26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Dr J. F, CAIRNS presented a petition from Lillian Verna Louisa Pedlar, an elector of the Commonwealth, praying that the Commonwealth Government urge to the utmost other nations and appropriate organisations in demanding a genuine impartial outlawing of war.
Petition received and read.
Mr HANSEN presented a petition from certain electors of the Division of Wide Bay praying mat the Government convey as urgently as possible its belief to our American allies that ali aspects of the war in Vietnam should be intensified while pursuing a policy of no compromise at the current Paris talks.
Dr EVERINGHAM presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that this House take any action necessary to assist a campaign for a lasting peaceful settlement in Vietnam.
Petition received and read.
Mr HANSEN presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that this House take any action necessary to assist a campaign for a lasting and peaceful settlement in Vietnam.
– I ask a question of the Prime Minister in his capacity as Acting Treasurer. What is the significance of the sudden inexplicable and not yet recovered fall in the value of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd shares? Is this an engineered move by powerful overseas financial interests to force the price down and so launch a buying invasion of BHP shares with a view to increasing overseas influence and power in this Australian company, and ultimately taking it over? ls it not a fact that in recent years foreign investors have been quietly buying BHP shares on every suitable, unsuspected occasion and that from time to time certain share speculators have been tricking small shareholders into selling their BHP shares? Finally, is not this sort of thing serious enough for this Government to introduce Federal anti-trust legislation, similar to that in the United States of America?
– I regret that 1 am not in a position, nor indeed do I have the knowledge, to offer the honourable member advice as to how he should deal on the stock exchange. I believe that Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd is a company which is Australian owned, which is to (he benefit of Australia and which, as far as I know, has expressed no apprehensions whatsoever of the kind expressed by the honourable member.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. 1 refer to my correspondence of approximately 2 weeks ago in which I stated my concern over the standard of married quarters being handed over by the Queensland Housing Commission to the Army authorities for occupancy by Army personnel in Townsville. Can the Minister inform me of the present position of his investigations into this matter?
– At this stage there has been no change in the position which 1 have previously outlined to the House, except that I stress that the Army is particularly aware of the nature of the circumstances to which the honourable gentleman has referred, because he has made a number of representations concerning this matter to my office. Everything possible is being done to overcome the shortage of married quarters in the Army Laverack Barracks at Townsville, but as the honourable gentleman is aware, this is basically a matter for the Queensland Government under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. At the present time my Department is in negotiation with the Queensland Government concerning this matter.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has received any information from the Australian High Commissioner in London about the riots in Londonderry, which have lasted all this week, because of the refusal of the Government of Northern Ireland to give equal rights, in regard to education, housing, employment and the election of members of municipalities, to the Catholic citizens of the six counties. In the name of civil liberty and elementary democracy, will he urge the British Prime Minister-
– Order! the honourable member is giving information. I suggest that he put his question. - -
– The question I ask is: In the name of civil liberty and elementary democracy, will he urge the British Prime Minister to amend the British Act of 1920 and force the’ Ulster Government to terminate its 40-year old practice of religious persecution and thinly veiled Fascist administration?
– I have received no information from the Australian High Commissioner in London which would either confirm or deny the existence of riots, or the alleged reasons for riots, if they did occur, which have been proposed to the House by the honourable member. As io whether I will ask the British Prime Minister to amend an Act of the British Parliament, which is his responsibility, the answer is no.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Is there any truth in allegations by the President of the Student Representative Council at the University of Tasmania that there is an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation agent operating on the campus of that university?
– When news is scarce we are used to having the allegation made that there are ASIO agents on the campus of some university or other, and we accept it as part of the silly season. In this particular instance, having seen the newspaper report, I made some inquiries. It is a fact that an ASIO official, a young man, is attending the University of Tasmania in Hobart and is doing courses there in order to advance himself. But he is subject to a standing instruction, which applies in such cases, to the effect that he is not to engage in security activities while undergoing that personal training. However, I want to make one thing quite clear: Where the security of Australia is involved no university should regard itself as a closed preserve.
– I address my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. What is the minimum tonnage loading for which northbound ships will call at Cairns to pick up cargo? Why is it that a northbound ship, the ‘Arima Maru’, was prevented by the Australian Northbound Shipping Conference from calling at Cairns during mid-October to pick up 100 tons of frozen meat, 60 tons of general cargo sold to Japan, 60 tons of cheese from Millaa Millaa and a minor loading of scrap iron and logs? The Conference concerned will not indicate the minimum tonnage required for ships to be sent to Cairns. Will the Minister investigate the matter so that north Queensland will be able to trade direct with east Asian ports instead of having to transport goods 1,000 miles by road or rail to Brisbane?
– I think all honourable members are concerned to see that the level of freight charges for goods carried from port to port around Australia and from Australian ports to overseas ports should be kept to a minimum, that there should be a rapid movement of goods, and that there should be adequate space for the goods that are to be carried. To the best of my knowledge there is no fixed limit on the volume of cargo that is required at a port before a vessel of the Northbound Shipping Conference will call. It is true, however, that generally speaking the movement of ships is economised by the extent to which they can spend time at sea and according to the rapidity with which they can turn round at a port. Turn round is particularly important in those ports in Australia where, for so long, delays frequently meantthat theywere longer in port than was economically justifiable. I know that the matter is of concern to all people in north Queensland. In recent months there have not been as many vessels calling as there used to be. As a result, some cargoes have had to be moved from northern Queensland ports to some other ports in order to secure adequate shipping space. However, this is not a problem that is easy to solve. I will be happy to direct the attention of the members of the Conference to the question that the honourable gentleman has raised. I can assure him that within the Department of Trade and Industry every effort is being made to ensure that there is an adequate shipping service to northern Queensland. But the problem is related primarily to the necessity to ensure a quick turn round of vessels, with the maximum possible availability of cargoes so that the movement of ships can be accelerated and freight costs can be reduced to the minimum.
– My question is directed to the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs. Did he suggest last Sunday in Melbourne that Aboriginals should be appointed as police officers and magistrates to deal with their own people? Hashe noticed the criticism which Mr Charles Perkins has voiced in regard to this suggestion? Does this criticism alter the Minister’s views?
-It is true that I did make a statement to that effect in Melbourne. The text of the statement was circulated beforeI made it. I have an exact copy of the statement which I would be very happy to make available to any honourable member. What I said was that in the exercise of authority over Aboriginals in matters of daily life, it should not be hard to arrange for Aboriginals to be appointed special constables, or even recruited as regular constables. In my statement, I went on to say:
Indeed, this is done already in certain States. The system might well be extended, even bearing in mind some deplorable features of the old Queensland native police system of the 19th century. Again, Aboriginal magistrates can be given at least limited authority to control behaviour in settlements and missions here again, some advances have already been made.
I went on to point out that it was important that the people concerned should be trivially acceptable to the group. It is also true that Mr Charles Perkins did say, as reported in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 8th October:
Policing of the reservations by Aboriginals would be taking a step back into the past, and it has already failed in Queensland.
Mr Perkins was perhaps not familiar with the fact that the failure in Queensland was due largely to tribal jealousies. The need to guard against a repetition of this failure was already in my mind. I see no reason to change the view that I have expressed in this matter. One always has great regard for what the Aboriginals say themselves. In this instance, what I said was stated as a result of my conversations with Aboriginal councils on a number of reservations in central and northern Australia. The Aboriginals with whom I talked put forward the view that they would like to have some of their number appointed to carry out these duties. They did this on their own initiative, incidentally, with no prompting from me. I would think that the Aboriginals in the areas concerned might be rather more representative of the Aboriginal point of view on this matter than Mr Perkins is. I emphasise that such a scheme would have to be implemented gradually. I also remind the House that to some extent, this has already been done, for example, in Queensland. I would commend what has been achieved along these lines. One would not want to go too fast or too far. Finally, may 1 say that there are some people who take the view that Aboriginals are not sufficiently educated to look after themselves.I know in technical matters this may be true.
– I raise a point of order. How long is this needless waste of question time to go on?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
-I am sorry that the honourable member considers this needless. I do have some concern for the Aboriginal people and their views, even if he does not. Finally I have little sympathy for those who believe that Aboriginals are not sufficiently advanced to. look after any part of their own daily life. I know that this must be a limited thing at the start, butin their own way they are very much capable of looking after themselves and I want to encourage them to do so as far as possible.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. Has he seen a Press report, which stated that General Suharto has rejected clemency pleas lodged by three top Communist leaders against death sentences, imposed for their alleged part in the 1965 Sukarno inspired attack on the Indonesian State? If so, will he make representations to General Suharto to commute the sentences in view of the fact that more than 500,000 unfortunate Indonesians were cruelly done to death by the Suharto regime within 12 months of its seizure of power?
– Mr Speaker, I have seen the Press report to which the right honourable member refers. I would regard this as a matter of internal Indonesian administration, and I would have thought mat any intrusion by another government could well cause resentment in that country. This I would not wish to do.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. Can he say what is the present character of Russian activity in the Indian Ocean, and in particular can he inform the House whether there has been any stepping up of Soviet activity in the Indian Ocean in the last 6 months?
– I think, as the honourable member will be well aware from fairly well authenticated reports of one kind or another, that there definitely has been an increase of Russian interest in the whole of the Indian Ocean in recent times. I will see whether 1 can obtain further details and provide the honourable member with the information he seeks.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether there was a meeting of the Air Board at the end of last week, perhaps attended by him, in which serious reservations were expressed about the suitability of the Fill aircraft for Australian conditions. If such reservations have been expressed, either at that meeting or in other ways, by the Chief of the Air Staff, do those reservations extend to a concern to have the whole contract reviewed?
- Mr Speaker, I have no knowledge at all as to whether there was a meeting of the Air Board held at the end of last week. Meetings of Service boards take place quite constantly and naturally enough I have no knowledge of exactly when they take place or where. Certainly I attended no such meeting.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. Concern has been expressed at the lessening of Australian participation in the Gove project undertaken by Nabalco Pty Ltd. Has the Minister seen a statement by Mr Fisher, the President of the Chamber of Mines of the Northern Territory, that if the Northern Territory Port Authority were to build the jetty and the Government were to undertake construction of the buildings associated with the town site the consequent reduction of the capital outlay by Nabalco Pty Ltd would enable the Australian participation to remain at a high level? Can he say whether this has been considered at all by the Government?
– I have seen a reference to the statement mentioned by the honourable member in which Mr Fisher suggested that a practical alternative might be for the Government to finance the port and township to be built at Gove. The agreement entered into between Nabalco Pty Ltd and the Government stipulated that Nabalco would build the township and the port at Gove. A feasibility study has since shown that the capital requirement is greater than at first expected. When the proposition first came before the Government the envisaged capital requirement was about $120m. It is now expected that more than $300m will have to be spent to maintain profitability. As a result Nabalco Pty Ltd has come back to the Government with a proposition on the new capital1 requirement that I have yet to put before the Cabinet. I am not sure whether the capital cost of the port and town would balance out the difference required for the Australian partnership. I will have a look at that when I consider the paper put to me by the Nabalco organisation.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Defence by reference to Press reports that difficulty is being experienced by the Royal Australian Air Force in securing important replacement parts, and particularly ammunition, for Mirage fighters. Will the Minister tell the House what steps were taken by the Government at the time the Mirage fighters were purchased to ensure either that ample supplies of ammunition would be available to us from the makers in France or that we would be permitted to make it in Australia?
– The Australian Government has ample assurances on the availability of ammunition for the Mirages. The honourable gentleman will be relieved to know that there has never been any lack of availability of ammunition. However, in recent times the Australian manufacture of 30mm cannon ammunition has been the subject of negotiations. Although 1 would want to check the facts with my colleague in another place, my understanding is that any order placed by the Royal Australian Air Force from 1969 on will be supplied from Australian sources. The ammunition will be made here under licence.
– Irrespective of where we use the planes?
– That is exactly right. No limitation whatsoever has been placed on the use of the Mirage or the availability of ammunition.
– 1 address a question to the Prime Minister. I refer to the dispute between the British and Rhodesian governments and to the proposed new talks to be held at Gibraltar between the British Prime Minister and the Rhodesian leader, Mr Smith. Was Australia given prior notice of these talks? In view of their importance and Australia’s involvement in the dispute, will the Australian Government be represented? If not, would it be possible, as a matter of urgency, for the Prime Minister to attend or for the Minister for External Affairs to fly to the talks from New York? Despite the Prime Ministers obvious commitments, may I suggest that he would be in a favourable position to push the participants in this dispute more closely together.
– The answer to the honourable gentleman’s question is yes, I was informed by message from the British Prime Minister that these talks had been arranged and that they would be taking place. However, we have always regarded, and indeed 1 think it is generally agreed, that what is under discussion is a matter in dispute between the British Government and the Government of Rhodesia. I would think that unless particular invitations were extended by the leader of the British Government it should be left. Indeed, there would be no object in seeking to go without an invitation from the leader of the British Government. I can only express the hope and I do express the hope that the conversations will lead to a solution of the problem between Britain and Rhodesia which is satisfactory to those participants concerned.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Hindmarsh. What difficulty is the Minister finding in answering the question which for 41 months I have had on the notice paper? The question is:
What steps have been taken or guarantees sought to ensure that Australia does not encounter the same difficulties as Israel in securing spares and replacements from France for the Mirage aircraft?
– J am not aware that there are any great difficulties in answering this question. I am not sure what 1 can tell the honourable member immediately about this matter, but I will see that his question is answered quite early.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question. In view of the publicity that has surrounded the disappearance of the trimaran yacht which left the port of Botany Bay on a journey across the Pacific Ocean some 6 weeks ago and the involvement of his Department in ocean searches which are required when small sailing craft disappear on the high seas, can the Minister advise the House whether he plans to institute inquiries into the general standards which should be met by such international voyagers from Australian ports? Further, can the Minister advise the general range within which air searches can be carried out from the Australian coastline?
– It is true that in very tragic circumstances a trimaran recently disappeared after a voyage from the port of Sydney. As .we understand, the situation, the trimaran ‘ was destined either for Noumea or possibly New Zealand. Extreme difficulties beset anyone who likes to pit himself against the forces of the sea. In this instance regrettably ho information was left with anybody as to the detailed itinerary of the trimaran, the course it intended to follow or possible variations to that course which the craft might endeavour to pursue in the event of mishap.’ There was no. certainty that the craft carried radio, nor any certainty as to the type of emergency equipment carried. Most pf the cruising yacht squadrons and yacht clubs of Australia have, over the years, developed a very high standard of expertise in selecting equipment to. be carried and in deciding the type of precautions needed in facing the hazards of the sea. One would hope that these standards might be followed by all those who seek to go to sea in small ships. Whether it would be possible for the Government arbitrarily to require people wishing to go to sea in small ships to maintain these standards I am not yet sure. I am looking into the matter to see whether something can be done. As to the nature of [ the search and rescue functions of the j Department of Shipping and Transport and the range of aircraft, these are not matters entirely within my responsibility. In the search for the missing trimaran reconnaissance aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force were used, but I am not aware of their range and flight capabilities. Obviously whenever it is necessary to put into operation a maritime search of any nature, be it by sea or by air, a great deal of time and expense will be involved, not to mention the effort involved which is a diversion from the principal effort of the body concerned. I think it is imperative for people contemplating a voyage such as that undertaken by the missing trimaran to ensure that they leave behind some indication of their proposed journey so that if it is necessary for a search to be organised at least the squadrons will have some opportunity of concentrating their search within an area where there is some prospect of locating the vessel. 1 take this opportunity to extend to relatives of the passengers and crew of the missing trimaran my personal sympathy.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has his intention been drawn to the fact that a season of drama, music, poetry and painting- a season entitled ‘Arts Vietnam’ - is being presented in Sydney as a demonstration against the war in Vietnam? Is he aware that among the contributors to ‘Arts Vietnam’ are a great many of Australia’s most distinguished artists, including the painters Russell Drysdale, Arthur Boyd and Hn Fairwealher, the poets Robert Fitzgerald, Alec Hope and Judith Wright, the composers Richard Meale, Peter Sculthorpe and Nigel Butterley, and the actor. Peter O’Shaughnessy. Does the Prime Minister dismiss these protesters against the war as so many ‘nuts’? Does he concede that those who dissent from the Government’s Vietnam policy include many of the most thoughtful and creative members of society?
– My attention has not been drawn to the particular arts festival to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition refers but I cannot see any reason whatsoever why citizens who wish to express a particular point of view should not adopt this kind of method of expressing their point of view, however wrong and misjudged I think that point of view may be. Indeed, I do think it wrong and misjudged. Surely even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would not suggest that actions such as this could be equated with violence, disrupting traffic or attacks on individuals or property. That is the kind of action which has to be condemned, T would hope, by responsible members on both sides of this House.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. It relates to the Fourth Annual Report of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, which shows that the Corporation has roughly twothirds of its funds, amounting to $ 1.25m, invested in Commonwealth securities. I ask: Is it possible to amend the relevant legislation to permit these funds to be reinvested with permanent building societies so that those societies may make further moneys available for housing?
– The reserves of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation to which the honourable member refers are kept in this form readily realisable and gilt-edged in case there is a call on some of the insurance policies. Honourable members have probably noticed how fast growing and successful this institution has been. Part of the moneys received has been used to repay the original advance from the Treasury with which the Corporation began business. The very nature of the Corporation’s business insurance means that the Corporation must keep a quite large part of its investment funds and reserves in giltedged securities. I do not mean to imply by this that investment in a first class building society is not a good investment for individuals. In fact, this form of investment has grown so fast recently that it has brought a lot of funds into the housing area which would not otherwise have been there. I will bring the honourable member’s question to the attention of the Minister and if any considerations other than those I have mentioned are involved I will inform the honourable member accordingly.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I preface it by stating that a number of people now in receipt of the increased benefits which were announced by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech are finding that especially with repatriation benefits the benefits which their wives were receiving had been reduced by like amounts. Will the Prime Minister examine this situation in order that those people who were promised benefits in the Budget will in fact receive them?
– If the honourable member brings to my attention the particulars of the matters to which he has referred I will see that they are examined. I can go no further than that.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. It is supplementary to the question asked a few minutes ago by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Is the Prime Minister aware that associated with the conference ‘Arts Vietnam’ there is also a conference known as The Asian Revolution and Australia’? Is the Prime Minister aware that the contributors to this conference arc a very interesting group of gentlemen, two of whom arc a Wilfrid Burchett and a J. F. Cairns, M.P.? Does the Prime M inister see any significance in the fact that these gentlemen will be presenting views which are in general unanimity with respect to Australia’s position in Asia, or would he be so unkind as to suggest that this would represent a spiritual unity ticket?
– Knowing only one of the individuals referred to by the honourable member, I would have no idea whether this was or was not a spiritual unity ticket. But I do believe, judging on past expressions of opinion by the two individuals mentioned, that they would be likely to find themselves concurring in the sort of argument which may be advanced at the convention to which the honourable member refers.
– Last Thursday the Prime Minister tabled documents which he said he believed satisfied the proper requirements of a House of Parliament to be informed as to the spending of public money. I ask him why he did not table the documents described as ‘letters between Secretary McNamara and Minister Fairhall on 27th September 1965 and 3 1st March 1966’ concerning ‘the unit price of the 24 F111A aircraft’. I note that certain paragraphs and annexes in the tabled documents are stated to have been excluded on military security grounds but that no reason is given for omitting the whole of two letters which, as described by the tabled documents, concern nothing but price.
– It is perfectly true that last Thursday I tabled a number of documents which T believe did give the information - and the full information - properly to be required by a House of Parliament on the expenditure of public money. Before tabling those documents 1 made it clear to this House that we would need to look at the documents we tabled both from the point of view of documents having some military security significance and from the point of view of documents which were- not our property but which were documents relating both to other governments and to ourselves, and that I did not propose to table any document which could in any way affect our relationships with other governments.
– The Minister for Primary Industry would be aware that the delay in announcing the first advance payment on this season’s wheat is having a widespread serious effect on the business community. Can he tell me when the announcement will be made by the Govern-‘ ment, or can he give an assurance that the decision will be made mighty soon?
– I would like to clear up any misconception that there is a delay in making an announcement - on the first advance payment for wheat grown this season. This announcement is usually made each year somewhere between the second week in October and the first week in November. The reason why this period is allowed is that before a request can be made to the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank a fairly accurate estimate of the crop has to be made so that the amount of money required may be determined. Until we arrive at a firm estimate we cannot ask for a precise amount of money. At the present time seasonal conditions are varying across the nation. We were led to believe that there was going to be an all-time record crop of well over 500 million bushels. From recent reports it is noticeable that dry conditions are developing in western Victoria and in the Riverina area and that frosts are having a considerable effect in northern New South Wales. I hope to make an announcement soon, but I cannot very well make an announcement until we have a fair estimate of what the crop will be.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. In view of the fact that the Government proposes to institute an intensive nursing benefit of $3 a day for prescribed patients in nursing homes, has any consideration been given to an increase in the $2 a day bed subsidy now being paid to some institutions, especially in the light of greatly increased costs? Further, has any study been undertaken of the possible provision of financial assistance to aged persons, including ex-servicemen of World War I, who are paying for intensive nursing services within their own homes out of their meagre pension of $12.50 a week? If not, will the Minister give these matters early consideration?
– The answer to the honourable gentleman’s question is yes, it is intended to introduce a supplementary benefit for intensive care. In arriving at the decision to introduce this benefit the Government undertook a very careful survey, spread over the whole of Australia, into the cost of running nursing homes of various types and the cost of caring for patients of various types. As a result of that investigation it was quite clear that the nursing homes which were having difficulty in providing care at reasonable fees to the patients were those which were providing intensive nursing care. We had plenty of evidence to suggest that for nursing homes which are providing care for what one might call light nursing cases the present benefit is adequate. Therefore, it was decided not to increase that particular benefit. I have no doubt that as this scheme develops nursing homes will tend to specialise in either intensive care or light nursing care. This will give my Department the opportunity to adjust standards, particularly of staffing. For a nursing home which decides to cater purely for light nursing cases we will be in a position to reduce the cost of patient care somewhat by reducing, to some extent, the standard of staffing required.
In answer to the other part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I remind him that many years ago - I think in about 1956 - the Commonwealth Government decided to make its contribution in this field by subsidising the home nursing service organisations. The Government has provided a considerable amount to these organisations over the years. As the honourable gentleman will recall, in the current Budget an amount is being made available to increase the home nursing subsidy. The Government believes that that is an adequate contribution to the particular problem which the honourable gentleman raised.
– Pursuant to section 18 of the Tariff Board Act 1921- 1966 I present the annual report of the Tariff Board for the year ended 30th June 1968, together with a summary of recommendations. The report is accompanied by an annexure which summarises the recommendations made by the Board and shows the action taken in respect of each of them. It is not proposed to print the annexure.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– Mr Speaker, I ask leave to make a statement on the Tariff Board report just tabled.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
- Mr Speaker, in the course of its last annual report, the Tariff Board outlined the changes which it considered to be desirable in its approach to its own work. In the report for 1967-68, which my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Transport and Acting Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Sinclair) has just tabled, the Board has reported upon its study of the structure and levels of protection now operating in the Australian Customs Tariff. lt is, 1 think, important to understand the nature of the information contained in the two main appendices - Nos. 3 and 4 - to this report. Appendix 3 is a compilation of what is termed the ‘significant tariff rates’ applying to individual products or groups of products, listed by tariff item. For comparative purposes, the Board has included statistical information about Australian production, imports and the estimated Australian demand for each item. In addition, to reduce this information to somewhat more manageable proportions, the Board has provided a shorter table in Appendix 4 in which the value of production of each industry is distributed between three levels of protection measured by the significant tariff rate, namely over 50%, 21% to 50% and not over 20% .
In short, the Board has linked information on production and imports to a rearranged version of the Customs Tariff. Within the limits imposed by the form of the available data, the outcome is a useful conspectus of the existing levels and structure of tariff rates which are applied to the final production of Australian industries. It reflects, to an important degree, decisions taken by the Government in the past on recommendations made by the Tariff Board.
In interpreting the information in the appendices to which I have referred, honourable members will have in mind important qualifications to which the Board itself has drawn attention. For example, the report refers to the fact that tariff rates which have not been reviewed for many years may substantially overstate the current duty needs of the industries concerned. Moreover, it is the actual duty rates applying to the final products of industries which are summarised in the tables. These may differ substantially from the effective rates, which represent the degree of protection extended to the production processes of those industries. For most of the products included in the appendices the Board has not been able to calculate effective rates of protection because sufficient data are not available to it, and it has therefore not been able to classify industries according to effective rates of protection. This information will only become known to the Board in the course of future public inquiries. The Board considers that the effective rate is a better and more equitable method of measuring protection than the nominal rates shown in the Tariff.
For these and other reasons, the Board has emphasised that the ranking of particular products or groups of products in its tables summarising present levels of tariff rates should not be taken as indicating the view which the Board would take at a future tariff inquiry of the desirability of assisting an industry or the level of any protection it would recommend.
In the future, as in the past, recommendations for changes in the level of duties will be made only after public inquiries at which all interested parties may be heard. The information in the appendices to the Board’s report does not pre-judge in any way the individual recommendations which the Board will make in the future after public inquiry. Requests from the Board for references designed to facilitate public inquiries into areas of the Tariff which the Board considers to be in need of review will of course be considered in accordance with normal procedures for determining references to the Board. Such inquiries would follow the generally accepted procedures of the Board conducting public inquiries at which the views of all interested parties are welcomed. Recommendations by the Board as a result of such reviews would be considered by the Government in accordance with current practice.
It will be noted that the Board has established, for its own guidance, points of reference which it has expressed in terms of effective rates of protection of 25% and 50%. The Board acknowledges that the assessment of these points involved a considerable element of judgment. They are not to be regarded as precise but as providing orders of magnitude which the Board believes will assist it in its approach to its work.
The Government has considered this report in the context of our established and well tried tariff policies. There has been no change in those policies. The Government is committed to ensuring the growth of a strong manufacturing industry which is in fact at the very foundation of the Government’s population building policies. The development of manufacturing industry is encouraged in many ways, and most notably by means of the Tariff. The Government has always been prepared adequately to protect, and will continue adequately to protect, economic and efficient industries. The Government will also afford adequate protection to industries of high importance from the standpoint of our strategic or other vital national interests.
Tariff policy has been and remains the responsibility of the Government, both in general and in relation to every single decision. In making these decisions we look to the Tariff Board for sound and practical advice. The Board has developed for almost half a century as an independent body. The Government does not attempt to set for the Board the procedures it should follow. It is therefore quite proper for the Board to examine its own methods of work, the way it shall conduct its inquiries and the bases on which it makes its recommendations. The Government expects the Board to take all possible steps to improve the quality of its advice.
To enable the Government to exercise its responsibility for tariff policy, it is clearly necessary that it should have available to it in the Board’s reports the fullest possible knowledge of all the elements relevant to each particular case. We would, for example, expect the Board to report fully not only on the effective rates of protection that would be afforded by the nominal rates of duty recommended but also on other aspects that might be relevant to a consideration of the protection of the particular goods under reference. It will, of course, continue to be the Board’s role to advise, and it will continue to be the Government’srole, in determining levels of protection, to decide whether or not it will follow the advice given. These have been our policies and they have served us well. We have no intention of changing them. I present the following paper:
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House take note of the statement.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, it is expedient to carry out the followingproposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: Construction of higher primary school buildings at Gove, Northern Territory.
The proposal is to construct, in three stages, permanent buildings to accommodate 600 primary and ISO secondary pupils, at an estimated cost of $1,283,000. The Committee has reported favourably on the proposal and upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– The Opposition supports the motion moved by the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly). It is the view of Opposition members that this work should proceed as speedily as possible and that the fullest opportunity should be given to all the children of the region to attend the school and obtain the highest possible education. The report of the Public Works Committee is accepted by the Opposition. We can only hope that no difficulties will arise that will prevent the speedy completion of the work.
– I rise to support the motion moved by the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) concerning the construction of the proposed school at Cove. This is a right and forward thinking step. As the Minister said, the school is planned to accommodate 600 primary and 150 secondary students. Such a move will aid decentralisation and is a step in the right direction. The school will be situated 400 miles east of Darwin in Arnhem Land and it should be of great assistance to the Aboriginals who are currently attending a school at Yirrkala. The decision to build this school should be a practical demonstration of the Government’s good faith and its intention to work for greater participation of the Aboriginals in the mammoth Nabalco undertaking. May I point out that if the hopes that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has expressed in answer to a question asked by me last week are realised, the name of the school might well be ‘Nhulumbuy’. I regret that I do not have an organised bark painting petition to support the views of my people. All I have is a genuine interest, as a true Territorian, in the welfare of the people who live at Gove.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Construction of paramedical building and occupational therapy day centre at Hollywood Repatriation General Hospital, Western Australia.
The proposal includes the erection of a fully airconditioned, four-storey paramedical building, a single-storey day centre for occupational therapy, and a small structure to house the chiller plant needed to supply chilled water to the air handling plant in the para-medical building and to meet the foreseen requirements of the hospital complex. The estimated cost of the proposal is $950,000. I table plans of the proposed work.
– I certainly do not oppose the motion moved by the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) on behalf of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright). As everyone will realise, the proposed work will provide an important adjunct to the Hollywood Repatriation General Hospital. I take this opportunity to make another plea on behalf of the Public Works Committee. I refer honourable members to the Twentyninth General Report of the Committee which, according to statute, was presented to the House on 21st February 1967 and ordered to be printed. On page 3, under the heading Timing of References’ the report states:
What the Committee said in that report was in fact borne out by what happened. Taking this year as an example, we find that three projects were referred to the Committee before May. These references were reported on and eventually proposals were presented to the House in the form of motions declaring that it was expedient that these works be undertaken. Since May twelve projects have been referred to the Committee. Another proposal is now being referred to the Committee, and I understand that another will come along in the near future. The Committee has reported on seven references and two reports are now being prepared for presentation to Parliament. These references raise some pretty involved questions. I cite, for example, the Mascot and Tullamarine references, both of which have been the subject of a tremendous amount of investigation by the Committee. Indeed, investigations are still proceeding. If the Committee is to do as it said in its report and give adequate consideration to these references and not be forced into hasty decisions, some effort should be made for the present Committee or future committees after 1969 to be given a better spread of work over the year, bearing in mind what we said about the annual budgeting context. The report went on to state:
I once again, on behalf of the Committee, make a plea to the responsible Ministers that some effort be made to give a greater spread of work over the year so that the Committee can consider the references that come before it in the manner that it should and without any prejudice to the investigation which it is asked to undertake and on which it has to report back to the Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 8 October (vide page 1695).
Total proposed expenditure, $1,069,884,000.
Department of Defence
Proposed expenditure, $21,645,000.
Department of the Navy
Proposed expenditure, $215,149,500.
Department of the Army
Proposed expenditure, $385,332,000.
Department of Air
Proposed expenditure, $350,257,000.
Department of Supply
Proposed expenditure, $95,002,300.
Proposed expenditure, $2,498,200.
