not going to sit back and wait for an exhaustive study to be carried out. The Australian aid policy assumes that people are the common denominator of progress. No improvement is possible without improving people. Advance is most certain when people are liberated and educated. The first step is economic liberation in economic advancement. Until people have a part in economic progress then there is no real progress. Secondly, social justice is indispensable to social progress. These two assertions are perhaps the only ones which we can make with any degree of certainty. Indeed, in thinking about the solutions to poverty we should be modest and realise that we have much to be modest about. Because we guess so much there are failures from which we must learn and on the basis of which we must try harder. In truth, the world’s failures may well deter us. The American Government, each year since 1950, has provided in all sums approximating S3 billion to assist struggling countries towards economic betterment, and the failures always receive more prominence than the successes.
We might well ask ourselves whether it is worth the effort, but aid is not, I believe, a bribe. It has at its base the brotherhood of man. Nonetheless, it reflects the pragmatic assumption that man whose ambitions are being satisfied through adequate social opportunities is not a danger to the peace and security of the world. It reflects the view that people who have something to lose think hard before they start a fight. In conclusionI would like to make two brief suggestions to the Government. The first was raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and involves requesting the Minister for External Affairs to submit to the Treasurer that tax concessions should be allowed to approved voluntary aid agencies in Australia. I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that this would be a first rate move on the part of the Government. The adoption of this suggestion would lead to a greater interest in Asia and increase the numbers of those who are playing a part in the forming of closer ties with Asia and the further development of countries with which we are associated.
Secondly the Government should do more to encourage the growth in export trade of developing countries. Policy could be more enthusiastically directed towards overcoming depressed commodity prices received by many developing countries for their agricultural and light manufactured products. It is obvious that the advantages of aid are reduced if there is a simultaneous fall in export incomes due to an adverse movement of the terms of trade. Through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the biennial meetings of the
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Australia must work and agitate for greater trade concessions for the developing countries.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 15 August (vide page 73), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) read a third time.
– I present the fourth report of the Printing Committee. As the report is quite lengthy I have arranged for copies to be circulated to honourable members.
Report - by leave - agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.22 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Mr Howson) proposed:
That orders of the day Nos 4 to 6, Government business, be postponed until a later hour this day.
– This is an astonishing aberration and the result of bad planning and bad whipmanship on the other side of the chamber and due also to the Minister for Air (Mr Howson), who is now at the table, not knowing what was happening when the sitting was suspended. Opposition members were prepared to continue the earlier debate. The Government, through its mis-management, has now reached the stage where the orders of the day have to be changed and where the whole operation of the Parliament and our co-operation have been placed in jeopardy because of its mis-management before the suspension of the sitting. At that time the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Ian Allan) was not in his place and the Minister did not know what to do.
– The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has been slightly misinformed. I have moved the postponement of orders of the day Nos. 4 to 6 at the request of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. The Estimates have been dealt with by the Committee and have been passed. The honourable member who was in charge of the Opposition before the sitting was suspended agreed that the Estimates should go through and that was done. We then brought on the next order of the day and, at the request of the Opposition, moved on to other business. At the request of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) we are now proposing to deal with the Loan Bill. I understand that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports will soon be ready to address the House on the Loan Bill. Perhaps if the honourable member for Wills will continue to interject I might be able to speak for long enough to enable the honourable member for Melbourne Ports to be ready to proceed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 6 September (vide page 889), on motion by Mr Howson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) [8.31-1 do not think anybody could deny that I have been suddenly confronted by this Bill. This afternoon we had a very lengthy discussion on a petition and the anticipation for this evening was that a number of honourable members would be speaking on external affairs. It was proposed that there should be fifteen speakers from the Government side of the chamber and two from this side. When one honourable gentleman on the Government side finished speaking nobody rose and the business of the House was consequently thrown into confusion.
– That is right, and they fled. I have 45 minutes, unexpectedly, to talk on this matter so I am in no difficulty about time. I am suggesting that it is the function of the Government to keep the business going. This afternoon it was kept going for what was a pretty futile purpose and when it came to the point where Government supporters should have been in attendance they were missing. They had had enough of the-
– Smearing and confusions of the afternoon. When the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) finished speaking no other member of the Liberal Party was present in the House to follow him, despite the fact that fifteen Government speakers were listed to speak. All I am suggesting is that the only reason 1 am taking this Bill this evening is to keep the business of the House going. I am dealing with this matter because I refuse to deal with the Income Tax Bill which is not listed on the daily business paper as the next order of the day.
– What about it? Why should we not deal with that Bill?
– I refuse at 10 minutes notice to discuss the Income Tax Bill which deals with taxation to the value of about $3 ,000m. I think that Bill is worthy of more respect than for a member to be told 10 minutes beforehand that he is to speak on that measure. I am simply helping the Government out by speaking on the Loan Bill which would have been disposed of about a week ago if it were not for the fact that the Government found that constitutionally the Bill could not be decided until the Estimates had been disposed of. The Estimates were disposed of very abruptly this afternoon. If some of the honourable gentlemen opposite had been here between 6 and 6.30 p.m. the circumstances with which I am confronted would not have occurred.
– Where were they?
– I do not know where they were, but they were not here. As the Opposition member leading the debate on this Bill 1 feel that 1 am entitled to say why it has suddenly been called on. This Bill, which has a comparatively short title, is to authorise the raising and expending of moneys for defence purposes. Under what are known as the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States, certain decisions are made at the Premiers’ Conference and Loan Council as to the total amount of funds which will be raised on the loan market, but under the financial agreement of 1928-29 an exception is made so that sums which are :o be expended by the Commonwealth for defence purposes are exempted from the Loan Council arrangement. In other words, the Commonwealth can raise as much as it likes for defence purposes without abridging the rights of the States or the so-called gentleman’s agreement about the total.
I propose to say a little about the overall financial arrangements of the Commonwealth because I believe that sometimes there is a great deal of confusion in this matter. I happened to observe the Minister for Air (Mr Howson), who is now at the table, and my colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) the other evening engaged in a discussion about the costs of the FI IIA, B or C - I am not sure which.
– Did the honourable member find it interesting?
– I found it interesting, but also a little confusing, if I may say so. I have said before that I hardly know one aeroplane from another until I get into it and I find that the most uncomfortable aircraft to travel in is the Fokker Friendship because the seats are too close together. The argument on the ‘Four Corners’ programme the other evening was about the ultimate cost of the Fill and whether in view of that total cost it was a practicable proposition to commit the very small number of FI 1 l’s into the jungles of Vietnam. I thought the Minister for Air exercised some admirable discretion about whether this plane rather than that would go into combat. But the point in the proposition which interested me was when he said: ‘After all, this is a long term programme and we pay as we go’. I thought that was an interesting illustration of the difference between the realities of Govern ment and the confusions which the Government is prepared to intrude into public debate when certain suggestions are made by the Australian Labor Party as to whether certain desirable things should be done. The Government has a peculiar system of bookkeeping whereby anything that the Opposition suggests is costed as though it will happen tomorrow. At least in the arguments about the Fill aircraft and also the VIP aircraft both the Minister for Air and the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) were prepared to concede that these projects would take some years to encompass. 1 suggest that this is true about a lot of things that have to be done in the Australian economy. I think it is rather dishonest to suggest that it is possible suddenly to cost up propositions and assume that they will happen tomorrow.
The Bill before the House seeks authority to borrow up to $300m. The sum actually required may be substantially less than that. In a way this measure epitomises the whole financial provisions of the economy. I am sorry that I have not the relevant text to quote from but because I was only told 10 minutes ago that this Bill was to be discussed I was not able to obtain the documents that I wanted. As the Miniser assisting the Treasurer is aware, this year’s Budget was accompanied by more documents than ever, but with all respect I think that a lot less light is cast upon the performance of the economy than previously.
This afternoon I received from the United States of America a copy of the ‘First National City Bank Review’ for the month of September 1967 and in it is an article on the effects on the economy of what is called the ‘booming into the system of credit from the Federal Reserve Bank’. The thing that does not seem to be very clear in our economy is who ultimately gingers up the economy. With all respect to those people who prepare the Treasury documents, 1 think that they are a little confused about the ultimate relevance of the situation. For instance, at this time last year the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) made a forecast that he would have to find something like $500m to fill the gap between the estimated revenue and expenditure. He said that roughly $100m would be found from credits on defence orders in the United States and that $400m would have to be found either by access to the loan market or by calling on the Reserve Bank.
– He did not mention that this year.
– I know. The Government is slowly learning its lesson. I was interested to find in this article in the ‘First National City Bank Review’ that the Americans do not seem to worry whether they have a deficit of $15 billion or $22 billion, so long as there is a fair margin of performance. All I am suggesting is that this shows that the thing is fairly elastic. I can remember one famous election occasion when the question of purchasing F111 came up. A pretty hasty decision was made, as everybody knows. The Opposition had put up certain propositions–
– Its proposition was the TSR2.
– I am not arguing about the relative merits of the TSR2 and the Fl 1 1. What I am suggesting is that when we put up certain propositions which we thought might cost $300 and which we thought would be of advantage to the Australian community we were confronted by the question: Where is the money to come from? Yet suddenly, in the midst of that sort of argument, the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, announced that the Government would buy the F111 aircraft. I think that the estimated cost then, in round figures, was $56m. He said that the Government’ did not care where the money came from. This shows that propositions of this kind are arguable. The Government can decide to buy aircraft externally and say that it does not matter what they cost. The Minister for Air is on record as saying that we do not have to pay for them immediately. I suggest that the same thing applies to propositions made by the Opposition at election time.
Surely this is the kind of situation that the Parliament as a whole should face up to. On one occasion I was in some difficulty with your predecessor, Mr Speaker, when I described the Government’s action as a subterfuge. Perhaps I can find an alternate term this evening. I merely suggest that the proposition is not as cut and dried or as simple as it appears when we are told that we are discussing a Bill to authorise the raising of moneys for defence purposes.
I think the Minister at the table will agree with that. What we are suggesting is that in terms of the totality of the Budget outcome, it appears that the Government may have to find at least $300m by resort to the public loan market. When I was arguing the proposition in relation to the last Budget, I said that the Treasurer had suggested that of the $500m shortfall, $100m was to come from external sources - and it came. But the Treasurerhazarded a guess that of the $400m difference, about $250m would be found by Reserve Bank credit and $150m by loan market decisions. In the finish, the propositions were roughly the reverse. Instead of having to find $250m from the Reserve Bank the Government found $250m from the loan market decisions and less than $150m from Reserve Bank credit. Yet after an examination of all the documents that were produced, including the White Paper, the great moan, as it were, was that private investment was not as great as it should have been. It seems to me that the pundits who write in financial journals in Australia are just as confused as everybody else about this proposition.
The thing that determines whether the economy in Australia ticks over one way rather than another way, is ultimately not the aggregate, which at the moment is in the region of the gross national product of $23 billion. The last figure given was actually about $200m less than that, but it will surely be readjusted to about $23 billion when the White Paper is reprinted in a few months time. One per cent of $23 billion is $230m. AsI see it, the main arguments about the Australian economy at present are whether sums of the order of $100m or $200m - if you like, about onehalf of 1% or 1% of the gross national product - shall be spent, more or less, in the public sector than in the private sector. That seems to be the kind of context in which these matters have to be evaluated. I believe that honourable members opposite themselves accept that.
All I suggest is that there is a difference between what the Government says in a debate like this and what the Government Parties say when they go on the hustings. There is an ambivalence in their attitude, if you like. I have heard it said that when Labor takes office, it will use the printing press. What does the expression ‘printing press’ mean in this context? I happen to have, fortunately for me, a $5 note in my pocket. This note is simply a token, if one likes to describe it, which will be accepted at most of the places where I want to spend it. There are many places where I would like to spend it, but I can spend it only once. Surely that is the kind of limitation within which all economies work: We cannot always do as much as we would like to do. In other words we have to have priorities; we have to make choices. One of the choices that can be made - this is where the Government can tip the balance decisively - is to have more public investment relative to private investment. The great quarrel that I have with this Government is that it hopes that private investment will fill the breach, but if that does not happen, it will come along slowly afterwards and use the public sector to fill the gap. All I suggest is that this Government comes along far too slowly and far too late, and in consequence the economy suffers.
