26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at J 0.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Last night during the adjournment debate the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) moved that a matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges. 1 informed the House that I would like time to consider whether a prima facie case had been made out. I have looked carefully at the report of the speeches made during the debate and it is clear that this matter does not fall easily into any accepted pattern. However, it is evident that strong feelings have been aroused and it may be the wish of honourable members to debate the motion. Ti this is so, 1 will allow the debate to proceed.
The question now is, ‘that the motion moved by the right honourable member for Melbourne be agreed to’.
– 1 heard last night the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) making statements in this House concerning myself, and 1 was very glad indeed to hear it. I think that for some considerable time I have myself been the subject of a scurrilous whispering campaign of an intensity which has probably not been directed at anybody else, and I think it is pleasant - though I do not think it was meant to be pleasant - that this should have been on this occasion brought out into the open. J think he quoted from a man called Browne and used that as his authority, the man called Browne having written something called ‘Things I Hear’ which have properly been described as ‘Things I Smear’, an individual who has previously been convicted by this House of seeking to blackmail and bring pressure to bear on a member of Parliament who was at the time in the Opposition. Now, all I propose to say about the matters raised is this: As far as I am concerned, Mr Speaker, for myself, I am perfectly satisfied with my own conduct and what people have got to decide here and outside is whether they are prepared to take the writings of Mr Frank Browne, backed up as they are by the writ ings of a Mr Francis James, that well-known apologist for North Vietnam, or whether they are not.
– Who is smearing now?
– Not me, Dr Cairns, because behind this campaign has been Mr Francis James and another individual who sought to import goods from North Vietnam but was prevented by us, and Mr Frank Browne. J understand, Mr Speaker, in relation to the particular matter raised by the honourable member for Hunter, and one does not like bringing into this House the names of individuals, that the individual to whom the honourable member for Hunter particularly referred has been interviewed since the honourable member for Hunter raised it - the daughter of Judy Garland - and has stated that she knows nothing whatsoever about the allegations broadcast to Australia by the honourable member for Hunter. She has stated that she has never had an interview nor written anything for any newspaper, and has described the story presented to this House by the honourable member for Hunter as a pack of lies.
I do not think that I see any advantage, Mr Speaker, in pursuing this further. What motives the honourable member for Hunter may have had I do not know; only he knows that. Whether the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) supports this kind of approach no doubt the Leader of the Opposition will let us know. But for me, Sir, I believe this: I believe that the kind of approach made by the honourable member for Hunter can do nothing but good to me, nothing but harm to him because I have a belief in the Australian people, and part of that belief is that this kind of politics does not go down and will not go down well with them. For myself, Sir, despite anything that the honourable member for Hunter may say - and I thank him for bringing this out into the open - whatever he may say, I believe that I will remain here because I believe my Party will keep me here, and I believe that I will remain here as Prime Minister because I believe the people of Australia will keep me here. And that, Sir, is all I want to say.
– I support the motion - the motion, I gather, being that the matter raised by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) should be referred to the Committee of Privileges. I rise to support that motion. This matter was raised on the adjournment last night. Neither the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) nor I was present. We are not usually present on the adjournment because of the many calls on our time. Now the matter has been publicised, because after it was raised by one of the members of the Opposition, the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), two members of the Government Parties spoke and challenged a front bench member of my Party to speak on the subject, to repudiate it or support it. Thereafter the front bench member, who was here and who had earlier spoken, sought leave to speak again, but on a division that right was denied. Then the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) also spoke on this matter. Accordingly, this matter has been very well publicised. All the mass media know the allegation. If the allegation is true then the Prime Minister is not fit to hold his office. If the allegation is not true it should not only be denied by him, and he has scarcely done that, but it should be dealt with as the House last dealt with a matter raised by Mr Frank Browne. The Prime Minister asked me to state my attitude on this. I would certainly not raise in the House anything on the basis of what Mr Browne has said, but it has been raised. It is the Prime Minister’s followers, including his Ministers, who have publicised it. If the honourable member for Hunter had been the only speaker on this subject this would not have been on all the radio stations this morning and in the later editions of the papers. Accordingly, the matter cannot be avoided.
I believe that, like most members of the House, I am under the disability of not having heard what was said last night. The division showed that only two-thirds of the members of the House were available to vote. We all know that there would have been no more than one-third of the members in the House to have heard what was said. Hansard is not yet available to honourable members. If we are to have a meaningful debate on this matter it should be later in the day when Hansard is available.
Furthermore, I am under the disability which I apprehend most honourable members are under of not having had the opportunity to check the law on privileges in this matter. I would have thought that prima facie there was not, from what 1 have heard - and from the report in the Canberra Times’ which is the only paper where I have been able to read about this matter - a case reflecting on the Prime Minister’s conduct as a member of the Parliament. I do not approve of bringing up under privilege assaults on the character of named individuals, even if they are members of the House. I do not approve of the Prime Minister having made a completely gratuitous reference to Mr Francis James.
I do not read Mr Browne’s weekly publication. This morning I have obtained photostats from the Library of the relevant issues. I have not yet had time to read through them. I do read the weekly publication to which Mr Francis James contributes. I do not remember his having made any reference to the Prime Minister on any of the matters which apparently were raised by the honourable member for Hunter last night. I believe that the reference to Mr James was not only gratuitous but obnoxious and it helps to destroy the Prime Minister’s case and his reputation in these matters. What has Mr Francis James said about the matter which was raised by the honourable member for Hunter on the authority of Mr Frank Browne last night? As far as I remember he has said nothing. Who is traducing people under privilege?
From my recollection of matters of privilege, the most celebrated one recently has been in the House of Commons. There a Minister felt he had to resign, as I understand it. for two reasons. One was that he told a falsehood to the House. The other reason was that if he had admitted the truth everybody would have held him unsuitable to be a Minister because vulnerable to blackmail. In this case there is no suggestion by Mr Browne, as I gather, there is no suggestion by the honourable member for Hunter, and there has been no suggestion by Mr Francis James that there was any conduct by the Prime Minister comparable to that of Mr Profumo. There has been no such suggestion. There is the suggestion, however, that the American Central Intelligence Agency bought up the rights to a story by Miss Minelli, and the only inference can be that this could be used to blackmail the Prime Minister of Australia. If this is true, it would obviously affect not only the Prime Minister and the Government, but this country. If it is not true, it ought to be repudiated immediately and completely. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to bluster in these ways. He has not given a complete or detailed denial to the things which apparently Mr Browne has said. I would have expected a man in his position to have done it. But t think it was contemptible on his part te bring Mr James into it. I would not endorse what Mr Browne said, but has there been an adequate denial on this case?
Fourteen years ago the House showed quite clearly how quickly and fully it believed that such matters should be treated. There is legitimate disquiet as to the procedure in dealing with Mr Browne at the bar of the House and the subsequent imprisonment. There is legitimate disquiet about that, but there was no doubt in the minds of any honourable members at that time that Mr Browne had said something false and intimidatory about a member of the Parliament. It was a private member but the House unanimously sent that matter to the Committee of Privileges. It unanimously adopted the Committee’s report. There were divisions as to how Mr Browne should subsequently be punished. There was no doubt as to the matter going to the Committee of Privileges and, as a result ot that Committee’s inquiry, nobody supported the action of Mr Browne and nobody thought any the worse whatever of the honourable member who had raised it.
In this case the matter has been suggested for reference to the Committee of Privileges by one of the senior members of this House - by a man who has held office in government and in Parliament for a quarter of a century, a man who on the suggestion of the Government has been made a member of the Privy Council. This was not made lightly. It has not been made irresponsibly. The Committee of Privileges is an appropriate body to investigate and, I would expect, repudiate the allegations by Mr Browne. But it is not good enough to leave it just as it is.
For 14 years the Parliament has left the question of privilege in limbo. After the last Browne case Mr Menzies, as he then was, promised that the Government would review privilege procedures in this Parliament. In recent years Mr Browne’s subscription newsletter has been joined by a very great number of other newsletters and subscription journals and there have been many members who have been mentioned in them. Probably the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) more than anyone else, has been the subject of such latter day journals, but I have come in for a very great deal of it myself from some of these latter day journals. It may well be that because the Parliament for 14 years has stalled on the question of our privilege procedures not only Mr Browne but other authors, whose publications we usually read, believe they can say what they like about the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, a great number of other Ministers and office bearers and private members in this place. We ail know this. Are we going to deal wilh matters of privilege? In the meantime, this matter has been raised by a member on my side. It has been publicised much more by two members and two Ministers on the Prime Minister’s side. How arc we to deal with it? Do we just let it lie or do we deal with it in the way we dealt with it by referring it to the Committee 14 years ago in the case of the same author?
I do noi endorse what Mr Browne has said. I would not have raised it. It has been raised; it has been publicised. It is not just the Prime Minister’s reputation or the Government’s but the country’s. There is the question, quite apart from any truth in the allegations about the Prime Minister’s life, of whether it were true that any payment was made for any such documents. This is not intrinsically impossible or improbable. In fact, security services in Australia and overseas, including the CIA, as we know, do make such payments. The document may be a complete fabrication, but if such a document may have been bought, that question ought to be investigated by the Committee of Privileges. Accordingly, Mr Speaker, I believe that this matter should go to the Committee.
The Government is responsible for the fact that the laws of parliamentary privilege concerning this Parliament are in no better shape now than they were 14 years ago. Three successive Prime Ministers have just allowed the matter to remain in abeyance, and the same author has done it again. Similar people have been encouraged to repeat this process. Despite all the blustering, despite the intrusion of another name by the Prime Minister, the proper way for him to safeguard his reputation, that of his Government, that of this country and that of agencies which operate in this country is to refer the articles to the Committee of Privileges, I therefore support the suggestion made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and, later, in the motion we are now discussing by the right honourable member for Melbourne.
– I wouldlike to make a personal explanation because I believe the Leader of the Opposition has misrepresented me.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is granted.
– In the course of his speech the Leader of the Opposition said that the matter raised by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), which as I understand it concerned a Miss Minelli, had not been denied by me. Sir, I did deny it. Not only did I deny it, but I am informed that Miss Minelli herself has said the whole thing is a pack of lies.
– That is what you said.
– That is right, that is what she said. I have denied it. Therefore I have been misrepresented and therefore I am making this personal explanation.
– The matter before the House at the moment is, on the face of it, an issue touching the private conduct of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). The Prime Minister himself has assured us that his conduct has at all times been proper and I for one unhesitatingly accept this. I have not the slightest doubt at all that those who sit behind the Prime Minister in this place and those who support him in another place accept it and have never been in any doubt about it. I have no doubt whatever that the Australian people, who have been happy to have this distinguished man as their Prime Minister, accept the veracity of what he says.
But, with respect to the Prime Minister, the issue before the House at the moment is really a deeper one than the matter of his own personal reputation. We are invited by the motion that is before the House, and to which the Leader of the Opposition has spoken, really to decide whether we are going to set a new pattern for the conduct of the House. The matter arises from some writing for sale by a Mr Browne. I think that all of us in the House know the character of Mr Browne. His sheet would not be saleable if it were not a scandal sheet. Noone who reads it would deny that it is a scandal sheet, scandal written for sale. Of course, there are others who sell sheets in the same manner for the same purpose. What we have to decide really is whether this House is going to concentrate its attentions upon the great affairs of the nation or really turn and be provoked by any scandal writer into having its attention distracted from the affairs of the nation to the latest scandal writing.
The motion is that the matter should be referred to the Privileges Committee. Mr Speaker, there is not one of us who does not know that, if this particular writing of Mr Browne were sufficient grounds for this House to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee, the Privileges Committee would need to be in permanent session, for there is not a week goes by in which Mr Browne, Mr Newton and others raise matters which, if this is a matter appropriate to refer to the Privileges Committee, the Privileges Committee should be called to consider scandal writing every week. If the Opposition really thinks that this is a proper function of the House, then I have the poorest view of the assessment of the Opposition of its responsibilities in respect of the great affairs of the Australian nation.
What was said by the honourable member for Hunter last night, what was written by Mr Browne, is news to nobody. It has been a whispering campaign for many months past. There is probably none of us who has not been conscious of this whispering campaign. The Prime Minister told me when he was on the eve of going to the Prime Ministers Conference in London that he had advice which he believed to be true, and which I had grounds to believe was true, that when he arrived in London this story was going to be published in London. Now, he leaves in a week’s time to go to discuss the vital interests of the Australian nation with the President of the United States of America. Is it a coincidence that it is at that moment that this is brought out? Is it a coincidence that the Opposition wishes the Prime Minister of Australia to go to have his discussions with the President of the United States on our vital affairs under the cloud that his conduct is being examined by the Privileges Committee of the Parliament? This is the most intolerable suggestion that 1 have ever heard, and it is the most discreditable suggestion to come from a section of the Australian Parliament. We will never tolerate this. The Prime Minister has our confidence and our respect, and this is not a matter that needs debate. I move:
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges (MrCalwell’s motion).
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority .. ..41
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Is the Treasurer aware that statistics relating to Aboriginals have in the past been incomplete and unsatisfactory? Now that the Constitution has been amended to extend Commonwealth powers, will he arrange for the Bureau of Census and Statistics to collect comprehensive statistics on all aspects of Aboriginal health, education, welfare and employment in order that proper priorities may be determined by this Government and the State governments?
– No-one so far has referred to me the inadequacy of the statistics relating to Aboriginals, and the honourable gentleman himself has not referred to any area where there are real deficiencies and where, if those deficiencies can be made good, this can add to the type of action that the Government is taking. What I will do, particularly if he will give me some additional details that he obviously has in his possession, is to refer the matter immediately to the Treasury and the Commonwealth Statistician and ask him if he can get the kind of additional statistics that are required for the purposes the honourable gentleman mentions.
– Has the Prime Minister seen reports that on the night of Monday, 24th February, two South Vietnamese youths were taken from their bornes and summarily executed for failing to serve with the Vietcong? Is the Prime Minister aware that the honourable member for Wills is shortly to introduce members of the ‘Save Our Sons’ movement to this House? Will the Prime Minister remind objectors to national service that Australia’s enemies use very different recruiting methods from our own? Finally, will he recommend that conscientious objectors extend the Christian principle of neighbourliness to saving our neighbours’ sons, too?
– I did see the report referred to concerning the two South Vietnamese civilians who, because they would not willingly fight for the Vietcong, were taken from their homes by the Vietcong and murdered. This, of course, is neither surprising nor is it a unique occurrence. Between 1st January and 8th March this year approximately 1,300 such men were taken and murdered by the Vietcong because they would not join the Vietcong forces. During that same period, which is not long - 1st January to 8th March - over 2,000 Vietnamese were abducted, kidnapped, and no doubt used as hostages so that their families who remained behind would be under Vietcong influence because of the threat that the hostages would be murdered unless their families did what the Vietcong wished.
In view of this record of murder, kidnapping and abduction, although I do not know what the intentions of the honourable member for Wills may be I would say that if he does intend to introduce members of a Save Our Sons committee, or whatever it is, he might point out to them, as I point out to the Australian people, that we are properly in South Vietnam to protect the right of the South Vietnamese people to live with some freedom, with some self determination. He could also point out that it is an odd commentary on those who say that the South Vietnamese people themselves are in favour of the Vietcong, that more than 1,000 South Vietnamese should have been murdered for not fighting with the Vietcong this year alone, and that more than 2,000 should have been abducted and kidnapped. Were there needed any additional reasons than those which have already been stated for the rightness and correctness of our policy in Vietnam to try and protect human rights, such statistics, I suggest, would add to the reasons already given.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. Have some of the overseas airlines so far failed to pay the increases in air navigation charges which came into operation on 1st January? How many companies have paid the charges? How many have not done so? What has the Minister done to reduce the charges or to recover them?
– lt is a fact that air navigation charges were increased for overseas airlines from the beginning of this year, and ali overseas operators who have licences to operate to Australia were informed of the increase. It is also a fact that we had a deputation to Australia, which was publicised, from the International Air Transport Association - commonly referred to as TATA - to discuss this matter with me. We have re-established, as I have already publicly stated, a working party between our own Department of Civil Aviation and the airlines to investigate matters which IATA wished to raise in relation to charges generally. I have pointed out to the IATA delegation that we cannot isolate any individual charge; that we must consider it in relation to all charges. This is the matter which the delegation accepted and which at present is being investigated.
The charges under the new system are due to be paid a little earlier, which is accepted by the international airlines, and I think that all international operators have made payments for their air navigation charges. Although a report has been sent to me. I have not fully investigated the matter at the present time, but to the best of my knowledge, the payments were made at the rate which was applicable in the last half of the last calendar year. We have sent notices to the operators concerned, drawing their attention to the fact that the charges were increased and that the additional amount is due. There is a specified time under the IATA rules and under our Act during which these air navigation charges must be paid. That time has not elapsed. When it has elapsed I will be investigating the matter further to see whether the full charges have been paid at that point of time.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science a question. Professor Philp, who I understand is head of the School of Education at Macquarie University and has just returned from a conference on the aims and objectives of education in Asia, which was jointly sponsored by the Japanese Government and the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, has said that Australia was mean in the level of education assistance it was offering to its Asian neighbours. I ask the Minister: Can he tell the House, to put the record a little bit straight, just what assistance has been given, in view of the statement by Professor Philp?
– I did see the statement referred to by the honourable member for Perth. I believe it gives a completely false picture of what Australia has been and is doing in this particular matter. Quite apart from the special facilities and provisions made for a very large number of overseas students under the Colombo Plan, which is of course under the administration of the Minister for External Affairs, there are also very large numbers of students from overseas studying in Australian institutions in addition to the ones sponsored by governments. For example, there were over 5,300 students in 1967, which is the last recorded year, in universities of one kind or another. This is three times more than there were 10 years ago.
If we gathered all of these overseas students, 80% of whom come from Asian countries close to Australia, in one place we would find that they would fill a university institution about the size of the University of Western Australia. But that is not the whole story. There are about 1,400 or a little more students in technical colleges and over 500 in teachers colleges. There is a total of over 12,500 overseas students in this country.
I believe that when we have in mind the explosive demand for educational facilities in Australia, Australia’s contribution to assist our neighbours in these areas is a significant one. I think it is a mark of the importance that Australians place on these matters that even though there is severe competition and pressure for university places and places in other educational institutions, there has never been - and I am confident that there never will be - one query from Australians about the facilities we are making available to our Asian neighbours in relation to these matters. This policy will continue and I believe it to be a generous one.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question. Is it a fact that charges under the Crimes Act have been launched against thirteen young people in Victoria and Tasmania because they allegedly have encouraged other young people to oppose the Government’s policy on conscription for the Vietnam war? If so, will he order the withdrawal of all such charges on the grounds that the Crimes Act was enacted originally to protect the nation against treason, subversion and foreign invasion and not for the suppression of free speech or legitimate dissent?
– It is not correct to say that there has been any charge laid against a person for endeavouring to encourage someone to oppose the policy of the Government. Therefore, the second question does not arise. But I think I should say that there is a provision in the Crimes Act which makes it an offence to incite or encourage a person to break the law. That is a very different matter. There have been plenty of people encouraging others to oppose the policies of the Government and one would not expect a prosecution on that basis, and no prosecution has been launched. But where an Australian endeavours to persuade somebody else to commit a breach of the law then, of course, he must himself take the consequences under the Crimes Act. This matter is in the hands of the police. It is a matter which they have to police and, in pursuance of their duty, in more than one State they have, where people have incited others to commit a breach of the law, instituted prosecutions against them. I am not able to say whether in this case the prosecutions number thirteen. The figure fourteen is in my mind, but it was one of some time ago, some being in Victoria, some in South Australia and some elsewhere. It is a matter which is in the hands of the police and is part of the normal administration of the law.
– The Prime Minister will recall that in a recent statement he referred to the provision in the current Commonwealth Aid Roads Act that at least 40% of the total Commonwealth aid roads grant must be spent on the construction and maintenance of roads in rural areas other than highways, trunk roads and main roads. Does the right honourable gentleman recall that he said that the 40% provision would not continue but that under the proposed new legislation the allocation of money for such roads would be the same amount as was received in 1968-69 plus an increase of 5% each year, which would be compounded, and that for the 5-year period this would amount to $394.55m?
-Order! The honourable member’s preface to his question is too long and I ask him to direct his question.
– 1 ask: Will the Prime Minister now confirm his statement that it is proposed that this money will be spent on the construction and maintenance of roads in rural areas other than highways, trunk roads and main roads? Is it intended that this will be clearly set out in the new legislation?
– I well recall making the statement that the sums of money set aside for rural roads would be the same as that which was provided for that purpose in 1968 - this financial year - plus an escalation of 5% per year and that that would, in fact, provide some $94m more for such roads than had been provided in the last 5-year period. I think, if the honourable member has read the report of the Bureau of Roads, he will know that what we are doing is setting aside, in effect, three trust funds for three particular purposes - one to deal with urban roads, one to deal with the beginning of a main arterial network, and the other to do with what are described as other rural roads. I would not try to say what a particular road was in a particular State, because there are variations of descriptions, but what the honourable member can be sure of is that the sum of money set aside for urban areas will be spent in urban areas, that the sum of money set aside for the network of arterial roads will be spent for that purpose and, subject to various arrangements which the Minister for Shipping and Transport will make with State governments as to particular categories of roads, the sum of money set aside for the other roads will be spent on other roads. I am not sure what the object of the honourable member’s question is, but only that amount which is set aside and which has a limit on it for these other roads will be spent on these other roads.
– 1 refer the Minister for the Army to Major John Rowe who wrote a novel on the Vietnam war. The honourable gentleman will recall telling me late in the last sessional period that Major Rowe had .submitted his resignation from the Army and that the Military Board had recommended that the resignation be accepted. I ask the Minister: Has Major Rowe left the Army? Further, what procedures apply to members of the Army who write books? Are they required to clear their texts with the Military Board “or with the Minister?
– The answer to the first part of the question is yes, Major Rowe has left the Australian Regular Army and, I might say, in particularly good circumstances. The honourable member has no doubt seen the television interview that Major Rowe gave and in which he was especially complimentary about his period of service and indicated his entire satisfaction with the number of years he had served, with distinction, in the Army. The honourable member asks me, secondly, the conditions under which books can or cannot be published by members of the Australian Army. As a general proposition books dealing with any political matter - indeed, any literary effort, with the exception of a work of fiction - are covered by miltary rules and regulations and such booklets, treatises or publications would require to be cleared or approved by the Military Board and/ or myself. This is very much the same as when a serving officer is sought by any of the media of communication for purposes of public comment, because such matter obviously would require clearance by myself. The honourable member really is getting at the question of Major Rowe’s book. As the honourable member would be well aware, this book is a work of fiction. It has been said by the author to be basically a work of fiction and as such at present is not covered by our rules and regulations.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport undoubtedly will be very conscious of and concerned about the appalling number of deaths and injuries on Australian roads. Is he aware that in many countries, particularly in the United States of America through its Bureau of Public Roads and in the United Kingdom through its Ministry of Transport, a certain proportion of road funds is earmarked for road improvements specifically intended to reduce accidents? Was any part of the big increase to the States in the new Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement set aside for this very important purpose?
– I think every member of this House shares the honourable gentleman’s concern at the high level of accidents on Australian roads. This concern has been displayed in the contribution by the Commonwealth over the years of considerable sums of money, including $350,000 this year, towards road safety. In addition, there is a co-ordinating body on road safety which has as its chairman Sir James Darling and on which there are representatives of each of the State governments and State road authorities. The programme envisaged for the next 5 years, and outlined by the Prime Minister to the Premiers last week, provides that up to 1.5% of the basic grant of $ 1,200m will be set aside for planning and research as approved by the Commonwealth. Whilst this sum is not intended to be directed specifically to road safety it is, of course, with road safety in mind that much of the planning and research that is necessary for the development of a network of Australian roads will be concerned.
In addition, of course, there has been within the Australian Transport Advisory Council a realisation that vehicle design rules should be promulgated and it is expected that shortly a central co-ordinating certificating body, with representation from each of the States and the Commonwealth, will be constituted. It will ensure that throughout Australia there will be a recognition that a particular vehicle or part of a vehicle will be accepted as meeting the requirements of the design rules. It is also intended that there will be the maximum possible co-ordination of design rules with those of countries outside Australia to ensure that the Australian export of motor vehicles, which is growing at a very satisfactory rate, will not be penalised in any way because of design requirements within Australia which would inhibit the access of those vehicles to our export markets. I assure the honourable gentleman that the very wide ranging and very concerning aspects of road safety have been and will continue to be considered by this Government both in the context of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement and in the general vista of the development of Government transport policy.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that about thirty young Australians have been killed in recent operations in Vietnam? Is it not a fact that these operations could not in any way assist in bringing the Vietnam war to a satisfactory conclusion? Why does he allow Australian lives to be wasted in this irresponsible fashion? Is it the price he is required to pay in Australian lives in order to receive a friendly reception from President Nixon? Will he issue instructions for Australian troops to be withdrawn to a nonoperational area until something is sorted out about peace in Vietnam?
– You are the ones who ought to be ashamed. It is murder by proxy.
– I do not have in my mind, but 1 can find out for the honourable member, the casualties to which he refers.
– They are public knowledge.
– That is fine.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills has asked his question and he will refrain from interjecting.
– In regard to the other parts of his question, I believe that he is completely wrong when he says that the operations in which Australian and allied troops are engaged cannot bring the Vietnam war to a successful conclusion. Perhaps he thinks it can only be brought to a successful conclusion from his point of view by the bombardments carried out by the Vietcong on civilians in cities in South Vietnam.
– That is-
-Order! Despite my warning, the honourable member for Wills is interjecting. If he offends again 1 will deal with him.
– Furthermore, it is a thoroughly shameful and despicable thing for him to say that this is the price paid by Australia for me to go to the United States. I would have this to say on this matter: I am astonished that the honourable member for Wills should take the attitude he does. This was was initiated by North Vietnam. It was an aggression on the part of North Vietnam. It is being fought by troops from North Vietnam and it is just as much aggression as was the attack on South Korea by North Korea. It is just as much aggression as was the confrontation and it is just as much aggression as was the Fascist aggression in Europe before. We on this side of the House believe that such aggression must be stopped, because if it is not stopped it spreads. That is why we are there. If the honourable member for Wills thinks that aggression should be submitted to and not sought to be stopped, and that people should be allowed to be overrun, I can understand his question, but on no other ground can I understand it.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Did you hear the honourable member for Wills say: ‘Murderers by proxy’? I object to it.
-I did hear him interject.
– 1 object to that. I ask for a withdrawal.
– 1 did not hear the substance of the interjection of the honourable member for Wills. The general rule is for objection to be taken immediately, when a request is made for a withdrawal.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer, ls it a fact that taxi drivers are required to pay sales tax on their vehicles at the private rate of 25% and not at the commercial rate of 15%? Does the Treasurer believe that there is any validity in the claim of the Secretary of the Victorian Taxi Drivers Association that taxis are virtually commercial vehicles earning an income for their owners? Is the Treasurer prepared to look into this matter to see Whether some adjustment can be made in the coming Budget?
– The honourable gentleman will realise that one of the difficulties of the Commonwealth is to raise sufficient funds to permit the normal services of government, whether State or Commonwealth, to be effectively carried on. I believe that the statement made by the honourable gentleman as to the difference between commercial vehicles and taxis is correct. I will certainly have a look at the problem that he has raised in the course of consideration of the Budget. If we feel in Cabinet discussions that this deserves further consideration or action, he can be assured that it will be taken.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question. In answering a question by my colleague, the honourable member for Stirling, about the large unsealed portion of the Eyre Highway in South Australia which impedes road traffic, both for commerce and tourism, between eastern and western Australia, he stated that the responsibility for the construction and maintenance of roads is constitutionally a responsibility of the State. I ask: Does the honourable gentleman acknowledge that it is just as constitutionally proper for the Commonwealth to build or finance a road between one State and another as it is for the Commonwealth to operate, as it does, an airline and a shipping line between States?
– I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition wishes to enter into a dialectic or a legal argument on the constitutional rights of the States and the Commonwealth in terms of road construction. As he will be aware, the very substantially extended sums of money to be provided in Commonwealth aid to the States will add to their capacity for road construction but the States still remain principally the constructing authority. The additional money will enable them to do the job that they have to do in a better and more extensive way. He will also be aware that the Bureau of Roads assessed that approximately two-thirds of the total sums of money being provided for road construction over the next 5 years will emanate from the State governments and local government authorities. He will therefore be aware that, as a result of the very generous 67% increase in the Commonwealth allocation to be provided to assist the States over that period, each one of the States, including the State of South Australia, will be able to proceed with construction on each of the road projects or road tasks that face it in a much improved fashion in the future.
He will be aware, too, that South Australia in the next 5-year period is to receive a 50% increase in the quantum of money it received in the previous 5 years. In other words, it will receive an allocation of $129m. This includes a supplementary grant of $9m. That $9m, unlike the allocation of the basic grant, is not specified as to the area or the nature of the road on which the State may spend it. This means that the State Government, if it wants to do so, can spend that $9m or any part of it on the construction or reconstruction - and maintenance, if necessary - of the Eyre Highway. I would suspect that as a result of this allocation the South Australian Government will be able to proceed, as will the Western Australian Government for its part of the Eyre Highway, with a greatly enhanced programme. The result will be that each of those States will be able to direct its share of the funds towards achieving what each one of us on this side of the House regards as a very desirable objective, and that is the substantial improvement of the national trunk road system in that part of Australia. I believe that this allocation of funds by the Commonwealth, quite apart from a decision on the constitutional responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States, will give to the States and the local government authorities which have an equal constructive role a greatly enhanced capacity. This will enable each of the authorities in its own area to work towards the end result of having a greatly improved and decent road system in all parts of Australia.
– My question is directed either to the Prime Minister or to the Treasurer. 1 refer to the joint statement made in January proposing alterations to the listing requirements of Australian stock exchanges. As these proposed alterations are designed to enable companies to disfranchise certain minority shareholders, could the present position be clarified? If the suggested alterations have not yet been implemented, is it intended to persist with the policy proposed in the January statement especially as this clearly is contrary to all the trends overseas?
– As to the last part of the honourable gentleman’s question that the request made by the Government to the stock exchange relating to its listing requirements is contrary to the trend overseas, may I point out to him that so far as the London Stock Exchange is concerned the listing requirements there in fact do provide for different voting rights as between different types of shareholders. So far as the United States of America is concerned, it is true that the New York Stock Exchange likes the greatest freedom of action no matter what the circumstances might be. But there are various State laws that in fact permit restriction on voting rights and insist that there shall be restriction on ownership in particular classifications of business activity depending on the place of residence of the shareholder.
What was the background of the action taken by the Government? We found that certain market raids were made on Australian companies - I do not want to mention them - that were contrary to the spirit of takeover laws of this country under sections 184 and 185 of the uniform Companies Act. Those raids were made in a way that would not have been tolerated in the United Kingdom and, consequently, would not have been tolerated in the country where the raids were initiated. What we thought - and I thought that this was desirable - was that the companies themselves should be placed in the position where they would have the opportunity to defend themselves. In other words, we endorsed what has now been said by the Eggleston Committee that an essential feature of any new takeover code was that the name of the bidder should be known, that the company or corporation being taken over should have the opportunity to consider the offer and to be able to defend itself, and that there should be an equality of rights and treatment as between every type of shareholder to receive the same kind of price for the shares that were bid for. I personally can see nothing wrong - I wonder whether members of this House can see anything wrong - in giving a corporation itself the right to defend its shareholders in order to see that they receive equity of treatment, and that they are put in a position where they can defend themselves against companies with vast resources which can come into a market at any moment and engage in first come offers or engage in practices which would not be permitted in their own countries.
There is one other point that deserves to be mentioned to the honourable gentleman. This is a defensive mechanism alone. If the companies feel that an offer is good enough - they have the opportunity to consider it - and that they can protect their shareholders, then under section 36 of the uniform Companies Act, I think it is, they can amend their articles of association and they can agree to the takeover offer being accepted.
