27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr REYNOLDS presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that (a) the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system; (b) a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all; (c) more than 500,000 children suffer from serious lack of equal opportunity; (d) Australia cannot afford to waste the talents of one sixth of its school children; (e) only the Commonwealth has the financial resources for special programmes to remove inequalities; (f) nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the chief impetus for change and the finance for improvements come from the national Government.
The petitioners pray that the House make legal provision for a joint CommonwealthState inquiry into inequalities in Australian education to obtain evidence on which to base long term national programmes for the elimination of inequalities; the immediate financing of special programmes for low income earners, migrants, Aboriginals, rural and inner suburban dwellers and handicapped children; and the provision of preschool opportunities for all children from culturally different or socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Petition received and read.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I ask: In view of the fact that the Commonwealth Government is now running the transcontinental railway service and bearing in mind that pensioners travelling on State railway services receive concession fares, will the Minister consider the possibility of extending these concessions to pensioners travelling on the Indian-Pacific railway service?
– I think this question is out of order because I believe a question on this subject has been placed on the notice, paper by another honourable member. Nonetheless, I believe that it is worth honourable members of this House and the public being aware that the Government has already introduced pensioner concessions for travel within the State so that pensioners travelling on Commonwealth railways are able to take the same advantage as is enjoyed presently in some States for pensioner travel. In addition the Commonwealth intends to introduce for inter-system travel the same concession as is available for passengers travelling within a State. That means that there will necessarily be some negotiations with the operators of the State railway systems to ensure that the basis of operation of this concession can be determined in such a way as not to affect the operation of their systems. But I am hoping that this extended concession can be made available very shortly.
– I direct my question to the immensely likeable and competent Minister for Immigration. Is the Minister aware that I learned first hand during my self paid for visit to the United States of America that his Department in that country had received 9,050 immigration inquiries during the month of January this year? Can the Minister say what has been done to take advantage of this interest in terms of migration and how does he assess the United States of America as a future source of migrants?
– I might say that I do appreciate the unsolicited commendation of the honourable member and I agree with him that interest in the United States of America >n migration to Australia has certainly developed rapidly in recent years. In fact, during the past 12 months some 3,500 United States settlers have arrived in Australia, an increase of some 27% over the previous year, which increase undoubtedly represents an accurate conception of Australia as a young and dynamic country with its best years ahead. I observe, of course, that migrants from the United States are in fact of very good calibre. They have a high educational standard and they certainly possess skills which are in ready demand in this country. Moreover, the common heritage of language and culture which we enjoy provides a sound basis for effective integration.
As the honourable member is no doubt aware we do not, of course, directly promote our migration programme in the United States, in accordance with the wishes of the Government of that country. However, our Embassy in Washington and our Consulates-General in New York and San Francisco counsel on a wide range of inquiries which are now coming from throughout the country and our offices there have been considerably strengthened in order to handle this volume of inquiries and to enable officers to travel throughout the country. No doubt some of the interest indicated in inquiries which we have received is ephemeral and the loss of interest among the more serious inquirers can be attributed to the difference between wage and salary levels in our two countries and the fact that Americans, who are enjoying steady and well paid jobs, are somewhat reluctant to migrate to Australia without some guarantee of jobs at corresponding levels in this country. However, so far as the forward picture is concerned 1 certainly assess migration from the United States as growing apace without any foreshadowing of dramatic developments, and we are looking forward to an increasing number of United States settlers coming here because they represent a quite valued source of migrants for this country.
– J. ask the Minister for Defence a question concerning the Defence (Conditions of Service) Committee which he announced before Christmas and which he briefly mentioned again in his defence statement on Tuesday night. I ask him whether this Committee is empowered to inquire into defence forces retirement benefits, war service homes for serving and discharged members, and scholarships for the children of members of the forces who are posted from one school system to another. I also ask: Will the Committee’s reports be published like the report of the Allison Committee or withheld like the reports of the Morshead Committee?
-The Leader of the Opposition has, I think, drawn some inaccurate analogies. This is a branch operating within the Department of Defence and it will be part of the normal functioning and operations of the Department. It would not normally be the case that any reports of a branch of a department in this way would be published. But they are designed to assist the Department and the Government in coming to proper judgments in these matters. The three matters which I think the honourable member mentioned - the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, war service homes and scholarships - are of course, as he would realise, largely the responsibility of other Ministers.
– Has the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs seen reports of the activities of various mineral companies in the Wingellina area of Western Australia and does he propose any action as reported?
– The question that the honourable member raises is a most important one and I think I should give the House some of the background to it. The sites concerned are those that are sacred to the Pitjantjatjara people and they stretch across the boundaries of Western Australia and South Australia and also, to some extent, into the Northern Territory. Most of the people concerned appear to live in South Australia and the Northern Territory, although I think that the majority of the relevant sites would be in Western Australia. They are sites of the very highest importance. I do not think k is possible to exaggerate their importance either in the life of the Pitjantjatjara people or, indeed, in academic terms. They are absolutely important in the scale of world study and knowledge of these things.
Unhappily, as I have mentioned to the House before, the sacredness of these sites is also bound up with their secretness so that they are unknown to people who are not initiated. Until recently the majority of the important sites were not known to any European. As it happens one European recently - a Mr Wallace - has been initiated into certain of the ceremonies. He would have a far greater knowledge of the sites than any other European has yet attained, although I do not believe that his knowledge would be complete. Let me say in regard to these sites that it will be our policy not only to preserve them but, insofar as it can be done, to preserve their sacred character, namely their secret character, and that while there are living men to whom these things are important, the beliefs of those living men should not be violated in any way if it can be helped.
It is difficult in this case because, as I have said, the people concerned are reluctant to reveal the existence or location of the sites. In these circumstances I have been in touch with the relevant State authorities. The Western Australian Government recently sent out an expedition, headed by Professor Crawford, which did delineate some but not all of the sites and, I think, not the most significant of the sites. I am, however, in contact both with the South Australian and Western Australian authorities in regard to them and I am proposing, if possible, to have areas set aside where the sites will be included but will not be pinpointed. I am not clear whether or not this will be practicable. The matter will be discussed tomorrow at the Council of State and Federal Ministers connected with Aboriginal affairs, which will be holding its annual meeting in Sydney. I shall be bringing the matter up. I would think that the first thing to do would be to ascertain and map the boundaries of the relevant mineral exploration areas. I believe that at present they all are in Western Australia and I hope that there will be no unnecessary incursions in South Australia. When these boundaries have been mapped I would propose to see whether lt is possible to set aside areas containing the sacred sites. Professor Stanner, who is on my Council of Aboriginal Affairs-
– Come on.
– I am sorry if I am taking up the time of the House.
– Give us your decision.
– Make a statement.
– If that is preferred, I will do so.
– I ask the Treasurer a question about the quinquennial investigation of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund for the year ended 30th June 1967. Has the Treasurer received the report of the Superannuation Board, which bis predecessor stated in August 1969 should be available by December 1969? If so, will he say whether there is a surplus available for distribution and if there is, when and how it will be distributed? If the report has not yet been received will the Treasurer update the prognostications of his predecessor?
– I have not yet received the Superannuation Board’s report but I will make inquiries about the present position and inform the honourable member.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it true that West German veterinarians are in Australia inspecting abattoirs? Will the visit result in meat trade with West Germany? Have the veterinarians demanded a very high standard of hygiene in our meat works? Will the Minister inform the House of activities in this direction?
– It is becoming the practice of meat importing countries to demand higher and higher standards in killing works. They are sending out their own veterinarians to inspect meat works in various countries. Only yesterday I read reports that a number of abattoirs in New Zealand had been refused permission to continue to export meat to the United States market. The West German veterinarians who are in the country at the moment are not only inspecting the standard of abattoirs but also selecting abattoirs that might kill according to the procedures that they desire for the importation of meat into the West German market. I am aware that they have been in the honourable member’s area. I understand that they have inspected the Gunnedah abattoir, as it is of very high standard. I hope that their inspections will lead to trade with West Germany and increased sales to that part of the world.
-I ask the Treasurer a question.In view of the fact that notices have been directed to Commonwealth public servants that deductions from their salaries for the purpose of meeting home loan repayments are to be discontinued, will the Treasurer, in the light of the Government’s intention to seek the co-operation of employers in deducting health insurance payments from salaries, reconsider the matter of home loan repayments so that deductions may continue rather than cease at a time when there is an ever increasing desire to apply a deduction system in industry and in some State departments?
– Recently, we did have a detailed review of deductions which the Commonwealth was prepared to make from salary payments for various purposes. This was done very largely in response to the request received from the various public service associations, including credit unions and other bodies. The whole matter was gone into very carefully. The list of deductions which could be made was extended some considerable distance to meet these requests, but, in some cases, undue work was involved and one or two items did need to be taken off the list. I think if the honourable member looks at the matter in totality he will realise that the Commonwealth went a great deal of the way to meeting the representations which it received.
– In view of the world wide consternation caused by the use of DDT and other contaminating pest killers, I ask the Minister for Education and Science whether the Government is taking any action to prevent the use ofDDT in Australia. Have Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation scientists made a breakthrough in producing substitutes for DDT? If so, what action is being taken to use these substitutes on a commercial basis?
– It is the fact that CSIRO has been experimenting in this field and has had some remarkably good results in producing compounds which are comparable in their effect on insect pests with DDT but which do not have some of the disadvantages of DDT. They are not noxious to animals and so on. However, it is necessary to make much more detailed tests with the use of these compounds before they could possibly be put into commercial use. These tests are proceeding. As to whether there would be any legislation regarding the use of DDT, this would not be a matter falling within my portfolio.
– I ask the Treasurer: is a further quarterly payment for the F111 aircraft due at the end of this month? If so, what is the amount of the instalment? Will the honourable gentleman consider suspending these regular payments until the status of the F111 is resolved?
– I feel quite sure that, if we have entered into any contractual arrangements, those contractual arrangements will be adhered to unless some agreement is made or some alternative arrangement is made to which the other side agrees. I am not quite up to date on when payments are precisely due. There is a series of payments to be made in the course of the year. I will look into the matter, find out the facts and let the honourable gentleman know. But he may rest assured that if there is any money that can be honourably saved I will be doing my best to do so.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Interior. Will he consider the introduction of mobile polling booths for use at major hospitals to replace the present unsatisfactory voting procedures at these institutions? Will he also consider abolishing the present practice of handing how to vote cards to electors at the entrance to polling booths and in lieu thereof provide for the display of authorised how to vote cards in every cubicle in every polling booth?
– The House may recall that last session 1 indicated that I had a Bill containing several amendments to the Electoral Act going before the Government. In view of the election, I have had to recommit the Bill to the Government. I expect it to go before the Government in the next week or two and I will keep in mind the representations made by the honourable member relating to both the mobile polling booths and the how to vote cards. Mobile polling booths are already an established fact in Queensland, Western Australia and 1 think New South Wales and no doubt the Government will consider this.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Does he subscribe to the principle of realistic conciliation before arbitration? If he does, will he institute inquiries in his own Department to ascertain whether it is a fact that the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association, on behalf of its members in the Employment Division of the Department of Labour and National Service, has been trying to conciliate with both the Department and the Public Service Board for about 2 years? If his inquiries reveal that this is a fact, will he institute such action as is necessary to enable the conciliation process to be finalised and thus permit a long delayed a rbi ration case to be heard?
– There were three sections to the question. The answer to the first is yes. The answer to the second is yes. In the third section I am asked whether I will do something if I find out something. I will make a decision as to what I will do when 1 find out.
– I ask the Treasurer a question, ls the Government aware that imported model ships are permitted to be landed free of sales tax when they are used for publicity or exhibition purposes? Since these purposes constitute a significant portion of the Australian demand, will the Government arrange for the Australian model building industry to be given the same relief from sales tax and import duty when supplying the Australian demand for models for publicity and exhibition purposes?
– I will certainly look into this matter and let the honourable member know. In any event, 1 will certainly list it amongst those matters to be discussed when sales tax is being considered prior te framing the Budget.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry, ls there any foundation in the rumours being widely circulated that substantial quantities of New Zealand frozen beans and peas are coming into this country?
– There certainly is no substance in any such allegation. As the honourable member will know, late in 1968 I appointed a panel, representative of Australian growers, processors and the Government, to most with a similar panel of New Zealanders to study the impact of exchanges of peas and beans across the Tasman and to reach understandings. The understandings were reached and I can say that the importations of peas and beans from New Zealand were rather less than were agreed upon by the panel. As a matter of fact it was agreed that in the past season about 3.5 million lb of peas should be imported but 3.4 million lb were in fact imported. This was against an Australian production of 102 million lb and an export by Australia of 2 million lb. So the net importation of peas into Australia was quite infinitesimal by comparison with the local production.
Quite clearly, on the statistics, the problem that exists is a problem generated within Australia. In 1968 we produced in Australia 79 million lb of peas: last year we produced .102 million lb. This compares with total imports in 1968 of 4.2 million lb and imports last year of 3.4 million lb. There is a problem in respect of peas and the outcome of it is that there certainly will be a cut-back in the acreage for which processors will contract. I am informed that the cut-back will be to 40,000 acres. I have not got the figures to give a comparison in that respect.
The position in relation to beans - I have the statistics but will not take up the time of the House to present them - is that there is no impact from importation of beans from New Zealand. I think I am right in saying that. The Australian production of beans has gone up quite substantially from 25 million lb in 1968 to 36 million lb in 1969. However, the Australian Pea and
Bean Industry Panel will be meeting in Melbourne on 17th March to consider this situation.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science whether he is aware of an application for a living allowance by a Mr Rodney Moran who is attending the University of Western Australia on Commonwealth scholarship No. UW000467. I give that information so that the particular scholarship may be easily identified by the Minister. Will he investigate urgently the question of making assistance available to Mr Moran so that he can pay living expenses until the board meets on 3rd April to consider his application, which was lodged on 12th February? If the application is approved, will the living allowance be made retrospective?
-I am not familiar with this particular case but I can assure the honourable member that this, and a very large number of cases of this type, are considered very carefully. I certainly shall look into the particular case he has mentioned and give him written advice.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Education and Science. Is the Minister aware of the serious problems concerning pre-school education in New South Wales, problems related to payment of adequate salaries for teachers and ancillary staff, provision of teacher training facilities, and costs associated with building, equipping and maintaining preschool kindergartens? In view of the acknowledged importance of pre-school education in the overall educative process, what action is contemplated by him to overcome the situation with regard to pre-school education in New South Wales?
-I think the interest of the Government in pre-school education is evidenced by its action in the area where this matter is the Government’s particular responsibility. I refer to the position in the Australian Capital Territory where there are good pre-school centres. The State Governments have in the main left the matter of pre-school education to private organisations and have established a pattern of paying subsidies to these organisations. This pattern varies from State to State, but that is what happens in New South Wales. The New South Wales Government, instead of having pre-school education in its education system, has given a subsidy to support private organisations undertaking pre-school training. In view of the increasing recognition of the value of pre-school training, the Commonwealth Government consulted with the States on their needs in this area. They told us that the main priority was the training of teachers to act in pre-school centres. As a result, as honourable members will be aware, in the last Budget we provided $2im for the erection of colleges for training pre-school teachers.
The honourable member referred to the recurrent costs, such as salaries of teachers, the provision of facilities and their maintenance. At the moment these costs would have to be met by the States. Of course, I conferred with the State Ministers in Perth in February on this matter but their main concern was with expenditure in the areas of primary and secondary education. A matter of priorities is involved, and at the moment the priorities of the States are directed towards those two areas.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Does he suggest that the national income and expenditure statistics for the December quarter last, which were released on Tuesday, have convinced the Government that in the last week the economy has moved from a position of control to one of overheating? If these figures were crucial to this change of opinion and if, as the Treasurer apparently claims, the Government did not have sufficient warning of their import before preparing the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, on what basis did the Reserve Bank of Australia make its decision last Friday to raise interest rates to cure overheating?
– The last quarterly return on national income statistics was of course one of the many factors taken into account in the general assessment of the economy. I did draw the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to them the day before yesterday because I thought that he might find them enlightening for general purposes. But what the honourable gentleman is really seeking to do is what he was trying to do the day before yesterday, and that is to make a semantic point about the difference between what was stated in the Governor-General’s Speech and the reasons given by the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia for raising interest rates recently. I have looked through the Governor-General’s Speech. One sentence reads:
Pressures on costs and prices, though strong and persistant and requiring close attention, have for the most part been kept reasonably under control. ]n large measure this may still be true, not in all cases but in a great number of cases. But there was certainly more than sufficient information to enable the Board of the Reserve Bank to make a sound judgment on the condition of the economy as a whole. The Leader of the Opposition is playing with semantics. Incidentally, the Governor-General’s Speech is hardly written the day before it is delivered. In the Governor-General’s Speech there is a clear indication that, although all is not well, the situation is reasonably under control. There is no great divide between the reasons given by the Bank and what was said in the Governor-General’s Speech, and 1 should imagine that most people reading the statement would realise that it was simply saying that some action would have to be taken. As 1 said, the Reserve Bank is not dealing with a disastrous situation, but it is taking a very natural and logical course to curb the further movement of inflation.
– It is getting the close attention we said was wanted.
– We are giving close attention and will continue to give close attention to these matters. It was said in the Governor-General’s Speech that pressures on costs and prices are strong and persistent and require close attention. This is still the case and is likely to be the case for some little time ahead.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service inform the House of the outcome of stop work meetings by several branches of the Waterside Workers Federation yesterday? Will there be a 5-day stoppage on the waterfront?
– There was a number of stop work meetings yesterday. Some of them were authorised, under the terms of the award, for 4 hours. Others were stoppages for 24 hours. Whether there will be a strike on the waterfront, as appears to be a possibility, I am unable to say at this stage. There ought not to be a stoppage, because there exists a National Conference which all parties attend and which all parties support. The purpose of the National Conference is to resolve claims such as this. I would remind the honourable gentleman of what I said on Tuesday, that the claim is a very young one in terms of time and it has been considered only at erne meeting of the National Conference, ft does provide means to negotiate between parties and to settle the matters in dispute. I would hope that the union would not resort to direct action when this course is open to it. Finally I say to the honourable member that, because I am concerned that these processes should be gone through rather than direct action being taken, I have communicated with the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions by telegram and I am hoping, through another indirect contact, that I will be seeing him on Monday of next week.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Is he aware that Australian casualties in Vietnam are rising at an alarming rate? For example, last Saturday week the 8th Battalion lost 8 men killed and 15 men wounded. In the 6th Battalion 1 man was killed and 13 were wounded. Since then another 6 men have been killed or have died of wounds and much larger numbers have been wounded. In view of the fact that the United States of America is in the process of withdrawing - and consequently its casualties are markedly declining - will the Minister inform the leader of the Australian Task Force that he does not support the leader’s statement of last week in which he said: Now is the time to hit the enemy harder’? Furthermore will the Minister inform the House of the action he is prepared to take in order to ensure that Australian casualties are reduced and, if possible, eliminated pending an alteration in the Government’s present callous policy of refusing to take immediate action to limit our commitment progressively?
– In reply to the honourable member’s question, which contained not only a number of imputations but also statements and questions, I would say firstly that naturally I am concerned at the deaths that occurred over the past 2 to 3 weeks as a consequence of encounters with mines. I am not aware of the statement that was made by, I assume, the Commander of the Australian Task Force or his deputy during his absence. I assume it was one of those two gentlemen and not the Commander of the Australian Forces in Vietnam. I shall examine what he said though the content of it, as put to me, would not disturb me. In the post-Tet situation we would have imagined there would be a build-up of enemy activity. As a consequence, regrettably, some of our forces would suffer the fate that I mentioned before and it would be a natural, human reaction for a commander to comment in the manner alleged to him by the honourable member. The Prime Minister has stated the Government’s policy in regard to the question of withdrawal. I do not intend to comment because the question of the nature, the size, the extent or the timing has not been decided and this is a matter for the Prime Minister.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Is he aware that there has been a very sharp fall in rural land values but that primary producers are still being called upon to pay estate duty and other charges based on out of date book entries of previously inflated land valuations? Will the Treasurer, insofar as the Commonwealth Government is concerned, make investigations with a view to bringing rural land valuations in line with reality?
– Of course, it is a strong desire of the Government at all times to bring values into line with reality. If the honourable member will bring particular areas or districts to my attention as areas which do need special attention and perhaps special survey, this could be helpful. I would be grateful if he would do so.
The honourable member will also be aware that very shortly I shall introduce an estate duty Bill to ease the estate duty paid by members of the farming and rural communities. But I will bring the honourable member’s remarks to the attention of the Commissioner of Taxation - I presume he is the person the honourable member mainly has in mind - and if there is anything particular that the Commissioner can convey to me on this subject I will let the honourable member know.
– by leave - On 17th December last I announced that the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board had commenced the distribution of surplus assets in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund that were disclosed by an investigation of the Fund carried out by the Commonwealth Actuary in respect of the S-year period from 1st July 1959 to 30th June 1964. The distribution to eligible pensioners is now virtually completed and only a comparatively small amount remains to be paid.
Preparations for the distribution to contributors are well advanced and I have accordingly declared today, 12th March 1970, as the date to be applied in the definition of an eligible contributor for the purpose of the distribution. This date will also be used for calculating for each eligible contributor an additional amount that, if compound interest were payable from 1st July 1964, would be the amount of that interest.
It is expected that about 20,000 persons will be eligible to receive a share of the total amount of about $5m to be distributed. The validation of records and the final calculations of individual shares are therefore expected to take some weeks. I will make a further announcement when the Board is ready to commence this second distribution.
I should mention that not all contributors to the Fund will be entitled to participate in the distribution. The persons who will benefit will be notified by the Board either through their Service Department if they are still serving members, or directly if they are no longer in the Service at the time the distribution is made.
– Has the Treasurer any indication of when the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board will table its annual report for 1968-69, and secondly, when it is proposed to make the next quinquennial investigation? After all, this one relates to the period to June 1964 which is a considerable time ago. Another quinquennial report is due and 1 have been asked by some contributors to the Fund to ask the Government when they can expect to have the results of the next quinquennial investigation. Also, when can we hope to have the report that should have been tabled 6 or 7 months ago, namely, the one for 1968-69?
– I will ascertain the latest position and let the honourable member and other honourable members know.
– by leave - On 5th March the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) told the House: 1 have been misrepresented in this matter. 1 refer to a new matter which was introduced concerning the conduct of the District Commissioner. This was not the first time, when we were visiting council chambers at the requests of Councils, that District Commissioners interrupted. On this occasion, the District Commissioner had to be put in his place. He has since, for this and earlier incidents, been withdrawn from Rabaul.
The House will remember that the Leader of the Opposition’s personal explanation arose during a persona] explanation by the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay). In this it was made quite clear that the District Commissioner had interjected to correct a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition in Rabaul that a native child had been killed during revolver practice. The District Commissioner pointed out that the boy had been . injured - not killed. I have had the opportunity of making inquiries into this matter. The statement by the honourable member for Evans was wholly correct, lt was not contradicted by the Leader of the Opposition. In the Government’s view the District Commissioner acted correctly.
The Leader of the Opposition alleges that the District Commissioner has been withdrawn from Rabaul on account of this and earlier incidents. The officer concerned left Rabaul to proceed on his normal recreation leave. His leave had been authorised by the Administrator orally on 26th November and this was formally confirmed in writing on 24th December. He was entitled to 142 days recreation leave on 8th February, has taken only 5 weeks and will resume duty at Rabaul on 1 6th March.
The Leader of the Opposition has unfairly and with no justification attacked a loyal, capable and highly regarded officer of the Administration who as a public servant cannot speak for himself. As the responsible Minister, it is my duty to put the facts before the House in proper defence of this officer. 1 present the following paper:
Papua and New Guinea - Imputation Against a Public Servant - Ministerial Statement, 12 March 1970. and move:
Tha* the House take note of the paper.
– I seize this first and only opportunity that is presented of debating New Guinea. Honourable members will know that it is not possible for private members on either side and - every member of the Opposition is a private member - to debate any such matter unless a Minister makes a statement and a debate is permitted on that statement. Too often - and I regret to say that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) himself seems to have lent himself to this practice now - in lieu of making statements which can be debated a Minister will answer a question of which he has had some forewarning. This means that one side only is put on any such issue. There were three pre-arranged questions last week on New Guinea and the visit by the honourable members for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), Oxley (Mr Hayden) and myself there, and there was one again yesterday to the Minister. By contrast he could not answer a question I asked him without notice on Tuesday and so far he has not answered even one of some forty questions I have on the notice paper for him, nearly all from the beginning of last week.
It is a welcome change that here on one matter we have a quick response from the Minister and one which can bc debated whereas, of course, ali of those other matters in questions could not have been debated. There is but one matter on the notice paper that can be debated, a ministerial statement on the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly Ministerial Members. It is impossible, if the debate on that paper is resumed, to undertake a debate on other than the one matter in it. The matters which have been raised by question, ostensibly without notice but obviously prearranged, to various Ministers could not be debated. Again, there will be a Bill on the same subject. It will be impossible for honourable members to debate any of these matters unless they are covered by the Bill or unless the Minister, in his second reading speech, ranges more widely than the Bill. Accordingly we have had this demonstration last week and this week of various matters being taken in isolation, piecemeal and in a partisan way and no debate being possible on them.
No one should imagine that the Government will get any mileage out of this. It tried this with the health scheme in the second half of last year and the only consequence was that the public was well and truly aroused against the Government. But we can at least debate this morning this one particular incident.
I should say immediately that I have always been loath to mention the names of individuals or officials, even by their posts, in this House. The Minister knows that I have written to him about any matter where it has not been possible for me to check from public documents as to the facts.
– I recall once.
– No. I wrote, about the 13 th of last month, about several matters in an article which appeared in the magazine ‘New Guinea’ and the Minister gave me a reply to that this week and I put some consequential questions on the notice paper about it. Again on 13th February I wrote to the Minister about some incidents on plantations and what we were told was an assault by a patrol officer on a local government councillor, and the Minister has not yet answered this letter. I am not prepared to mention the names or the places until I have given him a reasonable opportunity to reply. He will also know that I wrote to him twice on Tuesday. One of the incidents mentioned then concerns an incident he refers to here in his statement - not the killing, thank goodness, of the indigenous child but, as he said, the injuring of the child. In fact there were charges pending of causing grievous bodily harm and of unlawful wounding. Quite reasonably, I would have thought, I asked the Minister, without notice, a question last Tuesday on this matter. In that question I asked:
Was the pistol an official one issued to the patrol officer concerned and what levels and classifications of Administration employees are issued with pistols or are permitted to carry them? Have instructions been issued since this incident occurred last September to ensure that target practice does not take place in built up areas?
In reply to that question the Minister said:
I will look at the other matters which the honourable member raised and advise him later.
He refers to another incident there. I have not mentioned the officer’s name, although we all know it now from the newspapers, but I have asked the Minister to give his version of the incidents in which this officer was involved, in some of which I saw him involved, in others of which pressmen accompanying the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) and me saw him involved. I have not mentioned places, names or positions until I have checked with the Minister. He has answered one of the four questions in which I have asked for facts to be checked.
– The honourable gentleman will appreciate that it is not easy to get the information in order to give an accurate answer.
– I will give the honourable gentleman reasonable time to answer these questions. I have gone into this detail to illustrate that I have not been prepared, by way of questions on notice or without notice, to raise matters for which I did not have very good reason. I mention the case of Mr West only because it was raised in this House. Accordingly, I have to say some things about it. I will not go into the detail that the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) employed in his diatribe in the debate on the Address-in-Reply the other night. I would still hope that it will be possible for all honourable members to participate in as wide ranging a debate as we could have on Papua and New Guinea - at least on those subjects which honourable members raised by way of questions. I would hope that before this sessional period concludes there will be opportunities for a debate on facts which have been elicited from the Minister.
But there is one matter only which we can debate today. The matter to which the Minister has referred in his statement arises from an incident in the Gazelle Peninsula Local Government Council on the night of Thursday 8th January. My colleagues and I had attended a special meeting of the council executive in the council chambers at its request. We had already spent some hours with the Council - the morning and the afternoon of the previous day - but we were asked to go back and we did. Mr West was not a member of the Council. During the meeting he seated himself at the side of the council chamber in what would be equivalent to the Speaker’s gallery in this House. During the course of my address he chose to intervene. I asked him to withdraw and he did. The question at issue is not whether the statement I made was correct - whether the indigenous child was killed or caused grievous bodily harm or unlawfully wounded. The matter at issue is the propriety of an Administration official gratuitously intervening in the proceedings of a body of which he was not a member and to which he might not have been invited. I was invited; I was there as the guest of the Council and I was engaged in answering questions by the Council. Every question which councillors asked I answered. When there were no more questions we parted.
Honourable members may reflect on the treatment this House would accord a departmental head or the secretary of a Minister or of an Opposition leader who corrected an honourable member on a point of fact from the Speaker’s gallery. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is amused. Even his staff would not behave in this way. The fact is that the Prime Minister has not interested himself in the affairs of Papua and New Guinea. Those who have interested themselves in such affairs - the honourable member for Fremantle has been in the Territory eight times I think in the last decade; I have been there six times in the last decade - will notice how readily Administration officials interrupt the proceedings of councils and how, without any by-your-leave, they will act in a most patronising manner towards the indigenous members. This was borne out on this occasion when the District Commissioner intervened. I stated the other day that it was not the only case where we observed this. The pressmen who accompanied our party noticed this themselves. It might not be fair for me to specify, in the open like this, where this happened or who did it, but if the Minister wants to know I will let him know, lt is not regarded as in any way unusual or improper for Administration officials to butt in during the deliberations of local government councils.
– He was only trying to help you; to correct your statement.
– It would have been quite possible for him to do it in a more civil and proper fashion. If an official entitled to sit in the boxes around this chamber thought that a Minister, the Leader of the Opposition or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had made a mistake, he would pass a note up. This is the kind of pu-per respect to be shown to these bodies. Throughout the Territory there is universal complaint by local government members, some of them the most experienced and respected leaders of their people, about the interference and domination of Australian officers in council affairs. We found in all quarters of the Territory, even in the highlands, that councillors would express to us their resentment of the fact that council officers - very often young Australian patrol officers - would take it upon themselves to send telegrams or letters in the name of the council without the council’s prior authorisation. We were told of cases where council officers would bring up matters at a meeting without having circulated them on the agenda. These complaints came from councillors in all places, including the places which the Minister singles out as being the most responsible in the Territory - ones in the highlands for instance. Councillors raised these matters with us constantly. The Speaker of the House of Assembly, who retains his membership of his local council in the Milne Bay district, is among those who have made this complaint publicly. I can cite him because his complaints have been published in Australian newspapers as well as in the only English language newspaper circulating in the Territory.
The matter to which the Minister has referred may have been only an incident, but such incidents are inherent in a system where Australians are not only advisers but rulers. The unfortunate thing is that in all sorts of gatherings in the Territory Australians believe, just because they are Australians and therefore ipso facto members of an elite in that country, that they are entitled to dominate the proceedings and to intervene at any time. There can be little doubt that the Minister’s statement has been promoted this morning because we have in the Speaker’s gallery members who are involved in local government in New Guinea.
– And good fellows.
– Indeed. They know from their own experience how callow Australians will intervene in the proceedings of their councils and take in vain, and without authorisation, the names of their councils. This conduct is to be expected when people like Mr West and others whom I have not named act in this way in front of these people in these councils. This attitude is probably particularly prevalent in Rabaul. I remember some years ago attending meetings of the Rabaul Town Council - there is no local council; no elected body in Rabaul township itself. There is not in five of the largest towns of the Territory. But this practice continues. We would not tolerate it in this chamber. Why should we tolerate it in elected bodies which, on both sides of the House, we are committed to promoting?
The Minister makes a particular tribute to Mr West All I can say is that there has been a change of attitude concerning Mr West staying in Rabaul. At the time when we were in the Territory, Mr West not only was going on leave - and he had 20 weeks leave due to him - but also he was not going back to Rabaul when his leave expired. There has been a change in this position. This is not to be wondered at because there have been many changes at the top during the last 2 months in the Territory. The Assistant Administrator has left. The Police Commissioner has left. The Financial Adviser has left. These are all top men. They are men who have been able to obtain senior positions with the Commonwealth or the States on their merits.
They have all left the Territory after 1 year, 4 years or 7 years at a time when they all would have many years to serve in important positions in the Territory on behalf of the Territory and on behalf of this country. They have left. There has been a general tightening up. The attitude has been that ‘we will show our strength here and we will return the man to his place’. Governor Bligh was brought back, honourable members will remember.