– Why does the honourable member say that?
– In answer to that interjection, I suggest that the Minister ought to look about the city in which he and I happen to live - that sprawling metropolis of Melbourne. On nearly every corner up the hill from Bourke Street, he will see in the course of erection great building frames. Some of these have the unfortunate habit of toppling on to the public occasionally. The Minister will find under construction buildings for oil companies and insurance companies and new headquarters for banks, including even the Reserve Bank of Australia. He will find that institutions such as the Monash University, the Central School at Doveton or the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology cannot complete new buildings fast enough. The situation in Queensland, Western Australia and all the other States is similar to that in Victoria, and the same arguments apply. I say categorically that it would be far better, in terms of the future advancement of Victoria, if new buildings for the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology were completed more rapidly than, say, a new headquarters building for the Standard oil company, some insurance company or some other commercial enterprise. This is the basic sort of argument that is implied in the consideration of a measure of this kind.
The Government has to find an additional S300m for defence. In many respects it is required to find it, not to provide any greater volume of equipment, but because costs have risen well beyond the original reckoning. Twelve months ago, I happened to be making very much the same sort of speech as I am making now and I asked: Is Australia any safer because the Fill aircraft are to cost $300m instead of $200m?
– Cost plus has been operating.
– Cost plus may have something to do with it. We find now that the original figure did not include spares and maintenance requirements. Honourable members opposite and sometimes even the Press are prepared to jeer at the cost of the Opera House in Sydney. I am not here to defend the Opera House or do anything else about it. All I suggest is that its ultimate cost of $23 m is less than one-quarter of the difference between the original estimated cost of the Fill aircraft and what now appears to be the ultimate cost
– The honourable member sometimes muddles the distinction between capital payments and maintenance payments.
– It is all very well for the Minister to talk about capital payments and maintenance payments, but what is the position with respect to the Opera House? If it is considered to be a muddle, I am prepared to concede that. But the transaction over the Fill machines is more than four times as great a muddle. Surely we have to weigh considerations of this kind. I hoped that the Fill aircraft would be better than apparently it is and that it would be cheaper than it will finally be. However, expectations for this aircraft are not to be realised. It seems that when things like this are said in this chamber often the people in the Press gallery take little notice of them. But when, suddenly, the Press gets on to the same thing 12 months later, it gives rise to headlines. I suggest that the people in the Press gallery ought to refer to the Hansard records for October 1966. If they do, they will read the same sort of observations as I am making now. What has happened simply demonstrates the bungling, mismanagement and miscalculation for which this Government is responsible. There has been in respect of the Fill aircraft a miscalculation of the order of $100m. In relation to these marginal sums with which we are dealing, this means the difference between public and private spending. Surely this is the fundamental issue that we in this House ought to face up to.
My colleague, the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths), who is not present just now, has put arguments, with which I agree, about the peculiar bookkeeping system that is adopted in evaluating the national accounts. The other evening, another of my colleagues, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), discussed what he described as a captive market for government bonds. What we are witnessing on the Australian scene at present is duck shoving, if one so likes to describe it, by cautious investors who have to choose between investment in government securities at a safe return of from 5% to 5i% and private investment. Even if the 5% to 5i% is safe and guaranteed, they are entitled to ask: Should $100m extra be spent on aeroplanes that we thought would be $100m cheaper than they have proved to be? Surely these are the arguments that we have ultimately to face. As I see it, the position is epitomised in the particular measure before us. Technically this is an innocent enough measure. The sort of people who determine, when it suits them, whether ore or bauxite at a certain price or even natural gas at a certain price is a viable or non-viable proposition do not seem to offer any criticism of something which was originally to cost $200m and which turns out to cost $300m. We have not even an accurate answer for the final cost yet. However, in the totality of Government accounts, surely this is the proposition. Here we have, as I tried to suggest earlier, an economy running at a certain level.
– It is running at a high level.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service calls it a high level. However, it is high related to what? Is it as high as it ought to be, higher than it might be or only as high as it is because prices are high? It seems, in some respects, that the sky is the limit.
Earlier this afternoon I was listening to one of my colleagues talking about someone he met on a plane who is $100,000 richer today because of some financial manipulation in a proposition called Longreach Oil.
– It is on paper only.
– I am glad the honourable member says this. All it means is that one shrewdy is richer by $100,000 because a lot of foolish people have been inveigled into buying at a certain price. As I said the other day I am on the side of the nonspeculator. I am on the side of the people who want to live decently in Australia in 1967. To my mind we are still one of most fortunate communities in the world.
– This has quite a lot to do with Government policy.
– I am suggesting that Government policy is not as significant as it ought to be. Insofar as it is significant it is giving the ‘benefits to the few rather than to the many. I claim, and I think that my colleagues claim - Government supporters can contest this if they like - that we stand for the many against the few. One of the ways in which the many can be protected against the few is by way of the kind of decisions that are made at the public level. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) and the Minister for Air (Mr Howson) who are interjecting from the table are making it a bit difficult. I am trying to hear what they are saying but I am hoping that they will listen to what I say.
– We are listening.
– I hope you are. I suggest that the two Ministers retreat a few feet away from me so that I can at least advance my arguments. It is the Government’s fault that this Bill is being debated at this particular time. With all respect I would have appreciated-
– It is on the notice paper.
– It is not on the blue sheet. I hope that the Government Whip will not be too severely rebuked for the fiasco that occurred just before dinner. Normally in this House we have our dinner break from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. However, this has been curtailed by a decision of the House recently and is now from 6.30 p.m. Suddenly, tonight at 6.15, out of about 75 supporters of the Government, no-one was able to rise after one of their members ceased speaking.
– We were waiting for your speakers but they were not here.
– The Deputy Whip, of course, is trying to win his spurs. He may win them at the expense of the humiliated gentleman here. However, this is something for honourable members opposite to argue. In answer to the honourable member’s interjection I point out that this Bill is not listed on the blue sheet
– What is a notice paper for?
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order! I would suggest to the Ministers at the table that they cease interjecting.
– What does the honourable member mean by saying ‘what is a notice paper for’? Does he mean that we should begin at 10.30 a.m. and go through the notice paper even if it means sitting till 10.30, or midnight on Sunday? This is not the way that Parliament orders its business. lt orders its business by what is called a blue sheet’. I suggest to honourable members that the blue sheet expires at an item shown as ‘Printing Committee’. It refers to the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) who delivered himself of his remarks to the chamber to his great astonishment at 6.25 p.m. There was nothing left to go on with. But what of the other items? If honourable members wish, I will state in public that it was suggested to me, at near enough to ten minutes notice, that I should debate firstly the Income Tax Bill which applies to taxation on individuals and companies to a magnitude of nearly $300,000m and second that I should debate the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) which deals with what will be taxed and what will not be taxed. I objected. I said that I was willing enough to talk about this Bill which could have been debated a week ago except for a technical difficulty which meant that it could not be debated until the Estimates were finished. I am doing the best I can under the circumstances.
We have before us a measure which the House apparently would have been prepared to concede without debate. It involves
S300m which is ostensibly for defence. I believe it is arguable. If the honourable member for North Sydney will be prepared in a moment to get up and tell me that because this Government is spending $1,1 18m on defence this year somehow, suddenly, the country is better defended or protected than it was 12 years ago when the expenditure was $900m, I will be interested to hear his comments. All I am suggesting is that at least $100m of that sum is attributable to the same hardware as last year. I think honourable members opposite understand what I mean. The hardware is costing the Government $100m more than it thought it would cost. I would suggest that there is probably a pretty good case for having a defence estimates committee of this House. The sum of $10Om is about one-tenth of our total expenditure. I believe that there could be all sorts of arguments between the Army, Navy and Air Force as to what the proper proportion of expenditure should be. However, we do not receive much of the details in this place unfortunately. It seems to me that all we get day after day are sterile arguments, on whether we are saving ourselves from Communism. I do not want to raise this matter again this evening. However, at least this seems to me to be an interesting exercise.
I have raised a number of problems. I would like both the under-Treasurer and the Acting Treasurer to explain to me why it does not matter much to the economy that whereas 12 months ago the Government said that of a sum of $400m, $250m would come from Reserve Bank credits and $150m would come from loans, the picture is now reversed. All I suggest is that it does make some difference to the economy. I think the reason it happened as it did is that private enterprise, about which the Government prates so much as being the mainspring of economic activity, for some reason is not as confident as it ought to be. In my view, it is less confident in the few months that have passed since 1st July 1967 than the Government assumed it would be. The Government should be asking itself why private investment is as laggard as it is. This is open to argument, but I should think that one of the reasons is that the real purchasing power of the majority of the Australian community is less now than it was, say, 3 or 6 months ago, because, as revealed by the national incomes statistics, prices in the last quarter were rising at a rate equivalent to 5% per annum. This means, if we were thinking in terms of the old currency, that ls has been filched out of every £1 or, in terms of dollars, 5c has been filched out of every $1 in the last 12 months. No adjustment whatever was made to pensions and the Government was reluctant to increase wages. Yet the Government seems to be somewhat astonished that the performance of private investment is not what it would like it to be.
These are the questions that we ought to be considering in this Bill. Why is private investment as laggard as it is? This may be a simple proposition, although I do nol know whether propositions about complicated economic circumstances can always be simple. With all respect to private investment, I think that it is not as forthcoming as it would like to be because it is not optimistic about its future profit position. The reason for this is that the real purchasing power of the majority of the community is not rising as rapidly as it might. I leave that as a final thought, because I believe that in the long run, in terms of a given possibility, there can be arguments as to how much should be given to consumption and how much to investment. Equally there can be arguments as to how much of the investment should be public investment and how much private investment. There can be differing views as to how much of savings, which is the source of investment, comes from internal or external sources.
All I submit is that the Government is failing to face up to these considerations. In many respects, the Australian economy is on the eve of a great new boom, particularly in the field of mineral development. However, I do not think that the way the Government is going about mineral development will give either the best advantage to the internal economy or the maximum advantage to the development of the mineral fields. Recently, I read a survey of our mineral exports that I had received from a stockbroking firm. I am no lover of the stock exchange. As I have said before in this House, I have never owned a share in my life. Maybe I am a relic of the past, but nevertheless I believe that there are many things wrong-
– The honourable member has a share in Melbourne Ports.
– I have a substantial share in Melbourne Ports, because of the common sense of the people. However, the other day I read an optimistic forecast that by 1975, on a pretty low assessment of the potentialities, Australia’s export earnings from minerals could rise by some $800m. The gratifying feature about this is that we will then, I hope, be less dependent on foreign investment. I think we have reached a critical stage in our economy and we ought to be saying: ‘Is it right that our natural resources should be developed and exploited for the advantage of the Australian people or for the advantage of foreign investors?’
– We would not have had that rapid growth in exports without an inflow of overseas capital.
– I have said time and time again that there is a case for a certain amount of foreign investment in Australia, but equally there is a case for setting the terms and conditions upon which foreign investors will be allowed to exploit developments within Australia. I still think that one of the craziest happenings in most of our capital cities is that, when we decide to rebuild part of our cities, we think we cannot do it unless we call tenders abroad. What is wrong with the Australian building industry that it cannot build skyscrapers, if we want them, all the way from Bourke Street to the Victoria Market by using the skills and the know-how that we have in Australia. Why must we have foreign investors? I take the challenge from the other side of the House that perhaps some know-how must necessarily be imported, but this does not apply to all the basic decisions that must be made. The difference between the Opposition and the Government is that we do not believe that we must willy nilly have foreign exploitation. We believe in the purposeful development of the Australian economy. Like most economies, in the years ahead more than 90% of our development - perhaps close to 100% - will have to be done out of our own resources by the proper and sensible utilisation of the skills and capacities that we have.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I pay a tribute to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) who always produces arguments of the kind he advanced tonight on a rational basis rather than excessively flogging the emotional angle. He dealt with a number of factors. He mentioned the uncertainty that always must accompany any Budget estimates. We do not know how much in fact will be raised by loans and inevitably any Budget estimates must depend in part on the prediction of what will occur in the loan market, which is naturally volatile. We are now discussing an economy that is abu.lient and restive, and an economy that is virtually fully employed. Any change over a very small percentage in the total volume of activity could throw policy considerations in one direction or another.