As to the other part of the question asked by the honourable gentleman, I should mention to him that the stock exchanges have agreed unanimously that they will amend their listing requirements to permit differential voting rights for overseas and local shareholders. So far as I am concerned, there has been no change in the policy of the stock exchanges or the request of the Commonwealth Government. It is true that up to the moment as far as I am aware no companies have actually amended their articles to alter shareholders’ voting rights since the stock exchanges were requested to change their listing rules. But I repeat - and I repeat this emphatically - that this was a measure designed to protect Australian shareholders and Australian corporations from raids that many of us thought were inequitable and unfair and that would not have been tolerated in the country where the offers originated.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister as Leader of the Government. Is it a fact that twice recently the right honourable gentleman has stated publicly that it was the aim of the Government to abolish poverty within the next 10 years or so? Is he aware that 89,000 persons are registered for work and that 24,000 of them are under 21 years of age and that only 23,000 of those registered are receiving social service benefits? Does the Prime Minister know also that some departmental officers appear to be fostering poverty by their refusal to grant sustenance to many unemployed, especially to married women in the 50-60 age group whose husbands are pensioners and also to single women who refuse to accept live-in, low wage, slave standard employment? As a first step towards the objective he seeks, will the Prime Minister undertake to set up a joint committee to examine all aspects of unemployment, including an examination of whether section 124-
-Order! 1 ask the honourable member to ask his question. His question is far too long.
– . . . of the Social Services Act is being applied as it was intended to be applied when the clause was debated by the Minister for Social Services as shown at page 2743 of Hansard of 22nd May 1047?
-Order! I ask the honourable member to ask his question or resume his seat.
– I have asked the question.
- Mr Speaker, I was not sure whether he had asked his question or resumed his seat by the time he had finished. I think that from what he said I gathered that he was asking me would I set up a committee to investigate all aspects of unemployment. Was that correct?
– That is right - about poverty.
– 1 do not think there are many who would think that a committee should be set up to investigate all aspects of unemployment because if we look at the figures as to the number of persons registered for employment in Australia and the vacancies registered to take people we will find that in this country we have the lowest rate of unemployment in the world. That is going on figures of people registered as unemployed, many of whom of course are seasonal workers.
– He said poverty.
– He said unemployment. 1 am very sorry, but he did.
– And poverty.
– Surely, but the Leader of the Opposition was trying to tell me that he did not say unemployment, and he did. As usual I am not surprised. Therefore, with the record of employment the way it is in this country, it seems to me quite foolish to suggest that there should be a committee set up to investigate unemployment. On the other question he raises - an attack upon poverty - in this House yesterday - -
– And an inquiry into poverty.
– You ask your own questions later. In this House yesterday, there was set forth what steps have been taken towards this end in the last 14 months. It is and will remain an objective of this Government to attack poverty, to seek the needs area and to help it; quite distinct, if I may say so, from the inane contribution made yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition who said he was going to talk about poverty and in fact spoke only about abolishing the means test which would by no circumstances, however good in itself it might be, assist the poverty areas which are really where need lies.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member for Evans claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I have been. In the late edition of the ‘Australian’ circulating in Sydney, there is a prominent headline on the front page: ‘Fifteen Government Members Rebel’. Under that the ‘Australian’ reads: ‘Defection to Labor Opposition*. My photograph is among four photographs and, alongside it, there is this statement:
The vote will be read everywhere as a direct vote against the Prime Minister.
It was referring to a vote taken in this House last night whereby I voted to allow the honourable member for Grayndler to speak for two reasons. I wish to explain to the House those two reasons in two sentences. First of all, I voted to permit the Opposition to accept the challenge.
-Order! The honourable member cannot proceed to debate the matter. He may give his reasons for making a personal explanation.
– I am making a personal explanation. I ask for leave to make a statement of two sentences.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted, but the honourable member may continue to make a personal explanation provided that he does not debate the question.
– I am not debating it. I voted in this way for two reasons, and not as the newspaper put it. I voted to permit the Opposition to accept the direct challenge to repudiate certain unworthy insinuations and, secondly, I voted because I wished also to speak myself to present facts to this House to demonstrate the falsity of the libels of Browne.
– The honourable member voted to gag the matter again today.
-Order! There is more conversation at the table this morning than is usually the case and I do not think it sets a very good example to the rest of the House. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to refrain from this practice.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented. Several newspapers and radio stations today have stated that I, as one of the fifteen Government members who voted with the Opposition last night, did so because I am dissatisfied with the Prime Minister’s leadership and wish to do his reputation harm. The contrary is the case. I voted to allow the honourable member for Grayndler to speak because I knew that the matters raised were not true and I wanted the matters aired so that the Prime Minister’s name could be completely cleared.
-Order! The honourable member is now beginning to debate the question.
– I wish to state as a personal explanation and to state without equivocation that I am proud to serve under the Prime Minister. I am more than happy with his leadership. I believe him to be completely innocent of the charges. This was my sole reason for voting as I did last night.
-Order! The honourable member is making a personal explanation. He may not debate the matter.
– I also have been wilfully misrepresented. My motives for voting with the Opposition last night were exactly the same as those stated by the two previous speakers. At no time has my faith in the Prime Minister been other than complete, and I voted to allow the-
-Order! The honourable member is now debating the issue.
– I am putting my position. I claim to have been misrepresented.
-The honourable member, in making his personal explanation, can give reasons but may not debate the question.
– I think I have made my point. I have been wilfully misrepresented.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Leader of the Opposition has cast a slur upon our actions last night and I would like to reply.
-Order! The honourable member is grossly out of order.
– I would merely like to say that I also have complete faith in the Prime Minister.
-Order! I have already asked the Leader of the Opposition to refrain from interjecting, and I suggest that he follow that course. I could not hear the honourable member for Lalor in the latter stages of his remarks. Therefore I would ask the House to assist the Chair by complying with the Standing Orders.
– I took exception to what the Leader of the Opposition said. I have complete faith in the Prime Minister.
-Order! The honourable member is making a personal explanation. He may not debate the matter.
– I would ask the Leader of the Opposition-
-Order! The honourable member for Lalor will resume his seat.
– On a point of order, could I thank the other ten who did not deny the reason-
-Order! That is not a valid point of order.
- Mr Speaker, as Chairman, I present the one hundred and fifth report of the Public Accounts Committee which relates to the report of the Auditor-General for the financial year 1967-68.
Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Your Committee would again pay tribute to the Auditor-General and his staff for the sustained effort they have made, over many years, to ensure that the report is presented to the Parliament during August. The early tabling of that report facilitates greatly the work of your Committee in this important field of its operations. Your Committee’s inquiry for 1967-68 concerned seven matters, six of which are reported upon in the one hundred and fifth report. The remaining matter related to subscriber trunk dialling telephone facilities, with which your Committee has been concerned in the context of some of its more generalised departmental inquiries. Because of this wider area of interest ana the considerable importance of these facilities your Committee felt that it should report separately on this matter and accordingly a report on these facilities will be presented to the Parliament shortly.
The matters referred to in the one hundred and fifth report include weaknesses disclosed in the Army Pay Accounts Centre, Melbourne; problems related to the purchase by the Department of External Affairs of a property at 59 Rue de la Faisanderie Paris, and the problems of indebtedness to hospitals in the Northern Territory. The report also contains an examination of ‘buyback’ investments that have been undertaken by the Superannuation Board and the circumstances connected with the overpayment of higher duties allowances on which the Auditor-General had reported. In addition, your Committee examined the circumstances of the fire that occurred at the Naval establishment at Nowra in December 1967. This matter is also included in the one hundred and fifth report. Arising from that examination, however, your Committee had occasion to review the arrangements of the Commonwealth Fire Board. It proposes to present a separate report on these arrangements to the Parliament in the near future.
I commend the report to honourable members.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I move:
That this House is of opinion that, in accordance with section 122 of the Constitution, the Government should introduce legislation to allow representation of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in the Commonwealth Parliament.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)The honourable member for Batman may proceed and the motion can be seconded at the conclusion of his speech.
– I am very grateful and much indebted to Mrs Warde of the Parliamentary Library Research Service for her help and painstaking research in connection with this speech. It is my intention to divide the speech into two parts. In the first part I will endeavour to show what Australia had done for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea over the years and will no doubt continue to do in the future. I will devote the second part to section 122 of the Constitution and to how 1 see the legal position concerning the people of Papua and New Guinea.
The economic development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea requires a rate of Government spending and investment which the Territory’s economy at present cannot provide. As the administering authority responsible for the development of the Territory, Australia has the prime responsibility for supplying it with economic assistance. As a result, disbursements to Papua and New Guinea form the largest component of Australia’s aid programmes. This aid takes the form mainly of a cash contribution to the annual Budget of the Territory, the expenditure of which is not formally tied to purchases in Australia. Expenditure on Papua and New Guinea as a percentage of Australia’s total economic aid in the last 10 years is shown in what I call plan 1. It shows just how must has been spent between 1958 and 1969. With the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate it in Hansard.
The Australian Government’s expenditure of an aid character, excluding defence, for 1967-68, amounted to over $40 per head. The amount of aid received per head is one of the highest in the world compared with other developing countries of similar size.
I have taken out another set of figures relating to the revenue of the Territory, from which will be seen that the recent level of economic activity in the Territory is very heavily dependent on Australian aid. It is a very important component, particularly if the multiplier effect is taken into account. It is held to be improving the viability of the economy year by year. It is also agreed that it will almost certainly need to be expanded for some years to come, but that in the future it will become less important. This plan supplied by the Administrator shows the revenue from 1962 to 1967. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate the plan in Hansard.
The grant to the Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for 1968-69 is$87m, which is $9.4m or 12% greater than the grant for 1967-68. This grant has more than doubled over the last 6 years. The degree of budgetary dependence upon the Commonwealth grant is illu strated in a table which I have taken out from the Territory’s programmes and policies for its economic development and which shows the grants that have been made from 1960 to 1968. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate the table in Hansard.
The Commonwealth grant increased at an annual average rate of 14.8% between 1960-61 and 1967-68, but the total receipts increased even more rapidly. So the ratio of grants to total receipts has declined since 1961-62.
This has been a consequence of the following factors: Increases in the rates of domestic taxes; substantial rises in average incomes; the development of borrowing; and the gradual incursion of the cash economy into the subsistence economy. Australia’s economic assistance to Papua and New Guinea up to 30th July 1968 totalled approximately $713.6m, including $603m as direct grants. I have referred to these figures because later I will try to show that it would be a good thing to have somebody from the Territory in the National Parliament to understand what is going on.
A new 5-year programme for the period 1968-69 to 1972-73, following on the programme for the 5 years from 1964-65 to 1968-69, recommended in the report of the 1964 World Bank Mission was announced on10th September 1968. This programme envisages the expenditure of nearly $ 1,000m by the Administration over 5 years. The basic aim is to develop the Territory for self determination and to ensure that when this stage has been reached the Territory will, to the greatest extent feasible, be able to stand on its own feet economically.
Basically, the Commonwealth Government recognises - at least I hope it does - that this programme will require increased Commonwealth financial contributions over this period. I hope that the Government is prepared to assist in this way the achievement of the programme if the House of Assembly of the Territory indicates that it is prepared progressively to increase the Territory’s financial self reliance by raising the level of Territory revenue and loan receipts as much as practicable over the period of the programme.
The Commonwealth’s role as donor will not end with this 5-year plan, for self sustaining economic growth is still not in sight. They are the words of the 1964 World Bank Mission, which said that it would be several decades before this stage would be reached. I understand that it is not Government policy that self government should wait until economic self reliance is achieved, but substantial progress in this direction is regarded as essential if political advance is to be real and genuine. Australia will no doubt continue to give financial aid to the Territory, but the Australian grant will not always be the major factor on which development will depend. As the country goes forward, its own efforts and the work of its own people will become the most important factor., Australian aid will therefore become less important.
It is coming to be recognised by the local people that they must rely less on Australian aid and more on international aid and overseas private investment, and that development from aid outside must increasingly be based on their own active support and increased participation. The last few years have seen substantial progress in this regard. Accordingly, aid for the Territory is being actively sought from international sources. A major step was the basic agreement with the United Nations development Programme. This agreement was signed in New York on 7th February 1967. The purpose of this agreement was to establish the terms under which Australia and the United Nations Development Programme would jointly provide technical and financial assistance to the development of Papua and New Guinea. Under other agreements being negotiated with the United Nations Children’s Fund and specialised agencies the Territory would receive science teaching equipment and assistance in the development of pottery and textile industries. By October 1968 the United Nations specialised agencies were assisting projects in Papua and New Guinea valued at more than $US8m.
Two significant projects are being assisted by the United Nations Development Programme. One is the transport survey of the Territory which began in June 1967 and was to take 18 months to complete. This will cost $US647,500, of which $US489,000 will be provided from Programme funds. The balance will be provided by the Australian Government. The second project is the establishment and initial operation of a secondary teachers training college at Goroka. Over a S-year period beginning in January 1968 the amount of $US1, 196,000 of Programme funds is to be made available for this purpose, and the Australian Government will contribute $US2,824,000 to the project.
I mention these figures to show the amount of money that is pouring in. This is why I suggest that there should be a representative of the people of Papua and New Guinea here in this Parliament. He could see exactly what is happening and the people of the Territory could get away from this cargo concept that everything is pouring out of the heavens. If they can under stand that sort of thing they will be taking a step in the right direction. I am glad to know that Mr David Owen, co-director of the United Nations Development Programme is at present in Australia after completing a tour of Papua and New Guinea, Indonesia and West Irian. Mr Owen has congratulated Australia for its splendid work in New Guinea. Other assistance has been given. Experts, equipment and fellowships have been provided by United Nations agencies. The assistance includes development of the pottery industry, science teaching and curriculum development, building and construction materials, clothing and textiles, and science education. In October 1968 more than twenty United Nations experts were working in the Territory. They were concerned mainly with the two projects that 1 have referred to.
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development - the World Bank - is providing $6.3m towards the cost of a 4-year $13. 85m telecommunications project as part of the Government’s 5-year development programme. The Australian Parliament passed legislation in October 1968 guaranteeing the loan to the Territory Administration. The International Development Association, an affiliate of the World Bank, which provides interest free credits to developing countries, will provide a credit of $US1.5m or $A1.3m to the Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for development of small holdings of oil palm on New Britain. The project is expected to cost $US3.3m or $A3m. The Territory Administration will provide the balance. This is the Association’s first extension of credit to the Territory, lt is for a period of 50 years and will carry an annual service charge of t% to cover administrative expenses of the Association, but it will not carry interest charges.
I said earlier that I wanted to divide my speech into two parts - firstly to show the amount of money that has been spent in the Territory to date and secondly to show how much is now being spent there. No doubt a lot more will be spent there in the future. My reason for bringing this matter forward is to ask the Government to consider allowing somebody from the Territory to sit in this Parliament so that the people of the Territory may have a better idea of what goes on here.
I turn now to the legal aspects of my proposal. Perhaps I am not the one to speak on legal matters but I have made a careful study of section 122 of the Commonwealth Constitution. What is proposed by my motion is that a representative or representatives of the Territory be seated in the Commonwealth Parliament, as a temporary measure pending a decision about the ultimate status of the Territory. This would have the effect of giving the Territory a voice on the floor of the House and would give members of this Parliament direct access on a continuing basis to Territory representatives. As will be seen from later remarks that I will make, the United States has made provision for representation in its Parliament along the lines set down in section 122 of the Australian Constitution. Section 122, which is part of chapter VI, consists of four sections relating to the creation of new States. The section provides that new States may be admitted or established. It provides also for the government of Territories. It reads:
The Parliament may ma’ke laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
Section 123 relates to the alteration of limits of States. Section 124 relates to the formation of new States. Very little has been written about the representation of Territories in the Australian Parliament. Commentaries on these sections of the Constitution from ‘Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth’ by Quick and Garran throw some light on the question, which is perhaps best viewed in its wider contemporary context of imperialism and the history of colonialism, particularly the acquisition and governing of territories by the United States of America, which was evolving doctrines about these matters about the time our Constitution was framed and came into force. Quick and Garran say:
A territory which has been surrendered to the
Commonwealth by a state, or placed under the authority of the Commonwealth by the Queen, or been otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth may be allowed representation in either house of the Federal Parliament, to the extent and on such terms as the Parliament thinks fit. The representation thus accorded is not representation as a State, but territorial representation, lt may be allowed not only - as in the case of new States - to the extent’ which the Parliament thinks fit, but also ‘on the terms which it thinks fit’. Apparently, therefore, the Parliament may not only fix the number of representatives for a territory, but determine - at least in some degree - the mode of representation. In the United States, there being no power to allow the territories to send members to Congress, the organised territories are nevertheless allowed to be represented in Congress by delegates who may speak but not vote. It would seem clear that under this Constitution the Parliament may, if it thinks fit, allow the representation of territories by delegates of the same kind, who, although allowed to sit and speak in the Senate or the House of Representatives, would not be members of either House, or entitled to vote therein. The Parliament may, however, under this section, allow a territory to be represented by actual members in either house, and in that case no terms would be imposed inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution as to mode of election, tenure, and right to vote. The number of representatives which a territory may be allowed is of course absolutely in the discretion of the Parliament.
Since the United States is mentioned and since Puerto Rico springs to mind as probably the nearest existing analogous case to what is proposed by my motion, in that it has had a resident commissioner representing it in Congress since 1900, I will say something about the American experience. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia came into force shortly after a great turning point was reached in American history. The United States emerged from the Spanish- American war of 1898 as a world power with far flung political interests and for the first time as an administrator of colonies. After that war Spain, by treaty of 10th December 1898, ceded Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine Islands. Hawaii had also been annexed in 1898. The acquisition of those territories precipitated a great debate between 1898 and 1900 on the subject of imperialism. At stake was the old fundamental nature of the American Union. Until this time the annexation of territory by the national government had always been assumed to be a preliminary to its ultimate organisation into new States to be admitted to the Union on a basis of co-ordinate equality. George Kennan in ‘American Diplomacy 1900-1950’ writes:
Prior to this time our territorial acquisitions bad been relatively empty land, too sparsely populated to be eligible at once for statehood. For them the territorial status was viewed as a temporary expedient, intended to tide them over until they were filled with our own sort, of people and were prepared to come into the Union.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! As it is now 2 hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the Mouse the debate on the motion is interrupted.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) - by leave - agreed to:
Thai so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the consideration of General Business, Notice No. 1, being continued until 3 p.m.
– Mr Kennan continues:
But here in 1898, for the first time territories were acquired which were not expected to gain statehood at all, at any time, but rather, to remain indefinitely in a status of colonial subordination.
The new territories, unlike the older West were geographically remote, already heavily populated and possessed of a civilisation radically different from that of the United States. The present status of Papua and New Guinea is both unique and not without interest, so that we can look at it in comparison with Puerto Rico. To determine the extent to which the relationship of Congress towards the territories of the United States influenced the framers of the Australian Constitution is beyond the scope of this speech. It can only be said that it was against this background that the constitutional provision for the government of territories and for their representation in either House of the Parliament was framed. lt looks very much as if the Australian founding fathers decided there should be a provision for representation of territories and left it at that, lt was not British practice to grant representation in the British Parliament to colonies. This fact, and the absence of the necessary electoral machinery in Papua and New Guinea until recently no doubt explains, at least partially, why representation apparently has not been considered to date.
Papua was previously a British possession, called British New Guinea, which had been proclaimed a British protectorate in 1884 and formally annexed to the Crown in 1888. Prior to 6th March 1902 it was a Crown Colony under an Administrator who was subject to the control of the Governor of Queensland, acting with the advice of his Ministers, in the same way as ordinary Crown Colonies were at that time subject to the control of the Secretary of Stale.
Thus, there was no acceptance of New Guinea by the Commonwealth until the coming into force of the Papua Act, which was passed on 16th November 1905. The Papua Act came into force by proclamation on 1st September 1906. Section 122 of the Constitution providing for the Parliament to make laws for the government of any territory placed by the Crown under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth is referred to in the preamble to the Papua Act. This is the most important thing as far as 1 am concerned. The national status of persons born in the Territory of Papua is defined by the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948-66 of the Commonwealth - that is, the Commonwealth of Australia - which is extended to the Territory of Papua. Persons born in the Territory are Australian citizens by birth, and by virtue of that citizenship are British subjects.
As already stated, until World War II the Australian administrations of Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea were entirely separate, but since 1945 both Territories have been governed by the Commonwealth Government by a unified administration based at Port Moresby. The Papua and New Guinea Provisional Administration Act passed by the Commonwealth Government in 1945 provided temporarily for a combined civil administration for the whole of New Guinea, which was to be known as the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I now come to the national status of a person born outside of Papua but born in New Guinea, and the Act says this:
The national status of persons horn in New Guinea who are not Brili-.li subjects is ‘Australian protected person’.
All indigenous inhabitants of (he Trust Territory are therefore Australian protected persons unless they are British subjects.
I will noi be able to say all that I would like to .say. but I have made these remarks to point out what has been done over the years by both a Labor Government and the present Government in Papua and New Guinea. I hope it continues, and I hope it continues in the fair minded and able way in which it has proceeded. But I have had a feeling for some years that it could be a good thing - 1 am not saying that the Government should adopt this - if under section 122 we had somebody down here from the Territory so that they could get the feeling and the understanding of what this money is, what it comprises and why we are giving it to them. They would understand why this Government through the Minister - after all it is the Minister’s prerogative, and as far as I am concerned he has done very, very well at it - makes these applications to the United Nations and why these plans are brought forward. I think that, as the report of the World Bank stated, it will probably be many decades before these people are ready to stand on their own feet. But they know, and it has been made pretty clear to them, that independence is theirs for the asking. I hope that that will always remain and that Australia will never unduly rush these people into something for which they are not ready. If that practice continues we will have a very good and a very friendly relationship with these people who are very close to us.
– I formally second the motion and reserve my right to speak at a later time.
– 1 welcome the interest shown by the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) and his analysis of the situation in Papua and New Giunea But so that this House may consider this motion I think I should delineate Government policy on this matter. I summarise the Government’s policy under four points: First, the choice of their future form of government is one for the people of the Territory to make, lt is for them to decide the pace of political development and the nature of that development. Second, the changes which the majority of the people do not want will not be imposed on the Territory. Third, it is the prerogative of the Territory people to terminate the present Territory status and to take independent status if they wish to do so. Should the people wish to remain in association with Australia after self-determination this will require the agreement of the Australian Government of the day. Fourth, we do not know the lime in the future at which the question of association between Papua and New Guinea and Australia may arise or whether it will arise. If, however, decisions are required by Australia about the kinds of association that would be acceptable to Australia, those decisions cannot be made now. It is the Government’s view that they will have to be made at the appropriate time by the Government of the day in the light of the circumstances then existing.
In carrying out its policy the Government has for some time been preparing the people of the Territory for the responsibility of self government. Local government councils now represent nearly 85% of the population, and the participation of the people in local government offers good experience in the responsibilities of political and economic development. In J 964 the first House of Assembly was established as a representative legislature in place of the earlier Legislative Council. The second House of Assembly, which met for the first time in June last year, was enlarged in numbers to give more effective representation of the people of the Territory. It consists of eighty-four elected members and ten official members representing the Administration. in addition to the changed composition of the House of Assembly, in 1968 the system of ministerial members was introduced following the amendment of the Papua and New Guinea Act. Under this system seven ministerial members drawn from the House of Assembly are each responsible jointly with the departmental head for the overall activities of particular departments, and for the framing of policy proposals including proposals for expenditure. These ministerial members, along with one elected member of the House nominated by the Administrator and three official members, make up the Administrator’s Executive Council which will play an increasingly important role in developing policy in the Territory as well as in major executive decisions of the Administration.
But the task of developing Papua and New Guinea is as much an economic problem as a political one. The Government’s aim is to help the inhabitants of the Territory to become self governing as soon as possible and to ensure that when this aim is reached the Territory will, to the greatest extent feasible, be able to stand on its own feet economically. We are not saying that self determination must wait on complete economic self sufficiency. We recognise that aid must continue after self government is achieved. But we think that there must be a reasonable balance between outside aid and internal economic resources if self government is to be a reality. Consequently, we place stress on the need for the economic development of the Territory and on the need for Papuans and New Guineans themselves to play an increasingly prominent part in its political and economic life. They are doing this. Their efforts, together with those of the expatriates who have assisted and continue to assist in the development of the Territory, will ensure that the rapid progress achieved in recent years will continue.
The Government’s policy is to seek an economically self reliant people who can assume the responsibility of selfdetermination with confidence and dignity. As part of this policy the Government announced, in September last year, its 5- year economic development programme. This programme envisages that nearly $ 1,000m will be spent by the Administration over a 5-year period. Emphasis is placed on increasing production, providing secondary and tertiary education and creating greater opportunities for employment in private industry and in administration in the Territory. The policy is based on mutual co-operation between the Australian Government and the people of the Territory. The Government endorsed the proposed objectives and targets of the programme as a basis for planning, subject to a similar endorsement by the Territory House of Assembly. The House of Assembly by resolution in November 1968 supported this approach of mutual co-operation. On the one hand, the Government has recognised that the development programme . will require increased Commonwealth financial contributions to the Territory over the period of the programme; on the other hand, the House of Assembly has indicated it is prepared progressively to increase the Territory’s financial self reliance by raising the level of Territory revenue and loan receipts as much as practicable over the period of the programme.
This development programme is not only a programme of economic development. It provides also for development to meet social needs such as in the fields of education and health. In all these ways and through a variety of other measures a policy of balanced political, economic and social progress is being carried out. It is the Government’s practice to consult the Administrator’s Executive Council on major policy questions that concern the Territory. The House of Assembly itself provides a full opportunity for the expression of views through its debates and committees, and private members’ bills.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– 1 would like to continue my remarks relating to Government policy on the development of Papua and New Guinea. In these ways there are ample means for the views of the people of the Territory to be brought to the attention of the Australian Government and through the Press to the Australian Parliament and public. There is no need, therefore, to appear to seek to influence the natural course of the Territory’s development by providing it with representation in this Parliament. When the people are ready to choose their own form of government - when the stage of self-determination has been reached - then they may seek independence or they may seek some form of association with Australia. As 1 have said before, any request by the people of the Territory for a form of association with Australia will require the agreement of the Australian Government of the day.
Criticism is levelled by some people at this policy on the grounds that it is vague and indecisive. This is not so. The Government’s view is that there are various possibilities which, in the light of later events, may turn out to be wanted by both countries and of advantage to them both. Neither do you make firm arrangements now which in the light of later events might turn out not to be wanted. It would not in the Government’s opinion be appropriate to discuss one or more possible forms of association between Papua and New Guinea at this stage. It would not be wise to explore one possible element of such an association - representation in the Australian Parliament - without having regard to the other possible elements. Representation of the Territory in the Australian Parliament could tend to influence the way in which the people of the Territory would eventually choose the course they wish to follow. This decision, taken now, would almost inevitably have an effect on the possibilities open in the future. It is the Government’s policy to avoid this situation.
As I said before, the form of Government chosen by the people at self-determination must be a form acceptable to the majority of the people of the Territory. Moreover the Government has been satisfied that the changes made in recent years have reflected the wishes of a majority of the people and there was no indication when these changes were under consideration that arrangements of the sort proposed in the motion now before the House were desired by the people of the Territory. This factor is highlighted by a motion passed by the House of Assembly last week at the instance of a Papuan elected member. The full text of the motion will be brought before the House in due course through the usual channels. The motion gives expression to the view that:
The people and the people of the Territory alone should be allowed lo decide when the time is right for self-government in Papua and New Guinea, the form that such government will be taking and the people’s further conviction that the road to self-government can best be travelled with one guide and that guide the administering authority.
The Government’s basic policy for Papua and New Guinea is to develop it for self-determination. I have referred to some of the principal steps already taken along this path. Clearly these steps are directed to the development of political and social and economic institutions that belong to the Territory itself and are capable of progressive evolution to the point where the people of the Territory are themselves able to make their own decisions “about their future, standing substantially on their, own feet. If in due course the people of the Territory decide that they wish to have some form of association with Australia the kind of arrangement referred to in the motion before the House might be one of the elements to be considered. The Government however does not consider that this House should express a view on the matter at this time.
Finally, 1 would again like to express my appreciation to the honourable member for Batman who brought this matter forward. We are all aware of his very deep and sincere interest in the Territory. He had this association with the Territory during the war years and has carried it on since then. I think that the honourable member’s very considered speech in support of his motion today will be a great record of very deep research into matters of political development particularly in the Territory.
– I will commence in the same vein as the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) concluded. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) is a patriot. He is a thoughtful man and he has produced valuable tables which were unanimously allowed to be incorporated in Hansard. He has raised for the consideration of the House a matter of importance to the Trust Territory of New Guinea, the colony of Papua and Australia and of interest to a great number of other countries, particularly those countries in our region. It is right that a matter of such interest and concern should be debated.
My Party does not support the motion. The honourable member knows this because I told him yesterday that that was our attitude. My Party’s attitude is that the objective of Australian administration of Papua and New Guinea must be to work to bring about independence and an economically viable nationhood for New Guinea as early as possible. We do not support the present motion because we do not believe that it would assist those objectives. We believe that this motion would disrupt political progress in New Guinea; it would disrupt political arrangements in Australia.
If it were carried, in reason and justice there would have to be at least a score of New Guinea representatives in this place. Also, there would have to be 10 representatives in the other place. This is so because the population of New Guinea is greater than that of any of the Australian States other than New South Wales and Victoria. It would be inconceivable that any representatives for New Guinea in this House should be required to speak for a greater number of their fellow citizens than our members in this House who represent the residents and citizens of Australia. We should know from history that much more similar people than Australians and New Guineans have found it impracticable to work together in the one legislature. The Parliament of Westminster which set up the Australian Commonwealth had at that time representatives not only of Great Britain but also of Ireland. Parliamentary processes in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland were disrupted for more than half a century by this ill-sorted union. I hardly think that a union between Australia and New Guinea would be any more workable. I do not believe that on this ground of practicality honourable gentlemen would support the motion.
There are two other reasons which I should give. The first is that if this motion were passed as expressing the sentiment of the House it would mislead New Guineans as to our attitude towards them. They are entitled to independence. To give them representation in this Parliament - and at this stage this would be purely at the determination of members of this Parliament - would be to give them the impression that we thought this was an advance or that it was a progressive or a permanent arrangement. It would mislead them as to our attitude that they are being assisted to independence. There may be differences of opinion as to the timetable for independence. I am certain that the Minister for External Territories and I differ on this matter, just as I differed from his predecessor. This is not the time to canvass these matters. My own attitude on the form of representative institutions in New Guinea would emerge from questions and speeches of mine in Hansard for at least the last 12 years.
The next reason why I believe this motion is not desirable is that if carried as the sentiment of the House it would misrepresent the attitude of our nation to other nations. Other nations would inevitably get the impression that the Parliament of this nation was aiming to extend and to institutionalise Australia’s rule over New Guinea. It is very difficult for other nations, with the greatest will in the world and with the closest associations with Australia, to understand what Australia’s attitude is towards the development of independence in New Guinea. Resolutions that have been carried in the United Nations with the support of some of Australia’s closest associates would indicate that our attitude is misunderstood. I can understand how some of these misunderstandings arise. I constantly feel under some inhibition when speaking on New Guinea in this place or outside by reason of the fact that anything I say to spur the
Government of my country may be used outside to belabour not only the Government of Australia but Australia itself. So I do not wish to develop this theme at any greater length at this stage. Suffice it to say that even if we thought it were practicable to include representatives of New Guinea in the Australian Parliament - in effect, to have a union Parliament with obviously a proportional representation of the population in both chambers - I am convinced that it would not be desirable. It would mislead the New Guineas as to our attitude; it would misrepresent our attitude to other nations.
On this occasion I have spoken on this subject with greater brevity than I have ever spoken about New Guinea. One reason why I am speaking so briefly on this occasion is that I hope we will have a vote on this subject. It is plain that Government members and Opposition members alike oppose the motion. This is not a subject in relation to which we are at political odds. There are a great number of other matters on the notice paper - in fact, every matter which has been, raised by a private member under the heading ‘general business’ since the Parliament was convened - which remain unconcluded. There has been no conclusive debate on any such matter; there has been no vote on any such matter. I will not exacerbate feelings by ventilating these matters which are still pending. They are subjects on which there may be political differences between Government and Opposition. They are at least matters in relation to which the Government would find it inconvenient to declare itself at the Opposition’s timing, or may be at this stage at all. On this matter under discussion there is no difference.