The reason why Mr West was not to go back to Rabaul was, if I may quote some celebrated words, that he had done nothing to identify and to rectify the causes of dissatisfaction in that area. He had done more or worse. He had identified himself with expatriate interests and individuals. I will give one incident to illustrate this statement. In the disorders last December, he arranged or presided over, or certainly was prominent in arranging and conducting, a conference of various law enforcement agencies in that area. No indigenous persons were admitted to it. Even indigenous police officers were excluded from that conference. What attitude of trust, of confidence, can there be in this area when, in these circumstances, representatives of a relatively small community of expatriates confer secretly on these matters and no indigene is trusted? In those circumstances I would have thought the decision would be that Mr West, having failed to identify these issues and in fact having continued to identify himself with expatriate interests and individuals, would well in the interests of the Territory and of this country have served elsewhere.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to comment not on the large canvas on which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has chosen to speak but on the statement which is directly before us and on which he chose to speak hardly at all. May I in talking of this statement run through the series of events which occurred at this time in New Guinea? The Leader of the Opposition attended a meeting of the Council. In talking to that Council, he made a statement which was untrue, which was damaging to the officer who was charged with a killing which did not take place. I do not say that this statement was deliberately untrue but there can be no question but that it was untrue. Having made to the Council this statement charging an officer with a killing he did not do - the District Commissioner-
– Mr Speaker, I did not charge him. I did not charge him with-
-Order! The honourable member will have his chance after the Prime Minister has finished.
– There may be some legalistic reason for that interjection. Let me re-phrase what I said. Having said that an officer had carried out a killing that he did not carry out - perhaps that would suit the Leader of the Opposition better-
– He was on a charge.
– Having stated that an officer had carried out a killing which he did not carry out - having stated that - the District Commissioner intervened, as I would have thought in a helpful way, to say: ‘That is not quite true, Sir. The boy was not killed. He was wounded.’ I should have thought that the Leader of the Opposition, having made in public in the council in New Guinea a damaging statement and an untrue statement, would have been happy to receive that correction and would have said: ‘Well, I am glad to be told that the boy was not killed and I am glad that he was only wounded and I amend my statement accordingly’. I would have thought that would have done great credit to him had he done that. He did not choose to do so. He got extremely annoyed with the District Commissioner for this correction, told him to sit down and told the council that he - Whitlam - would not continue talking to the council unless the District Commissioner withdrew his remarks. After a suitable pause, the District Commissioner withdrew his remarks but pointed out, in order to keep the record straight, that in fact the boy had not been kilted.
Subsequently, this matter was raised in this House and it has become the subject of this statement. The Leader of the Opposition told the House that it was quite wrong for the District Commissioner to have made this, I would have thought, helpful correction and that for making that correction the District Commissioner had been withdrawn from Rabaul-
– And other incidents.
– For making that statement and for other incidents; but basically he has since for this - making that statement is what the Leader of the Opposition meant - and earlier incidents been withdrawn from Rabaul. There can be no question but there could be no truth whatever in the allegation that this District Commissioner was withdrawn from Rabaul’ for this incident of which we are speaking. The Leader of the Opposition was in Rabaul and was addressing the council in January. The District Commissioner concerned had had his leave confirmed in writing in December, long before the Leader of the Opposition arrived at that place. So, it is not only fair to say that incorrect information was given to the council in the Gazelle Peninsula by the Leader of the Opposition - quite seriously incorrect information, because it is serious to state that a man has carried out a killing he has not carried out - but also we, here, were informed quite wrongly that this District Commissioner had been withdrawn because of the incident referred to. In his speech today, the Leader of the Opposition hardly referred at all to either of these matters and certainly did not attempt to express regret to the District Commissioner for having told this House that he was withdrawn for an incident which could have had no basis whatsoever on his going on leave. These are the points which come out of this statement and these are the points which have not been dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition.
I wish only to make two more brief comments. Firstly, the Leader of the Opposition told the House just now that I have not interested myself in affairs in Papua and New Guinea. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) will not agree with him. I draw the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to the article written by the honourable member for Fremantle in the Australian Press pointing out the interest I had taken in settling the Bougainville dispute and pointing out his belief that I was also taking an interest in calming down the situation on the Gazelle Peninsula, which had been exacerbated by the visit of the Leader of the Opposition.
– I did not say that.
– If the honourable member likes, I will cut out the article and give it to him.
– I did not say the situation had been exacerbated.
– No, not the last part, just calming down the situation. You did not say the situation had been exacerbated, but if it had not been exacerbated it would not have needed calming down. There is one other matter to which I would wish to refer. The honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) was charged in a speech just now with having given a harangue on an associated matter.
– A homily.
– That is a completely unfair assessment of what 1 believe was a calm and reasoned speech by the honourable member for Evans in which the only thing that could be called a homily was that he deprecated the fact that the Leader of the Opposition had told this House that he never said there was racial discrimination under the law in New Guinea whereas on his return to Australia he issued a Press statement under his own name specifically stating that there was racial discrimination under the law in New Guinea. If that is not a proper matter for the honourable member for Evans to bring up in this House without being charged with haranguing, I do not know what is. Mr Speaker, I think this statement speaks for itself on the facts with which the statement deals.
-! have been interested in the way that this matter has been discussed by the Government. It has chosen very often to pick on words like ‘cocoa’ or ‘coffee’, ‘shot* or killed’ instead of the very serious criticisms that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) about the desperate levels of wages and the desperate position of the people in Papua and New Guinea. I was at the meeting, and in the context of the meeting I would say the District Commissioner’s correction stood, and in the context of the meeting I would say the District Commissioner’s correction was accepted. But the real point made by the Leader of the Opposition was this: Here was a young man who was out on bail after having been accused of shooting a native child. I do not know whether he did or did not. The whole gravamen of the statement by the Leader of the Opposition was that no native would be out on bail and attached to our party as a photographer if he had shot a European child. I do not retract that for one minute.
If honourable members want to see some comments on the nature of justice 1 refer them to a very fine book called ‘New Guinea’. It has a series of testimonials. Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia Ltd provided photographs, the Administration provided some and John Guise wrote the preface to it. This book vindicates the equality of law in New Guinea. It says that the courts will impose the same fine on the native as on the European. The only trouble is that the European earns 14 times as much as the native does. That is a vindication of equality. There is also in the book ‘The Fashion of Law in New Guinea’, a criticism by one of the highest law officers of the country. He points out that one of the problems of New Guinea justice is that it has a long tradition in which the District Commissioner was the magistrate, the District Commissioner was ako the head of the police which made the accusation and the District Commissioner was in charge of the prison in which the offender was goaled, and that too often the distinction between law and administrative convenience was blurred.
Imputation- Against a be replaced by the multi-racial -council. That day in the House of Assembly the Pangu Party had moved for a referendum. It was supported by Oscar Tammur, who is the Mataungan leader. The members of the Administration sat in a solid block and voted against it, and the motion was defeated in the House of Assembly. Then they learned what their policy was from the radio, which gave the news from Canberra.
Much has been said about the Mataungan Association. Everything is said except what the Mataungans said. I do not say that I accept everything that they said as true, but what I want to hear is the refutation of what they said. They employed 10 orators to speak to us. each to orate on a subject. The Prime Minister has talked about extremists. Damien Kereku, who is one of the extremists in prison, is a Christian Brother. Melchior Tomot, until he had a breakdown in health, was studying for the priesthood. I have never heard a man more meticulously honest in answering questions than he is. But they were in prison. The 1 1.000 people before us were accused of nothing.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. I thought we were debating, the statement made by the Minister for External Territories. I thought the debate was limited and that it was not a general debate on Papua and New Guinea.
– 1 suggest to the honourable member for Fremantle that the subject matter he is debating at this moment is not covered by the statement of the Minister. As 1 have said before, to bring in a subject to illustrate a point would be correct, but the whole of a speech should not be made on a subject that is used for that purpose.
– With respect, I am addressing myself to one point and that is the charge of the Prime Minister that the Leader of the Opposition exacerbated the Mataungan situation in the Gazelle Peninsula. I want to speak of the demeanour of the Leader of the Opposition on that occasion and answer that charge.
-I allowed the honourable member for Fremantle to mention the subject because it had been mentioned in the debate. Again I would suggest
Public Servant 359 that he has made the point he was trying to make and that by continuing to debate that subject matter he is moving away from the subject matter before the Chair.
– I would say that when the Leader of the Opposition addressed the 11,000 people he was addressing people who were not accused of anything, so he was not exacerbating the situation. They put certain grievances to him. One of the grievances was that a magistrate who had acquitted three Mataungan leaders in an earlier trial had been removed from the hearings of future Mataungan trials. As we drove away from the crowd I commented to the Leader of the Opposition that that belief was as rough as bags. When, however, we met quite high officers of the Administration, T found that none of them was prepared to deny it.
– Might I suggest now that the honourable member for Fremantle has illustrated the point that he said he was trying to make. I suggest that to develop the argument further would be going outside the subject matter of the statement.
– Yes, but it is germane to the attack that has been made on the Leader of the Opposition because he was critical, so called, of the magistrates courts. This is the background of what had been put to him about the magistrates courts.
-Order! I remind the honourable member for Fremantle that the basis of the subject before the House at the moment is the original statement made by the Minister for External Territories. Other matters have been brought into the debate by way of illustration and I think that the honourable member has answered them, has made the point he desired, and has mentioned the subject matter as much as other speakers have done. I feel that to go further in this way would be to go outside the field of debate.
– Very good, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I want to make it clear that I at no time have accused the Leader of the Opposition of exacerbating any situation. I believe that as a result of the criticisms he has made there has been a move towards [12 March 1970] equality of procedure in granting bail, and the Mataungan leaders were granted bail. They had also been denied, in a public statement-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to raise a point of order. The Minister for External Territories made a statement and moved that the House take note of the paper. That is the subject of this debate. In fact, the words of the Minister were:
The Leader of the Opposition alleges that the District Commissioner has been withdrawn from Rabaul on account of this and earlier incidents.
The word ‘this’, as the Prime Minister pointed out, referred to the interruption to the Leader of the Opposition in Papua and New Guinea. The statement of the Minister then goes on:
The officer concerned left Rabaul to proceed on his normal recreation leave. His leave had been authorised by the Administrator orally on 26th November and this was formally confirmed in writing on 24th December.
The statement continues:
The Leader of the Opposition has unfairly and with no justification attacked a loyal, capable and highly regarded officer of the Administration who as a public servant cannot speak for himself.
That is the subject of the statement, Mr Deputy Speaker, and with respect 1 would say to you that that is the matter of debate before the House at the moment.
-In regard to the point of order raised by the Leader of the House I have pointed out to the honourable member for Fremantle the subject matter of the debate.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, is it in order to speak to the point of order?
-Order! 1 am replying to a point of order at the moment. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. I pointed out to the honourable member for Fremantle that that was the basis of the statement before the House at this moment. As the other matter had been mentioned I felt, in fairness, that the honourable member for Fremantle should be allowed to comment on that point by way of explanation but I pointed out to him he should not go on and further debate the matter. The Leader of the House will recall that I said to the honourable member for Fremantle that 1 felt he had made his point and should not continue along that line in this debate.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, speaking to the point of order, the Leader of the House confirmed this when making his point. He referred to the following words contained in the statement delivered by the Minister for External Territories:
The Leader of the Opposition alleges that the District Commissioner has been withdrawn from Rabaul on account of this and earlier incidents.
The Prime Minister referred to other incidents. 1 think it is quite competent and quite proper for the honourable member for Fremantle to develop an argument that was initiated by the Prime Minister. I submit that the honourable member for Fremantle is perfectly in order in doing so.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, referring to this point of order, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition seeks to divert your attention from the reality of the question and that is the allegation that the officer has been withdrawn from Rabaul. The refutation of that is in. the statement of the Minister for External Territories. The issue is: Has the man been withdrawn? If the honourable member for Fremantle wishes to deny that the man has not been withdrawn then he certainly would be in order.
-In regard to the points of order raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the House, I repeat what I have said previously: That the subject matter being covered by the honourable member for Fremantle has been mentioned. In that regard, therefore, the honourable member was entitled to comment upon that aspect and make those remarks. However, I do not want this debate to develop into a general debate on the situation in Papua and New Guinea, the Administration and various other factors. I pointed out to the honourable member for Fremantle before points of order were raised by any honourable member that I thought he was now transgressing in going into this further subject matter. That is the position.
– I accept that Mr West is an efficient officer and that he has gone on a holiday. That explanation by the Minister for External Territories was used as a vehicle to attack the Leader of the Opposition and that is the point 1 was answering. If we are not permitted to proceed on those lines, Mr Deputy Speaker, then of course, I shall defer to your ruling.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), no doubt thinking on his feet while trying to conceive of some way in which he could avoid the direct statement which was made by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), diverted into a number of different byways. He set out first to tell us the way in which he came to be speaking to the Gazelle Peninsula Local Government Council’s Executive on the night of 8th January. It is quite true that he attended upon this Executive at the request of the Council to meet the Executive. He went there because they wished to ask him whether he would support a request of theirs, which they felt to be absolutely imperative because of the situation on the Gazelle Peninsula created by the attendance at the Mataungan Association meeting by the Leader of the Opposition on the previous afternoon. They presented him with a document, and it was a very respectful document. It read:
Sir. this Council is concerned about its position as the lawfully elected governing body of the Gazelle Peninsula. Yesterday at Matupit it was reported that you admired the Mataungan Association, its leaders and its aims. It was reported that you advised the Mataungan members-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I suggest that to be consistent with your earlier ruling this scarcely could be tolerated. What the honourable member for Evans is saying has nothing to do with the precise outlines of the statement by the Minister for External Territories.
– Why was it raised?
– If the ruling is good enough to be applied against us it is good enough to be applied against the sycophants in the back benches.
– This was the subject raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
-I suggest to the honourable member for Oxley that he consider some of the comments he has made. The honourable member for Evans is going further than the subject matter before the House at this moment. I have stated that in order to illustrate a point it is possible for a member speaking to mention some of the subject matter covered. The honourable member for Evans is going wider than the subject before the House and I would suggest again that the House direct its attention to the particular matters related to the statement of the Minister for External Affairs which dealt with an imputation against a public servant.
– With great respect, Sir, I wish this could have been followed right through. There is present in the House an important delegation of members of the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly. They have listened to a lot of matters that have been presented in what I believe was a distorted and biased way. I want to do nothing more than to reply to the specific matters stated in this debate by honourable members opposite. I will not go further than that and I will endeavour to make my comments brief, if you will permit me.
The Leader of the Opposition went on, after stating how he came to be at this Council’s Executive, to say that he believed that the question before this House today was not whether what he had said there was correct - that the child was killed or that the child was maliciously wounded or that the child was unlawfully wounded; these were the 3 categories he posed as being the possible alternatives. He did not use the words that the wounding had been accidental, that the revolver practice had been carried out negligently and that the child had been wounded completely accidentally. I put to the House the fact that Mr West that very day had informed the Leader of the Opposition, before he went to that meeting, of the true facts of this case. What is more, the magistrate has since come out - and to the knowledge of the Leader of the Opposition has since come out - and has said that there is no reason to believe that the wounding was deliberate.
– I take a point of order. The honourable member is persisting in a course which he knows is not permissible in the debate on the statement by the Minister. This statement was a limited one, and I confined my remarks to subjects directly relevant to it. The honourable member for Evans, when you pulled him up, Mr Deputy Speaker, was talking about the legitimacy of the local government council in the Gazelle Peninsula. I would be happy to debate this matter, but it cannot be debated on this statement. If the Minister chooses to make a statement on this matter we would be very happy to debate it. The honourable member for Evans has referred to the magistrate’s statement. When it was tabled the other day 1 asked that it be noted so that we could debate it. 1 furthermore pointed out that if the magistrate’s judgments were tabled we would debate them. But the honourable member for Evans is bringing up matters which are not relevant to the Minister’s statement and which none of us can debate. Mr Deputy Speaker, I submit that the honourable member is getting beyond the bounds of the statement which the Minister chose to make. As far as we are concerned, the Minister is welcome to make a statement on the subjects which the honourable member for Evans has raised. If the Minister does this, we can ali debate his statement; but until the Minister makes this statement we cannot debate these matters, and I submit that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, should not allow the honourable member for Evans to debate them either.
– The honourable member for Evans is using an incident as an illustration in commenting on that part of the Minister’s statement dealing with the public servant. I would suggest to the honourable member for Evans that he do not spend a great deal of time on that point of illustration. At the moment when the Leader of the Opposition took the point of order the honourable member was relating his remarks to the statement and particularly to the matter of the public servant.
– I will conclude that point very briefly by simply referring to the words of the honourable member for Fremantle. He said that the real point was that this young man was allowed bail and that he was an Australian. He also said that a very different set of circumstances would have prevailed had it been a European child that he wounded. Because of what has transpired today, I believe that he stated this to imply that there was discrimination in the law in Rabaul. That is what has been stated in this chamber this morning. I. refer now not to my own statements but to those of the magistrate when he pointed out the reasons for granting bail to the young Australian. In fairness, I must quote what he said.
-Order! I would suggest to the honourable member for Evans that the reasons given by the magistrate for granting bail are not relevant to the statement made by the Minister and that the explanations and reasons for the court decision are not relevant to the statement made by the Minister. I would suggest that he should not bring the matter of the court decision into this debate.
– I would respectfully suggest to the honourable member for Fremantle that he should withdraw the imputation of discrimination in the law in New Guinea.
– 1 take a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, your patience this morning seems to be unbounded. The honourable member for Evans has defied every suggestion you have made to him that he keep to the statement before the House. I think that you should assert your authority.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– 1 conclude simply by saying that the statement has been made to this House in unequivocal terms - and it is completely untrue - that the District Commissioner of Rabaul, Mr West, has been withdrawn because of what the Leader of the Opposition has described as an incident that indicated that he was impudent, that in some way or other he was butting in, and that he was asserting an unreal and undesirable authority because the officer was an expatriate and not an indigene. I refute this suggestion; the Minister has refuted it. The Leader of the Opposition went on further to state that Mr West would not be going back to Rabaul when his leave is ended. If that is so, he is better informed than the Minister and better informed than the Administrator. Tt is quite true, as the Leader of ihe Opposition pointed out, that many people have left their jobs in Papua and New Guinea, but never have there been so many people in the Territory getting Saturday’s issue of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ as there have been since the Leader of the Opposition went to the Territory and behaved as he did.
Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa- Leader of the Opposition) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– I have been misrepresented. I want to correct one point that the Prime Minister referred to and that the honourable member for Evans has referred to. The honourable member has stated that I was referring to glaring racial discrimination in the courts. The other night, and again today, he has attributed this view to me because I referred to glaring race discrimination in the law of the Territory. He is therefore quibbling and asserting that when I say the law I mean the courts. Laws are not made by courts and arc not always administered by courts. The range of the discriminatory laws in the Territory can be seen by looking at (he 40-odd questions I have on the notice paper. I have not in fact asserted discrimination in the courts, and I do not want to express any view on that subject. T have asserted discrimination in the law. and I can establish that if we have a debate on the matter.
Dr MACKAY (Evans)- I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I have been completely misrepresented. On page 10 1 of Hansard of last Thursday the Leader of the Opposition is reported as having said: . . I did give, as an instance of Ihe disquiet which we found in the Gazelle, the contrasting treatment by the courts in 2 cases. The first concerned some indigenes -
He said that the second case concerned an expatriate. He has taken every opportunity today, as has the honourable member for Fremantle to draw attention to discrimination in the courts.
Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa- Leader of the Opposition) - I wish to make a further personal explanation.
-Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Evans on Tuesday night quoted from a Press statement of mine in which I referred to glaring race discrimination in the law of the Territory, and he said that I was therefore asserting outside the House that there was discrimination in the courts. He said that this refuted what I said in the House in the passage he has just quoted about the discrimination in the courts. I want it to be quite clear that when I referred to glaring race discrimination in the law of the Territory, by no stretch of the imagination was I asserting that there was glaring race discrimination in the courts of the Territory. I do not believe that the term law’ can be limited to the courts.
Dr MACKAY (Evans) - I desire to make a personal explanation.
-Is the honourable member for Evans claiming to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I draw attention to Hansard of Sth March and in particular to the following passage:
Docs Mr Whitlam-
I apologise for using his name, but I am reading it exactly - deny that he said . . . that there was glaring race discrimination in the law in the Territory?
Yes, I do.
– This is a remarkable manoeuvre by the Government. The country, and our visitors from Papua and New Guinea who were in the chamber a short time ago, and indeed the people of the Territory, want to know what the comprehensive, positive policy of the Government is for the social, economic and cultural development of the Territory; and all we can offer is a schoolboy, quibbling debate on whether Mr West was or was not transferred from Rabaul or whether the Leader of the Opposition said that someone was killed when he was only seriously wounded. Is this the best the Government can do when this country deserves to know what the Government’s policies are for the future of the Territory? The best we have ever extracted from the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) was his statement on Sth March 1967 that independence for Papua and New Guinea will not be achieved for very many years, if at all.
-Order! I would suggest that the honourable member for Oxley take note of what I said in replying to a point of order which he raised and not evade the Standing Orders by asking a question and then answering it instead of making a speech on the statement by the Minister.
-] thought it would be more adequately answered in that way. In any event, this debate is only a schoolboy, quibbling debate and a manoeuvre by the Government to evade its responsibility.
– The honourable member is not concerned about the reputation of the public servant.
– 1 am concerned about the reputation of human beings. 1 get terribly sensitive and emotionally concerned about it. Some people restrict this concern and emotional discomfort to the welfare of race horses. The Government wants to quibble over 2 points: Was Mr West transferred because of his interjection when the Leader of the Opposition spoke and for other reasons, or was he not? I can assert positively that when I was in Rabaul I was informed by an impeccable source that Mr West was about to be transferred from Rabaul. I had witnesses present with me when I was told that Mr West was to go on holidays and when he resumed he was to take up another appointment. The only reason he is not taking up another appointment is that the Leader of the Opposition has drawn attention to this fact.
If the Minister for External Territories wants to deny this, if he wants to question my integrity on this, will he give me full privilege to search through the documents regarding Mr West in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I shall be happy to go there to look through the documents because I am sure that there will be some notation as the decision had been made to transfer Mr West before we left the Territory because of the way in which he had handled the situation in Rabaul during the Mataungan dispute. Will the Minister give me authority or will he not?
– No, I will not, because the honourable member is not concerned about the reputation of a public servant.
– No, of course he will not because he knows damn well that what I am saying is completely true. This can be quickly dispatched. Mr West was to be transferred. He has been retained there to try to save the Government from some discomfiture.
Let us move on to the other point, the quibble about the wounding of a native child. This is serious, that the native child was wounded. The quibble is: Was he killed or was he only grievously wounded - a slight degree of difference. 1 am putting to the House that the Government is trying to make a serious issue out of this and a challenge on the basis that, to say that a child was killed is a critical allegation but to say that he was merely wounded is only insignificant. Both charges are damned serious. For the information of honourable members in the Government’s ranks, the child who was wounded was very close to death. A bullet passed through his body in the vicinity of the heart. A fraction of an inch one way or the other would have meant the death of the child, and the Government is trying to quibble that it was not important - the child was only wounded.
– Wounded or killed - there is quite a difference.
– If there is only a fraction of an inch difference I suggest that it is virtually the same. It is a very serious situation. Government supporters find great humour in this, that a child missed death by a fraction of an inch. They laugh at this and find great humour in it. But the two patrol officers who were charged were given completely different treatment from that which was meted out to native people in the Gazelle Peninsula.
– You prove that statement.
– I am about to do that. Contrary to the usual procedure on the Australian mainland when officers of the law are charged with a serious offence and are usually suspended - this is the usual practice in police forces - one of these men was allowed to continue in his employment and in fact accompanied the Leader of the Opposition and his group about the Territory, and the other one, it was reported, although suspended, was allowed to use an Administration vehicle to move around Rabaul taking photographs which allegedly were sold to some newsagency. Is this the sort of thing that the Government is upholding and trying to defend this morning? Honourable members opposite are quibbling that this is only an unimportant matter. They find cause for laughter and great levity in the fact that the child was not killed, that he missed death only by a fraction of an inch. They are trying to defend a situation where one of the patrol officers before the court on a serious charge was allowed to continue in his employment in an official capacity and the other, although suspended, was allowed to move about the Territory in an Administration vehicle making money for himself for some commercial purpose.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! 1 suggest to the honourable member for Oxley that he too is transgressing against the Standing Orders and is going far wider than the subject matter before the House.
– I accept your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker. The argument that has been put forward by the Government is that the Leader of the Opposition was wrong in alleging that this treatment of expatriates is any different from the treatment of native people. When the leaders of the Mataungan Association appeared in the court in Rabaul following the demonstrations a public statement was made that no assistance would be given to them for public representation in the courts. The statement was positively asserted from the bench of the court.
When we spoke to the leaders of the Mataungan Association in gaol near Rabaul we were told by them that they had not been able to obtain bail and they had not received any assistance in this direction. For the offence of assault their prison sentences ranged from 4 months to 8 months to 12 months.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Oxley that he has again ignored the Standing Orders. He is not debating the subject matter of the statement.
– All I was doing was replying to the honourable member for Evans to indicate that these people were in prison for minor assault charges while a man convicted of a charge of serious wounding with a revolver received a suspended sentence. Does the Government mean to suggest that there is any equity in such treatment? Does it mean to suggest that the native people of the Territory-
-Order! The honourable member for Oxley may not continue along that line.
– Then what are we debating. Mr Deputy Speaker? Are we only debating where Mr West went, whether he is being kept in Rabaul or is not being kept in Rabaul, or are we debating–
-Order! The honourable member for Oxley will resume his seat. 1 have already stated on more than one occasion that the subject matter before the House is the statement by the Minister on the imputation against a public servant. lt is that imputation against a public servant, and only that, that is before the House at the moment.
– Then I will reiterate what I said earlier. Mr West was to be transferred from Rabaul because of the incompetent way in which he had handled affairs in Rabaul during the Mataungan demonstrations. He was to go on holidays and, when he resumed, was to take up an appointment at another place. This had been decided. I have asked the Minister to let us see the files and make them public. He has refused to do so, and this is understandable. My information is unimpeachable on that point. The reason for the Leader of the Opposition asking Mr West to withdraw his statement was quite reasonable.
We found, not only on that occasion but on other occasions in the Territory, that public servants in the Administration took the opportunity to influence the way in which the native people expressed themselves at discussions which we had with them. We had to tell those public servants firmly to desist from that sort of thing on these occasions, that we had come to the Territory to speak with native people and to find out what they felt and what their aspirations or their complaints were about the Territory. The same thing happened at Wewak while I was with the Leader of the Opposition, as well as at Rabaul. Again we had made a request that when we spoke with local native people we should speak with them in private and that expatriate officers of the Administration be not present. On many occasions the request was ignored and Administration officials were present.
It is undeniable that Administration officials present at such discussions do have an intimidatory influence upon the native people. The long relationship between native people and Administration officials is such that the native people have been taught to be deferential and to hold in reserve their true feelings of criticism when an official of the Administration is present. This is more especially true when a senior official of the Administration such as a district commissioner is present. On this occasion the district commissioner was Mr West. On the other occasions it was the district commissioner at Wewak or officials that we ran into at other places. Quite clearly the Government is trying to avoid a debate on the real issues affecting the future of the Territory, of Papua and New Guinea.
– You are avoiding the reputation of the public servant.
– We are worried about the welfare of the people of the Territory.
-Order! I again suggest to the honourable member for Oxley that he debate the subject matter of the statement and not the general situation in Papua and New Guinea.
– Finally, perhaps we could have some reflection on the true scale of values of the Minister for External Territories in any event. On 20th May 1968 he said - and this probably reflects his relationships with the people of the Territory and explains why we have had so many problems - that any bar on Aboriginals particularly in the outback-
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– There have been so many things dragged into the debate on this statement that the whole pur pose of the statement is being lost. There has been red herring after red herring. The main purpose of the statement was to clear a public servant of an imputation which had been made against him by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I was in New Guinea with other members of the Government soon after the Leader of the Opposition had been there. I know Harry West. I know the sort of work he has done in Rabaul and the sort of man he is. It is a very difficult job to do and he has done it well. I am very much concerned that a public servant, a man who is doing the best he can for the Territory and for Australia, has been attacked in this House where as a public servant he cannot defend himself. The public servant must be cleared. The Leader of the Opposition has said virtually that he was kicked out of his job in Rabaul because he was incompetent. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) have given an assurance to the House that this was not so. I believe the Prime Minister and I believe the Minister for Territories, and knowing Harry West I could understand why it would not be so. Harry West has done an excellent job up there and I think it is most unfair, in fact it is dirty, to attack him in this way in this House where he cannot speak for himself.
– The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) in the statement he made this morning said:
The officer concerned left Rabaul to proceed on his normal recreation leave. His leave had been authorised by the Administrator orally on 26th November and this was formally confirmed in writing on 24th December. He was entitled to 142 days recreation leave on 8th February, has taken only S weeks and will resume duty at Rabaul on 16th March.
That paragraph is undoubtedly a quotation from the recreation file or the personal file of Mr West and in that file I think perhaps should be noted the alleged pending transfer of Mr West from Rabaul to some other station. Standing order 321 states:
A document relating to the public affairs quoted from by a Minister, unless stated to be of a confidential nature or such as should more properly be obtained by address, shall, if required by any Member, be laid on the Table.
Under that standing order I ask that the personal file of Mr West, the officer under discussion, be laid on the Table in order to show the House and the nation whether the statement made by the Minister for External Territories or the statements made by my leader, the Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) and the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) are true. The allegations made by the three members of my Party have been denied by the Minister and denied by Government back bench members. There is truth involved in this situation. It can be resolved. I am not going into the other allegations that have been made at all but the allegation - and this was quoted on a couple of occasions in the Minister’s speech - that the Leader of the Opposition had said that Mr West was withdrawn for this and earlier incidents. The Leader of the Opposition has made a statement. The Minister for External Territories has made a counter-statement. It can easily and quickly be resolved if the Minister is prepared to table the documents from which he has undoubtedly quoted.
– There is no relevance in this situation.
– Mr Deputy Speaker -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Before I call the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) I wish to say that there is a problem here in the sense that if the Minister replies he will close the debate.
– J am sorry to interrupt. 1 had understood that the Minister had spoken to a point of order and was not closing the debate.
-The honourable member for Lang asked for the tabling of a paper and that is not, in the strict sense, I would think, a point of order.
– I was speaking in the belief that it was a point of order.
-If the Minister answers the question with one word, we would not regard him as speaking in the debate.
– May 1 be clear about your ruling? AH I want to know is what your ruling is. Of course, we will abide by it. Are you ruling that the Minister has closed the debate or are you ruling that he spoke to a point of order?
-I have suggested that we do not regard what the Minister said in reply to the question asked by the honourable member for Lang as closing the debate. The honourable member for Lang made the request that the paper be tabled.
– Yes, but there is no relevance. Mr Deputy Speaker.
– I feel that I have to press this point. The standing order states -
-Order! The honourable member for Lang has spoken.
– Yes, I have spoken. But the Minister, under standing order 321, unless he states the document to be of a confidential nature -
– Which document?
– The personal record of Mr West from which he has quoted - the 142 days of recreation leave.
– He did not claim to quote anything.
– I rise to a point of order. I suggest that if the honourable member for Lang claims that the Minister quoted from a document he should state what document he believes the Minister quoted from. I can see no document quoted from in the Minister’s speech. There was a quotation from a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition; there was a statement concerning the days of leave due to the District Commissioner. There is no document quoted from. If the honourable member for Lang thinks there is, then let him state what it is.
– On the point of order raised by the Prime Minister: I fail to see how anyone can claim that when a Minister comes into this House and says that a man, an officer of his Department, had been told orally on 26th November that his leave was authorised, that that information was confirmed in writing on 24th December, that the officer had 142 days recreation leave which commenced on 8th February and would conclude on 16th March, he is not quoting from the personal file and history of the officer concerned. The Minister would not have that information available to him unless the documents in which they were shown had been made available either to him or to one of his officers. I submit that there is prima facie evidence that the Minister has quoted from official documents.
– Speaking again to the point of order: The honourable member has again not sought to say what document he believes the Minister quoted from. Normally on these occasions when there is an application for the. Minister to table a document it is well known what occurs. What occurs is that the Minister has a document in his hand, makes a quotation from it, and then a member of the Opposition asks under the standing order that that document from which the quotation is read be tabled. There was no such document here and, Sir, it is surely stretching credibility even further than it has been stretched before to say that the leave record of an officer presented to this House is equivalent to quoting from a document. If that were to be accepted then any statements made by a Minister concerning his department, concerning the leave entitlements of an officer, concerning what was going to be bought, for example, in defence, would be claimed to be quoting from a document which ought to be tabled. I think there is no substance in this question at all and I ask for your ruling accordingly.
– I uphold the point of order. I would not regard a document of a department concerning the administration of that department as a document or statement to be tabled in the normal course of events as contemplated by the Standing Order.
– I move:
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition must give proper notice of his intention to move a motion or be granted leave to move a motion.