We consider the Budget, although very carefully and with the best advice available, at a time which can inevitably, because of the very fullness with, which we keep our resources employed, be followed by circumstances in which the discernible trend is in a different direction. I am sure that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports would be the first to admit that this is so all over the world. But surely this does not mean that because of factors which operate at a particular moment we can suddenly say: ‘Look, in this huge national income a sudden increase of $10Om or $200m in one direction or another does not matter’. Of course it matters profoundly. The type of expenditures which the honourable member advocates as a result of this policy would mean that once we agreed upon the expenditures and started - to put them under way they would be with us forever after.
From time to time, because of fluctuations in a healthy and large economy operatat full employment level, a switch of resources from one direction to another can have very large effects in a relatively short time. But within the following months the application of resources not under our control could switch in the other direction. No Government which did not entirety compress, design, order and virtually put the economy into a strait jacket could ever behave otherwise than to make the best estimates it can, be prepared to meet whatever changes take place and, by its alertness and excellent official advice, be prepared to meet the consequences. It must inevitably be careful to ensure that what it builds into the Australian economy, which is likely to become a permanent feature, is very carefully considered.
I am glad to say that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports pointed to the large increase in export earnings which unless something quite catastrophic occurs, we have every right to expect to accrue to us in the future. Of course the Government, although rejoincing with the rest of Australia in these extra potential resources, certainly takes no complacent view. Other exports can go through a dull period and other things can happen. Over the years this economy has notoriously been subject to huge fluctuations, and whether it be a Labor government, a Liberal government or any other government In power, it cannot obviate the fact that we have heavy seasonal fluctuations in Australia and also suffer fluctuations in the prices which other countries pay for our products. This, in itself, is a very considerable part of our national life. We are one of the great international traders. We wish so to adjust our affairs that we can cope with fluctuations as they arise and meet changing circumstances as they come along. As 1 have said, I am glad that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports referred to our exports.
He also expressed the view that we were becoming less dependent on foreign investment. Every Australian would like to run everything, own everything and still develop this country as quickly as we can. But in this respect we face certain facts of life. These resources have been with us for many years. Anyone in Australia has been free to exploit them. We have a growing proportion of new ventures in Australian hands because everyone in Australia is gradually waking up to this fact. But these resources would never have been developed but for foreign investment, know-how and enterprise. As these foreign concerns operate in Australia they become acclimatised to the Australian economy. They become increasingly managed by people born in Australia and they become part of Australia.
It is the ambition of every honourable member in this House to see that the greatest proportion of these new developments is owend by Australians. But we on this side of the House certainly are not foolish enough to say that all these ventures should be owned wholly by Australians. If we asserted this type of policy many of these developments would not occur. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports seemed to indicate that we do not consider these things. This is not so owing particularly to the restrictions placed on British and American capital coming to Australia because of their own exchange position. The effect of this new policy which has crept up overseas has meant that we have examined extremely closely all of the issues involved. We have imposed closely considered guide lines as to how we match overseas capital with Australian capital. But the fact of life is that capital inflow varies in proportion to our total investment from year to year and we have to cope with this.
Australian capital provides 90% of our investment programme. On an average we receive 10% of our capital from overseas. But with this 10% we have the advantage of very large imports of technical knowledge and know-how, particularly in the mining sphere and also in other spheres, notably manufacturing, which otherwise would not be available to us. This 90% of Australian capital represents a very high proportion in savings of our gross national product by Australian people. But over and above what we can produce ourselves, we get this influx of foreign capital with its know-how and techniques which add very considerably to our total national income and our potential for the future.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports made one or two other points in this connection. He asked why we cannot rebuild our cities solely from our own resources. He asked why Australian interests and capital cannot do this work. Of course, the answer is that to a large extent they do carry out this work. Why do we accept the extra techniques which are forthcoming with overseas capital? The reason is that these techniques add very considerably to our resources. They enable the development of the Australian economy to take place quicker and with greater resources than would otherwise be the case. It would be extremely difficult to acquire all these techniques in Australia overnight, because in many directions they do not exist at the present time.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports was concerned about the question of take-overs. This is another aspect which the Australian Government watches very closely. In part, take-overs are a world wide matter. The operations of companies involved in industry or commerce very often have to be on a large scale in order to be economic. In this process we are concentrating our activities and import techniques to operate on a large scale. It is no good looking too carefully at every particular proposition because if we do, as a matter of Government policy we tie up foreign capital in so many knots that it just will not be attracted here. The Government is as alert to the nationalistic calculations mentioned by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports as is the Opposition. But the real difference between us is that we of the Government are not prepared to carry this to the Nth degree as a purely doctrinaire policy. The basic policy of the Government is to collect as many resources on as great a scale as possible and to acquire as much know-how as possible so that the development of Australia shall proceed at the most rapid pace possible. In the process we are becoming a stronger nation and a more independent one.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Howson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16th August (vide page 119), on motion by Mr Fairbairn:
That the Bill be now read a second time
– This Bill, the long title of which shows that it is a Bill to grant financial assistance to the States in connection with the measurement and investigation of their water resources, has the support of the Opposition. The Bill provides for an accelerated programme of stream measuring. It provides money to increase the number of gauging stations. The distribution of Commonwealth funds is set out in the schedules to the Bill. For surface water the amount for 1967-68 will be $770,500, for 1968-69 it will be $830,900, and for 1969-70 it will be $926,000. For underground water the totals for the same three years will be $625,100, $663,350 and $684,150 respectively. These amounts are greater than those provided in previous legislation dealing with the measurement of Australia’s water resources. lt is of tremendous importance to all Australians that this measurement work be carried out. Australia is undoubtedly the driest continent in the world and it is important that the fullest possible information should be gleaned so that policies will be formulated on sound grounds. It would be a most unhappy situation if something happened in the future similar to what has already happened in respect of the Chowilla Dam project, on which $5m has been spent and which has now been declared an unsuitable project because of difficulties with salinity or for some other technical reason. We believe that the fullest investigations should be made, and that action should then be taken to initiate effective programmes for the provision of adequate water supplies for the people of our nation. 1 could give many illustrations of the great need for water in various parts of Australia, not only in the great outback areas for which water supply programmes have been discussed year in and year out, but also in the great capital cities. Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia, is a case in point. In Tasmania the hydroelectric system faces difficulties arising from shortage of water. I understand that in Rockhampton, the major city of the electorate of Capricornia, water restrictions have been imposed. Throughout Australia the problem of water shortage arises from time to time.
I should like at this time to offer a word of thanks to the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) for the very valuable information he furnishes to me and other members on this side of the House, and for keeping us generally informed on developments not only in the narrow field that we are discussing this evening but also in respect of other matters relating to national development. I should like also to pay a tribute to the Water Resources Council for the splendid work it has done. I should also say a word in praise of the Water Research Foundation of Australia. These are worthy bodies, and frequently. I believe, the Australian community takes such authorities for granted. People generally are unaware that organisations such as these are engaged in work which is vitally important to the people of our country, and consequently scant credit is paid to them. The Water Research Foundation of Australia has rendered outstanding service to Australia over the period of its existence.
It is a fact that Australia needs vast quantities of water. We have too few rivers and we do not know enough about their capacities. It is only by carrying out a measurement programme as provided for in this Bill that we can obtain the basic information that is required. The first official assessment of Australia’s water resources, which appears in a report published by the Water Resources Council, shows that the average annual discharge of all Australian rivers combined is about 280 million acre feet. This is equivalent to a runoff of 1.8 inches over the whole country, including Tasmania. The total Australian river flow is less than the annual discharge of the St Lawrence River in North America.
Our water needs are considerable. In Sydney up to 400 million gallons of water is used on hot days. This is more than the daily usage of London, a city of 8 million people. In the United States water use is increasing at the rate of 25,000 gallons a minute. When we look at the allimportant question of basic needs we find that 90 gallons a day are required for each person, or 163 tons a year. For our total population we need 380,000 million gallons a year. We require 75 gallons daily for every 100 sheep, or 112 million gallons a day for a total sheep population of 157 million.
The figures that I am reciting show quite clearly the magnitude of the problem facing the people of Australia in providing adequate water supplies for this nation. It is obviously necessary that as much information as possible should be collected. This is not, of course, a new problem. It has been considered by the Parliament on numerous occasions. Going back over the years in search of information I found a most interesting report of the Rural Reconstruction Commission, submitted in 1945, on irrigation, water conservation and land drainage. This report was submitted to the Honourable J. J. Dedman, who was then Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. It was dated 1 1th December 1945 and some of its recommendations are most interesting. They included a recommendation:
That the survey of river catchments and the recording of river gauging should be encouraged so as to supply the fundamental data on which future satisfactory irrigation schemes may be based.
That was one of the recommendations in 1945, but 22 years have elapsed since then. Insufficient has been done in this field. More must be done, and done quickly, in coming to grips with this question. We cannot look forward to building a mass population in Australia unless something dramatic is done about our water problem. The Commonwealth Government must accept its rightful role as the leader in formulating a balanced programme.
The Australian Labor Party has submitted a plan for a national conservation authority to deal with all aspects of the question, including the gauging of streams, works investigations, surveys and designs. The workers of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority could be used in other parts of Australia to give effect to programmes that are necessary for ensuring sufficient water in Australia to meet the needs of a foreseeable future population of 20 million to 25 million people. The Rural Reconstruction Commission in 1945 suggested that every southern river of Australia as well as many of the northern rivers should be harnessed and the water conserved. This is an important matter, but quite often it is passed over because it is regarded as one of the smaller matters in the affairs of government. This disturbs me, because we should be conserving water and making provision for the expansion of our nation. Yet the steam and heat of Parliament is allowed to fill the chamber in respect of matters of far less importance to the future development of Australia.
The provision of funds for the States in respect of water conservation work is to be commended, but the States have a responsibility to play their part with the Commonweath Government in bringing about the objectives of the measurement of streams and the undertaking of the necessary works essential for the provision of the water required in Australia. In the ‘Water Resources Newsletter* of October 1966 is a report of a symposium ‘The Exposure of Drought* in Sydney in August 1966. The patron of the Men of the Land Society, Sir William McKell, warned that rural New South Wales was going through probably the most crucial period in its history. The report of the symposium states, in part:
The New South Wales Minister for Conservation in opening the symposium said it was estimated the drought had cost the Australian economy $ 1,500m and had adversely affected non-rural industries. Mr Beale emphasised that the drought was not yet over, and said the major dams were now at their lowest level since they were first filled, and main regulating dams ranged from empty to only part full.
This certainly was a stern warning to all Australians, particularly to the Commonwealth Parliament and the States, that they should become active and do something about conserving water. Measuring streams is important but we must proceed from that stage with positive objectives. We measure streams and determine flows, and we get valuable information. The Minister has referred to the great flows of water available in some streams and to the lack of water in other streams. Action must be taken. We look over the broad field of Australia and we see a sorry spectacle - the picture of a dry continent, a thirsty continent in which drought is costing it about $ 1,500m.
The Minister for National Development has made certain proposals. The Government suggested that $50m would be provided over a 5 year period for water conservation purposes, but almost 1 year has elapsed since the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) made this announcement in his policy speech and nothing has been done. 1 believe that action is urgently needed. It is interesting to study figures relating to river basin areas, gauging stations and average annual discharges. This information is made available by the Department of National Development in its ‘Review of Australia’s Water Resources 1963’. I should like to see a greatly accelerated programme, especially in those regions where water is most urgently required. 1 refer particularly to the border rivers of New South Wales and Queensland. It is imperative that information should be obtained regarding the border rivers that feed into the Darling River, the longest river in Australia. All border rivers ought to be harnessed. In examining the information supplied by the Department we note that the Maclntyre and Dumaresq River basin has an adopted drainage area of 19,100 square mites, all of which is gauged. This basin has 29 automatic type gauging stations and 9 staff type stations, making a total of 38 ganging stations. The Moonie River basin has an adopted drainage area of 6,000 square miles but only three staff type gauging stations. The Gwydir River basin, with an adopted drainage area of 10,010 square miles, has two automatic gauging stations and nine manual or staff type stations. It is clear that we need to improve our water gauging system. It is true that in respect of a number of Australian rivers considerable information is available. I refer to the Burdekin, Fitzroy, Dawson and Nogoa rivers and the Nathan Gorge in Queensland as welt as the Ord River in Western Australia.