I believe it is very desirable that the House should express its view today. I would think it quite unhealthy for a matter like this to remain on the notice paper. If we left it there, people would think we were reluctant to make up our minds or that we regarded the matter as unimportant. We all regard the matter as important. It should not appear to be in this limbo, suspended between heaven and earth. We should express our view today. Having said that, I conclude as I commenced. I believe that the honourable member for Batman - a good member, a good patriot and, speaking for myself, a good friend - has done a service in raising this matter. I gather that we alt disagree with it, but it is of concern to New Guinea, to Australia, to the world and, not least, to Australia’s closest associates. Accordingly. I restrain myself on this occasion from speaking at greater length. I hope that we can have a vote today on this matter.
– I would join with those who have expressed satisfaction that the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) has raised this matter for discussion in the Parliament, lt is an important matter. Australia’s attitude to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is one of frank, friendly and generous helpfulness. Australia’s economic assistance to the Territory up to 30th July 1968 has totalled approximately S7 13,600,000, including $603 m as direct grants. Australia has assisted in the establishment of the Legislative Assembly with representatives in it elected by the people of the Territory. Recently, following the report of the Constitutional Review Committee, amendments have been made to increase the size of that Assembly and to provide for some ministerial responsibility for ministerial members. Australia is presently engaged in a programme of education and a programme of economic assistance involving $ 1, 000m over a 5-year period. This is designed to help the Territory on the road to attaining economic self sufficiency. As the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) stated earlier in this debate, it is for the people of the Territory to determine when they want to take their independence. Against this background it is only to bc expected that any suggestion which was made for representation by the Territory would receive friendly consideration in this place. But 1 bel’ieve that there are some legal considerations, some legal difficulties, with respect to the proposal, and it is really for this reason that I rose to speak in the debate.
First of all, we have been at pains since the last World War to arrange a single administration for what are really two territories. If one seeks to apply the Australian Constitution and to give representation, it is necessary to look at the difference in character between the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea. By Order in Council of 6th March 1902, by letters patent, possession of Papua was placed under the authority of the Commonwealth and the Governor-General was authorised to make laws for possession. It was not until the Papua Act was passed on 16th November 1905 that it clearly became a Territory of the Commonwealth in the sense used in section 1 22 of the Constitution. This Act came into force by proclamation on 1st September 1906. lt then became a Territory of the Commonwealth to which section 122 would apply.
The Trust Territory of New Guinea, of course, followed a different pattern, having formerly been German territory. In 1914 it was occupied by Australian troops and remained under military administration until 1921. In 1920 the League of Nations, in pursuance of article II of the Covenant, conferred upon the Crown for and on behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia a mandate for the government of the Territory of New Guinea. The New Guinea Act of 1920 was passed by the Commonwealth Government to provide for the government of the Territory in accordance with the article. The Act came into force on 9th May 1921.
Since 1945 there has been a joint administration, but in point of fact one Territory, that of Papua, is truly a Territory acquired by Australia. People born there become Australian citizens and the Australian Nationality and Citizenship Act applies to them. The mandated Territory, as it originally was. became under the United Nations a Trust Territory and the trusteeship agreement of the Territory was approved by the General Assembly to the United Nations in December 1946. The Australian Papua and New Guinea Act of 1949 approved the placing of New Guinea under the international trusteeship system. People born in the Territory of New Guinea become what are called Australian protected persons, which is a different category. This difference technically remains and if one sought to apply section 122 and give representation one would probably have to start from the basic assumption that we must have two separate representations for the separate Territories. At one time a doubt was raised as to whether New Guinea was itself a Territory within the meaning of section 122. But I think the doubt was set at rest in Fishwick
This means that this Parliament could give representation to each of these Territories to the extent and on the terms that it thought fit. One possibility, of course, would be to give representation proportionate to the number of people in each of the Territories. This would raise the difficulties that have been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). It would be a very large representation and the question would arise as to whether representation had to be given in the Senate as well as in the House of Representatives. It is fair to say that a lesser degree of representation would be possible under the Constitution. The terms of section 122 are such that it would be open to this Parliament to accord to each of the Territories any form of representation, even, for example, one delegate or even, as the honourable member for Batman put it, a delegate who could speak but not vote. This is a possibility and I think it is fair to say that.
On the other hand the prospect of according to Territories a qualified or restricted representation of that type would, I feel, be bound to raise all kinds of criticisms not only in the Territories but in the world generally. It would be . difficult to accord to Papua with its Australian citizens that kind of representation and not be criticised for doing so. It may be said that representation has been given to the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. But these, of course, have always been part of the mainland of Australia and before the Commonwealth was formed were part of or were under the administration of States. It is only logical that these should finally have representation in the Parliament. The external territories are on a different footing; there is no analogy.
Let us look more to the practical matters of the need, if any, for this kind of representation in the Parliament in Canberra. It is true that the Territory of Papua and New Guinea raises its own income taxes and that these taxes go to its own Treasury and its own Consolidated Revenue. So it is not a case of taxation without representation. The people of the Territories do not need a representative here to see that any moneys they contribute are wisely spent. Those moneys are simply not coming to the Commonwealth Treasury. Indeed, as we know, the flow is clearly the other way. Again, in the application of Commonwealth laws, if we are debating a Bill in this Parliament we do so on the basis that it will not extend to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea unless it is expressly stated to apply there. The laws that extend to Papua and New Guinea are those that go through the House of Assembly in Papua and New Guinea and not the laws of this Parliament. There are some laws of this Parliament that do apply in Papua and New Guinea. We have the power to make the laws apply there, but in the generality of cases the matters we discuss are all discussed on the assumption and on the basis that they apply in Australia and not in the Territory, unless the Territory is expressly brought in. There is no assumption that our laws will apply in the Territory and therefore no need for it to have representation in the Parliament here.
Again one has to look at the fact that it is the House of Assembly in Papua and New Guinea that is making the laws for the people of the Territory. It is an assembly of elected representatives of their own and it has ministerial members with ministerial responsibilities of their own. It would be a confusing situation if the Territory had delegates or representatives in this Parliament who were perhaps seeking to influence the laws and have them apply to the Territory when another set of representatives in the House of Assembly was making ordinances that were directly applicable to the Territory. I believe that the representation of the people by their elected representatives is in the right place - in their own Assembly - and they do not need it here.
But if one goes a little further, it is seen that the trusteeship Territory - that is New Guinea - is administered by us under the international trusteeship system. If, having followed a process in which we established a representatives assembly in the Territory with a promise that the people there could have independence when they were ready for it, we now provided for representatives or delegates here in Canberra, the assumption would be that we were backtracking on the road to independence towards a different goal, that of integration. I believe that that is the way it would be construed. We would be subject to criticism in the United Nations on the footing that we were adopting a contrary policy leading towards a target of integration rather than the policy we have followed up to now of letting them have a House of Assembly with their own elected representatives as a step on the road to ultimate independence. Even though we took this step in the utmost good faith and having in mind the sort of reasons that were advanced by the honourable member for Batman, I believe it would be misconstrued and would therefore have elements of harm in it, both to the Territory and to Australia.
For those reasons I find myself, although interested in the proposal that has been put forward, in a position where I would be voting against it.
- Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) has proposed this motion:
That this House is of opinion that, in accordance with section 122 of the Constitution, the Government should introduce legislation to allow representation of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in the Commonwealth Parliament.
The honourable member for Batman, who spoke to us this morning, is well and favourably known in this House, as, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), a patriot and a good member and, I am sure to the great majority of people, a good friend.
– Count me out.
– The right honourable member for Melbourne asks not to be included in this category. I am sure that the wishes of the right honourable gentleman will be granted by the rest of the members of the House if that is his view. 1 mention the war service of the honourable member for Batman, which is well known in this place. The honourable member is interested in Papua and New Guinea. My reason for mentioning those things is the significance of them. I believe that this is one aspect of the whole matter which is being discussed that quite properly ought to be brought before the Parliament. I believe that it has an emotional significance in the Territory itself. The honourable member for Batman, side by side with many other honourable members in the Navy, the
Army and the Air Force, during the First World War and in the Second World War sought to protect that Territory and to keep that Territory within the protective folds of our flag and to guarantee the security of its people. Therefore, we have during this long period established in the Territory a tradition which to a lot of the people born in Papua and New Guinea is of great importance.
I am sure that the House will bear in mind that in the Second World War the threat of invasion to Australia came through the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It came to the top of those great ranges, the Yoda Valley and the little settlement at Kokoda. It was beyond this place in the great ranges, the great jungles and the forests of the Territory that the enemy was stopped. Fighting side by side with the great soldiers of the Australian Army were people born in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. There are many of them who served with great pride, with distinction and with great courage. To them, Mr Speaker, this association is a real and a living thing. However much we may. in the best interests of the Commonwealth of Australia, be cognisant of this international image, however much we may be sensitive to the way in which our actions and our speeches will be construed in the United Nations Organisation, however much we may feel that we, in the interests of the people of the Territory and in the interests of the people of Australia, must not do anything that could be misrepresented or could be misconstrued by our friends overseas, I hope in following our objective we will not lose sight of the fact that there are many people born in Papua and New Guinea who are proud of their association with the men and women of Australia during two world wars and who believe that this association, established as it has been in the most dire circumstances, in great suffering and at such enormous expense, will never be shattered irrespective of those political developments which from time to time may appear to be exerting such great pressures on the Australian Government within the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
I would remind the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), who spoke to us about the legal aspects, and also the Leader of the Opposition, that representatives from the Territory visit the United Nations
Organisation. When they arrive in the United States of America, they show that they travel on Australian passports. If someone asks one of these representatives: What are you doing carrying a passport of that description when you are a Papuan or a New Guinean?’, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that with pride he will stand and say: ‘I am an Australian citizen’. The fact that these people are Australian citizens raises some very interesting considerations for this Parliament at this time and in the future. These people quite easily may feel that their best interests wiM be served if their association with Australia and its people continues until such time as they are in relative terms able to direct their own destinies, within the terms of their own budgets and are able also to face their own national development programmes and alt of those great issues associated with nationhood in the Pacific area.
I myself have some association in this Territory. With a great deal of interest, I have listened to a wide variety of opinions on these matters. I find myself that in the Territory the consistency of the policy of the Australian Government is widely understood. It is accepted by the great majority of people of European origin who have stated that Australia will1 accept the moral obligation of bringing Papua and New Guinea to nationhood, of seeking to establish to the maximum degree possible the economic viability of the Territory and of encouraging the development of the economy in such a way as to enable the Territory to stand on its own feet, in economic terms, within the South Pacific. This is understood. It has been stated clearly again, again and again by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) within Australia and its capital cities and within the Territory itself. It has been stated again and again overseas for the benefit of people who would be interested in the Territory.
In view of that fact, it would seem, as the Minister for External Territories and the Attorney-General have said, to be not in the interests of the Territory or Australia if we were to come back in our policy to the stage of considering the desirability of having members representing Papua and New Guinea in this Parliament. The Minis ter has not closed the door on such a proposition. Quite the contrary. What the Minister has said is that in the event of the people of that Territory indicating at a time in the future, that they have certain wishes in relation to this matter, the Australian Government ought to give consideration to the case on its merits at that time. This, of course, would inevitably be the case. It would be quite wrong for the Government of Australia in 1969 to make commitments that may involve the Government of Australia in 1989. We understand that our contribution in the form of the vast sums of the Australian taxpayers money which are being committed to the Territory will in fact be expended towards the correction of a situation in such a period of time.
In another 20 years or so, when the developmental programme will have gone on, it will be more rational for those who are living within the Territory to consider their destiny, and the Government of Australia at that time will do this side by side with them. I have no doubt that the Government of that time will be a government which, having offered all this assistance and having inherited the results of all the good work that has been done before, will listen with interest and examine with sympathy all the proposals forthcoming from the Territory, which at this time has 2 million people and 500 languages. The difficulty of communication of thought and of comprehension within the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is a matter that could be discussed here over a long period before all the honourable members who have not been to the Territory understood the problems that arise from that difficulty.
The Leader of the Opposition has spoken about the importance of the international image and the practicality of this suggestion that has come from my friend, the honourable member for Batman. The AttorneyGeneral, of course, spoke about the legal interpretation of the position and gave a history of the development of our association with the Territory. These are all issues of very great interest, but I still beg leave to warn the House that, within the Territory of far greater significance than these legal expressions and these carefully considered and expressed definitions of a situation is the environment in which one is living. One sees the truth of this statement on such an occasion as the dawn service in Port Moresby on Anzac Day. If members of this Parliament have ever experienced this occasion, they will understand the depth of the association between ourselves and these people who have, with our people, stood shoulder to shoulder in the defence of their own country and, let it be said, of this country.
I do not wish to imply in any way that my honourable and gallant friend, the Minister, does not appreciate this, because I know that he does; but we have a basic fundamental obligation to fulfil. We describe it as a moral obligation. It is an obligation of the heart; it is an obligation of the soul, ft is a reality. These are the people who stood shoulder to shoulder with our own men in the defence of their Territory and in the defence of Australia in 1942, and in those terms our obligation to them in the future is a great and mighty one. I understand the attitude of the Government in relation to the suggestion that there ought to be members representing the Territory in the House of Representatives at this time, and I appreciate the wisdom of the Government’s decision in relation to these matters.
-Order! The time allotted for the consideration of this matter of general business has expired. The honourable member for North Sydney will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed.
Bill presented by Mr Malcolm Fraser, and read a first time.
– I. move:
That the Sill be now read a second time. [Quorum formed.] The main purpose of this Bill is to provide a basis in legislation for the five major scholarship schemes under which the Government makes awards to students in schools, technical colleges, colleges of advanced education, universities and similar institutions. An additional purpose of the Bill is to repeal the Education
Act 1945-66 thereby formally abolishing the Commonwealth Office of Education and the Commonwealth Scholarships Board. Honourable members will know that when the Department of Education and Science was established at the end of 1966, it embraced most of the functions of the former Education Division of the Prime Minister’s Department which included the Commonwealth Office of Education. The present step therefore completes the formal arrangements which have applied in practice since the Department was set up. The Commonwealth Scholarships Board has, however, continued to function, but has had responsibilities in respect of the tertiary schemes of scholarships only and has been subject to ministerial direction. Under this Bill the Minister will be responsible for all schemes subject to the requirements of the Act and regulations, lt is an appropriate time for me to acknowledge on behalf of the Government the valuable assistance which the Board has given for many years through its present and past members, and I am examining what arrangements might be made so that the Government may continue to receive advice on specific matters affecting assistance to students.
I would like now to run briefly through the Bill drawing attention to its main parts. Clauses 1 to 4 are largely formal and include the repeal of the Education Act. Clauses 5 to 9 outline the kinds of scholarships and the institutions in which they may bc held. In addition to normal publicity approved institutions will be notified in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’. These sections also allow for regulations dealing with the conditions under which scholarships are to be granted, for example, on such questions as conditions of eligibility and methods of selection. Clauses 10 to 17 deal with scholarship benefits. Clauses 11 to 14 in particular outline the kind of benefits for each class of scholarship. The amount of the benefits and any conditions of payment are to be outlined in regulations. Clause 18 deals with approvals, directions and determinations of the Minister and provides, in view of the discretion to be left with the Minister on certain matters, for the Minister to notify his decisions in an appropriate way. Section 19 outlines arrangements for delegation. Section 20 deals with the presentation of an annual report to the Parliament on the operation of the Act. Section 21 covers transitional provisions for existing scholarship holders so that they will continue to receive their entitlements. Section 22 provides for the making of regulations under the Act.
As honourable members appreciate, the scholarship schemes form a very significant and long-standing part of the Government’s activities in the field of education. This year some 56,000 students hold Commonwealth scholarships under the five schemes. In 1969 24,150 new scholarships were offered. Estimated expenditure in the current financial year on the scholarship schemes is $28.9m, compared with an expenditure of $ 12.7m in 1964-65. Without further changes, expenditure is expected to rise to nearly $35m by 1971-72. As I have indicated, all schemes will be covered in the new legislation. A great deal of attention has been given to the question of ministerial responsibility and discretion. During the past year, besides being closely concerned with the development of the schemes themselves I have had cause to examine some hundreds of cases of students either holding scholarships or seeking assistance. I am impressed at the extent to which even the most carefully formulated rules may result in unreasonable treatment and possible hardship if applied rigidly to all cases. I wish therefore to emphasise the need to preserve ministerial discretion if injustice and hardship are to be avoided. At the same time I recognise the arguments in favour of an adequate framework of legislation. The Bill has provision for regulations in a number of important sections. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
– by leave - A good deal of attention has been focussed lately on the desirability of encouraging the teaching of Asian languages and cultures in Australian schools and other educational institutions. In the last two decades in particular the economic, cultural, political and military links between Australia and Asia have grown steadily. Australia shares membership in a growing number of regional associations, such as the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, the Asian and Pacific Council, and the Asian Development Bank. Trade relations in the Asian area are rapidly strengthening. Personal contacts are increasing because of growing political, tourist and business activities. Practices of co-operation have been established in many areas of professional and technical training as a result of the Colombo Plan and other schemes. Despite these developments, the total number of students studying an Asian language in Australian secondary schools is small. In 1967, for example, only 370 students presented themselves for matriculation examination in an Asian language, compared with more than 15,000 who presented themselves in French and 3,000 in German. These facts illustrate the need for a greater emphasis on Asian affairs in our education systems. It is one thing, however, to recognise a need; it is another matter to translate the need into well planned courses and teaching materials and to provide the necessary teachers.
Following my discussion of these problems with the State Ministers for Education, the Government with the full support of the State Ministers has decided, as an essential first step, to establish an advisory committee to make a comprehensive survey of the situation as it exists at present, including the factors that have tended to restrict the study of Asian languages in our schools and universities.
The membership of the committee will be announced shortly, as soon as the necessary arrangements have been completed. The committee will have the following terms of reference:
To determine the factors which tend to give rise to these deficiencies in the teaching of Asian languages and associated studies, with particular reference to:
– by leave- The Opposition welcomes the proposal outlined by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). For some time the Opposition has felt that the teaching of Asian languages in Australian schools ought to be encouraged, particularly in view of the fact that geographically we are closely related to the South East Asian countries. The Minister provided some very enlightening figures, particularly when he pointed out that only 370 students presented themselves for matriculation examination in an Asian language in 1967 while 15,000 students presented themselves in French and 3,000 in German. These figures indicate that in recent years insufficient students in Australian schools have been encouraged to study an Asian language. For this reason as well as the other reasons outlined by the Minister, the Opposition welcomes the statement and the attempt by the Government to encourage students in Australian schools to specialise in Asian languages. We agree that those who study Asian languages can make a far greater contribution to the development of this country in the future, particularly as it is related to Australia’s activities in South East Asian countries, than those who merely confine their studies to French or German or some other European language.
The Opposition raises no objection to paragraphs (c) and (d) in the third term of reference which relate to the acceptance of studies for admission to tertiary institutions and for the award of scholarships, and to the attitude of the community towards the value and standing of such subjects of study. However, I am particularly interested in paragraph (a) which refers to the training of teachers and the provision of staff for tertiary institutions. Perhaps the Minister will be able to indicate to this House whether this will be for the training of teachers in universities only or whether the Commonwealth will provide for the training of teachers in secondary schools throughout Australia. The Opposition does not believe that it is sufficient merely to provide these teachers at the tertiary level. If the scheme is to be successful quite obviously it will be necessary to provide in secondary schools trained teachers who will be able to teach students undertaking the matriculation level of education. If students are to go on to a tertiary level of education the provision of qualified teachers will be necessary, because, as the Minister knows, in most cases a language is needed for matriculation. So perhaps the Minister will take the opportunity to inform the House whether this assistance will apply to schools in general or whether it will be provided for teachers only at the university level.
I repeat that the Opposition welcomes the statement. It is timely. We support it because we believe that it will mean some progress in the teaching of Asian languages in Australian schools.
Mr MALCOLM FRASER (WannonMinister for Education and Science) - by leave - I thank the Opposition for its support of the Government’s intentions and objectives as outlined in the brief statement that I have made. Let me try to amplify a little of what is in mind. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) asked whether assistance would be available in one area or another. The purpose of the proposed inquiry is not to determine what assistance may or may not be given but to outline the deficiencies that exist in the present arrangements and to give an indication of what needs to be done to overcome those deficiencies. This is something which clearly involves the States as well as the Commonwealth, just as the announcement has already involved the States. This is by no means unilateral action on the part of the Commonwealth.
There has been a meeting of all State ministers concerned. I refer the Leader of the Opposition to the second term of reference of the proposed committee, which is:
To suggest what deficiencies exist in the present arrangements in schools and other educational institutions.
That puts the finger on the deficiencies that may exist in the secondary area. The third term of reference reads:
To determine the factors which tend to give rise (o these deficiencies in the teaching of Asian languages and associated studies, with particular reference lo:
training of teachers and the provision of staff for tertiary institutions;
the supply of appropriate course materials;
the acceptance of studies for admission to tertiary institutions and for the award of scholarships.
Those terms of reference are to give an indication of the areas in which we would particularly like advice from the committee that will be established. When we talk about training teachers and providing staff for tertiary institutions that is not to suggest that the training of teachers and the provision of staff can occur only in universities. We have used the term ‘tertiary institutions’ quite specifically, and the House may take some note of our concern with the more general aspects of teacher training by the programme of unmatched capital grants upon which the Commonwealth is embarking. The provision of $24m will enable an additional 5,000 teacher training places to be provided in teachers’ colleges to bc built by the States. So this is an instance of support for teacher training activities not in universities.
I do not think that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition need be concerned that the terms of reference will in any way inhibit the committee from reporting fully on all matters relevant to the problems we have in mind, namely the paucity of the study of Asian languages in Australian schools and, to some extent, flowing from that situation, in universities. When we have the committee’s report we will know much better what action needs to be taken to meet the situation. I emphasise that the substance of the report is by no means a matter only for the Commonwealth. It will be significantly a matter for the States, and we have their co-operation in these matters.
Debate resumed from 4 March (vide page 378), on the following paper presented by Mr Gorton:
Defence - Ministerial Statement, 25 February 1969- and on the motion by Mr Erwin:
That the House take note of the paper.
– lt is appropriate that this debate should be resumed following a statement to the House that the Government is concerned to increase the study of Asian languages in Australian schools, because the statement on defence, delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on 25th February this year, touches only on the South East Asian region. If something can be done at the educational level to improve relations between Australia and South East Asia its effect will be greater than will our military intentions in the region as outlined by the Prime Minister. In his statement the right honourable gentleman said:
Mr Speaker, the purpose of this statement is to inform the House of what the Australian Government is prepared to do militarily in MalaysiaSingapore after the British withdrawal from those areas and to set this in the context of our general interest in, involvement in and thinking concerning the region. lt was appropriate for the Prime Minister to indicate the purpose of the statement. When we think in terms of the general interest of the region and our attitude towards it we should consider more than the mere placing of a token force - that is all it is - in the region after the British withdrawal. We should consider more than the mere placing of armed forces in the area. Keeping that in mind, I might be excused for quoting further from the Prime Minister’s statement, in which he sets out the intention of the Government at the military level. He dealt with one course that the Government might follow and said:
A second possible course was to decide to withdraw all our military forces, of all arms, at the same time as Britain withdrew, but to assure Malaysia-Singapore that we retained an interest in their military security, that we had not withdrawn to our island Australia from which we would never make a sally to assist them, but that we would, if and when we judged if necessary, be prepared to despatch military forces to their shores to help them. This course could well cast doubt on our sincerity of purpose as far as Malaysia-
Singapore and other countries of the region were concerned; and it had also obvious military drawbacks.
In the light of what has transpired since 25th February I wonder whether the Prime Minister would agree that the Government’s decision to place forces in MalaysiaSingapore is wise. It is here that the Opposition clashes violently with the Government as to policy. Perhaps it would be well to place on record the Labor Party’s policy. The Labor Party believes that all ground forces should be withdrawn from Malaysia and Singapore. The garrison concept should be replaced by a concept of mobile defence, emphasising co-operation with the military forces of South East Asia but based on the Australian mainland. In addition, we should provide specialist equipment and assistance to develop military forces in MalaysiaSingapore. Direct military presence in these countries should be confined to specialist units and personnel requested by those countries to assist in their training and reequipment. Beyond that we do not go as a matter of policy. Having said that, I think it is important to look at what the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) had to say in his statement of 25th February. He said: lt is much easier to despatch aircraft from Australia to assist in another area of the region if Australian aircraft are already situated on a base in that area, and operating from it, and in possession of or provided with all the complicated equipment needed to service and maintain and guide such aircraft. . . . The forces planned to be retained will consist of two squadrons of Mirages, totalling in all forty-two aircraft, and stationed at Butterworth in Malaya, except for one section of eight aircraft which will be stationed at Tengah in Singapore.
I put it to the House that this plan is futile, in the first instance, and it is dangerous if one stops to consider where the attack upon Malaysia might come from. I ask the Government where is it to come from? Is it to come from Thailand or Cambodia, or does the Government expect it to come from Indonesia. After all, we are talking about what is going to happen after 1971 and what the danger is.
If the Government is setting out to try to control political movements in the region by military force then it is playing with a situation such as we have at the present time in that area further north. I do not think anybody in this country - not even the greatest rabble rouser for war - would want to see a repetition of what we are involved in there at the present time. What do Cambodia, Thailand and other parts of the region think? What does Indonesia, for instance, think of this proposition? If we are attempting to do something for this nation to protect this region against insurrection, is it most likely that the area affected will be Malaysia, or is it most likely that in the years that lie ahead the 100 million people immediately to the north of us in Indonesia will be calling for help first? Where is American attention being focussed today upon the defence of this South East Asian area? If one reads about present movements one sees that the Americans are more concerned about the Indian Ocean and what is developing there than with anything else in relation to the protection of this region. Anybody who reads the papers day by day must surely see the gradual withdrawal of America from the region. It will come. The practicability of withdrawing American troops from South East Asia is not far distant. The views expressed in the newspapers yesterday meet our Prime Minister right on the doorstep when he talks in terms of having to station a handful of men somewhere to hold the confidence of that particular section of the region. In yesterday’s newspaper one sees this headline ‘Thirty-one hours airlift ends in Korea’. Korea is also part of the region, and what did the United States of America do last week? The newspaper report continues:
Seoul, Monday. About 700 American troops parachuted onto a simulated battlefield near here today after a 31-hour Right from the United States in the longest airborne assault exercise in history.
Then the important part of the article comes to light, having regard to what the Prime Minister said in this House on 25th February as the reason for putting a handful of men in Malaysia. The article continues:
The exercise is designed to demonstrate the ability of the United States to meet its treaty commitments with South Korea and other countries in Asia.
So America is demonstrating - less than a month after the Prime Minister made this statement - that its effort in South East Asia can come from the mainland of the United States of America. Here are we demonstrating our ability to assist by putting a handful of men and 42 planes past a nation of 100 million people into an area from which in World War II we learnt nothing, evidently, at Government level. Has anybody forgotten the strength of Singapore at the outbreak of World War II? Has anybody forgotten the tribulations, the trials and the deaths that Australian troops sustained when they went there in World War II and were surrounded immediately? We live in a world of military conflict today in which there is much wider control of distance than was the case in World War II. I listened with a great deal of interest less than an hour ago to a speech by the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham). Speaking of World War II, he said:
The enemy were met and stopped in the mountains and the jungles of New Guinea.
That was the position of Australia. Who at Government level has forgotten the great danger that faced Australia because of the deployment of the military forces that we had in World War II? Who around this chamber has forgotten the agonies of the then Prime Minister, the late John Curtin, when he demanded the return of the Australian troops from the Middle East? Who has forgotten that they were brought across the Indian Ocean without naval protection. The strain associated with this was part of the cause of the death of the late Prime Minister. Who has forgotten that these troops were brought back to this country and that a great number of them were rushed through without seeing their people to the very spot that was talked about by the honourable member for North Sydney? That is what Australia got out of the deployment of its troops in World War II. Are we ever to learn that this nation requires its troops inside its own borders? If this Government does not have what it takes to initiate confidence in this region without the placing of a mere handful of troops in Malaysia and Singapore then there is no confidence at all in this Government in the region. I was astounded to hear what the Prime Minister said at an Australian Finance Conference Seminar at the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney on 10th March on the Australia of 1980. He delivered a very fine address, in which he said, amongst other things’.
We would want to be a nation which provided to the greatest extent possible commensurate with our own requirements, technological assistance, aid of all kinds to the economies of the countries in our region and, if necessary, military assistance to provide that security without which economic progress is probably impossible. That Is why we have - as one decision we have had to make - indicated that we were in and of the region in which we live, economically, politically and militarily, and have provided an earnest and a visible instance that Australia is there and is going to be there to the utmost of its capacity now, and I believe in 1980, if we are wanted.
– That is fair enough.
– If we are wanted. Those words make my blood run cold. Fair enough that that interjection comes from a man who was prepared to give his life. Are we to stop in that area until some other government takes office? Do not forget that the political colour of governments in any country today can change overnight. With a military force being built up in Malaysia, long before 1980 we could be faced with a military takeover of government in Malaya, and then would we wait until we saw the signs up: ‘Aussie go home’? I have never seen a developing nation like this allowing itself to get into such a situation. We should be the strong leader of the region. We should have a force at our disposal stationed inside the framework of Australia - our boundaries are wide enough, God knows - and we should learn the lessons we should have learned as a result of World War II. When the Prime Minister talks of needing small areas for deployment of additional troops and additional air forces, and when he talks about the need for some base in Malaysia, first of all, let me use the good old Australian term, ‘It is one spot to draw the crabs’. One small bomb today can destroy the lot in one hour. Have we forgotten Pearl Harbour? Have we forgotten what is happening even on the civil airfields today as a result of this kind of thing. When you think about it, was D-day a success because there were forces deployed in an area around Fi ance? Of course it was not. D-day was a success because of surprise tactics - the way “in which forces were landed behind enemy bastions. If Australia gets into a real war again, this is the kind of war with which we will he faced. Surely honourable members opposite are capable of learning a lesson from what happened in the Second World War.
At this stage we would be admired and loved by the people in the South East Asian region if we had sufficient air and sea power to enable us to say to them: ‘Any outside enemy attacking you will attract our full protection for you’. What was the top capacity of Great Britain in Singapore in the 1939-45 war? There was a sheer waste of armoury lying in the one spot. If ever there was an arsenal of war, that was it. At this stage, in a small way we are saying: We will assist in your protection - in the same way as Singapore was supposed to assist the region in the 1939-45 war’. If it was not so stupid it would be cruel. All that we are doing to these people is leading them up the garden path with the thought that a mere handful of men will give them some kind of security, because on the front pages of today’s newspapers we read of the new battle plan of the United States of America, which involves the building of bombers with a range of 7,000 to 10,000 miles carrying armament that would destroy what we have in 1 minute. This is the situation in which we find ourselves.
I am satisfied that the Australian people would pay any amount of taxation in order to have a properly regulated defence programme for Australia, and such a programme is the honest way in which we could give security to the region about which we are so concerned. Of course we are concerned about the region, about Singapore and about Malaysia. But I should imagine that we are equally concerned about Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. I was in Darwin recently and I was impressed with the great building programme that is going on to provide greater dimensions for our capacity at Darwin. But we are only scratching the surface. The stationing at Darwin of forty-five planes, together with the FI 1 ls if they ever land here, would provide much greater security for the whole of the region than the stationing of forty-five planes in Malaysia. Who is to say that Indonesia might not be the first one involved in a situation? If Indonesia were the first one involved in a situation, are we to leave our forty-five planes in Malaysia or do we bring them back to Australia and start to look around Darwin for somewhere to put them? This nation is ours. We have a responsibility to protect it, whatever government is in power.
– You did not do much.
– The Party to which the honourable member for La Trobe attaches himself walked out and left this country for dead in 1941. It took a Labor Prime Minister to regiment this country so that it was capable of a total war effort. Do not make any mistake about that. It was the then Prime Minister of Australia who told the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States of America that our troops were coming home from the Middle East, whether these two leaders liked it or not. The honourable member knows the story. He knows that if those boys had not come back, what the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) was saying today about the battle being won in New Guinea would not have been true, because those were the boys who were there in New Guinea. Let us give credit where credit is due, and let us learn lessons. Let us look at the picture of World War II. If we look at that picture we come down firmly on the side of the policy of the Australian Labor Party.
– Like hell.
– If the honourable member wants to burn in hell, that is his pidgin. I want the complete defence of this country. This country is our first responsibility. If we show to the people of the region about which I am speaking that we are capable of properly defending ourselves and them we will win their confidence much more than we will by the hotch-potch method which was outlined to us in the statement presented on 25th February.