– I ask for leave.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
Motion (by Mr Barnard) put:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion to have the documents relating to the District Commissioner for Rabaul laid on the table of this House.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority .. ..7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 12.51 to 2.15 p.m.
– I rise to make some comments on the statement that we have been discussing during the morning sitting which is a statement made in the House by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) as a result of certain statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in this place on 5th March. A lot of material unrelated to this matter has been introduced into the discussion and I want, therefore, to bring the debate back to the precise issues that we should be discussing. In the first place, on 5th March the Leader of the Opposition made it perfectly clear that during his recent visit to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, at a time when he was engaged in discussions with the District Council at Rabaul there was an interruption, as a result of a statement that he made, by the distinguished District Commissioner at Rabaul. The Leader of the Opposition made it clear that this interruption as such offended him and. in speaking to this House and describing the situation, he said:
On this occasion the District Commissioner had to be put in his place.
He made it clear, by inference, that his subsequent action was designed to put this distinguished and senior civil service member - a representative of the Queen and of the Commonwealth of Australia - in his place, and he had done that. But he then went on to say something which is the direct cause of the statement made by the Minister this morning. He said that because this District Commissioner had to be put in his place he was withdrawn from his post - that as a direct result of this particular circumstance the District Commissioner, in a manner which we can only interpret as being discreditable to him and which we can only describe as being a reflection upon his integrity and his dedication to duty, was then posted away from his position. lt is on behalf of the integrity of the District Commissioner and to defend the District Commissioner that the Minister has brought before the House this statement. The Minister’s statement makes it clear that what the Leader of the Opposition has said is quite wrong. It may be a matter of judgment for the Leader of the Opposition to state that a member of the civil service had to be put in his place, and in this House, under privilege, he is at liberty to say that. But is is quite wrong for the Leader of the Opposition to imply that as a direct result of that circumstance this honourable and distinguished member of the civil service had been posted away almost in a dishonourable manner from the situation that he occupied - taken away from those responsibilities which are vital and important to this Parliament and which he was discharging in Rabaul. This is the fundamental factor to be brought home. This is a matter of credibility. lt is a matter of the credibility of the word of the Leader of the Opposition in a personal sense.
The Leader of the Opposition has risen in this place and attacked the honour and integrity of a man who sits on the far flung boundaries of the Territories of this country. The Leader of the Opposition has attacked him personally because he knows he cannot answer back. The Minister of State for External Territories rose in this place because it is his duty to defend the honour and the integrity of that distinguished District Commissioner. I hope that we shall never sec the day when Ministers of State will cease to remember that their responsibilities go beyond these 4 walls and that they involve people. Time and again over the last dozen years there have been illustrations of honourable gentlemen opposite, for purely political reasons, rising in their places to denigrate, dishonour and attack people who they know cannot answer back.
The fact of the matter has been brought forward by the Minister. It is knowledge in this House, clearly stated by the Minister, that on 26th November the distinguished District Commissioner applied orally to His Honour the Administrator for leave to which he was. from information already put before the House, absolutely entitled. On 24th December, some days before the honourable, learned and distinguished Leader of the Opposition graced the Territory of Papua and New Guinea by his presence, arriving in a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft, it was confirmed in writing to the District Commissioner that it would be appropriate for him to go on leave. At the end of the first week in January these events took place and now we find ourselves in the position where, to make a political’ point and to achieve some form of advantage, the Leader of the Opposition has attacked the integrity of this District Commissioner. Not only has he done that but he has, so help me, fired a vicious, malicious and .horrifying torpedo into the morale and the courage of the wives and the children of every family in the civil service of the Commonwealth of Australia in Papua and New Guinea. He has done it to his eternal personal discredit.
Let it be said to people who find it easy to be critical from afar of the activities of members of the civil service, that the truth is that members pf the civil service look to this House of Representatives - to this Parliament - to defend them, and to defend them above all from attacks of the snide, vicious, unreliable and irresponsible nature that characterises the words of the Leader of the Opposition. Let me make this point perfectly clear: The Minister made his statement as a direct result of the statement of the Leader of. the Opposition. There can be no doubt that the Minister’s statement is accurate. There can be no doubt that it is common knowledge in the Territory that when the Leader and his party were there they were impervious to criticism. They made it quite clear to all who questioned the wisdom and the sagacity of what they were saying and doing that the people who were listening to them would have to put up with it and get ready for the results if ever the honourable gentleman became Prime Minister, whether they liked it or not. This is what was said with great clarity in Kavieng and Rabaul and other places throughout the Territory. I say to the Leader of the Opposition that it is to his discredit. After ali, the honourable and gallant gentleman some years ago was prepared to risk his life in defence of that very Territory.
For some political advantage, to attract the warm feeling of the maniacal left wing that moves on his flank, he went to the Territory and with an almost homicidal political tendency attacked the very integrity of the Administration through the person of one man who could not answer back. That man reflects in his person and his dedication to duty the success of the Government’s policies and the integrity of the Government that is so well represented in this place by the Minister for External Territories.
– I suppose the Parliament has not heard such a magnificent clatter of cliches for a long while. The debate has been reminiscent of the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) at his best when he was looking for Communists under the bed about 10 years ago. What are we debating here this afternoon? The fact is that an incident that took a couple of minutes back on 8th January has been dragged out in this House for 2 weeks and in debate today for 2 or 3 hours. Why? Is it because honourable members opposite care one jot about the welfare of the District Commissioner in Rabaul? Of course not. If they did they would have been as silent as the grave. Who started all this? Was it not the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) - the honourable member for tape recorder carrying; the honourable member who was able to get a tape recording even of my humble investigations in Papua back in July?
– You made it yourself.
– But the honourable member managed to get hold of it. He managed to pass it on to the authorities. The next thing was that the honourable member, spiritually directed as we know he is, was able also to have a tape recording covering the visitations of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The fundamental question today is not whether the District Commissioner was on leave: it is the miserable effort by honourable members opposite to use a public servant in Papua and New Guinea in order to foist something on this Parliament - to drag the issue of Papua and New Guinea down to this single incident instead of allowing us to discuss matters affecting the general welfare of the people of the Territory.
– Is the honourable member concerned about the reputation of a public servant?
– What does the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) care about public servants? If ever we try to introduce the subject in this place it is he who gags us. Only a week or two ago he made a statement in the House. Only one honourable member from this side was allowed to speak on that statement. But this afternoon when they can use one humble District Commissioner honourable members opposite will allow the debate to proceed for hours. When it is a matter concerning the fundamental question of Papua’s political future the Minister is as silent as the grave, and he will silence the House. The credibility that is under challenge this afternoon is the credibility of honourable members opposite. Why did the honourable member for Evans raise this matter in the first place? If the honourable member cared anything about the District Commissioner - I understand that it was the honourable member who first brought the District Commissioner’s name into it - the last thing he would do would be to raise the matter in debate. The facts are as the Leader of the Opposition has stated: on this occasion the District Commissioner bad to be put in his place. It is highly unethical for a public servant to interject in the circumstances outlined by the Leader of the Opposition, who is not only the alternative but almost the nominated next Prime Minister of this country. Honourable members opposite are laughing at that statement.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! On a number of occasions during the debate the subject has been described as important. I would expect the House to treat it as an important subject.
– Honourable members opposite will be able to laugh from the security of their pensions after the next elections. Their attitude today has been an indication of the depths to which they will go. Fancy the Minister taking the time to prepare and issue his statement in this House when he will not debate any other issue concerning Papau and New Guinea. He will not debate or permit a debate on one other issue concerning the Territory. He has silenced every debate in the last three or four years. Yet he will drag the District Commissioner in here and use him, as he and his colleagues have done for weeks on end. For four days at question time Government supporters have harped on this single incident which happened in Rabaul a few months ago, on 8th January. They have dragged the name of the District Commissioner through the House and made it part and parcel of the debate. All this they have done for the political purposes of the moment. This shows how much they care. They could not care less about the welfare of the people of Papua and New Guinea. If they did care, they would debate the matter of wages and conditions in the Territory. 1 understand that the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) has interests there. How much does he pay the people who work for him?
-Order! The honourable member for Wills is clearly wide of the subject now.
– This is a man who has personal understanding and knowledge of it all. Why does he prevent us debating it? Why does he not vote against the gag?
-I remind the honourable member that the general circumstances in Papua and New Guinea are not the subject of the Minister’s statement.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. You have identified the matter before the House with your usual clarity. As I have been pointing out, honourable members opposite will not let these other issues be debated. The Minister’s statement has been debated today in order to divert attention from the major issue concerning Papau and New Guinea. What are the reasons for this debate? First of all the District Commissioner, as has been pointed out, has had long and distinguished service in the Territory but, of course, he is in one of the hotbeds of strife ia the Territory. 1 believe it is the custom to support or relieve the District Commissioner when great issues arise such as have occurred in Rabaul in the last few months. I have met the man. I know something of the situation in Rabaul, but not much more than anybody else in this place. The district commissioner service and most services in Papua and New Guinea at this level are removed from the facts of life at the grass roots level. Many things happen there of which the Administration is unaware. There are not enough lines of communication between the services at that level and there is something of a military system about the Administration of Papua and New Guinea and the district commissioner service. At that level it is difficult for those in the service to be in complete contact with the people. Is it not true that in the last six or eight months there has been a tendency to fly in more police than should have been used? There has been a tendency to use more force and threaten more force than was appropriate. In July I visited Rorovana and the Arawa plantation, where I discussed matters affecting the people there. I became upset with the conditions I saw and the threats I heard and I approached the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) about them. I believe that the Minister for External Territories long ago should have taken a more intense interest in Rabaul and done something about the situation there.
There are certain simple facts which I would like to have elucidated. Is it a fact that the District Commissioner went on 20 weeks leave? Is it a fact that he was back after 5 weeks? Why did this happen? Why are the documents to which the Minister referred not available to us? We on this side believe that this debate has been engineered deliberately as a red herring. The people who are on charge this afternoon with having maltreated and disregarded the welfare of the district commissioner service of Papua and New Guinea are those who initiated the debate. The honourable member for Evans seems to be a leader of that faction. I cannot understand how it is that so consistently he is able to produce tape recordings of things that have happened up there. To what part of the security service does he belong? Is it a fact - this has not been denied - that the District Commissioner went on leave and returned from leave? His return from leave has too great a bearing on this matter to be accepted as coincidence. If documents exist, why are they not tabled? It is not good enough to drag this man and his service into this House solely for the political purposes of honourable members opposite. The most serious criticism of the Government is that it cares not one jot or tittle about the people of Papua and New Guinea. It does not care about the public servants there. Anybody whose reputation can be dragged in the dust for political purposes is regarded by honourable members opposite as their prey.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– by leave - I realise that my remarks at Question Time concerning sacred places at Wingellina were somewhat lengthy and I will not take much more time to discuss the matter. I remind the House that the ceremonies and sacred places at Wingellina are of very considerable antiquity. It is at least probable - I will not say for certain - that they are the oldest ritual ceremonies at present left in the world. This is the opinion which is held by competent people. 1 myself am not competent to give any expression of opinion in regard to the matter. However, 1 might read what Professor Stanner has said about this matter. Professor Stanner is the Professor of Anthropology at the Australian National University. He has a great connection with Aboriginals. He is perhaps the leading authority on Aboriginal religious ideas in the world. He writes:
I cannot think of any aspect of Aboriginal life and thought which is charged with more scientific and philosophical interest or of any region where a comparable study could be made. However, I do not mind you quoting me as saying that, in my opinion, any destruction of the cohesion of Aboriginal culture in this region could be compared with the destruction of the Library of Louvain by the Germans in 1914.
He puts it as high as that.
It may well be that these ceremonies are, shall I say, five times older than the pyramids. Perhaps they are five or six times as old and go back as far in human history as the time of Abraham. These are conjectures. One does not quite know what the position is and indeed it is not easy to know the position by reason of the fact that many of these ceremonies are still held secret. So far as i at any rate am concerned, I do not intend to say anything in this House or elsewhere which would in any way prejudice or invalidate that secrecy; because this secrecy is important to the people who celebrate these ceremonies. I would regard any breach of it during the lifetime of men to whom these things are of significance as being reprehensible. For that reason, as I have said, it is very difficult to know how to deal with the whole Wingellina affair.
I came into contact with this matter perhaps 8 months or 9 months ago when I was at Amata, which is in South Australia. The Aboriginal people there came to see me. I met them first in the evening. They went away at night and talked among themselves. On the following morning we met again. We met out in the open because it is customary that these things should be done in the open where the Aboriginals can see that no unauthorised person is approaching. They sat in their correct two moieties around two fires. I was told certain things in regard to these ceremonies for the purpose of enabling some protection to be given to them. These places are important to these people. I am glad to say that the authorities in South Australia and Western Australia share my concern in this regard. The international nickel company which is prospecting in the area also has shown a proper concern in regard to them.
I am glad to tell the House that some couple of months ago the international nickel company in conjunction with the authorities in Western Australia arranged for authorities from the museum at Perth to visit the area. These authorities were Professor Crawford and Mr Tomkinson. They were able to see certain things there, but I do not believe that they were told the full story. I am afraid that, because of this secrecy surrounding these matters and the desires of the Aboriginals to keep them away from anybody who is not properly initiated into them, these gentlemen did not obtain information as to the full significance of these ceremonies. I say this not in any criticism of their work. It is impossible for anybody who has not had some years of contact there to receive the necessary confidences in regard to the matter from the Aboriginals.
I have asked Mr Wallace who is the one man who has some of their confidences to confer with Professor Stanner. I have arranged that that be done. I am hoping that it will be possible for areas to be delineated in a way which will satisfy the requirements both of the nickel mining company and of the Aboriginals, where the sacred places are not pinpointed but where the areas in which they occur are generally reserved. In order to do this, tomorrow I shall be asking the authorities in Western Australia particularly to let me know where the exact boundaries of the mining exploration permits are. These will be taken down and we will see then whether it will be possible to act as I have suggested to excise from them the areas of main concern to the Aboriginals without actually pinpointing the sites.
All this is very difficult. The House will appreciate that it is difficult. But I do start with the fact that the authorities in both Western Australia and South Australia are co-operative and that the mining company itself has shown a commendable desire in the first instance to meet up with the situation. I cannot speak for the State governments. The authority in relation to the grants of mineral concessions lies with them. This is not the prerogative of the Federal Government. We have no formal power. But I feel assured that the matter, although it is difficult and nebulous, will be approached with goodwill. As far as I am concerned, I will do everything that I can within the limited constitutional power that I have to see that the interests of the Aboriginals in their ceremonies are properly and adequately preserved. That is all that I can say. I present the following paper:
Aboriginal Sacred Sites in the Wingellina area, Western Australia - Ministerial Statement, 12 March 1970- and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Beazley) adjourned.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The increased burden which rising interest rates place on those purchasing and wishing to purchase their own houses.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– Mr Deputy Speaker, the Opposition has raised for discussion this matter of public importance consequent upon the general increase in interest rates which was made at the end of last week. This increase was announced by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. It creates a new rate as against the ruling structure that had operated since August 1969. At that time, a general increase of one quarter of 1% took place in the interest rate structure. On this occasion, the increase is of the magnitude of one half of 1%. It is technically true that this increase was made, as the Government claims, by the Governor of the Reserve Bank. However, if one reads, as one should, the provisions of the Reserve Bank Act, especially sections 10 and 11, one is left in no doubt as to who ultimately is responsible for the monetary and banking policy of Australia, including interest rates. If there are open differences of opinion between the Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Treasurer, a formula is provided in section 1 1 of the Act to overcome the difficulty, but the essentiality of the section is that, if there is such a difference pf opinion, properly the will of the Government should prevail. Those sections were inserted in the banking legislation by Labor. They have remained there despite fundamental changes of the Reserve Bank in Australia.
I state that, only to note that the Government is responsible for the ruling rates of interest. It can also be selective about the operation of the interest rate structure. I would submit to the Treasurer (Mr Bury) that he should have a text prominently displayed in his office to remind him that more people are advantaged by lower interest rates than are advantaged by higher interest rates. Reading such a text each morning would be a salutary lesson. I know that sometimes there may be some difficulties in avoiding certain changes, but ultimately the government of the day is responsible for the monetary policy, including the interest rate policy. Fundamentally, of course, the interest rate policy involves substantial questions of social equity.
One place where the impact of a rise of interest rates is felt most harshly is in the field of housing. It has been pointed out here many times before that housing is not only a physical problem of acquiring land and building a house. Above all, for most people who cannot afford to pay cash for that very large transaction - the buying of a house is the largest single economic act in most peoples’ lives-
– It is the greatest human problem in Australia.
– It brings with it a variety of human problems, as my colleague from
Gellibrand reminds me. However, it is the financial cost that is the significant factor for the majority of people who try to purchase a house, whether new or old. For that group the interest rate is a most critical factor.
The Treasurer spoke rather airily earlier this week about the economy being overheated. I would think that he is suffering a little from what might be called a sauna bath complex. There may be overheating in some areas, but 1 would submit that in some other areas affecting substantial sections of the community they are very cold. This is nowhere more evident than in the field of housing. The Treasurer has chosen to see the signs of the times one way and I am not sure that everyone in the community agrees with his reading of the signs. 1 am fortified on this occasion by a statement from a source that I would not have thought I could look to hopefully for a quotation. I have here a newsletter from a body called Trans City Discount Ltd, which is one of the authorised operators in the short term money market in Australia. When writing a week or two before the interest rate was increased, its view was that there was no case for a rise in the interest rate. It said:
For the private individual, and for governments, money is already too expensive. Further increases will merely shift borrowing power to the corporate sector, and might have politically unacceptable repercussions on the social structure.
It is the repercussions on the social structure in the field of housing that 1 want to speak about this afternoon.
This morning someone quoted the latest compilation of quarterly statistics of gross national product. I think we could draw whatever conclusions we wanted from those statistics. Some of them could be read as signs that the boom is dying down. It seems to me that the only place where there is evidence of excessive expenditure at the moment is in the field of public expenditure, and I would have thought that the Treasurer would have his finger on this expenditure. The series of indices of progress from the September quarter to the December quarter do not to my mind necessarily support the view of the Treasurer; they incline to the view taken by Trans City Discount Ltd.
The Australian housing market is a complex of financial structures. Some fortunate people are able to pay cash, but most people seeking to finance a home must resort to a mortgage transaction. Again 1 commend to the interest of honourable members the very valuable set of statistics and information contained in the publication ‘Finance for Housing in Australia’ prepared by the Housing Industry Association and dated February 1970. At page 15, it is shown that for the year 1968-69 the amount of identifiable finance provided for new house construction coming from Government sources amounted to about $243m and from other sources was nearly $l,000m. The other sources are savings banks, major trading banks, life assurance companies and registered building societies. The savings banks are the principal suppliers and provide nearly half of the sum of S 1,000m.
The first impact of an increase of i% in the interest rate structure on new transactions is about $5m extra. That is, i% on the sum of $!,000m. But in addition a considerable number of existing mortgage transactions or finance arrangements fluctuate when interest rates alter. Some contracts are fixed but many others, including the borrowings of such bodies as cooperative housing societies, fluctuate as the borrowing rate of money alters, lt is likely therefore that the impact of the increase in the interest rate could be at least double the initial $5m.
But where in the final analysis is the pinch felt most? lt is the view of the Opposition that it will be felt most in the pockets of those who can least afford to bear it. The housing publication to which I have already referred estimates that there are at the moment between 10,000 and 20,000 people desirous of building houses who cannot be financed because of the difficulty known as the deposit gap and the rather arbitrary test that is applied to a prospective borrower’s income. Money will not be lent under this test if the weekly outgoing - that is, the servicing in terms of interest payment and amortisation - exceeds one-quarter of the weekly income of the borrower. This is the group that is disadvantaged every time there are interest rate alterations.
As I have indicated, in the final analysis the responsibility for varying interest rates - if it is thought necessary in some directions - rests with the Government. A gentleman rather grandly commented on this last Saturday and said that a rise of 0.5% would scarcely cause a ripple on the stock exchange. Well, I think some people are concerned about ripples in places other than the stock exchange. I suggest that the 0.5% increase causes a very significant difficulty to some thousands of people who already find it difficult, at existing rates, to finance home purchase transactions. I suggest that the Treasurer, and the Government, should consider this point when contemplating this rather arbitrary exercise of monetary control. When one looks at it, a rise of 0.5%, from the point of view of the gentlemen of the stock exchange, will not make very much difference to some types of financial operations. But to exercise the interest rate in this way is to use it as a crude instrument, a rather brutal instrument so far as the least deserving sections of the community are concerned.
Mr Speaker, that is the reason we have chosen, in bringing forward this matter today, not to talk about the interest rate in the broad. One could do that and one could engage in debate - not on a semantic basis either - by asking the Treasurer what he really means by overheating. In a question the other day I challenged him to give us some specific instances of where he thought benefits would flow from the increase in interest rates. I am trying to indicate that there are some points where no benefit flows and where there is a distinct disadvantage. One is the housing field which is, as I have said, of substantial magnitude. We have a growing population and we have full employment. But even with full employment the fellow on the average weekly wage, with a wife and 2 or more children to support, who has to finance a home transaction, is receiving only a little in excess of $70 a week. The document I quoted from earlier shows that the average price of a house is now somewhere in the region of $10,000. This means that many people need to have a mortgage, either a first mortgage or first and second mortgages, of approximately $8,000.
If honourable members look at table 8 appearing at page 21 of the book entitled Finance for Housing in Australia’ they will find there the effects on mortgage transactions of rises in interest rates. The table reveals that if one borrows $8,000 on a 25- year term at 51% interest, the weekly repayments are $11.29. If the rate goes up by 0.5% the weekly repayments rise to $1 1.85, an increase of 56 cents per week. If we consider this in the light of a quarterly arrangement it means that by a mere increase of 0.5% many people are prevented from obtaining finance from some of the organisations that are willing to lend money but are lending it only, of course, on terms consonant with their borrowing rate, which again is pushed up by reason of the recently announced action of the Reserve Bank of Australia. Therefore we urge the Government to reconsider this matter, at least as to how it affects this vital field of housing.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) raised a number of questions relating to the recent increase in interest rates decided upon by the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia. The honourable member made a number of suggestions to me. One of the first suggestions was that a little homily be stuck up in my room reading ‘More are advantaged by lower interest rates than are advantaged by higher’. I suggest another thesis which the honourable member might keep in front of him. It is this: Many more have to lose by inflation than gain from it. Those who lose because of inflation are those who are least able to protect themselves against the consequences, including, in this day and age. the rural community.
I would like to begin by making two points for the benefit of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports: Firstly, interest rates in Australia are low compared with those of most other countries; secondly, within Australia interest rates on housing loans are low compared with rates on lending generally. It is true, of course, that in the immediate financial sense house owners or would-be purchasers of houses do gain greatly by low interest rates. All of us have something to gain, when making the payments that all of us have to make, if the payments to be made are reduced or are smaller in extent. But it is also important to people aiming to purchase homes that there should be a very adequate flow of people’s savings into housing.
In keeping a curb on inflation, nothing could be more damaging to the would-be home owner than an intensification of inflationary pressures. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports was inclined to question my theme that the economy is now becoming overheated. Of course, one could cover a wide field in consideration of this aspect but in the end it is a matter of judgment. The Board of the Reserve Bank has judged the situation in one way. I judge it to be very much the same and so. too, does the Government. Let us consider a number of items mentioned by the honourable member. Consumer spending, private investment, including housing, public sector spending, are all rising very strongly. The labour market is extremely firm and recently has been tightening at a very rapid rate. I have seen an analysis of the latest labour figures. The complete figures will be released on Tuesday by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden). Those figures will reveal an extremely tight labour position. Personal* incomes are very buoyant and investment opportunities, both public and private, but particularly private, also have been sharply increasing lately and are continuing to expand at a rapid rate. In these circumstances it is very difficult to see any easing of the current pressures on the economy.
These pressures are very evident in housing. For the 3 months to January, for example, building approvals were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 170,000 compared with 155,000 for the previous quarter, also seasonally adjusted, and 150,000 for the corresponding months a year earlier. At the end of December last there were over 12% more dwellings under construction than there were a year earlier.
The labour situation is particularly tight in the building industry, and there are shortages in many areas of some types of bricks, roofing tiles and other building materials. All this is having a profound effect on housing costs. For example, in the year to the December quarter 1969 the housing group of consumer prices rose by 5.5% compared with a rise in the index for the whole of the economy of 2.8%. Therefore, the rise in the housing consumer price index has been almost twice the rise in the general index. The wholesale price index for non-residential building materials, most of which are also used in dwelling construction, rose by 4.3% in the year to January this year. Of all the sectors under pressure - which is most of the economy outside the rural sector - the intensification of pressure almost reaches its height within the building industry. All this is highly important to would-be home owners. Of course, we would rather see a more stable situation in the economy than further excessive increases in demand and cost and the inevitable development in the building industry of delays, bottlenecks and shortages. This situation applies particularly to housing as well as to the economy in general.
The increases in interest rates on trading bank advances have to be viewed in perspective because other rates, such as savings bank interest rates, may also move. They have to be looked at in the total perspective as, I am sure, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports looks at them. Firstly, in our estimate of the currentt economic situation, there is a need to give a cautionary signal. There is also the need to take some edge off the keen demand for capital. Whatever the merits of the various demands for capital, booming capital expenditure is causing inflationary problems which perhaps have their first and most adverse effect on housing and people, such as home buyers, who are concerned with housing. In the complex of forces which face home buyers, the cost of interest on borrowed money is always of great importance, but in the end it is really not so significant as other factors. I would share, and we all share, the hope that circumstances will change and that a decrease in interest rates can be brought about both overseas, where Australia has to raise large capital sums, and within our own country. It is very gratifying that at least so far we have been able to preserve much of the margin between interest rates in Australia and overseas and keep our rates considerably lower.
Of course, the other factor affecting lending rates is the encouragement given to people to make savings so that money can be lent for housing. There is a need to encourage savings by offering higher interest rates to depositors. In January trading bank deposits increased by only Sim compared with an increase of $151m in January last year. Savings bank deposits in January fell for the third consecutive month. An attempt to keep interests rates for home buyers artificially low would result in either even higher rates of interest than at present for borrowers other than borrowers for housing and home ownership or a drying up of the funds deposited and which are loaned for housing, because depositors would decline to make savings at the lower rates, which would be all the banks could afford to pay if the lending rate for housing were artificially lowered. Another alternative - and perhaps the honourable member for Melbourne Ports would agree with this, because I think it would follow logically from what he said - is for the Government to subsidise lending rates for housing. This is one solution that has been put forward. Of course, it would mean that the taxpayers would have to make up the difference. Again it is a question of where to draw the line. The taxpayer is already a somewhat overburdened member of the community - and of course nearly all of us are taxpayers in some form or another. The burden on taxpayers is very heavy. The Commonwealth, I remind the House, is already spending a great deal directly on housing. The total Commonwealth expenditure on housing in 1969-70 is estimated to be of the order of $265m campared with $239m for the last financial year.
It is always easy to attack the obvious cost of interest. We all recognise this. But it is also equally easy to leave out of account in making these sorts of rather simple and straightforward charges the hidden cost to both the homeowner and the community. That hidden cost will always be there unless the Government concentrates on keeping the economy growing not only fast but strongly in a balanced way. If we allow money demands on the economy to increase unreasonably - and money demands are always increasing, particularly in the capital sector - by offering interest rates lower than the aggregate, the demand will be more than the economy can meet. There is no real way in the present circumstances of bringing down home lending rates except by subsidy in one form or another without bringing considerable dangers into the economy at large.
- Mr Speaker–
Motion (by Mr Swartz) put:
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to inform the
House of the following appointments of honourable members to be members of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise: Mr Buchanan, Mr Irwin, Mr Reid and Mr Robinson have been appointed by the Prime Minister, and Mr Lionel Bowen, Mr Charles Jones and Mr Morrison have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister has appointed Mr Buchanan to be Chairman of the Committee.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill seeks the approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia to enable the construction by the Commonwealth of a new standard gauge railway between Port Augusta and Whyalla. The Bill also authorises the construction of the railway by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner and contains the necessary machinery provisions regarding appointment of officers and acquisition of land. The funds for the construction of the railway will be provided through annual appropriation for the Commonwealth Railways capital works programme and no appropriation is provided in this Bill.
Honourable members will be aware that section 51 (xxxiv) of the Constitution empowers the Commonwealth to make laws with respect to railway construction in a State with the consent of that State. Accordingly clause 3 of the Bill provides that the operative sections will not have effect until consent has been given by the Parliament of the State. Suffice it to say that in 1964, the then Premier of South Australia asked the then Prime Minister to construct the railway. Investigations at the time indicated that the railway would not be economic for some time. Recent developments in the carriage of steel produced at Whyalla have changed the situation and the Commonwealth Government has agreed it would be appropriate to construct the railway forthwith. An undertaking to this effect was given by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in his policy speech last October.
I have circulated to honourable members a map illustrating the general route which the railway will follow, in brief we propose a single line railway of some 47 miles in length, with a passing loop situated at Lincoln Gap about 19 miles from Port Augusta. There will, of course, be appropriate sidings and station facilities at Whyalla. Indications are that initially there will be 1 freight train per day each way over the line. A passenger service will also be provided at least once per day each way, probably by Budd rail cars. The actual construction timing will depend on the results of tenders to be called, and passage of the necessary enabling legislation by the South Australian Parliament. It is proposed that tenders be called in the near future for earthworks and culverts and the bridge across the northern end of Spencer Guif. Indications are that construction of the latter will be the main factor determining the completion date for the work. However, construction cannot be commenced until the South Australian Parliament has passed the necessary legislation. The work will be done by contract, following the calling of tenders, wherever it is practicable and economic to do so.
The line will ‘be lightly trafficked by comparison with other railways, but it is intended to provide the’ best standards of construction and service appropriate in these circumstances. We have paid particular attention to the question of level crossings. Arrangements have been discussed with the South Australian authorities regarding the points at which the proposed route of the railway crosses the existing alignments of the Stuart Highway (to Woomera) and the Port Augusta to Whyalla road (marked Lincoln Highway on the map). As a result the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has agreed to include a road overpass in the proposed work (at a point approximately 5 miles from Port Augusta) and the South Australian Highways Department will divert the Port Augusta to Whyalla road to enable it to use this overpass. This will eliminate all highway level crossings. There will be level crossings, however, catering for purely local traffic, at Lincoln Gap and on the Point Lowly Road near Whyalla. These crossings will be protected by flashing lights. There will, of course, be the usual access crossings provided by agreement with the holders of pastoral leases along the route of the railway.
Clause 7 of the Bill limits the cost of the railway to $7m which does not include the additional rolling stock which will be required to operate the railway. As I mentioned before, the funds for the construction of the railway will in fact be provided through an annual appropriation for the Commonwealth Railway’s capital works programme. Subject to the comments I made earlier regarding tenders and enabling legislation it is hoped to have the railway ready for operation by the end of 1971. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Charles Jones) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Hughes, and read a first time.
– I move:
It gives me considerable pleasure to move that this Bill be now read a second time. I am glad that the first Bill that I should introduce in this House deals - and deals in a very important way - not only with the structure of my Department but also with the essential work of the Parliament.
Since assuming office as AttorneyGeneral I have given, and am still giving, close consideration to the question whether the organisation of my Department is as well adapted as it should be to the efficient discharge of its many functions in an era when the work of a law officer brings him more and more into daily touch with every aspect of government. I am disposed to think that changes in the present departmental structure may be advantageous; but time has not permitted me to formulate detailed conclusions as to all the changes that may be warranted. The Government has decided, however, that it should proceed with the changes proposed in this Bill as a matter of some urgency.
This is a Bill which directly or indirectly affects the work of each member of the Parliament. I hope that it will be supported on both sides of this House as a measure that is designed to make a substantial contribution to the efficiency of the Parliament as a legislative body. I should like to say that the problems which this Bill is intended to solve have been a matter of serious concern to my two immediate predecessors in the office of Attorney-General. I am grateful to them for the advice and encouragement they have given me as a newcomer to office in devising an attempt to overcome some of the problems concerning legislative drafting. The enactment of laws is the principal purpose of parliamentary government; and effective legislation is basic to the working of this form of government, in which, irrespective of party affiliation, we as members of the Parliament all properly take a great pride.
In recent years, the expansion of Commonwealth interests and activities in various fields of national consequence has required an ever increasing output of legislation. The complexity of the subject matters of Commonwealth legislation has inevitably produced a tendency for Acts of Parliament to become increasingly intricate. It goes without saying that legislative drafting must be of a high standard of competence. Unless it is, there wilt always be a risk that the policy objectives of the Government of the day may not be attained. Further, and in my view very importantly, members of the public whose activities are affected by legislation are entitled to expect that they will not have to become involved in expensive litigation to clear up doubtful points of statutory interpretation. I have no doubt that the drafting of Commonwealth legislation is of the required standard of competence. But for some time past the price of maintaining this standard has been an accelerating accumulation of arrears of work.