The Minister and the Government have a bounden duty and responsibility to come to grips immediately with this question. The utilisation of information is inadequate at present and positive steps must be taken without delay to harness our rivers and get on with the job of providing the water necessary for an expanding population and for enabling the development of our mineral resources which wilt make Australia one of the great nations of the world. The Opposition supports the Bill. We welcome this opportunity of thanking the Minister and commending members of the Water Resources Council and others associated with this important undertaking. But we express the view that insufficient is being done. What we need is a national conservation authority to deal with this matter in its broadest implications. In commending the measure we can only hope that further progressive steps will be taken in the interest of the people of this nation.
– The Country Party definitely supports this Bill. I have always said in this place that we must have a system of priorities. Our first priority must be defence. Our second should be water conservation. There is not the slightest doubt that water conservation can do more than anything else towards the progress of this country and its continued stability. Somebody might ask: What about social services? We must remember that if we have the water to grow our produce, our improved economic state will enable us to do other things, such as help not only our own people but also other countries. Unless we are prosperous we cannot do these things. So any move to give us a greater water supply will help this nation considerably. 1 thank the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) for the careful attention he has always paid to any request that I have made in relation to irrigation, water flow and water conservation. The Minister visited the Mallee electorate - Mildura, down to Robinvale, through Boundary Bend and Swan Hill and across to Kerang. He spoke with the people of the area and explained the Government’s water conservation programme. The people of that area are very dependent on water. The soldier settlers at Mildura, Robinvale, Nyah, Woorinen, Kerang, Tresco and other places must have water if they are to prosper. Water is essential for the stability of the excellent towns and cities that have been built in the area. The Minister made a good impression on his visit. We regard him as a man of great sincerity and knowledge; a man desirous of doing his best for Australia. He is responsible for an area much bigger than the Mallee electorate or the Murray Valley, but if I speak about this area it is only because I have a better knowledge of it than I have of other part3 of Australia.
I have always been a great advocate of water conservation. On various occasions 1 have suggested that what we need in the Murray Valley is a Murray Valley authority. At present control of the water of the Murray River rests with the River Murray Commission, which does a very good job. The Minister is chairman of the Commission. The Commission is composed of representatives from South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and the Commonwealth. But it has authority only over the water in the river. Once the water gets away from the river the Commission has no authority. The very composition of the Commission leads to State jealousies. If we had a Murray Valley authority it would not be necessary to have the States bring down legislation before action could be taken in respect of the water in the Murray River and we would be able to supply more water of better quality to help in irrigation and production in the Murray Valley.
This Bill deals with the gauging of rivers, irrigation and, generally speaking, water conservation. Only yesterday the Minister received a deputation from landholders in my area who told him that the salinity of the River Murray is causing a great deal of concern to primary producers along the river - to dried fruit growers, citrus growers, vegetable growers and others who use the water for the production of pasture. These people are concerned because every now and then a big slug of salt comes down the river. If you were to spray the orange trees with that salty water you would probably defoliate them and damage the fruit. We believe that the grants provided under this Bill for gauging purposes can help not only in measuring the flow of rivers, which is very important, but also in providing information as to the salt content. This is important because immediately it is known that a slug of salt is coming down the river, irrigation ceases until the slug has passed. I understand that the deputation which waited on the Minister yesterday asked that water be released from the Eucumbene Dam so as to flush through the Murray and get rid of the salt. But the problem is not so easily solved. The water that is used for irrigation collects a certain amount of salt and if the irrigation is shallow the sun evaporates the water leaving the salt behind. This salt is channelled back into the river, causing the salt content of the river to rise.
Under this Bill not a large amount of money will be distributed to the States, but the grants are a step in the right direction. The amount has been increasing yearly. The grants provided under this Bill are for this year and the next 2 financial years. As well as being devoted to the purposes I have already mentioned the grants will aid in the investigation of underground water supplies. We in Victoria firmly believe that underground water supplies can be exploited to the advantage of this country. Even in the Mallee electorate near the town of Murrayville you will see crops growing well and sheep doing remarkably well on underground water. There is a great prospect of obtaining underground water in greater quantities for the good of the area and the general good of Australia. In introducing the Bill the Minister said:
This Bill concerns financial grants to the States over this and the succeeding two financial years to accelerate the measurement of the flow of rivers and the investigation and measurement of underground water resources. Honourable members will know that, as a result of a recommendation by the Australian Water Resources Council, the Commonwealth and State Governments three years ago adopted an accelerated programme of surface and underground water investigations.
These investigations have been proceeding, but we believe that they should be accelerated. This is a matter of particular importance at this time. As honourable members may know, Victoria has not had a big drought for 20 years. We have had some dry periods, but for 20 years we have not had a real drought. But Victoria faces the prospects of a drought today. When drought appears and crops are poor and when water for stock and domestic purposes becomes scarce, our minds turn to water conservation. So it is appropriate that we should be discussing this Bill tonight. The aim of the programme of stream gauging is to achieve a basic network of stream gauging stations. In his speech the Minister said:
Progress with the work of underground water assessment has been such that in the light of new knowledge the Water Resources Council has asked for preparation of a new underground water map of Australia to replace that published with the “Review of Australia’s Water Resources 1963’.
Things move so swiftly in this field that the map prepared in 1963 is now out of date. We have gone ahead with investigations and discovered ways in which water can be conserved. A new map has now been prepared and more money is available. The
Bill provides for financial assistance to the States and the amounts proposed do not include expenditure on the measurement and investigation of water resources in the Northern Territory. Special provision is made for that purpose. With additional money being made available and the States also contributing a share much more will be available than was previously the case. The distribution of Commonwealth funds for this year and the next 2 years is set out in the schedules to the Bill. For the convenience of honourable members I propose to state those figures briefly. For surface water In 1967-68 a total of $770,500 is to be made available; in 1968-69 the amount is $830,900; in 1969-70 the amount will be $926,000. In addition to those amounts for underground water the totals in the respective years are $625,100, $663,350 and $684,150. Honourable members will see that the amounts increase each year.
I listened very carefully to the previous speaker who said what should be done immediately. I believe that investigations must come first and that instead of saying these things should be done immediately we should ask that they be done as soon as possible. We must get on with this job. In this House and in other places for a long time I have advocated the pipelining of water. Perhaps some of the money to be made available under the Bill could be used to investigate this possibility. I believe that if we could pipeline the water already available in our storages we would achieve as much as could be gained by duplicating the storages that we now have. In very dry years we cannot fill our storages. Therefore we must make the best use of the water that we have. I have been looking through a publication known as the ‘Riverlander’, which is a journal of Australia’s great irrigation belt- the Murray, Goulburn and Mumimbidgee. This is the official organ of the Murray Valley Development League. This is a valuable publication and everything in it is aimed at greater production. I propose to read part of one article which carries the heading ‘Victoria in Low Water*. I do not often read from publications in this place but I propose to read this as H is important. The publishers of this journal have compiled figures for the benefit of those who read the journal and they could not be put to better use than by being repeated in this place. The article states:
The height of the Victorian storages in the last week of August obliged the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission to warn of possible serious reduction’ in supplies to irrigators in the Goulburn-Murray. District, although by drawing on the carry-over from 1966-67 ‘it will be possible to deliver water rights’. In recent seasons irrigators have enjoyed up to 165% of water rights.
They are now having difficulty in supplying the water rights, which shows that there has been a very great fall in the water available. The article continues:
The volume in the major storages supplying the district, including Lake Hume (combined capacity 6,017,000 acre feet), on December 1966 was 5,932,000 acre feet, only 85,000 acre feet below full capacity. About the close of the 1966- 67 irrigation season, .on May 19, combined storage had fallen to 3,664,000 acre feet, and by August 22 had risen only to 3,883,000 acre feet, a gain of less than 220,000 acre feet in over 3 months, months.
Those 3 months are the ones that we have come to regard as our wet season, lt continues:
Lake Hume on August 22 held 1,230,000 acre feet (capacity 2,500,000 acre feet) and 2,189,000 acre feet were in Lake Eildon (capacity 2,750,000 acre feet). Waranga Reservoir (capacity 333,000 acre feet) held 212,900 acre feet; Lake Eppalock (capacity 252,800 acre feet) almost 159,000 acre feet, and the Loddon river storages, - Cairn Curran and Tullaroop Reservoirs, (combined capacity 180,600 acre feet) together held 93,300 acre feet.
From this information it is apparent that we are approaching a very serious time. It is fortunate that the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission is able in these extremely dry times to supply the irrigators with the water to which they are entitled under their irrigation rights. I have read these figures from the ‘Riverlander’ to give honourable members an idea of how serious the situation is.
Some reference has been made to city water supplies. Melbourne already has water restrictions and if dry conditions were to continue until next autumn Melbourne would be in a serious plight. I do not want to cast gloom on the situation but it is becoming more than ever necessary to move quickly, as was suggested by the previous speaker, in case by some mischance we are entering a cycle of dry seasons. This is always possible in Australia. Years ago when I went to live in the Warracknabeal district, if we had one good season we could rely on it being followed by two or three bad seasons. People who lived in that area at that time will agree with what I have said. For the last 20 years there have been many record crops as a result of tremendously good seasons, as a result of which this country has prospered. We are dependent upon our water supply for primary production and we are dependent on primary production to bring prosperity to Australia, so that we can build up our overseas balances and buy from other countries for our secondary industries raw materials which are not procurable here and without which secondary industry could not continue to function satisfactorily in Australia. In saying this I am not speaking only as a member of the Country Party about what happens in country areas; I am speaking as a Country Party member of the need for an adequate water supply because this is a national problem. The supply of water helps everybody in Australia.
The Country Party gives this Bill its full support. There is little more that I need to say about it. I have tried to impress on honourable members the need for everything to be done to ensure an adequate water supply. I have spoken of pipelining. Perhaps I could conclude with a few more words on the pipelining of water. It has been said by a very great expert that in certain parts of the Mallee electorate, from the time water leaves the storage at, say, Lake Hume, until it reaches some dam in the outback Mallee district, 97% of it is lost. A loss so great as that sounds ridiculous. I would say that generally 50% or 60% is lost. In the arid Mallee region where sand drifts into the channels and water takes a long time to move even a few yards much of it disappears in seepage. Of course when it is in the dam much is lost by evaporation, but seepage counts for the greatest loss. The pipelining of water would greatly reduce this loss. Some people say that we could not afford the pipelines and that they would cost so many millions of dollars. But do they not realise that most new crops which we could grow need irrigation? We can grow wheat without irrigation and run sheep on dry country, but we can fatten lambs better on irrigated areas. Irrigation is necessary for the great dried fruits industry at Sunraysia, Robinvale and in other places. Look at the number of people who depend on it. Many of them are returned soldiers. What a magnificent job they have done not only for the area and not only for Victoria but for Australia. This is a big export industry and it adds very considerably to the overseas credits with which we buy certain raw materials. With a pipeline the water would go straight through to the consumer.
The quality of the water is causing great concern because of the salt content. If there was a pipeline from the Hume Weir and other storages to the consumer the water would be clear and cool, although the sun in the Mallee area may warm it a bit at. times. But there would be no salt in the water because there is no sign of salt in the upper reaches of the Murray River. It is only when the Murray winds its way down through Swan Hill, Redcliffs, Mildura and Merbein that it picks up the salt from its tributaries and from the irrigation water that is used and then allowed to run back into the river.