– I want to speak briefly about two broad matters affecting the Department of Defence. The first is the application of military laws to members of the three Services. The second is the regulation of correspondents covering the Australian task force in Vietnam. Grave defects in the application of military laws have been emphasised recently in the case of Gunner Leonard Edward Newman. Honourable members will recall that Gunner Newman was convicted of manslaughter in January of this year by a court martial at Vung Tau in South Vietnam. He was charged with the murder of Lieutenant Robert Graham Birse. It was alleged that Gunner Newman had thrown a hand grenade into the tent of Lieutenant Birse. Gunner Newman pleaded not guilty to the charge. After a court martial lasting for 9 days he was acquitted of the charge of murder but was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 5 years gaol. The finding and sentence were confirmed under military regulations on 29th February of this year.
On 22nd April Gunner Newman lodged a petition with the Military Board requesting that the finding and sentence be quashed. This petition was refused by the Military Board. Gunner Newman then appealed to the Courts Martial Appeal Tribunal. Late in September a majority decision of the Tribunal upheld his appeal and quashed his conviction and sentence. During this period Gunner Newman, whose term of national service, I understand, would have expired at the end of April, spent 7 months in a Brisbane gaol. The opinion of the majority of the Courts Martial Appeal Tribunal makes interesting reading. It found that the evidence led against Newman was entirely circumstantial. I quote from the judgment of Mr Davoren Q.C. and Mr Wright of the Tribunal, who said, referring to Gunner Newman:
There was no evidence that he ever had a grenade in his possession. There was no evidence that the striker lever of a grenade was found in the area from which the grenade would have probably been thrown by the appellant if he had thrown it. No black tape was discovered in the area. The appellant gave evidence on oath that he did not throw a grenade and there was no direct evidence at all of his having done so. There was also evidence of his previous good character as a soldier.
The majority of the Tribunal found that members of the court martial might have been unduly influenced by evidence of alleged threats of violence against Lieutenant Birse. This had made them assume, unwittingly and unconsciously, that Newman had thrown the grenade. The majority of the Tribunal said further:
The danger of making that assumption was real; and, in the absence of evidence involving the appellant, it seems to us to have been based upon no more than suspicion, conjecture and guesses.
The Tribunal referred to excessive questioning of Gunner Newman by the court martial and said that such proceedings should be conducted as a trial and not as an inquiry.
I would like to make some brief observations about this unfortunate incident. Firstly, it appears that Gunner Newman was convicted of manslaughter on inadequate and circumstantial evidence. It is extremely unlikely that a civil court would have convicted him on the evidence adduced at the court martial. Secondly, it seems there was an atmosphere of prejudice surrounding this hearing. This is implicit in the reference of the majority of the Tribunal to ‘suspicion, conjecture and guesses’. I would not for one moment criticise members of the court martial on this count. It is my experience that members of courts martial make excessive efforts to be fair to servicemen appearing before them. However, the essence of a legal hearing must be detachment. The testing of legal principles must be conducted with logic and dispassion. This hearing was conducted in an active military zone and members of the court martial were peers and superiors of the dead officer. Inevitably there must be some element of prejudice in a case of this sort where an officer has suffered a violent and mysterious death.
I believe that a military court martial for a serious civil1 offence of this sort is an antiquated and anachronistic device. Such a hearing should be totally separated from the environment in which the offence was alleged to have been committed. Serious civil charges should be heard in the detached atmosphere of a properly constituted civil court. Furthermore, they should be heard before a jury. If the charge against Gunner Newman had been heard in such an atmosphere, it is unlikely that he would have been convicted on the evidence presented. A grave act of injustice, which has been belatedly rectified by the Courts Martial Appeal Tribunal, would have been avoided. If this case had been conducted in a civil court and Gunner Newman had been convicted and subsequently exonerated, he would have been in a position to recover substantial compensation for wrongful conviction. As it is, he will receive only his normal pay and allowances for the time he spent in gaol and the consolation of an honourable discharge. In the light of Gunner Newman’s exoneration, there is a substantial case for his compensation for his humiliation, for his term in gaol and for the involuntary extension of his period of service.
This case received an immense amount of publicity and it is appropriate that some rectification be made to Gunner Newman. I understand the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) has called for a report on this case and I urge him to give it his sympathetic consideration. I hope that the Minister will take into consideration the points that I have outlined concerning this unfortunate incident and the manner in which Gunner Newman’s case was dealt with. As I have already said, I make no criticism of the court martial itself. I think that these officers are competent to deal with incidents that occur in the Army and according to the normal requirements of Army rules and regulations, but this was obviously a much different case and a much more serious one. The decision of the Courts Martial1 Appeal Tribunal proves beyond doubt that had this case been dealt with by a civil court or by a higher authority it is most unlikely that he would have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, as he was in the first instance by the court martial. In the circumstances I believe there is a special case for the Minister to consider, firstly, the publicity that Gunner Newman has received; secondly, that Gunner Newman spent 7 months in a civilian gaol; and thirdly, that he will receive no more than his Army pay and. as I have indicated, an honourable discharge. In my opinion this is not sufficient. When the Minister receives the report that he has called for, I hope that he will be sympathetic towards Gunner Newman. I ask the Minister to consider the points 1 have made in this matter and to ensure that Gunner Newman receives the compensation to which I believe he is entitled, having regard to the facts as I have outlined them.
In a wider context, this case points up the inadequacies of military laws affecting the armed Services. The Opposition in this Parliament has repeatedly sought the modernisation and simplification of the complex tangle of defence laws. It is impossible to summarise the vast network of Acts and regulations which cover the individual Services. The Manual of Army Law alone covers many hundreds of pages in close print. The Defence Act, the Army Act, the Australian Military Regulations and the Defence (Visiting Forces) Act apply to members of the Army. The Defence Act applies in time of peace and imperial British legislation during war service. A similar variety of complex legislation applies to the Navy and the Air Force. This amounts to an extremely formidable body of law which requires considerable legal skill to untangle and interpret. It is impossible for an ordinary serviceman on active operations to have either the skill or the time to gain even a rudimentary knowledge of military laws that are applicable to him.
There are innumerable anomolies and much outdated terminology in the military regulations. It is disappointing to find in 1968 that farriers, saddlers and blacksmiths are still listed in Army designations. There is a similar archaic tone in offences listed in the ‘Manual of Army Law’. For example, it is still an offence to connive at the exaction of an exorbitant price for a house or stall let to a sutler. How many years is it since sutlers accompanied military forces in the field? There are also several regulations relating to the loss, neglect or ill treatment of horses, mules, bullocks and any beast of whatsoever description used for burden or draught. It is also an offence to fight, promote or connive at fighting a duel. I wonder whether the Minister for the Army would be good enough to provide statistics showing the number of duels that have taken place while he has been the Minister for the Army or even during the period of office of his predecessors. Perhaps the Minister for the Army might look into this question and give some indication of the number of duels that have taken place in the Army in recent years.
This sort of terminology makes it difficult to give proper credence to the great welter of military laws which cover the Services today. An inter-service committee has been working for 17 years to draft purely Australian legislation to replace applied imperial legislation. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) has described this committee as having made extraordinary efforts to finish its work. He has confidently reported at various times in the past 2 years that draft legislation would soon be presented for the Government’s consideration. There is not the slightest sign that any concrete results have been achieved in simplifying the codification of military law in Australia. If the inter-service committee is incapable of achieving this objective, its work should be passed over to the Attorney-General’s Department as a matter of urgency. It has been possible in Australia to produce a uniform Companies Act and uniform divorce legislation from a maze of complex legislation. There seems no reason, therefore, why Australia should not have a uniform code of military law on the same lines as the United States of America. The American uniform code of military justice manages to codify military law into eleven sub-chapters containing 140 articles. This simple codification stands in pointed contrast to the incoherent miscellany of military laws which apply to Australian servicemen.
I want to speak briefly about the regulation of Australian correspondents who are covering the activities of Australian military units in South Vietnam. The Minister for Defence has rightly decided to review the application of regulations which, he says, are designed to bring uniformity to the rules of the three Services in South Vietnam. Whatever the intentions of the regulations are, they have had a serious impact on the Press coverage of the Australian task force by Australian correspondents. It is proper that correspondents should be spared the pin pricking of unnecessary regulations. It seems that only two Australian agencies are covering the Vietnam war on a full time basis - Australian Associated Press and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Of course, other Australian correspondents visit Vietnam regularly. Every effort should be made to expand this rather meagre coverage by Australian news media. As the Minister for Defence pointed out in this place yesterday, there have been no breaches of security by any Australian correspondents in Vietnam. The Minister agrees that correspondents have acted with great responsibility, and it would be most unfortunate if any of them were discouraged by unnecessary regulation. There has been a tendency among a group of Government backbench members to urge censorship of Vietnam war reporting. This approach is at complete variance with that of the United States which, to its credit, has given maximum access to news media in Vietnam. There has been no attempt to suppress or to conceal material which could prove damaging to the United States. It would be tragic if the Australian Government ignored the American example in this matter and succumbed to pressure from a small group of its members who want vigorous censorship of all news on the Vietnam war.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) spent most of his time on what might be described as a Grievance Day reference to the Services. He dealt with relatively unimportant matters. In the few minutes at my disposal I would like to try to paint with a pallet knife a picture of what I think should be the future defence programme of this country. The estimates of expanded expenditure before the Committee are largely a carry-over from our previous defence programme, but of course they are also important to the programme which has yet to be announced. I am not competent nor do I wish to spend time on technical details; I would prefer to leave them to the experts. I would like to discuss very briefly three questions. Firstly, what is the probable threat or possible necessity for any future defence programme? Secondly, what are the basic factors to be taken into consideration? Thirdly, what should be the basis of our defence policy?
First of all, let us look at the threat. Britain has decided to withdraw from east of Suez. I have never criticised Britain for this because, with the loss of the Empire, she could not afford it economically. I do not believe that any alteration in this policy, by retaining a small presence in this area, could have much effect, if any at all, on our defence policy. Secondly, we have the threatening situation in Korea where infiltration and subversion still go on despite the existence of the longest armistice in history; the situation in Laos where the neutrality imposed by the 1962 Geneva Convention was never carried out, even before the ink was dry on the signatures to the document; and the situation in Vietnam, which I do not need to describe because honourable members have considerable knowledge of it. Thirdly, I would refer to Mao Tse-tung’s blueprint for world conquest by Communist China. Although it was written in 1953, Lin Piao expanded it in a 30,000 word article in the ‘Peking Review’ in 1966. It still remains the cardinal principle of Communist China’s strategy and tactics in South East Asia. The tactics outlined in that document do not make it necessary for China to have a fleet or anything that could be of danger to Australia. The tactics are very simple. They are the age old tactics of Chinese military leaders for many centuries past, namely, if you want to defeat an enemy first undermine his morale and then send the soldiers in as a last resort. In this respect we have been subjected to continuous psychological warfare which neither
America nor Australia seems to understand. We are still losing that part of the warfare so fast that it is not funny.
Fourthly, national liberation fronts are being formed or fostered by Communist China. The Malaysian National Liberation Front and the Thai National Liberation Front are both centred in Peking. The Voice of Free Thailand broadcasts from Yunnan, a southern province of China. There is the National Liberation Front for Indonesia, which is led by one of the Communist leaders who escaped the September coup. 1 refer to Mr Aditorop. We also have the National Liberation Front in Vietnam. Fifthly, Russia has moved out of the Black Sea. She is exercising more and more influence in the Mediterranean and as far west on the north African littoral as Algiers. She is concentrating very heavily on the Middle East. If the Suez Canal is ever reopened it will be under Russian domination. She is exercising influence right down into Somalia and the horn of Africa and Perim Island at the entrance to the Red Sea. She is re-arming the troops of the Yemen. Furthermore, for the first time since 1905, Russian battleships or cruisers have appeared in the Persian Gulf. Mr Kosygin has been paying more attention to India and trying to obtain from India permission to give India more ships for her navy so that through co-operation with India, Russia and India may step into the vacuum left by the British withdrawal in the Indian Ocean. These are, I think, some of the main factors that we must consider before we come to any decision about a defence programme.
Guerilla warfare is likely to continue for a long time even if a settlement is obtained in Vietnam. We have the illustration, mentioned just recently, of what has happened in Korea ever since the armistice, when the worst of that war stopped. Last year when I was in the United States of America I felt that there was an increasing tendency towards frustration and irritation with regard to America’s responsibilities in practically every area of the world and that a small minority of Americans was even beginning to talk of isolation. Ever since then I have been very keen to promote the idea - it has recently been promoted by leaders in America - that ultimately we must form regional defence pacts, by which the nations of this region will take upon their shoulders more responsibility. They will ask for American support instead of asking America to continue to carry 95% of the can.
Regional co-operation and development could raise the standard of living of all people in this region, but it is of no use going ahead with regional development unless the security of the area can be guaranteed. It does not matter whether we have an Anzus Pact or whether we have the Asian and Pacific Council, the South East Asia Treaty Organisation or the Association of South East Asian Nations or any other of the many organisations which have proliferated in this area. Security is the first requirement for regional co-operation and development. I felt that this would take a long time and a good deal of diplomatic finesse and diplomatic discussion, but apparently the American presidential elections have caused events to move much more swiftly in this direction. On 22nd September in Philadelphia Mr Richard Nixon called for a new United States foreign policy. As reported in the Age’ of 23rd September, he said:
What we find today is that the United States has for 20 years furnished most of the money, most of the arms and most of the men and lives to help other countries defend their freedom. It’s time for other nations to assume their fair share of defending freedom around the world.
On 29th September Mr Clark Clifford, United States Secretary of Defence, came out with an even stronger statement in a television interview in Washington. This was followed by a statement from Mr George Ball who, in resigning his position with the United Nations, gave his backing to Mr Humphrey. I assume that Mr Ball’s statement became part and parcel of Mr Humphrey’s view with regard’ to America’s future responsibilities towards the various regions of the world.
In an interview reported in ‘NewsWeekly’ of 11th September, Mr Thanat Khoman, Foreign Minister of Thailand, said:
We also see a future in regional co-operation as a complement to our reliance on the defence of the free world. In other words, while we have to rely on the US we also try to develop another source of defensive guarantee and capability for trying lo forge regional solidarity.
Yesterday the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong) asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) whether the Government had considered including a military alliance as one of the objectives of the Asian and Pacific Council. 1 was surprised and rather disappointed to hear the Minister reply that the Government had not given the matter any consideration. It does not matter whether it is ASPAC or an organisation of another name, the principle is the same: America looks to this region and to other regions to take a greater share of responsibility. In this regard I feel that we must define our future defence programme. In view of the amount of aid that we give to other countries and the fact that our raw materials are now important to other countries in this region, Australia should be taking the lead in investigating the possibility of regional co-operation in defence as well as in development. Politically, economically and in every other way our ties with other countries in this region become stronger.
People may say that a regional defence pact is not sufficient in itself. Korea and Taiwan each has 650,000 well trained troops in the services. I am not now talking about going back to the mainland. I am talking about defence against aggression. The Philippines and other countries in South East Asia could supply their quotas of troops. Added to Japan’s forces these would represent a very solid defence pact, capable of operating most effectively, particularly with American support. I realise that Japan has many difficulties. Firstly, she has a constitution which would have to be altered. This is difficult where you have multi-party representation as you have in the Japanese Diet. Japan already has a home defence force of 250,000 men. As to what will happen in 1970. the guess of honourable members is as good as mine, but 1 feel that Japan’s national pride and her desire to see American bases removed from Japanese soil will cause her to look at things differently to the way in which she has looked at them since the war ended. Evidence of this appeared in an article in the ‘Age’ of 25th September, which read:
In a recent policy statement, the Prime Minister-
That is, Mr Sato - said that Japan’s present 250,000-strong selfdefence forces were not strong enough to cope with the ‘grim international situation’. Japan should have a defence capability commensurate with its power and strength.
Two of Japan’s cabinet ministers made similar statements. Like Australia, Japan is vitally interested in regional co-operation and development. Where there is fear of Japan’s rearmament, I feel that friendliness rather than ostracism is the answer to the problem.
On what should we base our defence policy? Should we base it on the concept of Fortress Australia? Does anybody suggest that even if we wanted to we are strong enough to depend on the concept of Fortress Australia for our security? Secondly, we would lose all our friends before we started, lt seems to me that such a policy would be crazy. So you come back to a regional defence pact with others in the area, supported by America but not asking America to carry 95% of the responsibility. Thirdly, there must be an appreciation, particularly on the part of the Navy and possibly on the part of the Air Force, of the importance of the Indian Ocean trade route, as the Cape of Good Hope is the only safe trade route that we have to Europe. We should have a base on the coast of Western Australia complementary to the base at Simonstown on the Cape of Good Hope. We should co-operate with South Africa in policing the area. It is to be hoped that India might co-operate in this respect, but she is more inclined, as has been stated publicly by the Chief of her Naval Staff, to co-operate with Russia in order to take over Britain’s responsibilities in the Indian Ocean after Britain withdraws.
In the late 1930s Australia gambled on a cheap defence programme. In the light of the present international situation I hope that we will not try to gamble in the same way again, because we cannot afford to do so.
Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) (4. 10]- From the early 1950s the Government of this country has rather successfully applied a hard sell on the Australian public in regard to defence. It was therefore a surprise to the public to discover that by the late 1950s and the early 1960s there was a general run down in the forces of this country, lt had been a repeated claim of the Government - and especially of its main spokesmen - at periodic elections that Australia had only a short time in which to prepare to defend herself against external aggression. Of course, like so many honourable members opposite, those spokesmen were unable to define just who these aggressors were and how they were likely to get here. But regardless of this, the Government exploited this sort of argument at the various elections.
I suggest that the record of the Government, as summed up by the state of the defence Services in the 1960s, indicates that, if the Government believed what it said, it had a reckless disregard for the benefit of . this country and that, if it did not believe what it said, it had a reckless disregard for the intelligence of the Australian electors. By the late 1950s it was obvious that the Canberra bombers - the main line bombers for the Air Force - were obsolescent. By now they are obsolete, despite any arguments that may be advanced in regard to the role that they are fulfilling in Vietnam. It could just as easily be argued that a Tiger Moth could successfully fulfil a role in certain circumstances. The Canberra bombers are very restricted in what they can contribute in any sort of conflict. By the early 1960s the Navy was in an extremely run down state. Early this year I did a bit of arithmetic in this regard. I recollect quite clearly that about 50% of the Navy’s combat ships were over 15 years of age and about 70% were over 10 years of age. Anything over 15 years of age is obsolete nowadays when one considers the modern sophisticated electronic equipment that is required. Anything over 10 years of age is decidedly obsolescent. But this was the situation with the armed Services at that time.
The Opposition is entitled to ask today whether there is a higher standard in the quality of equipment provided for the Services and whether this equipment is evenly distributed throughout the Services. The Opposition especially is entitled to ask these questions because it is under the impression that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is an adherent of the Fortress Australia concept. Of course, the Opposition does not know at this stage the Government’s policy on defence. For the best part of the year Australia’s defence policy has operated in a vacuum. Apparently the decision of the British Government to withdraw from east of Suez and the more recent remarks made by presidential candidates in the United States of America indicating grave reservations about the extent of America’s involvement in this area in the new year have caused a certain degree of panic in the Government ranks. So, we find that a strategic reassessment is in the hands of senior Cabinet Ministers.
My advice is that at this stage there has been no Cabinet meeting to make any strategic reassessment. Indeed, how could such a reassessment be made when three of the senior Ministers who would be involved in any such decision are absent overseas? I refer to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). Three top Cabinet Ministers are absent at a time when Australia needs a defence policy - when defence decisions are being left in a vacuum or are not being made at all. Of course, there is no indication of when a decision will be announced in this House on Australia’s defence policy.
Let us speculate on the Fortress Australia concept that apparently impresses the Prime Minister so much. Australia has 12,000 miles of coastline to look after. We have two main oceans, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Australia has a population of 12 million, which is not a very large population for a country of its size. It has a work force of only 4 million, which includes 84,000 national service trainees. How could anyone conceive for one minute that Australia could adopt a Fortress Australia concept? The only way this could be done effectively would be with direction of manpower and an increase in the numbers conscripted into the various Services. But this could not be done without dislocation of the economic performance of the country.
There is a completely irrational approach to Australia’s needs. Instead of closing doors, locking windows and drawing shutters to South East Asia we should be opening these things up and developing as many techniques as we can to improve our relationships with the people of South East Asia. South East Asia has a population of 130 million, India has a population of 436 million and Pakistan has a population of 94 million. A Fortress Australia concept would mean that we would close our eyes to this area of people, land and needs in our immediate vicinity. This is unrealistic. Even so, it is the type of concept which is apparently attracting the interest of the Prime Minister at present. A country like Australia, which has a total wealth greater than that of any South Bast Asian country, should not be tolerating any thought along these lines.
Australians are entitled to ask whether the contribution to defence has been effective in recent years. Australia has spent $4,647m on defence over the past 5 years. That is a lot of money, lt is the equivalent of something like 250 six-bed hospitals, a lot of miles of road, a lot of schools and a whole host of other things that are needed for the welfare of the community. 1 say this not to stress or argue that the Government should not be spending this amount of money on defence but to illustrate that when it does spend money on defence or, indeed, in any other field it must carefully weigh up the priorities and establish that the money will be spent effectively.
There are gaps even now in Australia’s defence arrangement. The most embarrassing of these for the Government and, indeed, for Australia is the decision of the Government - apparently irrevocable - to purchase the Fill aircraft. Already the B series of that aircraft has been scrapped in America. A former Secretary of the United States Air Force, Mr Stuart Symington, recommends the scrapping of the whole series of this aircraft. Many questions have to be answered before Australians can be satisfied that a wise decision was made on this aircraft. I am not going to argue against the outstanding performance of the Fill in some fields. Having seen some of the equipment that it will be provided with and having been informed at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Amberley of some of the things that it can do, I am quite convinced that it will be a phenomenal aircraft. But it will be phenomenal only in certain fields. I have grave reservations about any claim that these fields are applicable to Australia’s defence needs.
The first question is the radius of the Fill aircraft in action. Originally it was proposed that its radius of action would be about 1.900 miles, but gradually this has been whittled down until now it is quoted as being 1,000 miles and even less. In terms of Australia’s needs, 1,000 miles will not take it very far. It may take it over a lot of water, but we are not out to protect sail fish or penguins. This is a lot of money to be outlaying on such an aircraft. I spoke to a Group Captain in the Air Force in Queensland this week about the FI 1 1 aircraft. In reply to the query that I have just raised he said: ‘We do not know what it will do and it is unreasonable to expect to know what radius of action it will be capable of. What we will do is load it up and fly it from point A to point B and establish the radius of action that way’. That is incredible. About S300m of Australia’s money is involved and yet a senior officer in the Air Force - not one who is about to leave the Air Force but one who is on his way up - states that the defence people do not know the radius of action performance of this aircraft. This is a critical aspect of Australia’s strategic requirement.
At this point of time no information has been supplied in regard to what weapons system will be supplied with the FI 1 1 aircraft. The Fill is a modern sophisticated aircraft and in many ways it will be the most outstanding defence aircraft in the world, but at this point of time no orders have been issued for a special weapons system for it. It will be supplied with conventional bombs, and, I understand, Sidewinder missiles. Sidewinder missiles are fairly old. It must be nearly 20 years since they were first introduced. Australians are entitled to ask just how wisely their money is being spent.
We are also entitled to ask whether the Government is contemplating acquiring a nuclear capacity of its own for use by these aircraft. The fact that the Government is reluctant to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, combined with the fact that these aircraft have been conceived as carrying nuclear warheads, dashing in at 1,400 miles an hour below radar screen level to deliver these warheads and then moving quickly away from the target, causes me some concern and gives me reason to fear that the Government may be contemplating the acquisition of a nuclear capacity. This fear is bolstered by the statement which the present Prime Minister made about a decade ago in the Senate. He is dearly a man who finds many attractions in Australia having its own nuclear capacity. I have no doubt that unless restraining influences are brought to bear upon him in the Cabinet he will take steps to acquire such a capacity for Australia.
Finally on this subject, the longer the delivery of these aircraft is delayed and the higher the cost rises, the more benefit there will be for the people who provide Australia with loans with which to meet this increased expenditure. The people who provide Australia with these loans are in America. The latest loan of $75m will attract an interest rate of 6%, according to this morning’s ‘Financial Review’. This is 50% higher than the rate for the last loan that we had to negotiate in America. And this is all to meet the increased cost of an aircraft which is to be supplied from America.
Our Air Force arrangements certainly show deficiencies. So too do the arrangements for the Royal Australian Navy. In fact we could justifiably claim that the Navy is the most neglected and ill-cared for of our three Services. 1 quickly went through the defence report for this year and also through Jane’s “Fighting Ships’ and I find that six of our ships which would be main line ships if we were involved in some sort of conflict have had between them a total of 136 years service, or an average of 23 years each. The three Q class ships, two of which are at present in reserve, are each 26 years old. The Diamantina is 23 and Tobruk and Anzac are 18 and 17 years old respectively. This Government has shown complete irresponsibility in allowing our Naval defence to slide into a completely impossible situation. As 1 have said, we have 12,000 miles of coastline to look after. We are a trading nation. We are vitally involved in and dependent upon international trade. Our sea lanes are of major importance to this country and our Navy, therefore, has a vital role to play in our defences. Yet here we are today with some incredibly old vessels in our fleet.
Even the more modern of our vessels are unable to provide the kind of defence that they should provide. The three DDG’s, the Charles F. Adams destroyers which are the pride of the Navy, have been damned as being less than viable units in Australia’s defence structure because the highest level of service that we can get from the three of them at any one time is equivalent to that normally provided by one vessel or, occasionally, two vessels. The highest level of service we can expect from these ships is 60%. This means that for quite a good deal of the time these vessels will constitute an ineffective unit. We spent $120m to purchase them, and in a situation in which they do not constitute a viable unit we must consider that money as having been wasted, and its waste represents a gross dereliction of responsibility on the part of the Government in the allocation of our finances.
We have an aircraft carrier which is only marginally operative, or will be marginally operative with Skyhawk aircraft after a $8im refit - a refit which completely tore out the innards of the vessel and installed new electronic and engineering equipment and superstructure. It cost $8i for a refit to make an aircraft carrier just marginally operative for Australia’s requirements. What a ridiculous situation the Government has allowed our defence services to drift into. We have only one fleet maintenance supply ship, ‘Stalwart’, and yet ‘Hobart’ in the 89 days of its recent action in operation Sea Dragon required 90 replenishments at sea. Obviously we need more ships.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Listening to the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) one wondered what course he was trying to pursue with his remarks on Australia’s defences. He sneered at the fact that this Government, which has been in power for many years and has successfully directed attention to crises and threats in South East Asia, has been able to steer a course which has so far avoided the necessity for us to engage in a major war close to our own shores. He seemed to suggest that a number of false alarms have been raised. He sought to imply that the situation in Korea, the threat to Malaysia by Indonesia, the insurgency in Thailand and the trouble on the border between Thailand and Malaya, and more recently the conflict in Vietnam, have been no more than false alarms or electoral devices whereby this Government has directed the attention of the people of Australia to the necessity for us to have strong defences. Well, I leave the people to judge that proposition for themselves.
It seems to me there is no more substance in that argument than in the other straw man that he raised and then proceeded to hatchet down. I refer to his suggestion that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is a Fortress Australia exponent. Without any evidence at all he ascribes to the Prime Minister a policy which would involve the withdrawal of our commitment to our neighbouring nations in South East Asia so that we would then proceed simply to defend our own island. How he arrives’ at this conclusion is beyond my understanding, because everything the Prime Minister has done and said since he assumed office has underlined the significance and importance of our present regional understanding, our present relationships with our neighbours, and in particular our commitment in Vietnam. Therefore 1 suggest that what we have just listened to has been no more than a hotch-potch of ideas. Nevertheless, although the honourable member’s contribution has been a hotch-potch, it was eminently better than that of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard), who in a debate on the defence estimates could spend the whole of his time talking about one particular case of military descipline
As we on this side of the chamber look at the situation we realise that what the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has said is true - that Australia now faces a very different situation from that which it faced in earlier times. There are now great gaps appearing in a defence position which for so long we assumed to be secure. We are faced with the problems posed by Britain’s withdrawal from east of Suez, the changing situation inside our neighbour nations to the north, the blueprint laid down by Communist China and the ever increasing threat by China as she challenges the world as a nuclear power.
Certain events which have occurred recently have underlined the significance of our situation. I refer particularly to the invasion of Czechoslovakia. This was a stark reminder of what I might call the ‘technique of penumbral aggression’ - aggressive action taken against territory just outside the shadow of a great power. Czechoslovakia is such a territory. Many people, indeed, would say that it is within the immediate zone of influence of Soviet Russia. Is it that the great nuclear powers have an understanding that if one of those powers takes action within such a zone the other will do nothing which might, provoke any kind of response which could lead to a major outbreak of hostilities? Is there a twilight zone just outside the boundaries of the great powers, in which security is at a very low ebb? The action of Russia in moving into Czechoslovakia without suffering more than a verbal protest from the other countries of the world reminds us of the hopelessness of people who are completely threatened and under the influence of a great power.
The other situation that we must remark upon from the Australian point of view is the position in regard to Haiphong and Hanoi, the whole conduct of the war in Vietnam, and particularly our disposition with regard to North Vietnam. We have seen the United States of America take up a position courageously and in the face of a good deal of hostility from those who do not want to be involved in the onward march of Communist aggression. She has taken tremendous steps to defend South Vietnam. She has been prepared to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of her own sons. She has spent millions upon millions of dollars and has risked the opprobrium of lots of other people and nations. Nevertheless all the time that she has been doing this she has seen day by day trade through Haiphong - Russian ships and Chinese chartered ships moving into this port with impunity because they know that the United States would not risk the outbreak of a major war with China or Russia.
I am not proposing that there should have been any precipitation of such a conflict in the case of Czechoslovakia or in the case of Haiphong. What 1 am saying - 1 believe it is beyond any doubt - is that for Australia this poses very particular questions. If America had not been prepared to stand firm to the utmost of her ability and of her power in the defence of a cause so dear to her heart as that of South Vietnam, could we realistically expect, and indeed, could we be certain, that she would support us in the days when there will be a nuclear power in South East Asia or at least on the borders of South East Asia and when we will be in the penumbra of Chinese nuclear power? If this is not certain then I believe that any responsible government, any government thinking of security and the self interest of Australia, which must be paramount in external affairs and defence planning, would be culpable if it did not take these factors into consideration.
I believe that we should negotiate now, while the Czechoslovakian issue is still hot, to see that when we do get the F111C aircraft - this answers directly the honourable member for Oxley - we have access, in certain circumstances, to nuclear armament for that aircraft. If we do, who can blame us? The other thing we must do is to cut corners in our programmes for nuclear power stations and the civilian use of nuclear power. At least let us get as far ahead as India has got. Let us try to learn the techniques of handling nuclear power. Let us develop power stations in remote areas and in places where national development will profit by it. Let us train our technologists and, if necessary, let us stockpile plutonium and get into a position where if the worst happens - and please God that it never will happen - we will be within a year or two of being able to provide ourselves with our own deterrent if the circumstances demand it.