The number of Acts passed each year by the Parliament has substantially increased over the last 20 years. This increase is shown in the following table:
This increase in numbers does not tell the whole story because, as I have indicated, Commonwealth legislation is becoming increasingly complicated. By way of example, legislation in the tax field to close loopholes or to provide concessions - for example under the recent drought bonds scheme - legislation for superannuation, for defence forces retirement benefits and for regulating trade practices is most intricate and has demanded a great deal of time and attention from the few experienced draftsmen available. 1 have referred to the arrears of legislative drafting work. I am satisfied that the main reason for the existence of these arrears is the great difficulty experienced in recruiting sufficient competent and experienced draftsmen, or people who are capable, with training, of becoming competent draftsmen, lt has been found impossible to fill many positions in the Drafting Division of my Department. There is now a serious shortage of younger officers. In 10 years time nearly all the present senior draftsmen will have retired. If things remain as they are there will be no chance of fully replacing them.
The difficulty of obtaining suitable draftsmen is aggravated by the fact that their work is not generally regarded in the legal profession as an attractive field in which to practise. It is particularly onerous and exacting work; it entails a large measure of responsibility; it has none of the glamour of heavy practice at the Bar; it is ‘back-room’ work. Few lawyers have a natural preference for drafting and it will not ordinarily attract a sufficient number of suitable practitioners from other fields of legal work unless a career in parliamentary drafting is given a status such as will counterbalance what is thought to be its lack of appeal.
To my mind, this lack of appeal is apparent rather than real. The work of a parliamentary draftsman offers a real challenge to a lawyer: He is involved in the essential processes of government: be has to perform the exacting task of translating what are at times the broadly and even loosely expressed ideas of practising politicians into legislation that will stand the scrutiny of the courts. In a nation blessed - as I believe we are - with a federal constitution this is seldom an easy task, for in this life, few blessings are unmixed.
For some years past the shortage of parliamentary draftsmen - indeed the shortage of people to do the whole range of the legal work of Government - has been aggravated by the prosperous conditions of private legal practice. I do not think, however, that this condition is by any means the only reason why it has been difficult to recruit sufficient numbers of draftsmen to do the work of parliamentary government. The work requires special abilities that cannot in all cases be acquired by training or experience. Even those who are highly skilled and successful in other fields of legal work may fail as draftsmen. Professor Reed Dickerson, Professor of Law at Indiana University in the United Stales of America, who is the author of two books on legislative drafting and numerous articles on the subject has written:
Legal drafting … is a highly technical discipline, the most rigorous form of writing outside mathematics. Few lawyers have the special combination of skills, aptitudes and temperament necessary for a competent draftsman.
Experience in Australia and overseas has shown that drafting abilities are not likely to be developed unless the person concerned has a first-class knowledge of the law; in the Commonwealth field, constitutional law is especially important. Experience has also shown that it is highly desirable that a person undertaking legislative drafting work should first have had some experience in general legal work, lt is the unanimous view of all persons experienced in this field that, to teach people the art of drafting, many years of practical training are necessary and that there is no complete substitute for the apprentice’ system. The real problem consists in finding and obtaining those suitable to be taught and in retaining them. This problem is not likely to be solved unless persons of ability who contemplate the possibility of a career in legislative drafting can see ahead of them adequate remuneration throughout that career, whether or not they reach the top of the pyramid.
The present conditions of employment of Commonwealth draftsmen are not calculated to solve this problem. In the United Kingdom, by way of contrast, recruits of the right calibre have been and are still being attracted, but the conditions of employment there are superior to those hitherto offered by the Commonwealth. For example, the salaries in the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office in the United Kingdom are above those of corresponding levels in the general legal service of the United Kingdom Government and are among the highest in the British Civil Service: the First Parliamentary Counsel is treated in the United Kingdom as the head of a government department.
On the other hand, in Australia, the salary of the Parliamentary Draftsman, although at the top level of the Second Division of the Public Service, is below that of all Permanent Heads and below that of the holders of many statutory offices, including, for example, the Commissioner of Trade Practices and the Public Service Arbitrator. The lower relative position of the Parliamentary Draftsman is reflected in the salaries of his staff. When the position of Parliamentary Draftsman was created in 1947 as a separate office, its salary was greater than that of many Permanent Heads. But in 1 957 salaries were re-arranged so that those of Permanent Heads fell into 2 levels only and no Second Division officer was paid as much as the lower level of Permanent Heads.
The problem of obtaining and retaining suitable recruits to this field of work is not solely a financial one. Another aspect of status has its place. In the United Kingdom the parliamentary draftsmen are styled Parliamentary Counsel and appear to enjoy a rather higher standing in the legal profession than do their opposite members or numbers in Commonwealth and State service in Australia. There is a certain cachet in the description of a draftsman as counsel; and when it is borne in mind that his work is much more important and intricate than that done by most of the practising Bar, the description is well justified. I think therefore that we should follow suit here, that is, follow the example of the
United Kingdom. To do so, I should add, will also bring us into Une with Canada, New Zealand and some States of the United States of America.
Some mention should be made of the history of the senior positions in my Department additional to what 1 have already said. For many years the Secretary to the Department . was also the Parliamentary Draftsman and, incidentally, SolicitorGeneral. The offices of Solicitor-General and Parliamentary Draftsman are now filled separately but, as honourable members know, the Solicitor-General holds a statutory office remunerated at upper Permanent Head level - that is, the level of the Permanent Head of my Department - while the Parliamentary Draftsman, as I said earlier, holds a Second Division Public Service office in my Department subordinate to the Permanent Head. However, the Parliamentary Draftsman, although still under the head of the Department in a formal sense, has come to occupy a position of some independence and, in practice, is now only nominally responsible to the head of the Department in relation to professional work. In this field, the Parliamentary Draftsman usually deals directly with the Attorney-General, other Ministers and the heads of other Departments and also has other responsibilities in his own right, such as those to the Legislation Committee of the Cabinet. It is therefore no longer appropriate that he should be an officer of my Department.
The Government has accordingly decided that the role of the Parliamentary Draftsman should be defined by statute; that there should be established an organisation of appropriate status and with sufficient resources to meet the increasing demands for Commonwealth legislative drafting; and that this organisation should be placed under the direct control of an officer designated as First Parliamentary Counsel who will be subject to the general direction of the Attorney-General. The title ‘Parliamentary Counsel’ is thought by the Government to be a more appropriate recognition of the important functions and status of the persons concerned.
In view of the amount of individual responsibility necessarily involved in legislative drafting and in matters associated with its introduction into and passage through Parliament, the Bill provides for the First Parliamentary Counsel to have two deputies, each of whom is to be designated a Second Parliamentary Counsel. These three officers will hold statutory appointments for terms of years. In addition, the Office will have a staff appointed or employed under the Public Service Act, and clause 16(a) of the Bill provides for the First Parliamentary Counsel to have, in relation to the officers in that staff, the powers of a Permanent Head of a Department under the Public Service Act. The creation of appropriate offices for the staff will be a matter for the Public Service Board in the light of this Act and in consultation with the First Parliamentary Counsel.
The functions of the Office are set out in detail in clause 3. These functions cover all forms of legislative drafting. This includes, in addition to Bills for this Parliament, Ordinances for the Territories other than Papua and New Guinea and regulations and other forms of subordinate legislation, lt is proposed that one of the functions of the office will be to undertake in appropriate cases the drafting of instruments that are to have or be given the force of law or are otherwise related to legislation. Another function will be to make arrangements for the printing and reprinting of the laws of the Commonwealth and its Territories.
Clause 4 of the Bill provides for appointments to the three statutory positions to be made by the Governor-General and for an appointee to be a legal practitioner of not less than 5 years’ standing. Clause 5 provides for these officers to be appointed for periods not exceeding 7 years but to be eligible for reappointment. This clause also prevents an appointment extending beyondthe time when the appointee attains the age of 65 years. Clause 6 provides for the three statutory officers to be paid salary and allowances as determined by the GovernorGeneral. Other provisions usual for statutory offices are included in clauses 7 to 15.
It is apparent from this Bill that the Government recognises the importance to our parliamentary system of adequate arrangements for legislative drafting. The Government also recognises the need for a long term approach to the matter rather than a resort to short term expedients. I am confident that the establishment, of the office of Parliamentary Counsel as provided for in this Bill will prove to be a most worthwhile and justified step. I do not pretend that this Bill, when enacted, will provide an immediate solution to the problems connected with legislative drafting. I am satisfied, however, that without this measure we shall not be able to begin the important task of solving these great problems. And they are problems which must be solved if we are to improve our performance as a Parliament. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– Before seeking the adjournment of the debate, I note that the AttorneyGeneral hopes that the Bill will meet with approval from both sides of the House. I would hope, therefore, that if we propose some amendments they will be contemplated seriously in the same spirit.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 11 March (vide page 334) on motion by Mr Brown:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:
May it please Your Excellency:
We, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
-I call the honourable member for Isaacs and I remind the House that this is the honourable member’s maiden speech. I would ask honourable members, therefore, to accord to him the normal courtesies.
- Mr Speaker, I am honoured to be here as the first representative of the new electorate of Isaacs and to be a member of this House during a period when decisions will have to be made which may affect the lives of all of us for many years to come. We must question where we are going and where we wish to go. Not the least of these fields of critical inquiry must be the future of our manufacturing industry which today employs nearly one-third of our national work force. One of the facts we have to face is that we must increase our exports if we are to achieve our expectations of growth. The Export Development Council recently forecast that we have 7 years in which to double our exports if we are to be able to pay for the imports necessary to sustain our economic growth at the present rate. No matter how high we set our expectations from minerals and from agricultural products, a very substantial gap will have to be filled by manufactured exports, and can be filled in no other way.
It is encouraging that manufactured exports have risen steadily to the point where they now amount to 19% of our total exports, but this gives no room for complacency. Manufactured exports by 1977 will have to contribute something like $ 1,750m out of a total export income in the vicinity of $6,000m. This means that our manufactured export earnings must treble in the next 7 years. To achieve such an increase our present rate of capital investment in industry will have to be doubled. This will not be achieved by mere chance or by the unguided operation of market forces, lt will require a sustained and carefully co-ordinated programme of guidance and help in every aspect of our secondary industry - a continuation and expansion of the Government guidance which has been so successful in the past.
When there is a major problem to be solved there is a natural tendency to look for a panacea, a single solution to a complex problem. There is no such panacea for the problems of our secondary industry. Action must be taken on nearly every facet of our industrial affairs. Each of these is a subject in itself, but I must deal briefly with all of them so that they can be seen in perspective as a co-ordinated whole. What can we do to help? The decision to establish an Industry Development Corporation is a momentous step and if it succeeds in converting some of our capital inflow into fixed interest loans in Australian hands instead of being equity in foreign hands, and if it can also succeed in marshalling additional capital for this purpose, it will contribute greatly to the development of Australian industry and will increase Australian ownership of Australian industry. But I believe that the function of the Industry Development Corporation must also be that of an equity taker of last resort.
If the guidelines for overseas investment work properly - and if they do not work properly they will have to be strengthened until they do - equity should be available to Australians in overseas companies setting up in this country. But if this offer of equity is not taken up by Australian investors it should be open to the Industry Development Corporation to do so, and it should do so in worthwhile cases. Nevertheless it is essential that the Industry Development Corporation should be required to divest itself of its holdings as soon as possible after the development phase has been completed, and obviously it must transfer its holdings into Australian hands, otherwise the whole purpose of the exercise will be defeated. But important though the Industry Development Corporation may be, it alone will not stimulate the necessary level of industrial investment. Other measures also will be needed. The taxation allowance has been a powerful stimulus to investment but it has the defect that it is of too short a term. Federal Budgets run from year to year but industrial capital investment frequently has to be planned at least 5 years ahead. I believe that an assurance by the Government of 5 years continuity of the level of investment allowances would have a beneficial effect on the planning of our industrial development.
I must touch on the question of tariffs - as long as the modest back bencher does not object - because tariffs have been an important factor in the development of our secondary industries and are certain to be vital to their continued survival and expansion. The question of tariffs is, however, so complex that I should like to confine myself to 3 points. The first point is that it must remain clear, as it is now, that the Tariff Board is an investigatory and advisory body only, and the final decision on tariffs must be made by the Government. The second point is that when the Tariff Board is given economic guidance by the Government, this guidance must also take account of business criteria. Perhaps the best example of this problem was the guidance given on the future of the machine tool industry which was built up with such great difficulty and which is so important to our defence capacity. The directive on the importance of this industry stated that it should remain as a nucleus but should not be encouraged to expand. This might have made good sense to a civil servant but its effect has been that the machine tool industry is now in a state of disintegration, because no competent businessman would allow his resources to be locked up in an industry which had no prospects of growth.
We also need the Tariff Board to be required to report in much more detail than it usually does on the secondary economic effects of its tariff recommendations, because this House, and the Government, cannot make an informed decision on a tariff proposal unless they know the expected secondary effects. These unrevealed secondary effects are frequently of great importance to our economy and to our export potential in particular. But whether through tariff changes or other factors, as technology develops and trade conditions change it is inevitable that some of our existing industries will become economically redundant, and the quicker we can shift our national resources out of these industries and into more rewarding fields the better for the economic well-being of the community as a whole. The difficulty is that these uneconomic industries are usually the very ones that are short of capital to allow them to shift into a new field. If we allow the ordinary market forces to take their course the adjustment will inevitably be somewhat painful and inefficient.
In many other countries various measures have been adopted whereby the community as a whole meets most of the costs involved because the community as a whole will ultimately benefit substantially from the reorganisation. The Common Market countries, the United States, Canada and Britain all have adjustment assistance provisions designed to facilitate the redeployment of resources into more economic and efficient fields. The provisions obviously vary with the circumstances but the idea is the same and extends from relocating industries and labour to retraining workers, research assistance, special rate finance and, where these are inadequate, to actual financial compensation. I believe that the efficient development of Australian industry demands such provisions.
The need for increased Commonwealth involvement in charting the future course of Australian industry may be seen by observing some of the developmental activities of the States. One of the factors which decreases the efficiency of Australian industry is the desire of each of the States to have all types of industry set up within its borders, whether this makes economic sense or not. I have been told that at least one State has a shopping list of industries which are not yet set up within its boundaries. The States attempt to lure industries by offering special conditions for power, transport or rates or other incentives - concessions for which the community ultimately pays. The effect of these efforts by the States is to fragment our industrial production in many cases and create several inefficient production units instead of one efficient unit. The division of power as between the Commonwealth and the States makes this a very difficult problem to tackle, but I believe that this Government should do all in its power to ensure a better coordination of these activities. The economic unit is Australia, not six separate States.
Of course, increased capital investment is only one aspect of the development of our secondary industries. Our ability to export and to replace imports economically ultimately depends on our prices, and wages are the fastest growing component of industrial prices. Wage fixing by the Arbitration Commission has been under attack in recent weeks, but I believe that the attack has been on the wrong objectives. What is wrong with wage fixing by the Arbitration Commission is not that the Commission is biased and certainly not that it is under outside influence. What may be wrong is that the procedure - the adversary procedure of the law courts - is inappropriate to the problem of fixing a national wage. Also, when the arbitration court was set up in the early 1900s economic theory and the understanding of the role of government in economic matters were very much less developed than they are today. I would suggest that all members of the Arbitration Commission should have formal economic training. They should abandon the use of the adversary procedure of the law courts, with its cumbersome processes and overelaborate rules of evidence. 1 believe that if these two things were clone wage decisions would be quicker and wiser. Nevertheless, we must recognise that rises in wages are inevitable and proper not only to compensate for the unavoidable inflationary effects of full employment but also to allow ‘he work force as a whole to share in the rising national wealth, for increased productivity is only very rarely reflected in decreased prices.
Balanced against wages must be productivity, lt is extremely difficult to establish the productivity of the Australian work force compared with that of other countries, but one fact stands out. Compared with America Australia has less than half the power assistance available per worker. If we wish to increase our productivity it is obvious that the most effective method is increased provision of labour saving equipment. This brings us back to the importance of investment. The efficiency of management is equally difficult to establish. In some sections of Australian industry there is a belief that management skill is achieved only through experience; that by being seated at his desk an executive absorbs management skill - presumably through the seat of his pants. This, of course, is nonsense. I do not want to belittle the importance of experience, but it is a very rare individual whose management .skill would not be improved by formal study of his profession. Comparative international statistics are very difficult to obtain, but as far as I can establish Australia has proportionately only one-fifth the number of business executives who have completed courses compared with the United Slates and less than one-twentieth the number who have completed formal management training. The recent steps taken by the Government to investigate business management training will help to overcome this deplorable situation, but we are dealing with an ingrained attitude.
The bigger firms already recognise the importance of management training, but this is not by any means always true of the smaller firms. It is worth remembering that manufacturing firms with less than 50 employees make up 93% of the factories in Australia and employ one-third of the secondary industry work force. I think it would be worth while considering government sponsored management training teams to assist these smaller firms, but whatever we do the process of improvement is likely to be slow because we are dealing with an attitude of mind, and attitudes are far more difficult to change than legislation.
Australian industry is also lagging behind other countries in the amount of our resources which we are devoting to research and development. A survey completed by the Australian Industrial Research Group in 1968 showed. ‘that as a proportion of the gross national product Japan spent 6 times as much as Australia on research and development, Britain 10 times as much and America 15 times as much. Our claim to fame seems to be that we are spending more than Greece and Spain. It is inevitable that we will have to borrow some techniques from overseas, but we must reduce the extent of this dependence, because there are serious drawbacks in such a policy. Licence and royalty fees are growing every year. Last year they amounted to $60m, and this figure is likely to double every 5 years. Unless the trend is corrected there will inevitably be a serious effect on our balance of payments position. If we rely on skill and knowledge acquired by licences and royalties we will1 inevitably lag behind our competitors in design and manufacturing techniques, with bad effects on our exports. Moreover, with licence and royalty agreements there are frequently franchise restrictions which deny us the right to sell overseas in competition with the company which made the original design.
The setting up of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Board was admirable in purpose but so far it has not had sufficient effect, perhaps because of minor defects in the legislation. Improving the standard and quantity of our research and development is so urgent that I consider that the review of the Act, mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, should be considered without delay. We are an inventive people and in our industry we must not remain a crowd of copyists.
The enormous industrial advance we require over the next 10 years will not be achieved by any single measure. It is only by consistently pursuing a number of complementary policies that we will achieve success. If we take all these measures, no one of which is an answer in itself, we can achieve the industrial advance necessary to sustain the rising standard of living to which our people have a right. But increased wealth does not necessarily mean increased happiness, although it does provide a base which makes increased happiness possible. We must ensure that our increased national wealth is shared by those who need it most, whatever the cause of their need.
While we are expanding our economy, we must see that we do not destroy our surroundings. There has been, in the last few years, a vast upsurge of interest in conservation, in preserving our natural assets and beauties. I believe that this quickening interest in conservation is one of the best things that has happened in Australia. But no longer is it enough to conserve what we have. We must also restore what we have lost, and our physical surroundings are not all. We must also enrich our cultural surroundings. In Australia, we do not have any great cultural heritage, nor do we have any enormously wealthy individuals, as there are in America, to endow cultural organisations. For these reasons, we have a greater need than practically any other country for government encouragement and government assistance to the arts. The setting up of the Council for the Arts in 1968, the doubling of its grant in the Budget for this financial year and the announcement of the intention of the Government to establish an Australian film development corporation are most significant steps in our cultural progress.
Australia is one of the few great democracies to be established in the twentieth century. We are the only country that has a continent to itself. We have the chance and the opportunity of building a great society here. We must not be afraid of excellence. Our target must always be just beyond our horizon. True, we are relatively small in population. But ancient Athens never had more than 60,000 free citizens, yet their achievements in art and science, in politics and philosophy, are still remembered after more than 2,000 years. If, here in Australia, we can build a society that is secure and yet free; which encourages enterprise and yet gives social justice; which expands its economy yet preserves and improves its cultural and physical surroundings; if we can build such a society - and we can - we will become the wonder and the example of the world.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Before 1 call ihe honourable member for Burke, 1 would remind the House that this is the honourable member’s maiden speech.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I speak to this House today fully conscious of the responsibility that I now bear. I proudly represent some 50,000 electors and their families in the electorate of Burke, considerably more than half of whom decided that I should come to this place. To those who took this decision, I say: ‘Thank you’: to those who did not, I say that they shall not be without representation.
Burke is a newly created seat in Victoria. It is part of the old Division of Lalor which was so ably represented for many years by my old friend and colleague, Mr Reg Pollard, a well respected former member of this House. In later years, Mr Merv. Lee was the chosen representative of Lalor. Burke is an outer metropolitan seat which is partly rural. Therefore, it can be considered as representative of the problems that exist today in both our cities and our country areas.
I should like to make it quite clear at this point that I believe that the differences between country and city are artificial. 1 believe that no real differences exist and that both the city dweller and the country dweller are Australians who are concerned about the future of Australia. It grieves me to see these alleged differences exploited for political purposes. Residing in the electorate of Burke are people from almost every country in Europe as well as many countries in Asia. These newcomers to our shores are living peacefully with one another and in peace with their Australian neighbours. Old enmities and prejudices are forgotten in a desire to lead a natural life free of strain and tension.
I believe that all Australians, old and new, city and country, black and white and all shades in between are concerned with only one thing - the quality of the life that they lead. So, I listened with great care to the Speech delivered by His Excellency to members of both Houses of this Parliament and I have since read his Speech with great interest. I must confess, Mr Deputy Speaker, that more of my time was required to read this Speech than was required to read his previous Speech. 1 am still disappointed that I can find little or no reference in either Speech to the quality of life. My observations on his Speech are that it deals mainly with the quantity of life. There is no expressed or implied intention to arrest the unhealthy pattern of recent years of great exodus to the cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne. No blueprint is presented for the balanced development of Australia as a nation, but only proposals to bolster certain sections of the community apparently on the assumption that this will automatically correct the inequalities and the injustices that exist in other less influential sections of the community. It is disturbing to say the least that two-thirds of Australia’s population live in the two eastern States of Victoria and New South Wales and that two-thirds of the population in each of those States live in the capital cities of Melbourne and Sydney.
In my home city of Melbourne, the tremendous growth explosion has meant an enormous demand for all resources. Demand has outstripped supply in all areas. This has brought most unhealthy economic effects to bear on the quality of the lives of the luckless inhabitants. Land prices have spiralled to astronomical heights beyond the reach of a large section of young marrieds. The only agency through which land and house can be purchased at a reasonable price is the Housing Commission of Victoria. It has an ever-increasing waiting list of prospective buyers. Private developers are concentrating on building flats so that they may get greater use of and therefore greater return on capital per block of land. There is no shortage of tenants.
The Housing Commission of Victoria, in a desperate endeavour to house the multitudes seeking housing, has resorted to building giant concrete blocks of flats that have been described as containerised human misery. This development adds nothing to the quality of life of hundreds of young Australian families. His Excellency outlined no plan for the provision of finance for the acquisition of land by the States at a fair price and its subsequent subdivision and sale to young couples at reasonable prices. Tt is the duty of this Parliament to ensure that the ownership of a home is within the financial reach of all Australians. Many people are living in the suburbs of our capital cities without the benefit of the basic requirement of city life - sewerage - a service provided by the State. The States claim that they do not have the money to provide this basic service. A prominent Victorian citizen was heard to mutter that ‘they have money running out of their ears in Canberra’.
The Melbourne sprawl is causing great concern to town planners and authorities responsible for the provision of services. With more people coming to live in the city and its environs, the population of Melbourne is expected to reach 5 million by 1985. A greater demand will exist for services in the metropolis whilst many large country centres with the same services available are suffering the threat of annihilation. The migration of people from country areas to the cities is a matter of grave concern to the leading citizens of both areas. The responsible city dweller is concerned at the ever increasing size of the cities, the sprawl both outwards and upwards, the hopeless inadequacies of the public transport system, the overloading of existing public services and the increasing lagging behind of the extension of services compared to the rate of growth. When travelling to and fro in his motor car, he is frustrated by the congestion on roads that are not keeping pace with the unprecedented population explosion, and worse is to come in the next 15 years. The chances are that his children attend schools that are either ancient and in need of renewal or they attend classes in portable class rooms that are not designed for some of the purposes to which they are put. The science class at the Lalor Technical School has nowhere to store its glassware and the stock of glassware is limited as a consequence. The effect on science students is calamitous.
There has been no new public hospital built in Melbourne for many years and hospital space is at a premium. The answer given is that there is not sufficient money available to erect new hospitals. But any visitor to Melbourne will observe large buildings being erected to be used for office space and these buildings are only partly occupied. The inference to be drawn is that there are too many buildings being constructed. The techniques required to build an office building is no different from the technique required to build a hospital or a school, and the money problem is common to both. So the choice should be made between hospitals and schools, which are needed, and new prestige office buildings which, because an excess of office space is available, are not needed. So it is not a question of money; it is a question of priority. My priority is schools and hospitals.
I have made it my business to talk to the mayors of cities and the presidents of shires and their respective clerks. The responsible, leading citizens in the country are concerned at the dwindling populations of their towns and shires. Cities that perform an important function in the scheme of things are dying because of the exodus of people to the cities. Most country centres are fully equipped with all the services enjoyed in the cities, such as electricity, gas, reticulated water and sewerage, drainage, fully constructed roads, telephones, schools and in most instances hospitals. These services, already provided and readily available, are not being used to capacity and year after year a greater proportion of the service becomes idle. This is in strong contrast to the overloaded services and indeed in some instances non-existent services in some parts of the cities. In a prominent town in the Western District recently I saw an advertisement in a real estate agent’s window advertising Housing Commission homes to let at $10.40 a week and urging people to apply for tenancy. In Melbourne a Housing Commission home is available for rent only to those who have five children or more and are prepared to wait for 4 or 5 years. If the quality of life of the citizens of Australia is to be improved, the dangerous situation of cities becoming overcrowded and polluted and important rural centres dying must be reversed. His Excellency neglected to mention any plan, long range or short range, designed to arrest this imbalance.
A vigorous, developing country like Australia cannot afford to have its development retarded by the addiction of governments to dogma. It must be recognised that the treatment of ills will require great flexibility. Too often I have heard the inflexible creed of free enterprise espoused and practised and ‘socialism’ treated as a dirty word.
The rigid application of free enterprise will only widen the gulf that exists between sections of the community. A casual look at society today confirms that the strong - that is to say, the well organised sections of the community - are becoming stronger at the expense of the weaker or unorganised sections of the community. The concept of democratic socialism on the other hand would apply the appropriate medication for the illness being treated. The blind acceptance of the creed of free enterprise to the absolute exclusion of socialism is dogmatic and can only lead to disaster. My aims, in common with my colleagues, will be for the democratic socialisation of industry, distribution and exchange to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other antisocial features of those fields. This in no way implies the application of socialism to the absolute exclusion of free enterprise. To my mind this is not a dogmatic attitude; rather it is the reverse.
The Parliament has an undeniable obligation to legislate for the betterment of all citizens. The aura of silence that permeates this institution, the evasive statements made to the House by Ministers and the talk-a-lot say-nothing answers given to questions are not conducive to public participation in the fundamental of democracy, and that is informed public debate. Legislation for only the privileged few will lead to growing dissent from the not so privileged. The taking of unwilling people along inhospitable paths to satisfy the blood lust of other nations will lead to dissent from the people. The continued absence of sophisticated weapons and the reliance on conscripted soldiers for military adventures to the detriment of Australia’s defence will lead to dissent. This Parliament must make itself democratically responsible for the wellbeing and safety of all its citizens. Tt is time to be logical, not emotional, and freedom must be returned as the right of alt. Opinions that are not popular have the right to be expressed without the holder of those opinions being labelled a Communist. The reasons for dissent must be examined and a contemporary look taken at solutions. The Government can no longer complacently rely on the great silent masses, as it learned to its horror last October. Silence does not always give consent; sometimes it reflects disgust.
I was pleased to hear honourable members on the Government side of the House declare their support for equality of opportunity for the education of all Australian children. I trust I shall see the same honourable members practice the sentiments that they have expressed. I should be pleased to welcome their voting with us when next the question of educational opportunities is debated.
His Excellency in his Speech said that a training scheme for married and single women who, for domestic reasons, have not previously been employed will be introduced. I laud this action and commend it to the House, especially if my impressions are correct. The first inference I draw is that there is a shortage of workers in some areas and that women workers are to be injected into the labour field. I believe that these female workers are being trained to fulfil a need in the work force - as I have said, to supplement a shortage of workers. If this is the case then these women workers will perform an important function. If their function is important then the functions performed by their sisters already engaged in industry and commerce are no less important.
I trust that it is implicit in the proposal that all women engaged in industry and commerce are indispensable and are needed. They are thus entitled to an equal share of the values that they create, the same as their male counterparts, and I am pleased to see that His Excellency’s Government at last has recognised the danger of exploitation of the female work force purely on the ground of sex and the danger of the replacement of the male work force in many areas with a female work force receiving a lower rate of pay. I expect that His Excellency’s Government, on recognising these dangers, intends to introduce legislation to give equal pay to its female employees and thereby give a lead to industry and commerce to recognise the important role of female workers. Sir, His Excellency’s Government shall have my full support when it introduces this legislation for equal pay for the sexes. I express my thanks to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and to honourable members who have listened to me in silence. I realise that when next it is my privilege to address this honourable assembly the silence may not be so intense.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to congratulate the honourable members for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) and Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) on two very thoughtful and well prepared speeches. I wish them both well during their stay in this Parliament. I was pleased, particularly, with the honesty with which the honourable member for Burke reaffirmed the Socialist platform of the Australian Labor Party because so often this has been swept under the carpet, particularly at election times.
I wish to speak in this debate on a matter taking place at this very moment, one which I regard as being of considerable concern to Australia. I refer to the invasion of Laos by the armies of North Vietnam. Today the Australian’ newspaper devoted an entire page to the war in Laos. The heading at the top of the page was: ‘Communist troops poised outside Royal city - 3-front advance threatens Luang Prabang.’ It is estimated that at least 50,000 North Vietnamese troops are involved in the invasion of Laos. They have occupied the Plain of Jars and have pressed westward to Muong Soui after capturing Xieng Khouang, the airfield. At the same time Chinese Communists are in the process of constructing a first-class military road from the Chinese border through Laos to the border of Thailand. This, of course, is causing considerable concern to the Thai Government which knows that along with Laos and Cambodia, Thailand would be the next to go if the Communists succeeded in the takeover of South Vietnam.
Last Wednesday the Prime Minister of Laos, Prince Souvanna Phouma, made a dramatic call to the United States of America for assistance stating that Laos would be taken over by North Vietnam unless America came to that country’s aid. He said:
Without United States air support, the entire country will become Communist - the entire country will be taken over by North Vietnam.
This statement was made at the same time as the Communists in Laos were claiming to have killed, captured or wounded 6,000 Royal Laotian troops in the Plain of Jars.
The Communists are using the very same tactics in Laos that they have employed so successfully in South Vietnam. They are utilising the puppet movement of the Pathet
Lao in the same way that they used the Vietcong. The North Vietnamese refuse, of course, to admit that they have any troops in Laos, just as they denied, for so long, that North Vietnamese troops were involved in South Vietnam. I think, Sir, that only Wilfred Burchett still believes that fiction.
How can this continual march southward of aggressive Communism be halted? Thanks to the efforts of the demonstrators in the United States, thanks to the McGoverns, the Mansfields and the Fulbrights, and thanks to the efforts of the Australian Labor Party and the left wing peace movements in Australia, public opinion both in the United States and Australia has been so conditioned that some people would prefer to wash their hands of the whole affair, conveniently forgetting the lessons of 1939. One factor which cannot be discounted is the subversion of the public mind. This has been carefully and cleverly carried out by certain forces in this country. I believe that this has reached proportions of national and international concern.
Although at this very moment North Vietnamese troops are invading Laos and killing and driving out its peaceful inhabitants, not a word of protest has come from the people who demonstrate so vehemently against the war in Vietnam. Not one word of protest has come from the Labor Party despite the fact that 68 Federal Labor parliamentarians have agreed to act as sponsors, along with Communists and others, at the proposed moratorium to be held against the assistance we are giving South Vietnam to resist Communist aggression. Not a word has come from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) who was reported to be the main sponsor of a motion to this effect at the recent Federal Executive meeting of his Party. Presumably, Sir, he has decided to throw his hand in with the left at long last.