– It distresses me very much to hear a speech of that nature from my very good friend the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison). He is a loyal Australian and an expert in industrial matters, but he is woefully astray in anything to do with defence strategy and tactics and what is happening in the psychological warfare realm of today. He did it unconsciously, but a lot of other people do it unconsciously, too. Speeches and statements written in newspapers, like the one which was written by Mr Bruce Grant in the ‘Age’ earlier this month, can do nothing but bring aid and comfort to the enemy in the psychological warfare. The honourable member for Blaxland has not even got the manners to stop here and listen to what I am saying.
The honourable member does not want to learn, and neither do a lot of other people want to learn, that speeches and statements of the kind to which I have referred are merely encouraging the enemy and the aggressors in Vietnam, or the whole of Indo-China, to prolong the peace talks in Paris because they feel, like Truong Chinh who was their leading strategist in Hanoi, that the longer they can prolong the argument the more the democratic countries will get tired and the more they will give way. Although the honourable member for Blaxland and those people who feel like he does do not realise it, they are giving considerable encouragement to the enemy to continue this war in South East Asia. I regret very much that my own countrymen, who are loyal Australians in all other respects, do not realise the dangers, in this psychological warfare, of what they are saying. They say, for instance, that Nixon cannot risk opening up the bombing again on Hanoi. Nobody wants to see us having to open up the bombing again on Hanoi, but how many people in Australia realise that one of the things which the majority of people in Hanoi fear most is that the bombing will be resumed.
– The sooner the better.
– I do not know about that, but it is one of the things that they fear most of all. Every time that articles of this nature, which state that it cannot be done, are published, as I say, it only protracts the peace negotiations that are taking place in Paris. During the last few weeks of the recess the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), in speeches and statements, made a big build-up of how they were going to attack the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Government on the defence policy as soon as Parlaiment came into session again. In the meantime, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr I. F. Cairns) was waiting in the wings to seize any opportunity if they should fail. In the opening part of this debate the three big guns of the Opposition came into action. But instead of producing the devastating barrage which we had been led to expect, it was more like three popguns going off in a kindergarten game of robbers and police. It was a complete fizzle, and every honourable member who has been a member of this House for any length of time and who looks into his own heart and mind knows that the attack was a complete fizzle.
The Leader of the Opposition was in trouble right from the very start, because some weeks earlier he had advocated that after 1971 we should leave in Malaya and Singapore a detachment of the Air Force and the Navy. Therefore, the Leader of the Opposition disagreed only in a matter of degree with the policy which was enunciated very clearly and in detail by the Prime Minister when he made his statement on defence. The only difference was that the Prime Minister said we will keep 1,200 members of the Army in that area after 1971. So the Leader of the Opposition naturally was in trouble when the Prime Minister spiked his gun. But whatever argument or debate was left after the Leader of the Opposition got into this trouble was successfully demolished, destroyed and in every way answered by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) in a brilliant, clear-cut and easily understood appreciation of the situation. I feel there is no necessity for me either to try to emulate what he said or to repeat his statement, lt was a completely devastating destruction of everything that the Leader of the Opposition had put forward.
He was followed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the second big gun, who is the shadow - very much shadowy - Minister for Defence. He was rather more explicit about Australian Labor Party policy. But he did not tear aside all the veils - just a few of them with which the Leader of the Opposition had shrouded it. He ridiculed the forward defence policy and advocated that we should have a mobile task force stationed in Australia. He did this with his very very limited knowledge of the importance of logistic supply, the importance of local knowledge and the importance of our troops being on training manoeuvres with troops in that particular region so as they would get to know each others strengths, weaknesses, tactics and so on. He felt that we could just pick up a task force, fly it out to Malaysia and have it go into action. The honourable member for Blaxland quoted a recent exercise in which 700 paratroopers arrived in Korea from America. But
General Harrison did not understand that the Americans have already 50,000 troops stationed in Korea; that they have already the logistic supply bases and local knowledge. Therefore, for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to compare a mobile task force with that sort of exercise was simply to demonstrate his complete ignorance of the implications of military strategy.
I feel it was a pity that the Prime Minister of Singapore was unable to find the time to see the Deputy Leader of the Opposition when he was in Singapore in July. I feel that an interview with Mr Lee Kuan Yew would have cleared much of the fog that apparently exists in the mind of the Deputy Leader. However, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) adequately dealt with the arguments put forward by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in regard to the mobile task force and why it was not advisable, for the reasons I have given plus other reasons. He pointed out the effect such an arrangement would have on our relations at this stage of our history with our allies in South East Asia. The Minister for Defence quoted the most important part of the statement made by the Prime Minister of Singapore which the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had very carefully left out. They only quoted the part of the statement which said that in the long run it is only economic progress and social betterment which decide whether two countries can withstand external and internal pressures or manipulations. We all agree with that. But neither honourable gentleman quoted the beginning of the statement. This part of the statement read:
The Australian and New Zealand decision had enhanced the prospects for stability in the area and so promoted economic growth.
It was left to the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) to tear away both the sixth and seventh veils shrouding the real defence policy of the Australian Labor Party. He exposed it in all its shameless nakedness. The honourable member came straight out and said that the policy of the Australian Labor Party is one of isolation and neutrality which would guarantee our safety because everyone else would leave us alone. If not, we would be able to look after ourselves.
How many members of the Opposition believe the truth of that statement? Had the honourable member for Yarra forgotten Korea, Hungary or more recently Czechoslovakia? Had he forgotten the attack on northern India by Communist China? Had he forgotten what is going on today in the Congo, Nigeria or the Sudan? How can he say that other people will leave us alone? It is surprising that someone who was an education officer in the Army should cast aside all the evidence that is placed before him and come out with this policy of isolation or, as is better known, Fortress Australia. As one of the 19,000 Australians who was on the receiving end of Fortress Singapore, I cannot think of anything more foolish or more destructive as far as Australia is concerned than to fall back on a policy of Fortress Australia today. After the extraordinary speech made by the honourable member for Yarra on Sunday 2nd March in the Melbourne Town Hall, I do not believe that anyone but the anarchists would have any faith in him as a prospective leader in politics in Australia. Unless what I read in the ‘Age’ newspaper the following day was untrue - and he has taken no steps to say it was not true and has had plenty of time to do so if he wanted to - the honourable member stated that he would not register for military service if he was required to do so.
I take it that the Opposition’s duty and right are to oppose by any lawful means legislation with which they disagree - but not by any means justifying the end. To incite people, particularly the younger generation, to become law breakers seems to be an extraordinary attitude on the part of a man who started life as a policeman whose duty it was to uphold the law, who then became an Army education officer who helped troops to re-establish themselves and who now is a law maker upholding the rights of law breakers. What sort of confidence does the honourable member for Yarra expect the people of Australia to place in a law maker of that opinion? It is no wonder that when he visited troops at Nui Dat they were not keen to expose their forward strategy tactics and dispositions to him. I was there shortly afterwards and my intelligence is first hand, not second, third or fourth hand. I am told that one of the troops, when they said goodbye to him, said: ‘We are glad to have had you with us, Dr Cairns. We hope you are not going up to Hanoi to discuss our dispositions with Ho Chi Minh’. Perhaps the honourable gentleman is not aware-
– That is a lousy thing to say.
– Both he and I think that the honourable member for Wilis (Mr Bryant) had stated before they left Australia that they wanted to go on to Hanoi on that particular trip. This was the cause of that remark; it was the statement that they both wanted to go on to Hanoi. That is what led to the fear in the mind of this member of the forces. So if there is anything lousy in it the instigation was due to the statement made by the honourable, member for Yarra. I think I am right in saying that both the honourable member for Wills and the honourable member for Yarra wanted to go to Hanoi.
Perhaps the honourable member for Yarra was not aware when he made the statement that he would not register for military service that there are many other nations which have military service. These nations include the United States of America, France, Italy, Holland, West Germany, Greece, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom until recently and most of the Communist countries. All those nations have some form of a similar military service. Perhaps the honourable member is not aware that Australia is the most liberal of any nation in regard to the law on conscientious objectors. Also, perhaps he is not aware that 80% of those who have appealed on conscientious grounds against their call-up for national service have had their appeal upheld. I think it is strange that a member of the Labor Party, which believes in compulsion and in compulsory unionism before a man can earn his living and has no time for conscientious objectors in an industrial war or in time of strike, should take this action when the question of the security of the country is at stake. Let us take the recent tram strike in Melbourne and the attitude of union members to Mr Pesteranovich Because he was a conscientious objector he will not be able to earn his living by any means in Australia if they can help it. How do we equate the two? He offered to apologise. He offered to pay his union dues. But, no, they will not have a bar of him. No word in the dictionary is sufficient to enable them to describe him, so they fall back on words like ‘scab’ to show what they think of him. However, when the security of the country is in danger entirely the opposite view is taken. It is inconsistent, illogical and not proof that members of the Australian Labor Party are good Australians.
Recently there was a review of Montgomery’s book in ‘Himmat’ in which the reviewer stated that the Field Marshal’s outlook on the present position is that nations are out-thought before they are outfought. That is a very good phrase. As I said, speeches like those from the honourable member from Blaxland and the honourable member from Yarra and others are helping to out-think Australia before we are out-fought. So much for the Opposition’s attack which, as I said, is a fizzle and not an explosion. I congratulate the Government on a clear statement on one part of our defence policy. I would be much happier if it had gone further and had not merely dealt with that and had not merely hinted at a wider regional defence pact against aggression. I believe that such a pact is necessary. The situation has to be tackled with diplomatic finesse, with understanding and wisdom. The securing of such a pact will take some time. But a clear lead by Australia in this respect could do much to achieve the ultimate aim that I believe the Government has before it.
Furthermore, nothing has been said about the second region which is of great strategic importance to Australia, namely, the southern Indian Ocean and South African area. I believe that it was Sir Douglas Home in Westminster recently who pointed out how important the Cape trade route was not only to Australia but to western Europe. Now that the British Government is putting up its aircraft carriers for sale we ought to give serious consideration to buying the ‘Hermes’ or some other aircraft carriers which have 10 years life left, because without an aircraft carrier we cannot exercise any police authority in the Indian Ocean. 1 also believe - 1 hope that the leak in the Press today is wrong - that we must have a naval base on the Western Australian coast, because one supply or repair ship cannot do the job. Such a base would be complementary to Simonstown on the Cape route. We have to have much closer co-operation. The
Navy has been the Cinderella of our Services in the past. It is not able at present, nor has it the equipment or the ships, to do the duties which will fall upon it, and I hope that the Navy will receive greater consideration in future.
Finally, I believe that we have to pay just as much attention to the Indian Ocean, because the Russians are stepping into the British imperial shoes so quickly and so efficiently that unless we make some sort of counter as a deterrent Russia might feel inclined to take over the whole area. The Navy would have a good deterrent effect in this regard. However, the statement deals with only one sector of our defence policy. I congratulate the Government on the clearcut decision which was announced in genera] terms by the Prime Minister as long ago as last December, and which was not, as the honourable member for Yarra said, cooked up at the last Prime Ministers conference. I have a report here from a Malaysian paper of last December which I have not time to read but in which this decision was announced. The statement has outlined in detail this part of our defence policy. The answer to the wider question as to where we go from here has yet to be given. I hope it will come in the not too distant future in a clearer statement about our wider defence policy.
Debate (on motion by Mr Benson) adjourned.
– byleave - I rise to inform the House that a double taxation agreement with Japan was signed in Canberra this afternoon. Copies are being made available to honourable members. Before speaking briefly about the contents of the agreement I point out that the fact of its being signed does not complete the action necessary to give it the force oflaw in Australia. For this purpose legislation will be necessary and a Bill will be brought before the House as soon as practicable. Members will then have an opportunity to debate the scope and effects of the agreement. In common with our recent agreements with the United Kingdom and Singapore, the agreement with Japan is, in substance, very much on the lines of conventional double taxation agreements being entered into in modern times and for this reason I do not propose to give a lengthy exposition of its terms at this stage. Detailed explanations will be provided when the agreement is brought before Parliament for approval.
However, to refer briefly to some of the main points, 1 mention that the tax of the country of source on dividends flowing to residents of the other country is to be limited to 15% of the dividends. Similarly tax on interest and royalties is to be limited to 10%. The taxing of business profits under the agreement is to follow the usual principle that the country in which an enterprise has a branch or other permanent establishment is to have the prior right to tax the profits that are attributable to that establishment. Profits from the international operation of ships and aircraft are to be taxed only in the country of residence of the operator.
The agreement will also ensure that double taxation of income is relieved in cases where the country in which income originates and the country of residence both tax the income. This is to be achieved by the country of residence giving credit against its tax for the tax imposed in the other country. For example, Japan will give its residents credit for the Australian tax of 10% on interest and royalties derived in Australia. Australia will, of course, give its residents a tax credit in converse circumstances. When giving credit to a Japanese company that has at least a 10% holding in an Australian company from which it draws dividends, Japan is obliged by the agreement to allow credit in respect of both the withholding tax on the dividends and the Australian company tax on the profits out of which the dividends are paid.
As I have said, the agreement will come before Parliament for consideration in due course. Also Japan will be submitting the agreement to its Diet and, on the completion of parliamentary processes in both countries, the agreement will need to be ratified. Assuming that ratification takes place before the end of November the agreement will in general apply for purposes of Australian tax as from1st July next. Before concluding, may I say that the Government is pleased that the negotiations with Japan have culminated in this agreement. We take the view that it will be beneficial to Australia and will further promote the growth of harmonious relations between Australia and Japan.
Debate resumed (vide page 747).
– I have listened with great interest to what the two previous speakers in this debate have had to say. The debate has been continuing for quite some time and I do not want to go over all the subjects that have been raised. The honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) did mention the need for carrier strength in this area. Without going too deeply into that, I indicate that I go along with him because the need will come for a patrol between Australia and South Africa and also at the other end of the Indian Ocean. We are inclined to think that when Britain gets out of Malaysia in 1971. we can forget about the other areas which she will be vacating at the same time. I refer to the Persian Gulf. This has a considerable bearing on what will or could happen in the Indian Ocean and in South East Asia. I am sure most honourable members know that there is a very big oil1 trade from the Persian Gulf to Japan. If the region of Malaysia is shut off, the trade to Japan is shut off. Japan is very concerned about this. That is why, when the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made his statement that we will maintain a presence in South East Asia, the Japanese Government was one of the first to say ‘Hear, hear!’
Let us have a look at the map and see why this should be so. Very few navigable areas are left in the world, except in the main oceans. In the future 100,000 ton bulk ships will be coming to Australia. They are up to 50,000 tons now. Instead of taking them from Western Australia through the Torres Strait to Gladstone to discharge their cargoes, we will have to look for an area not very far from Malaysia. They will have to go through the Indonesian Islands and round the north of New Guinea to get here. If they do not, they will have to steam right around Australia. The Japanese were very quick to realise that, if the oil supply from the Persian Gulf were cut off through any disturbance in South East Asia, they would suffer and they would suffer badly. It is interesting to note also that Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of what I would >ay is a 98% working class country, was very pleased to learn that forces would remain in the area, and the Tunku and other people there were also very pleased.
Like many honourable members, I have sent to me weekly a newspaper called the Mirror’. It is a weekly almanac of current affairs, lt is published by the Ministry of Culture and is printed by the Government Printing Office in Singapore. Not so tong ago the domino theory was being decried all over the world as a false theory, but it seems to be raising its head again. I have always thought that the domino theory applied in South East Asia. The ‘Mirror’ of 17th February contains an article written by John T. Wheeler of the Japan ‘Times’ under the heading ‘The Name of the Game’. At the side is a picture showing the dominoes as Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia, lt states:
If Communism triumphs in one Asian country, the others will fall, one by one.
The domino theory of a possible Communist takeover in Asia may be dead in official Washington, but it survives in. many South East Asian capitals and among some Western diplomats.
A US Embassy official .and a British diplomat, talking at a recent party in Bankok, found themselves in quick agreement on the Briton’s statement, ‘The name of the game is still dominoes’.
Surely that still applies. I .have seen Mr Lee Kuan Yew on three occasions recently and he is still firmly of the opinion that the domino theory applies. .
The British withdrawal will have a very big impact on Malaysia. It means that Malaysia and Singapore will have to pay more for their defence. As they are not manufacturing countries they will have to buy it and while they are using their money to buy defence they will not be able to use it for development. Many people believe that some unemployment will result. This will revive communal tension and will give the Communist their chance. There is still a substantial Communist underground movement in Malaysia and Sarawak. The British withdrawal will help this movement - I hope it can be suppressed - to again gain momentum. That is why I think we are wise to be spreading out and going to Malaysia.
The force we are sending to Malaysia is a token force; but after all we are a small country. We are letting the world know that we are willing to help the people in this area. It is important to keep in mind that these people have asked for our presence. We are not going there and saying: ‘We are here and you can put up with it’. I am sure if they did not want us there they would say: ‘Keep out’. I am sure also that our military advisers have had a good look at the situation and have said: ‘This is the right decision’. I do not decry the view of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that we should have a mobile force in Australia. It is possible to have such a force, but I do not think it would be right to have it. Much as I would like to see it work, I believe that every thinking person would realise that it could not work.
The Korean war had the blessing and the approval of the United Nations. But when it was over the General Secretary of the Seamen’s Union said: ‘Well, that is over’. Not one stick of cargo left this country by ship after that. Most of the people in the trade union movement are not extremists; but what would bc the attitude of those who control the unions if we chartered six ships from the Australian National Line and sent them on an exercise into South East Asia? I do not want to draw this out. But after what happened with the ‘Jeparit’ and the ‘Boonaroo’, does anybody think that the ships we chartered would get out of this country? If anyone does think that, let them say so. I am putting my point of view and I do not think the ships would get away from Australia. The ‘Jeparit’ at this moment is still manned by men from the Royal Australian Navy. If we could rely on the support of the trade union movement for a mobile force, I would say to the Leader of the Opposition: ‘A mobile force is a possibility’. But I know in my own mind that we would not have the support. I may be wrong and I hope I am wrong.
– What about the pig iron?
– I will go to a period a little after the pig iron incident. When I first went to Victoria as a pilot, a ship named the ‘Haligonian Duke’ was there. It had a load of coal from India. I was the pilot. The ship had been there for a couple of months and the coal was heating up. It was feared that if something was not done the coal would catch fire. Mr Riordan, who is not in the Parliament now, was the Minister for the Navy at the time. This was the first occasion I was associated with him. He sent a man from the Navy office to Victoria and he said: ‘The Minister for the Navy wants the “ Haligonian Duke “ taken up the River Yarra because it is about to catch fire’. When it was known that the ‘Haligonian Duke’ would be taken up the river, a general black ban was placed on the ship. The government of the day, much to its credit - I praise it for doing so - sent the destroyer ‘Warramunga’ there. We had the spectacle of the Government of the day having to take a ship up the River Yarra with a warship leading it. There were no tugs and nobody to take the lines. The then Minister for the Navy wanted to know from the pilot: ‘Will you take her up?’ We sent back a message: ‘Of course we will take the ship up’. The ship went up the river. The honourable member for Chisholm was the Minister in charge of electrical undertakings in Victoria at that time and I think that he knows a little more about it. I mention this to illustrate the sort of thing that can happen. One expects that ships will get away. They do not get away.
Threats to our interests and general diplomacy vary from time to time. We think we know what they are at the moment, but we do not know what they will be like in 10 years time. I do not think that we even have to look ahead 10 years because history, I think, well bears out what I have said. We recall that, 12 months before the outbreak of World War II, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom said that peace had been obtained in our time, our children’s time and our children’s children’s time. I think we all remember those words. We thought that we would maintain peace from 1938. But we did not get it. Things change very quickly. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison) said that we forget about what happened in World War II. I think that a tot of people have forgotten that, when the Second World War broke out, Germany and Russia had a pact of friendship. The Russians were getting copper ore from Mexico, over the Pacific and across the Trans-Siberian railway. They were in league with Germany. I mention this to prove my point. As I said, things change very quickly. I think that it is better to have our presence in South East Asia in case things change very quickly, rather than have the troops in Australia in the hope that we might - and I say might - be able to get them out of the country. 1 hope that, if the position arises, we will be able to get them out of the country.
What I cannot understand is this: At times this House is unanimous in its view when aggression takes place. The House was unanimous over the aggression when Russia moved into Czechoslovakia. Nobody dissented from the motion passed by the House. The House was unanimous for a short period over the Vietnam war. This has been quoted before. In the ‘Canberra Times’ and other newspapers the heading appeared: ‘ALP Policy Backs United States Men in Vietnam’. I think that the men in Vietnam should be backed. 1 am not saying that we should be at war always, but I do not understand the attitude of- some people. South Vietnam was being invaded’. There is nobody from South Vietnam in North Vietnam. Why should people say that the Russians are wrong when they invade Czechoslovakia - that it is action bad enough to bring condemnation - and not say the same about the invaders of South Vietnam? If the invasion of Czechoslovakia is bad enough to bring condemnation critics should be standing up and saying the same condemnatory things for the South Vietnamese people about their invaders. I have read the SEATO Agreement. A number of people say that it is not worth the paper it is written on. I see that we have a Treaty obligation. I think that Treaty obligations should be honoured.
I feel, with great concern, that something should be done to get more people into our armed Services. The honourable member for Blaxland said that he would not mind if taxation was increased so that we could get more people into our Services. I think we need to look at this matter. We should consider the conditions, of members of the Services. Probably we will need to pay them more money. I cannot understand the thinking of the Government when it calls up men only for the Army. I do not know why men cannot be called up for the Navy and for the Air Force too. I am not an airman. I know that the speaker who will follow me, the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), was a very distinguished airman. He knows that under the Empire Air Training Scheme it took about 12 months to train a pilot. We should be doing that now under the national servicescheme. If men were called up for 2 years, they could spend 12 months learning to fly and 12 months actually flying either light aircraft or helicopters. If that were done, we would be getting somewhere. But we do not do that. Mr Deputy Speaker, I think that we should.
Most days, we see in the Press advertisements from Ansett Airlines of Australia, Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines, each of which has its own training scheme for pilots. Bright young men are offered air training by Qantas, TAA or Ansett Airlines. I think this sort of thing should be stopped. The people should be taken from the national service intake. If they were in the scheme for 2 years and spent a year flying, a number of them would want to go into Qantas, TAA or Ansett Airlines. If they did not, they could go. With the conditions offering for commercial air pilots, I think, a number of the men would go in. I hope, that the Government gives some thought to this suggestion.
If the Government were to call up young men for the Navy, they would be able to man our patrol vessels. We have twenty patrol vessels at present. The Naval Reserve could take over the whole of the patrolling of Australia’s coastline with these small craft. It does not take as long to train a man for a small ship that is to stay at seaas it does to train a man who will carry out a sophisticated job on an aircraft carrier, a destroyer or a submarine.
It was only about 2 years ago when, quite out of the blue, into Melbourne came 48 Russian ships. It was said that they had been fishing at the head of the Great Australian Bight. Nobody knew this. Nobody goes over the head of the Great Australian Bight. The continental shelf is 120 miles wide there, and the Russians had been fishing there. The Russians arrived off Port Phillip Heads and wanted a pilot for each ship. I do not know where foreign ships are fishing or what- they are doing at the present time. I do know that there has been a lot in the newspapers about a couple of Russian ships in Torres Strait. I would like to see something done about this matter and action taken to make these waters Australian waters. These views formed a part of my speech earlier today on another motion. I want to see a closer connection between Australia and Papua and New Guinea. I want a line to be drawn on the map in the middle of the waters between Australia and Papua and New Guinea so that it can be said: ‘This part belongs to Papua and New Guinea and this part is Australian*. If it is good enough for the Philippines, the Russians and the Indonesians to declare off-shore waters for many, many miles as theirs, it is good enough for us. We have to do this to protect this country.
I hope that some thought will be given to the training of airmen under the national service scheme. I hope also that young men will be called up for the Navy. They could, as I have just said, carry out the patrol work. This work is essential. If we show no interest in our shores, is it not quite right for foreign powers to say: ‘What are you moaning about? You have never done anything about it? We never saw anyone there’?
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson), who has just resumed his seat, is a distinguished sailor and colleague. I thank him for the compliment that he paid me. I support him very strongly in what he says about national service intakes for the Navy and for the Air Force. I think that this is very sound thinking and forward thinking. I commend him for what he said in that respect. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison) was quite obviously supporting his party’s policy of Fortress Australia. He said that he was in Darwin the other day. He obviously has forgotten what happened in Darwin in 1942, when it was in the front line. The honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) referred to a mobile task force once again, and I could not agree with him more. We cannot ship troops overseas at a moment’s notice and expect them to perform or use their equipment to real advantage unless they have time for familiarisation and acclimatisation. That would be obvious to any man who has served in the forces over seas. Most members of the Opposition would not have the faintest knowledge of such matters.
In reply to the clearly stated defence policy of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) we heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) produce many arguments against what the Government proposes to do. But what did he say that the Opposition would do? He said nothing of this. The Melbourne Age’ of 30th January 1969 shows that the Leader of the Opposition, on returning from his world tour, said:
Malaysian officials were concerned at Australia’s procrastination in announcing its defence in the area after the British withdrawal in 1971.
The Labor Party believed Australia should withdraw its ground forces, but retain naval and Air Force units and help with other equipment.
He said that 1,500 Australias soldiers in the region was’ neither desirable for either Malaysia or Singapore.
Having said this to the Press of Australia - and I assume that the ‘Age’ report was correct - why did he not state it in these precise terms in the Parliament when he had the chance? The only conclusion I can reach is that either he did not have the courage to do so here or he was miserable enough to let his deputy do the job for him, because he knew that such a declaration would be unpopular with the Australian Press. I pose this question: Is it not a fact that every responsible newspaper in Australia has supported the Prime Minister’s reasoned, convincing and wholly statesmanlike announcement’, to quote the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’? The Melbourne ‘Age’ of 25th February said:
This is bold but intelligent policy making. The Government has chosen the course of honour, self-reliance and national interest. It has rejected the policy of timidity.
That is the policy of the Australian Labor Party. The ‘West Australian’ said similarly:
Mr Gorton’s statement puts an end to uncertainty about the role in which he sees Australia in South East Asia. The continuing presence of Australian troops in Singapore and Malaysia is tangible recognition that Australia’s security cannot be divorced from the security of the region.
Those are the comments of the leading newspapers in Australia. They all stated the same thing. But the same responsible newspapers have denounced the Australian Labor Party policy which we have heard continually during this debate but especially in a very loud manner this afternoon from the honourable member for Blaxland. Again concerning the timidity of the Australian Labor Party policy, the ‘Age’ of 1st March 1969 said: lt would be unfair to stigmatise the case argued by Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard as a shift to keep the Government under pressure until the election, but the proposals they have put forward do not stand up to close inspection.
The article went on:
In political terms, the presence of Anzac forces in the two Commonwealth countries provides a guarantee to the governments and the people of both countries that they have not. been left in the lurch.
The Opposition would have left them in the lurch. I would be prepared to say that the body that controls the Opposition parliamentarians - that is, the National Conference of the Party - when it meets in July next, will not only support the announcement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) of complete withdrawal of ground forces but will go a step further and demand of a Labor government, if Labor ever comes to office, the withdrawal of naval and air forces as well as the Army. The Australian Labor Party would withdraw the lot. This is consistent with Labor thinking regarding Fortress Australia. This withdrawal policy was strongly supported by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) recently in this chamber. Who produces Labor Party policy? Who leads the Party? The past leader is strongly in favour of Fortress Australia. The Deputy Leader would withdraw ground forces. The Leader said nothing of this in his recent speech but outside the House supported the retention of naval and air forces and other equipment. So I ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, would anyone have the faintest idea who is leading the Australian Labor Party?
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that all ground troops should be withdrawn from the Malaysia-Singapore area. One must assume that he is speaking for some of his Party at least. He said that Australia’s strategic frontiers should be established at its natural boundaries. This policy would have been dreamed up by men who do not live in the north, as I do. They live up to 2,000 miles away, to the south. We can quite understand their saying: ‘Be damned to the north of Australia - Darwin and the rest of it’. The Opposition proposes to allow the situation to build up to the stage where we in the north have to sit and wait until something shows up on the radar screens. Its policy is to sit and wait until the bombs start dropping. Darwin was badly hit in 1942, and other places were machine gunned and bombed. The Opposition has again advocated a policy that will bring about this state of affairs. I am not advocating such a policy, and neither is this Government.
It is important and necessary to have friends to the north of Australia. We must offer practical assistance to them. Small though this token force may be, we must offer it to our friends. We cannot withdraw into Fortress Australia and expect our northern neighbours to shoulder our defence burdens. Members of the Opposition have criticised the Prime Minister’s statement, yet Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew stated that the Australian and New Zealand decision had enhanced the prospects for stability in the area and so promoted economic growth. The Malaysian Prime Minister used similar words. These men should know. They have been reassured by the Prime Minister’s statement. They expected Australia to show its colours. The Prime Minister’s statement has shown them these colours. We should also have forces in the north of Australia. I support the honourable member for Batman when he mentioned that national service trainees should serve in naval patrol boats. This sort of thing is just what we require in the north.
In the Territory we have a base from which we can mount an adequate security screen. We need modern reconnaissance aircraft, admittedly, and more naval patrol boats in our northern waters. We have heard about a $300m coastguard service. We have heard much about quarantine, and not without reason. But I say let the Government use our defence base in Darwin to mount a combined operation to secure our northern waters and coastline. We have this base in Darwin from which Mirages can operate. I have heard so many people say that they cannot be based there. The difference between basing them there and operating them from Darwin is a technical one. During World War II we operated from northern France for months and months, but our aircraft had to go back to England for engine changes and major overhauls. Our base was in England.
We could not do maintenance on our aircraft under fire, as we were almost every day. This is the difference. There are all-weather facilities to operate these front line aircraft from Darwin, Tindal and Alice Springs. Modern reconnaissance aircraft could then operate in this area and co-operate with Navy patrol boats and Army units for security patrols. They could carry out combined operations and could be training these national servicemen as well. We need strength in the north, both at home and further away, as assistance and reassurance to the Malayan and Singapore areas. I support the Prime Minister’s statement as a practical step towards building the economy and societies in regions to the north of Australia.
– The Parliament has been debating at some length the statement on defence made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on 25th February last. To my mind it is only right that such an important matter as the defence of one’s country should arouse members of this House to the fullest degree. It is obvious to members of the Australian Labor Party that for a considerable time the Government has been wailing and wallowing in the waters of confusion as to what Australia’s future defence plans should be, particularly in the Malayan and Singapore areas, since the United Kingdom Government decided to withdraw her forces east of the Suez by 1971. Some honourable members on the Government side would like to see Australia try to take over the United Kingdom’s role in this region. I believe that in Malaysia and Singapore this would be utterly absurd, would be beyond our economic capacity, would be undiplomatic, unwise and unnecessary, and that to some extent it would be impertinent of us to take over or to try to take over the United Kingdom’s role. Such a role would be treated as being that of the big white policemen in this region of Asia.
I think that at times we kid ourselves too much. Europeans have had it in Asia. Let us be frank about it; the European is on the way out. The history of the white man’s exploitation of the Asian people in years gone by is now being taught to the new generations of Asia. Beneath the surface of their thinking our presence is repugnant to the Asians today, and the fact that we are rendering practical assistance is viewed by many Asians with suspicion because of past history. If you can get an Asian to be frank and sincere with you in confidential talks he will tell you what I have said. I have had the experience of their suspicions of Europeans and white men.
– Where did you have these conversations?
– It would not be in your presence because you would twist it to suit the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. You have been suspected of being an informant, althoughI do not believe you are. The Prime Minister on 28th February last told the House among other things that Australia was to keep in the Singapore area 1,200 troops, one naval vessel and two squadrons of Mirage fighters totalling fortytwo aircraft in all. He said that Australia would maintain a jungle warfare training school. Many Australians whom I have spoken to believe that we would be wiser to use Australian based jungle training schools to train the Malaysian and Singaporean troops in jungle warfare and allow them to return to their countries to train their own nationals. I believe there is some wisdom in a scheme such as this, and that it would be less offensive to those millions of Asians who believe in the principle of Asia for the Asiatics. In a news broadcast which I heard a day or so ago the Indonesian Prime Minister did not support Australian and New Zealand troops being maintained in Singapore. The news bulletin said that he did not condemn the Australian and New Zealand Governments for their decisions to retain a military force in Singapore after the British withdrawal in 1971. The Australian Labor Party believes that the Australian forces should be withdrawn when thelast of the United Kingdom forces leave this region, which is expected to be in 1971.