I have every confidence in our present Minister for National Development. 1 am delighted with his attitude. When I go to him and say that there are some men from the irrigation areas of the Murray Valley who want to speak to him on certain subjects he always says: ‘Certainly I will see them.’ And he says it with a smile. What a difference this makes. A Minister may agree to see a deputation but say so in such a way that one feels that he does not want to see the people. This Minister gives me the impression that he really wants to see the constituents. He may have a dual purpose. He may want to know what they have to say so that he can help us all. I believe this comes into it. I have never been accused of being insincere in this House in all my time here and I have never been accused of being insincere outside the House. I am not insincere tonight. What I say I believe to be true.
– I am prompted to make a contribution to this debate because although I happen to represent an area of Australia that is blessed with certain and adequate rainfall - a 50 inch precipitation - it has always been impressed on me that only 10 miles inland there is a precipitation of 25 or 26 inches and a further 100 miles inland the climate is relatively arid. I listened with great interest to the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) who is an eloquent and ardent advocate of the interests of the rural areas. To put things in perspective I think that I could very well cite the figures for the United States of America where 10% of the total water consumption is for domestic and ordinary garden uses, nearly 50% is for irrigation and 40% is for industry. It takes 770 gallons of water to refine a barrel of petroleum; it takes up to 65,000 gallons to turn out a ton of steel, and it takes 600,000 gallons to make a ton of synthetic rubber.
There is just as much water in the world today as there has been from time immemorial. Whether it is underground, flowing in rivers, in dams or in the atmosphere, it is all still here. I commend to honourable members for their consideration a calculation made in an excellent article that appeared in the American ‘Time’ magazine of 1st October 1965. The writer calculated that there was approximately 326 million cubic miles of water in the world and of this 97.2 million cubic feet is in the ocean and is unfit to drink and is too salty for irrigation. That article added that 2% of the world’s water lies frozen and useless in glaciers and ice caps and that the remaining tiny usable fraction, which is only 0.8%, is neither evenly distributed nor properly used. What we have beard from the honourable member for Mallee, who has now decamped from this chamber, relates solely to that 0.8%.
Australia is the most arid of all the continents of the world. Its average annual precipitation is somewhere between 14 inches and 15 inches. There is, of course, the crescent of development - the boomerang’ of development, as it is called generally - down the east coast and along the south east coast, and along the south western fringe of Western Australia. Development in Australia has naturally followed the preciptation of rain. A matter that concerns me considerably is not merely the measurement of water flow but also the amount of underground water and in particular the rate of evaporation. Most of us are deluged with reports that we lack the time to read, but an excellent review of
Australia’s water resources was published in 1963 by the Department of National Development. One of the most alarming features about Australia is that the monthly evaporation in a very substantial part of the continent exceeds by far the annual precipitation of water. In some places, particularly within the 10 inch and even the 15 inch isohyets, there is an evaporation rate in some months of as much as 15 inches. Whilst it is true that this area does largely coincide with the artesian basin, at the same time there is a case to be made for underground storage. A resident engineer of the Snowy Mountains Authority - he resides at Cooma but his name escapes me at the moment - has made a very commendable contribution to our knowledge of new forms of water conservation. He is a very strong advocate of the use of atomic bombs.
– Professor Leech.
– Yes. Professor Leech is the man. According to him the cost of constructing water storages by means of subterranian atomic explosions would be only 1 0% or 15% of the cost of providing orthodox concrete dams. This is a matter I commend for the consideration of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) and his departmental experts. We find that siltation and evaporation are the biggest’ enemies of water conservation in some of our major, rivers. I would like to see some attention paid to these aspects. A precise calculation can be made of the size and type of atomic bomb that should be used, the depth at which it should be exploded and the reaction of the subsoils. The clay, the shale and the rock are fused. They are literally vitrified and quite impermeable. The use of these techniques in selected parts of Australia could be of tremendous advantage to this country and as I have said they would cost only a fraction of what it costs to build orthodox dams. I do not mean that this method should be a substitute for orthodox dam construction, but in a real scheme of national water conservation the use of atomic explosions must be seriously considered. I know that international problems may arise. But where there is a will there is a way, and they can undoubtedly be overcome.
Much has been said about the usage of water. In this regard, I commend to the consideration of the Minister the magnificent’ achievements of the state of Israel, where there has been a really scientific assessment of the use of water and the quantity that can be allocated to particular crops, and where no less than 90% to 98% of the total water supplies are being adequately used. In that country it has been found that by proper methods the amount of water used for a given crop can be reduced by as much as 20% and production can be increased by 60% . In other words, there is a case for dry farming also, and this matter should be seriously considered. To consider for a moment a matter of pure statistics, it is interesting to note that the transpiration of water - the quantity emitted - by one acre of corn on a hot summer day is the equivalent of about 4,000 gallons.
The question of water pollution also should be considered. In the United States of America and in certain metropolitan areas of the major cities of Australia, water pollution is becoming a real problem. The waters of the Ohio River in the United States, in terms of volume, are used no less than 3.7 times in their course to join the major stream of which it is a tributary. As many as seven or eight major cities are pumping sewage into it. A few miles below each city water is drawn into a treatment plant, purified, reused and pumped out into the river again. Pollution by detergents, insecticides and a number of other agents should be looked into. Detergents in particular are causing the formation of masses of foam in many American rivers, and this destroys fish and other forms of life. It is. interesting to note from the article in the American Time’ magazine to which I have referred that not many centuries ago - I am sure that this will be of interest to all parliamentarians - members of Parliament fished for salmon in the Thames at Westminster. In medieval Parts, the streets had open sewers, but the Seine flowed so clearly that from the bridges it was possible to see the fish swimming among the stones. Unfortunately, we cannot return to those idyllic conditions. Water conservation is a very real problem. I can assure the Minister that we on this side of the Parliament, on a strictly non-party basis, will support his best endeavours m this field.
-! wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. There are more ways than one of indulging in misrepresentation. Just after I had concluded my speech, I had to take some papers to my office. Immediately I went out of the chamber, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), who was speaking, referred to ‘the honourable member for Mallee, who has decamped from this chamber’. I was not away more than 2 minutes. Honourable members know that my record of attendance in this place cannot be challenged. I resent a remark such as that made by the honourable member for Cunningham.
– The honourable member was absent from the chamber.
– Yes, but the honourable member should not have taken advantage of my having to leave for only a minute or two.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, usually when I speak on matters related to water I am extremely critical of the Government, particularly in relation to water conservation and the development of water resources. However, this evening in all fairness, I say that I agree with the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) that the kind of research that will result from the passage of this measure is fundamental and necessary. This Bill is a credit to the Government. Research work on both flows and underground supplies of water, I believe, is one of the most important facets of the work that can be done by experts who have been trained in those fields. In determining allowances to be made for siltation and flood control in the construction of dams, one of the greatest problems in Australia in the past has been the lack of knowledge of water flows. In fact, in respect of only a few rivers have we had sufficient raw data to be able to give the engineers sufficient information to enable them to construct dams with a reasonable degree of accuracy in the assessment of the allowance to be made for major floods and siltation. Many of us know of the siltation problems that have arisen with the diversion dam on the Ord River, for example.
I do not intend to speak for more than a few minutes on this measure. My only criticism is that not enough money is to be provided for the work envisaged. Research into problems associated with water, I believe, is far more important than a lot of research that is being undertaken in other fields. Today, ‘research’ is a magic word. In terms of priority, research on water problems ranks as perhaps the most important research field in which we in Australia are engaged today. Underground water supplies are causing tremendous concern in some parts of Australia at present, because it seems that in the last 20 years we have had more dry seasons than fair or good seasons. The effects of this situation are felt not only on the surface. The most important effects, perhaps, relate to the provision of water supplies for stock and for irrigation, with particular reference to underground supplies. This concerns not only increasing mineralisation of water but also lowering of water levels. One has only to go to areas such as the Burdekin basin to see the major problem that has developed with the non-occurrence of so called wet seasons. Recharging of the aquifers in that basin is now an accepted practice. If they were not recharged, districts like Ayr and Home Hill, for example, would be in serious trouble because they would have great difficulty in obtaining sufficient water for the irrigation of sugar cane. The same sort of thing is happening in the Fairymead area in the Burnett Valley near Bundaberg. The millers and the cane farmers there are now being forced to undertake schemes for the recharging of aquifers or the transfer of water by pumping.
I believe that the research that has led to the introduction of this measure is a fine piece of work. I compliment the Australian Water Resources Council on what it has done. This is a relatively new organisation which, I believe, has been in existence for only about 3 years. Great credit must be given to Sir Harold Raggatt for his part, and to the State Ministers concerned for their part, in forming this Council. I repeat my criticism that the sum to be provided for research on underground water supplies is far too small. Perhaps the Water Resources Council, when budgetary submissions are next presented to the Cabinet, might try to get more money from the Government. I believe that this is one of the most important fields of research in which we can participate, not forgetting engineering, agriculture and any other field in which scientific research is undertaken. Any research on water problems is good, for in my view water is the most precious asset that we in Australia have today.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I shall take only a few minutes. I wholeheartedly support the remarks made by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). 1 believe that the fundamental research work that will be undertaken as a result of the passage of this Bill will be of incalculable value to future generations in Australia. The subject that I would like to deal with very briefly is the excellent and detailed work which is going on in Queensland in matters of research and the evaluation of the potential of some of our less spectacular streams. When we talk about this I believe that most of us are inclined to think in terms of the more grand projects such as those which involve the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars. I am not sufficiently qualified to offer either an academic or dogmatic opinion, but I often wonder if the potential of some of the lesser streams could be fully evaluated and then exploited.
I have in mind the Cloncurry River. Some years ago shortly after the war Squadron Leader Murphy who had been an irrigation expert on the Yangtze River scheme in China was in this area for a couple of years. He did research work not so much on the river itself but on the alluvial flats adjacent to the rivers. He found that in the particular area to which I am referring - the area which runs some 100 to 150 miles west of Cloncurry - the alluvial flats were very similar in soil content to the Nile River Valley in Egypt. He also ascertained the value of the scheme which we know as the ‘Painted Rock’.
I do not propose to go into detail in this. However, here is a case which presents the possibility of exploitation of smaller projects. I do not even suggest that it would be necessary for the Federal
Government completely to come to the party and finance projects of this nature. 1 believe that when we have a higher authority to whom, perhaps, the States could look for guidance or co-ordination of the wonderful work that they are doing, particularly in Queensland, it might be possible to go forward with feasibility evaluations of these projects. 1 think that this is tied up with the future outlook for more intensive feeding in these areas. I do not believe that there are many areas which could not at least carry fodder crops to a fairly large extent along the alluvial flats of these rivers.
To summarise my very brief contribution to this debate, firstly, I have supported the remarks of the honourable member for Dawson who pointed out the valuable work that was being done by the Department. Secondly, I have suggested that we might perhaps pay a little more attention to the possibility of co-operating with the States in their search fOr the less spectacular conservation schemes in respect of some of the streams in the more remote areas of this country of ours.
-] would like to comment briefly on some aspects of water conservation. I would also like to support the remarks made by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). There is no doubt at all that our underground water resources could provide one of the most significant and safe sources of water once we have fully explored the possibilities. As the honourable member said, the Australian Water Resources Council has begun well and is doing a good job in this and other fields. However, the only point 1 would take the honourable member to task over concerns whether at present not enough money is being spent in water conservation. Of course, it is arguable that we could be spending at a higher rate in looking for underground water resources. However, the point is that we are now searching for these resources at a far faster rate than ever before.