The other situation, which I believe is a gap in our present defence thinking and our defence posture, is deliberate subversion at home. How much longer are we to permit deliberate enemy action inside Australia? That it is deliberate the honourable member for Chisholm has clearly demonstrated to us. He has pointed out the terms of the policies enunciated by speakers such as Lin Piao in September 1966. I do not advocate, in what I am saying, censorship of genuine political comment or any other kind of genuine comment, criticism and propaganda. What I am referring to is this and only this: Our democracy depends, in my view, on the freely cast votes of Australian people. The task of this nation, of the Government, of the Opposition, of the Press, pulpit, radio, television, university chairs and the rest, is to inform the Australian people as fully and as widely as possible so that they may exercise their franchise in the most intelligent and constructive way. On this the security and strength of the nation depends. We must inform people of facts and, in certain cases, reflect on those facts and comment, criticise and draw inferences. But having said that much, I emphasise that the nation can be misled and undermined by lying propaganda. There must be truth in advertising and, much more, there must be truth in what claims to be objective comment on facts of national importance.
In my book, deliberate attempts to mislead people in this sphere should be tackled by the Government. This is a dangerous field. I admit that it is, and the best defence against it is a virile presentation of the truth. But the sheer volume and apparent integrity of some of the causes could tie up the Government in a continual defensive activity, and this would be impracticable. At the present moment there is a spate of attempts to present untruths as truths. I reluctantly conclude that some legislation would seem to be needed to make it an offence when twelve ordinary, honest Australian citizens conclude that a publication, or some kind of public utterance, has knowingly been based on a deliberately fabricated statement which the propagandists knew or ought to have known was false. Roughly the same tests could apply in this sphere as those that apply to the present laws of libel with regard to persons.
So I draw attention to these two areas where I believe a great deal more should be heard from the Government, the first being the area where, in addition to pursuing regional pacts which underline understandings, such as in the Asian and Pacific Council, and meeting our commitments under the treaties in which we are involved, we should at the same time be building up inside Australia, as though we could depend on no-one else, the means to say ‘No’ to the kind of aggression with which China has threatened us and which she has given her word to undertake towards us. This, in the light of what has happened in Czechoslovakia, I believe to be the plain duty of the Government. On the final and second point, I believe that we should do a great deal more than we are doing to combat the onward march of subversion and the use of propaganda which is the ancillary, the concomitant, of the revolutionary war processes that our enemies so clearly enunciate for us to anticipate.
– We have listened with very great interest to the few speakers who so far have debated the Department of Defence estimates this afternoon. A number of points stand out. First, in making their contributions the honourable members for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and Evans (Dr Mackay) both started off by way of a strategic review. It is unfortunate that we have not had as yet the Government’s long promised defence review where these contributions might more properly have been made. However these honourable members raised some matters on which I should like to comment. The honourable member for Chisholm is a man that members of the Opposition have always greatly respected, although we have not always agreed with him. As my good friend the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has often said, the honourable member for Chisholm is one of those people who when he thought his country was threatened has not hesitated to put himself between his country and the enemy. We respect him as a man of great personal integrity and as a man with a fine service record. He attempted to make a strategic assessment, and I would agree with many of the things that he said. On the other hand, he painted a somewhat more gloomy picture than he might have done. There is no doubt that while the Soviet Union, for example, has been making some overtures to India, the Government of India has on many occasions affirmed the fact that while it stands for good relations with all countries it has no intention of going into the Soviet orbit or, for that matter, any other orbit.
The honourable member for Evans raised a number of general matters in his speech, but he also referred to matters that are of great concern to the Australian Labor Party members of the Parliament. One was Australia’s nuclear capacity. He suggested that we might develop a civilian nuclear capacity - power stations and the like - so that we would be able to use it to develop and manufacture nuclear weapons within a year or two of a threat being raised. Unfortunately, members on the Government side spell out some of these things, but they do not spell out the fact that we have accepted certain commitments under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. They - and indeed other people who make these statements - should also spell out whether they mean that Australia should not adhere to the Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
– You believe that Australia should not adhere to the Treaty on the - Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons?
– Well, the position is now clear. The other matter which the honourable member raised was the question of subversion at home, the war at home and the untruthful statements that he alleges are being made in the Australian community from time to time and are not being answered. It is true that in any democratic community - and the United States is an outstanding example of this - it is possible for minorities in the community to dissent from the point of view of the Government, and minorities have not always been wrong. But in this matter, and in other matters, the Government is not entirely clear of blame itself. The honourable member said that the Government should spell out the truth. I put it to him that many of the things to which he objects arise out of the fact that in this involvement in Vietnam the Government has not spelled out the truth. We have had a number of pictures painted, and all of them have been painted in extreme terms. First of all we were told that it was China coming down between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. No-one would minimise the fact that China exerts influence - not altogether a healthy influence in that region - and we know that the Chinese are training insurgents to operate in some countries in South East Asia that are friendly to us. On the other hand, the picture painted by the Government at that time was not a true one.
Then we have the question of aggression from the north - the fact that North Vietnam was swallowing up South Vietnam. While none of us would deny that there are North Vietnamese illegally in South Vietnam at this point in’ time, the picture that was presented by the Government was again not a true one because it did not point out truthfully and carefully the actual nature of the insurgency in South Vietnam itself - the revolution being carried on in the south by people who sought to unify the whole of Vietnam. I put it to the honourable member for Evans, and to honourable members opposite generally, that the Government has done a great disservice to Australia in not giving us the benefit of the defence review that has been promised for so long. This year’s Budget provides for an increase in defence expenditure which we all welcome. In 1967-68 Australia spent $1,1 15m on defence, and in the year ahead it will spend Sl,217m, which is an increase of $ 102m or 9% over the previous year. Defence expenditure by Australia overseas increased to $375m, which was an increase of $31m or again approximately 9% over the previous year.
The Labor Party supports the proper defence of Australia and the acceptance of Australia’s treaty obligations and our obligations to the United Nations. Much of what is said in the debate that will take place will criticise the actual manner in which this money has been spent or the direction in which the Government tends to be moving at the present time - insofar as it is possible to predict in what direction the Government is moving - rather than the expenditure on defence itself. One of the things we hear Government supporters say time after time in election campaigns is that the Australian Labor Party has neglected the defence of Australia or that it would reduce defence expenditure. I point out at this stage that the Labor Party does not stand for reduced defence expenditure, but we will have some criticisms to make about the way in which our money has been spent.
Earlier I referred to the Government’s failure to present a defence review which is now 2 years overdue and which has been in the hands of the Government for some months. 1 again refer to what the honourable member for Evans said when he repudiated the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) stood for the Fortress Australia concept. One of the problems we have is that due to the fact there has been no defence review and no proper spelling out of the Government’s policy, we on this side of the Parliament do not quite know what the Prime Minister stands for. Indeed, his statements on defence - such as the Israeli concept which we were told later meant a higher priority for the Citizen Military Forces - have been confusing in the extreme. If there is an election this year it will mean that after the confusing statements on defence made by the Prime Minister, the people of Australia would be asked for a blank cheque without knowing what roles it is intended our Services should play in the future and how the Government sees future defence commitments and the responsibility of the Australian nation.
This is a very serious state of affairs. We should have had a defence review presented by now. It should have been introduced into this Parliament with adequate opportunity given for a study to be made of it and for a proper debate to ensue. We on this side of the Parliament are sure that Australia will have to play a more dynamic and constructive role in its own defence and in the defence of the region. We have spelled out - and it is the clear policy of the Australian Labor Party - that the ANZUS pact should remain of supreme importance to the security of Australia. At the present time there is a tendency to knock the ANZAM agreement and the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, but for my part T believe that both those treaties have usefulness. Possibly ANZAM could be renegotiated in the context of British withdrawal from east of Suez, and as honourable members know, it is certainly Labor policy that SEATO should be replaced by something more adequate, but that in the meantime it should serve a useful purpose in enabling us to have contacts and exchange of views wilh our neighbours in South East Asia and elsewhere.
In considering the defence of this region, while we all recognise that ths United States of America has a great role to play, I do not discount the fact that Britain has a substantial role to play. The very presence of some of her troops at Shoalhaven Bay at the present time is an indication of her continued interest in the problems of this region. Then, of course, there is our trading partner, Japan, with whom we must continue to foster the most close, healthy and friendly relationship in the future, because if at any time in the future there is a challenge to this part of the world, there is no doubt that Japan will have a pretty prominent role to play.
In the last few minutes remaining to me I should like to say a few things about the individual Services. In the present year the numbers in the Army have increased. We all know that the Australian Army is competently led and well-trained. There are still problems arising out of the expansion programme undertaken during recent years and consequently there are problems with staffing and with morale in the CMF and in the school cadet corps. In the 1967 annual report of the Returned Services League of Australia which has come to us in the last few days, the following appears regarding the CMF:
In many respects the CMF is the Cinderella of our Armed Forces whilst at the same time being the essential element in any major scheme of National Defence. It suffers at the moment from a desperate shortage of officers and specialist personnel and this, in turn, springs largely from an overall critical shortage of manpower. Officer establishment in the 3rd Division in major ind captain ranks is only 43% strength, and this is at a time when Australia needs a skeleton officer corps trained in staff dirties for five divisions of CMF.
In the CMF cadres the standard of NCO instructors is inadequate and there is a need for younger and more vigorous junior leaders. In obtaining specialists too little credit is given for civilian qualifications. Doctors, lawyers and engineers have to pass the same tactical exams as infanteers. This discourages many from participating. In trade categories such as bulldozer and truck drivers, civilian skills and certificates are disregarded. This has the effect of discouraging enlistment.
Training equipment bas improved and, in most cases, is now adequate. However, motor transport is frequently worn out, and such things as blank ammunition and training manuals are not always available. There is an urgent need for adequate training areas close to the capital cities and suitable for unit manoeuvres and field firing ranges. Provision could be made for a training camp in Papua-New Guinea to permit training under the most realistic conditions.
Fundamental to most of these problems, however, is the shortage of manpower which remains the major obstacle in developing an organisation that cun satisfactorily meet our defence requirements. A broadening of the present National Service Scheme would seem to be the only practical means of meeting this deficiency.
This comment concerning the CMF is very close to my own assessment of the situation in the metropolitan area of Brisbane. At the present time the CMF is receiving large numbers of people. Many young people are enlisting in the CMF. Without any doubt, many of them are doing so because they do not want to undertake the obligations of national service. The
Army has tended to regard the CMF as having a supply of manpower available to it, and I do not think that the Army is looking after the manpower that it has well enough. I also believe that although a very small proportion of school cadets subsequently enlist in the Services, these corps are playing a very valuable role in the community. I know that there is a long waiting list for school cadet corps. Whilst it would be a fairly minor matter in the context of national security, it seems to me that greater attention should be given to providing school cadet corps than is being given at the present time. In Queensland we welcome the provision of new Army barracks at Enoggera and the almost completed Lavarack Barracks at Townsville. These are both steps in the right direction, and we are pleased to see them.
The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), who preceded me on this side of the chamber, referred to the Navy. We on this side of the Parliament are somewhat concerned about the role of the Royal Australian Navy. That role has not been properly spelt out. At the inception of the two world wars the Royal Australian Navy was merged with the Royal Navy. The Royal Australian Navy is based largely on Sydney. The role of the Navy in future would not be to go to the Atlantic or the Mediterranean oceans; if we are involved in some commitment in this part of the world its role would be to protect our sea lanes across the Indian and Pacific oceans.
Petroleum supplies from the Persian Gulf and from Indonesia are vital to Australia’s defence and economy, much more so than they were in the Second World War when we had our coal industry and when our railways and the like ran on coal, it would be interesting to hear the Government’s spokesman spell out the Government’s attitude about new bases for the Navy in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. I believe that the RAN, and, indeed, the entire Australian economy, needs substantially increased storage facilities for petroleum. In answer to a question asked in this Parliament some time ago we were told that Australia at present had sufficient petroleum supplies to last for about 11 or 12 weeks. This means that if there were some interruption to our supplies from across the Indian Ocean or from Indonesia we could be in a very serious position very quickly. Irrespective of what future oil discoveries may be made in Australia, or in our region, there will still be a need to import oil from the Middle East and the Persian Gulf because the oil found so far in our region is of a very light nature. It is very volatile and, after refining, cannot provide fuel for our ships and fuel for our factories.
To return to the Royal Australian Air Force, I believe that in the Fill we have bought a battleship of the air. But have we tied up in this aircraft too much of our financial resources? Why is it to be stationed at Amberley? From what other airfields in Australia or New Guinea, or in the region generally, can the FI 1 1 operate? I trust that in the course of this debate we will hear answers to some of these questions. We on this side support the increased defence expenditure but we do not believe that Australia has obtained value for a lot of this money. We await, with great interest, a proper spelling out of the future defence of Australia. This has yet to be made.
– It has been a welcome relief to hear just now a member of the Opposition try to equate his arguments to Australia’s defence requirements. This was quite different from the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), who seemed to touch purely on fringe matters. As defence spokesman for the Opposition, he never at any stage tried to equate his remarks to the requirements of this time and to the interests of this nation.
The theme of the remarks of the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) was the need for a defence review. I differ with him in his attitude towards a review. I make no bones about saying that if I happened to be the Minister for Defence - thank goodness for the nation that I am not - I would find it extremely difficult to make a defence review or to produce a White Paper on defence at this time. I make no bones about saying that I do not believe this can be done in detail now. If I had that responsibility I would refer purely to generalised requirements. I will explain my thinking on this in a moment. I do not think it is of any use for the honourable member for Brisbane to say that we would have more detail for this debate if a defence review had been released. No doubt this is so, but in a moment I hope to point out why I do not believe it is practical to expect a review to be spelt out in detail.
What is the defence position at present? The Opposition has said that the Government has no policy. But how can we have a policy now when we do not know what requirements we have to meet in the Pacific Ocean? We do not know what pressures will arise. We spend $48 a head in aid to countries to the north of us, yet Great Britain spends only $4 a head. How can we tell what stresses we will have to face in the years ahead? What pressures will arise in the Indian Ocean area? We know that there is increased Russian interest in the Indian Ocean, but why is this so? Can we come to a decision now as to how much of this interest relates to the fact that the Russians used the Indian Ocean to pick up their latest space rocket? I do not know all the answers to these matters.
I will use the Royal Australian Air Force - the arm of the Services I know best - as the basis of my argument. How did we know some years ago that we would have to cope with the situation in Korea with what few aircraft we had in those days? How did we know a year or two later that we would have to have aircraft in a forward posture in Malaysia? How did we know that shortly afterwards we would experience confrontation in Indonesia? I suggest that we were able to cope with these things because of good planning of an elastic nature. As a result of that planning we bad heavy transport aircraft to give us the mobility which otherwise we may well not have had. When thinking of laying down details in black and white in a defence review, we have to remember that we are a small nation. We have to keep some options open. I will come back to this point again.
I return to the Royal Australian Air Force. How did we know that we would be faced with the current problem in South Vietnam? The Royal Australian Air Force, within its framework, has coped with all these things. One might say that this was fortunate. One might say that it was a result of good planning. I do not know what the real story is. The Opposition, no doubt, would adopt one point of view; I would probably adopt another. However, this is the problem that faces us now. How can we produce a White Paper on defence when we do not yet know the outcome of the Vietnam war? For all we know, in a year or two our present requirements in forward areas might be unnecessary. We do not know these things, and until we do know them it is very hard to plan specifically. We must have elasticity of operation. These are the problems we face and this is the reason why I differ in a mild way from the view of the honourable member for Brisbane who, as I stated earlier, said that we could debate defence matters in detail and in a much better fashion if we had a White Paper before us. I think the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and other members of the Government would need to be magicians to spell out in such a paper Australia’s defence requirements in exact detail. I do not expect to see a defence review produced with the sort of detail in it that I fear the honourable member for Brisbane has in mind.
It might be as well if I take up the threads of my speech from where the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) finished. I agree with the honourable member for Chisholm in expressing the hope that the Government will do all it can to attract nations to enter an overall regional defence pact. I do not agree with the remarks of another speaker earlier today who intimated his horror that the Government would not at this time support the extension of the Asian and Pacific Council agreement to include a defence component. If one studies the efforts made to induce countries to become members of ASPAC one appreciates the difficulty that would be faced in introducing a defence component. I agree with the honourable member for Brisbane when he says that we should respect the treaties we have made. I think that some of them could certainly be improved. Some of them are a little suspect as to whether they could be used in the future. I would very much like to see the Government encourage Asian nations in particular to form themselves into regional groups for their own defence.
What would be the thinking behind the formation of such regional pacts? First and foremost, I think lt is vital to Australia’s interests that we do something to help ourselves - that we show nations such as the United States of America that we and other Asian nations are capable of doing something about our own defence and are prepared to act. That is the first point to be considered. My thinking about the attitude of Asian nations is of significance when we consider the argument advanced by the honourable member for Chisholm in relation to regional pacts. The biggest source of pride of the Indonesian people today is that Indonesia is the only country which has defeated Communist insurgency without outside help. No doubt many honourable members will have a different point of view. What is the lesson to be learned from South Vietnam today? The lesson surely is that, possibly fortuitously, the ARVIN - the South Vietnamese forces - took the brunt of the Tet offensive. Those who have been to that country since the Tet offensive will know very well that this fact has been a great source of pride to the South Vietnamese people. They have suddenly come to appreciate that they are capable of dealing with, shall we say, a limited situation. They have gained confidence in their ability to cope with such a situation. The other lesson from this area, of course, is that Australia and the United States of America have bought time for the South Vietnamese people to assume this degree of confidence and to gear themselves and decide how strongly they want to fight for their own national identity.
I suggest that all these things are important in our thinking in relation to regional pacts. Only by keeping these factors in mind can we be sure of forming a first class regional pact of which every South East Asian country will be a member. Only in this way can we achieve such a pact and obtain assurance of regional defence. I think that by such an arrangement we would tie in all the small nations of South East Asia as parts of the one entity. They would realise that they were themselves donating something and would not be regarded as just looking for a soft handout. I believe that if we could mount such a defence treaty Australia should in the future take up positions of forward posture when requested but only on behalf of nations that are prepared to be part and parcel of such a regional pact.
I believe that one can stand off with some logic and look at the British Government’s position in Yemen and Aden. British forces were withdrawn from those areas ahead of the planned timetable because the British Government realised that the presence of its forces was inciting civilian unrest. Is there a danger, for example, of the same situation applying in the case of Australian forces in the future? I do not believe there is. But it is a notion that we must carefully consider. For many reasons, 1 believe that the same danger does not threaten us. Not the least of these reasons is the fact that the British, to some extent, had been in the process of decolonising the areas 1. have just mentioned. Therefore, we cannot equate the British position with Australia’s position in South Vietnam. Furthermore, we have already been invited into many countries in South East Asia in one way or another. If there were a regional pact of the kind I have suggested, we would participate in an engagement of forces only if our presence were requested and only if the nations requesting our presence were prepared to be members of that regional pact. This is the way I would like to see the Australian Government begin to develop its thinking in the future.
The details of such arrangements cannot be written into a White Paper on defence. If I were to write a White Paper I would state my intentions quite generally and simply. I would state that I wanted all the Services to possess more mobility than they have today. I would suggest that the role of the Navy should be increased in this respect. Also, I would suggest that the role of the Air Force, quite patently, could be increased in terms of heavy transports. Further, I would say that we would not just look for a cheap and easy way of ordering more materials. I am not suggesting, by the way, that any government has done this in the past. But I suggest that we should consolidate what we have to a far greater extent. In regard to consolidation of capital requirements, I would move, once feasibility studies had been completed, towards the establishment of a naval station somewhere in Western Australia. Unquestionably I would do this. I would look after the capital requirements of the Navy and, as one honourable member proposed a while ago, at possible obsolescence in the Service. In general terms, I would gear all our forces to complete mobility so that, if an emergency occurred, we could absorb an initial thrust by some outside nation or force until we received assistance from regional pact forces, from American forces and, I must admit, from United Kingdom forces. I am coming back to the concept that though British forces may not be trained for tropical conditions in the future we may be able to depend to a small extent on British help, contrary to the general thinking of most honourable members. This is the way I would go about drawing up a White Paper.
I would like to finish my brief comments, as did the honourable member for Brisbane, by touching on the FI 1 1 aircraft. I think it is unquestionable that in 1963, and even before, the Australian people considered that we needed a bomber to replace the Canberra and were prepared to vote accordingly. Have conditions changed since 1963? Of course they have. United Kingdom forces are pulling out east of Suez and the final operation should be completed by mid 1971. This in itself, quite apart from any lessons that we may learn from the American presidential election or our involvement in Vietnam, surely is an added reason why we must have a replacement bomber today. Before the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) gets too hysterical in some of his contentions about the Fill, which he has made in the fashion in which he usually tries to whip up controversies for the sake of cheap political expediency, let him remember that the people of Australia have already indicated, in what is in my view a consensus, that they want a replacement bomber. There is no question that the Australian Government has acted as wisely as possible in the ordering of a bomber off the drawing board. If the Leader of the Opposition by his tactics makes it more difficult for future governments of this country to order aircraft off the drawing board properly, there will be a lot of discredit against his name in years to come. The Government has acted properly and with courage in ordering the most efficient and modern strategic attack bomber that is known to our generation. I think that the Opposition generally ought to take this into cognisance as did the honourable member for Brisbane. It should acknowledge that the purchase of the Fill has been an example of proper ordering.
– Order! The honourable members time has expired.
– One thing about the Fill aircraft that seems to have changed is the price. It was thought likely to cost some $10Om and will now cost about $300m. What does not seem to have changed is the fact that we still do not have the aircraft. We are contemplating at the moment the expenditure of $l,217m on defence, taking into account expenditure overseas provided for in this year’s defence vote. This sum represents 5% of Australia’s gross national product. Apart from the reimbursements made to the States, this is the largest single item of Commonwealth expenditure. I have said in this chamber before, and I repeat, that I do not think that the procedures that are adopted in this place are adequate to enable us properly to adjudicate on expenditure of this magnitude. In relation to the Estimates for 1968-69, we are voting more blindly than usual. On the question of a defence review, which the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) seemed to brush off, it seems curious to me that if we are to have such a review - T do not suggest that we should not - it is not carried out on a rolling basis. The Defence Report 1968, which apparently relates only to the year ended 30th June 1968, under the heading Finance’ states:
During the 3 year’s defence programme whose period expired on 30th June 1968,-
Before the beginning of the financial year to which these estimates relate- $2,808m expenditure was incurred.
The next defence review will apply from 1969-70. I suggest that this financial year we are voting the amount of $l,217m in, as it were, a kind of rolling process which inevitably continues between the ending of one plan and the beginning of another. The report further notes:
Deferment of decisions about a new programme wilt not mean any loss of continuity in defence planning; there is now a momentum in the expansion of our defence capability which will carry through the intervening period.
I question that there is a momentum in the expansion of our defence capability. There may be momentum in the expansion of our expenditure, but there is no momentum in our capability. I suggest that this is the serious problem that faces Australia at the moment. I would have hoped that honourable members would have done as they ought to do in a debate about the Defence estimates, and that is that they would have looked at the structure of the Defence estimates. I am one who regrets that the debate on the Defence estimates has turned into a foreign policy debate. I do not think it should have. There will be other opportunities for honourable members to debate foreign policy but we do not have adequate machinery to debate properly this large expenditure on defence.
If honourable members have not already done so I ask them to contemplate the tables that are contained in the Defence Report. I take it that these tables are submitted for the illumination of honourable members and to assist them in the debate. The astonishing feature, at least to me, is that when we look at the projected expenditure for 1968-69 in Table No. 3 on page 59 of this report we see that, of the total expenditure of $1,2 1 7m, which includes $)22m to be expended by special arrangement overseas, $772m or nearly two-thirds, is in a category known as Maintenance’. That is simply preserving the existing balance between the Army, Navy and Air Force, the existing equipment and its maintenance. Of the other two categories, one is called ‘Other’ - it is quite small - and the main one is described as ‘Capital’. The expenditure under ‘Capital’ is $400m for 1968-69. In other words, less than one-third of the total defence expenditure for this year is on capital items, and more than half of that will be used to pay for capital equipment that is, according to the report, already in the programme. It will be used mainly to pay for the ill-fated FI 1 IC.
If the Government intends to have a defence review, it seems to me it ought to be considering whether it wants to become increasingly dependent upon overseas sources for the procurement of defence equipment. Again the ‘Defence Report 1968* notes:
While, for the future, even greater efforts will be concentrated on local procurement, there is little scope for escape from overseas procurement in cases where relatively small numbers of particular items are required and the cost of development, tooling and production would be prohibitive.
At least this does suggest that there ought to be a combination, as it were, of local procurement and foreign procurement. I suggest that local procurement is failing very badly at the moment. Previously there was a quite well integrated aircraft manufacturing industry. It is now almost in the process of destruction. I refer to the aircraft factories at Fishermen’s Bend, Avalon and one or two ancillary places in New South Wales.
Equally it seems to me that in this country it is difficult to get co-ordination between industries engaged in a particular field of activity to facilitate local procurement. One industry itself may not be able to undertake production on the scale required or may not be able to undertake production at all. But at least in Australia - I think this is true in the electronic and other fields - until industries start to work together there will still be difficulties in local procurement. One difficulty in private enterprise is that, if firm A gets an order, it will not share it amongst firms B, C and D because somebody is frightened that somebody else’s balance sheet will be better than his or that somebody will learn something about somebody else’s process. Unless we can arrange for this co-ordination of local industries we will become more and more dependent on foreign suppliers for equipment.
I regard that as a dangerous trend. It leads to the situation that I have heard suggested may arise with the Mirage. If the Government is engaged in a particular activity in some part of the world that the supplier does not like, we are left with an aeroplane that cannot be used because the supplier will not provide the necessary armament. If the Government intends to defend this country - and everybody here has agreed that Australia is entitled to defend itself - it should not be content with an aeroplane that cannot fly on reconnaissance or anywhere else because it has no armament That is quite a serious difficulty. The supplier of the equipment determines the rate at which the buyer receives it and the conditions on which it is to be utilised. Equally there has not been sufficient endeavour on the part of the Australian Government to integrate the orders that are placed. Certain parts of the construction of defence equipment could well be done in this country in the industries that we already have. Certainly this is possible with the maintenance of the equipment.
We had an absurd situation pointed out to us the other day in the De Havilland aircraft factory in Sydney. Parts of an aeroplane are being flown to Germany to be repaired instead of the repairs being carried out in Australia. At the same time, this factory’s activities are running down. The factories I have mentioned are in my electorate and they have been there a good many years. I have visited them. I am proud of the capacity of those factories and of the calibre of the work force in them. But they always face this gripping sort of paralysis as far as their future is concerned. They do not know whether at the completion of their current order there will be any further orders for them. This is no way for Australia to defend itself. I suggest that this is one aspect that the Government needs to look at seriously. This Government needs to reconsider this danger of becoming dependent on foreigners. I use that term advisedly. I noticed a leading article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ yesterday, which asked ‘Is Britain foreign?’ I suggest any country outside Australia is foreign, in the sense that it is sovereign in its own right, politically and strategically, and will help us presumably only as it suits her. The Government does not always recognise this.
Something that I would like to see spelt out by this Government is the rather interesting philosophical comment contained in the preamble to the ‘Defence Report 1968’. It says:
The security and stability that our strategic interests require cannot be achieved solely by military measures. There must be the closest interrelationship between defence policy and political and economic policies.
If that is what the Government thinks, it has not given much clarification of its present political and economic policies as they affect our external relations. I believe - I am sure my Party would agree to a great extent - that Australia’s good relations with its neighbours are determined not by whether those neighbours think we are strong militarily but by whether we are valuable to them economically, culturally and socially.
I would hope that at least part of the defence review will turn away from the rather narrow minded attitude that we have to defend ourselves from unnamed hordes. When the hordes are unnamed, we have the convenience of being able to refer to Vietnam today, Cambodia tomorrow or China the next day. It is like a game of checkers; we can keep moving the pieces about. That seemed to be the attitude of the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay). He referred to internal subversion in Australia. There will be internal subversion in Australia only if there is economic dissatisfaction. The path that is being plotted by the Government is slowly leading to economic dissatisfaction in Australia. The strategic overseas policies that the Government is pursuing, instead of making for friendly relations, are making for aggravation. Serious consideration should be given in the defence review to the undue prominence or importance that is attached to foreign suppliers of essential equipment, the lack of encouragement given to existing industries, and the difficulty in getting local industries to do what their economic potential would allow them to do.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) said that some honourable members have turned this debate into a debate on foreign affairs. This is a debate on the estimates for the Department of Defence. I find it very hard to dissociate defence from external affairs. In the time at ray disposal I would prefer to deal in general terms with the defence position of this country as I see it. I agree very largely with what the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) said about a defence review. I agree that the Government would find it very difficult at the present time to spell out a defence policy in exact terms and without allowing itself a considerable degree of flexibility. Factors that would affect Australia’s defence policy are as follows: The contemplated British withdrawal from Asia, America’s future role in Asia and the Pacific, China’s continued pres sures, Russia’s intentions in Asia, the future of Japan, and the growing importance of the emerging nations, particularly in South East Asia.
Our defence policy will be greatly affected by the withdrawal of British forces from South East Asia. I do not believe that in the near future Britain will be able to exert any influence in that area. She may be able to give us assistance in times of need, but her powers are greatly diminished. The fact that America’s policy might be modified - I do not expect that it will be, but I will enlarge on that in a moment - makes it difficult to lay down our intentions in exact terms. Another factor which affects Australia’s defence policy is China’s avowed intention of expansion. There have been many publications and utterances to support this intention. This must be a major consideration in our strategy. The suggestion that we are afraid of a great naval invasion by China is nonsense. Chinese leaders have set down for everybody to read and have spelt out in certain terms their intentions and how they hope to achieve them. The honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) referred to subversive radio activities in north west Thailand where broadcasts are made in seven different dialects. This is not the action of a friendly nation. Russia is now taking an increasing interest and is exercising a greater influence in the Middle East, particularly in the Persian Gulf area. It is her obvious intention to exert greater power and influence in the Indian Ocean.
Growing Japanese influence is also in our thoughts. It has already been referred to in this debate. There are naturally some misgivings about a re-armed Japan. But with Japan’s growing importance economically, co-operation with her is necessary. We are more likely to create understanding by cooperating with her than by continually displaying an attitude of distrust. As has already been mentioned in this debate, the Japanese Prime Minister has said that Japan must embark on a new campaign to convince the Japanese people that they must build bigger, stronger and more independent armed forces.
We have to consider the attitude of America. Whilst it is very doubtful whether there is in existence in America a body of opinion of any magnitude that favours isolationism, there is nevertheless some such opinion and there are some very disturbing trends in American thought. There is obvious frustration in American thinking, brought about by engagement in a limited conflict in Vietnam which is completely opposed to the normal American outlook on speed and efficiency. American people are becoming weary of being the main buttress of Western democracy and of receiving nothing but destructive, vicious criticism for their efforts in many quarters. Constant national tension has given rise to an emotional reaction on the part of Americans. There has also been a rethinking of priorities due to alterations in their way of living brought about by scientific and technological revolutions.