– Is this the full force? Will it be all the troops?
– Both Navy and Air Force?
– Yes, I believe so.
– Which policy is this?
– This is a Labor Partypolicy. I believe it is the opinion of people throughout the world that in the interests of world peace all nations should return their armed forces behind their own territorial boundaries as soon as possible. I commend the very forthright oration of the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison) in this House this afternoon; it was on the same lines. The only foreign troops permitted to enter another’s country - I welcome this day - should be United Nations military forces to quell internal disputes or civil wars, and the sooner that this is achieved the sooner the world will be taking positive steps to bring about a more peaceful world. Indonesia, with whom we are enjoying friendly relations now, is still reported - this is something we never hear from the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) with his extensive knowledge on international affairs - to be massacring hundreds or thousands of progressive thinking people in that country.
– What is a progressive thinker in your opinion?
– He is a person who wants to lift the standard of living of those who have been exploited down through the ages. That is what I regard as being a progressive thinker. They call them left wingers and Communists and think that gives them the right to murder. This is taking place particularly in parts of Java, but we never hear any honourable members mention this in the Parliament. There is no protest from the Government. We should ask the Indonesian Government if this is a fact. If it is a fact, we should ask Indonesia to do something to curtail those actions. We have the temerity to call ourselves hounourable members.
– You are an honourable member.
– Yes, but I speak up on these things that you have not the courage to speak up on in case you lose a few votes in your electorate. Why are we not voicing disapproval of this action if it is true? Are we not entitled to ask if it is true? What would be our Government’s action if the position were reversed? We would want to send troops to Indonesia to put down the so-called Communist menace, as we have done in Vietnam. Can Government members who will follow me in this debate comment on these matters? I understand that the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) is to speak later; he is a man who bears a reputation of integrity and forthrightness. I would like to ask the honourable member for St George whether he approves of these things. Has he tried to persuade his Government to find out whether this butchery is still going on in Indonesia? Why does not the Government raise its voice against it? Such incidents must be of concern to decent minded Australians. Or do we favour barbarity of the kind perpetrated in Java by a section of the Indonesian army? We condemn the Communists if they behave in this way in Vietnam or Malaysia and Singapore. Or should we, as a small nation still with a degree of respectability, refrain from participation with troops and instead urge with all our power that the United Nations intervene, particularly in Java and neighbouring regions? I have never believed that we should have troops stationed in any foreign country unless they are under the direction of the United Nations. Of are we to follow the course that we are now following - to remain silent when barbarity is perpetrated by our friends and to urge military support when it is perpetrated by those who are not our friends?
Obviously the Government has been in a dilemma for some time about defence planning. It is still confused and divided. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) applauded the Prime Minister for his decision to maintain Australian troops in Singapore, but according to an article which appeared in the ‘Canberra Times’ on 17th March the Prime Minister displayed true Australian spirit in trying to persuade the Cabinet that troops should not be left in Singapore and Malaysia. The article referred to a speech made in Melbourne recently by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John). The article reads:
The Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, had opposed the ‘forward defence’ policy to which Australia is now committed, according to Mr Edward St John, a NSW Liberal MP.
He said it seemed clear that the Prime Minister, if not actually advocating Fortress Australia, stood at the opposite end of the coalition spectrum’.
He was addressing the ‘Defend Australia Committee’ during a defence symposium in Melbourne on Saturday. A copy of his speech was made available in Canberra.
We all know that the integrity of the honourable member for Warringah is beyond reproach. He is a forthright honest politician. Apparently at one time the Prime Minister did not support the Government’s policy of forward defence. He was more inclined towards the Labor Party’s policy regarding our having troops in Malaysia and Singapore. If the article in the ‘Canberra Times’ is correct - I have no reason to doubt it - the Prime Minister was advocating a Fortress Australia concept which has been denounced by so many Government supporters.
– What about the mobile force that will move to any point in South East Asia?
– I believe that if the circumstances ever justified such a course being adopted it would be wise to have a force mobilised in the northern part of Australia to be sent, by decision of the United Nations, to an area of South East Asia where turmoil existed. The United Kingdom is doing this. There was political turbulence and instability on the island of Mauritius not long before it was granted independence last year. Within 24 hours a considerable number of British Army and Air Force personnel were flown from Singapore. At this very time Britain has, within 24 or 48 hours, landed 200 or 2,000-1 forget how many - troops on the island of Anguilla in the Caribbean.
– It was 90.
– A lot more are probably still on the boat. If the British have landed only ninety they have acted wisely. It is another example of astute British diplomacy designed not to aggravate the situation. When defence forces can be moved around the world with such rapidity it is imperative that the Australian Government adhere to Labor’s policy of keeping our troops within our borders.
It would appear from the article in the Canberra Times’ that the Prime Minister was outvoted in the Cabinet by the former Minister for External Affairs, now Sir Paul Hasluck, Governor-General elect, and the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall). Their respective Departments supported them to the hilt in their bid to retain Australian troops in Malaysia and Singapore. It appears that the two strong men of Cabinet stood for an official commitment of Australian ground forces to the Malaysia-Singapore region. I see a real danger in the Government’s decision to maintain fighting forces in the area. This danger will arise not so much in the immediate future as in about 1971. If we have troops in the area and civil war breaks out, similar to the war in Vietnam, we will be involved.- Which side do we support? Obviously we will support the antiCommunist or anti-Socialist side. Then the Communists in the region will say: ‘If it is good enough for our opponents to have troops from Australia and New Zealand to help them it is good enough for us to have the assistance of volunteers from North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Kerala, Russia or China’. It is as simple as that. If foreign troops are stationed in a country to support one section of society then the other section of society will be provoked to seek the support of volunteers from a Socialist or Communist country.
– How do you define a volunteer?
– It is easy. He is a person not committed by the Government’s obnoxious conscription laws. ‘
– One who volunteers for service.
-Yes. There are thousands of them in Socialist countries who want to go to the assistance of North Vietnam.
– To avoid being sent to Siberia.
– I would not say that. By the Government’s decision to retain a defence force in Malaysia and Singapore we are committed to the sending of more and more troops to the area. In my humble opinion the Government’s decision is unwise and unAustralian. I know that it is appealing to senior members of the defence forces to sojourn in Malaysia and Singapore and experience all the attention that is lavished on one by an unfortunate peasantry whose living standards are so much lower than ours. We know that the wives of pur servicemen stationed in this part of the world enjoy the privilege of having so much domestic help that by the time they return to Australia some of them have forgotten all their knowledge of domestic chores. Of course, this situation could influence the Chiefs of Staff to recommend that Australia retain troops in Malaysia and Singapore. I know that this is the view of some high ranking defence personnel.
I live opposite the old Rathmines air base. Several senior defence personnel have told me that they think the base should be maintained as a recreational unit for members of the defence forces. 1 do not believe that the members of the defence forces should be treated shabbily, but I believe that to maintain a place like Rathmines for recreational purposes the burden of cost on the taxpayer would be frightening. It was far too big for that sort of thing, but it goes to show that the thinking of some of these people in highly responsible positions is out of step with the thinking of the ordinary Australian citizen. We learn from the Prime Minister’s statement that Australia has allotted some $41m for the supply of equipment to the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Malaysian Police and the Singapore Armed Forces. The Prime Minister also stated that another $4m has been allocated by the Australian Government for the provision of specialised training courses and for meeting part of the cost of the Australian servicemen seconded to the Malaysian Armed Forces.
It is my firm view that the Labor Party’s policy in connection with this defence statement in regard to the defence of South East Asia is in the best interests of the Australian people, and if it is not appreciated at this particular time in Australia’s history, history will prove that our advocacy of returning the troops at the termination of the British occupation in 1971 is correct. The Prime Minister himself apparently is sympathetic to our view in view of the statements published in the newspapers.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am rather fascinated by the temerity of the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) in endeavouring to call to order this side of the House and seeking that I do that in regard to internal matters in Indonesia and the decimation of the population in certain parts of that country or, as he terms it, the slaughter. I look on this with a rather interested fascination because this gentleman, over a long period of time, has a record which shows a unique capacity for sympathy with the very organisations and countries which caused so much havoc in Indonesia and the situation which prevails there today. I remind the honourable gentleman that during the 1950s and in the early 1960s, whilst Indonesia writhed, endeavouring to gain some equilibrium in its economy and also cope with its internal problems, it was permeated by the very system with which he, as I say, on numerous occasions has shown a unique capacity for sympathy. I refer to the Communist infiltration into Indonesia in particular into Java. These people infiltrated during the difficult years which faced Indonesia and with graft and corruption endeavoured to create anarchy. In turn, they caused a resurgence amongst the people and divided them to such a degree that they have now reacted against one another.
It is typical of the honourable member for Hunter that he should pursue a line in this regard. His record and the record of his sympathies are not good when applied to the Indonesian scene, and he has little cause to criticise this side of the House in its approach to Indonesian matters. The fact of the matter is that, probably together with the rest of his Party on the other side of the House, he is trying to avoid the point that the Prime Minister’s statement on defence on behalf of the Government is a clear cut, definitive and incisive declaration of Australia’s attitude on that portion of our defence policy which directly affects the South East Asian region. It confirms the belief of most Australians, old and new, that a young and enterprising nation like ours, for the sake of its people must not only venture into, but stay in the greater arenas of the world at large, particularly those which are contiguous areas of direct national importance. These real Australians require a Government to develop a nation which is international in its outlook, a substantial and identifiable unit in world affairs, prepared to back that identity with courage and purpose - economically socially, politically and, if required, militarily.
Labor believes that you can help yourself to the good things of this world, but avoid the responsibilities - the real responsibilities^ - not only of defending your own beliefs and way of life but also of being prepared to stand by others who may be intimidated by the ‘bullies’ of the international theatre of events. It has been and is still argued that the only answer to the militant threat of international Communism is economic development. Be that as it may, with its great value according to the relativity of the situation, but it is of substantially lesser consequence to a nation which has the living problem of Communist-inspired insurrection with it already or indeed the threat of such activity continually hovering in the vicinity of its borders. What these nations want, in addition to economic and technical assistance - particularly the smaller countries - are gilt-edged assurances, identification of intent in the event of military pressure and Communist insurrection. In a world of broken pledges, masterful political equivocation, and downright treachery in international affairs, promises of assistance, of possible assistance and maybe assistance are empty gestures. Under this arrangement outlined by the Prime Minister, if an unhappy crisis arrives, the nations of South East Asia know where we are; small as it may be, it is a clear-cut identification of our intent. This must radiate some confidence in the area in face of the British withdrawal. It must mean the acceptance of Australia as a genuinely interested Asian power, lt must make it easier for our friends in Washington to convince the United States electorate. It must tell aggressive forces that Australia is not frightened, and will not be bullied.
The psychology of forward defence in this area evolved over 30 years and it remained that way until recent times. In recent years, as nations in this area obtained their complete freedom of political thinking and developed a defence capacity of their own, it has clearly taken on a character of regional co-operation. This is the clear-cut significance of this decision and statement. We have now moved into the era of regional co-operation. The reactions of Indonesia and the Philippines indicate that, wittingly or unwittingly, they were waiting for or appreciate the lead given by Australia in association with Singapore and Malaysia. We can expect to have greater co-operation from these nations and to be joined in further arrangements by other nations of the area, not excluding Japan and Taiwan. This clear-cut identification of intent and the responsive co-operation must be some sort of deterrent - small as the force may be - and that is all we seek. If we desired a fight the force would be substantially larger. It would certainly be no deterrent for Australia to be huffing and puffing, even in time of crisis, behind a’ wall’ of ‘coastline cosiness’. Much less would it assist our credibility in the area of the world where we have been and still are striving for identification. The objective of the Government is to contribute Australia’s portion to preserving the military and political stability of the area in order that the economic and social progress can be continued, expanded and improved.
The fortress philosophy is negative and untenable. I would hope that its association with the Prime Minister was simply due to the necessity for a new man in such a responsible position, and with so many planets of uncertainty crowding him in the South East Asian scene to investigate all possibilities and alternatives. .The fact that he and the Cabinet have come down unequivocally on the side of regional cooperation is fortifying to the nation, as well as our friends. It will .assure that vast majority of Australians who so dearly want us to retain our pride as a nation sharing and assuming our international responsibilities, retaining our many allies, large and small. The Government’s policy will, in addition, give encouragement to all clearthinking Australians to resist and reject the insidious infiltration of their thinking by the left wing and pro-Marxist theorists who are continually encouraging the lesser line of resistance like the negative defence policy of the Opposition.
Through the shoals of mass international re-alignments and shifts of power, of the emergence of Communist doctrine in the East, of its own national development, of the development of its own economic viability, Australia has achieved an international policy and built a defence policy which has the respect of nations. Whatever the deficiencies of our policy in defence, it has never lacked in courage or stability. This value must have its effect on our friends, reflecting to them a reliability and instilling a confidence, or at least a measure of confidence, for regional co-operation in South East Asia and the associated areas.
On the other hand, a study of Labor’s up and down foreign policy over the last 20 to 25 years is a gloomy exercise indeed. We would be fortunate to have a friend left if Labor’s advice had been followed. It kicked the United States out of Manus Island, ft did not want to be in Korea, or in Malaya in the first place. In 1962-63 Labor somersaulted when the West New Guinea affair was at its inflammable best. The then leader of the Labor Party, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), wanted right or wrong to load up the muskets and get right on in there. Add to this that half of the members of the Labor Party want to get out of Vietnam find it is easy to determine what a mess Australia would find itself in if it followed Labor’s advice.
The Opposition’s left wing masters would have the Parliament and the nation believe that they and they alone are sensitive to world and international requirements and thinking when, in fact, the situation is completely the opposite. If the message has not reached them in the past, surely the dull thud of adverse reaction which resulted from the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) must make some impression on the previously impervious minds of honourable members opposite. Not one newspaper, not one of the mass media, has lifted a hand to acknowledge the Labor Party with this effort. Led by the Returned Services League, every responsible body has turned its back on this astonishing piece of negativism, Fortress Australia. The Australian people must be constantly reminded throughout this year of this situation - the Labor Party and its defence policy.
One of the primary assumptions upon which the Labor Party apparently established its stand was the presence of Indonesia as our nearest and most populous neighbour, and that she has attitudes to Australia akin to those prevailing in Sukarno’s day. Again, what a miscalculation of the real position. The statement by Djakarta that it understood the proposals and had no objection to them must have echoed like a thunderclap to the Opposition, particularly to its Deputy Leader who has developed so much of his defence theory on the antipathy of Indonesia. Not only does this mis judgment undermine - indeed render untenable - his theories on Australia’s defence but it also reveals that he is out of touch with South East Asian feelings. He has not sensed the changing tone in Indonesia, nor the logical moves which Indonesia must consider in the near future if she is intent on retaining the present orientation of government. It is logical that she must consider the determination of the free countries of the area to resist militant and subversive Communism. She must now be impressed by the expressions of loyalty to the area of nations like Australia and the United States. She must be reconsidering the value of regional co-operation. I believe that she must also be appraising the direction in which her best opportunities lie for rehabilitation, development and stability. I believe that when she has analysed her situation there will bc no doubt that she will move closer to the spectrum of influence to which Australia belongs.
I believe that Indonesia will unite in regional policies and pacts. Was it not this great nation that proposed the concept of Maphilindo? General Suharto’s predecessor may have been limited by delusions of grandeur with himself and Djakarta as the dominating focal point. The lack of reality in Sukarno’s dreams is very apparent to the present Government. But this is not to say that Indonesia would not appreciate the virtues of a wider concept of Maphilindo - that of regional co-operation of all well meaning free nations of the area for obvious mutual benefits to bc gained. Tt must be a tremendous disappointment to the traditional supporters of the Opposition to see their Party singularly lacking in any progress in thinking, particularly in international affairs and defence matters. The Opposition just does not seem to realise the new sitaution which has evolved and which is still evolving in this part of the world. Does it not realise that the United Kingdom, for all fundamental purposes, has gone? The countries of the area are gradually assuming the responsibilities. Does not the Opposition give any consideration to the fact that it will take time? We are expected to be there. The Government says we will be there. The Opposition says: ‘No, we will not be there.’ I believe that this statement, this attitude and this policy of the Opposition is antipathetic; that it is couched in sophistries which delude nobody; and that to the consternation of the electorate it reveals that the Opposition has learnt nothing since its shattering rejection in 1966.
– I must say that I am a little taken aback that I have been asked to speak now. I would have thought that the Australian Labor Party would be clamouring to hold its position in this debate on the defence statement presented by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). But I suppose that at some time we will hear the reason for this display of disinterest. It is incredible to think that the national Parliament is placed in the position in which no-one speaks for the Labor Party at the appropriate time. Still, that is by the way.
Any defence policy must proceed from one basic assumption: Who is to be the enemy? This applies to all countries, whether it is a country in this part of the world or in Europe or in Latin America. Whom have we to fear? What is the nature of the threat? They are the basic questions that stand behind every defence policy. This afternoon I want to put one -proposition to the Parliament, and it is this: The threat that faces this country has not changed over the years. Allied with that I want to put the proposition that this threat is not peculiar to any part of the world; it is, in fact, world wide. In developing that argument I want to show that the front is world wide and that an attack which is made upon a power in South East Asia has as much relevance to the peoples of the countries in Europe as it has to the people immediately under attack.
The great tragedy of contemporary time is the tendency to put into compartments activities in this world - to take the view that what happens in South East Asia is the concern of the people who live there, and their concern alone. I have stated a proposition. I now cite my authority for that proposition. I read from pages 78 and 79 of a statement issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to mark the 50th anniversary of the Russian Socialist Revolution:
Fulfilling Lenin’s teachings, the Soviet people and Communist Party have, during the past SO years, consistently pursued a policy of interna tionalism, in line with the principle of the indivisibility of the international and national tasks of the country where socialism had triumphed.
The great aim of the Soviet people, the building of Communism, is also its chief internationalist cause. Working heroically the Soviet people have transformed their country into an invincible citadel of socialism which is exerting growing influence on world affairs. The establishment of a new social system, and the constant growth of its economic and defence potential are decisive factors further altering the balance of forces in the world today to the detriment of imperialism and reaction, and strengthening the material, political and ideological prerequisites for the victory of the socialist revolution on a world scale.
I apologise for reading such a long extract from that statement. But, it is of great significance. Honourable members will notice the key. They talk about the Socialist revolution on a world scale. This was stated by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. On the same occasion to mark Socialism’s first half century, Mr Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, also spoke. I apologise to honourable members in advance for again reading an extract, but I assure them that it is not so lengthy. Mr Brezhnev said:
In recent decades, the revolutionary process has gained a truly world-wide scale. There is no area in the world where the struggle for social and national liberation has not spread in one or another form. Imperialism is attacked from different sides. Even its positions which but recently seemed invulnerable have’ been shaken. Lenin’s prediction that in the struggle against capitalism the most diverse forces and movements will emerge in a single torrent is coming true.
My authorities are the Central Committee of the Communist Party and its General Secretary, Mr Brezhnev. What those statements amount to, put in shorthand, is simply this: The Communists have but one goal - world domination. This goal has not been retreated from, it has not been modified and it has not been abandoned. The paradox of that is to reflect upon the fact that in proportion to the acceptance of the view that there is a detente between the Soviet and the rest of the world, so the Soviet’s activities proceed apace, unchecked and unchallenged. It is an incredible paradox when we sit back and. think about it. In proportion to the fact that people take the view that the Soviet has abandoned its goal of world domination, so they assert it and people disbelieve their assertion. I do not know whether it is that the intellectual resilience of the Western world has become weakened or softened or whether our powers of elementary discipline have been broken up in some form or other. I do not know what the explanation is. But 1 do assert that the great incredible paradox of our time is the fact that the Soviet on the one hand continues to proclaim its goal of world domination and on the other hand a surprising part of the world which is threatened by that goal does not believe it.
I know of no Marxist-Leninist theoretician or of any other Communist theoretician who has abandoned what Mr Brezhnev wrote and what the Central Committee stated. I must say, not in any testy form, that I find it a little difficult to flatter those who may have opinions on this matter when it is pretty plain that they have not read even an elementary text book on Marx-Leninism. I think that one can deservedly be excused from casting admiring glances at people who assert that plumbers are admirably fitted for performing appendectomies. This is the nature of the crisis that we face today and the challenge that is upon us. People say it simply does not exist. Look at the speech that came from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in relation to the defence statement. He used such terms as ‘this is a hangover from the past’, ‘vestigial’, this sane dogma’. He also said that the Prime Minister has a ‘garrison mentality’. The Leader of the Opposition used such expressions as ‘this is a myth’ and ‘living in the past’. Does the honourable gentleman argue that what Mr Brezhnev has said is a myth? If that is so, it seems to me that he, too, is off on some frolic of his own and will not come to grips with reality.
If we recall what has happened in recent times we find any amount of evidence to underpin what Mr Brezhnev and the Central Committee stated. For example, when in August of last year the Czechoslovakian invasion took place what did Mr Kosygin, the Soviet Premier, say? He said that the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was a sacred international duty. He did not say that the Russians were there to restore order. To him it was a sacred international duty. My thesis, therefore, is twofold. Firstly, I believe that the real threat we force is world wide and, secondly, I believe that its significance should be appparent to every free country of the world. No country should imagine for one moment that it can be or is isolated against that threat. Self interest regrettably assumes most deceptive proportions and isolation can arouse the illusion of safety. There is in fact no safety.
In South East Asia we have been involved for a number of years in the Vietnam conflict. This has stirred a great deal of debate in this country. I respect people who hold views but I beseech them to try to inform themselves before they express their views with great vigour. Most of the views that have been expressed about South Vietnam range regrettably between the fanciful and the misleading. The simple fact of our involvement in South Vietnam is that in that country today there is the current expression of Soviet aggrandisement. Soviet ships go into Haiphong as indeed do some British flag ships. I may have time to say something about that later. But the hardware of war goes into this port. Today the bombing of North Vietnam has been stopped. I wonder whether honourable gentlemen opposite are disturbed by the fact that the supply of weapons of war, ammunition, food and whatnot has ben stepped up tremendously since the bombing stopped. The Ho Chi Minh trail which at one time was made difficult today is a piece of cake compared with what it was for the transport of weapons of war and the bits and pieces of logistic supply. Is this a myth? Is this something of living in the past? Is this vestigial? Is this part of a garrison mentality? I say to the honourable gentleman who leads the Opposition that it is about time he came to grips with reality.
The honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) this afternoon spoke about the domino theory. I know that there are some smart gentlemen in universities who say: Oh no, it has no relevance’. But those who live in the area take the view that it does have a very sharp relevance. Of course, when one comes to consider South East Asia, it can be seen that the political instability and the social instability fuse together with the overall Soviet objective. I wonder whether the Leader of the Opposition would have any explanation to offer to the House and to the country regarding the North Vietnamese activity in Laos. There are over 40,000 North Vietnamese troops in Communist-held territory in Laos today working with their comrades in arms, the members of the Pathet Lao. Is this a myth? Is this an illusion as far as the people of Laos are concerned? The Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia, in terms of the Australian and New Zealand contribution to their countries, have welcomed it and welcomed it for very sound reasons. For example, Mr Lee Kuan Yew said that in th; longer run it is the economic progress and social betterment which decides whether two countries can withstand external and internal pressure or manipulation. It is very real to him. He has the responsibility of high office in his own tiny country. But he is discharging that responsibility by speaking with some sense pf realism.
I have referred to Vietnam. I now want to say some harsh things about the conduct of the war in Vietnam. I am not going to argue whether or not we should have been involved in Vietnam. My views on that are clearly known. I have said time and time again that I believe this is the current or contemporary expression of Communist conspiracy throughout the world. But once having become involved in South Vietnam I think there was the plainest obligation on our part to ensure that the war there was won. We have been involved in a war in which the politicians have said: ‘We do not want to win’. I have heard this said in this House and I do not want to stir old memories or break open old wounds. I have read time and time again where it has been said in the United States of America. It is a strange doctrine to say that men should be sent into battle and at the same time be told ‘We do not want you to win’. There is no army commander in the world, who has written upon this, who does not regard this as being a most unreal attitude towards war. It is called, in the jargon of the day, the ‘flexible response doctrine’. That is to say, sufficient forces are built up merely to contain the enemy. What does the enemy think about the flexible response doctrine? It has been ridiculed by the North Vietnamese Minister of Defence, General Giap who has written:
The fact that the American imperialists have been forced to fight a protracted war is a big defeat for them. The more protracted the war is, the more fierce will be the basic contradictions and weaknesses of the aggressive war of the United States imperialists in South Vietnamcontradictions and weaknesses that will lead them to increasingly big defeats.
If I may put the question more pointedly to members from both sides of this House who have seen service in a war: Would any of them like to have been involved in a war that they were not allowed to win? Whatever our views may have been on the conduct of the last war at least there was the plainest of determination on the part of those in control to see that the war was won. I am not advocating, in any irrational or irresponsible way, escalation, although that has become a dread swear word, but what would have happened in 1964, for example, if 600,000 American troops had been put into South Vietnam? That would have been regarded as massive escalation, but if it had been done and if the Ho Chi Minh trail had been cut, then the prospect of peace today in South Vietnam would be very real indeed. How, may I ask my friends wherever they may sit in the House, would they feel if they had been the pilots of American aircraft sent to knock out rocket bases around Hanoi and they were not able to get to the bases because the aircraft were shot out of the sky, particularly if a few months before they had seen the rocket bases being installed? One “cannot use harsh language about this, but it’ deserves to be used.
The conduct of the war . in South Vietnam in terms of a military operation has been nothing less than scandalous. The Australian people have the right to say to those who come to the national Parliament: If you commit men into the field you have an obligation to support ‘ them in every possible way, and you also have an obligation to ensure that their personal safety is safeguarded in every possible way’. Some time ago the United States Senate Committee on the Armed Services considered the bombing of North Vietnam. Those who gave evidence before that Committee included men ranging from such high authorities as Admiral Sharp, the CommanderinChief of the Pacific Forces, down to Major-General Meyers, formerly Deputy-Commander of the1 7th Air Force in Siagon. There were some twelve or fourteen army commanders. Not one of them argued the point that the conduct of the war in South Vietnam had been badly handled. They said, in effect, that they had fought the war in South Vietnam with one arm tied behind their backs. That has been the way in which the war has been conducted there.
Meanwhile, back on the home front, the social and political guerillas have been let loose, as referred to this afternoon by my colleague and friend the honourable and gallant member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). Political propaganda has been continued on the social and home front. There have been the two forces at work and, as a consequence, the nature of the war in South Vietnam has been completely distorted and completely misunderstood. Time does not permit me to examine these matters in detail, but I put to the House the proposition that this conflict is world-wide in its nature. I have already put it to the House that in my view the conduct of the war in South Vietnam should have been aimed at securing a military victory. It is not fair to commit men to fight in a conflict if they are put in a position where they are not allowed to fight to win. This business of saying: You can contain the enemy* is completely false. It has been despised and ridiculed by those whom we oppose. If people believe that there is any short cut in ensuring that their security and freedom can be found, I can only say that they, too, have succumbed to Communist propaganda.
– I should like to take part in this rather unusual debate where one member of this side of the House follows another. This rather spoils the debate. I presume it is because one side has a very good case, and a very good Press on a very excellent Prime Minister’s statement which was clear, concise and unequivocal. The other side perhaps has not such a clear attitude to these matters. Some honourable members may have had the opportunity of reading a book, ‘Australian Defence Policy and Arrangements’, by L. H. Barnard. Frankly, many of the statements in this book cause me to question whether Mr L. H. Barnard, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, wrote it. However, it does purport to be an exposition of Australian Labor Party thinking on defence matters and on matters relating to the regional and economic advance of developing countries to our north.
What, in fact, has been the Opposition’s reaction - when we can get one - to this particular defence statement? By and large it has been a dissertation pointing out, firstly, that the Government’s role in these matters is an outmoded and traditional one - a matter to which I shall refer back presently - and, secondly, that as a matter of firm Opposition policy it would never again back the presence of white legs in South East Asia. The Opposition’s alternative tq this is to say: ‘We do, however, in certain circumstances see wisdom in sending Navy and Air Force commitments to this area’. Let us just analyse these two points, because I think they are rather interesting. I start with the second point first. Let us consider the Opposition’s idea that we should have a highly mobile force, composed of those two branches of our Armed Services, to rush at a moment’s notice to some temporary problem spot. This is the hypothesis that the Opposition puts forward. What has happened in the past in relation to this matter? I trust that honourable members’ memories are good enough to remember exactly what the Seamen’s Union of Australia did to the ‘Boonaroo’ and ‘Jeparit’ a short while ago. There was a long delay in sending urgently required parts, equipment, facilities and stores to our troops in Vietnam. What sort of a situation would we have if we were to rely on the 72-hour mobility theory that the Labor Party has plucked out qf. the clouds to serve a regional and economic situation in that area? Obviously the proposal is nonsensical. It could not be done. We would not believe it possible any more than we really believe that the United Kingdom could send forces out from the middle of an English winter, without training, to go into a difficult situation in Papua and New Guinea with its hot and humid climate.
Some years back when Korea was a trouble spot what did we find? Once again we had problems in loading reserves, equipment and forces for that area. I do not regard the Labor Party’s policy on defence as being in any way valid. It is too dependent on weaknesses that have already been proved and quite apart from other matters such as whether nations in the developing areas want or do not want Australian forces there, it does not seem to me to be a practical proposition.
Let us have a look at the first matter I raised and that is whether, according to the Opposition’s contention, the Government is acting in an old hat, traditional fashion. I submit to the House that this is not so. Indeed the boot is on the. other foot entirely. After the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) delivered his defence statement, I cut out various headlines from the newspapers. We find, for instance, that Denis Warner, in an article headed ‘Defence - The Australian Way’, used expressions such as: not a matter of kow-towing to big nations or anything else.
The new look. . . .
Australia has made a unilateral decision to help the stability and economic growth of those areas.
Defence - The Australian Way - Forces of friendship.
The editorial in this newspaper said, under the heading ‘Good Sense on Defence’: ‘
Mr Gorton’s statement on defence commitments in South East Asia contained few surprises. But it was firm and well reasoned in presenting the expected decision to station some Australian ground forces, as well as naval and air units, in Malaysia-Singapore after the British withdrawal. …
Here we have a man like Warner, with his very great knowledge of South East Asia, propounding the views of many people in those areas and of the governments of South East Asian nations.
I have taken the trouble to collect some forty statements made by various Asian leaders. I do not think I will weary the House with them. However, as the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) is present, I point out that some years ago Lee Kuan Yew invited Opposition members to visit the area and to discuss defence matters with him. When this team of Opposition members returned to Australia, nothing was said until the honourable member for Batman had the fortitude to reveal what had been said to that group of Opposition members. I know that the honourable member will agree with me, except perhaps for a word here and there, when I suggest that Lee Kuan Yew told that Opposition team in no uncertain terms what he thought of their current attitude on defence in the Asian region. The honourable member for Batman had courage enough to get up and say exactly what had been said. That may be why he sits more or less on the cross benches at this time. His sincerity and his knowledge of defence matters were too much for the Opposition members. They said: ‘You have too much knowledge. We want to talk only about matters on the surface and to pontificate.’
I return to a consideration of who is adopting a traditional and old fashioned view and I shall quote, if I may, from a debate in this chamber in 1955. At that time the attitude of the Opposition was quite clearly summed up by a man of great intellectural prowess and capacity, Dr Evatt, who was then the Leader of the Opposition. He said:
Australia’s true role in South East Asia will not be helped but obstructed by the present proposal to send our armed forces to Malaya, either for garrison duty or to take part in jungle fighting. This will lead only to acute misunderstanding between the Asian peoples in Malaya and Australia.
He developed this theme for some time. I ask the House: Who holds the oldfashioned and traditional view on this argument? Has this country not for the first time adopted a solid stand, a unilateral stand, according to the wishes of the South East Asian countries, to help them achieve stability and economic growth? Who is oldfashioned? Who is old hat?