I do not intend to run through all the figures which I think are familiar enough to members of this House in regard to how much money, the Government is spending on water resources. However, about $5Om per annum is being spent on the Snowy Mountains scheme alone and 1 think this can be regarded as expenditure on water conservation. This is roughly equivalent to the amount of money which is spent by all the States in Australia on water conservation in a year. In addition, thi Government proposes to spend $50m over the next 5 years, thus increasing the amount already spent by about $10m a year. Of course, the scheme cuts out about 1972. By this time, the Australian Water Resources Council will have a great deal more information about our water resources. At that time or shortly before it, the Government is going to be evolving decisions on its future expenditure in water resources. 1 do not imagine that, with the prospects we have in front of us in a very dry continent, the Commonwealth’s involvement in expenditure on water conservation is going to drop very significantly below the present level. As honourable members have said, Australia is one of the driest continents on earth with surface water resources of about 280 million acre feet per annum. These resources are distributed in the approximate proportions of 24% on the north-east coast; about 10% on the southeast coast; 14% flowing into the Tasman Sea; 7% in the Murray-Darling River system; 3% in the south-west coast; 2% flowing into the Indian Ocean, 21% into the Timor Sea; 1 8% into the Gulf of Carpentaria; and 1% into Lake Eyre. Coincidentally our heaviest expenditure for water and hydro-electric power has been in the south-east area in which 10% of our water is distributed. Obviously, we have a very great deal more development to undertake. 1 am confident that the decision that the Government has made to retain the research, investigation and design sections of the Snowy Mountains team together with the major contracts section and hydraulic laboratories provide a nucleus for a team to handle work in other areas when we know we have enough information about resources and enough specific information about projects.
Much has been made by newspapers and some honourable members opposite of the Government’s announcement that it does not envisage the Snowy Mountains Authority in a construction role after the completion of the present scheme. In this connection I want to make two points. Firstly, in making this decision and qualifying it as to construction, we have to look at the way in which the scheme has been built. If we have the designing of major contracts and a continuous consulting engineering process in operation as contracts are carried out, we have something which amounts very closely to construction.
Much loose talk has taken place about the word ‘construction’. For some of the specific jobs that the Snowy Mountains Authority has carried out, the only additional staff that it carried as a constructing authority, apart from contract preparation, designing and investigation staff, was a few administrative staff and accountants. The main thing is to get these jobs done to conserve water. It is important that a decision has to be made to retain the viable nucleus of a team. The final details are yet to be established. But the nucleus could expand to handle this job. I do not mean that the Authority should take over the work from every other constructing authority in Australia, but it should handle the task for the Commonwealth.
It also has a role in project evaluation and assessment. In presenting projects to the Commonwealth Government, the various States inevitably cannot present all their projects in exactly the same language - the same language of design or even mathematical calculations. The team that I call CANDO could fulfil that role for the Commonwealth. This would be a very useful function for it to perform. I will give some idea of the difficulty of making assessments in these matters. The honourable member for Dawson, in a paper delivered to the 38th Congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science on 20th August 1965, gave a number of estimates of the cost per acre foot of active storage in a number of dams. This appears at page 40 of his paper. I am not being critical of his estimates; I merely point out that unless everyone knows the exact terms of reference the figures are different. I will mention some of the figures given by the honourable member and I will then give the figures arrived at by the Snowy Mountains Authority. The honourable member gave the cost at Blowering as $34 per acre foot of active storage. The Snowy Mountains Authority’s figure is $35.38. There is not much difference. His figure for Eucumbene is $10.60 per acre foot. The Snowy Mountains Authority’s figure is $12. For Chowilla he quotes $6.50 and the Snowy Mountains Authority’s figure is $14. I can well understand the difference here. This is a difficult proposition and estimates have varied widely. I was particularly interested in the Ord. His figure is $4.60, I made it $5.37 when I was there, and the Snowy Mountains Authority quoted $6.12. The differences may seem slight, but, when the figures are multiplied for all the storages, we start to get into very big money. The point I wish to make is that, in order to understand competing estimates, the Federal Government needs a body that can look at the projects and assess them in the same language. The Commonwealth Government will then know that it is considering projects in the same terms.
I should like to refer briefly to the comments of the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) about what he called the use of atomic bombs for water conservation projects. 1 think the correct term is diffusion blasting. The honourable member referred to comments made by Professor Tom Leach about this technique. He said that the saving was 10% to 15%. However, the saving usually accepted when diffusion blasting is mentioned is in magnitudes of ten. In other words, if the job is big enough, diffusion blasting is one-tenth of the cost of conventional methods. However, there is not much point in talking about diffusion blasting now. Where it involves a nuclear blast that vents to the atmosphere this method cannot be used under the terms of the present nuclear test ban treaty. The treaty provides that no radiation must go beyond the territorial boundaries of the country in which a nuclear device is exploded. We cannot use this method of blasting until the treaty is altered to provide that no significant radiation must go beyond the territorial boundaries. This is really another consideration altogether. Tt is possible to define the blast at a Rontgen figure that is very low. At 100 times the strength it would not be dangerous to human life but within the limitations of this strength diffusion blasting could be used. The amount of radiation going beyond the territorial boundaries could be kept within acceptable limits.
I believe that fundamentally the Government is now moving towards an arrangement with the States that will be at least as successful as the unique arrangement relating to the timber industry. However, water conservation is a very much more complex subject. The Government several years ago took the initial steps that were needed and we are now heading towards a balanced programme of water conservation.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I have to say that. The figures used by the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) were figures I quoted 2i years ago. They were the best figures available at that time. In fact, they were official departmental figures.
– I support the Bill, lt deals with the measurement and investigation of water resources in Australia. When I spoke in the House a few nights ago I mentioned the importance of harnessing our natural water resources. This is vita! to our future. I mentioned this subject amongst many others on that occasion. I thoroughly endorse the Government’s approach to the problem. It is necessary to investigate fully the resources available to us before expending large sums of money on water conservation projects. When I spoke previously I mentioned that Australia’s rivers carry a large volume of water, but we know very little about most of them. The Bill is an excellent one. It will help us to overcome many of the problems that we face now and will ensure that we obtain the fullest value from harnessing our rivers. I compliment the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) on the Bill. I am sure that within a few years we will have gained a tremendous amount of invaluable knowledge and we will then be able to undertake the task of harnessing our resources.
Australia is a big country and 1 have no doubt that our population will increase as the years go by and become much larger than we ever thought possible. Australia has the potential to support great industries and a very large population. But when wa examine our potential at face value we see that the extent of our population growth and the possibility of establishing industries to use our raw materials depend on the volume of water we can conserve and use. Water and power are the foundations of industry. Tasmania spent a tremendous amount of money over the years on water conservation and hydro-electricity. But Tasmania now has a problem because of the drought that it has suffered during recent years. We must protect ourselves against eventualities of this nature in the future. If we are to build industries and increase our stock numbers throughout the country, water must be available and we must have adequate reserves. This is important. Before we can build big industries and stock the country with bigger numbers than we have ever had, reserves of water are necessary. In my book, the only way in which we can find out exactly what is available is to investigate fully, in conjunction with the States, the potential that is available. No doubt this is what the Minister has in mind at the moment. From this point we will then be able to proceed to a much safer position, by spending what is necessary on harnessing the resources. I believe that this is one of the major steps that are being taken at the moment to secure the future of Australia.
As I have said, I believe that in the future the foundation of the whole of the industry of this country will be based on the amount of water on which we can rely in order to carry us over these years of drought which we have experienced so often in our history. As I said the other night, there are cycles of droughts going back over 100 years. We find droughts recurring. No doubt they will recur in the future. 1 congratulate the Minister and the Government for introducing this proposal to investigate the possibilities which are available to us, and from that point to move on to harness and make use of the natural resources of this country.
– in reply - I thank the House for the support that has been given to this measure. I have rarely, if ever, heard such unanimity expressed in the House as we have heard tonight. It was certainly noticeably absent this morning and this afternoon. I think it shows the tremendous realisation in Australia of the need to do our utmost to develop our water resources. That is what this Bill in a small way sets out to do. I thank honourable members for their comments. I thank the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) who said that I even smiled when I received his constituents. 1 can assure him that there are times when my desk is piled high so high that it is difficult to smile when unexpected visitors come to see me. I was most interested to see these people.
The honourable member for Mallee said that when he first went to Warracknabeal, I think it was, he was lucky if there was one good season and two or three bad seasons. In the early days my family were in centra] western Queensland. They said that there were three types of seasons there - bad, worse and something awful. I am afraid that the season which we are experiencing in the south at the present time comes into the third category. It is incredible to realise that the inflow into the Hume Weir in the first 3 months of this water year was only 57% of the inflow in the worst year since records have been kept, and that was 1914-15. Since that 3 months period, if anything I think that things have got worse. I know that in my own case - and I live very close to the Hume Weir - in the first 9 months of this year we have recorded 950 points. Our average rainfall is 28 inches. This makes one realise the tremendous fluctuations that we experience in this country. We saw one period when the Hume Weir did not fill for 4 years. Then we saw a year in which it would have filled ten times over. It is to try and increase our knowledge of water in Australia that this measure was originally introduced and now is being expanded.
The honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) said that this is a narrow Bill. That is true. It is to provide for research and investigation into surface flow and underground flow. We have made $2.75m available to the States in the first 3 years of this programme. By this Bill we are increasing the grants to $4.5m over the next 3-year period. The results have been remarkably successful because the
States have co-operated very well. They have increased their research at a far greater rate than otherwise would have been necessary in order to receive the highest possible matching grant from the Commonwealth. As a result, 163 existing stations for river gauging have been improved and 368 new stations have been constructed. Annual expenditure on surface measurement has increased from Sim to $1.8m, with the Commonwealth providing approximately one-third of the amount. Annual expenditure on underground waters has increased from $lm to $2.2m in the same period. The total expenditure on underground water investigation in the 3-year period was approximately $5. 8m.
We realise that this is a small measure and that it is only the start. At this late hour I will not speak at great length, as I could, on the need to develop our water resources in Australia. This is the research and measurement side. We also have the conservation side. Here again the basic responsibility lies with the States. They carry out as much conservation as they can, through the use of their loan funds, their special allocations and their financial assistance grants from the Commonwealth. But we in the Commonwealth have done our utmost to try to do something over and above what the States have done. We have carried out development in the Murray Valley and on the Hume Weir. We are looking at the Chowilla Dam now. There is a meeting of the River Murray Commission at that great city of Albury next Tuesday. I realise that we will not come to any decisions on Tuesday, but we will be trying to see what is best for the future development of the Murray Valley.
We realise that there must be further conservation in the Murray Valley. The honourable member for Mallee referred to the problems not only of conserving water but also of conserving water which is fit to use. In the driest season which has ever occurred in this area up to the present time, it is only natural that salinity is at a far worse level than ever before. We have been asked whether we can release water. We are up against a problem here. If we release water to flush out the salinity and if we do not get adequate rains, we will not have sufficient water left for later on in the season. These decisions can be made only by technical experts in the light of the best possible assessments that they can undertake. The Commonwealth has assisted in the Snowy Mountains scheme, as my colleague, the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) has stated. Although we could release water from the Eucumbene Dam into the Hume Weir, the water in the Eucumbene Dam is divided into the Murray and Murrumbidgee waters. I do not know how you tell one from the other, but someone does. There is only very little water available for diversion into the Murray, and part of this is for use for hydro-electric purposes and not for irrigation purposes.
We have assisted in the Blowering Dam, in flood mitigation in the northern part of New South Wales, in the Western Australian comprehensive scheme, in the diversion dam on the Ord River and in the Gordon River scheme which of course is for hydro-electric purposes, not for irrigation. Now we have the $50m special national water resources programme which the Commonwealth has announced. We are under criticism at the present lime - and I acknowledge this - for not having pulled some rabbit out of the hat. It is not that I do not or the Government docs not want to do these things. But the plain position at the present time is that we have asked the States to submit schemes which could be considered in the light of this special development programme. Up to the present we have received replies from only half of the States. I sincerely hope that greater interest will be shown by the States which have not replied, because the Commonwealth could say: ‘You have done nothing about applying, therefore we will give it to some of the other States’. I sincerely hope that the States that have not submitted their list of priorities will do so very quickly so as to enable us to proceed with greater speed. After all, we are carrying the odium of not having done anything so far.
I do not want to speak at greater length because we have achieved complete unanimity on this matter. There is no doubt that a tremendous amount of work is ahead of the States and the Commonwealth in developing Australia’s water resources. 1 had the interesting experience of leading a team of nineteen people from Australia at the Water For Peace Conference which was held in Washington just after the end of the last session of the Parliament. It was a most interesting conference from which Australia gained a lot of knowledge and to which it had much to contribute. It contributed in ways which were of great interest to the many delegates. More than 2,000 people from all parts of the world attended. The work done on evaporation control in Australia is regarded as quite outstanding. We had with us Dr Mansfield of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation who delivered a paper. He told me that he is very hopeful of making a major breakthrough shortly in the improvement of evaporation control measures in major storages.