However, irrespective of political allegiance in the United States, there is no opinion that favours withdrawal from Asia. Peace is still considered to be largely tied up with South East Asia and the Pacific. There are some significant things in American thinking and in our own thinking which we should follow up. Our aim in Asia should be to place added emphasis on multilateralism. America is endeavouring to reduce its own unilateralism, whether political, economic or military. Australia should support the concept of more self help among Asians, joint and regional programmes and consortium arrangements. Our friends in Asia will be called on more and more in the future to bear the responsibility for first strike defence. So encouragement of these regional groupings is necessary. I hope we will continue to play a significant part in bringing these things about.
Australia’s participation in. the Vietnam conflict has been proved to be correct, and it has been shown that Australia has acted in her own interest and not merely as a follower of anybody else. It is very disturbing that little progress has been made at the Paris peace talks. It is a matter of extreme regret in the mind of every rational person. It is also a matter of very great regret that America’s limitation on the bombing of North Vietnam has brought so little response from the North Vietnamese. In fact, there is a lot of evidence to show that in certain periods the limitation on the bombing has led to an escalation of effort on the part of the North Vietnamese. A notable correspondent whom I met in Saigon 2 years ago is now writing in very optimistic terms about the outcome of the war whereas formerly he was very critical of the part being played by the South Vietnamese. Recently he wrote an article for the Melbourne ‘Age’ in which he stated quite definitely that in his belief the South Vietnamese are becoming a potent factor in the establishment of a stabilised situation in Vietnam. This is not surprising to me. Formerly the South Vietnamese Army was neither adequately trained nor adequately equipped. Now that it is well trained and well equipped it is proving to be an effective and efficient fighting force.
The aims of Australia and her allies in Vietnam have always been absolutely clear. They are not to win a war but to establish a peace. But it must be a peace based on justice. It must be a durable peace. In order that peace may prevail we must establish a stable political and economic climate. The right of Communism to survive, much as we may abhor certain of its practices, is not in dispute. But its right to expand and impose its doctrines on other people is challenged.
The honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) referred to the amount of subversion that has taken place. I think this matter was dealt with also by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). The importance of subversion is dealt with in any document that we care to read, not only about Communism but about totalitarianism. The first act is to create doubts in the minds of people by innuendo, and so create situations that are fertile for the sowing of hostile opinions.
I believe that in the future we will be called upon to increase our naval activity, particularly in the Indian Ocean. Our trade route to Europe via South Africa will become of increasing importance and value as the pressures and influences to which I have referred become stronger and more apparent. The role of the Army is of very great importance. I would like to see the Citizen Military Forces enlarged. Every young Australian has the right to be trained to defend his country. We should undertake this training at the earliest opportunity. The honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) referred to school cadets. I wholeheartedly support his argument. The school cadet system is a very important link in our defence training. Training is important even at this early stage in a man’s life.
A great deal has been made of Australia’s purchase of the Fill aircraft. Our Air Force needs the most sophisticated equipment that modern science can provide. A lot has been said about the number of disasters involving this aircraft, but at this stage of its development the aircraft has suffered a number of disasters no greater than have been incurred by other models of aircraft undergoing tests. In fact at this stage of its development the number of accidents suffered by the FI 1 1 is slightly below average. Air Force officers, who are the people who will be risking their necks in this aircraft, are 100% behind it. They believe that it is the best aircraft available at present. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) has ably stated that our decision to purchase the FI 1 1 was a calculated risk which had to be taken, lt was a decision taken in the best interests of Australia. When responsible people in government accept such risks it is the nation’s duty to wait until the aircraft has been proved one way or the other before attempting to make political capital out of it.
In my opinion our efforts must be directed continually towards regional defence pacts in the area. We must bring as many people as we can into our orbit. We must underscore our commitments to our allies but, if possible, we must avoid producing any new overtones that might lead us into an unhappy situation of a domestic nature. “
– The problem about taking part in a debate on the Defence estimates is that we have to speak in some kind of political shorthand in order fully to cover the subject. We are dealing with a very important area, lt is a very large area of public expenditure and one which involves a very large percentage of Australia’s manpower. So all that I or any other honourable member can hope to do on an occasion such as this is put some thoughts before the Committee and perhaps keep them flowing.
One thing that we must realise is that in proportion to its population, Australia has the largest manpower under arms of any country in Asia. This will be apparent from an examination of the military balance recently published. Admittedly we have only a moderate population, although not the smallest in this part of the world. When you examine per capita expenditure on defence you find that Australia ranks about fourth in the world. Switzerland spends S 1 25 per capita on defence, Russia $147, America $368 and Australia $109. So we are in fact heavily armed and highly geared to war. But my friends opposite are careful to say: War against whom?’ 1 am for preparedness but 1 think it is fair to say that our present state of preparedness is based upon false premises concerning the strategic and political situation in this part of the world. lt is based upon some political assemptions about the Australian community which I do not thnk will hold water. The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong), who has a distinguished military record, said that we need the most sophisticated weapons obtainable. I am sure that this is so, but it may be that it is not sophistication that we n.ed but specialised equipment to fit in with Australia’s needs. No matter how sophisticated weapons used in Vietnam have become and no matter how computerised and electronically directed, they are unable to compete with the computers between the ears of the ordinary human being who sits on the ground. There is a tendency to become enchanted with expenditure rather than with practical results.
Our colleague, the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) in his usual fine flowing McCarthyist form mentioned something about the necessity in Australia to deal with internal subversion. The subversives in Australia are those who continually attempt to smash the fabric of national morale by presuming to say that (here are great areas of disloyalty in this country. There are no areas of disloyalty in this country: there are large areas of dissent, with which 1 strongly disagree. Australia has a very proud and happy record in the matter of political reliability. I know that it is handy for the people who sit opposite to call so-and-so a traitor because he disagrees with the Government’s policy on Vietnam. The greatest danger to this country are the people who continually cry wolf about internal subversion and disloyalty. The greatest menace to the country are people such as the honourable member for Evans, who continues with this outworn form of political activity.
Honourable members opposite point out that Russia has now moved its ships into the Black Sea, the blue sea, the pink sea. the yellow sea, and everywhere else. Of course Russia’s ships move around the world. But what does that mean? Because a country has its warships lying off the coast of another country does not mean that political influence is being exercised. It may mean that a country is hoping to exercise political influence. The reason for Russia’s invasion of Czechoslovakia was that Russia knew it had no political influence unless it had its tanks and soldiers in that country. I was one who was optimistic enough to believe that this kind of operation was unlikely to occur again. I admit my error in that regard. But the fact is that the kind of influence that used to be exerted by sending gunboats up the Yarra, the Swan or the Yangtze is no longer applicable. I think that the British Government is being completely realistic in withdrawing its forces from East of Suez. I can see no reason why the British taxpayer should be forced to pay a subsidy for the people of Malaysia or anywhere else.
An interesting exercise is taking place off the coast of Rockhampton and on-shore which, I think, teaches quite a few lessons in regard to defence. What are the objectives of a defence system? Honourable members opposite avoid this question. The first objective of a defence system is to defend Australia; the second is to honour our United Nations obligations and the third is to honour our treaty obligations. So, what has to be determined is whether Australia has the capacity to defend herself. Do we require our great and powerful friend across the Pacific? The Americans are very friendly. They knock holes in our ships, kill some of our troops, ban the import of our meat and so on. They are very friendly allies indeed in many respects but they are in fact concerned with the preservation of America’s interests. Australia’s interests will be protected by the Americans so long as Australia’s interests coincide with America’s interests. So, we should be looking at our own defence capabilities.
It is my belief that Australia is by a long way the most powerful country in the vicinity of South East Asia. Our military strength is not negligible. I think that at the moment about 120,000 men can be mobilised under arms in the Citizen Military Forces and the Regular Army. Australia has a potential military mobilisation of between 1.5 million men and 2 million men. We have the finest and largest technological background in this part of the world. As a matter of fact, it is one of the world’s largest. One of Australia’s most favourable defence features is its geographical security. For a century or more it has been part of the mystique that Australia is unsafe as it is so far away. But when one takes into account the people with whom one has to associate in other parts of the world one must feel much safer being so far away. In fact, history confirms that people .surrounded by large areas of water are safer than those surrounded by large areas of land.
Australia should examine its treaty rights. Treaty obligations have been accepted but what treaty rights do we have? Will our treaty friends turn up on day 1 if we are in trouble? That has yet to be determined. It is doubtful that ANZUS guarantees this. It certainly is not doubtful that our SEATO allies are required to turn up. But whether this is a valid protection for Australia is open to doubt. Another aspect of our capacity to defend ourselves is national morale. I mentioned this earlier. I think that generally speaking the national morale and the administrative competence of Australia are second to none. So, rather than develop this continual and rather humiliating national inferiority complex which is a part of the capacity of honourable members opposite, we should be stating exactly how strong we are. We should be looking at our neighbours and at the future to determine what is needed to be done. It is on this ground that I believe our military and other appreciations are to a large degree wrong.
Our neighbours are, of course, nonmilitarists by capacity. I was going to say by nature but it is doubtful that one can say that in human affairs. What capacity do Indonesia, Ceylon, India, Burma and even Japan have at this very moment? What is the aggressive capacity of China, say, 100 miles beyond its borders? That is a doubtful quantity. The long-term position in Australia should be looked at. The folly as I see it is that we have not any actual philosophy of what we would do and how we would go about it. Again, I think it is part of the difficulty that there has been no continuing public debate on defence. We are not too sure that the community is aware who built up the phobias and fears of the last century. The honourable member for Riverina referred to the Russian menace. The Victorian Navy was founded in,I think, 1870 or thereabouts to keep the Russians out. I think the Cerberus is now sunk as a breakwater off Black Rock.
Just running over some of our habits we find that we have a hotch potch of shopping, of temporary hysterias or something else. What is the equipment position in Australia? We have some very fine armour for fighting open warfare but our Army is trained in jungle warfare, and nobody does it better. The Navy is built to fight in somebody else’s war. I doubt that it has the necessary defensive capacity for the context in which we live. I am not too sure presumably like the rest of the members of this chamber that I know the exact answer to this problem. It is difficult to defend Australia as it has 12,000 miles of coastline with 6 million square miles of sea and a multitude of islands around it. The Navy looks more competent fitted into somebody else’s fleet screens than it does operating on its own, as we saw yesterday in its encounter with the British Fleet off the coast of Rockhampton. Goodness knows what the role of the Royal Australian Air Force is. Nobody has satisfactorily defined what its role will be with the new bombers and equipment that it is to receive.
The problem, as I see it, is that Australia has adopted wholesale the solutions to other people’s troubles. There is no doubt that the problems of America and Europe are entirely different from our own. Those countries are densely populated, are nearer to each other and so on. I think that we should think more adventurously about our equipment. We want equipment that is mobile, plentiful and locally made, backed and designed. I am one who believes that it does not matter much if the local equipment costs a good deal more. The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) asked a question on one occasion about the value of war equipment imported into Australia and manufactured in Australia in recent years. These figures appear in Hansard of 2nd March 1967. Over a period of 3 years $33 6m worth of equipment was purchased overseas and $386m worth was purchased in Australia. A total of 46% of equipment was imported. There will be no constant and continuing security unless the industrial background to defence is built up.
I would like to say a lot of other things but other people want to debate this matter andI undertook to withdraw from the field before my time had expired. But I wish to point out that I think the key to the situation is the CMF. This does not mean that I am a Saturday afternoon soldier and that I have no other concept on defence. But there is no doubt in my mind that if honourable members make a close study of the American system of the National Guard although sometimes it does not perform satisfactorily they will be more enlightened on defence. I suggest that the next time any honourable members are passing through Hawaii they should take the opportunity of examining the National Air Guard. I can give the appropriate names and telephone numbers if requested to do so. The National Air Guard fly supersonic aircraft. I think thatI was told that there were 90 people in the pilot system, of whom 30 were permanently on strength, 30 were regular pilots with the local airlines and 30 were people who were highly competent but worked at other endeavours during the day whilst keeping a watch over Hawaii. This is expanded, of course, throughout the American system in that the most modern armour and so on is provided.
Australia has to build up a backdrop inside the community that will be there when it is needed. For instance, what type of defence system could be provided at a place like Geelong in Victoria with its 100,000 people, its large automotive industry, its nearby airfield at Avalon and so on? How many flotillas if ships could be manned by this system? How many armoured regiments could be fielded? How many people could be maintained from inside the industrial system? How many aircraft could be flown by the 10,000 to 15,000 young men of military age? Honourable members opposite should study the Canadian system of integrated Services.
I hope that members of this Parliament will have more opportunity before the House rises to debate defence issues more thoroughly because I believe that when defence is debated in such an offhand way one can only deal with each aspect quickly and can only pose some of the problems without the chamber thinking collectively about them. I believe there is a case for a defence preparedness committee such as the one that operates in America. Somehow the Parliament itself must keep a constant and watchful eye on the experts in these matters, because in my view experts are not necessarily always correct.
– I would like to begin with a mild murmur of complaint. I think it is a great pity that this Committee is asked to discuss basic defence considerations during the debate on the Defence estimates. According to my understandings, in an Estimates debate we should consider various particular items appearing in the Estimates themselves, and not fundamental matters of policy or, as has happened in this debate, of philosophy. But we find ourselves in this procedural position and we must make the best of it. I do hope, however, that the Government will give serious heed to what I suggest is a very reasonable request by honourable members on both sides and provide an opportunity for a full scale debate on defence. Perhaps the Government will prepare a defence paper and then allow a debate on the paper. The present method, under which we come in for 10 or 15 minutes to discuss issues of great importance, is a most unsatisfactory way of dealing with what surely we would all agree is the first requirement of those who sit in Parliament to protect the country.
I listened with attention to my honourable friend from Wills (Mr Bryant). I am informed that before he came here the honourable member was a school teacher. I mention that because if there is a crisis in education in Australia I can better understand it whenI think of the honourable member as a school teacher. He said that there are people in Australia who dissent from the Government on Vietnam and on various other issues. I agree with the honourable member that this is so, and to dissent is no crime at all. But the honourable member draws the long bow when he says that there are not people in this country whose first loyalty is not to Australia but to an international cause the international Communist conspiracy. That there are such people in this country is a matter of historical fact and the honourable member knows it. He comes into this chamber and dazzles us with a little bit of political tinsel and tries to convey the impression that all is well. The honourable member for Wills is in Parliament; God, we hope is in his heaven; all is well. Well, Mr Deputy Chairman, all is not well, and this moves me to make an observation which is in line with what was suggested this afternoon by the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). I think there is a very great need for a fresh approach to this country’s treaty arrangements.
– We have been saying that for years.
– But the honourable member wants to turn SEATO into a cultural organisation. I do not want to traipse over that dreary field again. No doubt we could have the honourable member playing the flute. There are two basic treaty agreements that concern this country. One is SEATO and the other is ANZUS. The simple fact is that SEATO is obviously dated. It is inadequate. It no longer reflects strategic appreciation in any part of the world today, particularly in South East Asia. France is a member of SEATO. When did France last attend a SEATO conference as a fully fledged member 1958?
– She sends an observer.
– France sends an observer, as the honourable member for Chisholm points out. This is not good enough. Article 4 of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty states:
Bach Party recognises that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the Parties or against any State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate, would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in the event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
Before Australia could invoke that treaty there would have to be an attack upon Australia. But is the threat to Australia to manifest itself in the form of a direct attack? The whole character of operations in South East Asia today follows the so-called wars of national liberation according to the principles spelt out by Mao Tse-tung which he followed and proved in Communist China. Bear in mind that the most experienced collection of army commanders in the world today are in Communist China. They have been involved in war, in one form or another, for 30 or 40 years, and they are using the technique of the war of national liberation throughout the whole of South East Asia. This is the threat - I agree it may be a long term threat - to Australia.
Under the second treaty agreement, ANZUS, we must wait until there is an an attack in the Pacific area on any of the parties. This is provided in Article IV of the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, which states:
Each Party recognises that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional process.
Recent statements made by certain political people in the United States of America would tend seriously to undermine one’s faith in the ANZUS agreement. One presidential candidate has given me the impression, rightly or wrongly, that there could be circumstances in which the United States of America would not protect Australia. This throws our present situation into stark relief and should cause us seriously to consider how to meet the threat posed against Australia. I argue that the threat is inherent in the wars of national liberation, and I think that the honourable member for Chisholm was completely correct when he said this afternoon that there is a clear need for a fresh approach to our treaty obligations.
There is one other matter I want to mention before I conclude. Reference has been made this afternoon to Soviet activity in the Indian Ocean. The honourable member for Wills dismisses it, but it is very real. Forty-five per cent of our exports and imports go through South African ports. Whatever one may think about South African policies - and some of the prissiness that I see displayed in this House in discussions on Africa and particularly South Africa does not help in any way - this country must examine ways and means of establishing a closer relationship with South Africa with respect to trade routes to western Europe and particularly the United Kingdom. Of the oil that comes to Australia, 70% comes via South African ports, and this will go on for an indefinite period while the Suez Canal is closed.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Soviet influence is building up in the Indian Ocean. The Soviet has installed one plant in India which is given over exclusively to the assembly of MIG 21 aircraft. Soviet enterprise has made it possible for India now to have an export potential in small arms. As many as 360 Avadi tanks can be produced in India each year. This has all come about as a consequence of Soviet backing. My mentioning these things, even if in a very perfunctory fashion, will show, I hope, that the Soviet is very busy in India and along the whole of the eastern coast of Africa. It is a recognition of this fact that prompts me to suggest that this country should drop all semblance of prissiness in its approach to the problems of South Africa and dotermme in what practical ways we can get together to ensure that the trade routes between Australia and western Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, are protected.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purposes of this Bill are, firstly, to provide for a new or additional levy on the slaughter of livestock to finance service and investigation activities of direct interest to the processing industry which will be conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and, secondly, to increase the maximum rate of the existing research levy on cattle slaughterings which is used to finance research into the cattle industry. The new or additional levy will operate for 3 years from 1st January 1969, and will be additional to that currently imposed under the Livestock Slaughter Levy Act 1964-1966, funds from which are used to finance the operations of the Australian Meat Board and the meat research scheme. It will be payable by the owner of the livestock at the time of slaughter but, unlike the existing levy, no provision is made for it to be passed back to producers. The rate of the additional levy is specified in the legislation at lc per head on cattle of more than 200 lb dressed weight and one-tenth of a cent on sheep and lamb slaughterings. At the expressed wish of the industry, there is no provision for the levy to be varied during the 3-year period.
By way of background it is pointed out that in October 1966 the Australian Meat Research Committee resolved to provide financial support up to a limit of $405,000 per annum for the CSIRO Meat Research Laboratory at Cannon Hill on the understanding that a service and investigation section would be established within the laboratory to provide direct and continuing liaison with meat processors and to undertake investigations into problems of direct concern to the meat processing industry. The Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council, fully supported by the Meat and Allied Trades Federation and the Australian Meatworks Federal Council, submitted proposals to the Government for the operational cost of the service and investigation section to be financed by income from a special levy on the slaughter of livestock with matching Commonwealth contributions. These proposals are embodied in this Bill. At the expressed wish of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council the levy will be applicable only for 3 years, commencing on 1st January 1969. However, funds derived from the levy together with matching Commonwealth contributions will allow a continuity of operations over a period considerably in excess of 3 years. The proposed increase in the maximum rate of the research component of the levy on cattle slaughterings is from 20c to 25c. This is to provide, scope for an increase in the operative rate should this be considered necessary by the Australian Meat Board after consultation with industry organisations and the Australian Meat Research Committee.
Since the research levy on cattle slaughterings was introduced in 1960 the operative and maximum rates have been the same. Reductions in slaughterings associated with the recent droughts have caused receipts from cattle slaughterings to fall from 8954,000 in 1964-65 to $854,000 in 1966-67. For 1967-68 receipts were $859,000. In recent years, largely as a result of the long term tendency for beef research project costs to rise faster than income, expenditure en beef research has exceeded revenue. By raising the maximum rate the way will be cleared for the Australian Meat Board to consult with the industry as to the operative rate of levy which would enable research currently being undertaken to be maintained at satisfactory levels. In accordance with the principal Act any increase in the operative rate of the levy will be prescribed by regulation. Despite the changes mentioned above the maximum rate of cattle levy will not be permitted to exceed the 75c currently specified in the Livestock Slaughter Levy Act 1964-1966. The introduction of these changes to the present legislation will be of considerable assistance to the meat industry and will provide scope for scientific and technical research into meat processing. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill, which is complementary to the Livestock Slaughter Levy Bill 1968, is to provide the machinery necessary for the collection of the special levy imposed by the Livestock Slaughter Levy Bill 1968. In addition the opportunity has been taken to clarify the present legislation in respect of deductions of the levy from producers’ sales accounts. Since the levy has been in operation cases have arisen where the levy has been deducted on livestock and the livestock were not slaughtered but retained for further fattening. The proposed amendment requires recognised slaughterers to refund the equivalent of the levy to the vendor if the livestock are not slaughtered within 30 days of purchase. I commend the Bill to honourable members as a necessary adjunct to the Livestock Slaughter Levy Bill.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Meat Research Act 1960-1965 to provide for the payment of the additional levy, provided for in the Livestock Slaughter Bill, into the Meat Research Trust Account and to provide for the funds derived from the levy, plus matching Commonwealth contributions for approved expenditure, to be used for financing service and investigation activities of direct interest to the meat processing industry. The moneys will be made available to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to finance work in this field approved by the Minister on the recommendation of the Australian Meat Research Committee. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to repeat several Acts which have lapsed due to the expiration on 30th September 1967 of the Fifteen Year Meat Agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom. The Acts concerned are the Meat Agreement (Deficiency Payments) Acts of 1955, 1956 and 1964 and the Meat Export (Additional Charge) Acts of 1956 and 1964.
The Meat Agreement (Deficiency Payments) Act provided for the receipt and distribution of deficiency payments received by Australia under the Agreement. As the Agreement has now expired the Act is no longer operative. However, there is still a credit of $1.9m in the Meat Agreement (Deficiency Payments) Fund established and maintained by the Australian Meat Board under the Act. Provision has therefore been made in this Bill’ for these moneys to be transferred to the Board’s general funds. This will allow their use by the Board under the Meat Industry Act 1964-1966 for any activities which the Board is empowered to undertake under that Act.
The Meat Export (Additional Charge) Act provided for a charge to be imposed on meat exports if payments to exporters exceeded receipts from deficiency payments received from the United Kingdom. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Wine Grapes Charges Act 1929-1966 by increasing the maximum rates of levy on grapes delivered to wineries and distilleries. The levies on fresh and dried grapes used in the wine industry have applied since 1929 and are designed to finance the activities of the Australian Wine Board, that is, activities relating to administration, trade promotion in Australia and overseas, and research. The operative rates of levy are varied from time to time after consideration of reports and recommendations by the Board.
The maximum rates of levy now imposed by the Act are $1.50 per ton for fresh grapes and $4.50 per ton for dried grapes. Provision is made in the Act for regulations to prescribe rates below the maximum if lower operative rates are considered desirable. However, the last increase in the rate of levy by regulation in 1967 brought the present operative rates to the maxima and this yields the Board an annual income of between $300,000 and $375,000 depending on the size of the vintage.
The increases now proposed in the maximum rates are to $2.50 for fresh grapes and to $7.50 for dried grapes. Rates imposed within these new limits will ensure that the Board has available sufficient revenue to intensify its promotional activities both at home and abroad as occasion demands, and it will also make it possible to allocate extra funds for research into winemaking and grapegrowing techniques. In the decade to 1966-67 there have been quite spectacular increases in sales of both table and dessert wines and brandy in Australia. Exports both of wine and of brandy during this period have increased by about 20%.
As wine production has increased so too has the need for publicity and promotion and whilst revenue from the wine grapes levies has automatically risen with increased grape production the moneys so obtained have simply not been sufficient to allow the industry to gain the optimum benefits through promotional activities from the expanding demand situation that has prevailed.
The passage of this Bill will enable the Board to recommend new levy rates to apply to the 1969 grape crop and future crops. The rates could be the maxima or any levels below the maxima prescribed by the Act. From the revenue so obtained the Board would be free, after providing for its administrative costs, to use the balance of this money as it saw fit for any purpose calculated to improve the quality or promote the sale in Australia or overseas of wine and brandy.
The Board comprises representatives of the three sections of the industry, proprietary wine makers, co-operative wine makers and grape growers, and a Government member. I am confident of its ability, as it has demonstrated in the past, to reach decisions in relation to the size of the levy to be imposed from time to time which will be of optimum benefit to the industry.
An incidental and administrative machinery change is also sought. It is that provision be made for payment of the levy in two equal instalments one by 30th September and the second by 31st March following each vintage. At present all moneys are required to be paid on or before 30th September. The proposals have substantial support within the industry. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
As a result of representations from the Commonwealth Banking Corporation and from the Commonwealth Bank Officers Association, the Government has reexamined certain existing legislative provisions relating to the Commonwealth Banking Corporation Service and has decided to propose a number of amendments. Section 104 of the Commonwealth Banks Act precludes the permanent employment of married women by the Corporation, except in special circumstances. Both the Corporation and the Officers Association have sought repeal of the section and, in accordance with the Government’s own policy in this matter, clause 10 of the Bill so provides.
Clauses11 to 13 of the Bill propose substantial revisions to some of the existing provisions relating to dismissals and punishments. On occasion the Corporation disciplines an officer by reducing his salary or by withholding salary increases. Doubt has arisen whether actions of this kind are within the scope of the appeal procedures provided in the Act, and the Officers Association has requested amendment of the law to remove this doubt. It is not the wish of the Corporation that such cases be excluded from appeal. Clause 1 3 of the Bill therefore makes it explicit that such actions are subject to appeal. The Corporation has also suggested that the determination of an appeal against disciplinary action for misconduct would be facilitated by inserting in the Act a definition of that term.
The provisions in clauses 11 to 13 have been carefully drawn up in the light of experience with the existing provisions and with the corresponding provisions in the Public Service Act. They fully safeguard the rights of officers against whom disciplinary action is taken. It will be noted that the suspension of an officer, in the circumstances and subject to the conditions that are laid down in the Act, is not itself subject to appeal, though action taken following the suspension is subject to appeal.
Other clauses in the Bill will remedy the present lack of a statutory provision for the determination of leave rights of the five full time statutory office holders; will allow for the Deputy Managing Director, as well as the Managing Director, to give certificates relating to the appointment to the Corporation service of persons other than those passing the prescribed entrance examination; will authorise present practice by which war service taken into account in assessing an officer’s efficiency includes full time defence service; and will increase from S 1,000 to $1,500 the statutory limit on special circumstances loans to Corporation officers by the Commonwealth Trading Bank.
Finally the Bill provides for the repeal of section 54 of the Commonwealth Banks Act, which exempts from State stamp duties cheques drawn by customers of the Commonwealth Savings Bank. The customers eligible to conduct cheque accounts with the Commonwealth Savings Bank - the same provision applies to the private savings banks - are local authorities and nonprofitmaking societies and clubs, in practice most local authorities keep their main working accounts with a trading bank.
Whether or not a society or club is liable for State stamp duty on cheques drawn on banks other than the Commonwealth Savings Bank depends on the law of the particular State. Broadly speaking - and 1 should emphasise that the situation differs from State to State - societies of a charitable, religious, patriotic or educational nature are exempt from stamp duties. In respect of other societies, however, the general exemption conferred on cheques drawn on the Commonwealth Savings Bank gives that Bank a competitive advantage in holding and attracting accounts.
It has also been put to us by some State governments that the liability of societies and clubs to pay State stamp duties is a matter which the States themselves should determine and which should not, because of over-riding Commonwealth banking legislation, also depend on which bank conducts a society’s account. The Government therefore proposes the repeal of section 54. It is a provision that dates from well before the establishment of the private savings banks. Customers of the Commonwealth Trading Bank do not have any special exemption from State stamp duties.
It will be noted that section 54 also exempts from stamp duty any receipts or orders for withdrawals from the Commonwealth Savings Bank. Repeal of the section is not expected, nor is it intended, to result in the payment of State stamp duties on withdrawal forms, as 1 understand that the States do not collect such duties on withdrawal forms used by any of the savings banks. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move:
As announced by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in his Budget speech on 13th August 1968, the Government has decided to liberalise the present treatment under the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act of receipts by subsidised producers from sales of gold at prices in excess of the official price of $31.25 an ounce. Under the present provisions of the Act, a gold producer entitled to subsidy has his subsidy entitlement reduced by the full amount of any excess over the official price which may be received from sales of his gold. The reason for this is that subsidy is related directly to a producer’s cost of production and the rates of subsidy have been fixed in relation to the official price of $31.25 an ounce.
Since 1951 producers have been permitted to make sales of gold on overseas markets at prices in excess of the official price and this arrangement was recently extended to local sales of gold for industrial use in Australia. Under present provisions, subsidised producers have little incentive to sell in free markets. Unsubsidised producers of course receive the full benefit of sales at premium prices.
The Bil) now before the House will amend the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act to allow subsidised producers the benefit of 25% of the excess of prices received over the present official price, while that price remains at $31.25 an ounce or less. The amendment will take effect as from 1st July 1968.
Because it is difficult to predict future movements in the free market price of gold, a firm estimate cannot be given of the extent of the increase in subsidy payments by reason of the amendment. If the premium above $31.25 an ounce were, to average $3 an ounce during 1968-69, payments to subsidised producers would be increased by about $300,000. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
– Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented.
-Order! Does the honourable member wish to make a personal explanation?
– Yes, Mr Speaker I have a personal explanation, to make, most assuredly. I. claim that I have been deliberately and maliciously misrepresented by the honourable member for Cunningham. I claim that at about 4.45 p.m. yesterday he showed a complete disregard for the truth.
-Order! In this context the word ‘maliciously’ is unparliamentary and I ask the honourable member to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the word maliciously’. I claim that the honourable member for Cunningham showed a complete disregard for the truth when he suggested that I would be among those ready to-
-Order! The honourable member may make a personal explanation but he must not impugn the character of the honourable member for Cunningham in so doing.
– Do I not have to present what he said so that I can make the explanation?
- -Order! I have informed the honourable member of his rights in this regard.
– I would inform the honourable member for Cunningham that throughout my adult life I have fought at all times for the just rights of and social justice for the workers of my area and futhermore have taken an active part on the executive-
-Order! The honourable member must state in what way he was misrepresented. He cannot debate the matter.
– The honourable member for Cunningham said that I was amongst those who would be ready at any time to launch a diatribe against trade unionists and the trade union movement generally. This is an utter untruth and I want it corrected. In order to correct it I-
-Order! I have already informed the honourable member that he must not debate this matter.
– Well then, Mr Speaker, how do I refute what the honourable member said?
-I think the honourable member has already done so.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1968-69 In Committee
Consideration resumed (vide page 1755). Second Schedule.
Total proposed expenditure, $1,069,884,000.
Proposed expenditure, $21,645,000.
Department of the Navy
Proposed expenditure, $215,149,500.
Department of the Army
Proposed expenditure, $385,332,000.
Proposed expenditure, $350,257,000.
Proposed expenditure, $95,002,300.
Proposed expenditure, $2,498,200.