On the 1-day sitting of this Parliament following the recent election this House was kept in session until 1 a.m. whilst the honourable members for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns), Oxley (Mr Hayden) and the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) attacked the United States over the unfortunate killing of villagers in Song My village in South Vietnam; a village which, nonetheless, harboured Communist forces. Shortly, no doubt, we will be hearing from the right honourable member for Melbourne that the war in Laos is a dirty, cruel, immoral, unwinnable civil war and that we should close our eyes to it, as he advocates in the case of Vietnam. Not a voice of concern for Laos has been raised by the anti-war fanatics, the banner wavers, the demonstrators, the deluded academics, the misguided churchmen or the left wing peace bodies always so eager to denounce the defence of South Vietnam. Yet the North Vietnamese invasions of Laos and of South Vietnam are as naked and as brutal acts of aggression as anything Hitler ever did in Europe. History has proved only too well that aggression, if allowed to succeed, leads only to greater conflict.
As the Laotian Prime Minister pointed out, the North Vietnamese troops are suppressing and killing Laotian people and already have uprooted more than 700,000 Laotians from their homes and villages. Here, surely, is the kind of oppression which should have the peace crusaders marching in the streets - that is, if they are sincere. Here surely is an opportunity for the 68 honourable members of the Labor Party to march against Communist aggression. Unfortunately their voices are silent. The only voice to be heard is that of Soviet Russia which sees fit to denounce the United States for what it calls the ‘barbarous bombing of Laotian territory’. No doubt in the near future we will be hearing similar denunciations from the honourable members for Lalor, Oxley and Wills (Mr Bryant) - not, of course, forgetting the ‘unwinnable’ right honourable member for Melbourne.
I hold in my hand, Sir, a cartoon by Tanner which was published last Saturday in the Melbourne ‘Age’. The cartoon depicts a huge domino flattening the Laotian people and a young cub reporter asking: ‘As a Laotian, do you believe in the domino theory?’ Obviously it is too late for the Laotian to reply but what an apt summing up of the whole situation is this illustration. Let us only hope that Australia never will be depicted as having been flattened by the same domino.
At the very time that the Labor Party is trying so hard to prove the Government wrong over Vietnam the Government is being proved so right by the North Vietnamese attacks on Laos. Today the front page of the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ carries the heading: ‘Cambodians sack Red embassies’. The article states:
Thousands of young Cambodians today sacked the North Vietnamese and Vietcong Embassies here in a massive outburst of popular indignation against continued Communist infiltration into the country.
I do not like attaching names such as domino to facts or theories but there is no doubt that if Vietnam goes, or even if it does not, it will be only a matter of time before the Communists take over in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Only recently the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) challenged the Government to give good reasons for not immediately withdrawing all Australian forces from Vietnam. The credibility of the war’, he said, has been reduced to ashes’. I say to the honourable gentleman that there are no ashes, thanks to the intervention of the United States and Australia, and not only is the fire still burning in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, but even further afield the kindling is being set up.
The honourable gentleman would be well advised to take another look at the situation. He accused the Australian Government of adopting a callous and indifferent attitude to civilians in Vietnam. I was in Vietnam last July and I saw the effect of the brutal Communists attacks. I saw what the Communists are doing to innocent men, women and children in that country, and as a Christian I was proud of what the Australians are doing to protect the South Vietnamese people from Communist attacks. I saw a Vietnamese boy aged 14 who had his legs blasted away by a Vietcong rocket which had been fired indiscriminately into his village. His life was saved by an Australian medical team, but only after the wreckage of both his legs had been amputated. Do honourable members opposite seriously suggest that it would be morally right just to sit by and allow this sort of thing to go on?
Despite what the Labor Party says, the Communists have been stopped in Vietnam. We may never be able to eradicate them completely any more than you can eradicate thieves, brigands or murderers in the Australian society. But they have been checked. When I was in Vietnam last July a high ranking Australian official with whom I stayed told me that President Theiu has said to him that by March this year 90% of the towns and villages in South Vietnam would be under Government control. 1 asked whether this was an optimistic statement and he replied: ‘Maybe, but I have no doubt that 87% will be under Government control’. It was with a great deal of satisfaction that I read in the ‘Australian’ last Wednesday that, according to a new evaluation, 87.9% of the South Vietnamese population now lived in relative security under the Saigon Government’s control. This point was well emphasised recently when South Vietnamese cyclists conducted a bicycle race throughout the length of South Vietnam and not one of them was harmed. Had the policies advocated by the Labor Party been in operation this position would never have been achieved.
The Labor Party would now scuttle all this by wrongly claiming that the Americans are getting out of Vietnam and that we should do likewise. How the Communists and their friends in Australia and the United States would applaud if this were truly the case. They would then be free to clean up Laos and move on to Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and places beyond. While in Nui Dat last year I was told by the Commander of the Australian Task Force there of the success being achieved in training South Vietnamese units, and the opinion was expressed to me that the time was rapidly approaching when the South Vietnamese forces would be able to take over more and more of the protection of their own country.
We are witnessing today under the Nixon doctrine of Vietnamisation the implementation of this very fact. Despite the Fulbrights, the McGoverns and the Mansfields, the United States does not intend to desert the South Vietnamese people in their struggle, and as long as the Labor Party remains on the Opposition benches in this country neither will Australia. Only last week I listened to Sir Robert Thompson, the British insurgency expert, who was in Canberra. As honourable members well know. Sir Robert Thompson is credited with much of the strategy that prevented the attempted Communist takeover of Malaya some 10 years ago. Although he is a Britisher he has now been called in by President Nixon as an adviser on the conduct of the Vietnam war. I would like to read his views as published in the ‘Australian’ on February 25th last. Under the heading ‘Vietnam Pull-out Would Threaten Australia’ the following article is set out:
The immediate withdrawal of all allied troops from south Vietnam would post a major threat of Communist aggression to Australia, Sir Robert Thompson, the British insurgency expert, said yesterday
He said Australia would be under a continual threat over the next 5 to 10 years.
South Vietnam has been the holding ground against Communist aggression for the last IS to 20 years’, Sir Robert told a Press conference in Canberra.
Australia is in a completely isolated position and with a complete immediate withdrawal would find itself surrounded by hostile governments’, he said.
A total withdrawal at this stage would be psychologically bad for South Vietnam,’ he said. “The present method of partial withdrawals is the best possible way in which the situation in South Vietnam can be handled.
I would put far more faith in the views of Sir Robert Thompson, who has a reputation for success in dealing with Communists, than in the views of the Labor Party, which has proved itself completely incapable of dealing with Communist influence within its own Party. Sir Robert said here in Canberra that he was surprised at the progress that had been made in Vietnam in the past 12 to 15 months and that so much had been accomplished in such a short time. If the present progress is allowed to continue the position will be even stronger. If we and the United States were to walk out and surrender South Vietnam to the North, which is virtually what the Labor Party advocates, what hope would any Asian country have against Communist aggression? If the Communists know that they will always be supported by certain people in the United States and Australia and the governments of nonCommunist countries in Asia know they will not be supported, we will reach a dangerous situation. This situation is remarkably parallel to that existing in Europe in the 1930s when we witnessed the aggression of Hitler.
The picture in Vietnam today is good. As I said earlier, some 87% of the population is now under Government control. There is no problem in recruiting men into the South Vietnamese forces. The Vietcong ranks are seriously depleted and the gaps have to be filled by North Vietnamese troops. Some units which were formerly Vietcong units are now made up of anything from 30% to 80% of North Vietnamese. Even last July when I was in Vietnam the Communists had been reduced to harrassing actions. They are apparently in no position to mount a major offensive. The allies only wish they would, because they could be dealt a severe blow. The North Vietnamese know that, from their position, the war is militarily unwinnable. They are relying on their friends and sympathisers in the United States and Australia to so soften public opinion that what they cannot achieve on the battlefield they will achieve by other means.
But there are other problems ahead for the South Vietnamese. With an increase in their armed forces from 600,000 to over 1 million in a country with a population of 16 million it is only natural that severe strains have been placed on the economy. The policy of this Government and the Government of the United States has been proven right in South Vietnam. But we are not in Vietnam just to help the South Vietnamese repulse the invasion from the North; we are there to demonstrate a political will and to show the people of Asia that they will be given assistance if they stand up to Communist aggression. This is a vital psychological factor on which the whole freedom of South East Asia and, in the long run, the whole freedom of this island continent of ours may depend. Nixon has conducted a very difficult exercise with his policy of Vietnamisation, but his policy is proving successful. The people are going back to their villages from the big towns, things are gettting back to normal and more and more Vietcong are surrendering daily. The Vietnamese people are becoming more confident of their responsibilities.
The invasion of Laos is, as much as anything else, an attempt to force the President of the United States by pressure from within to speed up the American withdrawal before the South Vietnamese are fully prepared to take the major share of the burden of their own defence. During the past decade we have seen the Communists defeated in Malaya; we have seen them stopped by only a hair’s breadth in Indonesia; we have seen them halted in Vietnam. The pressure is now building up in Laos,
Cambodia and Thailand. In Monday morning’s edition of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ there was an excellent leading article. I would like to read from it briefly because I think it sets out the position very clearly. It said:
That Thailand is next on the list for a ‘war of national liberation’ there is no question at all. The Communists have already done a great deal to prepare the ground for it. According to the Bangkok Government, and there is no reason to doubt it, no fewer than 36 of Thailand’s 71 provinces are now ‘infiltrated by Communist guerillas’. Meanwhile the strategic road which the Chinese military are constructing in Northern Laos creeps steadily nearer to the Thai border.
The article goes on:
Whether the blow against Thailand fails sooner or later, only a fool or a dupe would suppose that the boundaries of Indo-China set the bounds of Communist ambitions.
I commend that to honourable members opposite because I think it is a very true statement.
The ‘domino theory’, so often scoffed at by honourable members opposite, is well under way. There is much truth in the often heard remark that it is better to stop Communist aggression before it reaches our shores. Australians, whenever they go to vote, must be ever conscious of the weakkneed, isolationist defence policy of the Labor Party. No country was ever made a present of freedom, and Australia is no exception. [Quorum formed.]
– As this is the first time that I have spoken in this chamber since I returned to the Parliament I would like to pay respect to the person after whom my electorate was named. I refer to the late Ben Chifley who was a Prime Minister of this country. I believe that it is very fitting that a monument should be made by naming the electorate after such a very great Australian and a very great Labor leader. Chif was a man who combined all the very essential human qualities of dignity, warmth, great capacity and great strength with toughness. He forged his way up from the bottom by sheer native ability. He represented a part of the electorate that I now represent. In those days the electorate of Macquarie roamed over the hills which the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) now represents, down to the areas of Mount Druitt and Rooty Hill which are now parts of the new electorate of Chifley.
Chif understood the problems of the great mass of ordinary Australian people, the type of people who go to make up my electorate and the people who are the future of this country. I say once again that it is very fitting that the electorate should have been named after him. I am very proud to represent an electorate bearing that name.
I would like first of all to make a few comments on what was said by the previous speaker, the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman). I think most people are aware that I would not be, by any stretch of the imagination, a friend of the Communists. I have been assistant secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party for some years. I think I would know a little more about the subject than the honourable member for Deakin. I can only say that the tendency towards extreme bitterness, the tendency not to have enough balance and to attack this problem in the way the honourable member attacked it can only go to help the very people he says he wishes to defeat. We must remember that Australia has to live on the edge of Asia for many hundreds of years to come. It is very important that we do not set ourselves up too much as the white policemen of Asia, because that is the very type of thing which will play right into the hands of the Communist Party. When honourable members opposite look at the policies which they espouse they should remember that this is not all just black and white. The problem of Communism has to be tackled very carefully, with considerable balance and without too much bitterness, because that would only breed the very thing they are trying to defeat.
I wish to speak today mainly in support of the underprivileged and disadvantaged sections of our community. These sections are very small in terms of numbers. They have little voting power and accordingly their influence and ability to overcome and rectify the problems with which they are faced are all the harder. We live today in an affluent society but there are many sections of the community which are not enjoying affluence by any stretch of the imagination. I want to refer firstly to the position of the deserted wife. I would like the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) to have a look at some of the policies which are being carried out under his authority as the ministerial head of the Department. First of all there is the fact that before a deserted wife can receive assistance from the Commonwealth she has to be deserted for a period of 6 months. Admittedly, she gets a small allowance because of the good offices of the State governments. Until quite recently the Victorian Government did not give her anything at all. The State governments do give something, but before she can receive any assistance from the Commonwealth Government she must be deserted for a period of 6 months. That is the period, just after she has been deserted, when she is probably going through more turmoil than she will go through for the rest of her life. Surely that problem can be removed. If it is good enough for the State governments to give some assistance immediately - which is much less, admittedly, than the Commonwealth finally gives - then it is good enough for the Commonwealth to do it.
The same thing applies with maintenance orders. Before a deserted wife can receive a deserted wife’s pension she must have taken out a maintenance order against her husband. Why? I know the argument is used that this is to discourage the husband from leaving his wife, but the facts of life are that this has happened before the necessary action to obtain a maintenance order has been carried out. So it does not act in any way as a restraint upon the husband. But it does have the effect that in many instances it removes the last opportunity for the reconciliation of the couple. The chances of reconciliation are there until such time as the wife takes legal action against her husband. From that time on the possibility of bringing them together is completely removed. In any event, let us face reality. The facts are that maintenance orders are not policed effectively. The police departments do very little towards policing maintenance orders. In other words it is purely a matter of form but is insisted upon by the Commonwealth Government. Furthermore, there is no allowance given for children born out of marriage. I think we should look at this position from the point of view that it is not the fault of the children themselves and for that reason they should not be discriminated against.
I would also like to deal with the question of civilian widows, another section of the community, once again very small and once again with very little influence, but whose plight is all the more difficult as a result of this because there is not the same tendency for governments to correct the injustices which exist. I recall that when I was previously a member of the House, 1 drew attention to the disparity between a war widow’s pension and a civilian widow’s pension. I am a returned serviceman but I cannot for the life of me understand why there should be these two grades as far as widows are concerned.
If a woman loses her husband as a result of war injuries or sickness caused by his war service and she has three children she receives $36.40 per week. On the other hand, if a woman’s husband dies at 35 or 40 years of age and leaves her with three children she gets $26.50 per week. This is in a society and in an economy where the average weekly earnings as at the September 1969 quarter was $72.80 per week. A civilian widow receives $26.50 when the average weekly earning is $72.80. Why is there this dual basis of assessing the wants and the needs of widows? One, a war widow, still gets too small a pension but she at least gets more than the other widow - $10 per week more compared to what is paid to the civilian widow.
The same thing, of course, applies in respect of invalid pensioners - people invalided at a time in life when they have responsibilities of bringing up and educating their family. But once again they cannot get anything like the pension, as a result of that invalidity, that they would get if they were invalided as a result of war service. Say we wanted to increase civilian widow’s pensions by $10 per week - to bring them up in one go to the pension paid to war widows. There were 38,038 Class A widow pensioners at 30th June last year and accordingly the cost of this increase would be a matter of $20m. Surely something should be done at this stage to try to correct this injustice because by doing so at least we would satisfy a national conscience which is crying out aloud at the problems of the civilion widow, the deserted wife and the invalid pensioner.
Another issue that offends against the national conscience is housing for aged persons. Today we live in a society where the life expectancy is increasing, where the wife works and the husband works. It is a different type of society from that which existed in the early part of the century where elderly people naturally came to the homes of their children and were looked after. Yet, we find that there is an increasing problem in this changing society. Whilst I realise that this Parliament has started to move in these directions, what has been done is only a drop in the bucket as it were, compared with the problem which does exist.
In New South Wales alone the number of eligible applications to the New South Wales Housing Commission by elderly single persons for accommodation was 5,256 as at 30th June 1968 and for elderly couples was 1,245 at the same date. The average waiting time for the former was 4i years and for the latter 3i years. Let us face reality - that is not a true figure. When people who come to my office about this problem are told what the waiting list is, they do not even bother to make an application to the Housing Commission. So the figures I have given are not even realistic ones. Surely the time has come when the Commonwealth must move in to assist people in this category.
The same problem applies in respect of geriatrics because once again, for exactly the same reasons - because of the changing society, because of the economy we live in and which is proposed, advocated and assisted by this Government - the wife and husband both work and cannot look after their elderly sick parents who require assistance.
– They put them in a mental hospital.
– That is correct. Halt the time they are put into places where they live in misery for the rest of their lives. Once again I know that the Parliament has started to realise the position - to have a conscience - and to give some assistance in this respect. But the big requirement today is for more organisations, such as the Governor Phillip Special Hospital at Penrith, to be given assistance. This hospital is run by the State Government and not by a charitable organisation. The provision of such hospitals is a right and they should not be supported by charity; they should not be left to those private organisations which can make a profit out of misery. This is the type of proposal that should be brought forward and in respect of which assistance should be given by this Parliament to the States to enable them to establish geriatric functions and hospitals for our aged people.
I would like to quote from the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 6th December 1968 which pointed out that there was a 1,500 bed shortage in Victorian hospitals for aged people and that the waiting list had increased by 300% between 1960 and 1968. The ‘Age’ of 9th October 1968 pointed out that at 30th June 1968 State homes for the aged had a capacity of 3,780 beds and the waiting list was 4,649 - many more than the number of beds available. The same thing applies in respect of handicapped children, another small section of the community. It does not have much voting power or much influence but it requires help. These things must challenge the conscience of this Parliament. The Government is entering this field once again, but its contribution is only a drop in the bucket. There should be a provision for financial aid to the States to ensure that facilities are made available for our disadvantaged children.
Another aspect of social services legislation which does need correction - we have another dual type of responsibility here - is the wife’s allowance. An aged pensioner is not paid a wife’s allowance if she is under the age of 60 unless she and her husband have at least one child under 16 in their care, or the husband is incapacitated or is 70 years of age and not fully employed. Not only does she not receive another pension; she does not even receive a wife’s allowance. If the wife of an invalid pensioner is, say, 59 or 55 he receives a pension but she does not. She receives only a wife’s allowance. Honourable members should look at the difference. The combined marriage rate pension is $26.50 whereas a pension for one person plus a wife’s allowance is $22. In other words, it they receive only a pension plus a wife’s allowance they lose $4.50 as compared with the couple who have both reached the pensionable age.
– They are both inadequate.
– I quite agree. I suggest that this is one aspect of the social services legislation which today needs review. In the time available I would like to touch on the very important issue of assistance to the perimeter areas of our great cities. The electorate of Chifley is one. These are areas where private development and private investment - and, for that matter, public investment such as Housing Commission projects and the like - are fast outstripping the services available. I would like some honourable members to go to the Mount Druitt housing settlement and have a look at the situation there where there are no playing fields and no facilities for the children. In two of the suburbs the average number of children to each house is four. Young people are growing up into teenagers. There are no halls for dances or enjoyment and there are no playing fields, and this state of affairs is setting up a decided problem for the parents in looking after these children.
It is very important that this Parliament should allocate funds to the States directly earmarked for the development of the outer perimeter areas of the great cities; for the provision of the extra educational facilities required and the extra forms of education required; for the provision of the necessary local government finance for roads, footpaths, playing fields, public halls and the rest; and for the provision of the necessary transport facilities. The main western line simply will not be able to handle the traffic of people going to and from work from the areas running from Penrith in the electorate of Macquarie into Mount Druitt and St Marys in my area. There is also a need for the provision of sewerage, a very great necessity but sadly deficient in these areas.
I would like to draw attention also to the dangers of overseas investment and in particular to the question of portfolio investment. Over the last 10 years there has been an induction - this does not include the latest portfolio investment as a result of the mining share rush recently - of portfolio investment of an amount of SI, 560m. As at December 1969 our overseas funds stood at S 1,143m. That figure does not take into account Australian branches and Australian subsidies of overseas companies. This Government is overcoming its balance of payments difficulties by the induction of this capital, this portfolio investment. The main warning I wish to give here is that this could be withdrawn overnight because of some sort of scare or some other set of circumstances, political or economic, and that withdrawal could place this country, as far as our reserves are concerned, virtually in a position of bankruptcy. I think it is well and truly time that the Treasury reconsidered its policies in this matter because they could have a very decisive effect upon the future stability of Australia.
Finally, I once again make an appeal to this Parliament to have a look at the situation of those underprivileged sections of our community, small in numbers, who have such very great problems; those underprivileged sections of the community which do not have the influence because they do not have the voting power but whose problems nevertheless are far greater than those of most of the rest of the people living in this very affluent society. Until these things are looked at the conscience of this country and the conscience of this Parliament cannot be satisfied.
– In speaking to the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech on the occasion of the commencement of this sessional period I want to say that this Speech indicated a legislative programme which I am sure will be to the continuing advantage of this country. It highlighted some of the developments that have taken place in the last 20 years under the control of this Government and some of the opportunities that face Australia in the future. Before I go on to general comments I just want to make reference to one matter, that is, the proposed Industry Development Corporation. There has been a degree of criticism of this suggestion based, I am sure, on a lack of understanding and a teck of appreciation of the reason for the establishment of this Corporation. I do not want to make a long comment on it because at the moment the details have still to be presented, but this is something that has been of concern to many people over a period.
We fully appreciate that overseas capital is necessary for the development of this country but thought must also be given to the retention by this country of control of those industries that are vital to our development. One illustration of this was given in recent weeks when there was comment about the development in this country of industries to process - if I may use that term - those minerals which are taken from our soil, and the tremendous advantage that there would be to this country in employment and economic terms if this were brought about. These are the things to which great consideration must be given and these are the things, of course, to which this Corporation will turn its attention.
One of the major matters that I want to speak about at the moment is primary industry. In the last few days a great deal of consideration and thought have been given to its problems. I want to comment not only on our primary industry but also its relationship to the world situation. I have said before in this House, and I repeat it, that one thing that causes me a deal of amazement is that in so many instances the people who are highly critical of assistance being given to the primary industries are the greatest supporters of tariff protection and other support for secondary industries.
I do not object to support being given to secondary industry in Australia. 1 appreciate that there is a need in the development of Australia for secondary industries to be established. The members of my Party appreciate this and so we who are concerned in the main for primary industry are also aware that secondary industry provides one of the best markets for the products grown or produced by the primary producer. These people who criticise immediately there is any suggestion of support being given to primary industry fail to look at the complete picture. Some of the problems and difficulties of primary industry are created because of the attention that has to be given to the establishment of secondary industry. In saying that, I am not unmindful of the complexity of the situation. If unlimited assistance is provided, there is overproduction; the problem is not solved but, in many instances, is made more difficult. On the other hand this complexity also applies to secondary industry. The people who constantly say that this should not be done and that should not be done for the primary producer are great advocates for assistance to secondary industry.
So far as efficiency is concerned, in any section of the community or in any group there are inefficient people. However, I would ask anybody who levels a charge of inefficency against primary producers to come to my electorate to see the degree of efficiency that has been attained in the primary industries there. A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting of factory executives who were discussing methods of increasing efficiency in their industry. At meetings of farmers’ organisations efficiency and ways of cutting down costs are two major considerations. These people realise that this is a means by which they can contribute to solving their own problems. And they are solving them. Because they are doing this I believe that the Federal Government should give them the assistance they really need.
Another aspect to be considered is decentralisation. Primary industry - particularly the dairying industry in my electorate - is contributing to decentralisation. If we are to talk about decentralisation then we should give consideration to the industries and groups of people already in country areas. Let me develop this theme a little more. We have been told from a number of quarters that there is going to be a food problem for the world’s population. One way by which we can contribute to solving this problem is by assisting to improve the standard of living in other countries so that the people there can buy the products of primary industry. If we are going to have a world food problem surely this is another reason why we should sustain our primary industries. If areas are lost to primary production then, as anyone who has had experience of this knows, they cannot be brought back into production overnight. It takes time to reestablish these industries. For these reasons I say that we should give careful consideration to the continuance of assistance to these industries. We do not suggest, and neither do the industries concerned, that such assistance should be given without consideration. This has been one of the dominating points made by the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr McEwen) and by the Government. The Government will provide assistance in conjunction with and after consultation with the industry concerned. The reason is obvious. It is appreciated that people associated with the day to day problems and circumstances of the industry can supply the best advice because of their close relationship with it. It is wise to have consultation because there can be times when the person closely involved perhaps cannot see the wood for the trees. There is a continuing policy by this Government and my Party to work with industry for the development and progress of primary industry.
I should like to comment now on the question of assistance from what I have on previous occasions called the major industrial countries. Sometimes the United States of America, the United Kingdom and some of the major European countries have failed to accept a responsibility or grasp an opportunity. It is in the world sphere that these major industrial countries can make a valuable contribution. I illustrate this by saying that there is not much value in giving an under developed country $20m financial assistance if the price of that country’s exports declines on the world market and it loses, as a consequence, $10m in export earnings. This means that while the country has received a financial gift of $20m it has netted only $10m. To some extent there is, on occasion, resentment in a country that has received financial assistance, especially when the financial assistance has not been of real value. Then, of course, there is double resentment. This is a sphere of activity to which the major industrial countries must give further attention.
I have criticised the United Nations on a number of occasions. As a political organisation there is a degree of futility in the United Nations. The great strength of the United Nations is in its agencies which have performed a tremendous task in the world in this 20th century. I believe it is through committees and organisations such as those within the United Nations that much of value can be achieved. For these reasons I would emphasise the need for assistance to be given to our primary producers and for assistance to be given in the field of decentralisation. We must do more to encourage decentralisation. Let us not talk about it but really do something. I do not suggest that we have not made any contribution towards decentralisation but in the next few years we must do more to establish people in country areas.
I notice that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) is seated at the table. I congratulate him on his announcement of the appointment of a Vietnam repatriation officer in each State. I regret that the announcement did not receive the publicity it deserved. The appointment follows the Minister’s visit to wounded veterans of the war in Vietnam. Nothing but good can come from the appointment. In part the Press release relating to the appointment stated:
Further, it would assist in countering their evident psychological impression that many Australians were taking their service for granted.
If it achieves only that purpose the appointment will be of tremendous value, but 1 believe it will have even greater value. I congratulate the Minister on the step he has taken. I have been one of the strongest supporters of the Government’s actions in Vietnam. Our sincerity will be measured by the way we treat returned servicemen from Vietnam after they have made their contribution to the safety and security of Australia.
I want to comment briefly on one or two other matters. I congratulate the Government on its recent announcement that the scope of the homes savings grant scheme would be extended, but I believe that the scheme should be investigated further. There is a problem posed when a young couple, for business or other reasons, is forced to build a home in an area where the price of land is extremely high. The price of the land is a major component in the total price of the home, which is restricted if the couple is to receive the ‘benefits of the Government’s $500 grant. In such circumstances the value of the home unit is often lower than would be the case if it were built on cheaper land in another area. I cannot see a way out of this problem but it is something which the Government might investigate with a view to ensuring that a prospective home owner is not denied the benefit of the grant because of the cost of the land upon which he proposes to build his home.
We should examine carefully the activities of the Postmaster-General’s Department. A telephone service, which is a necessity for country people, costs ten times as much in country areas as it does in a metropolitan area. In addition, metropolitan residents do not have the same urgent requirement for a telephone because so often there is a telephone available close by. In country areas the nearest telephone may be some distance away. I appreciate that things are being done. I appreciate what the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme) has said about the cost of installing one telephone or delivering one letter, but if decentralisation is to work we must provide incentives through the auspices of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. For the same reason I still have doubts about the wisdom of increasing interest rates. My personal feeling is that increased interest rates do not necessarily damp down inflation. There is a danger that industries that might be described as not so necessary will be able to pay the higher interest rates and so all we will achieve is the channelling of money into those industries that are not of such vital importance to the country. The matter of interest rates must be examined, even if it means providing a differential rate of interest for primary industries and certain other pursuits. Perhaps the central bank might see whether it is possible to devise a graduated scale of interest rates for certain spheres of activity. A good deal has been said about local government. This is a problem that demands our attention. Properly handled, local government represents another avenue by which the Commonwealth can assist decentralisation. I am aware of the danger that the more control a central government gets the more centralised becomes ymir administration and therefore there is a greater danger of centralisation rather than decentralisation, but I still think it is necessary that these matters be examined so that we might encourage the dispersal of our population from the capital cities into the country areas rather than encourage the development of city areas into even greater areas and so create greater problems of centralisation.
I wish to speak briefly about responsibility. We have heard a great deal about this gentleman Burchett and his right to receive a passport and do all the things he is entitled to do. A citizen has rights and privileges but surely he also has responsibilities. Many people in this country today speak about the rights and privileges of people but not enough people in Australia - I include many academics and clerics - speak about a person’s responsibilities. We have a responsibility of citizenship. If what I might call the propaganda media of this country is to continue to enjoy the privilege of the freedom of the Press, radio and television, it must accept the other postulate which is the duty of the Press, radio and television - responsibility. I do not want to go over the ground already covered by the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) and others, who gave the example of what has happened in Laos and drew attention to the lack of criticism from those who are only too willing to rush into print with statements about Vietnam. If we talk too much about rights and privileges and not enough about what goes with them we tend to weaken the fibre of this nation. Let us remember that the privilege of citizenship has been won for us by the sacrifice and service of many people. With that privilege goes the responsibility not to betray those who have made that sacrifice. So when we talk of the rights and privileges of people such as Burchett we must also emphasise the responsibility of citizenship and service which they owe to the community. [Quorum formed.]
– Before calling the honourable member for Franklin, I would remind honourable members that this is his maiden speech. I ask that he be extended the usual courtesies.
- Mr Speaker, before I begin my speech, I wish to thank the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) for compressing and restricting the time of his speech. This will enable me to have the full exercise of my time. I am very conscious of the responsibility of making a first speech in this Parliament. Indeed, it is a somewhat awesome occasion for a new member with the reputations of monumental figures of past parliaments to remind one of the contributions made in debate and comment in this the national Parliament.
Let me say immediately that I am honoured and delighted to be here as the newly elected member for Franklin, an, electorate that returns to the Labor Party after an absence of some 23 years. I would, like also to pay a tribute to my predecessor for a vigorous but very fair campaign. I still think that there ought to be some generosity in politics.
Franklin returns to the Labor Party at a time when the electorate - indeed, the whole State of Tasmania - is faced with, very many difficult and varied problemsOne of its major problems is in the area of communication. It is this theme of communication that I would like to develop* later in this speech. As an island State,. Tasmania is not favoured with much of the advantage of, and the largesse that is. bestowed upon, mainland States. Tasmania, is almost wholly dependent upon sea communications for its economic survival. Its. very geographical isolation accentuates and’ underlines this problem. It is in this respectthat many of my own electors and, indeed, the people of Tasmania feel that they areentitled to a more sympathetic and generous consideration than has been shown up to’ this time.
The difficulties being experienced by the primary producer - and here I referspecifically to the producers of apples and pears in my own electorate - are enormous. This electorate which produces two-thirds: of the fruit exports of Tasmania faces, insurmountable odds and problems because of the increasing uncertainty and the cost of sea communications. We are in effect totally at the mercy and, indeed, the whims, of overseas shipping companies. There is in Tasmania a feeling of resentment that we are being shabbily treated in this most important area of communication. Now, we do not ask for charity, but merely a fair deal, consistent with what is being granted to the other States. Because of our geographical isolation from the main tradingports of this nation, the primary producer - the apple and the pear grower - is entitled to some special consideration. The question - and a very important question - of containerisation, for example, is stilt unresolved as far as we are concerned.
If the fruit industry in the electorate that I have the honour to represent is not only to prosper but indeed to survive, there must be a far more sympathetic and realistic approach here in the seat of the national Parliament. In the debate on the discussion of the matter of public importance so ably presented by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) in this House last week, we were described by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) as carrying ‘a tale of gloom and panic into the electorate’; and that debate was subsequently gagged. I invite the Minister to ride into the Huon area of my electorate and repeat those words to the apple and pear growers of southern Tasmania. Again, I repeat, we have special problems as an island State, a State that has made and will continue to make a very substantial contribution to not only itself but to this entire nation.
May I say very briefly, Mr Speaker, that we in Tasmania are most apprehensive and very disturbed at the continuing troubles that are plaguing the ‘Empress of Australia’. We are indeed, Sir. A very substantial part of our tourist trade is being sacrificed, to say nothing of the inconvenience caused to so many people. I would urge the Government with all respect to take every possible action to see that Tasmania is not further penalised by this continuing festering sore that can do my State so much harm.
Let me say, Mr Speaker, that, having been elected to this place, that in spite of the cascade of vituperation and the reams of ridicule heaped upon and hurled at the Leader of the Opposition, I am very proud indeed to be here to reinforce his crusading zeal and his humanitarian approach to many contemporary problems as he endeavours to put into practice the blueprint for a revitalised Australia as we enter the challenges and the rewards of the ’70s.
I wish to express myself to the broader issues and themes of communications. This indeed is the age of communication, the age of transmitting one point of view and indeed many points of view. To do this, as we approach the last part of the twentieth century, we have very powerful and persuasive media. I firmly believe that we are in a uniquely wonderful position to inform, to persuade and to influence opinions at home and abroad if we use the sophisticated technological know-how with which we have been provided.
Sir, democracy is a faith, not a formula, and freedom in expressing intelligent opinions can only protect democracy and democratic government. I make a plea in this speech for a greater use of our propaganda facilities and indeed an extension of them. A leading figure of the Italian renaissance once said that ‘man is the measure of all things’. How true this is. It is this theme of many communicating with man, nation with nation, informing and, if you like, reforming, that I would like to develop.