Dr Evatt said that our forces in Malaya would lead to misunderstandings that would militate against our future relationship with that country. What has happened? Would anyone suggest that the attitude of Lee Kuan Yew and the Tunku today in any way conveys the impression that our relations have become more strained? Of course, this is nonsense. Our relations with those countries over the years have become better and better. I do not pretend for one minute that this is because our armed forces are there. But let us be generous and say that our armed forces have been in Malaya on and off and have helped the Malayans clean up the ‘Chi-coms’; but our relations have never been better. Who is old hat? Who has been traditional? Whose thinking has been outmoded? I leave it to honourable members to make up their own minds.
I come to the defence statement. It contains some points that deserve to be taken up. In his opening remarks the Prime Minister mentioned several factors in the developing nations to our north that are of grave interest to Australia. He said:
Indeed, the stability and security of the area rests on many things. It rests on the avoidance of territorial or other disputes between the countries in the region. It rests on the economic progress of those countries and on the capacity and willingness of rulers there to see that that economic progress is reflected in the raising of the standards of living of the ordinary people, lt rests on peaceful co-operation between those countries in many fields. And these are the bases without which there will not be enduring stability.
Therefore, these are the goals which Australia, through diplomatic effort, through economic assistance, through assistance in the field of trade, will strive to help these countries attain.
Those are the aims of this country and 1 suggest there is no better way of thinking of them. Behind them all surely is the realisation that these aims cannot be attained unless there is some stability in the area.
If we consider the views of governments in the area, we see once again that there is no room for any different argument. I trust that honourable members can think back to the official luncheon that we gave not long ago to the Prime Minister of Laos. I trust they can think back to the comments of Lee Kuan Yew, whether his views are being aired through the mouth of the honourable member for Batman or in any other way. All these are valid comments. We do not ever want to have forces in a nation that does not want them, and in that respect I agree with Dr Evatt. I do not believe we ever will have forces stationed in a nation that does not welcome them. I notice that this approach was described by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) in an excellent speech shortly after the Prime Minister made his statement as having an element of risk in it. But, goodness me, surely the risk to this country is worth taking if we can assure the stability of nations to our north, if we can assure their economic growth and if we can learn to live more closely with them.
If there is any other area to which we should give attention, surely, as the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) suggested, we must look carefully at Indonesia. Here was a country where the whole picture of insurgency and of small groups of men being trained in the use of armaments and in piracy, murder, killing and stealing was apparent. Here was a nation where a small group of men virtually denied the thinking of the majority of the people. I think we can thank our lucky stars that Suharto at this point in time had the ability to grasp his opportunity and to stop forever in that country, we hope, the advancement of Communism in the area.
I am afraid that I am not one of those who looks for a Communist under every bush. I can envisage’ certain areas in which, by comparison with others, Communism is probably a very good ideology to fit the situation. But, in the Indonesian situation, it did not amout to a consensus of thinking or opinion. If anything has proved the point, it has been the economic advancement, which has given Australians, 1 think, great pleasure to witness, that has gone on in Indonesia now that a more responsible economic policy has been set. These are the things that the Australian Government today, due to its initiative, its own thinking - not due to the interplay of big national politics - and in its own determined singlehanded fashion has put towards the people of those nations. This action by the Government has given some feeling of relief, I hope, to countries in those areas, and in particular Malaysia and Singapore, with which this statement deals. It has become apparent that British forces will disappear from South East Asia by 1971. It was vitally important that someone should come forward and give these people this feeling of stability.
No matter what the Opposition might say about Vietnam today, the fact of the matter is that even in that country we see now a government that probably is the best government that South Vietnam has had for a long, long time. Taking into account all the factors involved as to whether or not that Government is properly democratic on our judgment, the fact of the matter is that the election was a gamble well! worth taking. Today, the Vietnamese Government holds office with majority backing in that nation. There can be no doubt about that.
– The honourable member for Hindmarsh says rubbish. I can think of one member of his party who tried to deny to the people of South Vietnam the opportunity of holding an election. If that is not gross interference in the internal affairs of another nation I do not know what it is. It is exactly this view that I am dead against. These nations should have the right of their own volition to express their own opinions freely through the ballot box. The aim of the Prime Minister and the Australian Government is to correct just the type of illustration that the honourable member for Hindmarsh aims to put forward for his party. We do not believe in letting down these nations in any way; we offer them some stability and some hope for the future. I believe that their future is great. I believe that when the history of these areas is written the action of the Australian Government wil’l receive high praise indeed for the help that it has been able to give these nations along the track to fuller development and their own national aspirations.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, we are debating in this House - or let me say that this side of the House is debating - a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on defence in which he said in the second last paragraph:
This statement has confined itself, as I said it would, to the question of what we are prepared to do in Malaysia-Singapore after the end of 1971. It has touched on me disposition of part of our forces.
I think that history shows that a democratic country is never able to fight the war for which it is prepared. It fights eventually the type of war for which its enemy is prepared.
The enemy knows that its preparations will be ready at a certain time and usually takes the democratic country completely by surprise. The only way that this can be overcome, I suppose, would be for the democratic countries, or the Western Powers in this case, to decide that they themselves were going to declare war and prepare accordingly. I think that the same history of democracy has shown that we concentrate on obtaining defensive forces rather than offensive forces even though this puts us very much behind in our planning and what we are able to do if the time ever comes when a war is declared upon us.
This is the way in which we must consider this defence statement which sets out rather clearly as its main point what Australia proposes to do in one part of South East Asia after the complete British withdrawal in 1971. In the first paragraph of his statement the Prime Minister said:
Any examination of our policy in relation to our neighbours of the north will show that we have encouraged them to develop policies promoting political stability and economic growth, promoting their own defence capabilities in association with our own forces and those of our allies and promoting regional co-operation.
I think that most of us are aware that away from this House - sometimes even in my own State - visiting dignitaries from the Opposition when they speak about Australia’s policy in the world are constantly decrying the efforts of the Australian Government in respect of aid to countries. They try to convince the Australian people that we are interested only in the destruction of people, in the supplying of arms and munitions, that we are not interested at all in the welfare of people or in any effort to raise their standards of living or to help them to look after themselves completely.
I draw the attention of the House to the booklet that was prepared last year and was used during the debate on the estimates of the Department of Defence. I refer to the Defence Report 1968, in which under the heading ‘Australian Defence’ on page 5, the following appears:
Strategy embraces far more than matters of purely military significance or even of military importance in Asia. Strategy extends to political, economic and social aims and objectives. 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. These considerations have particular force in the current and evolving circumstances of South East Asia.
I know that certain difficulties arose as to the presentation of the 3-year plan or future plan in respect of equipment and deployment of forces. As stated by the Prime Minister, this will follow in another statement. I believe that we are handicapped to a certain extent because the two statements were not made at the same time. However, one could only surmise what might happen. I know that there are difficulties inherent in this and that perhaps by the end of this session or early in the Budget session we will hear what the forces will be getting and will be needing and how the Government, plans to meet the future commitments of Australia and its forces.
In respect of things other than purely hardware in a military sense, I get back to the criticism that is so often levelled against the Government ‘ iti respect of what it is doing. In January this year the Department of External Affairs issued a most interesting booklet on Australia’s international aid, and I would like to place on the records of this House some of the statements that are made under the authority of that Department in respect of Australian aid. I do this during a debate on the defence statement by the Prime Minister purely because, as I stated and as has been stated by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), we cannot look at military equipment alone when we are talking about foreign policy or defence. Therefore, I want the House to note what has been done in the period since this Government came to office some 20 years ago. First of all, as is pointed out so well in this booklet, it is very difficult to make comparisons between expenditure by different nations. Therefore, some yardstick from which to operate has to be found.
The Department has taken the percentage of national income spent on official aid by all countries. The figures for net official aid as a percentage of national income in 1957 show that Australia ranks third in the list of all the countries of the world. Strangely enough, Portugal leads with 1.23%. France is shown with 1.02% and Australia with .79%, and we get down to the United Kingdom with .57% and the United States with .57%. The lowest figure is .03% for Switzerland. I seem to remember that the former Minister for External
Affairs, at the United Nations, made a very telling speech about the way in which many countries were not meeting their obligations and as they themselves Were developing they were not contributing more in the form of aid to underdeveloped nations. When this Government came into office about 20 years ago, the amount of aid contributed by Australia to underdeveloped .countries was almost negligible. It has risen to some $150m over that period in a combination of multilateral and bilateral aid and assistance to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea/ When one realises that we are a nation that depends on our primary production and to a larger extent now on our mineral production for overseas earnings and that we are still an importer of capital,. one can look at these figures and see .that amongst the nations of the world we have more than held our own in our efforts to assist those countries placed near us and those which are in need of development if their standards of living are to rise.
One other thing concerns me. Following the presidential elections’, America has great problems in respect of the . North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Very soon after he was called to the Presidency,. Mr Nixon visited Europe. I, as a person who lives in Australia in the geographical area of South East Asia, view with some concern how this visit can be construed by the nations of the world. In the next few weeks Australia’s views will be discussed with a great deal of skill by the Prime Minister of Australia when he visits the United States. I hope that any of the fears I have in respect of this visit will be allayed by the visit of the Prime Minister to the President. On Tuesday, 4th March, the ‘Age’ had this to say about Mr Nixon’s tour: …
The purpose of his rapid handshaking tour was to leave visiting cards in the Western capitals, to demonstrate that America had elected a European minded President, to invite co-operation in a flexible trans-Atlantic policy to. which any number can contribute.
I would hope that the visit of the Prime Minister of Australia to the. United States will have the Melbourne ‘Age’ and other papers writing leading articles to say that this visit was to convince and had convinced the American President, and had him making the statement that his interest not only lay in Europe but also lay in South East Asia.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was speaking about the visit to Europe of Mr Nixon, the President of the United States of America. I said that I was rather disturbed by the interpretation placed upon that visit by the Melbourne Age’, which said that it was a handshaking tour to demonstrate that America had elected a European minded President. I said that I felt quite sure that when the Australian Prime Minister visited the United States, that orientation would be diverted to Asia where, I believe there lies a much greater threat to world security than exists in Europe at present. Most of us have to get our impressions about these things from Press reports. I have read that Canada is moving from being a participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation complex to thinking in terms of the Pacific.
An article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ stated that Canada is likely to redeploy its fleet in the Pacific. I do not know whether this is so. The reason given was that Canada has an increasing trade interest in the Pacific, that Japan is one of her best customers and that Canada has great interests building up on its west coast. Therefore it is necessary to redeploy Canadian forces from an Atlantic Ocean concept to a Pacific Ocean concept. If the report is correct, we could well take the lesson to heart in Australia and perhaps redeploy some of our forces from a Pacific Ocean concept to an Indian Ocean concept.
It was rather amazed to read that the British Minister for Defence, Mr Healey, is making statements in London about what the Australian Government is likely to do in respect of naval facilities. I thought he should have allowed the Australian Government to make such announcements for itself. An article appeared in the Sydney Sun’ of 19th March under a London dateline stating that Mr Healey had said that the Australian Government is now very doubtful about building a naval base in Western Australia. He went on to say that it had not even been discussed recently between the British and Australian governments, and that the Australian Government is now very doubtful as to whether it will build a naval base in Western Australia. I hope he is wrong. He said that he was not quite sure whether any new decision had been taken recently and that Great Britain was anxious to do anything within the framework of the decisions already taken to help Commonwealth countries in the area to maximise their stability and security.
They are nice words but I for one do not know what they are worth. Wherever one turns one hears people with some authority speaking about a vacuum in the Indian Ocean. I do not think that Australia has very much to fear in the Pacific Ocean in respect of naval forces or naval establishments. After all, the United States Seventh Fleet is active there and American bases are well spaced throughout the Pacific. I cannot visualise a situation in which the trade routes in the Pacific were threatened by a hostile power without immediate action being taken by the United States forces.
A different picture is portrayed in the Indian Ocean where a real vacuum exists. The Atlantic Ocean is completely covered by NATO commitments. The Pacific Ocean is well serviced in this respect, but nobody seems to have accepted the Indian Ocean as his responsibility. I think that honourable members would be wise to take note of some of the things that are said by people who are in a good position to comment on these matters. The position was put straight in the British House of Commons by Sir Alec Douglas Home. He pointed to a rapid expansion of Russia’s naval strength. He said it was inconceivable that Western countries with their long routes of communication with Europe should leave them unprotected. He hoped that in this matter the British Government was taking a lead in re-establishing the naval planning of NATO. He said that the critical area is the South Atlantic where there seems to be a gap in responsibility and that another critical area is the western part of the Indian Ocean; that in both these areas South Africa holds a key position and that Great Britain, because of its rights under the Simonstown Agreement, is best able to provide the necessary protection.
Many honourable members may say that we should have nothing to do with the South Africans and their Simonstown base. They should realise in considering communications with Europe that the Middle East today is one of the most unstable areas in the world. At any time our civil and military aircraft could be forced to take a route via the Cocos Islands and Mauritius to Johannesburg and around the west coast of Africa to Europe. I welcomed the visit to Australian waters by a South African naval detachment. In talking to some of the crews of those ships I realised that their concern for what is happening in the Indian Ocean is much the same as my own. For many years there was no sign in the Indian Ocean of any Soviet naval activity, but suddenly the Russians have become terribly interested in the Indian Ocean and the lands whose shores are washed by that Ocean. The first Soviet warships to visit the peripheral states of the Indian Ocean in recent years were a 16,000-ton Sverdlov class cruiser and two guided missile destroyers. I would like honourable members to take particular notice of the fact that they visited Madras and Bombay in March and April of last year. One of the guided missile destroyers returned to the Soviet Union after visiting Bombay, but the remaining two warships, supported by a tanker, remained in the Indian Ocean until July.
The Soviet ships visited the Somali Republic, Iraq, West Pakistan, Iran, Aden and Colombo. During the same period, Soviet hydrographic ships visited Kenya, Ethiopia and Ceylon. In November a second group of Soviet warships appeared in the Indian Ocean and made their first visit to Kenya on 26th November. The ships were a guided missile armed light cruiser, a destroyer and a tanker. In December two conventional submarines and their mother ship with tanker visited Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania. In January the cruiser and the destroyer, accompanied by a guided missile destroyer and two support ships, visited Aden. Since then the ships have visited Ethiopia and possibly other ports in the Red Sea, Iran and Iraq. During the same period hydrographic ships have visited Colombo, West Pakistan, Aden and Mauritius.
The Soviet mercantile fleet is now the sixth largest in the world and Soviet shipping in the Indian Ocean represents about 7% of all merchant traffic in that ocean. This information should be taken in conjunction with the knowledge of the capability of the navy of Communist China. At present it has thirty-three submarines, all diesel powered and of Soviet design, lt has long range ballistic missile firing submarines, medium range submarines and short range submarines. We just cannot any longer ignore the vacuum that exists in the world’s strategic situation.
After reading a Press report under a London dateline that the British Minister for Defence has said that it looks as though the Australian Government has given up plans to establish any sort of naval facilities on the west coast of Australia, I felt that some of the things I have mentioned should be brought to light in this House, it is too late after the event. We have to realise that at present most of our exports pass through the Indian Ocean. British migrants are brought to Australia through the Indian Ocean. It is the most important waterway in the whole of our economic setup and we can no longer afford to neglect it and its importance to us and our future. When plans are announced by the Government of the future role of the Services I hope that some acknowledgment will be made of the importance of this part of the world. 1 hope that the Government will do something to fill to the best of our ability the vacuum that exists and which is in my opinion a threat to the future of this part of the world.
Debate (on motion by Mr Irwin) adjourned.
– by leave - The Government has decided that the embargo on the export of merino breeding sheep from Australia, which was imposed some 40 years ago, should be partially relaxed. This decision was taken after considering a recommendation made to the Government on the subject by the Australian Wool Industry Conference. The Wool Industry Conference, as the national body of Australian woolgrowers, had been asked by the Government some time ago to examine the desirability or otherwise of continuing the embargo from the point of view of the woolgrowing industry. In seeking the opinion of the Conference the Government acted at the suggestion of the Australian Agricultural Council.
The decision taken by the Government is for a limited relaxation of the prohibition on the export of merino breeding sheep, subject to several stringent conditions, and it accords with the recommendation of the Wool Industry Conference. The terms of the decision are as follows:
The date on which the relaxation will become effective will be announced after the necessary administrative arrangements have been settled. These arrangements will be worked out by my Department in consultation with the appropriate organisations of the industry.
The embargo has been a controversial subject since its imposition in 1929. At various stages associations of stud sheep breeders as well as some woolgrower organisations requested the removal of the embargo. However, other woolgrower organisations strongly opposed such moves and there was an obvious division of opinion within grower organisations themselves. In 1951 the question of lifting the embargo was considered by the Australian Agricultural Council, which resolved that the embargo should be relaxed at the discretion of the Commonwealth Government ‘on the understanding that the Commonwealth will not agree to unrestricted export’. The matter was left in abeyance for some years because of a continuing division of opinion among and within woolgrower organisations. However, in July 1962, with the impending formation of the Australian Wool Industry Conference as the national body to speak for woolgrowers, the Australian Agricultural Council resolved that the question of relaxing the embargo be referred to the industry through the Conference for consideration.
Due to the preoccupation of the Australian Wool Industry Conference with wool marketing, the Conference did not commence consideration of the embargo issue in depth until June 1967, after having received a comprehensive paper prepared by the Australian Wool Board on the subject as well as other expert opinion. All of this material was distributed to member organisations of the Conference for consideration. After considering the comments and suggestions submitted by member organisations arid debating the matter at length the Wool Industry Conference decided at its meeting in November last year to recommend to the Government a partial lifting of the embargo. This decision was made in a resolution carried by 37 votes to 16 - that is, by a majority of 70%.
Over the years numerous arguments have been put forward for and against the removal of the merino export embargo. The principal arguments for the relaxation of the embargo, stated briefly, are as follows: (a) The growing competition from synthetic fibres, a factor which did not apply when the embargo was imposed, makes it essential that both quality and availability of apparel wool should be improved on a world-wide basis, otherwise wool’s place could be taken by these other fibres. This has already occurred to some extent, (b) The world demand for textile fibres is expanding faster than wool production and wool’s share of the world fibre market is diminishing. There is a danger, therefore, that wool will become an insignificant raw materia] as compared with other textile fibres with the result that textile manufacturers will take little account of wool in planning their production. Relaxing the embargo should help counteract this trend by assisting to increase world production of good quality apparel wool, (c) Removal of the embargo should create goodwill for Australia in overseas countries and assist in improving trade relations. In this respect it is important to note that other countries such as South Africa, the United States of America and the Soviet Union freely permit the export of their merino breeding sheep.
The chief arguments advanced by those who wish to see the embargo retained are briefly as follows: (a) The export of merino rams might tend to increase competition for rams in Australia generally and particularly raise the cost of flock rams, especially to small farmers and soldier settlers, (b) The competition from overseas purchasers could increase the cost of high-cl’ass rams to Australian buyers, (c) The importation of Australian merino rams by overseas countries would result in increasing the world supply of merino wool which would in turn depress the price of this wool, (d) It would be better for Australia not to export its best merino strains but to keep them and expand its own production of good merino wool and thus meet the present world-wide shortage of such wool.
In relation to the first objection, it is apparent that overseas buyers would be interested mainly in high-class animals and not in flock rams, so that the price of the latter should not be affected. Further, the relaxation of the embargo should encourage sheep breeders to expand their production of high-class rams, and, in doing so, the increased culling required should result in a greater supply of flock rams. The second objection fails to take account of the likelihood that with increased demand for high-class rams their supply shoul’d also increase, which would tend to prevent any substantial increase in prices. In addition, the limit which is imposed on the number of rams which can be exported will also place a limit on the extent of overseas competition.
The third objection appears to be of doubtful validity for several reasons. Because of environmental factors in overseas countries the limitation on the number of rams exported and the long time it takes to improve the quality of flocks by the use of better rams, any increase in the production of good merino wool in other countries would be gradual. Further, such increase should be readily taken up by increased consumption resulting from the growth in population and rising standards of living throughout the world. Finally, it is considered that the objection is answered by the argument mentioned earlier, namely that an increase in the production of good wool is highly desirable if wool is not to continue losing in importance as a textile fibre. The fourth objection appears to overlook the fact that Australia alone, because of physical limits to its production capacity, seasonal variations and general environmental conditions, is unlikely to be able to meet the future world demand for good quality merino wool. Further, it is most desirable to lift the standard of merino wool throughout the world to place it in a better position to compete with synthetic fibres.
I should mention that both the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the International Wool Secretariat have expressed their support for the removal of the embargo. After carefully considering the recommendation of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, the Government has agreed to adopt the course of action recommended by the Conference. The Government considered that the Conference, as the national body of Australian woolgrowers, was well qualified to judge whether a relaxation of the merino embargo would be in the best interest of wool and thus of the Australian woolgrowing industry. I would tike to take this opportunity to compliment the Australian Wool Industry Conference on the thorough and objective approach it adopted in examining this important question.
I present the following paper:
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) [8.2 ljWithout any qualification whatsoever the Opposition opposes the lifting of the embargo on the export of merino sheep. In other words, it is an unreserved opposition. The Government is now relaxing an embargo which has been in force for 40 years and which has had the unqualified support of the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party. Now apparently the Country Party, of all parties, is supporting the relaxation of this embargo. This action by the Government is another example of its indiscriminate treatment of our heritage. As in the case of our minerals and our land we are now witnessing the sell-out of the greatest industry in Australia, the wool industry.
Although only 300 rams will be allowed to be exported this year, because of technical advancements in animal husbandry and genetics, including the use of artificial insemination, the limitation to 300 rams will be meaningless. Anybody with a basic knowledge of genetics knows that, with the use of artificial insemination, the preservation of semen and the co-ordination of the oestrous cycle so that-large numbers of ewes come on heat simultaneously, there could be a tremendous upsurge of merino blood in foreign flocks. The decision of the Government completely ignores the position of the small farmer. We on this side of the House have had deputations from small farmers who have asked us to oppose this legislation. I do not know what the Country Party will . have to say about this but apparently it is 100% behind this relaxation of the embargo on the export of merino rams; which have been the heritage of this country for 40 years. As one interjector said, let us hear what the industry has to say about it:
This decision by the Government follows upon a decision of the Australian Wool Industry Conference based on a vote of 37 to 16. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said that this is a majority of 70% . I am reminded of a book which is entitled ‘How to Lie With Statistics’. If one takes 16 from 37 one gets 21; that divided by 2 gives a majority of 10. If those ten people had had a change of mind the result could have been a draw. Eleven would have changed the decision. It is pursuant to that decision that this Government has relaxed the embargo on the export of merino rams which has been in force for 40 years, and which has had and always will have the support of the Labor Party until technological changes occur, conditions alter, or the Labor Party itself changes. Apparently the Country Party, of all parties, is prepared to sell out the small wool grower because of pressures applied by the large stud breeders who can see themselves suddenly taking advantage of a high price ram market overseas. When the Opposition has criticised it, this Government has always maintained that it consults the rank and file in industry a? it did with the reserve price plan. I hate to think of what would happen if it put this particular decision to the wool growers of Australia. Perhaps the Country Party can justify this decision of the Government. We will find that out when the news gets out about the lifting of the embargo.
What would happen if we exported 300 rams to Russia and Russia used artificial insemination? As I have already said, by using modern techniques to bring ewes on heat simultaneously there could be a tremendous upsurge of merino blood in foreign flocks, and it would take only approximately 2 years before the effects of this could be seen in greater numbers of quality sheep. The Opposition thinks that this decision is a most retrograde step. The embargo was imposed by the Labor Government in 1929 following pressures principally from interests who were represented by the Liberal Party and the Country Party. The Labor Government acted in good faith to preserve Australia’s greatest asset. The day before the embargo was imposed’ 5,000 merino breeding stock were destined for Russia and 500 for South Africa. The Government acted immediately and imposed an embargo which, as 1 said repeatedly, has been in force for 40 years. It has. been shown - and it will be shown again - that if merino breeding stock are exported to countries with low wages and low cost of production and if the wool is upgraded by the introduction of merino blood into the best of the foreign breeds, it is highly possible that those countries will become greater competitors to . the Australian wool industry than they are today.
I cannot see why the Government nas taken this step. I would have thought that because of the importance of, this matter - it is important - the Government would have consulted wool, interests in Australia in addition to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I do not accept the figure of 70% which the Minister mentioned. The decision of the Wool Industry Conference hinges down to a difference of ten votes. This is a scandalous situation. One of the arguments advanced in favour of the ban was that there would be a deterioration in the quality of the wool if merinos were exported overseas. Dr Carter, formerly of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and of Edinburgh and now of the Leeds University, for some reason was able to take merino breeding stock out of Australia several years ago for experimental purposes. I cannot understand how he did this. It has been shown conclusively now that wool from those merino sheep has been shorn and processed, that the quality of that wool is just as good as if it had been processed in Australia. It has been shown now, and he has written of this, that for at least three generations the quality of the merino wool overseas will not deteriorate because of climate. This is based on his research.
In conclusion, the Opposition believes that this is a backward step, because for 40 years Liberal-Country Party and Labor Governments have preserved this heritage of Australia - the greatest industry in Australia; but now the Government has bowed to pressures from interested people, those who want to make a quick buck - that is what it amounts to. lt has not consulted the small wool grower at all, and because of the great importance of this question and its possible effect on the economics of the small wool grower, who is affected by the cost-price scales, we believe that the Government should reverse its decision and continue to refuse to allow the export of merino rams under any circumstances until the whole industry, the rank and file of the industry - the bona fide small wool grower - has been given a chance to vote on this subject. As I said before, when it is in trouble the Government always says: “We will ask the industry what it thinks. We will ask the industry as a whole what it thinks’. It did this with the reserve price plan - to its credit - and it should do it with this, because I am sure, and the Opposition is sure, that the wool growers in a mass would vote against this retrograde step that is being introduced by the Government tonight.
Debate (on motion by Mr Turnbull) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 768).
– By way of introduction I would like to emphasise the importance in international affairs of the continued honouring by any new government of the obligations entered into by its predecessor. This is the very root of international relations. A country which is subject to governments which, when they come into power, repudiate all the treaties and obligations which have been entered into by their predecessors is a country which in international affairs must and would inevitably be quickly reduced to an object of contempt. So far in our history every Australian Government, following one after the other, has acknowledged the agreements, obligations and treaties entered into by its predecessors. This is without exception, whether they be Labor governments or governments of our persuasion. But always Australia has had regard for its honour in international matters. The word of the Australian Government of the day has been respected, both by those who are its members and those who follow in its wake.
Having said those few words, I wish to draw attention to a statement, not by some obscure and irresponsible member of the Opposition but by the man who has become the Opposition’s main official spokesman on foreign and defence affairs. When he appeared on television on, I presume, 16th February - the interview was reported in the ‘Age’ of 17th February- the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) uttered words to which, in passing, attention has already been drawn at question time in the House. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said - and I will read the full passage from the report:
Appearing on HSV79 ‘Meet the Press’ Mr Barnard agreed that a Labor Government would not feel itself bound by treaty obligations entered into by the Gorton Government.
I stress the words ‘treaty obligations’. This has introduced a new note into the conduct of Australian external and foreign affairs which hitherto has been lacking. I could understand a report of this kind if this statement was denied, but subsequently when it has been drawn to the attention of this House it has gone consistently without denial by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition or by any Opposition spokesman, and one can only assume that at the moment this is the doctrine to which the Labor Party would give support. In other words, a Labor Government would not feel itself bound by treaty obligations entered into by the Gorton Government.
This is a shocking and disgraceful exposition of policy which I hope indeed will sometime be denied by a responsible spokesman for the Labor Party, because nothing would be designed to bring us into quicker disrepute than the adoption and maintenance of a doctrine of this kind. I will just mention a few matters to which we certainly pay great regard. We on this side regard the Anzus Treaty with the United States, for instance, as one of the great linchpins of Australian security. We regard it as one of those arrangements which we have been able to make which are fundamental to Australia’s future, at least for some years to come. We in the Government would regard this obligation as quite binding, not only on the Administration of the United States which entered into it some years ago, but we would regard each incoming President and Administration of the United States as being completely committed to honouring what is a treaty obligation entered into by their predecessors. This, I imagine, is a treaty which even the Labor Party - or the same elements in the Labor Party - would also regard as important for Australian security. But just think of the enormity of the statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. We expect the governments of our allies to be bound by the solemn obligations which have been entered . into both by our predecessors and their predecessors, because the continuity of international obligations by one country - any country - is the basis of reasonable and honourable international conduct. One may well visualise that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition might have made his statement lightly at an odd moment when appearing on a television programme, but what one cannot understand is that a statement like this, when drawn to the attention of this House, goes undenied. This is a very serious matter. We are all aware that the Labor Party’s policy on these matters of foreign affairs and defence is in fact determined in the broad not by the parliamentary representatives but by the Labor Party conference - the thirtysix faceless men and the leaders of the Party in the two Houses of the Parliament. The arrangement has been well publicised and is now well known.
– Our conferences are open to the Press; none of your conferences is open to the Press.
– Whether they are open or not, we read about them. The fact that the Labor Party conference is open to the Press exposes the abysmal ignorance of most of the men at the conference concerning matters which are vital this country, to wit, foreign affairs and defence. These men may have some technique, they may have a knowledge in some other fields, but most of them are little versed in the fields of foreign affairs and defence. The exceptions are the members of the extreme left wing minority who, of course, are well versed in these matters and who exert continuous pressure, mainly in the direction which favours the enemies of our country. However, this is only incidental. The main point is that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who is the official spokesman for the Labor Party on these matters, makes a dreadful statement like this and it goes completely undenied. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is the official spokesman for the Labor Party on these matters, I refer to some other aspects of his policy which are by no means as important or as significant as the point to which I have just referred. He goes on to say what Labor’s main policy would be. It is changeable, and it is varied. Again I quote from the article in the ‘Age’ of 17th February, which states:
A Labor government would try to establish regional defence agreements with our South East Asian neighbours, the Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition (Mr Barnard) said yesterday.
I do not think this is misunderstood. I think that this is the fairly popular and consistent line pursued by the Opposition. It seeks pacts, but what it does in them is almost invariably left somewhat Huffy. But it is curious because in his speech in this debate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) - and quite’ rightly to this extent - laid great stress on. our relations with Indonesia. If anything has been made clear by the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Mr Malik, it is that Mr Malik does not fancy entering pacts, particularly military pacts, with anyone. You can see his viewpoint. But to press this as a kind of policy is to press something which overlays all the real issues; something which just says: ‘All you do is to pursue pacts’.
What is the reality of this approach? Pacts of this kind between immediate neighbours, apart from window dressing, covering up and escaping the real responsibility for saying anything which matters, aremore likely to be necessary between people who do not have particular faith in each other. If one thing is true in this area in which we live it is that ‘the issues are fluctuating, they are varied. First one force may be important, and then another. These are countries with whom we have great personal friendship and sympathy. Some of them are newly independent, and it takes them a good many years to settle down to solid responsible government, after being in their previous position. Although the people in these countries, in general, want to improve their standard of living, they are confronted with a series of changing international situations in a fluid world. Indeed, we are confronted with similar situations.
What our steady aim has been, by contrast with this policy of continually seeking pacts, is to work in close co-operation and friendship with the governments in our part of the world and to try to develop, on a broad plane, and as many as possible, personal contacts, understanding and cooperation between different individuals in the spheres in which they themselves are experts. This is likely to be productive. This policy of day-to-day working, day-to-day friendship, and giving a bit of aid when the particular requirement appears is the way we see as co-operating with these countries and which we hope will in the future lead to a good understanding with them. We want close friends in the area. This is the essence of foreign policy and of good relations. This is the way in which to promote understanding. It will not be done by entering into particular hard and fast arrangements and arguing over words and contractual obligations which, as I mentioned previously, apparently would be treated somewhat lightly, should the honourable gentleman who apparently made the statement to which I have referred gravitate to power.
We are, as between friends, dealing with countries in South East Asia. Of course, in many cases written agreements conceived one day could easily become an embarrassment. Unless they are very flexible and broad in character, they are as likely to hinder relations between countries as to promote them. Personally, when 1 go into this area and deal with my counterparts who operate in the labour field, I find a great community of interest and also that these people are faced with great problems. We think we have some problems in Australia - I do myself - but some of the problems which face these people are of tremendous enormity and are different from ours. But there are many ways in which we can learn from these people and, as our economy is more prosperous, in which we can positively help them.