– I rise to express serious concern at some aspects of Australia’s expenditure on defence. I am extremely concerned, as I think everyone who has any real interest, as opposed to political interest, in the defence of Australia must be extremely concerned, at the fact that no effort is made to involve Australian industry and know-how in the production of Australia’s defence equipment. Too much buying off the hook is in evidence for the sound and proper defence of this country. Australia has the necessary industrial complexes and skills to make a great deal more of its own defence equipment than it makes at present. We are capable, and have proven this to be .so, of designing and building up quite a deal of the very sophisticated equipment that we could require or should require. In any defence emergency that involved the resources of this nation, the success or failure of our defence would largely depend on what we could ourselves contribute towards the supply of the defending forces. If we do not have the capacity to maintain in the field forces defending this country, such forces, no matter how well trained or how well equipped initially, would be extremely badly placed to withstand any well equipped enemy.
Since the Second World War we have, at varying stages, built up and destroyed a fairly effective and obviously skilled aircraft industry in the Government Aircraft Factories and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd. It seems that every now and again the Government’s programme for the procurement and supply of aircraft completely disintegrates. The Canberra bomber, the Mirage, the Sabre and now the Macchi have all been partially constructed in Australia. From what I can gather, the final results have been a better aircraft in terms of actual performance than we could have bought wholly made overseas. But every time we reach a stage, especially in the Government Aircraft Factories, at which we have a good basic team of skilled operatives, we start dismissing them. The next time we need these people we try to get them back, in many cases this is just not possible. At 1st July 1967 there were some 405 persons employed in the Government Aircraft Factories establishment at Avalon which had been responsible in recent times for the production of the Mirage fighter. On 1st July this year about 317 persons - I may be one or two out - were employed at this establishment and something like 50 persons were on notice. In effect, this meant that people who had the skills that the defence of this country needed were being put out of work. I do not think that anyone would bc silly enough to deny that the skills these people have are a basic need in meeting any defence emergency that could arise. Because a decision was taken several years ago to purchase an aircraft which was in the developmental stage and because the Australian Government did not feel that it should involve itself in any way in the development, manufacture or maintenance of this aircraft - possibly we would now have been better informed if we had become involved - the Australian aircraft industry was completely left out.
Some rumours arise from lime to time and some statements are made at certain levels that consideration is being given to the purchase of an advanced jet aircraft which is to be constructed in conjunction with the United Kingdom. It has been said that an agreement, if it is proceeded with, will mean that development will commence before Christmas this year. I do not know whether the Government has considered or will proceed with such a project. But I suggest that it would be rather stupid for us to start constructing another aircraft in the near future and when the project is completed to have to again put off the skilled people who will be needed to do the job and then, possibly, recruit them again 6 months later. I am very sure if I were one of these persons and had obtained another job, I would not go back to the government organisation, no matter how good the conditions of service and the pay were, if my future was so indefinite and as much in jeopardy as the future of those people who work in the Government Aircraft Factories at the moment. Apparently the skills these people develop are not considered necessary for the defence of this country.
Australian know-how could be used in a considerable number of other areas in order to develop the background for defence that should exist. I instance the Centurion tanks which are attached to the Armoured Corps of our Army. These tanks, may or may not be good vehicles, but it is most likely that they are completely out of date by modern standards. They are surely due to be replaced. The difficulties of transporting them are almost a legend. I remember that in order to get the tanks to Bandiana it was necessary to run special trains on Sundays. Trains carrying the tanks could not move when other trains were operating because the great width of the tanks would not allow other trains to pass. This sort of arrangement would be extremely difficult in wartime. In future we obviously will need to obtain armour of a light type - something of the order of 15 to 20 tons. I understand that there is a light French tank which can be used for a multiplicity of purposes. Also, 1 believe that our defence forces have been looking at an American tank which is around the 20-ton mark.
– What about the tank designed by Mr George Gray?
– I am not sure, but I think the vehicle George Gray designed was a tank carrier. The conditions under which Australian armour will have to operate are not the conditions that exist in Europe or in North America. Any vehicle that is specifically designed to suit the necessities of these countries does not necessarily meet the needs of Australia. It may not even meet the strategic needs of Australia, because of the nature of our armed forces. Also, we do not have, as the Americans most likely have, vehicles for certain specific tasks that are considerably varied. I believe we have a complex of industry that would be capable, if given the opportunity, of designing and producing at a reasonable price the type of armoured vehicle that Australia requires. The International Harvester Co. of Australia Pty Ltd, which has a large plant in my electorate, produces trucks for the Army. This company and the Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd are both capable of producing an armoured vehicle for the Australian Army. Apparently, all that the Government intends to do is to get out its cheque book, which seems to be bulging with money that it feels it does not need to account for anyway, and rush overseas to buy whatever equipment it can get hold of most readily. If we regard that as our defence policy, we as a Parliament are completely failing in our duty to the Australian people.
I believe that the Department of Defence and the Service Ministers are also failing in their duty. When the Government spends money on defence it should make sure that the money is spent in a way which will not only supply equipment for the immediate present but will also provide a basis for the production of similar equipment on a far greater scale should we need it at any time in an emergency. During the last war Australia was able to produce aircraft and other equipment that was required. In a similar situation in the future we should be able to do so again. The type of equipment that is needed is much more sophisticated now than it was then. I do not think we could produce in this country some 1,000 aircraft as we did in the Second World War. If we do not give the people who will construct the equipment the experience and knowhow, they will not be able to construct anything. This applies especially to items such as light tanks and aircraft. These items are basic to defence. That is the type of equipment we would not be able to obtain if we were involved in military operations without either the United States of America or Britain. It may be that at some time in the future Australia may well have some involvement which is purely its own and which has not been inherited from someone else. We never know; we may one day have a government in this country which will decide issues on the basis of what is good for Australia.
I would also seriously suggest that our Department of Defence look at the type of vessel which the British are using in the exercises now taking place in the north of Australia. I speak of a ship such as the Intrepid’, which would appear to have a significant use for support roles for the Australian Army. A vessel such as this would most likely satisfy the Navy, too, as some captains would then be assigned to a ship. I am certain that this type of vessel would be suitable to our defence Services because it would give them a flexibility that they do not have now. I understand that the cost to the British for- such a vessel was about $A25m. This amount is about the cost of 2i Fill aircraft. I think the value of this vessel cannot be too highly stressed.
I think we should consider whether the hovercraft has any defence potential in the Australian forces. I believe the best way to determine this would be to authorise one of our aircraft establishments to manufacture under licence a small number of various types of hovercraft. The Australian defence forces could then experiment with them to determine their suitability and also to gain experience with them. If the vessels prove to have defence potential they could then be manufactured with any modifications suggested by the defence forces. If they are not suitable for defence purposes they could be used in civilian activities in Australia and the money paid for them would not be wasted.
– The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) raised two questions, firstly, the question of local procurement and secondly, local design. I think we should strive to attain both these objectives, but there are very serious limitations in this country on both of them. If I were to attempt to answer the honourable member, I would give the same answer that has been given so often in this chamber in reply to questions, when matters of definite public importance have been raised and on other occasions. 1 leave the task of answering the honourable member to the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall).
In my experience over the past few years there has been a very real improvement and immense development in the armed Services of this country. I am one of those people in this country who are very proud of our armed forces, proud of their record and proud of what they are doing in three spheres. They are, firstly, at war, as they are; secondly, there is the sphere of civil aid, which we see them giving overseas, and thirdly, by their conduct in this country. I speak of the forces at war. We have already seen one presidential citation awarded to a unit in Vietnam. It follows the one awarded to a unit in Korea. We remember the record of the battle of Long Tan, which will go down in Australian history. We see the number of decorations and awards for distinguished service and bravery won by our troops overseas. The civic action that is being carried out in Vietnam and Malaysia at the moment, particularly in Vietnam, is more or less a saga in itself and I do not think that this receives sufficient attention. I refer mainly to the efforts of our men in Phuoc Tuy and Vung Tau. We see the work being done there with the refugee villagers, work in the medical field, in the educational field and in general rehabilitation and reconstruction, with a particular emphasis on agriculture. This work is also going on in Malaysia, as it did in Borneo.
Our troops in places like Malaysia, at the Terendak Barracks, with their wives and families, have been true ambassadors for this country, and very good ambassadors too. We do not hear much of their behaviour at home but it also is highly commendable. It is as near to exemplary as it is possible to get with the numbers involved. They have maintained their exemplary conduct in the face of various pressures. For instance, we are not completely unanimous politically in the activities in which we are engaged. We- have developed an ability to demonstrate. This all exerts pressure on Service personnel. I am not criticising those who engage in these activities. I mention them as pressures that could upset troops in this country. There is also the presence here of troops from other countries. We have here American troops, Gurkhas and British seamen. Anybody with any experience at all knows that when there is a collection of different allied forces there could be trouble. I pay my compliments to the men and women of the forces for the way they are conducting themselves at the present time.
We hear much said about the rating of education in this country. One of the leading articles in an evening newspaper yesterday said that education should rank as No. 1 priority ahead of defence. I am one who looks at the problem the other way around, and I say: Hold what we have, defence comes first. I point out that the activities in defence are complementary, to a very large degree, to our education system. In itself defence is a contributor to higher education standards in Australia. We see the close ties between the Royal Military College of Duntroon and the University of New South Wales. We see the introduction of degree courses in the Services, and we also see the thousands of young Australians who are being trained in apprenticeship work and who receive trade training. We should not lose sight of the fact that some of the money that is included in the estimates we are discussing at the present time is there to help to raise the general educational standards in this country.
We see coming into the forces now something which we should welcome and that is a very high degree of professionalism. This has found its way into our Services and will lift the recruiting rate. It will make life in the forces all the more desirable for those who take it on.
The standard of equipment used by our defence forces has greatly improved despite the criticism we have heard today and for a long time past. The improvement has not been without great cost, but we are reaping the benefit for what we have spent. The details of that are available in the publication entitled ‘Defence Report 1968’. It is a pity that this report does not get a wider circulation than it does and is not more readily available to the taxpayer and other interested people so that they may see what is happening with their money. The information contained under the many headings in this publication would help to knock some of the knockers if it were more readily available to the public.
If I were to express a doubt or ask a question about our defence forces it would be in relation to organisation. As we have heard, a reappraisal of our whole defence planning is presently being undertaken. The people responsible for this planning are more or less gazing into the crystal ball. We do not know how far advanced they are. They are not looking to see what will happen next year; they are looking to see what will happen to our defence structure in the early and the middle 1970s. This will call for ali the experience and training of the most highly skilled people we have. What will Britain do? Where will British forces be? Will United States forces still be on the mainland of Asia? What will be the pressures coming from China? How far will China have gone along its present course? Will Burma have gone further along the road it is travelling? What will be the Russian position? We know about her strength around the Suez Canal now. How far will she have advanced into the Indian Ocean by the early or middle 1970s? The people carrying out this reappraisal will isolate and delineate the main objective with as much clarity as possible.
We have heard reference to the nine principles of war. I will not set out to say what we should be doing. That is a task for the experts but they will be guided by the principles of war such as maintenance of the objective, flexibility, surprise, mobility, concentration of force, and other principles we have heard people talking about this afternoon. These will govern our planning for the future and will give us the pattern for our defence forces. We will need to cover a series of possibilities. How can we say that there will be only one possibility by the middle of 1970? A number of possibilities could come forward, and it would bc for the Government to select the one that in its opinion is most likely. Its decision will affect the type of defence, forces which we set up. Considerations in defence planning are the subject of constant change.
The estimates we are discussing now do not deal with problems likely to be encountered in the middle 1970s, they deal wilh the position in 1968-69. I view two things with concern. To my casual lay mind, it appears that’ there is an unsatisfactory ratio between the number of planning, support and administrative personnel in the Services on the one hand and combat troops on the other hand. According to the defence report our total service strength is 83,368. I will not go into the details because honourable members may read what our naval fleet consists of, what our air arm consists of and what our military contribution is in Vietnam and other places. Australia’s infantry strength is eight battalions. The infantry man is not the only man who fights. There are also artillery men and engineers in the Army, but infantry men form the real kernel of the forces we maintain in the field.
I want to deal with the unsatisfactory ratio of civilian personnel to Service personnel. I will leave the Department of Defence right out of the picture because 1 do not know how many civilian personnel are employed in that Department. 1 do know that the salaries of civilian personnel in the Department of Defence run to over $5m per year. The number of civilians employed by the Department of Supply is understandable because of its need- for research scientists, engineers, experimental officers, technical and clerical staffs. About 21,600 civilians are employed in the Department of Supply. The total permanent strength of the Navy is 16,454 all ranks, and 10,654 civilians are employed by that Department. Half of these, I will admit, are working at the naval dockyards at Garden Island and Williamstown. But that still leaves a ratio of about 5,000 civilians to 16,000 permanent Navy personnel. The total strength of the Australian Regular Army, national servicemen and Pacific Islanders, is 45,350. The Army employs 8,347 civilian personnel. This is a ratio of 1 to 5. The Royal Australian Air Force strength is 21,564 permanent personnel and 3,928 civilian personnel. So in the three armed Services we have a total of 22,929 civilians. I have not added the 21,000 civilians in the Department of Supply or those who are responsible for the $5m wages bill in the Department of Defence. This number is greater than the whole of the permanent Navy or the permanent Air Force and very close to the total of the Australian Regular Army. I do not raise this as a matter of criticism but I seek elucidation. Why should this be? As one who is interested in the ability of the defence forces to expand, I believe that they are capable of being expanded without raising the civilian component.
I would like to have spoken about school cadets and the Citizen Military Forces, but there is insufficient time left. I would also like to have spoken about the Department of Supply. I have some queries to raise about the peculiar method of handling the Antarctic Division. This division now comes under the Department of Supply but we discuss it with the defence forces. Time is not available and I hope at a later stage to be able to speak on these three matters - school cadets, the CMF and the Antarctic Division.
– In rising to speak to the defence estimates I believe that there is more to a defence commitment than how many fighters, interceptors or bombers the Royal Australian Air Force has in its possession, how many warships of various tonnages we have and how many tanks we have. These are important in the fighting of a war, but what has to be borne in mind is that all these pieces of sophisticated equipment that form the front line of any defence force have to be maintained. Tonight I wish to deal with the failure of this Government to provide an adequate system for the maintenance of sophisticated war equipment. Australia is an island continent. A major part of our defence commitment must be concerned with keeping our sea lanes open. Although we have a shipbuilding industry I am concerned at the lack of an adequate and satisfactory system of docks in which to repair our ships in time of war. During the last war many of our ships and those of our allies damaged in the Pacific Ocean were brought to Australia and repaired in docks on the Australian coast. At that time we bad quite a number of docks capable of handling ships of reasonable size. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard two lists, one showing the number of docks on the Australian coast in 1959 and the other showing the number in 1967. The lists, extracted from the annual report of the Department of Shipping and Transport, are as follows:
I would point out that Mort’s Dock at Balmain is 630 feet in length, 69 feet wide and has a depth of water over the blocks of 19 feet 6 inches. The Woolwich Dock is 850 feet long, 83 feet wide, and has a depth of water over the blocks of 26 feet. But those two docks are no longer being used. It is important to have as many docks as possible available in time of war to repair vessels that may be damaged and quickly get them back to sea. In time of war we must have not only warships but also merchant vessels in which to carry troops and the sinews of war. Such vessels are essential also for use on the Australian coast in order to maintain Australian industry as part of the war effort.
We find that the trend today is towards larger ships. At present ships are trading from the west coast of Australia carrying iron ore to Japan. Recently the Chairman of Directors of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd complained that his company was at a distinct disadvantage in having to transport ore from the west coast or South Australia to Port Kembla and Newcastle in ships of a less tonnage than the ships used by his competitors to carry ore overseas. In many cases it was possible to carry ore from the west coast to Japan at a rate below that paid to carry ore from the west coast to the east coast of this continent. If we are to have ships of war we must also have merchant vessels in which to carry supplies to those ships of war. This is part of our defence commitment. If those ships are damaged we must have places in which to dock them and carry out the necessary repairs. Does the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly), who is at the table tonight, realise that the BHP company has an order for the construction at its shipyard at Whyalla of four vessels of 54,000 tons but that there is only one dock in Australia capable of handling such vessels? I refer to the Cairncross Dock in Brisbane. I exclude the Captain Cook Dock, which the Navy has consistently refused to make available for commercial or nondefence purposes. I exclude also the new Frank Nicklin Graving Dock built by Evans Deakin, because it is basically a shipbuilding dock and not a ship repair dock. The Cairncross Dock is a repair dock. In time of war you could find the Evans Deakin Graving Dock occupied by one or two ships under construction, as it is at the moment, and you could have an urgent repair job on your hands for which a dock could not be found.
It must be borne in mind that the Cairncross Dock can handle vessels up to 50,000 tons, but vessels of this order are now outdated. The trend is towards vessels of 100,000 tons. The trend overseas is towards larger vessels. We must keep pace with this trend. We cannot ignore what is happening in Japan, England and other countries. When I visited Harland and Wolfe Ltd in Belfast about 12 months ago it was building a dock capable of handling vessels of up to 1 million tons. I do not know what a vessel of 1 million tons will look like, but Harland and Wolfe Ltd is one of the oldest and one of the leading shipbuilders in the world. It is all right to laugh at the idea of a vessel of 1 million tons.I have seen a vessel of 326,000 tons deadweight and, believe me, it looked big enough when compared with some of the vessels operating on our coast. The idea of building a vessel of 1 million tons has been mooted also by the Japanese and other large shipbuilding countries. The Japanese are building a dock that will take a ship of 500,000 tons. TheIHI organisation at Yokohama has already completed a dock capable of taking a vessel of 500,000 tons. But the largest ship that we can dock on our coast is one of about 55,000 tons. This is a matter of which the Government must have cognisance. It must give some encouragement to the shipbuilding industry to do something in the matter.
I do not want to appear parochial, but in my electorate the Newcastle State Dockyard authorities have been discussing the building of a new floating dock. At one stage they examined the possibility of building a graving dock capable of taking vessels up to about 75,000 tons. But having regard to the fact that the land was over old mine workings, a firm of consulting engineers recommended against building a graving dock on the site. I understand that the New South Wales Minister for Works,Mr Davis Hughes, has recommended the building of a floating dock at Newcastle. This matter has been discussed for about 4 or 5 years. It is said that the present dock is capable of taking vessels of up to 15,000 tons, but I doubt whether the dock in its present condition could handle a vessel of 15,000 tons. It is time the dock was replaced. The Federal Government undertook to contribute towards the cost and maintenance of the present dock. Having regard to defence commitments and the need for adequate docking facilities in this country, the Commonwealth should be prepared to contribute towards the cost of the new dock. Although I do not have any direct knowledge in the matter, I feel certain that the New South Wales Government has approached the Commonwealth for assistance in the building of a new floating dock at Newcastle. I hope that the Minister for the Navy, being the man most concerned to keep open our shipping lanes and to make sure that we have adequate docking facilities, will be prepared to give a sympathetic hearing to any request from the Newcastle State Dockyard for assistance in the construction of a new floating dock. 1 suggest that such a dock should be capable of docking ships of at least 80,000 tons and preferably around 100,000 tons. It may be said that no floating docks of this size have been built so far. When I spoke of docks capable of taking ships of 1 million tons or 500,000 tons I was referring to graving docks. I believe it is possible to build a floating dock that is capable of docking a 100,000-ton ship. I would like to see the Federal Government come to some financial arrangement with the New South Wales Government in regard to the cost of such a dock. It should be realised that the size of ships is growing. At one time ships of 10,000 tons were considered to be reasonably large for the movement of bulk cargo. Nowadays some ships offload onto ships of 10,000 tons.
I hope that the Minister for the Navy will give urgent consideration to the provision of a large floating dock. As I said earlier, the number of docks in Australia is diminishing but the number of large ships operating on the Australian coast is increasing day by day. This year and last year ships were sent to Hong Kong and Singapore for repairs to be carried out. If we do not have the facilities to dock and repair ships of the size operating on our coast it will mean that additional work will be sent overseas. It should be remembered that in time of war it may not be possible to send ships overseas for repairs. The Government is charged with the responsibility of preparing for these things in peace time so that in the event of war we will have the facilities to carry out this type of work. Every time the shipbuilding subsidy is referred to the Tariff Board one of the points brought forward is that it is essential for the defence of Australia that we have an industry capable of building ships of world standard. Just as it is important to have a shipbuilding industry, it is important to have the back-up ship repair facilities. Docks are an integral part of the shipping industry.
I would like to refer to other matters but due to the limitation of time I shall conclude by expressing the hope that the Minister will be prepared to do something about docks, particularly, having in mind the large amount of money that the Government has allowed to flow out of the country to overseas industry for vessels such as the three Charles F. Adams class destroyers and the submarines. I ask the Government to consider the Australian industry. It can be used in peace time and will be essential in time of war.
– Defence is the number one issue in Australia today. In our affluent society the people have determined that this country will be inviolate. Therefore, they are determined to defend Australia. The party with a clearly enunciated and properly executed defence policy is the one that will attract the support of the people of Australia. The Government has a strong and active defence policy. The Government introduced conscription and advised the young men of Australia that they were compelled to give 2 years service to their country. The cream of Australian manhood has replied: ‘We would not normally volunteer, but if the Government, with all its information, thinks we should serve then we will do the job for 2 years in defence of our country’. The men who are selected for national service are the best in Australia physically, mentally and intellectually. National servicemen have acquitted themselves admirably in the guerilla warfare of Vietnam. National servicemen are far ahead of the ordinary volunteer, who may be of a different age and may not have the intellectual or physical capabilities of the national servicemen.
– You are on thin ice there.
– Tha Government introduced conscription for the defence of Australia. Sometimes it is said that politicians are cowardly and do not have the courage to do the right thing for their country. Surely this decision was a courageous one.
– Now then.
– The honourable member’s very mild interjections show what he thinks of the courage and steadfastness of the Government in introducing conscription. With the introduction of conscription we began a new and very proud era in the defence of Australia. Some critics of the Government thought that they could win an election by opposing conscription. One or two of them lost their seats. The people of Australia were determined that anybody who interfered with the Government’s defence policy should not be in Parliament. So, conscription is here.
The defence and security of Australia are foremost in the minds of the people of Australia. Security involves foreign affairs ideology because today defence depends upon ideology - the ideology of a free people dedicated to the ideals of liberty against the ideology of those who are minded towards state enterprise and the Communist idea that was demonstrated so clearly in Czechoslovakia recently. So, defence is of first importance and what the Government does in support of its defence policy is important to the people. This is clear from the great debates on the question whether the Government was correct in spending enormous sums of money on the Fill aircraft. Conscription and the Fill aircraft are important to the people of Australia. The Opposition has attacked both conscription and the purchase of the Fill: Everybody knows that this aircraft is a magnificent weapons system.
– Be careful there.
– I think honourable members opposite should be a little careful as the Opposition does not have a defence policy. There are three versions of the Opposition’s defence policy. There is the version of the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who said that his Leader had debauched the defence policy of the Australian Labor Party. Then there is the version of the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), and finally that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), which is based solely on the questions: ‘Can we get a few more votes? Should we cool down our ardour about Vietnam? Were the masters of the ALP who decided the defence policy of the Labor Party a little too tough when they said that we should pull all our troops out?* At the Hobart Labor conference in 1955 the withdrawal of troops from Malaya was suggested. The right honourable member for Melbourne might put us right here: Was it not a Labor government that made the treaties we are upholding?
– Which ones?
– The ones to support a stable situation in South East Asia. Did not the Americans come arl the way across the Pacific to spill their blood and spend their treasure in preventing the downward movement of the aggressive, militarist, imperialist Communists who want to take over South East Asia and make it a stepping stone on the way to Australia? So in accordance with our defence policy we arm ourselves. We take our young men and train them. We buy our Fill aircraft so that we can prevent this kind of aggression. We are a free people. We have no militarist ambitions such as the ones that were apparent in Germany when we recently visited that country. All we want is this continent, this piece of dirt, with one people holding it. We are dedicated to the idea that we will defend this country, and we will have the right kind of defence. This defence is based on the findings of committees working day and night to get the right answers to all our defence questions.
Members of the Opposition talk piffle in their efforts to find some chink in the armour of our defence policy. When we order a new aircraft and a few crashes occur they imagine that they have a chance to destroy our defence policy. Honourable members opposite are shouting out interjections now because they think they have a winner in the Fill, but they have not. Other military aircraft which have not been used for political advantage have had many more crashes than the Fill has had. When the experts are debugging a new aircraft they must of course encounter problems. We must not forget that the Australian pilots escaped from the most recent crash with the aid of their parachutes. Their lives were saved, and their lives are worth many times as much as the wretched aircraft itself. However, this aircraft is the best one that could be obtained, lt provides the best air defence that Austrafia could get. Certainly the decision to purchase it was made at the time when the right honourable member for Melbourne said that we ought to fight Indonesia on the West Irian issue. He remembers that because he has a good memory. He said that we should fight Indonesia over the West Irian take-over. But of course an aircraft takes a long time to make after an order is placed. We ordered the Fill aircraft at that time and we brought in conscription. We were spurred on by the right honourable member for Melbourne who made these statements at about Christmas time in that year and whose utterances about the defence of Australia were featured in headlines.
I honour him for having said that he wants to defend Australia. However, the members of the Labor Party have become weak kneed on defence. They have cooled off on defence because their federal executive has told them to do so. The Opposition in this place merely reflects what the federal executive decides on defence. Of course we all know that the right honourable member for Melbourne, the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Yarra all have different views on how we should defend Australia, but what they all add up to is that there would be no defence policy at all if a Labor Government were in office. It was a Labor Government which sold our war material after the war and toned down Duntroon. The Labor Government closed the naval college at Jervis Bay and transferred it to the mud flats of Flinders. That was the Labor Party’s contribution to our defence. The late honourable member for East Sydney, used to say: ‘Do not let us fight; let us talk.’ Fancy talking to the people who went into Czechoslovakia with tanks. Fancy not having strength to meet strength. What sort of situation would Australia’s defences be in if the aspirants to the Government benches who sit opposite had their way? There would be no more defence for Australia. The Americans, who set great store by Australian support, small in quantity as it may be, would lose their one prop if the Labor Party took over office in this country.
There is only one defence policy for Australia. That is a strong defence policy. The people of Australia realise this. They realise that we must keep the enemy out of Australia and that we must show that we have the strength to do it. We. must show that we have the capacity and the guts to keep our enemies out of Australia. We must show that we are not cowards who are afraid to introduce conscription. The reason why the Labor ranks in this Parliament are so attenuated is that the Labor Party has opposed conscription. The members of the Labor Party entertained the miserable, cringing thought that if they .went back to the old traditional idea of opposing conscription they could attract a few miserable votes. Was that doing the :right thing for Australia? Was that the way to behave in defending this country?
This Government has introduced conscription and it has purchased the F111 aircraft. It has also purchased the DDG destroyers. We have the best possible defence force that our money can buy. The people of the country know this and they know that Australia is much more secure than it would be if the people who used to be led by the right honourable member for Melbourne ever took office. There is no alternative to our defence policy. It is the only possible one for Australia.
– What about a peace policy?
– Of course, a peace policy, and peace, conferences but the Communists unfortunately do not understand a peace policy.
– Don’t they?
– Well, what about Czechoslovakia? The Russians have a good defence policy based on tanks and guns. It is government by steel, government by depressing and by suppression. That is the kind of government the Communists have, and the left wing of the Labor Party would eventually find itself controlled by that kind of government, because it would be forced into it. There is only one defence policy for Australia. The Opposition has no defence policy; it has only a number of interpretations of a wretched ambiguous directive from the czars of the Labor Party, the witless men, as they were termed by the Leader of the Opposition at one time, although immediately afterwards he became craven and said: ‘We will do anything you want’. Obviously the Labor Party has no defence policy at all. The Opposition has become jelly backed, weak kneed, frightened and absolutely gutless. This Government has a strong defence policy. It is the only one for this country and it is the one that has the support of the people.
- Mr Deputy Chairman-
– I have had enough without listening to this.
– All right, I will wait until the right honourable member goes.
– I regard the honourable member for Batman as the greatest scab we have ever had.
– The honourable member for Melbourne is a very much bigger one.
– Withdraw, withdraw.
– Very well, I withdraw.
– Go back and break a few more conference decisions.
– I did not break any conference decisions.
– Yes, you did; you voted for State aid against the decision of the Victorian executive, and you got away with it.
– You are the lowest thing we ever got into the Parliament.
-I am very sorry for our elderly gentleman.
– And I am sorry for you.
– One thing I do not like doing is being rude to an elderly gentleman, and I apologise on that account, Mr Deputy Chairman.
– You scab.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. W. C. Haworth) - Order! The honourable member for Melbourne will cease interjecting.
– I am the right honourable member for Melbourne.
– Now he wants to be called the Tight honourable gentleman, although he has said previously that he would not touch honours with a barge pole.
-I would not touch you with ten barge poles.
– What I wanted to say, Mr Deputy Chairman, is that if honourable members knew of a flaw that existed in the defence policy of this country they would want to see it readily repaired. I direct the attention of the House to some remarks of the military historian, Gavin Long, which appear at page 88 of volume 1 of his work, Australia and the War’. The author said:
From the beginning of the war a multitude of problems had proceeded from the fact that Australia was unable to equip her armies from her own factories, the size of her expeditionary force, the organisation of that force and of the militia, the AIF’s destination, and many of the problems its commander was to face in the Middle East derived-
And this is the important part - from a fundamental flaw in Australian policy, namely failure to recognise that effective defence depended on a nation’s ability to manufacture arms. It needed this crisis to bring home the fact that, until this foundation had been laid, Australia’s ability to defend herself must steadily diminish in relation to the military power of an enemy which did possess adequate factories; and that any overseas force she formed could consist only of men who must be equipped by her allies.
Gavin Long was speaking about the lack of equipment in Australia during World War II. Today f was surprised to hear that at the beginning of next year we expect to start manufacturing in Australia ammunition for the Mirage aircraft. I do not know why this was not arranged when the Mirage aircraft were bought. If this is a flaw, 1 hope that everybody who has dealings in these things will see that when armaments are ordered, especially sophisticated aircraft such as the Mirage, we have the right to manufacture our own ammunition in this country. These aircraft have been under construction for about 3 years and only now are we told that early next, year plans will get under way to tool up to manufacture ammunition for them. 1 was glad to hear the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) say that in the meantime we will not bc short of ammunition, lt is gratifying to know this, but in wartime we could be short of ammunition. Who knows that when the Suez Canal is reopened and French ships are bringing ammunition to Australia they will not be delayed in the Canal?
All sorts of things crop up when ships ply the high seas with explosives. Ships can go to certain ports and be held up because the authorities do not want them in those ports. I have raised this matter in the Parliament before, but I make an earnest plea that Australia be prepared to make her own ammunition. Gavin Long referred to the need for this in his official book on the war. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) in his book ‘The Government and the People - 1939-1941’ expressed a similar view. I do not want to read the specific statement because it would occupy too much time but I urge honourable members to read page 229 of his book. 1 was very interested in what the honourable members for Calare (Mr England). Corio (Mr Scholes) and Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) had to say. 1 agree wilh the remarks of the honourable member for Newcastle about the urgent need for dry docks in Australia. Merchant ships are increasing in size year by year and it is the task of Navy ships to protect merchant ships. The two go together. .The big ore carriers that will be sailing the west coast of Australia and the carriers on the east coast must have docking facilities. We must be prepared to build docks on both sides of the Australian continent to accommodate ships. The honourable member for Newcastle mentioned ships of 80,000 tons, but I would go higher and say that we must have docks capable of handling ships of up to 100,000 tons. Ships can be damaged, even in peacetime, and we must have facilities where civilian and Navy ships can be docked. I hope that- the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) will look at this proposal and will recommend the construction of such essential facilities.