What are some of the methods at our disposal? Well, we have the national Press. We have radio. We have television. We have the cinema. Let me touch for a moment if I may on the Australian News and Information Bureau, an admirable organisation staffed by diligent and intelligent people who are doing a great job of work. But more could be done by the allocation of more money and resources. For the year 1968-69 the expenditure of this Bureau was $2,743,164, which represents approximately 23c per head of population per annum. That is not a very large amount of money. I am glad to see that the allocation for 1969-70 is more than $3m. But, Mr Speaker, with all due respect, is this yet enough to conduct what is perhaps the biggest sales promotion we have to undertake and that is the promotion and selling of this nation? I suggest that we could do more - very much more.
Now I come to the field of television propaganda. For some extraordinary and inexplicable reason we lag behind the United Kingdom, the Republic of West Germany, France and Italy. All these countries provide free to television outlets in Australia magnificently produced and edited 16 millimeter programmes of between 12 and IS minutes duration, dealing with every facet of life and activity in those countries. If I may I will be specific and refer to such programmes as ‘Italian Panorama’, ‘French Panorama’, ‘Deutschland Spiegel’ and, of course, the British Commonwealth Office of Information programmes. Here - this is meant as a constructive suggestion - is an opportunity for the Government to make a concerted effort along the same lines. I have in mind that an imaginative distribution of programmes such as these might well have some appeal for the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden). The variety and quality of the programmes I have mentioned are both stimulating and provoking. We have in this country the talent, the imagination and the resourcefulness to do the same. As a former professional broadcaster, I believe that technically we have achieved an excellence that is unsurpassed anywhere in the world, but the quality must be improved and the volume must be increased. One of the great virtues of a democratic society is that there are no secrets; we give out the bad as well as the good.
Let me turn now to the field of radio propaganda. Here over the past decade one has seen enormous changes in techniques, particularly with some of the commercial stations, although at times I must confess they have not been altogether pleasant to the ear. The Australian Broadcasting Commission is making a notable contribution by way of its dedicated and conscientious officers. I was delighted to see the establishment of the Darwin booster station for Radio Australia, which began regular transmission on 20th December of last year. For the information of honourable members who may not know, I point out that this station was established at Cox Peninsula near Darwin at a cost of $8m. It is the largest and most powerful complex on its kind in Australia and I commend the Department for this exciting new broadcasting venture which will increase our effectiveness as a free voice in South and South East Asia. These are examples of the vital role that we in this nation can play in the future development and pacification of this greatly troubled and turbulent area, of which we are very much a part.
The Australian people today are perhaps better informed than they have been at any time in their history. The penetrative and persuasive power of television, the effectiveness of a sophisticated and developing radio technique and, of course, the daily Press have led to this result. These avenues of approach and the dissemination of opinions and points of view are making demands on political leaders as never before. Here, as a new member, I have the temerity to suggest that our leaders, both in the Government and on this side of the House, could be afforded time to comment, perhaps at the end of a parliamentary session, explaining to the people what has been done and how it has been done. I know there are many difficult problems to overcome, but I am certain that if we, as responsible members of this national Parliament, can convey to and be in touch with the people they will respond. We in this country have not yet begun to use television especially as a critical medium. We seem to be afraid of critical discussion. National leaders in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States use the medium far more effectively in terms of both volume and time than we do in this country. These views are put forward for digestion and thought by our political leaders, for I firmly believe that twentieth century politics demand a twentieth century approach.
Now, if I may, I turn to the broadcasting of proceedings of the Parliament. It would seem to me that the theory of broadcasting the proceedings of the Parliament is a splendid concept, but in practice it is a dismal failure. Some figures will show what I mean. The figures relate to New South Wales, but they will serve as a general guide. The rebroadcasting of question time, which follows the national news on ABC stations, enjoys an audience of some 14,000 listeners or something in the region of .07% in that State. Again on an average the audience listening to debates in the Parliament is only some 5,000 or .025%. These are figures for 1968 and I regret to say that the figures for 1969 reveal no increase in trend. This, I suggest, is a most disappointing state of affairs and we have to address ourselves to the reason or reasons for it.
Perhaps the Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings might well look at this issue. My own observations, after many hours of monitoring broadcasts from this Parliament, suggest to me that the answer might well lie in our own hands and in our own performance. It might well be a feasible proposition to allow the ABC more editorial comment on the debates rather than require the continual broadcasting of the proceedings. Again this is a delicate and difficult situation, but one that I think is worthy of consideration. I am a very firm believer in information and communication. With the enormous poten- tial and possibilities at our disposal, the incredible technological progress that has benefited and will continue to benefit our society, it is encumbent upon us to use the resources with a sense of purpose, skill and with dignity.
Now I want to turn to that vexed question of colour television. I think it is time that the Government made up its mind and was in a position to state with some clarity just what it proposes to do. There has been far too much procrastination on this mattter. I would like to remind the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme) that in a statement in August 1967 he emphasised that, when the Government was ready and had made a firm decision about the introduction of colour television, he would give the industry 18 months clear notice. That, I repeat, was in August 1967; this is March 1970. Time marches on, but still Australia has no colour television. With the greatest respect in the world I suggest it is time the colour bar was taken out of television.
Mr Speaker, this Government has a magnificent record for rejecting reports that it does not approve, or cannot or will not understand. There was the Vincent report on television, a document completed in 1963, 7 years ago - almost a decade - and what has been done? Just why was the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television set up? Its prime function, indeed its precise function, was the encouragement of Australian productions for television. Admittedly there have been some slight improvements but what has emerged in a practical and tangible form from the Vincent report? Which part or parts of that report have been given sinews? Which parts have been injected into the bloodstream of indigenous television production? Not very much at all. In fact, practically nothing.
Drama in Australia always has been the poor relation of the arts. I refer the House to recommendation No. 47 appearing at page 170 of the Vincent report. This relates to the prdouction of films. The recommendation was:
That the following assistance be made available to Australian companies engaged in producing films -
I am well aware that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has been reactivated and is giving some consideration to the Australian film industry but more needs to be done - a great deal more. But what really has been done apropos the Vincent report? What recommendations have been put into practice? This is the very question that many people in the industry are asking. What is the intention of the Government in this regard? Its intention is being questioned by writers, producers, actors and designers - the forgotten race of the Australian economic strata. For years we have allowed greatly talented people, creative people, to leave these shores, not only in dozens but in battalions, and we have done little or nothing to bring them back to this country where they want to create and to make some contribution to our cultural environment. I put the question: Are they any less important than mining companies or any other overseas investors? I suggest they are not. These people are disillusioned, dismayed and bewildered, as well they may be.
Mr Speaker, the encouragement, the development of the creative talent that we have is a responsibility that we all must share. I believe that if a nation is to be judged by posterity, if it is to be critically examined by historians, then the contribution we now make will be vital for the place we hold in an enlightened and cultural environment. Communication between men, whether by sound or picture, lifts us from the commonplace. We have it in our power, as I said earlier, to influence and persuade, to inform and to enlighten. We have the technological know-how; we have the talents and the creative energy. Let us use the talent and marshal the energy to provide information and communication with our fellow men. If we do this, Mr Speaker, we are serving our society, enriching our history and contributing not to the degradation and destruction of mankind but to his undoubted nobility.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hallett) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 10 March (vide page 247) on the following paper presented by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
Defence - Ministerial Statement, 10 March 1970 and on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the House take note of the paper.
Motion (by Mr Killen) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Deputy Leader of the
Opposition speaking without limitation of time.
– The defence statement that has been made by the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is the first significant defence statement made since 2nd May 1968. On that occasion the former Minister, now Sir Allen Fairhall, delivered to the House an abridgment of what was intended to be a new defence review. This followed the expiry of the term of the previous review at the end of 1967. The normal procedure would have been for a major defence review listing the important items of defence spending to be delivered to the House either during the final sessional period of 1967 or during the first sessional period of 1968. The practice of defence reviews extending over a period of years was established by the Labor Government in 1947. The general pattern of 3-year defence reviews was followed during the administration of Sir Robert Menzies, culminating in the 1964 statement, which re-established conscription and which was designed as a prelude to Vietnam.
However, in 1968, with the accession of the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), this sort of defence planning was scrapped. The review which had been drafted by Sir Allen Fairhall was shorn of its defence purchases and whatever strategic assessments it might have contained. After this disembowelling all that remained were some vague generalities about South East Asia and an extended eulogy of the Fill aircraft. The Minister devoted rather more than half of his statement to justifying the purchase of the Fill and outlining its cost and performance in some detail. Significantly, there is not a single reference to the
Fill in the present Minister’s statement. Nor is there any acknowledgement of the role of strategic aircraft which has dominated the Government’s defence thinking over the past 7 years.
Another quite remarkable feature of the statement on defence is the cursory treatment given to Vietnam. The Minister dismisses in 21 lines a war in which Australian troops have been engaged for 5 years and in which several hundred Australians have died. Even more remarkably, the section on Vietnam consists mainly of an extract from the Governor-General’s Speech. The Minister could not or would not commit himself further. I will deal with these notable omissions from the defence statement in some detail later in this speech.
The first task in assessing the overall relevance of the Minister’s statement is to set out something of the political context. This explains many things about the nature of the statement and its omissions and defects. For the past 2 years there has been a remarkable hiatus in defence planning produced by the Prime Minister’s scrapping of the old programming pattern. While the right honourable gentleman re-examined his sense of priorities and tried to grapple with domestic problems, defence planning was allowed to languish. A new concept of rolling defence programmes subject to regular revision and replacing the 3-yearly defence review was announced. Little was done to flesh out the bare bones of this concept apart from a handful of defence purchases announced in the last Budget.
This meant that for a period of 5 years there had been no re-assessment of defence objectives with consequent defence spending designed to implement them. Defence planning and policy did exist on an ad hoc, day to day basis while the Government employed diversionary tactics, mainly on Vietnam. This situation persisted through the course of the election campaign despite repeated efforts by the Democratic Labor Party to coerce the Prime Minister into an aggressive defence stance. Basic defence planning was not a key issue in the election because the Prime Minister deliberately adopted a low key attitude to constructing national defence policies. The right honourable gentleman was able to resist the standover tactics of the DLP before the elections.
He caved in completely once the full enormity of the Government’s electoral catastrophe was sheeted home to him. The result has been a conscious attempt at rehabilitation by the Prime Minister, both of himself and of his Government.
As part of this effort to burnish a new image the Prime Minister decided it was urgent that he do something about defence. To borrow the right honourable gentleman’s phraseology, it was important not only that he be doing something about defence but that he be seen to be doing something. The result was a crash campaign announced by the newly appointed Minister for Defence, but initiated by the Prime Minister. In the weeks before Christmas the Press was filled with pathetic stories about the lights burning late in the Service departments and of how the civil servants would be denied their Christmas vacations because of the Minister’s new broom. The Services and the defence departments were told that the Prime Minister had to have a list of defence purchases prepared by the start of the session. There had to be evidence that the Government was active in defence planning and defence buying. The so-called rolling defence programmes had to be given substance.
In this truly political context a heavy responsibility was put on the armed Services. The burden was shared by the officers of the Service departments and in particular by the staff of the Department of Defence. In this Department an extensive reorganisation had been carried out by Sir Allen Fairhall and Sir Henry Bland, the former Permanent Head of the Department. This reorganisation had replaced the former inter-Service committee system with joint staffs drawn from the 3 Services but based in the Department of Defence. A Systems Analysis Branch had been established with the purpose of testing alternative defence programmes in cost effectiveness terms, and projecting future streams of defence operating costs.
Many features of the reorganised Department of Defence were at an extremely rudimentary stage when the new Minister took over. Many branches were inadequately staffed and there had been little chance to get the revised machinery geared to an effective working pitch. Against this background, its biggest task in 5 years was pitchforked into the lap of the Department of Defence. The Department was told a list of purchases had to be drawn up and drawn up quickly. There was no economic or rational basis for this hastily conceived exercise. It was pure politics.
The defence programme has been deferred for 2 years. In the normal course of events the hardware items to be bought could have been announced in the 1970-71 Budget. This would have given the Services and the newly organised structure time to deal adequately with a new defence programme. Instead a politically conceived exercise in window dressing was foisted upon both Service and civilian officers. The net effect was to pre-empt a portion of the next Budget. There are no appropriations for the purchases announced by the Minister in the last Budget, nor will there be a supplementary Budget for such appropriations to be made. Spending on the list of acquisitions will not start until the introduction of the next Budget. I believe that this adds up to an extremely reckless and irresponsible approach by both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence.
There was no reason for this urgency or the excessive strains it placed on the Services and the Department other than cynical political motivations. It is no credit to the Prime Minister or the Minister for Defence that this panic approach has not produced bad results. It reflects great credit on the restraint of the Service officers at a time when the Government was anxious to spend and spend lavishly on prestige defence consumption. Further it reflects very great credit on the officers of the Defence Department who have responded superbly to demands which should never have been imposed on them.
In this light the defence statement emerges as an elaborate exercise in public relations and window dressing. An example is the way the expert techniques of systems analysis were employed in drawing up this programme. The basis of this technique is that alternative programmes or purchases are submitted to elaborate mathematical techniques designed to elicit their cost effectiveness. In this way decisions designed to implement defence objectives can be tested and a choice made of the most effective programmes or purchases. This sort of analysis is based on a set of rigidly defined objectives in terms of which a comparative analysis can be made. The essence of the technique is that it is applied at an early stage in the decision making process. Further it aims to project the flow of future costs arising from a project or a purchase over a number of years. In terms of this defence statement, it is completely obvious that such an analysis could not have been applied with the time scale dictated by the Minister.
It seems that each Service has drawn up a list of items of equipment. These lists were then thrown to the experts in the Defence Department who were not given time to apply their techniques and make cost benefit assessments of alternatives. Instead the members of the planning staffs and the analysts have had to test each suggested item in isolation. This is a complete perversion of what the much publicised re-organisation of the Defence Department was designed to achieve. It is futile to build a sophisticated instrument and then use it in such a crude way. Virtually all the analysts and planning staff could do in the situation was to look at each purchase submission and try to pick holes in it. Such ferreting out of information negates the whole purpose of establishing these specialist branches in the Defence Department. This is important because the Minister devoted considerable space in his address to outlining the functions of these new sections of his Department. It is ironic that a speech in which these improvements are outlined should constitute a complete contradiction of how they should operate.
I do not want to comment in detail on the list of purchases announced by the Minister. On the surface they seem basically sound. The emphasis on mobility is welcome although only tentative steps have been taken to achieve it. The need for mobility and flexibility in the organisation of the defence forces has been written into Australian Labor Party policy for several years. The emphasis on helicopters should increase mobility of the Services. But it is worth sounding a note of caution here about the future employment of helicopters. This is particularly relevant to the 11 helicopter gunships announced by the Minister. There is danger that the effectiveness of these gunships and to a lesser extent that of observation and utility helicopters may be overstated because of the Vietnam experience. Helicopters have certainly been immensely successful in Vietnam, but there may be illusory factors in this effectiveness. Helicopters have operated in Vietnam under the overwhelming air cover supplied by the United States. This has given helicopters much greater mobility in combat zones than would be possible where air cover is either lacking or is keenly contested.
– There is no opposition air force, either.
– There is no opposition and, as I have just pointed out there is cover by the United States Air Force. In such situations helicopters could be extremely vulnerable or even a liability. The extra Oberon submarines will give a 2-ocean capability, which has been lacking. The logistic cargo ship will increase the sea-lift capacity of the forces and its employment by the Australian National Line when not required for defence is an interesting innovation. The rest of the items in the Minister’s shopping list are unexceptional and require little comment.
A disappointing feature of this part of the Minister’s statement is the costing of the purchases. This is confined to the estimated capital cost. Even with the limited time available, it should have been possible for the Minister to have provided estimates of the flow of operating costs arising from the purchases. The Minister pointed out in his statement that costs cover more than the price tag on prime equipment. They include also the identification and costing of all ancillaries such as the cost of support facilities, manpower, training and maintenance. After making this point the Minister went on to list only the price tags on the new projects. It is contradictory of the Minister on one hand to stress the importance of identifying operating costs and on the other blandly to ignore these facts in giving his shopping list.
It is impossible to assess the impact of a programme of purchases and other projects when cost estimates are confined to capital costs. If the stream of operating costs is known for a period of, say, 3 years, the impact of the programme on future Budgets can be assessed. According to the statement this programme and the programme announced last year by the former
Minister represent a total estimated capital cost of $306.9m. It can be assumed that operating costs in the next few years will be at least double this amount. Even if there are no substantial cost escalations, the total spending flowing from these two programmes will be at least $1 billion. This adds up to a vast defence programme which will have a substantia] impact on future defence spending and on the Budget provisions. For these reasons it is important that future cost flows from these decisions should be estimated. This is the essence of the programming, planning and budgeting approach which was referred to by the Minister. The failure to give this information is a major defect of this statement and it is one the Minister should rectify as swiftly as possible in a supplementary statement.
The Minister ranged over a wide range of issues in his statement. Much of this material is of a descriptive nature and calls for little comment. The same applies to the turgid preamble which attempts to set the strategic setting for assessing the Services’ capability against their role. The Minister is rather more successful in his statement of the guiding principles of the development of defence capability. The Opposition would not quarrel with most of these principles, which are in harmony with the defence sections of the platform of the Labor Party. Indeed there is a rather remarkable similarity in the phraseology applied by the Minister to these Labor policies which have been stated frequently in recent years. We agree with the Minister when he says that Australia needs versatile and flexible forces capable of rapid deployment over a wide range of situations. This was the context of the Minister’s application to this part of the defence programme. It has been clearly expressed as the policy of the Australian Labor Party over the last 3 years, when we have pointed to the need for Australia to develop highly mobile and flexible forces that can be moved immediately when the occasion arises.
Where the Opposition differs from the Government is in the emphasis given to where these troops should be stationed and in what circumstances they should be used. The Labor Party believes that flexible and highly mobile forces should be built up and concentrated in Australia if they are to have maximum effectiveness. The Government wants them scattered willy-nilly through South East Asia and over the Australian mainland. This is a difference of basic policy which cannot be reconciled despite the general agreement on the sort of forces Australia needs.
The Minister also emphasises the need for the organisation of the Services on functional lines. Again this is an integral part of Labor Party policy and we are glad to see the Minister taking it up. It is welcome that some attempt will be made to re-organise the Army on functional lines. The present organisation with 8 commands embracing the six Australian States, the Northern Territory and Papua-New Guinea, is extraordinarily cumbersome and wasteful. It is a structure which is perhaps the most important example of the federal principle existing in Australia. In essence this antiquated sort of organisation on territorial lines is much the same as it was in the Zulu wars of the last century.
The Navy and the Air Force are organised on strictly functional lines with support headquarters centred on Sydney and Melbourne. This sort of organisation should be applied to the Army to avoid wasteful duplication. It would also have a beneficial effect on two of the disabilities affecting servicemen which were mentioned by the Minister. These are defects in service housing and the disruption caused by frequent repostings. These problems could be tackled much more effectively if the Army were organised on functional rather than State lines.
On the most crucial defence issue confronting this country, the Vietnam war, the Minister is singularly tongue tied by contrast with the verbal excesses of the rest of the statement. Implicit in his brief reference is the Government’s commitment to the concept of Vietnamisation which has succeeded the strategic hamlets, revolutionary development and pacification, in the fashionable lexicon of Vietnam.
What the Minister seems to be saying is that if the progress of Vietnamisation is accounted to be satisfactory, the Government will discuss withdrawing some troops with the United States, New Zealand and South Vietnam. This is a most unsatisfactory outlook for a war which is already one of the most protracted in Australian history.
The duration of the full scale commitment already exceeds that of World War I and the Korean war. It is now comparable with and soon will exceed that of World War II. Only the Australian commitment to the Malayan insurgency has lasted longer.
The basis of Vietnamisation is reputed to be the disengagement from Vietnam by America and its allies as the burden of the war is progressively transferred to the Saigon regime. It assumes that the South Vietnam Government and Army will become more and more capable of containing the Vietcong and countering the North Vietnamese. These are questionable assumptions. Although the Communists have suffered severely in recent years their military forces are still formidable.
The major part of the Army of North Vietnam, including its best five divisions, has not been committed to the war. It is most unlikely that the Communists will allow the process of Vietnamisation to proceed at the pace the Americans want. It is extremely doubtful, anyway, whether the gradual substitution of one fighting force for another is a plan for peace.
Vietnamisation has been criticised in the United States as a move to a proxy war with America and its supporters supplying guns, money and advice, and the Vietnamese supplying the bodies. These critics have claimed that this would not get America out of the war; rather it would prolong the American presence in the war. According to this line, even if all American combat troops were pulled out, at least 200,000 support troops would have to stay and shore up the South Vietnamese army. If these support troops were withdrawn it would be impossible for Saigon to withstand the combined pressures of the Vietcong and North Vietnamese. With collapse imminent another rapid build up of American troops as in 1965 would be made and the cycle would start anew. This is the import of recent statements on Vietnam by President Nixon who has threatened strong and effective measures if Hanoi took military advantage of American withdrawal.
It is just to add that President Nixon was not associated with the American build up in 1963, that he has withdrawn more than a hundred thousand troops from Vietnam, and that he may have the key to an acceptable solution to the war. The same charitable assumptions cannot be made about this Government. Every assessment of the war made by successive LiberalCountry Party governments has been proven wrong. Furthermore the present Government still adheres to the mistaken concepts of the war that destroyed an American President of considerable ability and achievement. His Australian equivalents, who were just as culpable, have escaped the consequences of their repeated distortions and misinterpretations. Only in the past 3 months has the Gorton Government conceded grudgingly that some Australian troops can be withdrawn from Vietnam. This move must be regarded with the gravest suspicion.
It is most probable that a battalion of the Australian task force will be withdrawn from Vietnam around the middle of this year. This will be done in an election context, with the Senate election at the end of 1970 in mind. With electoral support deteriorating, the Government is perfectly capable of seeking the same popular response that President Nixon achieved initially with his withdrawals. This is the same Government that shamelessly exploited Vietnam as an election issue in 1966. Why would it not do the same thing this year when the tide is running against it? Certainly it would be an act of extreme political cynicism to exploit withdrawal at an election after winning an earlier election on building up a commitment to the Vietnam war. However, I do not think that any idealism on Vietnam can be expected from a Government that has proved the most fervent supporter of the war in the world. The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from recent statements by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence is that the Government wants to maintain the commitment until the other side capitulates.
No political compromise short of absolute military victory is contemplated by the Government. It can be predicted with confidence that the concept of Vietnamisation will be used to mask this dedication to a continued commitment. This adds up to the policy that a continued occupation of Vietnam can be made palatable to the electorate if some reductions are made in troop levels.
In short, we are entering the 1970s with the prospect of a long stay in Vietnam with mounting casualties and still no victory if the Government has its way. I am sure that most Australians now agree that the Vietnam war was never any of our business and that we should not have become involved in it. The war has brought 25 years of massive slaughter, pestilence and famine to a small Asian country of marginal significance to Australian security. The Australian commitment has been a grave mistake and it is a mistake the Government should have acted courageously to liquidate. Instead it has failed to accommodate to reality; it has pinned all its faith in the effectiveness of Vietnamisation, and an indefinite Australian presence in Vietnam.
In conclusion, I want to refer briefly to the ruthless excision of any reference to the Fill from the Minister’s statement. This cannot be excused because of the present uncertainty surrounding the future of the programme. It points up the fact that the Air Force has got comparatively little out of the new decisions. This must lessen its chances of getting more in future Budgets because of the impact of future operating costs arising from this programme and last year’s programme. In these circumstances the Minister should have discussed the alternatives to the Fill, even if no firm decision can be made until he goes to the United States. It was his clear duty to indicate how defence capability could be varied ii the Fill was scrapped.
How different was the Minister’s statement in 1970 from the attitude adopted by the Government in 1963. As I said quite recently, this will be the second occasion on which a Minister for Defence has made a hurried visit to the United States of America. But how different are the circumstances in 1970. In 1963 the purpose of the visit to the United States of the then Minister for Defence was to purchase the Fill aircraft, which was then still on the drawing board. The issue was to be raised during the election campaign in 1963. Now, 7 years later, more than $200m has been paid out for the purchase of 24 aircraft, and not 1 aircraft has been received by the Australian Government.
The Minister for Defence has dismissed the importance of the Fill. He has completely ignored the Fill in his statement.
There is no reference to it at all, and no reference to alternatives. Surely one would expect that in a responsible defence statement - and one assumes that the Minister was making a responsible defence statement on behalf of his Government - he would have at least offered some alternatives if he knew that he was to go to the United States to renegotiate the agreement to purchase the aircraft. It is quite clear that after 7 years the Government has decided that it can no longer fool itself or the Australian people. But the Minister for Defence offered no alternatives.
What will be Australia’s fighter attack capability if the Fill is not to be made available to Australia’s defence forces? What is the alternative? The Minister has dismissed the Fill. He made no reference at all to this important question in his defence statement. I believe it was his clear duty to indicate how defence capability could >be varied if the FI 1 1 was scrapped. The absence of such an analysis effectively tears the heart out of the Minister’s statement.
In summary, there are many matters of substance in the statement with which the Opposition agrees. It is unfortunate that the evasions of Vietnam and the Fill should sharply curtail the value of the document. More importantly, the whole manner in which the statement was produced concerns the Opposition. The new programme was drawn up with reckless and irresponsible haste for blatant political purposes. There is no reason why this programme could not have been deferred to the Budget and greater emphasis put on proper analysis of its components and the alternatives. This sort of irresponsible approach poses very grave risks of harmful or even disastrous decisions being made. Further, it endangers the morale of the Service officers and public servants who have to do the spade work in such an atmosphere of haste and expediency. In future the expertise which has been developed in the Department of Defence must be used with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
– My friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) has taken some 36 minutes to read a speech, giving his Party’s view on defence. I hope I could be forgiven if I began by saying I would have drawn the conclusion from my friend’s introduction that he had taken over the patronage of the Australian vivisectionist organisation. He wanted to disembowel or to strip something to its bare bones. Apart from one or two cutting remarks like that, the honourable gentleman left me with the distinct impression that he wanted to intrude a mild note of partisanship into his assessment of the defence statement of my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser).
It is rather interesting to reflect on the honourable gentleman’s speech, and I hope that the House will take some notice of it. He worked himself into what I, inclining my fragile being instinctively in the direction of charity, would describe as a rather interesting remark when he said that all of the analysis relating to the shopping list has not been satisfactorily done. You can call it a grocer’s list, if you like. It does not worry me very much whether you call it a shopping list or a grocer’s list or any other list. My honourable friend roused himself into what I will call in my infinite charity quite a tizzy about all this.
– Dear, oh dear.
– Here it is, this new, young and brilliant member from Sturt. I do not want to upset my honourable friend, but I hope that he would forgive me if I offered him a little bit of advice. The honourable gentleman would display himself to far greater advantage if he were to engage his brain before he opened his mouth. I come back to what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said in dealing with his assessment of the shopping list. The honourable gentleman left us on the note - I am not to be contradicted, I hope - that he did not disagree with one of the items in the shopping list. I want to wring, if I may, however reluctantly out of my honourable friend agreement that that is the case. He did not criticise the Government’s proposal to proceed to the detailed design for the DDL destroyer. No, not at all. He said this is a great idea. There was nothing from the honourable gentleman apart from introducing one or two technical commentaries about the use of helicopters. He did not complain about that. Nothing at all from the honourable gentleman about the pur chase by the Royal Australian Navy of the new Skyhawk aircraft or any of the other items amounting to approximately $166m. Not one word of lament from my honourable friend on that count. I hope my honourable friend will get an opportunity in a moment or two of high confidence which we enjoy to explain to me why it is, after having roundly criticised the Government and the Minister for Defence for the shopping list and for not having taken part, as he put it - and this is a shorthand account of what the honourable member said - in sufficient analysis, that he turns round and agrees with it. I thought that this was a rather extraordinary proposition. Still, my honourable friend is entitled to work himself into these positions as best as he can and he can try to extricate himself from them as best he can.
– What was that?
– If I were to point it up with some thousands of pounds of horsepower it could not possibly penetrate your granite-like mind.
I come back to what I thought he described, without showing the slightest indication of felicity for language, as a turgid preamble.
– What was that?
– T-u-r-g-i-d. I am delighted that the honourable member can understand. What my honourable friend is dealing with here is the strategic assessment given by the Minister for Defence. He did not know quite which way to turn. It was as though he was on the parade ground; he did not know whether to turn to the left, to the right or to march on the spot. I want to point out to my honourable friend the dilemma in which he has put himself and, perforce, his party.
– Speak for yourself.
– Ah, at least I am articulate and that is the violent distinction between the two of us. Here it is, the strategic assessment described, as I say, by my honourable friend in this most non-felicitous way as a turgid preamble. It shocked me to the very core. He said he agreed with it. Agreed with it?
The Minister for Defence described - I would hope in exemplary language of moderation, restraint and clear perception - the position of this country. He referred to the rise of Communist China as a nuclear power and to the growth and development of various countries of the region in which we live. My honourable friend confirmed in the most explicit language that this country stood by its treaty obligations. I think that is a far cry, if I may say - I hope honourable members will forgive my partisanship on this point - from the utter repudiation by the Australian Labor Party of its treaty obligations. Let me test it: I will take but one example. All of the joint AustralianAmerican bases constructed in Australia have been constructed pursuant to the ANZUS agreement. If my honourable friend would like to trouble himself to read Article II of the ANZUS agreement he will notice expressed in simple uncluttered language that all the parties to the agreement undertake jointly and collectively to improve their respective defence postures. I hope that is not too criptic a paraphrase of the Article, but that is the effect of it. Constructed pursuant to that Article is the Pine Gap base; constructed pursuant to that Article is the Woomera base. I have never heard one word of praise of those achievements from members of the Australian Labor Party. I have listened to nothing but a cacophony of criticism from members of that Party.
The honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) works himself into a great stir over Pine Gap. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition rouses himself from his usual tranquil likeable being when this base is mentioned. Where does the Labor Party stand on this issue? Is this to suggest in all honesty that there is a co-incidence of view between the Government and the Australian Labor Party as far as these bases are concerned? I invite my honourable friend or any spokesmen who may speak on behalf of his Party to say whether they are for the maintenance of these bases in Australia? To repudiate them is to repudiate the ASZUS agreement. It is to no avail the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) saying on any occasion that the Labor Party supports the ANZUS agreement. There is only one way in which to test support and that is by example and by precept. Everything that the Australian Labor Party has done as far as these bases have been concerned has been to criticise them, to denigrate the means by which they have been established and to call them into question. I would have hoped that this was one of the distinguishing differences between the policy of those who sit on the other side of the House - and this is one of the reasons why they sit on that side of the House - and those of us who sit on this side of the House. It is very simple.
– One of the many.
– Look, my dear friend, I have been here 15 years listening to silly threats such as you make. I must remind the honourable member, his leader and the whole of the front bench - what a glittering array they are - that the election is over and that the Labor Party lost the election. There it is; as I thought - complete silence. The Labor Party puts itself in one fortunate position from the view point of any defence statement and from the viewpoint of any foreign affairs statement. It has but one assumption and this assumption underlines the whole of its foreign and defence policies. The assumption can be summed up in the simple words: We will let the rest of the world go by.
Last year the Deputy Leader of the Opposition addressed that intellectually disturbed body, the Victorian Fabian Society and I would like to quote what he had to say in summing up the Australian strategic situation. 1 refer to page 13 of the report - I do not want to be put on the rack because I have not given the source of my authority. My honourable friend said:
The basic contention of the Labor Party-
Look, I go to sleep at night time thinking about this and after about 10 minutes I wake up -
The basic contention of the Labor Party is that Australia’s-
– Go on.
– Look, the honourable member would represent the No. 1 nightmare I have met in many a long day. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said:
The basic contention of the Labor Party is that Australia’s strategic frontiers are its natural boundaries.
I will say it again.
– Yes, read it out again.
– I will do that because I think it deserves it. If I can think of a form of colour picture with a red setting it would be a help as far as the honourable member is concerned. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said:
The basic contention of the Labor Party is that Australia’s strategic frontiers are its natural boundaries.
I have never listened to, if I may say so with great respect to my infinite sense of charity to my honourable friend, or read such nonsense in all my life because his Party at one time or other has supported Australian participation in South East Asia. I know that the honourable member will say that the Federal Conference of his Party does not say that. I just want to remind my honourable friend, if he turns his mind back to early August 1968, or thereabouts-
– I am indebted to my historically-minded friend. In 1969 the Leader of the Opposition declared that as far as he was concerned there was nothing wrong with leaving a couple of squadrons of RAAF Mirages in the area. Then came the conference.