The Leader of the Opposition has thrown scorn on the idea that a proportion of our forces should be stationed in Malaysia and
Singapore. He pooh-poohs this proposal and dismisses it as being insignificant. Basically, our forces there have technical competence. In many cases they can re-inforce the knowledge and the equipment of the friendly countries living in the area. By their stay they and the staffs concerned become conversant with the areas, the geography and what supply arrangements will be practical. They are able to study and acquaint themselves in detail with the logistic problems, and this could be important if at any time larger scale assistance is required and it becomes necessary for the government of the clay in Australia, to decide to conduct larger operations there in their interests. There is no way of maintaining that close liaison, friendship, knowledge and practical inter-relationships, except by stationing these forces there. 1 have no doubt that our troops in these countries will not be seen as foreign troops, which have a distasteful history in many cases. They will be seen as ambassadors of goodwill, will bring aid to the countries concerned and will cement the good relationships which in most cases exist already between our countries. Indeed, if the Labor Party’s idea, enunciated elsewhere, of having all our forces in Australia were implemented, there would be a complete lack of that broad brand of understanding, practical co-operation and knowledge of the problems involved which only our presence there could possibly bring about. 1 hope that at some time the Leader of the Opposition will explain the doctrine propounded by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, or preferably that the Deputy Leader, who is now in the House, will state that the Press report is incorrect. I am sure that we will accept his explanation. The reported statement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is so serious that it does need repudiation. I hope that this statement, which basically is so disastrous for the future of Australia, will be disowned, either because of misreporting or for some other reason, as being the official policy of the Opposition.
– I rise to commend the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Government on this most historic defence statement. The statement ensures that the ‘Fortress Australia’ idea is gone forever. Such a defence statement could not have been made just a few years ago. It had to be made independently. Because of that also it is of historic importance. Previously we were not committed in any war, and especially in South East Asia, unless we were under the umbrella of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, so we have advanced further into our own nationhood. We are pleased with the courage and the determination with which Cabinet decided to do this most remarkable act. More remarkable still is that the underlying change is popular in Australia and abroad. The people of Australia realise that Fortress Australia could do nothing but bring defeat to this wonderful country. So we go to South East Asia, and although the forces we deploy in that area may be meagre they go there with goodwill and with a determination to bring co-operation and understanding between the countries of South East Asia. Most of those countries are undergoing a great change, economically, socially and in other ways. Because of this there are tensions.
Our presence in the area will bring about a better understanding and a better development of these nations. They will gain confidence. They will be able to meet insurgencies within their own. borders, if we help them to become economically sound. There is not one country in the area that is not prepared to accept and welcome overseas investment now. There was a time when they were afraid of outside investment, but now they are co-operating in a family of goodwill which desires to assist them in all practical ways possible. As much as I admire the Government for what it has done in Malaysia, as an Australian I am prouder of what we have done in Vietnam. We hear the doves and we hear the intellectuals say that Vietnam is not important to us; it is not a bastion of freedom. How stupid can one become? Slogans about why the United States is in Vietnam, about making South Vietnam safe for democracy and other slogans have contributed mightily to the confusion that exists in regard to our presence in Vietnam.
The fundamental reason why we are in Vietnam is the same as the reason why we participated in the First World War, in the Second World War and in Korea. Our purpose in being there is to prove that an aggressor shall never succeed. If we fail in this mission we will pay dearly for it in future. When I hear people ridiculing our wonderful young men in South Vietnam it makes me ashamed that those people are fellow Australians. If ever a unit was doing something for the direct protection of Australia, it is the men serving in. Vietnam. I had the great honour of serving in the Australian Imperial Force in the First World War. I have the greatest respect for those who served in that war, in the Second World War and in Korea, but without hesitation I say that these young men in Vietnam are doing more in a direct way to protect Australia than we in the First AIF did. We should not allow anyone to persuade us otherwise.
If one has read Mao Tse-tung’s books one realises that Vietnam is an exercise. lt is an exercise of a supposed national liberation. But what those who would not have us in Vietnam conveniently forget is that South Vietnam did not attack North Vietnam. In fact, North Vietnam attacked South Vietnam. For that reason we must stand firm and see that the aggressor shall never succeed. Of course, it is very difficult in such a war for people to go in and assist those who have been threatened. Mao Tse-tung realises this. If he can prolong the war sufficiently he knows that the links in America, in Australia and elsewhere will break.
About this time last year that is exactly what happened. The psychological war went against a great man and a great nation. When honourable members say their prayers tonight there is one thing they should do as Australians: They should thank God for Lyndon B. johnson and the American nation because without them our position at present would he’ most perilous. The position has deteriorated. The United States has had to modify what we were endeavouring to do in Vietnam. What a laughable farce the peace talks are in Paris. While we have reduced the bombing of Haiphong and endeavoured to keep our military action down to a minimum, what have we found? We have found that many hundreds of civilians have been executed because they have refused to join the Vietcong. It is almost impossible to understand why we allow this situation to continue. Why do we allow this state of affairs in a war in which we are involved? Why do we allow the concentration of arms? Why do we allow materials of war to be dispatched down the Ho Chi Minh trail? Why we do nothing about this while the enemy prepares for massive attacks on places near Saigon and on the civilian population is beyond my comprehension. Why should one Australian soldier be killed and why should 100 Americans be killed while we are fooling about with peace talks in Paris? I thought all the time that these talks were a subterfuge but in order to allow these people to prove their bona fides I was prepared to hold my tongue. However, the time has now arrived when we must consider our position and remember our responsibilities to our kith and kin in that area.
If there is any continuance of the aggressive war by North Vietnam I hope that President Nixon will take the matter in hand and bring about a desired peace by force. As I said previously, for China Vietnam is the crucial test of Mao’s theory. It is also China’s big chance to wreck the entire position of America in Asia. If we hold our ground and the Communist expansion is blocked, as it was in Malaya, Mao will suffer a major foreign policy setback. The dogmas will be shattered once and for all and we may at last look forward to a change in Peking. If we give in, what incentive will there be for China to change? We probably would have to start all over again 2 or 3 years hence, perhaps in Thailand, which would be neither a better time nor a better place. Therefore I implore the Government to ask our American friends, not to escalate the war, but to give the enemy notice that there is to be no further humbug in this matter.
We in Australia have had the protection of the United States in all of our contingencies to this time. As I have said, this statement by the Prime Minister will be recognised and revered over the years as one of the most historical statements ever made by a Prime Minister of Australia. The statement sets out firstly that we have to go on our own. We have always had the umbrella of the United Kingdom and the United States. But, after 1971 we will have to remain on our own. We are going to assist these people not only by having meagre forces in this area but also by means of technology and in other ways as we have assisted others through the Colombo Plan. This is a wonderful stage in Australia’s history. We go forward with confidence and with sure determination that our Services will carry out their job in the magnificent way that they have in previous wars. But there are times when I am despondent as an Australian. That is especially so when I hear statements by members of the Opposition.
If these statements are made for personal aggrandisement or as a matter of opportunism in politics, that is not quite so bad. But one must stop and ponder at times whether they are made to assist the enemy. When 1 see the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) three times in the last 3 weeks involved in long and earnest conversation with Mr A. V. Goreva, the First Secretary of the Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, I wonder, Mr Deputy Speaker, why the First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy would be in King’s Hall. I wonder why it is that he would seek out the honourable member for Hunter. I do not like to guess; I always like to be sure. But when one hears the statements made by the honourable member for Hunter it is not very long before one comes to the conviction that he is advancing theories given to him by other people. It is a pity that we have to allow such things to happen. One would expect an honourable member to be more reasonable and to use more commonsense in associating with the First Secretary of the USSR Embassy. I congratulate the Government. This is an historical occasion and we in Australia are proud to be associated with it.
– I am happy that the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) was able to spare 2i minutes towards the end of his address to talk to the matter which is the subject of the debate before the House. That is, of course, the defence statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in relation tour our defence commitment in Malaysia. Before I move on to this I should like to make a reference to the point which the honourable member for Mitchell raised concerning the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) and his speaking with an official of the Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I do not know what he is trying to imply by his comments.
I have spoken several times in public with officials from the USSR Embassy. If the honourable member for Mitchell or any other Government supporter sees something peculiarly significant in my speaking with such people publicly, I would remind them that on several occasions in past years I also have spoken publicly with officials from the British and United States Embassies, as well as from other embassies. It would be a matter of contorting and distorting facts if the honourable member for Mitchell were to read some ulterior and dishonourable imputation into the discussions which have taken place between the honourable member for Hunterand the official of the USSR Embassy. But as the honourable member for Mitchell spent so little time discussing the subject matter before the House, one is unable to comment further on his speech with relevance to the subject of this discussion.
The Prime Minister’s statement on the Australian defence commitment to Malaysia is a welcome one. It is more than 15 months since the British Government indicated that its intention was to withdraw completely from the area which it then referred to as ‘east of Suez’. This area, of course, takes in the Malaysian area. Although the British intention was announced about 15 months ago, in the meantime in Australia we have been existing in a state of vacuum so far as our defence commitments are concerned. In that 15 months we have seen a complete dearth of objective assessment by the Government or any indication to the public of what our long term commitments were going to be in this theatre. So it is refreshing that the Prime Minister has at last deigned to commit to us what Australia’s obligations will be. But in the 15 months of vacuum, where defence thinking was vague if existing at all, we had some rather unnerving insights into the sort of informed mind which was being applied at top Government level to this subject of defence and foreign affairs.
For instance, we had the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States of America in May of last year. That is highly relevant because it is connected with his appreciation of the coverage of this country under its treaty commitments with its great and powerful allies, treaties which may or may not relate to this area to which we are now committing ourselves. On 28th May 1968 the Prime Minister was asked by a pressman:
From what Mr Bundy told us at the White House Conference, he defined the ANZUS Treaty-
We all appreciate how important this treaty is in the defence of Australia - as applying to forces of all the signatories in the Pacific area. But he left ambiguous, whether this would apply to Australian forces in Malaysia, Singapore under a new setup such as would emerge ultimately from the June conference. Have they in fact expressed any opinion on whether ANZUS does apply in that?
The Prime Minister replied:
I wouldn’t say any definite - I don’t know I can give you any definite answer to that either. ANZUS is a treaty-
A brilliant inspiration on the part of our Prime Minister; he said that ANZUS is a treaty. His reply continued:
I think it does apply in the three defined areas.
In reply to the question: ‘It does or does not?’, the Prime Minister said:
I think it applies in certain defined areas. But I would want tocheck this with the External Affairs people before Iwas sure that that was correct. But by and large, I think it has been, what shall I say-I cannot think of the exact words - a matter - never spelled out whether it applied in Malaysia and Singapore area or not.
This is unnerving on the part of the Prime Minister of Australia, and at this stage, several months after that rather embarrassing incident, we still have not had from the Prime Minister an explanation as to whether we do or do not have protection under the ANZUS Treaty in the area of Malaysia and Singapore. The sameinterview went on, again on a highly relevant matter, and the questioner said:
To put it another way, are you thoroughly satisfied in your own mind as to the future role the US will play in that part of the globe?
That referred again to the area that we are concerned about. The report of the interview then continued:
PM- In Asia?
PM - I feel the US will not lose interest in South East Asia.
Q - That is pretty vague.
PM - Well, I said that much.
At least he continued with his vagueness. Having established this unnerving standard of international diplomacy in the United States of America, in about July or August he went through the South East Asian area -where he maintained this level of performance. In an article by Mr Eric Walsh in the ‘Nation’ of 6th July 1968 we have a report of the Prime Minister’s visit to South East Asia. While he was in Kuala Lumpur he was asked a question about the fighting in Vietnam and he said:
The situation clearly is that fighting is continuing . . and … er. It is perfectly evident that it is continuing. “What a revealing statement from our Prime Minister. The report continues:
Iti Singapore he informed journalists, the majority of them Asians, that Asia was ‘a continent with many races and creeds’.
A brilliant moment of inspiration on his part. It continues:
In Djakarta he completely misunderstood an admittedly involved question and commenced his reply, ‘Indonesia is a part of South East Asia. If one looks at the map it is there.
This was our Prime Minister, This was an extremely helpful approach on the part of the Prime Minister of Australia who has launched himself into the field of international affairs in this area which, we are frequently told by Government supporters, is a sensitive area of South East Asia. He went on - but let me quote the article; it is far more effective:
And he went on to rock the conference when he exclaimed after a question on general SEATO attitudes to a certain question: ‘Who is this General Seato?’
This is incredible, but this is the Prime Minister of Australia, the man who is laying the bricks and building the structure of foreign relations with the countries to our near north. We are constantly being told how sensitive this area is, how important it is for us to have a reasonable appreciation of the needs of these people and for us to accept certain obligations. Surely this sort of behaviour, apart from showing an abounding ignorance on fundamental matters, is an insulting form of behaviour on the part of the Prime Minister. We have our own Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) who, according to the ‘Australian’ when he was elevated to his present position a few weeks ago, is able to draw on a vast fund of experience in the field of foreign affairs. Again, this is one of the most important portfolios m the Government. It is a portfolio which draws, or should draw, on a vast fund of experience, ability and knowledge. The Minister for
External Affairs, who has the peculiar distinction of serving the longest term of office as the junior Minister in any government of the Commonwealth, is able to claim that before becoming Minister for External Affairs he represented the Minister for External Affairs by proxy on two short occasions. He represented the Minister for External Affairs at a minor Colombo Plan meeting, but more importantly - no doubt this is where he claims his greatest experience comes from- he represented Australia at the funeral of a Japanese politician. This is scarcely the sort of qualification which enables the Australian community to have a great deal of confidence in the Minister for External Affairs.
These are the people who are responsible for the design of Australia’s foreign policy. In view of the facts which I have put before the House and the public I would submit in all seriousness that we must view their qualifications with grave reservations. At least the Minister for External has the virtue of having said so little that it is difficult to criticise him. On the other hand the Prime Minister, having said so much on just about everything, including conflicting statements on defence, can always claim, if criticised for not having stated that certain things should be done, that he has already done so even if at the time of criticism he had made a previous claim that was a complete contradiction of what was being put up to him.
Let us look quickly at the propositions or the philosophies which are behind the commitment of Australian forces to Malaysia. Again we have this episodic sort of propaganda about the downward thrust of Communism between the Pacific and Indian oceans. That was the way it was in those vintage days when Sir Robert Menzies was present in the House. It has been expressed a little more subtly in the Prime Minister’s recent statement to this House. Nonetheless, this is the concept behind our commitment - that the downward thrust is occurring. It is suggested that this is something which will occur in the short term and not in the long term. This is said to be the impending threat to the security of this country. One would have thought by now that this was a much too worked out concept to put before the Australian public. For about 20 years we have been hearing about the potential downward thrust of Communism in South East Asia and the threat it implies to this country. But we have no evidence of it. It is a much more realistic approach to believe that if this threat does exist it is much more likely to be a long term threat. But I have reservations about this which I will mention in a few minutes time.
If the Government is concerned about externally inspired and directed subversion, as the Prime Minister mentioned in his statement, I wonder why it is that the Minister for External Affairs was able to reject my suggestion, made in a question on notice a week or two ago, that to be consistent we ought to express concern also at reports .such as the one which appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 27th November last year when commandos trained by Nationalist China were being landed on mainland China to carry out systematic acts of sabotage against the installations and communications of Communist China. The Minister was able to say that because these are our allies we never investigate criticisms of them. I would not expect, given the way in which foreign affairs and diplomatic relations are conducted, that he would make a public condemnation of this sort of behaviour. But it was extremely provocative, and one would have thought that it was the sort of thing that would have been the subject of a private discussion and criticism with the Nationalist authorities, in much the same way as his predecessor was able to undertake private discussions and criticisms with officials of the Indonesian Government concerning the way in which certain minority groups were being treated at different times in that area.
Let us look at this threat which is impending - which is about to hurtle down upon this country. It is always safe, of course, to exploit the threat of the so-called yellow hordes, because in our rather unflattering background of white Australia with the emotional racist content which went with this, an easily evoked response is extracted from the Australian public by this sort of propaganda. But which countries are the threats to Australia? Which countries have the industrial base which would allow them to launch a massive attack against this country and, what is more important, to sustain the attack? The reason why Japan failed in its military aggression in the last
World War was that it did not have the industrial base to sustain the attack against the powerful industrial technology society of the United States of America. Indeed, the Japanese navy well appreciated this fact and if the advice of the Japanese navy had been accepted Japan would never have entered the war. That was one of the reasons why she failed.
If honourable members enumerate the countries of the South East Asian area - even the Asian area - they will find that no nation has the industrial complex or the extensive industrial base which would allow it to launch and sustain an attack against Australia. If a country had such a base - I deny this implicitly - how would that country transport its troops to Australia? Would it supply them with jet propelled water wings? None of those countries has the sort of transportation that would enable it to launch an attack.
– Yes, and they would be terribly exhausted when they got here. What is our role in Malaysia? Quite clearly, seen in the sort of national spectrum which so absorbs and involves the Government completely with anti-Communism, it has been stated that the Australian forces in Vietnam would be available for anti-Communist activity against so-called insurgency in that area. The contribution which we could raise if such insurgency occurred would be fairly minimal. At the height of the confrontation there were 7 brigade headquarters and 21 battalions - about 35,000 troops - in Malaysia. Only one of those battalions was an Australian battalion. There are approximately 43,000 British servicemen in the Far East, including Hong Kong. We cannot conceivably and with all seriousness claim’ that we are going to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of British troops. That would be ridiculous. In any case - this is important for the way in which it relates to the attitude of the Labor Party that we should withdraw our Army units from the Malaysian-Singapore area - Malaysia itself has 28,000 troops, 10 infantry battalions, 4 ranger battalions and support elements. It has an enormously larger organisation of troops than we are capable of providing for that area. I understand that those troops are well trained and quite well equipped. Obviously if we are concerned about insurgency, these are the people who must accept the initial brunt of any such action.
It is much more realistic to adopt the attitude of the Australian Labor Party. We would retain our Air Force units and a Navy unit in this area, largely for training purposes and to assist the development of the indigenous services”, but we do not want to accept the role of imperial garrison troops, or even seem to be accepting that sort of role. There are problems and potential insurgency in Malaysia. Malaysia is not without problems in Sabah and Sarawak, mainly because of the Malay dominated public service, police force and military services. Quite conceivably serious confict may arise out of this situation. It would be highly undersirable for Australian military forces to be involved in what would clearly be a matter of internal discord. Although the Government writes off the possibility of conflict between the Philippines and Malaysia over Sabah, nevertheless, as long a shot as it may be, it is still a possibility and we must be clear of any involvement in such an event.
It is quite apparent to me that the most beneficial way in which we can become involved in this area, apart from maintaining our air and naval units to assist in the training of the indigenous services, is to become much more closely involved in the economic, political, social and cultural development of the area. There is a much more valuable contribution to be made to Malaysia if we can, for instance, absorb a greater amount of trade from that area. Our role in this field is not a happy one. We could certainly accept more than we have so far accepted from that area. In 1948-49 Malaysia provided about 2% of our imports. This rose to a peak of 3.6% in 1956-57 and again was at this level in 1959-60. The figure is now down to 0.9% of our imports. Australia is a wealthy country. Our per capita income is about $US1,620. The per capita income of Malaysia is only $US257. There is a great disparity. Malaysia is an underdeveloped country. The important area to which we could make the most beneficial contribution is the area of economic development, together, of course, with the political, social and cultural areas. But all the Government is prepared to accentuate is military power in an immediate sense so that the public sees the Australian role as a military role and as the role of a powerful military unit filling a power vacuum in this region.
– It was at least refreshing to have a member of the Opposition speak in this debate. Eight or nine honourable members on the Government side have spoken since the previous Opposition member took part in the debate. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) is the first Opposition member to venture to speak on this very important subject for some time. I welcome him, although he spent precisely half of his speech being cynical, if I may use that word, while he read some extracts of some interview. This was quite stupid. It did not interest the House and certainly did not bear upon the subject we are discussing.
In the latter part of his speech he did make some reference to the subject. I do not want to go through all the points he made. He briefly reiterated what has already .been said here by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). However, he did say that there is no evidence whatever of any danger of a Communist thrust. Does he forget that immediately after World War II our troops gave their lives and this country devoted a great deal of money and manpower to assisting Malaya to prevent Communist terrorists from taking over that country? Does he say that there is no thrust now from North Vietnam into South Vietnam? Does he say that the Liberation Front in Thailand, which is becoming very active, does not present any danger whatever? Does he say that there was nothing in the thrust of Communism from North Korea to South Korea, during which many Australians lost their lives and which cost the Australian taxpayers a good deal of money? What he really means is that he would not give a darn if all the South East Asian countries came under the domination of Communism. That would not matter to him, because he intends to defend Australia within the shores of Australia. However, I do not want to spend all my time replying to the honourable member for Oxley.
The statement delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has rightly been said to be very important. It is a positive statement of the Government’s attitude on defence. The honourable member for Oxley mentioned the time factor. This decision was not taken lightly by the Government; it is the result of a very full inquiry and extensive consultation with Australia’s neighbours in South East Asia. It is a result of a consideration of the dangers to this country and the very great need there is for Australia, situated as it is, to assist in the maintenance of political and economic stability in the countries to our north. It does not mean, as some Opposition members suggested in the early part of the debate, that we will neglect the preparation of our own internal defence. That subject is not dealt with in the statement. The Government’s decision recognises that we must plan to defend Australia outside the shores of Australia, in co-operation with other countries that are challenged in the same way as we are. This is important. The statement certainly sets a pattern for any future approach to our defence. At the next election the Australian Labor Party will try to become the government.
– It has no hope.
– I know it has no hope, but it is the alternative government. It is the traditional function for an Opposition to oppose, but in matters of defence this cannot be lightly undertaken for political purposes only. Therefore, I am sure that the Australian Labor Party has given long and earnest consideration to its defence policy and the policy upon which Labor has decided has been stated by its representatives. It is perfectly clear that Labor members stand wholly for the defence of Australia within Australia’s shores. They stand for what might be called Fortress Australia. They have stated categorically and without any inhibitions that they would withdraw our troops from Malaysia, from Singapore, from Vietnam and from any other area outside Australia in which they may be stationed.
– That would be suicide.
– It would indeed, and the people must be clear about this. It is for the people of Australia to decide on this issue and not for members of the Parliament to do so. We have a government and we have an opposition. Never in my experience in politics has any issue been more clearly stated or demonstrated than this issue has. Our defence policy and the Opposition’s defence policy have been clearly explained. At the coming election the people of Australia will be called upon to decide between the two policies. This matter is of vital importance to every Australian and to the future of Australia. It cannot be ignored.
What brings this issue to a head at this time? We must realise that we are a young country and that we are growing very fast. Whilst our population is only a little more than 12 million, our economic strength is much greater than our size would suggest. We are much more powerful in know-how and in influence than we would appear to be. Though our traditions are the traditions of the West, we are geographically situated in the East. Our only danger lies to the north. We do not have to look back over our shoulder to see where our danger lies. There can be no danger surely from America, Canada or any of the countries in that direction. There is only one direction from which danger can come to Australia and that is from the north.
This young country of ours has a proud record in its very short history. We are only 180 years old - less than 200 years old - so we are very young. Our defence capacity, our activities and our ability were demonstrated in the First World War and the Second World War, in Korea and now in Vietnam and Malaya. Until recently our defences always have been patterned on the United Kingdom. It has been said very properly tonight that we are now making up our own mind. We have got our wings and have become a nation in our own right, making our own determinations according to our own pattern. We know that the United Kingdom, by reason of its presence in the area, especially in Malaya and Singapore, has protected this region for many years, in fact as long as we have been here. The withdrawal of the United Kingdom in 1971 is the thing for which we must prepare ourselves. It is very sad to realise that that great nation has been obliged to withdraw. But who can blame her?
Do we ever stop to think - so many countries in the world do not stop to think - of the contribution that the United Kingdom has made to humanity? Only a very few years ago she controlled the sea lanes of the world. Her trade and her assets were in great volume far and wide throughout the world. In the interests of humanity and the freedom of mankind she gave away a great deal in the First World War and almost her all in the Second World War, yet no nation in the world today stands and thanks the United Kingdom for that. This has never been said but it should be said. Who can blame her when she thinks first of protecting and looking after the 45 million people within her own boundaries? She cannot spread her economic strength or her manpower today to do the things she did in the past.
So we have come to the end of an era and now we start life as a nation, not hoping to take her place completely or to fill the vacuum she has created by leaving because we could not do that, but it would be the most miserable thing in the world if we did not try to take her place after she withdraws. Everything we stand for demands that we go in. The whole of our tradition, the whole of our 180 years of national life, demand that we go in and take our place in assisting in this part of the world. We have the capacity to do it. Let there be no misunderstanding about that. We have the capacity to do a lot now and much more as time goes on. Indeed it is in the interests of our own protection to do so, but I would hope that we would do it not only for our own protection but also because we are a member of a family in this part of the world and are prepared to extend a helping hand, as Great Britain did before us, to countries that need our help. Finally it is our duty to do so. Australia, if I know her, will never renege or fail to face up to her duties. Do we adopt the policy enunciated by the Labor Party and desert now? That is what the Labor Party is asking us to do. The people or Australia will judge the Labor Party on the extremely foolish and destructive decision it has made.
What are our commitments? Do our treaties go for nothing? ANZAM, as it is called, is merely an arrangement between ourselves and Great Britain, together with New Zealand, for the protection of Malaya. The agreement is not directly between Malaya and ourselves; it was between the United Kingdom and Malaya originally and we joined with the United Kingdom to assist in this part of the world. That is what we call the contractual arrangement of ANZAM. Now that the United Kingdom has left Malaya has requested us to go in. We do not go in where we are not asked to go. We do not go in where we are not welcome. But we have been asked to go in and that is why this determination has been made by the Australian Government. Let me refer to our obligations under SEATO. We were in the forefront of establishing that treaty organisation. We are bound to keep up to its obligations and to play our part in South East Asia. The ANZUS agreement with the United States and New Zealand, I remind honourable members, is a guarantee of our protection in this part of the world. If anyone doubted the sincerity of the United States in honouring its obligations under the ANZUS treaty he would not only be very foolish but also very wrong. It is doubted by the honourabl member for Oxley who took part in the debate tonight.
It is strange that the decision announced in the Prime Minister’s statement that we are debating tonight has been applauded by every free country in South East Asia - those countries which are not under Communist domination. Does that signify anything to the Australian Labor Party? Even Indonesia which is not a party to the treaties I have mentioned only yesterday expressed her agreement with our decision and applauded the fact that we have come in to play our part with her in South East Asia. She is, of course, our nearest neighbour. She has her own problems. Although Indonesia now has defeated Communism, the number of Communists who infiltrated into that country presented a very dickie problem for a long time. The Indonesian Government now has control. What would be the position if other countries came under Communist domination? How much longer could Indonesia hold her place? I remind honourable members that she is right on our doorstep. What would we do in those circumstances? I believe that that fact alone should indicate to the people of Australia that we are doing the right thing.
As I have said, our decision has been applauded by every free country in the East. Labor’s policy as now expressed would finally destroy our friendship with many of the countries with which we must live. We are not like other countries. We cannot withdraw. We live here. This is our country. We will be here always beside the countries of South East Asia. Therefore we have no alternative, and we do not want an alternative, because we have the makings of a great new nation if we handle it in the proper way. Today we are only laying the foundations. If we assist the countries of South East Asia towards political independence and economic growth, and remain friendly with them, we will build the foundations of a nation which in the future will be able to stand among the great nations of the world. That must be our thinking. We must realise that our role in the Pacific is a very big one indeed, not restricted to what is shown by the Prime Minister’s statement. I know that other matters are under consideration now. I know, as we all know, that we will have presented other defence statements giving a wider view than we have at the present time. But we cannot avoid the fact that we in the Pacific, with New Zealand and with Papua and New Guinea, which are dependent upon us, and with the arc of islands that surround us, must take a very big role in the development and the defence of this area of the world.
I see in the future not only the establishment of bases in Malaysia and Singapore but also the establishment of bases in other parts of the area that I have just mentioned. These bases will be outside Australia. We already have bases in New Guinea. But there may be other areas in which we will establish bases. I see, too, in the future a greater and closer integration with New Zealand. In my opinion, New Zealand and Australia must almost become one nation. Certainly in the field of defence, New Zealand must become almost completely integrated with Australia. I welcome this historic statement by the Prime Minister. It lays the pattern for our future defence. It states clearly to the people of Australia where we stand. It has drawn from the Opposition clearly and unequivocally where it stands. Let this be the issue that the people will decide. I know what they will say, because they can trust a Government of this kind which is bent upon seeing that we preserve the freedoms for which we have fought and worked for so long.
Mir COPE (Watson) (9.52]- Mr Deputy Speaker, I did not intend to take part in this debate on defence, but the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) has said a few things that should be answered. Firstly, no one is more strongly opposed to the ideologies of Communism and Fascism than I am. But that does not prevent me from being practical about the future of Australia in regard to our defence. I interjected several times when the honourable member for Bennelong was speaking in an endeavour to draw him out in regard to the possibility of other countries invading Australia. Of course neither he nor any other Government supporter can tell me or any other member on this side of the House from what countries we are to fear invasion in the future. Only four countries in the world today have the equipment to launch a possible invasion of Australia. Those countries are the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Russia and possibly France. No other country in the world today, including Japan, has the equipment or the ability to invade Australia.
It is true that in years to come if other countries built merchant fleets, aircraft carriers and sufficient escort naval vessels, we must think about the possibility of invasion. It is absolutely stupid to say that the North Vietnamese could invade Australia. What with? It would take nigh on 1,000 ships to get an invasion army of a quarter of a million troops with their mechanised armaments, oil supplies and food, etc., to Australia. We do not supply these things to an invasion army when it arrives here. It must bring those things here itself. In addition, the North Vietnamese would need a fleet of aircraft carriers and naval escort vessels to bring an invasion force here. No country in Asia has the equipment or the ability to invade Australia. Even Indonesia, our closest neighbour, has not the equipment to invade Australia. What a ridiculous assertion it is to say that we fear a raid by the North Vietnamese on Australia. What poppycock!
I have in my hand a photostat copy of a circular authorised by Mr J. R. Willoughby, depicting a map of China with arrows pointing down towards Australia and indicating that China was our threat. Of course, China is not our threat today; it is our trading partner. If it had not been for the Chinese gold received over the last decade, we would be bankrupt of overseas credit reserves. The Government cannot say now that China will be the enemy because we are trading with China and showing a good profit out of that trade. What hypocrisy it is for Government supporters to talk about the possibility of South East Asian countries invading Australia. The Australian Labor Party does not oppose trade with China under any circumstances. We believe in trade with any country that will be beneficial to Australian primary producers. That is the policy of the Government at the present time. Of course the Government cannot say now that China is our enemy but it does suggest this before an election, as was stated in 1966 by Mr J. R. Willoughby. This is the usual old slush policy that the Government brings out before an election to try to gull the people into believing that it is opposed to Communism. The Government brings out this statement at election time. A week after the election, the Government sends members of the Australian Wheat Board to China to see how much wheat China will buy from us and how much profit we can make from those sales.
I believe that one of the answers to the problem of Communism in South East Asia is to be found in the policy that was introduced by the United States of America in Japan after World War II. When General MacArthur took over, his first step was to introduce land reform. He was instructed by the American Government of the day to do so. The reason he did this was because the Americans were scared at that time that the Japanese would go Communist. This is the reason why land reform was introduced into Japan just after World War II. In 1954, Chiang Kai-shek introduced land reform in Formosa. Nobody in his wildest imagination could say that Chiang Kai-shek was a left winger. But he saw what would happen if he did not take that action.
Let me illustrate to the House what has happened since land reform was introduced in Formosa, a country that I visited 3 years ago. Prior to the introduction of land reform, absentee landlords received 60% of farm production. Now, because of land reform, the absentee landlord is limited to 33% of farm production. As a result, 85% of farmers own their own properties and Formosa has a favourable export trade balance. That is what land reform has done for that country. Marshal Ky promised to do this in South Vietnam, but did not keep his promise. We will not defeat Communism by bullets. As former President Johnson said at the function given in his honour in the parliamentary dining room, there are hundreds of millions of people starving and living on less than $1 per week in the world today. We must see that these people get a better deal for themselves and their families. The introduction of land reform is one way of doing it and also is a means of defeating Communism in these countries.