Some aspects of our Services could be integrated. I instance the medical services and the educational side of defence. However, 1 think it would be wrong to adopt the Canadian system where all Services are under one roof, as it were. J. have spoken with some former Canadian Navy officers and they do not like the Canadian system at all. However, it should be easy to arrange for the integration of educational and medical services, and 1 hope that the Government will give much thought to this possibility. I know that at present it is thinking about some forms . of integration. It would be a good thing if we had one university type of college for the three Services, lt is also high time that the Government examined the possibility of promoting our senior Service officers to higher rank, so that we can have full admirals, generals and air chief marshals. Nations adjacent to us wilh smaller navies than our Navy have officers of higher rank than our own officers. However, quite apart from that, our high ranking officers have the necessary qualifications and I should like to see them promoted to higher rank. The Minister for the Navy should also consider appointing a senior Naval Reserve officer to the Naval Board. Australia is fortunate in having one such officer, whose name I shall not mention but who is the managing director of the biggest shipping company that operates in Australia and who had a brilliant naval record. A man of his capacity should be a member of the
Naval Board. The Military Board has as a member a civilian soldier. I think that the Navy would learn a lot from associating with an officer of such high calibre as the man 1 have mentioned.
The honourable member for Corio spoke about hovercraft. I think that we should have in our Navy for instructional purposes at least one hovercraft as well as a hydrofoil. I speak modestly when I say that I know a little about both types of vessels. About 2 years ago I had the pleasure - perhaps it was not so much a pleasure - of taking a hydrofoil from Melbourne to Sydney. I think this is still the world record for a hydrofoil journey on the open sea. 1 was pleased that a young Navy officer accompanied me so that he could evaluate the performance of such craft on the open sea. I think they have a long way to go, but I will not talk of the technical problems of hydrofoils and hovercraft. However, the Navy should have one of each for experimental purposes. When I was in England a couple of months ago I made it my business . to find out something about hovercraft: 1 did a course and learned how to handle them. I think I have a. couple of firsts in respect of hydrofoils and hovercraft, but it is important that we have one of each so that we may try them out and probably make improvements to them. Although in my opinion they are not of much use at present, it is only by trying them out that we will ascertain where they can be of value in time to come.
The honourable member for Calarc said that if he had time he wanted to refer to Antarctica. In conclusion I also want to say a few words about Antarctica. Since just after World War II we have been going to Denmark, which is a small country with a population of 4 million people, and getting 2 or 3 or sometimes only I icebreaker a year to come all the way to Australia to take our supplies down to Antarctica. This job should be done by’ the Royal Australian Navy. We did it before the last World War in craft not as suitable as modern icebreakers. Our hydrographic staff should be down in Antarctica having a look around, doing survey work and reporting back to Australia. I think it is wrong that we should rely on a small country like Denmark to go down to Antarctica to tell us whether this rock is out of position and that we cannot go there. We should have our own naval staff down in Antarctica doing the necessary survey work. I hope that the Minister for the Navy will have a look at this question of Australia having an icebreaker, because it is most important.
From the humane side I think that another small item the Navy should have is a hospital ship. Even if there is not a war on, we in this country should own at least one hospital ship. It is good enough for the Germans, who are so much further away from South East Asia, to have a hospital ship. They anchor it in these waters so that they can go and get not only soldiers who have been injured but also members of the civilian population. They get these people on board the ship, they carry out the necessary operations, they heal them and they put them back on shore again. This is something which we should do. During World War II the Navy was responsible for the operation of our hospital ships. I think that for humane reasons alone we should have a hospital ship, so that we could send it to South East Asia, anchor it off-shore, pick up civilians who need medical attention, repair their wounds and move on when that area has been attended to. By doing that we would establish a better name for ourselves in the area.
– Proposed expenditure on the Army in 1968-69, for which the endorsement of this Parliament is sought, totals $401 m. This is made up of an appropriation of $385.3m and expenditure of $15.7m from United States credits. The division of the Army’s proposed vote of $401m for this financial year is $315. Sm for maintenance and $85.5m for capital, mainly for new equipment and buildings. This balance will permit the Army on the one side to carry on with operations overseas, essential training in Australia and maintaining its existing equipment and installations, and at the same time to acquire additional and more effective arms and equipment.
The total of $315m for maintenance for 1968-69 is mainly for inescapable recurring costs. I refer here to pay of personnel, $179m, replacement and repair of equipment, $50m, rations, freight, fuel and other services, S35m, and rent and maintenance of buildings, SI 2m. The total of S3 15m is an increase of $32m on the amount spent on maintenance of the Army in 1967-68. Of this increase, $8m is for increased Army pay arising from the new group system recently approved, $6m is for increased maintenance costs in Vietnam and the cost for a full year for additional forces sent during 1967-68. The remainder, $18m, is a general increase in expenditure of pay, rations and equipment maintenance which arises from higher average personnel strengths in 1968-69, both for the Australian Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces, over the average strengths in 1967-68.
Turning now, in brief, to the capital expenditure of $35m, the main item, of course, is arms and equipment for which $63m is to be spent in 1968-69. This is an increase of $10m over last year’s expenditure of $53m - a 19% increase. The importance of maintaining and expanding the capability of Australian industry to produce the equipment and stores needed by the Services has often been emphasised in this House, and it was raised again this evening by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). It is a long standing policy of this Government to obtain the Services’ requirements from Australian production and that design and development of new types of equipment be undertaken in Australia whenever practicable. Expenditure in Australia in 1968-69 on capital equipment for the Army will account for $47m out of the total of $63m which I mentioned a moment ago - a proportion of 75%. If expenditure on replacement items and maintenance of equipment is added, the expenditure in Australia will be $89m out of a total of $113m, or 79%.
Examples of equipment to be obtained from Australian industry are a variety of vehicles including landrovers and Australian designed 24 and 5 ton trucks. The Australian radio industry will receive a proportion of Army expenditure in 1968-69. The industry is currently working on production of Army radio sets, and on design studies for elements of Project Mallard. This project is a major co-operative development programme in which Australia is participating with the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. It is aimed at developing a system of secure tactical trunk communications for the service of the participating countries. The programme provides for design and development tasks to be allocated to participating countries, and at present four technique studies are being carried out in Australia. Two of these studies have been allocated by contract to industrial firms, and two are being carried out at the Weapons Research Establishment of the Department of Supply. Expenditure by the Army on the studies will amount to approximately $500,000. The advanced nature of the work has already been of great interest to the organisations involved and has already stimulated some advances in scientific thought and the adoption of several new techniques. The arrangement provides that in all phases of the project each participating country will have the opportunity to carry out design and development tasks and to tender for subsequent production.
From time to time trials have been undertaken in Australia on equipment of overseas origin. These are usually arranged under the ABCA Standardisation Agreement, an agreement between the American, British, Canadian and Australian Armies for exchange of information on the development of equipment and procedures so as to achieve the greatest possible economy in the use of resources and effort of the participating countries. A recent example has been trials in Australia of the General Sheridan Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle. This vehicle was developed by the United States Army, lt is a light weight track vehicle with armament capable of firing conventional ammunition or guided missiles. Two of the vehicles have been on loan to Australia for trial purposes. All of the Australian trials, which have been carried out in a hot, wet, tropical environment, have now been completed and the results are being collated for final assessment by military authorities.
The honourable member for Corio suggested that Australia should investigate the possibility of building light tanks in this country. But quite frankly, this does not take into account the relatively small number of tanks which we require. The expenditure needed for design and tooling up for the small number - that would be required in Australia would make the project extremely uneconomical. There is not a great deal of opportunity for Australia to sell any tank, which it might design and build, to other countries. The United Kingdom and the United States of America have already spent considerable time and finance in the development of light tanks. I am informed that neither country has one in full production although the United States tank has been through trials in Australia., as 1 said earlier. So far, as I indicated, we have not ordered any light tanks. Those which might be available are being closely watched during their trials.
I turn now to the other main element of capital! expenditure in the estimates for the Army. This is expenditure on construction of buildings and other works. In 1968- 69, $18m will be spent in this way. This is considerably less than last year’s expenditure of $38m. The striking reduction is due to the fact that last year saw the completion of the. greatly accelerated programme of works which was launched, several years ago to provide permanent accommodation for field force units. Building projects for accommodation, of the Pacific Islands Regiment and supporting units in Papua and New Guinea have also been largely completed. However, there still remains a considerable programme of works for accommodation required for Army training installations, ordnance and supply depots, workshops, a military hospital, and many Citizen Military Forces depots. The great expansion of both the Regular Army and CMF in recent years originally outstripped the rate at which additional accommodation could be provided. The worst deficiencies have now been met but much still remains to be done.
The capital element of the Army vote also covers construction and purchase of houses for married quarters for Army families and advances to State authorities for the provision of houses under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. Here again the situation has certainly improved due to the accelerated programme over the last 3 years. Waiting lists for married quarters have been reduced considerably. With the houses planned for this year, a total of over 9,000 married quarters will be occupied by Army families by the end of 1969. In Papua and New Guinea provision also has been made for families of Pacific Islands soldiers. A total of 789 houses have been built to this stage.
I want now to refer to observations made by a number of honourable members during the debate on these estimates which relate specifically to the Army as distinct from matters affecting areas of general defence import. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) expressed the view that Gunner Newman, who was accused of murdering Lieutenant Burse in Vietnam, should have been tried in a civil court by a judge and jury. At the outset I want to say that if this unfortunate incident had occurred in Australia the trial would have taken place in a civil court, as serious charges affecting servicemen in Australia are handled by the civil courts and not by court martial. But to suggest that a similar rule could be applied to cases arising in Vietnam is completely to ignore the practical realities of an overseas operational environment.
It would be quite impossible to try cases in an Australian civil court. Quite apart from the fact that every Army witness would have to be brought to Australia from the operational area, causing unacceptable disruption to the .operational effectiveness of the unit, a more basic difficulty is that there would be no power to compel the attendance in an Australian civil court of any Vietnamese nationals, even if they were vital witnesses for the defence. In this case Gunner Newman was originally charged with committing a murder in Vietnam. If it had not been possible to try him by court martial he would have been exposed to trial in a Vietnamese court for an alleged offence on Vietnamese soil and with no recourse to an Australian court, appellate or otherwise. Nor could the problem have been overcome by sending a civil court abroad as no Australian civil court, according to information available to me, has jurisdiction in a foreign country. In my view it is the existence of an effective court martial system which forms the basis for the Status of Forces Agreement whereby visiting forces may be exempted from the jurisdiction of local courts in favour of the jurisdiction of their mother country. The fact that the appeal was heard in Australia does not affect the issue as the appeal was not a re-trial requiring the attendance of witnesses from Vietnam but followed the normal practice of appeal jurisdictions, it being concerned basically with matters of law.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also referred to the criticism expressed by the majority of the Court Martial Appeal Tribunal’ about the court martial. The honourable member was careful to spell out that he had the highest regard for the integrity of the members of the court martial. 1 was pleased to note that he expressed these views and I certainly endorse them. If it were necessary one could produce convincing evidence of the fairness and efficacy of the court martial system in general, but honourable members will appreciate that it would not be proper for me to comment at this time in any way on the observations or the decision of the Court Martial Appeal Tribunal.
The question of compensation for Gunner Newman was also raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He seemed to suggest as part of his thesis that the original trial should have taken place in a civil court; that if this had been done and a successful appeal had ensued, Gunner Newman would have become entitled to compensation. However, so far as compensation is concerned, there is no difference whether the original trial is by court martial or in a civil court. If anything, a soldier is much more favourably placed financially than if the same sequence of events happened to a civilian. A soldier whose conviction is quashed has his full pay and allowances restored retrospectively for the whole period of his trial and imprisonment. This does not normally apply to a civilian working for a private employer. In the case of ex-Gunner Newman the difference is over $2,300 in his favour. Of this, more than $1,600 already has been paid to him and his wife and the balance will be paid in the next day or so. In all other respects the question of paying compensation when a conviction is quashed on appeal is, of course, a general one and is not related particularly to a Court Martial Appeal Tribunal or to the Army. Both the law and the practice in this respect are the concern of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen), from whom advice has been sought on this aspect.
I now want to refer to comments made by the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) and others about the CMF. I dealt with this subject in some detail during the Budget debate. I do not propose to repeat those comments at this time.
However, I did note the reference by the honourable member for Brisbane this afternoon to the requirement for doctors and lawyers in the CMF to pass the same tactical tests as infantrymen. This is quite incorrect. The doctor and the lawyer are required to pass tactical examinations but these are directly related to the requirements of their own corps. For example, a doctor would need to know where to site a field ambulance. His test is entirely different from that undertaken by infantry officers. The engineer, on the other hand, as a member of a combatant arm who may be required to command operational troops in the field, necessarily has to pass the same tactical tests as soldiers in the infantry.
Reference was made by several honourable members to the Cadet Corps. I certainly agree with comments to the effect that the Corps is doing an excellent job. Honourable members would be aware that the purpose of the Cadet Corps is to provide young students with a sound foundation of military knowledge and discipline, to generate and inculcate principles of leadership, to encourage interest in the Army, and finally to encourage cadets to continue some form of military service after leaving school. However, the extent of the Cadet Corps must be related, naturally, to the ability of the Regular Army to provide instructors. Notwithstanding the commitments which the Army has undertaken during the last few years, the ceiling strength of the Cadet Corps has been increased by over 1,000 a year for each of the last 4 or 5 years.
I do not propose to trespass on the time of the Committee any longer although there are a number of other comments I would have wished to make. I want to conclude by saying that the estimates covering the funds sought by the Army have been subject to close scrutiny within my Department, in the Department of Defence and in the Treasury. I can assure honourable members that they are the minimum necessary to carry out the objectives of the Government’s policy and that the individual expenditure proposals which will come up for approval during the year will be examined closely to see that full value is obtained for every dollar provided. I commend the Army estimates for the approval of the Parliament.
Mr St JOHN (Warringah) [10.0]- On 7th May 1968 I spoke in the defence debate, largely on the question of the F111 aircraft. I saidthen:
I shall not deal with the matters of cost or whether the aircraft should have been ordered as the plane of the future for Australia . . . It may very well be that it is too late to withdraw from the contract even if we wished to do so. However, at this stage, before we have taken delivery of the aircraft, it is not too late to protect ourselves from the possibility that it may indeed be not quite what we ordered or expected. 1 then proceeded to pose a number of questions relevant to the matter I mentioned, some but not all of which were answered by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) when he replied. I mentioned the good reasons we then had to be concerned about the matter. I concluded my remarks as follows:
I believe that we are fully justified, morally, legally and as a matter of common sense, in stalling until we know whether the aircraft meets its specifications, whether it is the kind of aircraft that we ordered, whether it is in fact capable of fulfilling the role for which it was intended. We should not buy a pig in a poke .
In his reply the Minister for Defence said:
The losses of the Fills are regrettable, but it is a great shame to find that a man even like the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) should have joined the ranks of the critic’s because he is a legal man who, if I understand rightly, is accustomed to testing his evidence. He has taken references out of a newspaper, quoted from another newspaper, to condemn this aircraft.
Further on the Minister said:
We delayed delivery for a year so that we would have some of the bugs out of it at American expense. The House may rest assured that when we get our aircraft delivery will not be taken until they have been thoroughly inspected and thoroughly tested and we are satisfied that there are no mechanical faults within them.
The Minister was less than fair in saying that I had ‘taken references out of a newspaper, quoted from another newspaper, to condemn this aircraft’. The text of my speech shows quite clearly that I was careful not to quote these reports as gospel, and indeed expressed the hope that they were incorrect. After referring to conflicting accounts I said:
We should like to know where the truth lies, and if the truth is still uncertain then we should still be uncertain whether we will accept delivery in July.
I cited these newspaper reports as giving reason for proper concern.
Some 10 days after the Minister had thus spoken in this chamber he announced through the Press that Australia would send a team of specialists to the United States of America to investigate why several F111 fighterbombers had crashed. And there, one might have hoped, this sorry story would have ended that our team would have done its job; that the aircraft would have passed the test; and that it would have proved acceptable. But it was not to be. The expert team which was sent to the United States reported favourably. On 15th August the Minister said in answer to a question in the House.
I am pleased to say that we have had a top ranking committee visit the United States . . . The committee came away completely satisfied that all areas of doubt, after the most careful scrutiny, have now been eliminated.
On 5th September 1968 the Minister visited Fort Worth in the United States to accept the first of the F111s. In doing so he spoke highly of the qualities of the aircraft, which he described as a ‘weapons system of tremendous power and precision’. One does not doubt the Minister’s complete sincerity in all this; indeed, he is almost too sincere in his acceptance of the virtues of the aircraft and the technological capacity of United States industry. With all respect, it would have been better if the Minister had at the same time shown a little more caution by refraining from committing himself so uncompromisingly to the aircraft until the problems had been actually solved. It is sad, but perhaps not very surprising, having regard to the history of this aircraft, that on the very night preceding the acceptance, the Minister had been told, as he informed the House subsequently, of a further fault discovered in the preceding days a fault quite serious enough to call for, as it did, a fresh grounding of the aircraft. One cannot but sympathise with the Minister in these continual disappointments. Yet, I regret to say, instead of accepting the need for greater caution, he is still to be seen coming up, day after day, and month after month, reaffirming his unbounded confidence in the final result. I sincerely hope that he is right; I fear that he may be wrong.
Then, on 11th September 1968, there came another crash, and yet another on 24th September 1968, after which all the aircraft were grounded once again. They are still grounded. True, crashes are usual in the course of testing and development. That is not the point. The question is whether we should accept the aircraft before they have ceased to crash and give trouble for reasons as yet unresolved.
In the last few weeks we have learned that the Boeing Corporation may have to abandon its swing wing civil aircraft. The swing wing, it seemed, had given rise to numerous problems amongst others, far more weight than the designers had anticipated, which in its turn had drastically reduced range. Now, despite the Minister’s assurances to the contrary, it would be reasonable to assume that if the swing wing is to cause insuperable problems for civil aircraft it must surely have created serious, even if not insoluble problems, for the F111, even though, as a special writer for the ‘New York times’ tells us, the F111 is much smaller than the Boeing 557 and stresses are not as great. Reports as to the nature of the troubles with the F111 would appear to indicate that some of the more serious of them do indeed stem from the swing wing design.
The latest cause for concern arose as recently as this morning, when the Press reported:
Cancellation of the controversial F111 swingwing jet was urged today by a respected former secretary of the United States Air Force.
Mr Stuart Symington, now a Democratic senator from Missouri, said the Government and the Congress should seriously consider scrapping the revolutionary lighterbomber because he believed that it was ‘fundamentally unsound’ . . . Senator Symington said that the F111A (the Air Force version of the aircraft) was grounded ‘after basic and extraordinary technical difficulties’.
The series of crashes in the last 5 months point to this fact, and underline the growing basic doubts about the structural soundness of this aircraft.’
The senator added: ‘I am now confident in my own mind that serious consideration should be given to cancelling the Air Force F111 series’.
If a respected former Secretary of the United States Air Force, himself a Democrat, says these things on the eve of an election, I feel that I myself, a supporter of this Liberal Government, would be remiss if I were not to say much the same thing in this Committee, now that I have the opportunity to do so.
Let us not accept delivery of another F111, let us not pay another cent, unless and until we are morally certain that all is well with this aircraft. I do not doubt the integrity or the technical skill of the Air Force officers who presumably must have recommended acceptance of the first aircraft on 1st September at a time, be it noted, when fatigue testing was apparently still proceeding. But they were wrong. How long will it take us to learn? The time for unabashed optimism is past; now is the time to go slow, if not into reverse. In the light of what has transpired since I last spoke on this matter, I now state my belief that we should be fully justified in rejecting this aircraft entirely unless and until we know that it meets its specifications, that it is the kind of aircraft that we ordered, and that it is in fact capable of fulfilling the role for which it was intended. American governments and businessmen are hard headed people. They will respect us more, and will not like us less, if, with good reason, we take this stand. Indeed, they would probably have a lower opinion of us if we failed to do so.
I wish to make it clear that I am not advocating cancellation of the contract because of escalating costs, or because we no longer desire the aircraft for the role for which it was intended if such be the case. I do not know whether it is or not. But these would be unworthy reasons. We have made a contract and we must abide by it so far as these matters are concerned. But I see no reason why we should accept the aircraft merely because it is called the F1 11 if in fact it fails to measure up to the aircraft that was described to us at the time when we contracted to buy it or until we are satisfied that every cause of possible trouble has been eliminated.
I have in my hand a copy of a report published only 9 days ago in the United States of America. It comes from ‘Barron’s National Business and Financial Weekly’. I have no reason to believe that this is other than a respectable publication. It devotes its leading article to an attack on the General Dynamics Corporation and these aircraft.
– That publication is the spokesman for the Boeing company.
– That may be. The article is pretty effective and would be highly libellous if untrue. I shall not pain the House or the Minister by reading from this article. But 1 say once again that it gives us cause for serious concern. I invite my good friend, the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney), to read it. It gives good cause for concern, I believe.
– I have already done that.
– The honourable member must be as concerned as I am if he was able to read it impartially. The document tabled in the House and referred to as the Technical Arrangement’ provided, in clause 1 of Article HI:
The aircraft and equipment provided by the Government of the United States under this arrangement shall be fabricated to the same documentation and quality standards as are the counterparts for the United States programme, and every practical effort will be made to ensure that the equipments incorporated into each of the aircraft to be provided are identical.
Pausing there, although we do not know what the United States documentation and quality standards were, one would be astonished if they did not require the aircraft to meet certain specifications and certain performance requirements, and for the moment we must assume that they did. Indeed, this is partially confirmed by the wording of clauses 2 and 3 of Article V. What is surprising to me is this: Under the express terms of this so-called Technical Arrangement, under which Australia might be called upon, as indeed it now is, to pay vast sums of public monies, and upon which so much of our future security as a nation may depend, the Australian Government appears to have handed over to the United States Government the whole responsibility for inspection to ensure that these requirements have been met. It was obviously intended that inspection, acceptance and certification by the seller, the United States Government, was to be final and binding on the purchaser, the Australian Government. All this is to be found in Article V.
One wonders what justification there was for our acceptance of these provisions under which the Australian Government appears at first sight to have abdicated all the ordinary rights of a purchaser.
Article VI of the Technical Arrangement provided that delivery ‘shall be made in accordance with Annex C. Annex C, when examined, makes no provision whatever for time of delivery, but only for a certain sequence of delivery. I suggest the law would imply an obligation to deliver within reasonable time and if that requirement is not met it may be worthy of serious consideration as to whether we have the right to rescind on that ground alone. Quite apart from that there may be ways of escape open to us quite independently of delay in delivery. First of all one would hope the United States Government would act fairly by us and would not accept and certify aircraft to be delivered to us under Article V unless these requirements have been met. True, they have done so in one instance - no doubt in good faith - but subsequent events must have given them pause, just as it gives us pause. But suppose the United States Government were for some reason to accept and certify aircraft for us iri the future even though we believed they do not measure up to the specified requirements in some vital respect? Would we then be entirely without remedy? 1 should hope not. Judging by statements made in the House and outside the House by the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Air (Mr Freeth), they seem to have taken a view of the matter which accords with the hope I have expressed. But having regard to the words of Article V it. may be that on a strict interpretation we should have no rights whatever to refuse delivery after certification, unless we were prepared to question the bona fides of the United States Government in accepting and certifying the aircraft on our behalf.
These matters cannot be considered too legalistically, This is a treaty between sovereign, friendly powers, who expect fair dealing from each other. In the light of all that has happened it would be against all conscience to expect us to accept the aircraft unless and until we are absolutely sure, not only, first, that the ‘bugs’ are ironed out, but also, secondly, that it does really and substantially fulfil the specifications and performance requirements which must surely have been insisted on in the documents which have not, as yet, been revealed to us, and no doubt for proper reasons. I personally would like to hear a specific assurance from the Minister for Defence on each of these two points when he comes to reply. The Minister for Defence tells us that the aircraft will not be accepted until all faults are cleared up. Yet I fear - and I am sorry to say this - that because of his state of mind on this matter, as revealed by his own statements and previous conduct, he may take too optimistic a view and with the very best inten- tions no doubt fail to protect Australia’s interest adequately in doing so. Nothing in the record up to date reassures us on this point. What about the specifications and performance requirements? What if they are not met? Here again- we need some reassurance.
In some anguish I appeal to the Minister and the Government to put the brakes hard on and to act very cautiously from this point on. They have every reason to do so. Theirs will be a heavy responsibility if they fail to do what is necessary to protect Australia’s interest in this vital matter.
– There is no doubt that our defence capacity is closely tied to our foreign affairs policy, and vice versa. The defence expenditure in this year’s estimates is stated as being $l,217m, about 9.1% greater than it was last year. Of course we know that this defence expenditure is not directly allied to the numbers in our armed forces, as it is in some other countries. The reason for this is that we incur this expenditure to ensure our armed forces have the best available equipment, such as the Fill aircraft, which the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) has just discussed and heavily criticised. I think this aircraft has been well and truly examined in previous debates as well as in this one. I point out to the honourable member for Warringah that a country does not enter into a programme to develop new equipment without incurring some cost and taking some risk. No prediction can be guaranteed to be successful in a production programme for an item which has not yet been produced. If we had been prepared to accept a known piece of equipment off a production line, we could have done so. We decided not to do it. We decided to take the risks - I believe with our eyes open - of being involved in a production programme as quite a small partner with the United States, but certainly as a partner. Part of the risk, as we have seen, is that the cost has been a good deal higher than we expected it to be. Whether the benefit will be equally greater we do not know. I believe that the Government is watching this very closely. I understand the position is that we are not simply rushing in to take these aircraft at this stage. I believe this is what the Government is doing, but no doubt the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) will reply perhaps more authoritatively on that point.
I think some of the remarks made by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) illustrated quite well the tortured kind of mistakes members of the Opposition are prepared to make almost deliberately in attacking the Government’s present defence policy. There is no doubt that whatever we aim for in peace or war most of us agree with the basic philosophy that we prefer peace. But in designing policies to ensure peace we sometimes forget the very simple propositions that peace between nations, as with a peaceful situation within a country, depends on two fundamental points. The first of these is the popular or majority support for a peaceful condition in which disputes are settled at law rather than by force of arms. The second is the maintenance of sufficient forces, whether they be police or military forces, within a country or as between nations, to enforce the decisions of law on those minorities who are prepared to break the law.
Without these two conditions we cannot possibly expect to preserve the peace within a country or between nations, and it is to this extent that I believe the Opposition is mistaken every time it appears to review its own thinking on defence and to try and get away from policies which were openly isolationist in the past. It still wheels around to statements which, if they were carried out in policy, would become a policy of appeasement and would encourage any minority power which decided that it would not be resisted and therefore it would pay it to attack. Fundamentally it is as simple as that. I believe I am quoting the honourable member for Wills exactly when I say that he told honourable members that Australia has more men under arms as a proportion of population than has any country in Asia. He based the whole of his speech on this kind of figuring. He has either made a gross mistake or has not done any homework on the subject.
As attention has been drawn to the figures, it is worth mentioning them so we may think about them in relation to the treaties that we hope to enter into with our immediate northern neighbours. Australia has a total of about 84,300 personnel in the armed forces. If the citizen forces and the emergency reserves are included, the number is approximately 132,904. Let us compare these figures with the total armed forces of Asian countries, all of which have some para-military force or militia. Most of them would have a greater number of reservists, militia troops or the equivalent of our school boy cadet force, which at the outside would not number more than 45,000 at present. North Korea has a total of 384,000 personnel in its armed forces out of a population of 13 million. North Vietnam has 447,000 in its armed forces out of a population of 19 million, Mongolia 17,500 out of 1.2 million, Australia 84,300 out of 12.05 million. New Zealand 13,170 out of 2.756 million, the Philippines 30,000 out of 34.5 million, Thailand 141,500 out of 33 million, Cambodia 49,000 out of 6.9 million, and South Vietnam 410.000 out of 16.8 million with para-military forces of 325,000 the intention being to build this force to more than 900,000. They might not get very close to this target before the end of the year. The Republic of Korea has 621,000 in its armed forces out of a total population of 31 million, and Taiwan 528,000 out of a population of 13.4 million. I should mention also that the Republic of Korea not only has a very high number of people in its armed forces but intends to build up a militia of about 2 million men. It can form this basically out of existing reservist strength. So the Republic of Korea is certainly not going to be a pushover for anyone.
It is obvious from these figures that North Korea, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan have very considerably higher numbers in their armed forces as a proportion of their poulation than has Australia. The Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia have considerably smaller numbers in their armed forces. The position in Mongolia is marginal. The figures quoted by the honourable member for Wills give us an example of his confused thinking. He based a considerable amount of his attack on the Government on the proposition that we are already overarmed. We are obviously not over-armed. We are barely adequately armed when compared with our northern neighbours and in order to be a reasonable and effective partner with them. It is interesting that the honourable member for Wills drew our attention to these figures, because we can see the future possibility of our northern neighbours being real partners. Their armed forces are neither oppressively bigger nor significantly smaller than ours.
The honourable member for Wills went on to talk about dissent in this country. He made the extraordinary statement that there is only loyal dissent in this country. The honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) mentioned some of the kinds of dissent before the honourable member for Wills made this extraordinary statement. Does the honourable member for Wills regard the tossing of acid into the bodies of aircraft so they will crash and instructions for the tossing of matches into petrol dumps or sugar into fuel supplies of vehicles and aircraft as evidence of loyal dissent? I will not catalogue the rest of them, but the honourable member for Wills said that the seditious acts and details of murder that have been advocated only represent loyal dissent. He not only has got himself completely askew about such things as the size of our armed forces as compared to those of our neighbours iri Asia but his basic thinking is very far adrift if he regards the advocacy of these sorts of actions as loyal dissent.
He is as mistaken as those members of the Opposition who believe that by appeasement or by some kind of referral to the United Nations we can have others carry our own burden or that We can stop anyone with aggressive intentions towards this country by proving to them that we would never oppose these aggressive intentions. This would only add fuel to the fire in the long run. It would certainly be a sufficiently immediate betrayal of those people in our north who have demonstrated or who are beginning to demonstrate - South Korea has thoroughly demonstrated the fact - that they are contributing very significantly to their own self reliance. Countries, such as Laos, Cambodia, perhaps Thailand, and possibly Malaysia and Singapore might be forced to bend before a very powerful wind, particularly if they see no sign of support from this direction. I suggest that we can only follow the kind of policies that we are following now and do our best to become not only reasonably self reliant ourselves but strong enough to be a real partner in a South East Asian alliance with small nations against anyone who would seek to dominate this part of the world.