– Answer his question. Where will you put the Mirages?
– The honourable member should try to contain himself. I know that it is an effort for him. At the conference it was said that it was no longer feasible - I think that is the precious language used by that holy body, the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party - to leave any troops, any squadrons or any defence force in South East Asia. What did my friend the Leader of the Opposition do? He gathered up his skirts and he said in this House: ‘The squadrons are quite different’. I remember his saying that; it disturbed me when I heard it. When my friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, as is his wont, went down to try to sort out what I describe as this intellectually disturbed body, the Victorian Fabian Society, what policy did he enunciate? He said that the Federal Conference’s direction on the matter bound him and every member of the Australian Labor Party. Step by step, the Leader of the Opposition went down the creaking staircase of his politics. From the position where at one time he was prepared to leave some Australian military presence in South East Asia, he succumbed - I will not say to the blandishments - to the latent threats of the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party.
I come to the last two aspects to which I can give a glancing blow. The honourable gentleman roused himself on the matter of Vietnam. Vietnam has been a matter of great debate in this country and throughout the world. I hope that my honourable friend will not object too much if I remind him of the fact that South Vietnam is a country in international law and with international personality. Is that proposition seriously challenged? I hope not, because more than sixty countries have recognised South Vietnam. The General Assembly of the United Nations in 1957 voted to admit South Vietnam, only to be confronted with the veto of the Soviet Union in the Security Council. South Vietnam is one of a number of specialised countries of the United Nations. Even to the brilliant new member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), who will be here, I hope, for a short time, it is a very elementary principle of international law that any country is entitled to act in its own self-defence and to invite aid. This principle is to be found enshrined in article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. It spells out an old principle of international law. It is a long time since I have heard any word of complaint from any member of the ALP about the attacks on South Vietnam by those who come from North Vietnam. May I remind the House and all thinking people of Australia that nearly 1 million people fled from North Vietnam into South Vietnam. They voted with their feet. The people of South Vietnam are quite entitled to ask for assistance. It is all very fine for my friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to make what I can describe only as a most contemptible assessment of the situation and to say that it was never any of our business. May I remind the honourable member-
– What did his leader say?
– I am indebted to my friend the Attorney-General. I ask honourable members to listen to what the Leader of the Labor Party had to say in 1967. He is reported in the Brisbane ‘Courier-Mail’ of 9th June 1967 - honourable members may test the veracity of that newspaper if they wish - as having said:
In a telecast on February 23, 1966, and taped for the Federal Executive in July, Mr Calwell said that Labor did not believe in a unilateral withdrawal of troops, either by the Americans, Australians, North Vietnamese, or anybody else.
I would say the same’, Mr Whitlam said.
How times change. How the course of ideas changes. How it is that the corrosive influences of high politics upon the minds of people can affect changes of policy. Only a few short years ago there was no complaint from the Leader of the Opposition about our presence in South Vietnam. The Government’s policy is summed up by my honourable friend the Minister for Defence and by the Prime Minister - this has consistently been the case - as being to strive for, to seek and to find those means in the world that will enable countries to have their independence, to maintain their national integrity, and to ensure that the inviolability of human rights is held in honour. That is the charter of the Gorton Government; that is the charter that put it into government, and that is the charter that will keep it in government.
– And that, dear friends, was the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) taking part in a serious debate on defence. Woe to the Manly ferry when he sets out to sea. At last we have found the Australian with the Nelson touch. He has a blind eye for every atom of common sense. In his 20 minutes not one word did he say about the defence of Australia; not one serious criticism did he have to offer of what was said by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). It was a typical polysyllabic peroration from the man from Moreton who could always make 600 words do the work of six words. But is that approach not appropriate to a debate of this sort, a debate that was led off by the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser)? He is Fraser by name and phraser by nature. The Minister in his statement said that he proposed in the course of his brief remarks - they covered fifteen pages in Hansard - to provide a broad view of the considerations that have contributed to the Government’s defence policy. The Minister used phrases such as contributed to our objectives and our arrangements’, ‘continuing dynamic organisa- tional changes in our analytical approach to difficult and important decisions’, and ‘they have meaning not only for the immediate present but for the economic, social and ideological situations that face Australia in the future in the context in which we are conducting and elaborating our policies’.
That is free-flowing English that does not mean anything. That was the Minister for Defence. Of course that has been the pattern of the last 20 years. Australia’s defence policy has no relation to strategic appreciation, or common sense. It is a series of myths, legends, prejudices and habits - most of them bad - which are designed as an escape from reality and a substitute for Australia facing the world as an important nation with something to contribute and with self-reliance upon which to build. Everything in the statement, as I saw it, was irrelevant to an analysis of our defence needs and the foreign policies that were laid out before us. The aspect that should really upset the people of Australia is the failure of the Minister for Defence and the Minister for whatever the Minister for the Navy considers himself to be Minister for, to examine and explain the tragic continuation of the present operations in Vietnam. How is it that Australia, with the wealth of military experience that is behind her, with the hundreds of thousands of people who have fought in world wars and with the experience of battles fought and won against terrible odds, is blundering on as it is in Vietnam now? Let me move a vote of no confidence, if I may, in the people who are conducting the operations in Vietnam at this moment at a time when there is no possibility of winning the war or even perhaps of saving the peace. Day by day and week by week they are sacrificing young Australians in the fruits of folly, blundering in the minefields and conducting operations in a way which in wars we have participated in would have led people very rapidly to bowler hats. Let me say that I regard it as tragic folly and that it is irresponsibility on the part of the Minister for Defence and the Minister for the Army to allow those operations to continue. But that, of course, sadly enough, is not the basis of our discussion tonight.
I see this defence statement as a statement without conclusions. In some brevity, these are the things that the Minister said.
Referring to China and Russia he said that the future was impossible to predict. Weighty words! As far as the Nixon doctrine is concerned he said: ‘It will be full of meaning’. What meaning he did not go on .to say. He said that the Russians - this is a wonderful strategic analysis - have shown proof that they can maintain vessels at sea for unusually long periods. That would have been true enough even in 1788. Phillip maintained the first fleet of thirteen vessels at sea for 6 months without any trouble at all and we have just discovered that the Russians might be able to do that in a modern world. It is time for a serious critique of the Australian defence system. I spent a long time in the service. I served with great discretion. But I do have some feeling about the Australian defence forces and when month after month goes by and year after year passes and there are tragic episodes and incidents which lose young Australian lives; when the Army in Vietnam shoots up its own men and the Commander says: ‘No, there will not be any inquiry, it is just one of the fortunes of war;’ what have we come to? He would not have lasted 5 minutes in days of old. I have no doubt that he is still there.
The Navy too has a tragic record. I do not know what has happened to Australian command because I know many of the men involved and they strike me as being people of great dedication and great professional competence. What has happened to the Australian defence Services? Why does the Navy run into the Manly ferry and the ferry sails on and the Navy limps home? Why is it that the Royal Australian Air Force takes 2i hours to get off to look for a ship at sea? The Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), a man with a distinguished air record of his own, said that it was reasonable enough. Two and a half hours! We have only spent about $1, 000m on aircraft in the last 20 years. The Japanese were over Pearl Harbour from 8 a.m. to 9.55 a.m. They made three strikes and destroyed the American Pacific Fleet. The Israelies spent 15 minutes over Beirut and destroyed 14 aeroplanes, one of which was taxiing prior to taking off. The Israelies unloaded the people aboard and blew it up.
Yet the Minister said, after all these years, that 2± hours was reasonable for an aircraft to take to the air and look for a ship at sea. Any bush fire brigade in Australia could do it better. I am saying this seriously. That is not good enough because when we commit young Australians to the defence Services we commit the most precious possessions that any of us have and every Minister of this Government, and every member of Parliament - particularly honourable members opposite - has to answer for it to the people of Australia when they waste young Australian lives, not having been careful of what their trust and duty is. What do we see of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force? This is not an Australian Army, Navy and Air Force. It is the product, I believe, of a long history of false appreciations.
The Australian Army is foot bound. In the last war the Australian Army started fighting in deserts and ended up in jungles. lt is still trained to fight in jungles. Why would they fight in jungles? In the jungle it is man for man. That is the most extravagant use of manpower. It may well make the most extensive use of personal skills but it is not the place where we put young Australians. We have one of the world’s largest industrial capacities. We have the capacity to give every young Australian every advantage of mechanisation and fire power and the Army still marches - the whole nine regular battalions and the whole eighteen battalions of the Citizen Military Forces.
The Navy, with one of the world’s largest automotive industries and a great industrial capacity behind it, has patrol boats which will do 25 knots. In 1908, the ‘Mauretania’ crossed the Atlantic at 27 knots. The Navy cannot catch the fishing boats. One Only has to turn up any of the shipping records to find out that other countries have faster craft. We can rest assured the Israelies will not bother to hijack them. This, of course, shows a lack of imagination. Why not the hydrofoils that the Americans are experimenting with? Why not the hovercraft that the British bring here and let us see? Why not ships that will do 45 knots if that is the way other people can build them? Why not? What is the answer?
Then we come to the Royal Australian Air Force. We have been looking, I am told, for an aircraft that will have terrain following capacity. Why? The terrain around Australia consists almost exclusively of sea. Even the Air Force ought to know where that is. But, of course, we are chasing false gods. We have 36,000,000 square miles of sea dotted with a few hundred thousand square miles of land within 2,000 miles or so of Australian shores. We must develop our own unique capacity. No other country has quite the same strategic problems as we have. Our problems are not relevant for the Americans. Looking at the Australian position, the Europeans would not know what it was all about.
My criticism is that in the past 20 years, with all the wealth and woe and weight of work that has been poured into it we have never attempted to produce a defence capacity to satisfy Australia’s own needs. We have never laid down a defence objective because we have been able to escape it by using the phrases the Minister used here the other night. Switzerland has a defence objective. It is to keep people from invading it. Sweden has a defence objective. It is to frighten off the Russians. Israel has a defence objective, to keep the Arabs at bay. The Arabs have one; to try to invade Israel. Canada has one; to develop its own capacity to look after its own affairs and to use its own capacity, research and technology to do so. Most countries have one. We have none.
I have the Minister’s phraseology here but it is a little too verbose for a 20 minute speech. He said: ‘We seek the maximum of strategic flexibility. We want to be able to operate in our region’. That is another escape from reality. He does not know what decision to make. The facts are that Singapore is 2,000 miles away, that Hong Kong is 3,000 miles away, that Fiji is about 3,000 miles away and that out to the west one can go thousands of miles and not meet land. This produces a particular set of circumstances, and in that context we should be doing as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) said, finding a capacity to protect and defend this country, to keep it all under scrutiny so that anybody who comes near it will be absolutely certain that he cannot land on our shores. This is because the world has changed.
I said earlier that we are full of myths and legends. We are continually saying that we live in one of the most troubled parts of the world. That is utter nonsense. The relationships between Australia and Indonesia are nowhere near as bad as the relationships between Israel and Egypt, between Turkey and Greece and between some of the South American countries. Is anybody going to say that this region is as troubled as the Middle East or Africa? Of course they are not and so we never get around to planning properly and we never got down to adequate parliamentary participation.
Despite all the hysteria I do not believe that there will be any war in our immediate neighbourhood. If one runs through the analysis of things that have caused wars in the past, how many do we see that exist in our area? Imperialism: None of our neighbours are imperialistic. Nationalism: There is a new kind of nationalism. The world has changed in the last 20 years. Are the religous wars of the past likely to occur again? Of course not. How many of our neighbours have dynastic ambitions? What about population pressure? These do not threaten this part of the world. Even the Government of Indonesia itself cannot get its people to move internally. Neither trade nor traditional hostilities will cause wars. It is time we started to think constructively and with a modern attitude that our neighbours are not warlike and that in the logic of human endeavour we ought to prepare a defence system - an insurance - which will protect us and which will assure anybody around about that we can protect ourselves.
Then we come to this other mystique, the one which is associated with forward defence. Forward defence? It is forward folly. If it has anything to do with war at all it is irresponsible in the extreme. Have people here no memories? Have honourable members opposite no memories? Some of them ought to have. They were once before the victims of false gods such as that. In the last war we put troops in Ambon, Timor, Rabaul, Java and Singapore, and we lost the lot. The Germans put 300,000 troops into Africa, and when the chips were down and they lost control of their line of supply 600 got home. But that is old hat, of course; that is talk about the last war.
What is happening in Vietnam? The Americans, with all the resources at their disposal, could not maintain anybody in Khe Sanh; they had to withdraw. When the National Liberation Front got into Hue, once their line of communication was broken they could not sustain their position. No Australian Government with any sense of history or with any sense of responsibility will place Australian troops beyond the reach of its own support. That, I believe, is the major criticism of the suggestion that we should keep troops in Malaysia. It has nothing to do with isolationism; it is plain common sense. Of course, if the purpose is to supply a social service to the people of Singapore, go ahead and do it, but do not claim that it has anything to do with the defence of Australia. It is not isolationism.
The trouble is that we are wrapped in our own past. We are the products of western Europe - all of us - and so we bring here and inject into this part of the world the follies of the last 3 or 4 centuries of western Europe. It is said that the average Australian - of my generation, but also of that of most honourable members - is inclined to think we should always place our soldiers somewhere else. I suggest that anyone who has this belief should look at the various books available in the Library and see which of the 130 countries in the world do maintain troops beyond their borders. The whole logic of history is - troops, go home. Even Romania in central Europe has been trying to force this policy on the Eastern powers. In NATO, Italy keeps its troops at home, as do also the Greeks, the Turks and the Portuguese. The Canadaians are going home. The French are keeping their troops at home; in fact, they have withdrawn them in order to do so. The Dutch and the Belgians have their troops a few miles across their borders. The Russian troops who are away from home are a long day’s drive from their own borders. We have come to the stage when it is only the British, the Australians and the Americans who are maintaining troops a long way from home. Not only will we be the last colonial power because of our position in Papua and New Guinea, judging by the way we are going, but also we are sustaining some of the relics of the past in this regard.
When will Australians sit down and start to analyse the situation in a commonsense way? When will they learn the facts of life. What do we mean by ‘isolation’? What do we mean by ‘Fortress Australia’ and Retreating home, as one would say was the interpretation by the Minister for the Navy? Would Indonesia want any of our troops there? Would India? Would Japan? Would Cambodia? The Thais might; they would like to make money out of it. Would Burma? Would Ceylon? Of course they would not want them. Can we not bring ourselves back into this part of the world? It is only a matter of analysing the situation carefully. The misfortune is that we have only a few minutes in which to discuss the subject I hope the debate is able to continue next week and that the Parliament is able to participate at great length.
I believe it is possible to recruit a voluntary army in Australia. I am certain that we can do so. I do not know even why we must maintain the regular Army at its present level. Why must we have nine battalions? I understand that is why we need to have conscription. The Returned Services League says that we must have nine battalions. The Democratic Labor Party says that we must have nine battalions. Why nine? Why not ninety? Why not nineteen? Back in 1938 we had eighty or ninety combatant battalions and in 1945 we had another number. Is there some magic about nine? Of course not.
– How many do you want?
– Tell us how many you want.
– As a matter of fact I would have whatever I could recruit. I come now to the point that I want to make. I believe that no matter how good they are, nine battalions are completely irrelevant to any defence requirement.
– Go on; tell us how many you would have.
– I would not recruit you; I would leave you to mess up the law. We have 9 battalions on the ground, but what do 9 battalions on the ground mean? I suppose we could hold Canberra if we placed the troops between Ainslie and Belconnen. If an enemy came straight down the road from Goulburn we would be able to turn it back. That is an indication of the irrelevance of the whole defence debate. I believe, in the light of the strategic appreciation, that the citizen forces have become the Cinderella of the Australian armed Services. Even my honourable friends opposite admit that it is unlikely that in the next 10 or 15 years we will be assaulted as we were 27 years ago.
Of course, honourable members opposite will say: ‘Poor old Bryant; he is living in the past. He does not know that amateurs cannot do this anymore.’ Can amateurs fly supersonic aircraft? Next time honourable members opposite go overseas - they had better make the most of this Parliament - I suggest that they call at the Pentagon or, more pleasantly, because this is more in line with their accustomed mode of life, call at Honolulu in Hawaii. I suggest that they go and see the Air National Guard which flies supersonic aircraft with part time fliers, as do also the Swiss. I suggest that they take a good look. My own view is that in these circumstances a regular force is desirable. Keep them at a level at which they can be kept without too much trouble to the nation, but do something in the citizen area. Is there any reason why in the Rockhamptons, the Warrnambools and other coastal cities of Australia we could not base upon part time services all the defence equipment which we buy and keep. Of course we could do so. I wish the Parliament would set to and do some homework on it or establish a select committee to examine how we can develop the civilian defence capacity of Australia with its tremendous resources in every town, in workshops, in naval yards and so on, into a viable defence capacity which does not waste people’s time but which still can be an effective mobilisation point for the nation if ever we come to a point of crisis. That is the only defence that has any sense in the present day.
– The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) could not criticise the defence statement made by the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) so he ridiculed it. I do not think the security of Australia or a situation where, as you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, as I know and as the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and others in this House know, we have Australian troops still at war with troops dying in the field is a fit subject for ridicule. The honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard) criticised the Government first of all for not having done sufficent up to the present time. Now he criticises the Government for, he says, doing too much too quickly. What does the Opposition mean? The Opposition has stated quite clearly that its policy is to withdraw troops from Vietnam, to chicken out of it and to leave our allies in the lurch. Is that the policy that is supported by members of the Opposition? It is the policy which is advocated by the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party. And the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the modern mini-Napoleon, not retreating from Moscow but in his advance to Moscow, has the roads scattered with people whom he has first of all backed and then betrayed - the Harradines, the Wyndhams and other people. In the same way the Labor Party with its policy is betraying those whom originally it supported.
I congratulate the Government on the clearest defence statement that I have heard in this House for a long time, lt stated the defence needs and it stated the defence priorities. Although one might not agree with several items in the programme or the crossing of the fs or dotting of the fs, it at least stated to our allies in the region in which we live, to our big brothers - always called SC - in America and others, exactly where Australia stands, as long as this Government is in power. The Opposition takes an entirely opposite view. This statement abolished the old wraiths and ghosts that have been wandering round frightening many people in Australia with the idea of a Fortress Australia which the Labor Opposition now advocates. I was in Fortress Singapore, and so was the honourable member for Reid, and T do not think that either of us would want to be in a fortress of that nature again.
The Government has made it quite clear in the statement of the Minister for Defence that Australia is not going to retreat into isolation, that Australia realises that it lives in this region of the world and that within our limited capacity, as far as we can, we will stand up to support our allies and play our part in the defence of the security of this region. Without that security what is the use of economic aid and helping people to raise their standards of living and everything that goes with it? The statement was a clear and concise confirmation that we are not only members of the region but are prepared to play our part. I congratulate the Minister and the Government on the statement. All nations in this region are small, comparatively speaking. We can do only a certain amount against a more powerful aggressor. We have to act and take our share of that responsibility but we have to rely also on other people to help us. They will not help us if we do not take our share of the responsibility, yet the Opposition is saying: ‘Let us get rid of it altogether. We can live in isolation on our own’. That is perfectly ridiculous as history over the last 10 years, if not the last 50 years, shows,
I have had experience in 2 world wars and have been lucky enough to survive them. Anybody who has been in that position takes no delight in asking the younger generation of Australians today to go forth once again, unfortunately, in the interests of the security of Australia and our allies. Everybody would like to see peace, peaceful co-operation and peaceful coexistence, but today some nations are using peaceful co-existence as a blind to cover up their steady advance towards world conquest. I do not believe for a minute that a world war is likely, not at present anyhow, but we will continue to be faced with the guerilla type of warfare, or brush warfare, aided and abetted by psychological warfare which not many people seem to understand. It is something to which we must pay more attention.
I should like now to make a few remarks about the comments made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition yesterday when he was speaking to the Address-in-Reply. He said that he was not going to deal with defence, but spent almost the entire time at his disposal in talking on 2 matters.
– They were two particular matters that were not dealt with in the defence statement.
– But they were related to defence. The two matters were conscription and pay and other factors in the Services. I was a volunteer in two world wars.
– You were not the only one.
– I was not the only one. The honourable member was a volunteer. He belonged to the artillery and ever since he came he seems to have been putting over a barrage of blanks and briefs and brainwashing instead of bullets, which is just as dangerous. If honourable members refer back to the period 500 B.C. they will realise that some of the nations today are working on the old strategy of the Chinese General Sun Tzu who said, in effect: ‘If you want to conquer a people send in your agents to brainwash them and undermine their morale. Send your army in as a last resort after you have weakened their fibre and undermined their capacity to resist.’ This is what is going on in America, in Australia, and in other places today and if we do not win the war in South Vietnam it will be because we have lost it at home by making such speeches as that made by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party in this debate. The volunteer system is fine. The attitude is: Send somebody else to do the job, as long as I do not have to go.’ I think it was President Abraham Lincoln who said that the volunteer system was a hideout for cowardly politicians.
– How many volunteers have you got from the Government side?
– We have more than the Opposition. There are more returned diggers on this side than there are on the other, but I am not criticising the Opposition for that. There are reasons why some people could not go and I am not going to say that this one should have gone and that one should not have gone. I had the honour just after leaving school - and I mention this lest it might be thought that I am referring to public school boys only - to have as my first command a platoon of wharf labourers from Williamstown.
– What fools they were.
– They were patriots who understood the position a damn sight better than the honourable member did. They were a fine crowd of men. At least 80% of those waterside workers were prospective leaders, small and large, in their own calling. Half of them still remain on Gallipoli. If we are going to rely on a volunteer system in time of war - and this is nothing new to me - we are wasting our best material and leaving the others behind, not all of them, because some cannot go and a large number remain to procreate their own kind. Some of the trouble in Great Britain today stems from the fact that in war she lost her leaders from all sections of society and she lost the children that were never born to them. If we have a job to do in the interests of the security of our nation everybody has the duty as well as the right to play his part. If we cannot have universal training then selected national service is the fairest form we can have. It was criticised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who said that if we gave our soldiers higher pay we would get recruits.
– Do you disagree with that?
– Yes, I do, because the pay in the Australian Army today for the non-commissioned officers and the privates is the highest in the world except for Canada.
– Oh, rubbish!
– It is no good the honourable member protesting. He produces arguments out of the air and says that they are facts and does not prove them. Britain has gone back to the voluntary system and is reducing her Army. The United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Healey, said the other day that he was seriously concerned at the way recruiting was falling off because Britain could not keep her reduced forces up to standard. Canada, which has the highest pay in the world, is not at war and is not interested in this region, is finding that recruiting is falling off. We might be able to get volunteers if we had 5% to 6% unemployment as there is in the United States of America at present. Perhaps that is why the Gates Commission recommended the volunteer system. But does anybody suggest that we should so try to organise our economic set-up in Australia that we have 5% to 6% unemployment in order to force those who cannot get a job to volunteer for the Army, which is a more risky job than one at home? This would not be fair, right or in the interests of the nation. I hope that we will hear no more of this from the Opposition.
The other matter to which I want to refer was only lightly touched on and that is the question of our responsibilities in the Indian Ocean. Not only are we part of the region of South East Asia; we are also vitally interested in the Indian Ocean. I am delighted to know that the Government is starting work on the naval base at Cockburn Sound - it is starting too slowly - and also that it is building up the air bases at both Learmonth and Pearce. I think that those air and naval stations on the west coast will be of increasing importance. The Communist attempt at world conquest today has two objectives. One is to capture the rice bowl of South East Asia and the other is to take over the Cape route and command the only all-weather route from the Atlantic into the Indian and Pacific oceans. The Cape today, irrespective of whether you like the internal policies of South Africa, Rhodesia or Portugal -
– We do not.
– No, I am not particularly in support of some of the things that are going on there and 1 agree with you, but they are their internal policies and as was said by the man whom I consider to be the best leader in Africa: If I co-operate with them I have more chance of changing what I dislike than of driving more and more into the arms of the extreme right wing by ostracising them’. The pattern today is that Russia is steadily coming down the African continent in order to take over the Cape because the Cape is the Gibraltar of the international situation today.
– What rubbish.
– Perhaps you will learn something some time. Some 95% of Europe’s oil goes round the Cape every day, and whoever owns or controls the Cape route can control the jugular vein of Europe. Do you think that Russia does not know that, and also that southern Africa is one of the richest mineral areas in the world? I do not want to insult Russia. I do not want to be nasty to Russia. I would rather have peaceful co-existence, but what hypocrisy Russia exhibits in this psychological warfare when the Soviet Embassy in Canberra on 31st January puts out a long document saying what a heinous crime against humanity it would be if the Israelies bombed the Aswan dam, one of the greatest and best construction works that has been carried out for a long time.
– Do you not agree with that?
– I do.
– It would be a tragedy.
– Yes, and I hope it does not happen. But does the honourable member for Hunter, the member for safari suits, who called me a racist but who went there as a guest of the Speaker of the South African Parliament
– But it did not warp my view.
– You went there as a guest. What hypocrisy it is to say that of the Aswan Dam and at the same time to train terrorists in the use of explosives and in destruction and to supply them with explosives to stop construction of the Cabora Bassa Dam on the lower Zambesi in Mozambique which will produce almost twice as much electricity as the Aswan Dam and will provide irrigation and all sorts of aids to raise the standard of living of all the races in the surrounding areas. The same Soviet Embassy which says that it would be a crime if ever the Aswan Dam was bombed is doing its best to stop construction of the Cabora Bassa Dam.
The Russians have control of most of the Middle East; they control the entrance to the Red Sea and they have had their fishing fleet in St Grandis, the port in Mauritius, for the past 3 months carrying out surveys in Mozambique channel under contract to Mauritius. As a result of supporting Lagos against the lbos in Nigeria they now have a base from which to operate on the west coast of Africa. You cannot be blind to these things. Why are they doing it? Why are they supporting the Arab north against the African south? The whole trend of the operation is eventually to take over southern Africa. Or again, why this mixture of politics and sport? It did not start with South Africa; it started at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 when Egypt, of all countries, together with Holland, Spain and one other refused to come to the Melbourne Olympics because Russia had invaded Hungary and had been allowed to compete - nothing at all to do with South Africa. But now it is being used to stir up hatred and animosity against the southern part of Africa to help the Communists take it over and go ahead with their objective of world conquest.
– What has this to do with defence?
– Surely you understand that the Cape is our only safe trade route and that we should be cooperating in policing it. lt has a very great deal to do with the defence of the whole of the west coast of Australia. If you do not understand that, you have no right to be in this Parliament. You are in opposition but perhaps you will learn after you have been here a bit longer. It has a very great deal to do with the defence of both the Indian and Pacific oceans which wash our shores. I hope that more attention will be given to that phase.
One more thing I should like to say is that America is not always right, even with the Gates Commission, because apparently despite all the research officers that the President had he made his speech on ]8th February praising the Lusaka conference for advocating negotiations with South Africa instead of the use of force. That was in April last year. Apparently his researchers did not know on 4th January this year they had another Lusaka conference which reversed the whole proceedings. So it is very difficult for the ordinary person to understand the ins and outs of these international movements and the necessity for defence.
I congratulate the Government on the statement that was made. As I said at the outset, I believe that it is the best statement on defence we have had in this House for a very long time.
– The shibboleths uttered by the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) always carry their own answer and their own refutation. The statement by the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was notable for three omissions. The first was even the slightest reference to the Fill fiasco. He is not to be blamed for that because, after all, he inherited the situation. The second and even more notable omission, and possibly one of the most serious that has yet to be discussed in this House, was the failure to make any reference to the terms and reservations of Australia’s adherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The third and equally notable omission was any reference to the Waller report - from the retiring Ambassador to the United States - and the perturbation and consternation that it has caused within the ranks of the Government because it strikes at the very roots of the Government’s foreign policy and strategic undertakings.
It is only a few weeks since the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was literally dragged spitting and snarling into a most grudging and reluctant admission that Australia, with stringent reservations, would actually go through the preliminary procedure of signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The Minister for Defence referred to the inviolability of human rights and quoted the United Nations Charter. I want to refer to the inviolability of the human race and the fact that the main thing to be discussed in defence is the question of human existence, the survival of the human race itself and the inner plans and plots of this Government.
It is most notable that the Prime Minister, after extreme pressure from overseas, has switched from his stance taken last October when he made a definite statement that Australia would not sign this Treaty to a point where grudgingly and reluctantly he has been forced into doing so. He has made the conditions quite clear. They are almost impossible to fulfil. He quite deliberately planned it that way because he wants to welsh out when the final crunch comes. Behind it all is the grey eminence or the evil genius, if you like, of this Government and the Prime Minister, namely, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. It has been implacably and consistently opposed to any accession to this Treaty. Even after the Prime Minister finally agreed that Australia should sign it - we were in the heel of the hunt; I think we were the ninety-fifth of the nations of the world that agreed to do so - the Commission is still doing its very best to undermine the Treaty and all that it stands for.
It is worth referring to a statement made by the Prime Minister. After all, one can judge people by their pedigrees and their antecedents. If we want to know exactly what the Prime Minister intends we need to go back to a statement that he made when he was a senator. As reported in Hansard of another place of May 1957, the then Senator Gorton said:
I should hope that we would use our defence funds and endeavour to secure for this country some measure of atomic or hydrogen defence . . After all, should there be an attack on this country, the government … in either Great Britain or the United States of America would have to come to a grim decision on whether it would retaliate and thereby lay its own country completely open to devastation . . . To relieve them of that dilemma, if for no other reason, I should like to see us have inter-continent missiles of our own and have our own bomber aircraft, capable of delivering our own bombs should we find that necessary.
Has he recanted? Has he relented? Has he changed his mind? I say that he has not. Let him prove that he has, if he can. His grey eminence, his worthy adviser, Sir Philip Baxter, had this to say in March 1968, when addressing the Sydney Rotary Club:
Australia should expand and protect all those industries on which defence ultimately rests, and so equip ourselves to defend our lives and country with the most sophisticated and effective weapons that man can devise - with no type excluded.
I repeat those final words - ‘with no type excluded’. If we want to know what this Government is really up to we can have a look at the specifications in the letter of invitation which was circulated last December by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission to ten countries that are capable of producing nuclear reactors. This Government has deliberately chosen a type of nuclear reactor that will enable it to avoid and circumvent the provisions of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The Government is calling for tenders based on the supply of a type of reactor which is called the steam generating heavy water regulated reactor. In the preliminary statement to the specifications is a statement that the reactor must be capable of being fuelled by natural uranium. Natural uranium processed in an atomic reactor is the short cut to plutonium, which in its turn is the base of atomic weapons.
If Australia accedes to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty it will be cut off from the supplies of enriched uranium which arc the normal supplies being used by every advanced country in the world today. The last two countries still adhering to the natural uranium type of reactor are Canada and France. It was very interesting to note that when a nuclear reactor was mooted the then Minister for National Development made a beeline for France. But even France is abandoning that type of reactor for the enriched uranium type of reactor.
It is true that following criticism by leading scientists in Australia the Government did modify its policy a little when it added a rider and invited suggestions as to how methods of enriching uranium could be supplied. Today we have not very substantial supplies of uranium in Australia. Canada has substantial supplies and it can afford to take the short cut and use the natural uranium type of reactor. But in the case of other countries enrichment is by one of two processes - either by gaseous diffusion or by the gas centrifuge. It is noteworthy that less than 18 months ago a certain gentleman named Cunningham, who is the V ice-Chairman of the British Atomic Energy Commission, came to this country and warned it that there had been a breakthrough by the combined experiments of Britain, West Germany and Holland in the use of the gas centrifuge, which was a much cheaper method of enriching uranium. But, of course, this Government wants plutonium on the cheap and this is the best way it can get it. If further proof of the Government’s intentions is wanted, let me quote from the letter of invitation, which states:
The reactor must be capable of operating on indigenous fuel, i.e. fuel which could be prepared and manufactured entirely within Australia from Australian resources.
Natural uranium ore, when it is charged into a reactor, is uranium 238. There is 0.07% of uranium 235, which is the main component of the reaction. If it is enriched one can get four times as much uranium 235. But in the process one comes to what are called the trans-uranic elements, and the first of these is uranium 239, which is plutonium. Any country that is bent upon securing plutonium for atomic weapons by this purpose has to interrupt the atomic cycle of reaction, because when one goes beyond uranium 239 one comes to other trans-uranic elements, namely, neptunium and americium. The most sinister part of the whole letter is prefaced by this statement:
The reactor is expected to operate normally at high capacity factor and be base loaded.
That is all right. That is the conventional type of electricity production - with a full load. But then paragraph 8.5 states:
At some time in the future it may be desirable for the reactor to operate at reduced ratings and to be capable of some flexibility in its mode of operation. The tenderer will be asked to indicate (a) operational flexibility of his plant and (b) if necessary, what modifications can be made to approach the operating conditions outlined below . . .