Evaporation is one of the most serious problems in water conservation in this country. The honourable member for Mallee has mentioned the tremendous loss that is suffered from evaporation in his electorate, in particular from channels. He has told us how much better it would be if we could pipe the water. I agree entirely with him, but it is a case of limited finance. Undoubtedly if we had sufficient finance to pipe the water instead of sending it in open channels and losing a good deal from evaporation we would, in effect, have a very much bigger dam. I hope the breakthrough will emerge which will decrease the severity of the evaporation problem, not only in the Chowilla area, where, if the dam were proceeded with, the evaporation loss would be such as to reduce the water level by 6 feet per annum, but also in North Queensland where a similar degree of evaporation h experienced. If we can reduce the rate of evaporation by some substantial factor it will make a tremendous difference.
At the Conference of which I have spoken desalination problems were also discussed. So far as the major atomic energy schemes are concerned, 1 cannot see that these will have application to Australia generally in the immediate future. We discussed the possibilities of the re-use of water. In the major metropolitan cities in Australia we use water once, then purify it and discharge it into the sea. In many of the European and American cities the water is purified and re-used sometimes three or four times. Surely instead of stretching out further and further from the metropolitan areas to trap water in the surrounding country areas we should be looking much more closely at the question of the re-use of water and the prevention of the use of soaps and other commodities which make water difficult to treat. This is what has already been forced on the more closely settled areas in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe and the United States.
We should realise that in some ways we in Australia are lucky. We say that we have the driest continent, and undoubtedly this is so. But at the same time we have probably the most sparsely populated continent, and this means that we are fortunate in still having, per head of population, good supplies of water, providing we have the funds, the initiative and the drive to harness some of our present resources.
I thank honourable members very much for the support they have given, andI hope that when a similar Bill is brought by me to the Parliament in three years time to provide for a further increase in the funds allocated it will receive the same support as the Bill now before us has received.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) read a third time.
-I wish to inform the House of the following appointments of senators and members to be members of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House.
Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood have been appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Senators Devitt and McClelland have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in that House.
The Honourable J. D. Anthony, Mr Drury, Mr G. D. Erwin and Mr Giles have been appointed by the Prime Minister, Mr Birrell, Mr Bryant, Mr Duthie and Mr Luchetti have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in this House; and
Mr Barnard has been appointed jointly by the Leaders of the Opposition in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Prime Minister has informed me that, in accordance with paragraph (3) of the resolution of appointment of the Committee, he has appointed the Right Honourable W. McMahon to attend the Committee when he is unable to be present.
Postal Clearances at Gatton - Department of External Affairs - Communism - Citizens Advice Bureau - Electoral
Motion (by Mr Fairbairn) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
-I wish to say something about a matter which I know will interest Country Party members because it concerns a rural area, specifically the town of Gatton in the electorate of Oxley and the postal clearances in that town.
– Is this not a matter I offered to help you with once before?
– I do not recollect. If the honourable member had done so I would have accepted his offer because I know how efficient and successful he has been in the past in these postal matters. In factit has been his exclusive specialty in this Parliament. I want to speak about an arrangement which has been made whereby the town of Gatton. which is situated in a rich rural area - probably the richest in the whole of Queensland of those areas in which intensive agricultural farming is carried on - has been discriminated against in the matter of postal clearance facilities so that the City of Toowoomba may be better served.I do not suppose there is any special significance in the fact that the City of Toowoomba is represented in this Parliament by, and is the home city of. the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), but I do ask the Minister to give some attention to the complaint I am making on behalf mainly of business people who reside in Gatton.
I shall now outline the development to which 1 have referred. Fairly recently, to serve the convenience of the people of Toowoomba, which is a city with a population approaching 60,000, the 9 p.m. mail clearance at the Gatton Post Office was eliminated. This means that business people who posted mail for the 9 p.m. clearance in the hope that it would reach Brisbane by the next morning, or perhaps connect with the late night or early morning flights south, now face a delay of something more than 24 hours before their interstate mail can reach its destination. A number of business people have pointed out to me that they sometimes have to leave their premises during the day for business purposes after dictating letters to their staff. Then they return after 5 p.m., sign the letters and deliver the mail to the Post Office; but now there is no clearance until 7 o’clock next morning. This means that it cannot get to Brisbane until about midday at the earliest. This is the earliest possible time it can be put on an interstate flight for despatch to the southern centres. This does not suit the convenience or improve the efficiency of the business people of Gatton which, I repeat, is a substantial centre of population. The number of people in Gatton has increased from a little more than 1,000 in 1947 to well over 3,000 at the present time. It has a rapid rate of growth. It is one of the few country centres in Queensland which is enjoying a rapid rate of population growth. It would be appropriate at this stage to point out that this would be an excellent opportunity for the Government to show that it is prepared to make a small contribution towards decentralisation by restoring the late evening mail clearance at the Gatton Post Office. I know that this is only a minor matter, but it is important to the people who are affected.
In the past the mail was put in a night collection box at the post office and it was cleared without any problems by the night mail collection service. I cannot see why this arrangement could not be continued at present. The collection service still comes through Gatton at night and the mail box is on the main highway so the collection service would need to stop for only 2 or 3 minutes at most to pick up the mail and take it to Brisbane. I have written to the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) as has the State member for the electorate of Lockyer in whose area Gatton is situated. He happens to be the State Treasurer. He has complained to the Postmaster-General about this obvious example of discrimination against a small but rapidly growing and prosperous country centre. We have made no progress.
The Postmaster-General takes a harsh, inflexible line on this. Perhaps this is easy for him, tucked away in the isolation of Canberra. He has been a city man all his life and has never experienced the problems, difficulties, and inconvenience of living in a country area. These business people are trying to make a success of their enterprises in the country town of Gatton and trying to make a worthwhile contribution to ‘ the development of the Australian economy and the economy of this rural area. We ought to give more encouragement and assistance to people who do this sort of thing. Goodness knows, people in country areas have enough disadvantages at present without the Government, by wilful act, contributing more to their inconvenience.
I ask the Postmaster-General to give serious consideration to reverting to the previous practice whereby there was a night mail clearance at the Gatton Post Office for the people of that town and of the Gatton district. It is the least the Postmaster-General can do. For him to refuse to do so only consolidates the strong suspicion that so many people have that a Liberal Party Postmaster-General has little sympathy for the problems of the small people in the country towns spread throughout Australia. I can only ask at this time that members of the Country Party show some serious interest in this and give me their support in this case as I would give my wholehearted support to them if they had a similar problem in their electorates. This is an important problem confronting the people of Gatton. It is a problem that is to the detriment of the business people of this prosperous area and I sincerely trust that the PostmasterGeneral will not ignore the plea that I am making to him tonight but will act on it. I conclude my remarks with the sincere hope that before the end of next week I will have heard again from the Postmaster-General, and most importantly, that he will review the situation and will re-establish the late night mail clearance at the Gatton post office for the convenience of the people of that area.
– I rise first of all to pay tribute again to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) and the officers of his Department who have done, and are doing, a splendid job for Australia in all the countries I have visited in
Africa, Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas. Their dedication, expert knowledge and wise and temperate judgments have resulted in our great country having a good image in all these places, which makes it so much easier, and more satisfactory, for Australians who travel through, or work in, these countries. And it helps to undo some of the damage which is at times done to Australia’s image by a few of the Gor blimey type of Australians abroad who, through their ignorance of people’s customs and their exaggerated sense of Australianism, make so many faux pas in many places.
I trust that I will not be considered precocious if I sound a word of warning about one phase of our international outlook, because it is a matter on which I feel I must sound some note of warning. It is on the subject of Communism and our attitude towards what is often referred to as the Communist threat to the free world. I get tired of reading and hearing from the mass media warnings of a ‘new Communist threat’ to our way of life. I feel we should all realise that the Communist aim of world conquest does not ebb and flow. It is constant and ever present. Only the methods used to attain this aim vary in their techniques. The aim of eventual world conquest is an avowed one - it is a deadly serious one, and it is immutable and never changing. It was enunciated by Marx, confirmed by Lenin, and has been the dominant theme of every Communist theoretician since. It is as serious a threat today as it was when the first Communist manifesto was published.
My tourist guide in Moscow - an articulate, intelligent, thoroughly doctrinaire party official - was quite frank about the eventual Communist victory over the, as she called them, ‘decadent forces of the Western world’. I decided to work on her for a week, and I did. On the second day of our acquaintance she said to me: ‘Are all Australians like you?’ and I replied: ‘I certainly hope not; why do you ask?’ Her reply staggered me. She said: ‘Because I have been showing visitors around Moscow for two years and you are the first person who has ever argued with me*. This appalled me. Here was an opportunity hundreds of people had to tell a Communist official, who had never been out of Russia, the other side of the story, yet no-one had done so. Well, I continued to do so, and I made some impression.
On the last day of my visit Sonia was booked to call for me in a car and escort me around the International Exposition until 5 p.m. when she finished work. When I went down to meet her and the car there was no car. When I asked her why, she replied: ‘Oh, I thought it would be more interesting to go by train’. This was rubbish, as I had been for several trips on their excellent metro underground train system. The reason was that she had by now become most interested in this new angle on the West that she had never heard before, and she did not want the car driver to hear her questions and comments. Also she did not want him to know what time she knocked off, because at 6 o’clock Sonia and I were still walking through the snow, and she was asking me hungrily about the culture of the West, the latest shows, books and music. I was telling her that it was a pity that she did not live in the West where she could marry and have children, who would grow up with freedom to worship, speak and write as they wished; and where they would be able to afford a car, and those things which are unattainable luxuries to people in Communist countries but commonplace in Australian homes. 1 told her that in Australia we adhere to the principle that the individual and his development are far more important than the achievements of a monolithic state. Our state serves the individual, and not vice versa, and to us the happiness, independence and freedom of each person is the vital thing. She was most impressed, and I felt that I was leaving behind at least one Communist official who now doubted the basis for much of her former doctrinaire philosophy. But the thing which I had not cracked was her still idomitable belief that Communism would eventually conquer the world.
Others discussed with me the tactics which subtly eroded the Western will to resist - the periods of ostensible easing of Red attitudes, followed by the reimposition of harsh stands, which again gave way to relative accommodation, and kept the West alternating between hope and fear, to the detriment of their unswerving will to resist. The> talked of the ‘two steps forward, one step backward’ tactics which they often apply, thus steadily gaining ground from what to some people appears to be back-tracking and compromise. But the only way the West can win out against these insidious tactics is to be constantly on guard and to realise that even though the tactics used may vary, the aim of world conquest is constant, and can be beaten only by eternal vigilance.
You may be interested, Mr Speaker, to hear a sidelight of my week with Sonia, as my guide. At first she was a dedicated collectivist in all her opinions. Then, on that last night, she started to sing from ‘My Fair Lady’ the song ‘On the Street Where You Live’. She stopped after the first few lines. Her voice was beautiful and I said: That was lovely; you should be a concert singer.’ She replied: 1 was. At first I sang with a choir, but later I sang as a soloist, which was much better.’ So I said: ‘Ah, then you do admit that the individual is more important than the mass,’ which caused her great amusement. Then she asked me if I could send her the words of that song and another. I said: ‘Even better; they have published the whole of “My Fair Lady” in a booklet- I’ll send that to you’. But at this suggestion she became alarmed, and said: ‘No, please. That would be too much trouble. Just include the words in a letter.’ I insisted that it Was really no trouble, but as she protested further I sensed her genuine alarm and 6a id: ‘Would it harm you if I sent you the book?’ She replied: ‘Yes, it may. They may not understand.’ So here was this prominent Party woman who was afraid to receive a harmless book from the West. But Sonia was a warm, intelligent, sensitive woman and I felt sure that if I had said to her that night: T can arrange for you to get away to the West with me tomorrow’, she would have taken the opportunity.