– I rise to refer very briefly to the speech made by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John). I listened to his speech with close attention and I want to say this about it: Since the honourable gentleman has been in this Parliament he has given me the impression that he speaks as one who is somewhat disappointed with the fact that fate did not destine him to become a pope. He speaks with all the irritating assumption of infallibility and he confers upon himself this sense of infallibility. So not having been able to achieve the distinction of being an ecclesiastical pope, he has arrived here posing as the secular pope of the Parliament. I want to deal with my honourable friend’s argument tonight as one lawyer to another, lacking no doubt the honourable gentleman’s experience, although at least I have a more catholic experience than the honourable gentleman may have had. He suggested to the Committee this evening that the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) has shilly-shallied. I do not want to upset my honourable friend sitting on the front bench; I know that I could not upset him if I tried. He accused the Minister for Defence of shilly-shallying in the matter of the Fill. What was the gravamen of the charge made by the honourable member for Warringah? It was that the Government should now say that it will not take delivery of the Fill.
– A good idea.
– Ah, brilliance even dawns on the honourable member for Hindmarsh. The millennium cannot be far off when he agrees with the honourable member for Warringah.
When the decision was made to accept delivery of the Fill it was made not by lawyers or members of Parliament. It was made on the basis of a recommendation given by technical people. I come clean. Speaking for myself I regard the decision of the American Government to give the contract to the General Dynamics Corporation in preference to the Boeing Company as being strange. But we must remember that the American Government had the benefit of the advice of Mr Robert
McNamara, with his tragic record in Vietnam, Mr Zuckert, Mr North, who is a former Secretary for the Navy, and Mr Gilpatric, two of whom had been associated with General Dynamics. But this is irrelevant as far as we are concerned. In 1963 Australia faced the positive threat of attack from Indonesia. At that time no person in this Parliament, and very few people in the country, would have denied that that threat existed. The view was that Australia was threatened by attack from Indonesia. That threat has dried up, but how irresponsible it would have been for a government in 1963 to have said that it would ignore the responsibility of obtaining an aircraft to replace the Canberra. But the honourable gentleman from Warringah sits in his seat tonight sopping wet in his state of anguish. He said that it hurts him. Next thing he will come out in stigmata.
– What is stigmata?
– I will explain it later. It dates back to the early Christian martyrs. The honourable gentleman’s speech was very strange. It was a speech not calculated to impress upon the Committee his views as to whether the country should buy an aircraft but that the Fill should not be bought. I am not an expert in the matter of aircraft.
– Well, why not shut up?
– I would like to get the honourable member for Hindmarsh in the air and roll off the top of a loop with him. I think that experience would change his face. I have spoken to people who have flown the Fill - people with between 15,000 and 18,000 flying hours to their credit. Such a record is in my opinion a very substantial credential in determining whether the Fill is a worthwhile aircraft. I prefer to accept the view of a person who has risen through the ranks - from Leading Aircraftman to Sergeant Pilot to Pilot Officer and finally to Air Commodore with 15,000 or 16,000 flying hours to his credit and the experience of having flown forty different types of aircraft - to the view of some Lord Fauntleroy from the North Shore of Sydney. That is where I stand. I make no apology for my attitude. I regret the decision taken by the American Government in 1963 to let the contract for the construction of the Fill to General Dynamics rather than to Boeing, but this is something that is behind us.
In the very near future Australia will have to get a little more steel into its soul as far as the defence of our shores is concerned. But for the honourable member for Warringah to traipse in here tonight in his ecclesiastical garb and to tell us that we should put in abeyance, with anguish, acceptance of delivery of the FI 1 1 was in my opinion an incredibly churlish attitude for him to take, lt is a view which I have no doubt not only this Committee but the Parliament and the country will reject.
– Today we have had a long debate which began on the Defence estimates. I am bound to say that the debate has not particularly touched the estimates but has ranged widely over matters affecting the future defence of this country, domestic arrangements and finally - one would almost say inevitably - we got back to the Fill. Before I close these few remarks perhaps I might have the opportunity of saying a word or two about the FI 11. As 1 understand the position, tomorrow we will spend some time debating the Fill contract and the documents which have been put before the Parliament. In the course of that debate no doubt many of the things mentioned tonight by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) will be made plain even to him.
One accepts with gratitude the suggestions and indeed the criticisms which have fallen from both sides of the chamber. It is a good thing that honourable members on both sides of the Committee should on this occasion deal with the future development of our defence programme. Much has been said about two matters in particular. Firstly a good deal of emphasis has been placed on the need for regional security arrangements in South East Asia. Secondly there has been some criticism of a delay in putting down a new defence review. Of course, both of these matters really lie in the same field, one being completely dependent on the other.
Honourable members will recall that over the last 18 months there have been considerable changes in proposals for withdrawal from South East Asia by the United
Kingdom. Whenever there has been a change in the timetable of proposals for British withdrawal we have been required to adjust our timetable. We have been required to adjust our programme of what should be done after the British withdrawal and of course, we have had to fit that into a constantly changing timetable. All these things had to be done until early this year when the United Kingdom got down to bedrock and stated that it would withdraw completely from the South East Asian sphere of activity in 1971. Then and only then did we have a definite date around which to fit our programme. Much has been done since then. Working groups have been established under the control of the CommanderinChief, Far East, to deal with all the matters which will need to be considered prior to the British withdrawal. The object of those working groups will be to leave behind viable defence arrangements after the United Kingdom withdrawal. These arrangements culminated in the five powers conference held in Kuala Lumpur in mid year, which was attended by the Secretary of my Department and myself, as well as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck). That conference was very much a preliminary conference between the nations immediately concerned with stabilising the defence position in the Far East. Out of it has come a tremendous amount of useful work, not the least being an understanding expressed publicly by the Governments of Malaysia and Singapore that they saw the defence interests of their countries as being indivisible. Australia has made it perfectly clear - and these countries understand it - that this is one of the basic conditions under which we could consider remaining as a unit in the defence of South East Asia.
It would be quite impossible for Australia to consider a defensive arrangement with Malaysia on the one hand and a second and perhaps different kind of defence arrangement, with Singapore on the other hand. But with the declaration that their defence interests were indivisible, and with the months since the Kuala Lumpur conference indicating clearly that those two countries are working together splendidly, there is ever)’ hope that we will be able to establish the beginnings of what I hope will be a much further ranging defence arrangement involving perhaps other nations of South East Asia. In all of this discussion
Australia has had the closest accommodation with New Zealand. We think as one on the problems affecting that area. We have, of course, been joint contributors to the Strategic Reserve in times past. At this time we are considering what might be done by way of a joint Anzac contribution to the future stability and defence of South East Asia. But clearly there is much to be done.
Questions that arise are what shape of force should be provided and where should it be located. In one area definite arrangements have been made and undertakings given. We have for a long time held one Mirage squadron at Butterworth. We have indicated our willingness to place a second squadron at Butterworth on a number of conditions. We will look to the Malaysian Government to take care of the radar and airport defence al Butterworth and sundry other matters on the periphery. At the same time we have disclosed that we would bc interested in deploying part of this force from time to time to Tengah airport on the understanding, of course, that Tengah airport and the southern end of the radar network in Malaysia-Singapore would be maintained by the Government of Singapore. Both these undertakings are forthcoming and working discussions are being held at this moment in regard to what kind of facilities might be made available, how they might be manned and so on. As these matters come to confirmation advice will be given to this chamber.
There has been some comment about a delay in a new defence review. 1 repeat that there has apparently been some confusion over the march of events in connection with the development of a new defence programme. It is quite true that the last defence programme expired on 30th June of this year and that the next 3-year programme will’ not commence until 1st July of next year. But the figures put down iri the Budget and the details given in the defence review clearly indicate there will be no break in the continuity of defence preparations. Indeed, although much detailed planning must necessarily await a study of strategic likelihoods in the South East Asian area in the future, its outlines are reasonably predictable. Therefore, there is no reason why all planning for the future should cease. But it does mean that we must be very careful in our movements in terms of a new defence programme involving new military hardware and the new disposition of forces.
As i have pointed out to this chamber on other occasions, the Department of Defence and the Government are at present engaged in a survey in depth of strategic possibilities in South East Asia. 1 am grateful for the support and understanding this afternoon of the honourable members for Angas (Mr Giles) and Riverina (Mr Armstrong). Both honourable members clearly understand, as I am sure does every reasonable member of the chamber, (hat these are matters which must be approached with extreme care. After all, so many events can happen in the next year or two which can vitally affect this country’s interests that it would be unwise for the Government to move precipitately. The Government is aware of the possibilities which may emerge from the presidential election in the United Slates. All of us have been in the business for too long not to understand that what is said on the hustings before an election does not necessarily convey the full and detailed appreciation of what a candidate would do if he were elected President of the United Stales of America. We are aware also that negotiations are continuing in Paris at the moment in an endeavour to open up talks for peace and perhaps the conditions attached thereto. I do not believe that there will be a lot of progress in this field until after the presidential elections in November.
– For good and sufficient reasons. The honourable gentleman ought to know that the Government of North Vietnam does not approach the peace negotiations in Paris with any intention of reaching an accommodation; it is merely exploiting a propaganda possibility and it is doing so in every possible way.
– Whose idea is that?
– Never mind. The honourable member is entitled to his own views, but f believe that no real progress can be made until there has been a presidential election. Nevertheless, the Governvernment looks forward hopefully to some cessation of the Vietnam war in the not too distant future. By 1971, United Kingdom troops will have withdrawn from
South East Asia. But I have some considerable hopes that the United Kingdom Government will be willing to deploy into the area forces for future exercises and to maintain at least some capability, dependent as we have been told on the maintenance of facilities in the area by other interested nations. These matters are still subject to negotiation and until there is clarity the Government cannot precisely fill in the details of Australia’s future defence programme. The strategic position is with the Government for consideration. When the Government is satisfied that the possibilities have been measured as closely as can be done in a variable situation of this kind it will move to a new defence programme. Somebody has tried to suggest - I think it was the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) - that the defence programme will become an election stunt. I do not know anything about election stunts of this kind. I assure the chamber and the people of Australia that the Government would not be interested in toying with our defences for an electoral advantage, assuming always that the Government needs that kind of electoral advantage. The new defence programme should not be hurried.
There have been some comments regarding the integration of the defence Services. This is a hardy annual that cannot always be relied upon for a little mileage when there is a debate of this kind or when the journalists are a little short of copy for tomorrow’s edition. What continually astounds or amazes me is that the comparison of what Australia does in regard to defence integration is always with Canada. Canada is one nation which, for purposes of ils own and T. have no doubt for good and sufficient reason - remembering always that Canada is not engaged in hostility at this time - decided to integrate its Services completely. So, it is assumed by anybody who wants to criticise our defence policy that because we have not done what Canada has done we are completely wrong and should be condemned. It might be worthwhile reminding the chamber that although the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and perhaps others - but those in particular because they are our close allies - have undertaken some reorganisation of their defence structures in recent years, they have not moved towards the kind of integration which today characterises the armed Services of Canada. It may be that with three on our side and Canada isolated what we are doing is abundantly clear under present conditions.
The Government has not said that what it proposes in terms of reorganisation is final. It has not denied the possibility of moving towards closer integration of the Services at some time. But there are steady steps which must be taken in progressing towards integration if such a move should ultimately prove to be beneficial for Australia’s defence. Much is being done at the present moment in terms of bringing commonuser services under a single Service management and of getting rid of duplication and matters of this kind. But as far as Australia’s defence structure is concerned, the Government believes that emphasis should be put on joint Service arrangements. This is the first leg of a reorganisation. But it is not finished by any means; it will go on. We are moving, as we have said, towards enriching the scientific content of our defence Services. Only this week we have had the pleasure of the company in this country of Dr John Foster, the top man in the United States Scientific Defence Advisory Service. We have spent a profitable time with him. We have asked for advice and it has been freely given, as it is always given from the experienced Services of the United States.
I do not want to deal in great detail with everything that has been mentioned in this debate, but I do want to go back to the matters raised by the honourable member for Warringah, although, as I have said, many of the subjects to which he referred will be dealt with in depth when we debate the whole question of the Fill aircraft tomorrow. The honourable member seems to regard himself as the sole repository of responsibility for public expenditure in this direction. I want to assure him that he is not alone in bearing this responsibility. I assure him that the Government is, of course, concerned about the situation which has developed in connection with the Fill aircraft. I want to assure him once again that when I express confidence in the technological ability of the United States to overcome the technical problems’ which have appeared in this aircraft, which in its concept has attempted to leap perhaps a whole generation of technical development- and in those circumstances difficulties must be expected - that confidence is well grounded on American performance in the past. No stone is being left unturned to solve the technical problems which have sprung up with this aircraft.
The honourable member seeks some undertaking from me that we are getting the aircraft we ordered. I can only give him the simple assurance that the Royal Australian Air Force, whose officers were advisers to the Government when we placed the order for these aircraft, has now assured us that the aircraft in its present configuration meets the Air Staff requirements in terms of performance. Attempts have been made during the day and over recent times to denigrate the performance of the aircraft. For instance, one member of the Opposition has said that the range of the aircraft has been reduced. He well knows that we cannot correct this in precise terms because we do not propose to disclose military information. But if there is any authority open to the Australian public on this subject it is Jane’s All the World Aircraft’ which is accepted as an authority throughout the aviation world. The figures quoted are not precise for the obvious reason that secure information of this kind is not available even to Jane’s. But the range is given of two aircraft which have been thought to be comparable with the Fill. They are the Vigilante and the F4, the range for both being given as 2,300 miles. The range of the Fill is shown as 3,800 miles. This, of course, would be the ferry range. Although these figures are not precise because, as 1 say, the ranges are classified as military information, here is a comparison which gives the lie to honourable members opposite. I repeat that in its present configuration the FI 1 1 meets the Air Staff requirements.
This is not to say that we are satisfied with its quality. But I hope the Committee will recall that only 10 days or so ago 1 announced in this chamber that the United States was not accepting any further aircraft from the contractor, and that likewise Australia is not accepting any further aircraft. That is how the position stands at the moment and that is as I would like it to remain until such time as we are sure that the technical difficulties have been solved and reinstatement has been made.
The honourable gentleman spoke about the number of crashes. I should point out that in the first 10,000 flying hours the number of crashes of Fill aircraft was considerably below the average for all military aircraft in the most recent generation of such aircraft. Up to the 15,000 flying hours mark the number of crashes measured against the flying hours had shown a decrease. The honourable member for Warringah spoke of these crashes as though they all proceeded from technical difficulties, or all from the most recent technical difficulty. The fact is that at least three of these crashes and perhaps more have been ascribed to pilot error. We cannot blame the aircraft for that. In at least three other crashes, and perhaps more because the aircraft in other cases were completely lost and therefore could not be examined, the fault was attributable to one particular item which was clearly identified and has been completely rectified. The present difficulty that has arisen of metal fatigue is one to which, as I pointed out before, metallurgical science does not know all the answers. But there has been assembled in the United States perhaps the highest level team, in terms of knowledge- and experience, that one could get. The members of the team come from the universities and from American industry, while we are making a very useful contribution with two of our own aeronautical scientists who are in the United States at present assessing this problem and helping to decide what should be done about it. I do not lack confidence that the problem will be overcome, but I make no guess at this time as to what the solution will be. I repeat that we will not accept the aircraft until we are satisfied that the problems have been solved. There the assurances must rest.
I think we ought to look forward to a worthwhile debate tomorrow when we will deal at length with the contracts and the arrangements made with the United Stales about this aircraft. In the meantime I think I have answered reasonably the arguments put forward by the honourable member for Warringah tonight and I give him assurances that the Government is as concerned as he is that we should not take delivery of faulty aircraft and that we should not expose Australian pilots to risk. I believe the problems can be solved and that they will be solved. I repeat my confidence that when the present programme is pursued it will bring us one of the world’s leading fighting aircraft.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, $24,837,000.
Department of the Cabinet Office
Proposed expenditure, $232,000.
– I address myself to an item which appears on page 75 of Appropriation Bill (No. 1). It comes under the heading ‘Assistance to the Arts’ and it is item 01- Support for the Performing Arts. The amount allocated in the current financial year is $ 1,500m. Honourable members will notice that millions of dollars are distributed through the Prime Minister’s Department to a host of organisations throughout Australia, most of them being very worthy ones indeed. One must be grateful for what the Commonwealth does for this wide range of organisations. I want to speak tonight on a subject with which I dealt at about this time last year, in fact on 4th October 1967 when we were debating the estimates. At that time Dr Coombs’ was Chairman of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. He is now Chairman of the new Australian Council for the Arts. In my speech last year I referred to a new national committee to be established to supersede the Elizabethan Theatre Trust as the distributor of the annual Commonwealth grant to the professional theatre groups within Australia. The late Harold Holt established this committee which was called the Australian Council for the Arts. Its objectives are worth while and honourable, but the winning of objectives depends significantly and principally on the quality of the personnel appointed to these committees or to the Council. During last year’s debate on the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department I referred to Dr Coombs’ overriding influence and power within the Elizabethan Theatre Trust of which he was the chairman. I claimed that this stymied much of its work. Let me quote some passages from that speech before I comment on the present position within the new Council of the Arts of which Dr Coombs’ is chairman, he having resigned from the chairmanship of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust to become the chairman of the new Council. In my speech I was critical of Dr Coombs within the framework of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust. My remarks had nothing to do with his magnificant ability within the Reserve Bank or his other works around Australia. I said:
Dr Coombs has had a very distinguished career in the financial life of Australia in the Reserve Bank. I do not know how he can find time to devote to the tremendous ramifications of the Trust. But I am concerned not at the energy expended by him, but at his overpowering control of the Trust and its ramifications. This concern centres on the fact that there is an absence of professional and independently minded people on the committees that he has chosen within the structure of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. The professional voice seems to me to have been completely silenced. Thus the control of the Elizabethan Theatre and its work is out of balance in that the amateur is completely dominant and the professional voice has practically no say in the running and management of this important body, which is subsidised by the Commonwealth.
For some years representations have been made to the Federal Government - mainly to the Prime Minister - for the establishment of a new national committee to deal with the allocation of subsidies received by the Trust from the Commonwealth Government.
In referring to the establishment of the committee I said:
One name suggested for this committee was Performing Arts Council’ ….
I am glad that that name was not finally decided on; the name chosen is excellent. I also said:
I suggest that the committee should not comprise more than seven members and that at least two or three of the seven members of this important committee should be professional and independent people who are dedicated to the theatre and who have a right to voice an opinion as to the allocation of subsidies….. In other words, it should contain select people who can put up a critical point of view from time to time and who can feed ideas and suggestions to the committee from the professional groups within the Australian theatre. I say this quite deliberately, because these professional people have devoted their lifetime to the theatre, and at this moment - as far as I know - not one of them has an official voice within the committee under the control of Dr Coombs….. I understand that Dr Coombs will be the chairman of this new national committee.
That was the first announcement in Australia that Dr Coombs was going to be the chairman of the committee. I made this announcement in this chamber. I intimated that I had it on excellent authority. The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) interjected and asked: ‘Who told the honourable member that?’
– You were right last year, and I apologise.
– I turned out to be right with that announcement.I also said:
I sincerely hope that he will make it a representative one more representative than any others under his control and that it will be representative of the professional and amateur groups in the theatre.
I said that Dr Coombs was resigning from the Elizabethan Theatre Trust to take on this new job. I then stated:
I make these observations not with any idea of criticising Dr Coombs, who is a capable man with a great deal of administrative experience behind him. But the more experience some men have in administrative matters the greater is their tendency to gather everything under their control. This could be happening in the theatre today.
Later in my speech I said:
I think this might be an appropriate time for a thorough governmental review of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust, which is charged with a great responsibility in this country and which has been in existence for many years. It could now well be examined closely to sec whether improvements might be made, perhaps dead wood cut out, and new ideas adopted. Now that this new national committee is to handle the subsidy to be granted by the Government it might be an appropriate time to look into the whole set-up of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust.
The Elizabethan Theatre Trust has done a great work, but it could have done a greater work if it had not been so dictatorial controlled. I say this quite deliberately. I have many friends within the theatre and they have given me information on this matter. I am not talking as though I were an outsider who knows nothing about what is going on. For 2 years I have been in touch with professionals in the theatre and they have given me their side of the story. What 1 say tonight is said without vindictiveness towards Dr Coombs, but I point out the tendencies that seem to creep into his organisations. It is amazing how Dr Coombs can gravitate to his committees and thus influence people who agree with him and who have been associated closely with him in the past. I believe he has just made a move which seems both in direct contradiction to the intention of the Prime Minister’s Department and at the same time particularly destructive of the efficient working of the new committee. It is at least refreshing to know that not all members of the Australian Council of the Arts are nominees of Dr Coombs. 1 understand that his nominees were rejected by the Department on the grounds that they were too closely aligned with the Elizabethan Theatre Trust’s interests. It is a refreshing change to note some independence by the Department.
The Department, with some colouring of politicsI am afraid, nominated its own group of amateurs to allocate Federal subsidies to the country’s professional theatre. One or two of them are spirited people with some degree of independence in their thinking but the remainder would appear to lack training in or vital experience with the professional theatre. However, even with the weaknesses in the new committee it is an improvement on Dr Coombs’s dominated committees within the old set-up. The quality of its judgment will be dictated by the quality and objectivity of the expert advice the committee receives, and it must receive expert advice all along the line if it is to function properly in the interests of the nation and of the theatre. The responsibility vested in this Council of the Arts is highlighted by the fact’ that it will allocate 100% of available subsidies. Concern is aroused when it appears that 80% of the subsidy, which this year will be $1.5m, will be allocated by the Council to the Elizabethan Theatre Trust complex, leaving only 20% to go to the many other worthy groups in Australia that merit subsidies.
Dr Coombs has now appointed an expert committee to advise the Council on drama, particularly in the professional theatre. Unfortunately his advisory committee to the advisory committee is composed almost entirely of amateurs, with two professionals close to Dr Coombs, and the wife of an employee of a close colleague of Dr Coombs. I do not suggest that there is anything wrong with that, but it is another interesting example of his capacity to get around him on his committees people who are close to him, who know him well and who, perhaps, agree with him. What is tragically missing from this expert advisory committee is what has been missing from most of Dr Coombs’s committees for years the independent professionally informed minds of people who have given a lifetime to the theatre. Professionals in the theatre seem to be anathema to Dr Coombs. Is he afraid that his opinions might be challenged, or does he want to have yes men around him? This is the thing that worries me. This is the pattern of the whole story of the Trust, and it looks as though it will be the pattern of the new Council for the Arts. No-one is asking that professional independently minded drama people should have a majority of members on the new Council, but at least 30% or 40% of the Council membership should be comprised of these folk. Professional people all over Australia feel that excellent professional projects are being crippled because they oppose ideas and organisations which Dr Coombs has founded. The breath of fresh air which we had hoped may have swept away the cobwebs of previous committees has not got through the windows or doors of this new Council. It seems to me to be largely the same set-up under a new name. This is exactly what we feared, might happen.
But to be quite fair, before Dr Coombs was appointed Chairman of the new Council he was asked by the Prime Minister’s Department to withdraw from several projects in which he was virtually the leader. I refer to the Australian Ballet company, the University of New South Wales Drama Foundation and the Trust itself. This left him very much freer to handle this new job than was the case with the Trust. These are the good things which took place in the change but, in my opinion, sufficient has not been done yet. I believe that the Council should be enlarged with a few more professional people, of whom there are many in Australia. On 21st October last year I wrote to the late Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, outlining what I had said in the speech to which I have just referred and asking him to bear it in mind when he appointed the new Council. On 26th October he wrote to me as follows:
I have your letter of 19th October in which you set out your views about the Elizabethan Theatre Trust, and I am giving consideration to these. With kind regards, Yours sincerely -
And it was signed ‘Harold Holt’. In my letter I gave him a list of names, which had been gathered from all over the Commonwealth and which I thought might help him in selecting members on the professional side, but I do not think that any of them have been appointed to the new Council. I put forward these views to indicate that we need to keep an eye on the new development that is taking place. We do not want the Council for the Arts to get into the pattern of the past. We want it to be a pioneer for the future, in a very real sense, in drama and theatre in Australia.
– Before I go on to make my speech I must defend Dr Coombs. Were there any truth in the speech of the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) 1 would have regarded it as a scurrilous attack, instead of which I regard it as a collection of foolish comments about one of the outstanding administrators in Australia and in Australian history. Anyone who has been associated with Dr Coombs will well know that he is not interested in having yes men around him. He is much more interested in having around him efficient people who can come up with the right answers. One only has to talk to a few people in the Reserve Bank of Australia to get the truth of that statement. However, I do not wish to talk about the Australian Council for the Arts, apart from saying that I did note that this year the Government had provided §1,500,000 towards this worthy organisation. I would like to talk on one of the paradoxes that exist in the Public Service, namely, that we still have the High Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom under the administrative control of the Prime Minister’s Department.
The present position being a legacy from the days when we did not have a Department of External Affairs and, in fact, no true independence in our foreign dealings, the time has long since passed when the High Commission in London should be considered for what it is - only another of our international posts. Even when due allowance is made for the special circumstances of tradition, seniority and size, it is hard to find any real justification for this post being part of the Prime Minister’s Department when every other overseas post we maintain, except Hong Kong, has its head of mission responsible to the Minister for External Affairs. Administratively it is untidy to have London as part of the Prime Minister’s Department, and though I would strongly oppose any serious diminution of our associations with the United Kingdom, I firmly believe that the High Commissioner there should be part of
External Affairs, in that the High Commissioner should be responsible to the Minister for External Affairs and not to the Prime Minister as at present. Indeed, why should this head of mission have a direct link with our head of Government when this link is denied to such other important diplomats as our heads of mission in Washington, Tokyo and the United Nations? 1 realise that the structure of the various offices of the several departments which are maintained in London would need to be reassessed and restructured. But I believe this should be done. I believe it can be done, and I believe it must be done in the very near future. The only advantage to the Parliament at the moment from having the High Commissioner’s estimates included in the Prime Minister’s departmental vote is that members of this chamber can still examine the details of such a vote. I am disappointed to note that such details for other overseas posts are no longer described in the appropriation papers, and I charge the Department of the Treasury with the responsibility to see that they are again included in future years. Parliament must not lose the right to examine itemised expenditure for all our overseas posts.
While on this point of representation J would hope that in the not too distant future we shall be able to change the title of all our heads of mission to ambassador and that the quaint title of high commissioner willbe removed from the records,I see no valid or contemporary reason why we should not call our man in London our Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Such a change would not weaken, in any way, our ties with our fellow British countries, and if it did and our special relationships did depend upon the retention of colonial titles and addresses, then we should look more closely to the reasons for having such special intra-Commonwealth relations. However, I am sure it is not dependent on titles and I commend the use of the title of ambassador for all our overseas heads of mission especially to the United Kingdom. I have no doubt that there are many people who would expect to find the High Commissioner, from his title, at any rate, more adept at performing Gilbert and Sullivan than carrying out the serious and all important duties that are his responsibility and which I am sure he does perform well.
But I would like to touch upon some of the other specific items mentioned in this vote.I am pleased to see that the appropriation for Division 430, subdivision 5, item 02 has been increased to $100,000 for the year 1968-69. I would hope that the increase in the grant for historical and other works of art, including commission of portraits, will see an increase in the purchase of Australian art for our overseas embassies and residences. Whenever one visits our overseas posts one is immediately struckbythe vast discrepancy between one post and another. I rather fancy that the standard of these art collections is directly correlated to the ability of the head of mission to fossick around in Canberra and this, in turn, is dependent on his own interest in art.I believe we should be encouraging our promising young artists by exhibiting their work in our posts overseas, and although the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board may not be as contemporary in its outlook as one might wish, I do hope that the increased vote this year will see more works of young Australian artists being bought and suitably displayed in official places. As the Federal Government, with an expert Advisory Board, we must give the lead to other sectors of the community in encouraging the arts in a practical way. At present our help is far too haphazard.
I am also very hopeful that following the signing of the IndonesianAustralian cultural agreement earlier this year by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), we will be able to sponsor a tour of an Indonesian art exhibition throughout the country. If this can be undertaken, then a special appropriation for item 03 in subdivision 5 of Division 430 should be made next year, because$1 4,000 does seem a nominal amount for this item. It was my good fortune to talk with Mr Adam Malik and Indonesian authorities in Djakarta and Bandung early in August, and I am confident that a very fine art exhibition can be prepared to show the Australian people the quality and range of Indonesian contemporary painting which should do much to develop mutual understanding and establish a climate for closer and more friendly relationships between our two peoples. Any expenditure for such a tour would have to be made in this vote, and I hope that there will be no hesitation on the part of the Government wholeheartedly to support this idea. Correspondence with- the Prime Minister in this regard has been most encouraging. 1 am intrigued to see that only $5,000 is being appropriated towards the cost of erecting a fountain m Chifley Square in Sydney. I ask the Prime Minister whether this represents the total Federal contribution or whether it means that the fountain will not be completed this financial1 year. Sydney has waited, expectantly for this fountain and I hope there will be no delay in completing it.
I am sorry to see that no increases have been made in the grants to the Surf Life Saving Association, and the Royal Life Saving Society, each of which receives $24,000; to the Boy Scouts Association, which receives $20,000; or to the $16,000 grantinaid to the Girl Guides Association. Donations to these very important organisations are not tax deductible..! would recommend that, if the Government cannot see its way clear to granting them this encouragement, it should look at the size of the annual grants each year so that the people who organise these associations get the Federal encouragement they so richly deserve. It is appreciated that all these grants are made at the national level. But even here there is constant pressure, and I recommend that in the next Budget the Government should see its way clear to make an annual increase in the grant-in-aid to each of these associations. Better still, it should make donations to these organisations tax deductible, thus helping them at all levels of their activities.
Before concluding, I would like to refer the Committee to the need for some extensions to ‘Yarralumla’, the official residence of the Governor-General. Anyone who has been honoured to visit this residence will be very conscious of the need for an expansion of its facilities. It is disappointing, therefore, to see that the only proposed works programme in this vote is the extension to the archival repository in Brisbane. One would hope, with all the talk of extensions to Parliament House, that the needs of the official residence of the Governor-General would not be overlooked - that there should be, at least, an architectural assessment of what could or should be done with Yarralumla’ and that this assessment would be undertaken during this financial year.
I would like to conclude by complimenting the officers of the Prime Minister’s Department, particularly the Establishments and Finance Branch, for their competence despite the Department’s divergent interests and activities. They are seldom asked to appear before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee and in the report of the Auditor-General this year they received only a very brief mention. I am sure the Committee would wish me to mark its approval of all the officers responsible.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department I want to refer to the Public Service Board and in particular to the medical examinations that are necessary before a member of the Public Service can be made a permanent employee. There are three requirements to be met before a member of the Public Service can be made permanent. The first is to pass a clerical examination; the second is the availability to him of a minimum of 7 years employment in his category; and the third is successfully to undergo a medical examination. If the member meets the first two requirements his permanency is dependent upon the result of the medical examination. The result of that examination determines whether he will contribute for superannuation benefits or the lesser benefits of the Provident Fund. If he is not medically suited to contribute for either of these two benefits, he remains as a temporary employee. In this capacity he is denied the promotions that are available to permanent staff. Upon completion of his service in a temporary capacity he is retired without receiving the benefits of the Superannuation Fund or the Provident Fund.