Communism will not be defeated with bullets. The French were in Vietnam for 30 years. This is a guerilla war. We can never win it. The French could not win it. It is not like an ordinary, conventional war where an army is defeated and then the leaders sit down at a table and lay down terms. This guerilla warfare will last for many, many years. We cannot win it. What is the reason for keeping our troops in Vietnam for all these years fighting in a war which, as the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) has said time and time again, is an unwinnable war? I support that contention to the full.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I am rather glad that the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope) unexpectedly rose tonight and spoke. I was told by the Leader of the House, the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin), that the Australian Labor Party had run out of speakers and that I would follow the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). When I looked around the House and saw only three members of the Opposition on the Opposition benches at that time, I was rather disappointed. I would have thought that a defence debate concerning the defence of this country certainly would have held more interest for the Opposition than to have only 3 out of some 42 Opposition members present in the House at this time. [Quorum formed.] As I was saying before the honourable member for Watson felt rather ashamed of the poor attendance of members of the Labor Party and called for a quorum so that we could get more members of his own Party into the chamber-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. Only 8 members of the Government parties out of 81 were present.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The honourable member for Watson felt rather ashamed when I pointed out that only three members of the Labor Party were on the Opposition benches for such an important debate as this defence debate, and when he stood up and called for a quorum 1 was rather pleased. Now we have on the Labor Party benches such distinguished persons as the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin) and the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters). It is always interesting to have them in the chamber when one makes a speech from this side, because one can always be sure that they will have some interesting interjections to make.
Recently in this chamber we heard the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr Gorton) lay down a blueprint for this country of forward defence for the years to 1971 and beyond. It is hardly necessary for me to point out to honourable members the reaction of the Australian people to the Prime Minister’s statement. It was apparent enough and was reflected in the leading articles in the daily Press. The Melbourne Herald’ called it ‘good sense on defence’. Denis Warner referred to the forward posting of Australian forces as ‘forces of friendship’. Allan Barnes of the Melbourne Age’ headed his article ‘Gorton Wins Round One’. Peter Hastings of the ‘Australian’ referred to ‘the ironic farewell to Fortress Australia’. At that stage the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) had not given the Labor Party’s policy. So I do not think Peter Hastings was really justified in saying that it was a farewell. So much for Australian public opinion.
What was the reaction of Australia’s Asian allies? Tunku Abdul Rahman of Malaysia said that he was ‘well pleased with the decision’. Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore said that the decision ‘would enhance stability and promote economic progress in the area’. In London, officials of the British Government welcomed the decision. In Washington, American Government officials said that the decision was ‘a welcome gesture towards regional security arrangements in South East Asia’. Even the Leader of the Labour Party, not in Australia, but in New Zealand, Mr Kirk, said that the decision of the Australian Government to maintain military forces in Malaysia and Singapore was supported by his Party.
When the Leader of the Opposition replied, 1 believe that he lacked the fire and drive which 1 first became accustomed to when I came into this House and he was the new leader of his Party. Nonetheless, in his reply to the statement by the Prime Minister at that time, he skilfully avoided a precise definition of the Australian Labor Party’s policy on defence. Perhaps he was afraid - 1 do not know - of being rebuked by Mr Hartley of the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labor Party, because on this occasion he spoke in only very general terms. Whilst he carefully avoided the word withdrawal’, there was no doubt left in anyone’s mind that the policy of the Australian Labor Party was some form of Fortress Australia, but how much of a fortress it would be under the policy of the honourable gentleman opposite was anybody’s guess. A week later we had a more precise definition of what Labor’s defence policy would be, but at this time, despite the fact that the Leader of the Opposition was followed in the debate by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) and other Labor members, Labor’s defence policy was not spelled out in clear terms. Why was this? I think that Mr Wallace Brown very ably summed up the reasons for Labor’s procrastination in the Brisbane Courier Mail’ of Thursday, 27th February. His article was headed ‘Labor Split on P.M. Asia Plan’ and it stated:
Members of the Federal Labor Opposition’s Parliamentary Executive last night had a threeway clash on how the Party should approach the Australian Government’s post-1971 defence commitment to Malaysia and Singapore.
In a special meeting called to discuss the Tuesday night defence statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), deep divisions occurred on what Labor’s policy should be. On the one hand complete withdrawal of all Australian forces in Malaysia-Singapore - ground, air and naval - was advocated by leading leftwingers Dr J. Cairns (Vic), Mr C. Cameron (S.A.) and the Senate Opposition Leader (Senator L. Murphy. N.S.W.), and Deputy Leader (Senator S. Cohen).
I am sorry that my friend, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), was not included in the leftwingers.
– I am not a member of the Executive.
– He certainly should be. The article continued:
On the other side, about half the fourteen man executive is understood to have stated that the air and naval components should be left in Malaysia-Singapore, together with sections of the Army force for instructional and training purposes. These members are understood to have included Dr R. Patterson (Qld), Mr N. Beaton (Vic), and Mr C. Webb (WA).
Mr Wallace Brown went on:
And in the middle - leaning much the same way, but with different emphasis - were the Federal Opposition Leader (Mr Whitlam), his Deputy (Mr Barnard) and Mr R. Connor (NSW), who would leave the Air Force in MalaysiaSingapore, but pull out the ground troops.
Mr Wallace Brown went on to say:
The Labor executive meeting lasted for more than 90 minutes and from this mix up Mr Whitlam now has to speak today in reply to Mr Gorton.
It is for the reasons I have outlined and for the reasons Mr Wallace Brown outlined in this article that we got no clear definition of Labor’s policy from the Leader of the Opposition at that time. Opposition speakers who followed only gave their own interpretations of what was Labor’s policy. Mr Wallace Brown in his article went on to say that within the Labor Party the whole issue of Australian forces in South East Asia would certainly be raised again at the Australian Labor Party Federal Conference to be held in Melbourne in July. Is it any wonder that the policy of the Australian Labor Party on defence was not clear to the Australian people when it was not even clear to the parliamentary representatives of its own Party? But the Leader of the Opposition has now decided to take the plunge. During the debate on his urgency motion on defence planning he lined up members of the Labor Party alongside the Communist Party as the chief exponents of Australian isolationism. This decision, of course, was completely in line with the attitude of the Labor Party and its attitudes to vital defence issues in the past.
Let us look at some of the attitudes of the Labor Party to defence in the past. I refer first to its policy on Vietnam. That policy has been one of scuttle and run. The Leader of the Opposition has claimed that the cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam has been the vindication of the policy of the Labor Party. But what has it achieved? The Paris peace talks have got nowhere. Every day one reads in newspapers reports of new offensives by the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. We are told that the allied losses in Vietnam are the highest for the last 6 months. We have given way. We have de-escalated and the Communists have conceded nothing. On the contrary, they have improved their position. So much for Labor’s policy on Vietnam.
I turn now to the policy of the ALP on national service. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury), who is now sitting at the table, pointed out in a recent debate in this chamber that national service is an integral part of Australia’s defence programme. It is the only practical way of providing the Army with the 8,400 men needed each year. Under the present National Service Act any genuine conscientious objector is exempt from national service, but the Labor Party wants to extend the exemption to men who, whilst not opposed to war as such, are opposed only to a particular war. In other words, they would extend exemption to men who are prepared to fight but are not prepared to fight against Communism. What sort of a policy is that for the defence of Australia?
In this House, through subtly worded questions, members of the Labor Party have implied that the Australian Government is engaged in studying the effects of germ warfare at Innisfail in Queensland. This has been categorically denied by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson). The honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton), a Labor member, inspected the research station at Innisfail and stated that he saw no evidence of research into germ warfare. But there is clear evidence that Communist countries are experimenting with germ warfare as an aggressive weapon. I believe that the Australian people have every right to expect the Australian Government to take the necessary steps and make the necessary experiments to protect them in the event of an attack by a country using germ warfare, but members of the Opposition make it sound as though it would be a heinous crime for the Australian Government to do so.
Members of the Labor Party seem to take delight in attacking any steps that this Government takes for the defence of this country. The Fill aircraft will, when delivered, give Australia the world’s most up-to-date war plane; but whenever there has been a crash or the programme has run into problems, as is only to be expected with a plane such as this, members of the Opposition jump with glee. They cannot wait to get to their feet to attack the Government.
As we have seen during the past few weeks, every opportunity has been taken by certain honourable members opposite to belittle the work of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. This organisation is set up to protect Australia from subversion and attack, yet certain members of the Labor Party take every opportunity to imply that it is a form of sinister cloak and dagger secret police force. One honourable member opposite made accusations that the Security Service had bugged his home. This was proved to be false. Now in another place Labor senators are making further attacks on the Security Organisation over the so-called Hoffmann affair.
Labor’s defence policy seems to be, as far as one can gauge at the moment from the conflicting statements made by its members, one of withdrawal into Australia. Like the Wilson Labour Government in Great Britain, the Australian Labor Party seems to have developed a ‘little Australia’ complex. How often have we heard the Opposition say that we should rely on the United Nations to keep peace in the world? Only a very naive fool would rely on the United Nations for protection. Its record of failure in this respect is tragically long. It has failed in Africa; it has failed in Vietnam; it is continuing to fail in the Middle East. The only way to keep Australia free is to keep Australia strong. The Australian people have the right to expect from this Government and this Parliament strong well armed defence forces. There is no doubt that the Australian people want to see this country play a forward role in the development and defence of South East Asia.
– Let me prove it to the right honourable gentleman. Only today the Melbourne ‘Sun’ published the result of a gallup poll on this very question. Under the headline ‘Keep Forces in Asia’ the report reads:
Six out of ten Australians think Australia should keep fairly large forces in friendly South East Asian countries, the gallup poll finds.
The Australia-wide poll at the end of last month found that people generally favoured Australia maintaining at least its present forces in Singapore and Malaysia.
Labor voters, formerly inclinded to oppose it, are now 47% in favour, with 43% still opposed and 10% undecided.
– How many seats does Labor hold in Victoria?
– One can see how many it holds. It is nothing new for the Labor Party to find itself out of step with the thinking of the Australian people. The fact that it was wandered in the political wilderness for the past 20 years is clear proof of what the people of Australia think of Labor’s policies. But of course, the Labor Party has not been doing too well lately in gallup polls. Less than a week ago a report on a gallup poll was published in the Hobart Mercury’. Under the headline ‘Poll has Gorton Government in Strong Position’ the report read:
The latest gallup poll shows that the Gorton Government is in a strong position.
If a Federal election had been held at the end of February, the Liberal-CP Government would probably have been returned with something like its present big majority.
The Melbourne ‘Herald’ has also reported on a gallup poll. On 14th March under the headline ‘PM Holds, Whitlam is Slipping’ the report reads:
More than 60 per cent of the electors continue to approve how Mr Gorton handles his job, bat Mr Whitlam has lost some support, particularly among his own ALP voters, according to a recent gallup poll.
Is it any wonder that the Australian public will not have a bar of the Labor Party while it continues to espouse outdated and outmoded left wing policies, particularly on defence. It is because the Labor Party knows that it is slipping in this election year that some honourable members opposite have been prepared to employ the kind of attack that we heard in this House last night. Some people seem to think that if you cannot win an election by fair means you should attempt to win by foul. That is not the way I would like to win an election. If the Labor Party wants to hold office again in this country it must put its own house in order and review its policies, not only on defence but on all matters, bringing them more into line with the thinking of the Australian people.
Debate (on motion by Mr Peters) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– To introduce the matter that I wish to raise tonight let me quote briefly from one of a series of articles that I write for newspapers in the Mallee electorate when Parliament is sitting. This week I have written:
New legislation that will replace the current Commonwealth Aid Roads Act on 1st July 1969 is now being considered. The report from the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads is anything but favourable to the rural areas of Australia and strong advocacy for a better deal for our rural population is continuing.
Surely de-centralisation has become a hollow catch-cry, and only by making conditions in our rural districts more congenial can we expect to attract new population or even hold that which we have. The Roads Act presents a continuing opportunity to do this, and the Government is being urged to take full advantage of it.
If full advantage is taken of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act it will help to decentralise our population. If we look at the whole structure of the Australian Constitution and the things that have followed since, first of all we will find that every State in Australia has the same number of senators. The reason for this is to allow each State, no matter how small its population - for example, Tasmania has a small population - to have equal representation in the Senate so that each State can obtain the amenities and get the voting power for its people to build up the population of our very sparsely populated areas. They were even more sparsely populated at the time of Federation. 1 believe this is in the best interests of this country. If this kind of thing is done within a nation I definitely think that it should be done within the States. Therefore I believe that at every possible opportunity the rural areas should be given the best possible conditions so as to attract the population from the cities, and as stated in the article I just read, to hold the population which it already has. Earlier today I asked a question of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) regarding the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. My preamble was a bit long so I want to refer to it now in more detail. First of all I will read what the Prime Minister said in his statement on Commonwealth Aid Roads arrangements for 1969-70 to 1973-74.
-Order! There is far too much conversation in the chamber.
– The Prime Minister said:
Under the existing arrangements the Commonwealth has imposed a specific requirement that at least 40% of the total Commonwealth Aid Road’s grant be spent on construction and maintenance of roads in rural areas, other than highways, trunk roads and main roads.
I have always been an advocate of the continuation of this 40% allocation but judging from the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and other things I have heard this grant looks like coming to an end so that all the advocacy that I and my colleagues in the Country Party can put forward will not do much good. In that same statement - this is the statement he read to the State Premiers when they came to Canberra - the Prime Minister said:
Under the arrangements proposed the allocation of money for such roads-
I hesitate there. ‘Such roads’ are the roads in rural areas, other than highways, trunk roads and main roads to which the Prime Minister referred - will be the same amount of money as was received in 1968-69 plus an escalation of 5% each year which will be compounded.
He went on to say:
Thus although the old formula of 40% of the total grant available has been abandoned the actual amounts available for such roads-
Those words again - will increase in each year of the five year period, and such roads-
Those words again - will receive an amount of $394.55m - an increase of $94.55m on the amount required to be spent on this class of road-
There it is again - during the last quinquennium.
Surely I have established that when speaking of ‘this class of road’ and ‘such roads’ the Prime Minister was referring in that statement to rural roads other than highways, trunk roads and main roads. In answer to my i >i;:>. ion the Prime Minister said that he was not sure of the object of my question. The object of my question was to make sure that this definition of rural roads is included in the Act. lt was in the old Act, and although it cannot now be made applicable to the 40% allocation we should be able to make it applicable to the amount which the Prime Minister said will be spent on such roads’, and that amount is $394.55m. It is not asking too much for a country representative to come into this House and ask that this be made very clear in the legislation. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said:
I would not engage myself to try and say what a particular road was in a particular State, because there are variations of description.
I want to refer to that. If this Government does not say what a rural road is, and if this Government does not set out clearly the definition in this Act for the allocation of this money for ‘such roads’, as the Prime Minister says, who will decide? Of course, this is a very easy one. The State Governments will decide. In the State of Victoria there are approximately double the number of members in the Parliament from metropolitan areas as there are from country areas, so what chance has the country?
– There should be three times as many.
– The right honourable member for Melbourne says that there should be three times as many in the city. This great centralist wants to get all the people in Melbourne and have them there in the congestion that they experience at the present time, which will be greater in the years to come. Honourable members have been listening very carefully just now-
– No, we have not.
– Honourable members were speaking over there to a statement that the Prime Minister made on defence, and running through the speeches just now and again was the 1 idea that if we had a greater population in Queensland or, say, Western Australia and in isolated places it would he better for this country. Now, it appears that we cannot get the 40%. If we could have got the 40% of this big grant, it would have meant nearly $500m for roads, and I believe that this would be justified because people will only go to the country if they are given the amenities and other advantages that they have in the cities. I know it disturbs many people when I speak like that. I can see the looks on some of the faces of the members here to say that this is all rot, that the Bureau of Roads has spoken. I am pleased to say that in relation to rural roads the Government is not going to the extent that the Bureau of Roads set out and that we will get a better deal. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), who is in the House now and who will be the man who finally drafts the Bill - of course, he has to get acceptance of it from the Cabinet - to make sure that this definition which, according to the report that the Prime Minister read to the Premiers at the conference recently, is his thoughts on the subject, in accordance with the justice of the position is included, together with the amount that has been set aside, and the legislation should say in reality that this amount of money shall be spent on the construction and maintenance of roads in rural areas, other than highways, trunk roads and main roads. What I am afraid of is that it will get mixed up with the trunk roads and highways and be cut to pieces, and roads in the greater Australia outside the metropolitan area will go back into decay to the detriment of the production of our primary products which are the life blood of the nation.
– On 11th February last the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) announced that a double taxation agreement between Singapore and Australia had been signed. At a later date he announced that a double taxation agreement with Japan had been signed. Copies of these agreements were made available to honourable members. In a statement the Treasurer said that legislation would be introduced to give the agreements the force of law. Speaking on the Japanese agreement the right honourable gentleman said: ‘Members will have an opportunity to debate the scope and effects of the agreement’. Australia already has double taxation agreements with the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and New Zealand. On more than one occasion I have asked what was the effect and scope of those agreements; in other words, what was the taxation payable to Australia by the people of the United States who had investments in Australia, and what was the taxation payable to the United States by Australian people who had investments in the United States? I asked the same question in regard to Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The answer which I received on 13th May 1966, which was similar to the answers I received on all other occasions, was: ‘We do not know’. If the Government does not know the effect of the existing double taxation agreements upon the taxation of this country, how can it call upon this Parliament to make a decision regarding the implementation of two new double taxation agreements?
The Government cannot tell us the scope and effect of the existing agreements. I have on the notice paper a question which asks what investments the people of Singapore have in Australia; what investments Australian people have in Singapore; what investments the Japanese have in Australia; what investments Australian people have in Japan; what taxation would be payable by the Japanese to Australia at the present time upon profits from Japanese investments in Australia; and what would be the profits to these people if the new double taxation agreement is given force of law - if it is ratified by this Parliament? I suggest that if this Parliament is not to act blindly, if it is not merely to ratify decisions that have already been made by Cabinet without any information being given to it as to the effects of the new double taxation agreement, then the Treasurer should supply to this Parliament, prior to the passing of the legislation to ratify the double taxation agreements, with Singapore or Japan, details of the taxation payable under the agreements and of the taxation that would be payable if there were no agreements.
If the Treasurer says: ‘I cannot do that because I cannot look into the future in regard to investment’, then let him tell us what has been the effect of the double taxation agreement upon the taxation payable to Australia by people in the United States who have invested in Australia as a result of the double taxation agreement between Australia and the United States. Let him tell us the amount of taxation payable to the American Government by Australian people who have investments in America. I have not the slightest doubt we will find that there will be a difference to the vast disadvantage of the people of Australia.
– I rise to say on the adjournment what I was prevented from saying by the application of the gag this morning. I believe there are circumstances when the gag may properly be applied, but this morning was not such a case. In a matter of such importance as the motion put forward by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), the debate should not have been stopped after half an hour.
-Order! I do not want to interrupt the honourable member unduly, but he may not revive the debate of last night and this morning in relation to the privileges matter. He may not revive the debate that was the subject of a decision of the House this morning. 1 am just giving him that advice at this stage.
– I certainly shall not canvass that matter, Mr Speaker. What I should like to say, without canvassing that matter further, is that I agree at any rate with the general sentiments expressed by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) last night that, when allegations of the kind which were referred to in that debate are bandied about in news sheets and in what the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) described as a whispering campaign, sooner or later some notice has to be taken of the matters. If in fact gross contempts of the Parliament are committed, I believe Parliament must take it upon itself to take appropriate action; lest by failing to do so it would appear to give a licence to these gentlemen to go from bad to worse and publish material which could only bring Parliament and parliamentarians into complete contempt. But if, on the other band, there is any substantial degree of truth in the kind of allegation which to our knowledge is being bandied about-
– There is no truth in them.
– We will come to that. If there is, it must raise grave doubts as to the suitability for office of the Prime Minister. It seems to me that the attitude which has been taken by the Prime Minister and indeed by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) today has placed all of us in the position where either we declare our complete confidence in the Prime Minister or for ever hold our peace. That I, for one, am not prepared to do because, speaking for myself - and I know for many others, whether they declare themselves or not - I am concerned about the conduct of the Prime Minister. I base that-
-Order! I remind the honourable member of my ruling. I must say that on the motion for the adjournment any comment in relation to the conduct, character or reputation of any member of the House definitely would be out of order.
– 1 had wished to say some of these things this morning. I was prevented from doing so this morning, so I took the first opportunity of saying them now. If you, Mr Speaker, hold me out of order then I cannot continue.
-Order! I have not ruled the honourable member out of order. At this stage I am telling him his rights in relation to the Standing Orders and the accepted practices of the House.
– What I wish to do, subject of course to your ruling, Mr Speaker, is to state the facts which are causing me concern. First of all, there are many facts which are known to all of us - not of the nature referred by Mr Frank Browne - which have caused me concern but upon which 1 do not want to elaborate now. However I want to refer to a particular matter and I do not rely upon the authority of a Mr Frank Browne. Indeed I rely on the best of authority - the Prime Minister himself - for the facts I propose to state. These facts relate to what occurred on the night of the day when the bombing pause in Vietnam was announced - I think in November of last year. The facts, as I stated them to the Prime Minister and which he did not contradict, are as follows: On that night the Prime Minister was invited to a dinner given by the Press Gallery and was invited to go on afterwards to the American Embassy. He arrived at the dinner with his Press Secretary, Mr Eggleton. He did not leave until the small hours of the morning - according to my information, about 2.30 a.m. Prior to his departure a young lady aged 19 approached him and asked for a lift home which he agreed to give her. She got into the car with the Prime Minister and his Press Secretary. They proceeded to the American Embassy at that hour. They were admitted. They stayed a considerable time, until about half-past five in the morning.
– What was the source of your mysterious information?
– Suffice it to say that I told this story to the Prime Minister.
– What do you imply?
– I do not imply anything. I am telling the facts as I told them to the Prime Minister and as he did not deny.
– Would you put that in a court?
– Indeed I would.
– Then you have never appeared in a criminal court. That is all I can say.
-Order! I suggest to all honourable members that they restrain themselves.
– I did say that according to my information the American Ambassador had rung during the dinner to say that he had a telegram or a cable in which the Prime Minister might be interested and invited him to call so that he could see it. The Prime Minister told me that that was not the case, that he had received the invitation in other circumstances which he explained to me and it was a social, not a business, call. I accepted this. He also interrupted me at the point where I said that he got into his car by saying that his Press Secretary was there also. I agreed that this was so and that was according to my information. He did not contradict any of the matters that I have mentioned in any other respect. In those circumstances, Mr Speaker, I believe that such conduct could only be calculated gravely to prejudice our relationship with the United States.
– I say this advisedly. What would the American Ambassador and his wife think of a Prime Minister who being invited to a social or other occasion arrives at 2.30 in the morning or somewhere about that time with a young lady not his wife aged 19 and stays for some hours?
Let honourable members laugh if they please. I do not worry; the Australian public will judge this. I leave it for them to say whether this would in fact prejudice the relations between Australia and the United States, because I am quite sure it would have been the Ambassador’s duty to report this incident to the President and I can imagine what the President thinks of a Prime Minister who would treat his Ambassador in this fashion. I have no doubt what the American people and the American President would think of this kind of conduct and I am quite content to leave it to the Australian public to say whether they are going to set the seal of their approval on this standard of conduct or whether they will in fact utterly repudiate it. For myself, and I believe I speak for all decent thinking people in this community - honourable members may laugh as much as they please; they are mere sycophants. The Australian public and Press will judge this for themselves. I do not believe that they will approve that type of conduct but that they will agree with my verdict. It is simply not good enough in a Prime Minister of Australia.
– I do not propose to spend more than perhaps 5 minutes on this matter. But it is an interesting exercise in how something which I believe is a perfectly reasonable and proper thing can be twisted, turned and slimed over as it has been tonight. It is perfectly true and absolutely true that on the occasion when President Johnson announced that he would cease the bombing of North Vietnam I was asked to go, and had agreed to go, to a dinner of the Press Gallery here in Canberra, and I went to it.
– Was it a good dinner?
– It was not a bad dinner. It was a reasonable sort of dinner - let us put it that way.
– The company was not so good.
– All I can say about that is that it was better company than some others I keep. It is perfectly true, Mr Speaker, that on the occasion when we were leaving there a girl journalist there, whose father I have known for a long time, asked could she be given a lift home.
It is perfectly true that she got into the back seat of my car - with Mr Tony Eggleton. I hope nobody is going to attack Mr Tony Eggleton. I got into the front seat of the car. It is also true, Mr Speaker, that during the course of that Press dinner the American Ambassador had rung up twice - not once, but twice - and had said that he felt that he had perhaps been a little late in giving me the information that I wanted about the bombing pause. Although he had given it to me in plenty of time he felt he had not done as well as he would have liked to have done, as he expressed it, in serving me and, therefore, no matter at what stage the dinner finished, would I please call in at the American Embassy on my way home to have a drink with him to show that I had no distress myself about it - andI did. I understand that somebody was asking Mr Crook about this today - who, I would not know - and he gave the information that we did and we stayed about 30 minutes and then went home - all of us - in the same order, with Mr Eggleton and the girl in the back seat.
– It is nothing to laugh about.
– I think it is utterly absurd that a story of that kind can be twisted in this way. There is one part of what Mr St John said which is untrue. He agreed that I had told him this was the sequence of events. I am not ashamed of that sequence of events at all - neither would anyone else be. Is there anybody here who has not at some stage or other at some meeting or other been asked to give somebody a lift home and given them a lift home? Of course not.
– Better not ask.
– No, I had better not.
– What, at half-past 5 in the morning?
– We are coming to that. Mr St John agreed that I had told him it was nothing to do with the cable; it was as I have described it to the House. What he did not say is that I said these times were completely untrue. But what Mr Crook has said today is also that they are untrue. Mr Crook has said he never had a party that went on till 5 o’clock in the morning; if he did have one people would not have been very welcome at it; and if he had had one I would not have stayed until that stage in the morning anyway. I have no recollection of the actual time-
– No wonder.
– All right. I have no recollection because, you know, I did not look at my watch at the stage we left because I never expected this kind of thing would be twisted in this kind of way. But I would imagine - I would think - that we probably arrived at the American Embassy at a quarter to 12 or 12 o’clock, or sometime, because the dinner was very late starting because the journalists had to cope with the bombing cessation, and that we left about half an hour after that. That is something which has been claimed to be a most obnoxious thing to do. I am happy, as Mr St John says he is happy, to let this House and to let the public of Australia judge how terrible that occurrence was.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 36
– Order! The honourable member’s point of order is out of order.
– I am surprised to hear it.
– Where does the disorder lie, Mr Speaker?
– Would Ben Chifley or John Curtin have done this?
– Order! I remind the honourable member for Grayndler that continued abuse of the Standing Orders and the forms of the House is a distinct reflection on the Chair.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Can you name me in Division?
– Order! If the honourable member persists in this manner I. will take disciplinary action.
– Anyhow, I am with StJohn the Baptist.
– Order! If the honourable member interjects again I shall name him.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 36
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Have Commonwealth and State officers yet met to discuss the proposal which the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works made in May 1968 for the establishment of an agency responsible for the collection, evaluation and dissemination of hospital planning and design information? If so, on what dates, and with what results?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Commonwealth and State officers have not yet met to discuss in detail the proposal to establish a hospital planning bureau. The Commonwealth is in the process of obtaining information concerning similar planning groups which are at present in operation in various overseas countries. When this information has been obtained the meeting of officers will be arranged.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The honourable member’s attention is invited to the answer I gave to his Question No. 300, of 29th May 1968. Since that answer was given new Regional Offices of my Department have been opened at Albury in New South Wales and Whyalla in South Australia, and others will shortly open at Griffith in New South Wales and Box Hill in Victoria.
Department of Customs and Excise: By-law Branch (Question No. 1217)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Thesefigures are notstrictly comparable.In many cases, multiple By-law determinations were made for the one by-law application.
The increase in establishment in 1967 resulted to a large extent from an expansion of the Planning and Industry Development Sections in this Branch.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
VIP Aircraft (Question No.1177)
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
Will he provide information with respect to VIP flights by No. 34 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force for the period 25th October 1968 to date similar to that provided on 5th November 1968 in respect of the period 1st January to 24th October 1968?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The attached information is provided in respect of VIP flights by No. 34 Squadron of the Royal Australain Air Force for the period 25th October 1968 to 5th March 1969.
The VIP flights referred to in the attached schedule were authorised by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister or the Minister for Air. In addition, Service VIP flights authorised by the Chief of the Air Staff are included.
Details of passengers shown in column 5 of the schedule were not necessarily carried over the whole of the VIP portion of travel. Details of passengers carried on aircraft positioning flights have not been shown.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Is he able to say whether:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The standard Special Forces rifle used in Vietnam does not inflict unnecessary suffering.
As was announced at thetime, the retaliation for the attacks made on Pleiku, several villages and allied installations on the morning of 7th February 1965 was certain bombing raids directed against North Vietnam on 7th and 8th February. It was not disproportionate.
There has not been forced regrouping of some 2 millionSouth Vietnamese by allied forces.
I am unable to say whether such orders have been placed.
I am informed that the United States Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps manual entitled ‘Fundamentals of Aerospace Weapons Systems’ dated May 1961 is an outdated manual which is no longer in use in the Reserve Officers Training Corps programme. The manual contained a section broadly describing types of possible targets in relation to what were described as four elements of the national strength of a hostile country, namely, military, economic, political and psycho-social. The part devoted to the so-called psycho-social structure discussed possible military activities most directly affecting morale and the enemy’s will to continue hostilities. It also discussed tactics of a psycho-social nature which some Communist countries have used to increase international tension and uncertainty. This was a general discussion and did not identify possible targets as such.
It is my understanding that the United States Supreme Court has not refused to consider the legality of the United States intervention in North Vietnam.
I am aware of the various sessions of the so-called ‘Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal’.
It is already widely known that Australia is not a party to illegal methods of warfare.
International Conferences in Australia: Government Support (Question No. 1085)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
What procedure should be followed by an organisation which seeks government support for the holding of an international conference in Australia?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There is no set procedure. The organisation would normally approach the appropriate Minister or Department.
Vietnam (Question No.1149)
asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice:
Which of the following practices or conditions have been reliably reported to him as occurring under (a) Communist, and (b) anti-Communist Vietnamese authorities:
legal immunity for:
Which of the above practices or conditions have been mentioned, and in what terms, in communications from Australia to other nations?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: 1 (i)-(x). The question refers to certain ‘practices or conditions’ occurring under Communist and anti-Communist Vietnamese authorities. A meaningful answer is made difficult first, by the scarcity of reliable or precise information about conditions and practices in North Vietnam, where all information is subject to strict government censorship; and, second, by the fundamental difference between the communist and therefore totalitarian form of government and social organisation in that area and the form of government and society in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) which is both open to outside scrutiny and also in essential respects democratic in the normal and noncommunist sense of that term. In North Vietnam there may be constitutional or legal provision for various democratic freedoms but, as in the case of other Communist countries, these are so interpreted in practice as to result in the negation of democracy. In the Republic of Vietnam, on the other hand, despite certain shortcomings and the special problems created by terrorism and by aggression from North Vietnam, real progress towards the establishment of a democratic society is evident.
Answers to specific questions are as follows: (i), (ii), (iii). The Constitution of North Vietnam makes some provision for the rights of individuals but provides also that ‘the State forbids any person to use democratic freedoms to the detriment of the interests of the State and of the people’. The South Vietnamese Constitution refers to the rights of the individual including his right to a prompt and public trial. Although considerations of military security have led to the detention of some individuals, reports indicate that these provisions are respected. In addition the legal system is being developed in accordance with the Constitution, particularly by the establishment of the Supreme Court which provides for the independence of the judiciary from the executive.
In the Republic of Vietnam the situation is as follows:
There are no regulations regarding monopolies; there is a price control system. (ix). The Constitution of North Vietnam provides that citizens have the right to education. The Constitution of the Republic of Vietnam stipulates that basic education is compulsory and free of charge.
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Papua and New Guinea: University Graduates (Question No. 1185)
asked the Minister for
External Territories, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Papua and New Guinea: Education (Question No. 1189)
asked the Minister for
External Territories, upon notice:
How many indigenous Papuans and New Guineans are receiving (a) secondary, (b) technical and (c) tertiary education in Australia?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 March 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690320_reps_26_hor62/>.