In each of the Communist governed and dominated countries that I visited I found amongst the Party authorities the same fanatical faith in the ultimate success in their aim of world conquest. I repeat that the West must maintain a constant guard against the insidious, subtle and often diabolically clever methods used to attain this ultimate goal.
– I am prompted to speak in this debate after having heard the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). When he was speaking I interjected and asked him whether he remembered my offering on one occasion to help him. He replied that he had no recollection of the incident. When the honourable member gets into trouble he always turns to the Country Party. This is understandable; he knows that in the Country Party are men of great experience in rural matters, and we know the country towns. I spoke with the honourable member after he had finished his speech tonight. I asked whether he would be hurt if I said the things 1 proposed to say. If so I offered not to speak, because I am not a vicious fellow. The honourable member said that he would be quite happy for me to tell the House what I proposed to say.
Let me tell the House the history of this matter. The honourable member for Oxley had not long been in the Parliament when he made a speech about the provision of telephone services for his constituents. He said that I was always talking about rural matters and the provision of telephones for country people. He said that if I was sincere I would help htm with his problem. So being the man I am I rose when he had finished and said that I would help the honourable member. I offered to prove my sincerity by going to his electorate and, accompanied by the honourable member, advising his constituents in the way he suggested. After that the honourable member was strangely silent. The invitation that had been tendered earlier seemed to have been withdrawn. I have not had an opportunity to go to his electorate since that time, but it appears that tonight I may be given the opportunity because he said that members of the Country Party, who are always talking about primary production and other country matters, should assist him.
Everything that I have said tonight may be checked in Hansard. The honourable member said that the Country Party probably could help him. So tonight I renew my offer to go to his electorate and speak with his constituents. I cannot speak for my colleagues, but it may be more convenient if the invitation were extended to a Country Party member from Queensland - perhaps the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). He could advise the honourable member- for Oxley. But if the honourable member still wishes it, I will go to his electorate and talk to the people of Gatton. I have a friend there with whom I served in the last war. I would not under any circumstances speak to the honourable member’s constituents unless he was present. But if he accompanies me I will be only too happy to speak to his constituents.
– The Minister for the Interior-
-Order! The honourable member for Oxley will remain silent.
– I do not know whether the honourable member is renewing the invitation, but I am prepared to accept.
– May I come also?
– I am not sure yet if I have been invited. The honourable member for Oxley said that if I was sincere I would help him. If the honourable member is sincere, as I think he is, he will invite me to visit his electorate. He will take me to meet bis constituents. He will say: “This is a member of the Party about which 1 am always speaking in Canberra. He and his colleagues are experienced. He will endeavour to assist you.’ This is a fair offer. I understand, that there will be a dual advantage to me. I will be able to enjoy some of the Queensland air and perhaps some pineapples. We will have a happy time together and I know that the honourable member’s constituents will benefit greatly.
– Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented. In reply to certain allegations made by the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) I point out that after the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) visited my electorate my vote increased by 1,000. So the honoutable member for Mallee is well and truly welcome.
– I must say at the outset that I was fascinated by the remarks of the honourable member for Barton (Mr Arthur). He is one of the few members of this House who can still rejoice in the sublime state of supreme bachelorhood. I am sure that all honourable members will pay tribute to his considerable expertise in a wide diversity of areas. I am sure also that should the honourable member at any stage commit to writing a detailed account of his overseas travels it would verily be a best seller.
I take this opportunity to refer to the development in the United Kingdom, and more recently in Australia, of citizens advice bureaus or social welfare organisations, operated at a local level, independent of government departments and instrumentalities, and financed either totally by local citizens or on the basis of shared costs between municipalities and local citizens. The British publication ‘Advising the Citizen’ states:
A citizens’ advice bureau is, then, a service established ‘by the citizens of 8 locality, with the support of a national movement, for the citizens of that area and the strangers within their gates. Its function is to give advice on any problem which the inquirer cares to bring, and despite tha help of this kind given by other individuals and agencies, the need for such a general advice service is manifest by the number of people who consult the bureaus and the wide range ami variety of the problems they bring to them.
Wide in range and variety as these problems are, they are in the main problems of daily living, in our highly complex society.
In a period of society characterised by change not of a marginal degree but of an absolute nature, there is a wide diversity of major social problems on which the ordinary citizen requires advice but is often uncertain where to turn in order to find it. There is also a number of major social areas not covered by existing Commonwealth and State government instrumentalities.
A citizens advice bureau or social welfare group at a municipal level can therefore meet certain basic objectives. The first is to advise and inform citizens as to what State, Federal and municipal services and facilities are available and how best they can be utilised. The second is to co-ordinate the work of existing welfare services which proliferate at a municipal level. I instance here the work of benevolent societies, service clubs, widow and migrant groups, pensioner branches, elderly citizens clubs, the Returned Services League, the District Nursing Service and community and youth organisations. The third basic objective is to develop new services where the need exists at a local level - services such as the Meals on Wheels service, which is an excellent service designed to provide inexpensive meals to needy sections of the community. The fourth basic objective is to promote and engender community interest in social welfare on both a preventive and remedial basis. The final objective is, where possible, to employ a trained social worker or welfare officer to carry out case work in situations of need not covered by existing State or Commonwealth instrumentalities. The purpose of my comment tonight is to say that in the Flinders electorate group of this type is already operative in Mornington, a further group will shortly be established in Frankston, and similar moves are being made in Hastings. I have no doubt that these groups provide a very useful service. I commend to the Minister the proposal that they should be eligible for $2 for $1 subsidy along the lines of subsidy arrangements made under the Aged Persons Homes Act, the benefits of which have now been extended to municipal governments.
– I wish to speak for about two minutes only. In so doing I shall refer to two speeches made in this House last Thursday afternoon in which the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) and the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Lee) referred to the polling hours on election day. I propose to refer particularly to the retention of the 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. polling hours - a span of 12 hours - urged by the honourable member for Mallee. If my memory serves me correctly he said that if the hours were reduced so that polling ended at 6 p.m. the oats in the field, which apparently grow profusely in his electorate, would slowly rot away and the farmers and other primary producers would be destined to ruin. I suggest that this is a fallacious statement. Perhaps if we examined polling hours closely we would realise the disadvantages that have come about through a continuation of this rather antiquated 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. system.
I know how interested the honourable member for Mallee is in the farming community. Members of my Party share his concern for the welfare of those in the farming community. But with all due respect to the honourable member, if a farmer cannot take half an hour out of his day between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. to go to the booth to vote it is time he reconsidered his values. Perhaps he should be reminded that people are prepared to lay down their lives for the preservation of this democracy. It is an easy matter to go to the polling booth and cast a vote. A consideration on an Australia-wide basis of the inconvenience caused to hundreds of people who ensure that polling booths are properly manned would reveal that the whole situation needs to be reviewed. The honourable member for Lalor opposed the views of the honourable member for Mallee in a quite capable and competent way. However, after that, the whole business went unnoticed. I take this opportunity tonight to press quickly the case for a review of the hours which have been laid down for polling in Australia. In my own State of Queensland we have an 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. polling day and in my State no oats, wheat or wool are rotting in the fields. I believe that the whole system needs reconsideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.4 p.m. onto Tuesday, 17 October, at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Telephone Services (Question No. 395)
– Although statistics of deferred applications for telephone services are not kept in terms of electoral divisions, a special study was made of the position as at 28th August, and the attached details show the position in each electoral division as at that date.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows.
Other articles mail, or second class mail as it was once known, includes goods of all kinds, merchandise, samples, commerical papers and printed matter. With the exception of articles which must be sent as letters, and certain perishable substances which must be sent as parcels, anything not prohibited from postal transmission may be sent as other article. The maximum weight for other articles mail is 1 lb, with the exception of printed matter which is 6) lb. Parcels rates apply to items above these maximum weight limits. Under the tariffs introduced on 1st October 1967 parcel rates apply to all other articles over 1 lb, subject to a minimum charge of 25c.
The registered publications category embraces Australian books, periodicals and newspapers which have been registered at a General Post Office for transmission at the relevant special rates.
With the exception of notices or documents relating to lotteries and other schemes of chance and biological substances, vaccines and the like, which must be sent as letters, anything not prohibited from postal transmission may be sent as a parcel.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
How many non-automatic telephone (a) services and (b) exchanges are there in each Commonwealth electoral division?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Statistics relating to telephone services and exchanges are not kept on an electoral division basis. However, a special study has been undertaken in response to the honourable member’s question and the position in each Federal electoral division at 28th August was as follows:
Postal Department: Interest on Treasury Allocation (Question No. 597) Mr Hayden asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
When did the system of charging interest on
Treasury allocations to the Post Office commence?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
From 1928-29 to 1958-59, the. interest charges shown in the profit and loss statements represented interest on the unredeemed balance of loan moneys borrowed by the Commonwealth and used to meet the requirements of the Post Office.
In 1959-60, the accounts of the Post Office were reconstructed in accordance with decisions made by the Government, following recommendations made by an ad hoc committee of inquiry into the commercial accounts of the Post. Office. The liability to the Treasury as at 30th June 1959, was determined as $680m. A rate of return on these funds of about 4.27% applied in the 1959-60 accounts. The rate represented- the average of the rates of the longest term public loans raised in Australia at about the time each annual net advance was made to the Post Office. Net advances made to the Post Office each year subsequent to 30th June 1959 have been subject to ah annual interest charge at the rate of the longest term Commonwealth public loan raised in Australia at about the time each advance was made. The current rate for new advances is 5.25%.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
How many country automatic exchanges are planned for future installation by his Department on the basis of information of ‘requirements as at 1st July 1967.
– It has been assumed that the honourable member’s question refers only to small country automatic exchanges, that is, those with a capacity of not more than 200 lines. On this basis, the information is as follows:
The 1968-69 and 1969-70 programmes are subject to review when the levels of money and physical resources available for capital works during each of these years are definitely known. It is not practicable at mis stage to provide figures for later years.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Will the Government give earnest consideration to the need for setting up a special Commonwealth department, along the same lines as the Repatriation Department, to deal with all Aboriginal affairs, such new department to be the exclusive responsibility of one Minister?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As I announced in the House on 7th September, an Office of Aboriginal Affairs is being established within the Prime Minister’s Department. Its task will be to co-ordinate policy and to provide the machinery necessary for joint consultations as the need arises with the States and with relevant Departments.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
What progress has been made in implementing and introducing State and Territorial poisons legislation since his anwser to me on 11th October 1966 (Hansard, page 1591)7
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: 1 am advised that New South Wales and Tasmania are proceeding with the preparation of the necessary legislation. As far as the Australian Capital Territory is concerned, current legislation gives effect to a number of the National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations and the requirements of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Legislation to implement these recommendations and requirements fully has yet to be finalised.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Separate forecasts are not made in respect of metropolitan and country areas.
Each State will distribute its connection effort between metropolitan and country areas according to the relative incidence of demand and physical capacity to meet that demand.
The division of this expenditure between metropolitan and country areas will be dependent to some extent on the incidence of demand, but is expected to follow the pattern of 1966-67. 9. See answer to part 6.
Meat: Production and Exports (Question No. 613)
asked the Minister for Primary
Industry, upon notice:
How much meat in the form of beef, veal, mutton and lamb was (a) producedin and (b) exported by each State during the last two years?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice: -
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
As stated in Question No. 1, production is not recorded on a monthly basis in some States and total Australian production by months is not available at present.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Division of Fisheries and Oceanography has also been engaged in oceanographic surveys and conducted research into the crayfish, tuna and prawn fisheries.
The C.S.I.R.O Division of Fisheries and Oceanography is also engaged on research work which is of direct benefit to commercial fishermen. A total of $660,466 was spent during 1966-67 on the operation of this Division. Howaver, as with the Department of Primary Industry, it is not possible to isolate specific expenditure which would have been of direct benefit to the fishing industry.
– On 17th August the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls) asked me a question without notice concerning the policy of the Government in relation to the service in the armed forces by sons and daughters of Communist Party members.
I have had inquiries made and I can assure the honourable gentleman there is no policy which automatically debars the sons and daughters of Communist Party members from serving in the defence forces. The Government treats each case on its merits.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 October 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19671005_reps_26_hor57/>.