My main criticism of this system of appointment is that it depends upon a single medical opinion. Although borderline cases may be discussed by senior officers of the Department of Health and the Public Service Board, the fact is that one medical officer clinically examines the person concerned. The opinion of this single medical officer is not open to challenge and there is no appeal against his judgment. I accept the fact that there is a review committee comprised of senior officers of the Public Service Board and the Department of Health, which reappraises standards in accordance with progress made in medical science, medical treatment, and the outlook of the medical world on certain disabilities and diseases. But this does not get away from the fact that there is a need to create a medical board of appeal to which the person rejected - the appellant, shall w. call him - may make representations. They could be made by his own medical officer and the reasons for rejection could be communicated to that officer. There i*. provision at the moment for the medical officer of the person concerned to be furnished with a copy of the member’s medical file. I pressed very hard for this provision for a number of years. However, the medical officer acting for the Public Service Board does not communicate the reasons for the rejection of the person concerned.
Some years ago I recommended to the then Prime Minister that in cases of rejection on medical grounds, and where the clerical standard was satisfactory and the employment criteria were satisfied, the member should be given the option of subscribing to the Provident Fund upon the express condition that if for any reason whatever he should fail to complete his term of service to retirement age, he should be repaid only the amount he contributed. My suggestion was rejected on the basis that this was a radical departure from actuarial standards. I do not agree with that reason for rejecting my proposal. I do not believe that such a scheme would have any adverse effect on the Fund. If the man concerned failed to see the distance out he would merely receive a refund of his contributions. If he did see the distance out be would be in the same position as any other contributor and would get his Provident Fund payment.
That suggestion having been rejected, 1 put forward to the Prime Minister of the day a proposal for the institution of the medical board of appeal I mentioned earlier. This is a matter of paramount importance because a decision by a single medical officer could affect the livelihood and future career of many thousands of Australians- This decision is not open to challenge by the person concerned or by his personal medical officer.
Over the years I have come in contact with many cases of members of the Public Service who have been adversely affected by the present system. One of the worst I can remember concerned a constituent of mine. I took it up with the Public Service Board and the then Prime Minister 2i years ago. This man enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in 1952 for a 6-year term. Three years later he developed a nervous state through worry over marital difficulties and he sought help from his chaplain. The chaplain spoke about the matter to the RAAF medical officer and the doctor suggested that the man enter hospital for rest and sedation. The man agreed and voluntarily entered the RAAF hospital on 1st July 1954. After some months of rest, and without receiving any treatment, he was transferred to Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and remained there for 3 months. During that time he was given occupational therapy. He was put on insulin treatment for 1 month. He was then transferred back to No. 6 RAAF Hospital and was discharged from hospital as cured in January 1955. Three years later, when his original 6-year stint was up, he reengaged. He was examined again by the Service medical officer who applied pretty stiff criteria. He was passed medically fit, with a classification of Al. After serving 6 years without any difficulties at all, medical or otherwise, he decided to apply for a discharge, and was discharged on 14th March 1964. Again he was discharged from the Service as medically fit. Al. He was also transferred to the RAAF Reserve. He is still liable to be called up for service in an emergency and is classified as medically fit. Al, for this service.
Two days after his discharge he joined the Department of Air as a senior examiner. In the RAAF he had been a sergeant engine fitter. A little over 3 months later, on 4th July 1964, he applied for and was given permanent appointment. He undertook the clerical examination, was examined by the Public Service medical officer and was appointed to a permanent position on 21st October 1964. After he had been permanently appointed and had not been called upon to pay contributions to either the Superannuation Fund or the Provident Account, he wrote on several occasions (o the Public Service Inspector. It was not until 23rd August 1965 that he was advised that his permanent appointment had been withdrawn on account of medical unfitness. The reason for the delay, stated by the Board, was the difficulty it had encountered in obtaining his medical history file from the RAAF. He immediately wrote to the Public Service Inspector asking the reason for rejection and was told that it was confidential but that if he gave authority his medical officer would be advised. However, all that was sent to his medical officer was the file of his medical documents with no reference whatever to the actual reasons for rejection. On 17th December 1965, following his appeal against the decision, he was advised finally that his case was being reviewed by the Public Service Board. Ultimately, on 9th February 1966, he received advice of his non-acceptance due to medical unfitness. This was 15 months after the original examination and he was not even given another medical check-up in the interim period.
As I said, this man is married with young children. He was rejected despite the fact that he had been in first class physical and mental health since January 1955. I repeat: He was discharged from the RAAF hospital as fit at that time; he was again examined by the RAAF medical officer and classified Al medically on re-engagement in March 1958 and, finally, upon discharge in March 1964; he apparently was also passed by the Department of Health’s medical officer upon clinical examination when he applied for permanent appointment on 4th July 1964. It is clear, therefore, that the rejection was based entirely upon the Service medical history of his hospitalisation in 1954.
Thus this man’s whole future has been denigrated consequent upon a single medical opinion confidential to the Public Service Board. Against the decision of the Board there exists no right of appeal. The Government has been reluctant to establish a medical board of appeal feeling that adequate arrangements still exist and fearing that such a board would become the paramount authority in determining the acceptance or otherwise of the person concerned. I maintain that this would not be so and that such authority would continue to be vested in the Public Service Board and the Superannuation Board and that the only responsibility of the medical board of appeal would be to submit its findings to the Board concerned after a full medical investigation. However, if the Government is not disposed to establish a medical board of appeal the present procedure could be varied. In the case of rejection, the Government could give a person a right of appearance, together with his own physician, to submit evidence in rebuttal before the specialists or panel of doctors who now act in an advisory capacity to advise the Public Service Board and the Superannuation Board.
In my mind there is a great weakness in this regard in the Public Service structure. It is one that causes untold hardship and distress to many young married men in the Public Service. They find their careers arbitrarily nipped in the bud by the operation of a system that is undemocratic and unfair and one that could be so easily improved if the suggestions that 1 have made tonight and have been making over the last 5 or 6 years were only heeded. I hope that the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes), who is at the table, will convey to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) what I have said and that something will be done before too long to break down the present attitude of the Public Service Board and its conservatism and orthodoxy in this regard.
– I want to say something that is very important in the minds of many of my electors and the electors of my colleagues, the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) and the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). In discussing the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department I would like to draw attention to Division 459, under which funds are provided for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The amount to be appropriated to maintain ASIO, as it is commonly known, is $2,807,000. This is an increase of $50,000 over last year’s estimate.
– This is due to pay rises.
– I am told by supporters of the Government by interjection that this is due to pay rises. That may or may not be so. But I particularly want to stress that I consider there is a considerable waste of public money in connection with the maintenance of ASIO.
It is with painful regret that I remind the Committee that on Monday last an officer of ASIO was killed with two other men in a car crash at Newcastle. This accident is reported in the ‘Canberra Times’ today. I do not have time to read the full report, which appeared under the heading ASIO Official Dies in Crash’. In part, it states:
One of three Canberra men killed in a road accident at Hamilton, Newcastle, on Monday was a member of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
Graeme Leslie, 24, of Black Street, Yarralumla, is believed to have an identification pass among his possessions. Police announced his name soon after the accident, but then withdrew it ‘at the urgent request of relatives’.
The article goes on to name the other two men involved in the crash. I believe that every honourable member regrets the death of this young Security officer. 1 believe I am speaking for all honourable members again when I say that we express our deep sympathy to his parents and relatives. However, I believe this young officer had been assigned to duties at Newcastle in connection with the Labour Day procession activities there last Monday.I do not know whether he was attached to ASIO in Canberra or to the NSW branch. The NSW police have a security officer in Newcastle performing full time duty. This man submits reports to police headquarters in Sydney on matters appertaining to security. If necessary those reports are sent through to ASIO headquarters in Canberra.
In my opening remarks I said that I consider a considerable part of the money allocated to ASIO is wasted. There is no merit whatsoever in sending an ASIO man to Newcastle, either from Canberra or from the Sydney headquarters, to police the Labour Day procession. This duty can be and is performed efficiently by the member of the New South Wales Police Force assigned to this type of duty in Newcastle. I venture to say and this is ordinary common sense that if an officer went from Canberra to Newcastle he would have to confer with the Newcastle officer who is permanently stationed there to find out who is who and who is mixing with whom, who are the Communists, and who are the Communist fellow travellers. He would have to seek the co-operation of the Newcastle officer who would probably point them out to him. Then he comes back, whether it be to Canberra or Sydney, and submits a report to his superior officers as to who took part in Labor Day activities. This is an absolute waste of public money.
This is one instance of waste of money that has seen the light of day, if this officer was on duty, but unfortunately he lost his life in a car crash in Newcastle last Monday. I would like the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) to answer these questions tomorrow: Was this young officer on duty at the time he was killed? Was he in Newcastle gathering information or evidence for ASIO? If so, I suggest it was unnecessary for him to be there because, as I said a few moments ago, a permanent officer is stationed there. Yet every year for the last 3 or 4 years we have seen an increase in the amount allocated to ASIO. The taxpayers are being more heavily burdened year after year by the increasing amount allocated to maintain ASIO. Possibly the other two young men who were in the car and were also unfortunately killed may have been agents of ASIO who were taken to Newcastle to mix with industrial workers to get some piddling evidence or information to put in a report to show that they are earning their wages and that ASIO is justified.
– The honourable member has been reading too many James Bond stories.
-I am talking seriously. A young man has lost his life. He was probably following a car which had taken part in the Labour Day procession and was anxious to establish the identity of the occupants. What good does it do? Why do we not get down to earth about this? The Australian taxpayers are entitled to know that this sort of thing is going on. They are entitled to know that a person is assigned from Canberra or Sydney to Newcastle, where there is an ASIO officer already, to inform I do not like to use the word ‘pimp’ because this young man’s body is not yet cold. He was killed only last Monday. The authorities probably would not have known he was an ASIO officer if his identity card had not been found on his body at the morgue.
Having assured the Government Whip I would not take my full time in this debate 1 conclude by savins that a parliamentary committee should be set up to investigate the extravagant use of public money. Such a trusted committee could reveal the foolish duties that are being performed by ASIO and the waste of taxpayers’ money, now that this tragic event has been brought to light. I say again - I am sure I voice the sentiments of everyone in this House - that it is regrettable that this young man should have lost his life. Perhaps he should not or may not have been in Newcastle performing these duties. There was absolutely no necessity for him to be. there on ASIO duties and sending him there was a waste of public money.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
Thai the House do now adjourn.
– Tonight 1 would like to take the opportunity to raise some matters in relation to postal services for electors of mine in the Esk area, a country district. There has been a trend in recent times in certain rural areas of the Oxley electorate to reduce the number of days on which mail is delivered to rural residents. Anyone who represents a rural electorate fully appreciates the tremendous inconvenience that such a trend causes to those people. Apart from the tremendous inconvenience to these people, it also encourages a feeling of discrimination. These people are in the country and they forsake certain comforts which are readily available to city dwellers. When they have suddenly thrust upon them a diminution in a public service available to them, they feel that the contribution they are making in the country areas is not. being fully appreciated. Indeed one could quite justifiably query why it is that a Liberal-Country Party Government should be responsible for a policy which is gradually reducing the comforts and the services provided by the various public authorities for country people.
In this instance country residents are being deprived of the comfort that arises from a regular mail service. The mail service that I want to mention tonight is mail service 240, which serves the Wivenhoe, Northbrook and Dundas areas. This service has been cut from a 6-day a week service to a 3-day a week service. As the Shire Clerk for Esk has pointed out to me, the reduction in the service means that the district will now have only the same number of mail services as was supplied by pack horse 50 years ago. This is the sort of progress that the LiberalCountry Party is making in rural areas. Here in 1968, not the day of the motor car, not the age of the jet but the era of the space craft, we have a regression in the postal service from what was a reasonable service to the equivalent of a service that was provided 50 years ago by pack horse. Surely this is not the appreciation that the Country Party has of the problems of country people. Yet the Country Party stands mutely by and allows this to happen.
As I raise this query tonight I look directly to my colleagues in this House, the members of the Country Party, and 1 ask for their wholehearted support in pressing my criticism of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) for allowing this service for the country people in the Wivenhoe, Northbrook and Dundas areaes of the Esk district to be reduced from 6 days to 3 days a week.
This is not an isolated area of the wild west which the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) may represent. It is only about 80 miles at the most, by a circuituous route, from Brisbane. It is served by fairly good roads. One of the residents in this area is a councillor on the Esk Shire Council. Those among us who have served on shire councils can readily appreciate the problems that are thrown up for these men. I refer to problems such as the late delivery of urgent correspondence from the council or papers which have to be signed and read before approaching council meetings. On top of that there is communication with the people themselves. Not least of all is the daily newspaper, which comes on only three days a week instead of six. Surely people in a country district are just as entitled to the daily news as is someone who lives in Queen Street in Brisbane. We do not want a Canberra complex in the administration of this important public instrumentality, the Postal Department. The people in country areas deserve consideration. I repeat my plea to members of the Country Party to give me at least some verbal support, in the House tonight instead of sitting mute. If they do not, their presence in this place as representatives of the Country Party is a masquerade.
The other service 1 want to refer to is mail service 615 from Bryden, which also is in the Esk Shire. Again, a shire councillor from the Esk Shire lives on the route of this service. This service has been reduced from 5 days to 3 days a week. The observations I have made about the inconvenience which will arise because of the reduction in the other service apply to this service too. If the Postal Department is in financial trouble andhas to prune its expenditure somewhere, surely it does not have to do so at the expense of residents in rural areas. I repeat that these people have enough discomforts already. They are working hard to make a valuable contribution to our nation. We hear ad nauseam in this House, especially from members of the Country Party, about the great value indeed it is a great valueof the production of rural industries in the total economic wealth of this country. Little things such as decent mail services are valuable to country people. It is quite reprehensible for the Postal Department to try to save costs at the expense of rural residents.
Before I conclude I again ask Country Party members not to continue to sit mute as they have throughout this plea for some support but to indicate that they are as critical as I am of the way in which the PostmasterGeneral, a Liberal Party member, is treating country people. The Country Party is here ostensibly to look after the interests of rural people. Surely to goodness this is one occasion on which we can forget party politics and can adopt a non-partisan approach in the interests of rural people.
– It is with a degree of disillusionment that I recall 20th April 1967, when I first raised the issue of hidden listening devices and the concept of bugging. On that occasion I asked the AttorneyGeneral a question. In part, it was as follows:
In view of the advances being made in the development of these devices, will the Attorney General consider safeguarding the basic freedom of citizens by discussing with his colleagues in the States the introduction of uniform legislation to ban the use of such devices for gathering divorce evidence and in all other fields . . . ?
In answer to my question the Attorney General said:
The use of listening devices in private homes to gather evidence for divorce proceedings is a matter of general concern. I would be prepared to consider placing an item to deal with this subject on the agenda for the next meeting of the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral.
On 19th September 1967I again raised this matter in the Parliament and asked the AttorneyGeneral whether anything had yet been done. I shall read in full the Minister’s reply on that day. He said:
I did place this topic on the agenda for the last meeting of AttorneysGeneral, and it was discussed. Concern was expressed by all Attorneys at the possibility of invasion of the privacy of the home. Difficulty was found in determining the best way to deal with this, whether to prohibit the use of such devices in the home or whether, by some means, to control them at the point of manufacture or trade distribution. It was decided to refer the matter to the officers in the departments of the various Attorneys. They are to report back to the next meeting of AttorneysGeneral. This has not yet been held, but I would hope to receive a report to be considered at the next meeting.
So far so good. As I think the Minister felt, so too I felt completely justified in believing that we would see action in the not too distant future which would ensure the preservation of one of those freedoms that Australians have fought and died for over the years, the freedom to live in a country where an individual’s rights are respected.
I again raised the matter on 30th May 1968 when I asked: did the State AttorneysGeneral accept the aforementioned devices as a danger to our basic freedom which should be protected by the strongest possible legislation?
Mr Speaker, may I incorporate the answer in Hansard?
– It is a question of whether the House grants permission. As the honourable member knows, it is usual to show such material either to the Chair or to the Minister at the table and to obtain permission from the Opposition before seeking leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
– MayI have permission to do so, Mr Speaker?
– 1 am sure that the Opposition will agree. This is a reprint of an answer in Hansard and there would be no difficulty in having it incorporated.
– I will accept the recommendation that it be incorporated in Hansard subject to the usual conditions.
– Then 1 incorporate the following answer by the Minister:
Following the interest shown by the honourable member for Griffiths in this matter, 1 had it placed on the agenda of the Standing Committee of the ‘ Attorneys-General. The matter was discussed and a committee of State and Commonwealth officers was appointed to give us a report on the matter. The report was presented in February at the last meeting of the Standing Committee. The general effect of the report was that there were certain areas which it was not advisable to cover. That is to say, it was regarded as impracticable to adopt a licensing system for manufacture or trade, lt was thought inappropriate to make evidence procured by these eavesdropping devices inadmissible. There were difficulties in preventing use in public places and so on.
The upshot was there was general agreement that we explore further the possibility of dealing with the situation as it applied to private dwelling places. This matter was referred back to the committee of officers for a further report to be prepared for us. 1 anticipate that we will get a report at our next meering, when we will consider the matter further. As to the attitude of the other Attorneys-General, I do not think I should discuss this in detail. The meetings are confidential. 1 would say, however, that some doubts were expressed about the extent of the use of these devices. One of the matters on which the officers were required to give us further advice was the extent of the problem. All I would add to my answer is that when 1. attended the International Conference on Human Rights, held in Teheran, France did bring forward a resolution raising this problem. In the result, there was general agreement that it was necessary to take some action to protect the privacy of individuals against the use of electronic devices or eavesdropping. The plenary session passed the resolution which, amongst other things, included recommendations relating to this matter.
– The honourable member has incorporated the answer, but .1 want to hear it. I suggest he read it.
– I will read the last few lines for the benefit of the honourable member. The Minister said: .
All I would add to my answer is that when I attended the International Conference on Human Rights, held in Teheran, France did bring forward a resolution raising this problem. In the result, there was general agreement that it was necessary to take some action to protect the privacy of individuals against the use of electronic devices for eavesdropping. The plenary session passed the resolution which, amongst other things, included recommendations relating to this matter.
– Who said this?
– That was at the international Conference on Human Rights. This goes to show that it is not only an obsession on my part. It has become a matter of international concern. People are worried about the steps forward that have been made in the production of these devices which are so easily procured these days.
On 27th August 1968 in another question to the Attorney-General 1, made the statement in good faith which I now sincerely regret. I actually commended the Victorian Government for showing a lead in its introduction of what I believed to be anti-bugging legislation. How wrong I was. 1 did not know that the Victorian Government was going to make it legal and easy for State police to indulge in a practice which, personally speaking, I believe should be restricted to use for the preservation of national security. A gallup poll taken some months ago revealed that approximately 70% of the public agreed that telephone tapping was acceptable when used in crime detection. But T am certain that when the poll was taken people were not informed that authorisation to do this was to lie with the police themselves. 1. am totally opposed to the Victorian Government’s intentions in this matter. We have seen the child born in this House on 20th April 1967 during question time grow into an ugly youth. On the verge of entering manhood it appears as if its only contribution to life will be the creation of fear and the destruction of those freedoms which we cherish so dearly.
I feel pity for those who have produced this Victorian monstrosity. I do not apologise to anyone for interfering in what is basically a State matter. I hope that every other State will reject any proposal to copy the Victorian legislation. 1 conclude my remarks with a plea that if the tapping of telephone conversations in order to catch criminals is to be authorised, the authority to do this be restricted to as few persons as possible even if this results in inconvenience to the police and at times means that evidence which could be used in a. prosecution is lost. I believe that my past performances
In this House in raising this subject and the number of times that I have referred to it give me some authority to claim sincerity about this matter.
– Six weeks ago tomorrow I placed on the notice paper a question to the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities, asking him to approach the Queensland Government with a proposal to declare as a national park certain caves in the Mount Etna region - the cemeteries of former coral reefs - which are now producing beautiful limestone formations and which are the home of a unique local species of bat which consumes tons of moths and other pests each night in summer. I asked the Minister to make it clear to limestone mining interests in Queensland and New South Wales that this country is not bent on extracting the full market value in our lifetime from every natural formation which has taken millions of years to build. The question contained other suggestions regarding the Barrier Reef and the establishment of a tropical marine resources authority, but I will not go into them tonight. I. appeal for immediate action with respect to Mount Etna. I have received from the Brisbane Speleological Society a telegram which reads in part:
Blasting to commence bat cliff Mount Etna.
If there were a man made volcanic eruption in the tradition of the original Mount Etna no doubt a Minister would be galvanised into action. Ere now he would have picked up his telephone, contacted Brisbane, and asked the State authorities to take out an injunction to prevent the wanton destruction of these eaves. But the caves are populated only by bats. These are unglamorous animals, not as cuddly as a kitten or some other nocturnal creature, not as intelligent as a porpoise and carrying far fewer votes in our electoral system than a sheep or a Santa Gertrudis beast. So it seems that they are expendable. A plea for a pack of bats is regarded as a pretty batty idea. No creature should have to be as helpless as a koala or as human as a chimpanzee to be entitled to its unique habitat and existence on this still roomy planet. It should not have to prove its value to man and beast by an inventory of the insects it ingests.
Let me point to an example of the practical value of bats. A German surgeon has written a treatise on the cardiac sphincter. This is a ring of muscle which closes the junction of the gullet with the stomach. Without this stopcock structure, our stomach would empty itself like an unstoppered water bottle every time we bent to tie our shoe laces. This would not be good for us or our shoes. In some people this muscle is defective or its surroundings are defective. This condition may manifest itself in mature years or it may follow injury. The result is regurgitation of acid stomach contents into the lower part of the gullet. Various kinds of indigestion and sometimes serious nervous complications due to fear of heart trouble are the common result. The distinguishing features of this socalled nervous dyspepsia are its relationship to bending forward with compression of the stomach or lying flat, both of which produce regurgitation. One obvious way to study new methods of treating this common condition - hiatus hernia - commonly misdiagnosed even today as nervous dyspepsia, is to study nature’s method of controlling regurgitation. What better animal is there to demonstrate this than a mammal which habitually sleeps upside down - a bat? A treatise on the cardiac sphincter of the bat is included in the German surgeon’s work.
I should not have to appeal to the selfish interests of dyspeptics and the elected representatives of dyspeptics to put restraint on this legalised mass vandalism by lime burners. I am informed that they have hundreds of tons of good, solid limestone mountain to carve up without going into the unpredictable honeycomb of caves and the bat cleft. What is more, until a few years ago no-one but speleologists saw the least value in the Mount Etna complex and only Olsen’s Caves were open to tourists. Since Cammoo Caves in the Mount Etna region have been partly developed for the convenience of tourists they have been run at a profit with four inspections a day every day of the week and in turn have boosted interest in Olsen’s Caves. It is certain that the tourist boom in Queensland, which is just beginning, will increase the demand for opening up more tourist caves. How can the return of a few cents a ton for limestone justify destroying irreplaceable and potentially profitable natural tourist attractions? It can be justified only if immediate profits, rich backers and lobbyists are of far more concern to the Government than saving some of our national heritage for posterity.
I believe, from submissions I have seen from the mining firm and from the speleologists, that the miners are being high handed, contemptuous and specious in their arguments - no doubt secure in the knowledge that they are on the unwritten membership of that select club of faceless, financial fuehrers who keep the Queensland Liberal Party and its State Treasurer in office. If this Government does not act tomorrow and cut the red tape, the old school tie or the gentlemanly protocol which is paralysing it in relation to this matter it may be a million years too late, for that may be the time it took to form these caves and that may be how long it will take to replace them. The Government must decide to act in the capacity entrusted to it in this honourable House - and that is to safeguard the resources and highest values of this matchless land. Honourable gentlemen daily bow their heads while you, Mr Speaker, intone a prayer that we will aci in the best interests of the people of Australia and will not be led into temptation or evil. The alternative is that they will be branding themselves as Philistines. Philistines are those who defame the ungodly as being subject to sloth, lust, greed, gluttony, dissipation, envy, arrogance, jealousy, anger, usury, profiteering and smart dealings - all the sins practised by their own sanctimonious colleagues in private. I ask for action. Words have become too late.
Earlier this evening the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) appealed to membe; s of the Australian Country Party for assistance to help provide better postal services in rural areas. I say to the honourable member, without fear of contradiction, that - and most people in this House realise this - the Country Party is very vocal when it comes to problems associated with the Postal Department. The honourable member need not fear that if he has a just case my Party will support him.
Earlier today the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) indicated that he intended to introduce a Bill to deal with wheat stabilisation. I wish to raise another matter this evening concerning wheat. I refer to the first advance on the coming wheat harvest. The Minister has indicated that he will make an announcement on this matter after the Government has calculated the total expected harvest. I have no objection to this course whatsoever as I believe it is the normal procedure. But over the years the first advance payment on wheat has always been $1.10 a bushel or its equivalent, except for a few years ago when what was called a split price - 90c on delivery followed by a further 20c 2 or 3 months later - was paid.
The argument is being advanced by some people that because of the huge harvest expected this year the Government should not encourage more wheat to be grown by paying such a high advance payment. 1 do not agree with this argument. There are many thousands of growers throughout South Australia, Victoria and certain parts of New South Wales who have had little or no harvest for 2 years, lt is natural that for this reason their debts and bills are accruing rather rapidly. Many business houses in country areas are carrying these people. In many instances the amount involved is many thousands of dollars. This cannot go on indefinitely. The Commonwealth has ceased its contribution to Victoria for drought relief as it applies to the employment position. Unemployment in Victoria - particularly in western Victoria - is still extremely high. I believe that it will continue until there is a ready flow of money into these areas. The wheat cheque will help in this respect providing the first advance is a reasonable one.
It is true that the first advance will mean a long delay before the second and any subsequent payments are made. This is only natural. But the money is needed now, not in 2 or 3 years time, lt is also true that it may be quite a time - and this could run into years - before this year’s total wheat harvest is sold. But above all it should be remembered, as I said in my opening remarks, that although some growers have had little or no harvest for almost 2 years, their expenses are going on just the same. It is therefore natural that they require an early advance and a reasonable percentage of. the total payment they would normally expect for their wheat. It has never been more important than it is today to have the recognised advance of SI .10 retained. This is terribly important.
I have received a number of requests from branches of my own Party and industrial concerns also, telegrams, letters and copies of resolutions to support the retention of the SI. 10 advance and urging the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) to make sure it is retained. I mention this because, after all, it is for the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to decide this issue. If the growers do not receive their $1.10 first advance - and I might add that this advance would be less freight, which would average in the vicinity of 20c - there is going to be little money available to them after they pay their debts. It should also be appreciated that the first advance is paid out of funds secured from the Reserve Bank of Australia. I point out that this is not a grant or a gift but a loan which is made under normal circumstances and, naturally enough, the normal rate of interest applies. Any suggestion of a reduction in the advance following the worst drought on record is, to my mind, completely unreasonable. It would certainly be unacceptable to the growers in my area. I do not wish to raise at this stage the question whether too much wheat is being grown, lt is sufficient to say that a large first advance would encourage increased production. But that is not the matter I am raising now. In considering methods of reducing production avenues should be examined other than reducing the first advance payment for this season. What happens in a normal season is a different story. Money is so short at present that it would be unthinkable to make a first advance payment of less than $1.10.
Much has been said about restricting the production of wheatgrowing acreages. If acreages are to be restricted, it should be done on the basis of the areas used to grow wheat over a period of years, and not on the basis of the area used for wheat growing this year, last year or even in recent years. The production of wheat has been greatly increased not by recognised wheatgrowers, but because of the entry into the field of people in what we classify as fringe areas who have left the production of other primary products such as wool to move into wheat growing as it provides a quick cash crop. These people made no contribution in the early days of wheat stabilisation. 1 am referring to the period ranging from about 20 years ago to about 10 years ago. In that time the recognised growers contributed large amounts to Australian consumers of flour and other products of wheat. 1 appeal to the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and naturally enough, to the Minister for Primary Industry, to do all in their power to ensure that the amount of the first advance does not fall below $1.10. it is most important that the wheat growers get an early return. Otherwise many business houses will not be able to carry on normally. The honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver) said this afternoonn that already effects are being felt in the tractor industry. Other industries are also being affected. If the amount of the first advance payment falls below $1.10 the situation will be aggravated. So I urge the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Primary Industry to do all they possibly can to see that the first advance is no less than $1.10.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.2.19 a.m. (Thursday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated: .
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. No joint Commonwealth-State investigation has been carried out to determine the practicability and advisability of damming the Gascoyne River in Western Australia. However, there have been discussions with the State Authorities on this question, and the Northern- Division of my Department is considering a study of the feasibility of irrigated agriculture based on a water supply in the Gascoyne River. In addition, the State has foreshadowed its intention to submit a detailed proposal on the Gascoyne River, at some future time, for consideration by the Common? wealth under the National Water Resources Development Programme. There has been no discussion as yet as to the form of report or whether it would be published. 3, No.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Why is the Government refusing to proceed with the Fisheries BDI which . was adjourned on 20th March 19687
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It was found unnecessary to proceed with legislation. The changes necessary, which were essentially to change references to the Minister of
State for Territories in the Fisheries Act 1952- 1967 to references to the Minister of State for External Territories, were able to be done administratively under the Acts Interpretation Act 1901- 1966.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice:
– The following answers are now supplied:
Current information about interest rates and maximum loans for building societies is published in ‘Housing Finance Lending Terms and Conditions’ by the Department of Housing. Information for the last 20 years is not available.
The amounts of monthly repayments for typical terms vary widely as between different institutions, depending upon whether the loan is on a credit fancier, mortgage loan or overdraft basis, the rate of interest and the basis upon which interest is calculated. The range of institutional practices is so wide that it is not practicable to give meaningful figures for this part of the question. However, the tables given in the answer to parts 1. and 2. of the question in respect of the Commonwealth Savings Bank show the monthly repayments for credit fancier loans for various typical terms.
Civil Aviation (Question No. 776)
asked the Minister for
Civil Aviation, upon notice:
What sums have been spent each year since 30th June 1965 by (a) the Commonwealth Government, (b) State governments, and (c) local governments on:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It is not practicable to provide answers to these questions strictly along the lines requested but the following comprehensive information should, 1 think, suffice:
Expenditure by the Commonwealth Government on all Commonwealth airports since 1965-66 is as follows:
Expenditure under the aerodrome local ownership plan by State governments and local government bodies has been as follows:
I understand that the Queensland and Tasmanian governments contribute towards the local authorities’ share of cost of some developmental works in those Slates but I am unable to indicate the extent of that assistance.
Expenditure by the Commonwealth under the local ownership plan (additional to that shown under (a) above) has been:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
During the same period the following were placed in employment:
Males 15.4 weeks
Females . . 17.0 weeks
In some instances preliminary vocational or pre.vocational training is undertaken during the same period.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following advice in regard to the honourable member’s question:
The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the accompanying tables showing total exports to eastern European countries in each of the last 5 years together with more detailed information on exports to these countries for 1965-56, 1966-67 and 1967-68. Comparable statistics on a commodity division basis are not available for 1963-64 and 1964-65.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Imprisonment without Trial by Jury (Question No. 571)
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Under what Acts, other than the National Service Act 1968, can a person be sentenced to imprisonment for more than 12 months without having the option of trial by jury?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The only provisions in the Commonwealth legislation of whichI am aware are sections 231 and 232a of the Customs Act.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19681009_reps_26_hor60/>.