And then certain variations of loading are suggested. It is necessary for a reactor of this type to be able to spoon out or ladle out the plutonium before it is transmuted into one of the higher trans-uranic elements, and that is precisely what this Government intends.
Let me pass on to another .matter. Earlier I made reference to the Waller report. I challenge the Government to produce that report. I know that it will not do so. But sufficient of the report itself has already been leaked and is available in certain sections of the Austraiian Press to embarrass this Government and to reveal the truth and the depth of its embarrassment. I will quote from an article in ‘Inside Canberra’ of 26th February last. A report was made by Sir Keith Waller. In it he said that President Nixon’s long term foreign policy aims were appraised and their implications for Australia were assessed. The article states: (The report) forecasts a rapid and determined re-orientation of United States foreign policy and major interests from the Pacific and Asian regions towards Europe, the Middle East and South America.
The report claims that President Nixon and his advisers have downgraded the threat of Communistinspired expansion in Asia. It suggests that the US military and economic involvement in the region will also be sharply downgraded in the list of US foreign policy priorities.
The predicted US retreat from Asia will not mean merely a disengagement from Vietnam, but a major withdrawal from the whole area west of Hawaii.
Asian and Pacific nations will be left progressively more to their own resource!,. The United States will insist on Japan shouldering a heavier share of responsibility in Pacific and Asian defence. Sir Keith’s report throws considerable doubt on the future validity of both the SEATO and ANZUS pacts. The report implies that the British Prime Minister, Mr Harold Wilson, on his recent Washington visit, scored a major diplomatic coup by persuading President Nixon to change the balance of US policy in favour of the United Kingdom and Europe. Mr Wilson is also believed to have convinced Mr Nixon that the Middle East, and not
Asia, is the main threat to world peace. The report by Sir Keith is certain to mean a basic reappraisal of Australian foreign policy, forward defence planning and Asian relations.
Sir, that report is the most devastating and explosive document received by the Australian Government since the correspondence between the late John Curtin and the British Prime Minister of the day in relation to the return of Australian divisions from the Middle East for the defence of this country. We will press unremittingly and unrelentingly for that report to be released. If the Government is not prepared to put it before Parliament - the people of Australia are entitled to know what is in that report - it will be because its whole defence statement will tumble into ruins the minute that report is published. If the Government is diffident to do that I challenge it at least to refer the report to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs so that it can be discussed and then passed on to our Party Executive. We are entitled to know and the people of Australia are entitled to know what is in that report. The Australian people have been fed poison in the name of foreign policy by this Government far too long. The minds of the Australian people have been corroded and corrupted by the filth, the lies and the abuse of this Government. Foreign policy has been prostituted. Foreign policy which in other countries is treated as a matter of common consent by all parties and all factions has been prostituted and perverted for political advantage and for the survival of this Government.
– Is the honourable member joining the Foreign Affairs Committee?
– Yes, I will join it. Quite a number of other matters deserve consideration. One is this: It has been well stated by spokesmen for the Government that no immediate threat to Australia exists. We are entering a new era in relation to defence procurement and manufacture. We might well take a leaf out of Sweden’s book. Sweden is a country which has types of aircraft comparable in performance with the Fill. Sweden, with less than two thirds of our- population, is capable of making the whole of its defence requirements. After all, what does our present defence procurement amount to in terms of military hardware? The Fill can be operated as wings of the United States Air Force in Vietnam. We have destroyers and frigates that could be operated as a squadron with a United States naval task force. In the future, we will need to stand on our own feet. We are capable of doing it. Australia has the men and the technology to make the whole of its defence requirements. We will need to do this to conserve foreign exchange because of the pace at which this Government is attacking and destroying the economy of Australia.
So far in regard to defence we have been trying to keep up with the United States Joneses. We have chosen United States types of equipment. Are there not other forms of equipment that Australian ingenuity could provide? It is not necessarily true that the United States has the final answer to what are the defence needs of this country. That brings me to another point. Reference was made in the statement by the Minister for Defence to the need to obtain another aircraft carrier to replace the obsolete ‘Melbourne’. In that regard, major aircraft carriers today are as obsolete as battleships - as ‘Renown’ and Repulse’ - were at the onset of World War II. The naval air force of the future is very obviously vertical takeoff and landing aircraft of the Hawker Harrier type capable of operating from a launching pad from major cruisers, destroyers or even frigates. Indeed, four or five aircraft could operate from any one of a number of vessels. If we do not have this type of force, we will have all our naval aircraft eggs, so to speak, in the one naval basket - on one aircraft carrier. Each aircraft carrier requires a large and extensive screen of protective vessels. An aircraft carrier is highly vulnerable. Even in World War II aircraft carriers had to be shielded and kept hundreds of miles from the scene of combat.
A lot more could be said but this I will say in conclusion: If ever there was a case for the urgent withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam that case has been established fully in this Parliament during this debate. Above all, I wish to see, and so does my Party, the terms of the Waller report. If the Government refuses to produce it - and it undoubtedly will - we will know what this means. It will show the measure of the Government’s embarrassment. At least the Australian people will learn the real truth about the disreputable policy of this Government which it has foisted on the people of Australia for so many years.
– Order! The honourable member’s lime has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, for a man who did not discuss the defence statement presented by the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in any significant fashion at all, I think that the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) used some very unnecessary language. He should be able to express himself without resorting to that sort of language. The Opposition has not mounted any valid criticism of the defence statement. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), with his vast experience in the forces, clowned his way through some sort of criticism. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) actually agreed with the defence statement. He claimed that it was Labor Party policy.
– Who did?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition did this. He mentioned Australian Labor Party policy over the past 3 years. There has been no policy - none at all. The Australian Labor Party proposed only a withdrawal to Australia. This was its Fortress Australia policy. This policy has been reiterated this evening by two out of the three Opposition speakers who have spoken. Whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is the spokesman for the Australian Labor Party or not, I do not know. I wish to quote from the defence debate a year ago. For what it is worth, I will read what I said in that debate on 20th March 1969 as reported at page 752 of Hansard. I said:
I would be prepared to say that the body that controls the Opposition parliamentarians - that is, the National Conference of the Party- or whatever honourable members opposite call it: . . 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 will demand of a Labor government, if Labor ever comes to office-
Labor was not returned to office at the last election:
This withdrawal policy was strongly supported by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) at that time. Who produces Labor policies? Who leads the party? A past leader is strongly in favour of the Fortress Australia policy. The present Deputy Leader would withdraw ground forces. The Leader of the Party said nothing of this in his speech on defence made in this chamber 12 months ago. Tonight the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said in this chamber that the Labor Party has had a defence policy for the last 3 years. 1 say that it just does not exist. It certainly did not exist last year, and from the remarks made by Labor members tonight, it certainly does not exist now.
I commend the Minister for Defence for his detailed and thorough statement on defence. It clearly shows that, although there is great emphasis on the mobility of our armed forces, the Labor Party idea of a Fortress Australia defence has been strongly rejected. Thirty years have passed since Darwin was in enemy bomb sights and attacking aircraft roved over the country between Wyndham, Katherine and Gove Peninsula. That was the only part of Australia which felt the crump of bombs and in which the stutter of cannons and machine guns was heard.
– That is not right.
– You would not know much about it. A whole generation has grown up since those sounds were heard, but they should not be forgotten. Darwin is closer to Saigon than to the Launceston airport at Midland Junction, or Sydney is to Perth. Do not forget that. Darwin was in the front line in World War II and it will be again if the policy of Fortress Australia, clung to for so long by the Labor Party and again expounded by its ‘experts’ tonight, is implemented. Twelve months ago the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) announced aid to Malaysia and Singapore in the form of Sabre aircraft, ground support equipment and personnel to train their servicemen to operate that equipment. The defence statement we are debating indicates that Australia is prepared to live in South East Asia and with the people of the South East Asian region. We are prepared to stay in the Malaysia and South East Asian area. Labor wants to bring our troops back to Australia and fight the enemy at Darwin. That is alL right for the people who live down south, 2,000 miles from Darwin.
– But you live 1,000 miles from Darwin.
– My office is in Darwin and I go there every second weekend while the House sits. I hope that the Singaporean naval officers will still be seen on the decks of our patrol boats ‘Attack’, ‘Assail’ and Advance’ operating out of Darwin in our northern waters. These officers are learning not only about our equipment and procedures but also, and possibly more importantly, the Australian approach to Service life and the Australian way of life in the north. This defence statement should hearten our friends in Malaysia and Singapore, and reassure them that we are conscious that our security is bound Up with the whole area of South East Asia.
Closer to home is Indonesia. Until recently Indonesia caused the Government much concern and was really a personal worry to us in the north - 2,000 miles closer to Indonesia than is the home of the honourable member for Wills. We in the north are much closer to Indonesia than the people in the southern capitals and I ask honourable members to remember that the most important part of Australia is up north in the potential firing line. At the time that Indonesia appeared to be a threat people in the north felt that they were once again to be in the front line. The Labor Party’s policy of Fortress Australia would not then have helped the citizens in the cities and towns of the north. But the situation in Indonesia has greatly changed since then and it is hoped that we can continue to build up goodwill in that area. The defence policy, outlined recently by the Minister, shows clearly that the Government realises that our future lies in cooperation with the small nations in the South East Asian region.
Our growing stature brought about by 20 years of stable Liberal-Country Party government helped to bring about an upsurge in the mining industry, which resulted in our increased wealth. We must defend ourselves, but we are far better equipped financially to partner these nations than we were 25 years ago at the end of the Second World War. With the increasing Russian interest in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and even in the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria, I am glad to see that the Navy is to receive some real strengthening. The new naval communications station at Darwin, added to the small but efficient units already there and the vast port development now under way, should strengthen our position in the north. The development of Cockburn Sound, the cost of which was not included in this defence statement, will enable our ships to operate in the Indian Ocean as well as in the Pacific Ocean.
I hope that the modernised HMAS ‘Melbourne’, with its complement of Tracker and Skyhawk aircraft, of which we are to get another ten, and Wessex helicopters will last another 10 years, but if HMAS ‘Melbourne’ shows signs of ageing before this the position can be reviewed, according to the statement, under the system of continuous review and annual reappraisal. The reorganisation in the Department of Defence, with the establishment of a policy planning branch, should help to ensure that the best possible solutions to defence problems are found and applied. The lag in Service housing has been decreased greatly. One only has to see the number of recently erected houses in Darwin to realise that. Later this year 100 extra Service houses will have been built for the RAAF during the last 2 years. The pay and conditions of the Service Branch recently established in the Department of Defence should be of great benefit to all servicemen, for their domestic affairs such as pay, housing, schooling of their children and posting problems are of paramount importance to the morale of the Services.
Of the rest of the hardware orders, the light destroyers detailed design could lead to a comprehensive cover of our northern waters. I hope that after the original $5m is spent on design we will have a ship which will be very suitable for patrolling our coast, especially the north. I must admit that the patrol boats that are there already are most unsatisfactory in the humidity of the wet season. Obviously lessons have been learned in the Malaysian, Korean and Vietnamese campaigns, as shown by the decision to order over 120 helicopters and gun ships, while the Army is to have its own special cargo ship. Might I emphasise here that the Minister stated that as many as possible of the ships to be built would be built in Australian yards? Also I note that the 5-year plan should assist greatly those tendering for contracts.
The Minister’s remarks on the Citizen Military Forces, the Naval Reserve and the Citizen Air Force are welcome. I spent 7 years in what is now called the CMF. In those days it was just referred to as ‘the army’, 1 think. What one learned in those units was of great use when one entered the service later on. This arm of the defence forces is most necessary to supply back up and expansion in the case of emergency. Many of us went straight from the then Militia or CMF as it is called today into the Services. We had some sort of training and therefore knew what was going on. In the fast changing world of today rapid movement and deployment of our forces is vital. It is necessary to work with and support the small nations of South East Asia. For this we must have forward and regional defence because the rumble of guns and the howl of rockets finally is getting closer.
– You are frightening.
– The honourable member for Barton should get out and hear them some time. We must be prepared to serve our nation. By ‘serve’ I mean that we must make some personal sacrifice to assist in the development, the defence and protection of the tremendous assets now being unfolded in Australia. All of us should be prepared to serve Australia and protect our way of life, a way of life which very few of us would wish to change.regardless of what we may see or hear in other parts of the world.
In order to achieve these things I ask the Government to look very hard at the question of universal national service. Our young people now growing up should have the spirit of Australian nationalism and an acute desire to give something in return for the fabulous benefits they are receiving or have received from their homeland. There are many ways of serving. There are the three branches of the regular armed Services; then there are the Citizen Military Forces - for example, the bushmen’s rifles as it is called, the 43rd Battalion in Adelaide - the naval reserve and the Citizen Air Force. All these branches of the Services exist today.
If there were universal service involving, say, 12 months full time service, our young people would be brought under discipline. Very often discipline is lacking in the upbringing of our children today. I ask: How many young men and women say that they regretted their time in the Services? The honourable member on the Opposition side who is interjecting was probably marked ‘inefficient’ in the Army. Those young people I know who return from the Services seem twice the size they were previously, both physically and mentally. Under such a universal training scheme as I propose provision could be made for overseas service in order to assist our neighbouring countries in the development of their own programmes. There could be service aimed at assisting our own development. Vast projects could be achieved. The participants would feel, upon completing their period of servi.ee, that they had materially assisted in making Australia a really great nation.
Can we afford it? Can we afford not to mobilise our youth for their own good and for the good of their nation? I am sure that if such a universal scheme were implemented we would have no shortage of keen and partly trained men and women to meet the requirements of our armed forces as well as having many others left over who could make an impact on the world, especially the South East Asian region. Other young people could assist in building our own nation and make it what we believe it to be - the best nation in the world.
J believe that the statement of the Minister for Defence was a clear, concise and comprehensive statement of what this Government proposes to do with the financial resources available. How are we going lo do these things? We will do them by following this clear path through the undergrowth of Communist aggression and subversion which is rolling our way; by getting with our country and being prepared to do something extra. We should remember that the bombs fell in 1942 and that the rumble of guns is growing closer.
Debate (on motion by Mr Cross) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 403)
– I turn to the speech made by His Excellency the Governor-General on 3rd March. Perhaps it would be appropriate if I. were to read the first paragraph of the Speech, lt states:
You are assembled at this Second Session of the 27lh Parliament to consider and decide on matters affecting the security and growth of the Australian nation, and matters concerning the welfare of the citizens who constitute that nation.
For a little over 2 hours, honourable members have been listening to a debate on defence which is, of course, the first responsibility of this Parliament. The GovernorGeneral in his Speech dealt with many items relating to defence, and many items relating to the economic and social wellbeing of this nation. I would like to deal with a few of these matters this evening. Australia is going through a period of some expansion. As has been mentioned in the House, this expansion has been going on for some time and has been accelerated in recent times by certain mining and industrial activity, and activity of many other kinds throughout Australia. This expansion has had its effect on our general economy. Perhaps I could say it has had an uneven effect because of the pressures brought to bear on certain sections of the community compared with other sections.
It is these defence matters, economic matters and social matters which are so important to Australia at this time. His Excellency mentioned in his Speech the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. We have had some debates in the House on the Territory since this session commenced. I want to say that 1 hope that the people of Papua and New Guinea will be allowed to move along in their own way and find their feet in their own good time, with the assistance which Australia is giving them, knowing the responsibility which we have to the world, without too many pressures from the outside world. I believe that the people of Papua and New Guinea can indeed find their feet in their own way and in their own time with the assistance of this country and with the outer world encouraging them but without forcing them in any way. I know they will, in fact, do so.
I pay a tribute to the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) who has one of the most difficult portfolios in this Government. The eyes of the world are upon our country and Papua and New Guinea, watching its development. In my opinion the Minister for External Territories is doing an excellent job in his own quiet way to try to lift Papua and New Guinea to nationhood, with the resources of Australia being used to assist it to achieve that objective. This issue is very important because, as I have said, it is our responsibility as a nation to direct the Territory’s future. We have to see that help is given to them so that their future is a sound one and not a half baked one. 1 hope that the people of Australia and the members of this House will leave the people of the Territory in peace and will not force independence on them too quickly, as some of the other countries of the world have been suggesting.
I want to turn this evening to a number of subjects dealing with the economy of this country, and more particularly with that of agricultural industries which are not enjoying the prosperity which is seen today in many of the big mineral areas and large cities. The economy of this nation seems to have been directed to some extent by the big cities of Australia regardless of what might be happening to the producing areas, the areas which produce the real wealth of this nation. The real wealth of any nation comes from the soil. There is no other place from which to get it. if this country and the world in general neglect the soil they will be heading for trouble sooner than they think.
The population of the world is growing. At the moment this country and many other countries have a surplus of food. But let it not be forgotten that as people not only in Australia but all around the world continue to move in great numbers from the rural producing areas into the cities the clay of reckoning will come. Not only will food not be available to many millions of people, who are increasing in number every year, but the real techniques of producing the food will disappear. This is the problem. The young people who today are moving away from the vital industries of this country are not being trained as .they should be if wc are to look ahead to the future of our primary industries.
The population of the world continues to increase, although steps are being taken to control its growth in countries such as India. A rapidly increasing population is one of India’s biggest embarrassments, if I may use that word, because it has insufficient food. As the population increases people will need a tremendous amount of food and shelter, perhaps not in 5 or 10 years time but certainly in 20 years time. I repeat that if we do not look to this area of need in this country, and indeed in other countries, we will be in trouble in 20 years time or probably less.
Some of the points I want to deal with tonight were mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. His Excellency referred, for instance, to the major cost factor in any industry, whether it be primary industry or secondary industry - that is, transport costs. A Bureau of Transport Economics is to be set up, and I compliment the Government on this move. Australia is a nation of about 3 million square miles, and most of the people who live in Sydney, Melbourne and the other cities around the coast are inclined to forget that the distances in this country are tremendous. A week or two ago we saw the opening of the Indian-Pacific railway line which goes right across Australia. For the first time in the 200-year history of Australia we have been able to link Sydney and Perth with a standard gauge line. It has taken 200 years to do this, but we have done it. The distance involved was a big problem. The distance involved in transport is putting a tremendous burden on the people who produce the real wealth of this country. Whether it is transport by rail, road, sea, pipeline or wire, it makes no difference. Any system of transport is very costly to the person who lives in inland Australia. We must tackle this problem and help the States to do something about it if we are to help the people maintain the position that 1 spoke about earlier.
We have been doing something in the field of transport beyond our shores. Some years ago, when I first came into this House, I mentioned that if Australia wanted to trade successfully overseas it would have to do something about overseas shipping costs. It took a long time to convince the powers that be that we had to change our ways and that conventional ships had to go. After making that speech, I walked out of the House into Kings Hall and one of my friends said to me: ‘You spent a lot of money tonight, old chap’. I did, but exactly what I said has come true. We had to throw away the old ship and get a new one. We were the only country in the world with positive evidence that this had to be done. Some years ago on the Melbourne to Fremantle link we introduced the first container concept in the world. This was brought about because of competition from road transport. This was the only area in the world where parallel transport was provided by road and sea. Deficiencies were evident in the old system. We have rectified those deficiencies, but we must go on to rectify the deficiencies that exist in the inland areas.
One of the biggest problems confronting decentralisation and the people who live in the country is communications. Anybody who lives in a built-up area in the cities can get a telephone connected by paying a connection fee and a telephone rental. But many of the people who live in the country areas and who provide the real wealth of this nation have to pay literally thousands of dollars to have a phone connected before they start paying high costs associated with this means of communication. It is quite unreasonable. Why should a person who lives in a country area be required to find the capital cost of connecting a telephone to his property? A country as affluent as Australia should have a telephone communications system which is within reason readily accessible to the people who live in inland areas. This is one area of the communications system I have referred to which we must in fact do something about.
As a question I directed to the Treasurer (Mr Bury) would indicate, I am concerned about the recent announcement by the Reserve Bank of Australia that interest rates will be increased by 0.5%. Such an increase would mean that the rural industries alone would have to find at least an extra Si Om to meet something which they have had no opportunity to budget for and which in fact they are not in a position to find. It is not reasonable to expect them to meet such an increase. As I said on a previous occasion, the increase is probably based on the affluent situation which exists in the cities as a result of the mining boom and so forth. But the people who are not enjoying the affluent society which is evident in our cities today are the people who live not only on farms but also in towns in rural areas. They are not enjoying this affluence. Therefore, why should they be asked to pay the proposed increased interest rates? I sincerely hope that the powers that be in the Reserve Bank will do the right thing by the people who live in country areas and ensure that the proposed 0.5% increase does not apply to them at all.
During the last election campaign a lot of statements were made on soap boxes throughout the country. The point was reached where I became completely disgusted with most of these statements because they were not based on fact. If we are to build our nation we must tell the people the true situation. I appreciate that politics is politics, but let us have a little bit of truth in regard to the things we are trying to do to help the people of Australia. The Government has been helping our primary industries in various ways for some considerable time. It has been assisting in some way or another the wheat, dairying, sugar and wool industries and any other industries one likes to mention. One statement which was made during the election campaign was that the superphosphate bounty, which will amount to $50m a year this year, was of no benefit to the actual producer because it is all absorbed in costs. I am not here to support the actions of the superphosphate manufacturers; all I am trying to do is to inform the House and the people of Australia of the facts of the situation. The honourable member for the Riverina (Mr Grassby) referred to the superphosphate bounty in his speech in the House on 5th March 1970, which appears at page 117 of Hansard. He said that the manufacturers receive the assistance and the growers have to meet the increased price but that there is no direct subsidisation in the fertiliser field.
– They do not get a cheque.
– Of course they do not get a cheque, but they get the benefit of such assistance.
– How much?
– They do not have to pay it in the first instance. The honourable member says that the growers do not receive any benefits.
– Very little.
– I shall indicate what assistance they get. 1 shall talk about superphosphate and nothing else because the bounty is on superphosphate. 1 have figures in regard to the State of Western Australia. The position is much the same in the other States, although there may be a few cents difference. We use a lot of superphosphate in my own State of Western Australia. There was no bounty on superphosphate in 1962- 63 and the net price to the grower was $20.85 a ton. The Government introduced a bounty of $6 a ton, which brought the price back to $14.85. It remained at much the same price until 1966 when the price went up by $5.50. The price rose because of the necessity to import sulphur and the extra cost of the rock from Nauru. If any man knows the story behind the extra cost of rock from Nauru I am sure he will not argue about doing the right thing by these people. At that point the price went to $19.40 but in August 1968 the price was $20.25. From 13th August onwards it came back to $18.25 as a result of an extra $2 subsidy from this Government. From 13th August 1969 the price was $14.25. When we first introduced the superphosphate bounty the price was $14.85. So it is a little lower now than it was when we started. They are the facts of life and that is what the people have to be told. I can assure you that it becomes very confusing for many folk in the country areas. The Government has done many things in the meat industry to help free enterprise to sell more meat overseas. Thanks to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) and his Department we supply to the United States of America almost half of its total meat imports. That is a pretty good deal.
The wheat industry is one which is in real trouble today. Not long ago when the stabilisation plan was introduced into this
House the Government gave a guarantee to the Australian wheat growers of $2,000m over a period of 5 years. That is probably the biggest deal that has been made in the primary industries of this country at any time. Of course, the total cheque will be much more than that, we hope. But the industry is still in trouble because of the world situation and that alone. Wheat production has risen very rapidly in the last 10 years. As a matter of fact, it has about doubled.
– You asked for it.
– There is nothing wrong with doubling production. We have to have this export. In the past we have always been able to sell all our wheat. Now we have a problem, so let us face up to the problem and do something about it. Why did that problem arise and why did production increase so quickly in that period of time? Let us have a look at the total situation. Most of the wheat growers in Australia are also wool growers, and many of those in New South Wales who were not previously growing wheat and have grown wool for many years have come into the wheat market because it was stabilised by the agreements put through this House from time to time. They knew that if they grew a bushel of wheat they could get paid for it. So they moved into wheat. Of course the development of new land in many areas of Australia also increased the production of wheat.
We have a problem but I believe that the major problem was caused by the fact that wool prices went down. Let us look at the wool industry for a moment and see what has happened over the years. Any-, body can trace the history of wool back to the First World War to get the facts from the beginning. As honourable members know, during the two World Wars we had a system of appraisal and selling. The three countries concerned, including Britain, agreed that we should have such a system. After the First World War a couple of million bales of wool were left over. Those people who had no faith in wool would have said: ‘What we should do with these 2 million bales of wool is throw them into the sea’. But that was not done, and all the wool was sold within 2 or 3 years. Following that, the price of wool went down to about 8d a lb. If honourable members look at copies of Hansard for 1921 or 1922 - do not hold me to a year - they will see that the Government brought down a measure whereby wool could not be exported from this country unless it averaged 8d a lb. That was a very flimsy arrangement but it put some confidence into the business, and within a few years we had stability and reasonable prices in the wool industry. This did not continue. We know what happened in 1930. I do not have to say anything about that. At the time of the next World War a new plan came in, as happens when we have wars. The post-war joint organisation scheme was introduced in order to sell some 10 million bales of wool. At that time in 1945-46, nobody was saying that we should throw 10 million bales of wool into the sea. Because of previous experience we knew what would happen.
But there were people saying that it would take 8 to 10 years to get rid of the wool, and everybody was a little frightened of what would happen if ten million bales of surplus wool were released onto the Australian market. But what happened? The wool was fed onto the market in an organised fashion. The price of wool never went higher than it did between 1945 and 1950, although ten million bales of surplus wool were fed onto the market. But what has happened since this method of selling wool was abandoned? In 1951 the growers were offered backing from this Government to supplement their own funds and to continue the organised marketing. We had the funds, we had the stores and we had the organisation, but the growers said that they did not want it, and we have been in trouble ever since. Since that time proposals have been submitted to the growers, but the growers have rejected them. Which growers rejected the proposals? In the main it was the growers in New South Wales, which is the largest wool growing State in the Commonwealth.
What is the situation today? The wool industry is in real trouble. It is, and has been, our best industry in Australia. I think it is a complete tragedy that the wool industry has been split. This Government has said that it stands prepared to assist the industry. That is fair enough to me. Let us get the people engaged in the wool industry together. If they really want something done, surely history shows that something can be done. Of course, there will be many people who will say: That was in the past. We cannot do that now. We could do it after the First World War, we could do it after the Second World War, but we could not do it today.’
All the research and promotion that has been carried out has had no effect on the actual return to the grower. So the wool industry has to do what any other commercial industry would do - whether it is the iron ore industry, the oil industry, the wood chip industry, or any other industry producing raw materials that are sold on the world market or even on the home market, it has to organise itself in a suitable fashion. Those engaged in the wool industry should get together and do something in this regard. I say 10 the Government that if it wants to spend money to help the wool industry, it should spend the money as we have spent it previously. Money has always been well spent in the wool industry. Britain made a lot of money out of the last scheme to dispose of surplus wool, because the scheme was well organised.
There is a market in the world for Australian ‘ wool. Australian wool is a good fibre. No other fibre comes up to it. The wool industry can look after itself, if it is given a chance. It does not have a chance at the present time because all the wool growers in Australia are putting wool onto the floor and a handful of buyers are sorting it out for themselves. This is not giving the industry a chance. All the evidence that one can gather certainly points to the fact that those engaged in the wool industry need to get themselves together and do something in this matter.
There is one other point 1 should like to make before my time expires. It refers to the research which is being carried out in primary industries in Australia. As honourable members know, there are many good research officers in Australia carrying out research work, but in my opinion the work is not being co-ordinated as it should be. The various departments within the States, the universities and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation are carrying out research work. But in practice we find that much of the work that should be done is in fact not being done. I will not try to spell out tonight what needs to be done because I do not have the time and I do not wish to do so, but I believe it is time that we co-ordinated the forces that are carrying out research. A large amount of money is being spent on research in Australia today, and we want a full inquiry to see what is happening and where the money is being spent to make sure - and I am a long way from being sure - that a lot of this work is not being duplicated. With the limited amount of money that we have available to spend on research, every cent needs to be spent in the right way. Research work should not be duplicated by the various organisations which are responsible for it.
I remind the House that this is the maiden speech of the honourable member for Swan.
– I wish to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the electors of Swan for the confidence in the Australian Labor Party policies expressed by their electing me as their representative. This is particularly so in view of the long period the seat of Swan has been held by my predecessor. I pledge that 1 will do all that is possible to see that their confidence is well founded. I would like to express my deep thanks to my helpers in the campaign and particularly to my family who so ably assisted me, especially my wife who has tolerated my absence from home in public life for many years and really worked on this occasion to sec that I obtained a position that would take me away from home even more. There may be a message in this that I have not yet seen.
I was deeply concerned at the long absence of a parliamentary sitting following the election. During the recess, or government long service leave, 1 took the opportunity to acquaint myself with the problems of the people of this great electorate. I will attempt to raise a number of them in the time available. The name of the Swan electorate is somewhat misleading to people with a knowledge of Western Australia. The closest association it has with the name Swan is its proximity to the Swan River which acts as a boundary on one border and is something about which the residents of that electorate are indeed proud. There are many features of the electorate of which the residents are proud. In particular they are proud of the many volunteer organisations of charitable intent, which labour for the aged and sick, to ease some of the social and physical burdens borne by the community.
The unpaid councillors of the local councils of Perth City, South Perth City, Belmont Shire, Canning Shire, all of the electorate of Swan, give their time and services for the good of the community in the face of an ever increasing burden of services that they are being required to provide which often, even though some are subsidised, are still a cost to the community. Increased costs through rates as a portion must still be met by councils from rate revenue making even less available to them to provide such urgent facilities as better local roads and footpaths.
The councils are now receiving subsidies for services which have never before been their responsibility - for example, senior citizens’ services. They do not begrudge providing these services but do need a full and proper approach to them in the provision of federal money to carry out the obligation they undertake on behalf of the Commonwealth to the community in their services to youth, senior citizens and the infirm. The councils require not small subsidies, but substantial contributions for capital expenditure and yearly maintenance. Let the community have organised service available to all sections of it and not a disjointed service as exists now. Let our community services be something of right to all citizens and not something of accident of area residence.
There are areas within 7 miles of the City of Perth that lack sewerage and proper drainage. Residential development is curtailed because of this as the local authority institutes a water table criteria which prevents development in the interest of public health, only allowing development when sewerage and drainage becomes available. Developers and shire councils have recently become so dispirited about the situation that they have entered into schemes for costly sewerage package treatment plants to gain development and these plants will be taken over by government instrumentalities when completed. This is an appaling situation of lack of government initiative and finance to assist this very important arm of public health and development. The problem of sewerage which exists in the Canning Shire and adjacent areas could and should be resolved by government action. Federal Government grants for the purpose of development are needed not only in the interests of public health and development of near city land, which is so urgently needed to be released, but to assist in cheaper land development for the intending home owner. I note with disappointment that no such proposals are envisaged this session in the proposed legislation.
We are in the position in Swan where because of the economics and inflation the purchasing of the traditional home on a quarter-acre block is becoming a dream only for many. Because of the lower scale of their incomes they are unable to afford the high initial purchase prices brought about by speculation in land and the practice of development costs being passed on to the purchaser who must pay not only the high initial price but the subsequent usurious interest rates demanded by the companies who specialise in building homes for these people with a first and second mortgage. The companies further insist as part of the contract that the insurance of the property be made with their nominated associated insurance company, with no hope of cancellation of the insurance policy by the purchaser while the property is mortgaged so as to allow people to insure at competitive prices elsewhere. Lower deposits and the shortage of housing attract people into this situation, and thus they undertake a burden which is a constant restriction on them because of their limited income. This is responsible for the working wife becoming a must so as to live and educate the family, rather than something of choice.
It could be said that if they are poor let them obtain a State housing commission home, but with approximately 5,000 people on the waiting list the Commission is only dealing with applications lodged in 1966. They are now abandoning to a large degree the building of single unit homes on separate blocks of land and going into flat units, terrace housing and other high density housing projects. So, if one has a small income and must rely on the Housing Commission one faces the distinct possibility of living in a type of housing allocated which is not of the type and standard envisaged when the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement was drawn up. In fact, one of Australia’s early claims to attract migrants was that we were proud of our tradition of every man having the opportunity of having his own home on his separate block of land. Now it is becoming so that people can do this only if they are wealthier than the ordinary wage warner. We have migrants who have come to Western Australia for a new start in life who have waited for more than 4 years for accommodation by the State. In fact, to quote one family from Scotland, they are still waiting with their seven children and paying $27 a week in rent from a normal wage. With all this, no wonder the people of my electorate are disappointed at the lack of proposed legislation in this field.
The argument may well be raised that the Western Australian State Government recently took from its housing allocation some $2m for the purposes of education; but this only emphasises the inadequacies which exist in Commonwealth-State relationships, for a crisis situation has been created in the provision of education facilities. In my electorate it is only recently that high schools have had allocated to them major structures such as libraries and science blocks. To cite Bentley Senior High School, there is no gymnasium or assembly hall; the so-called amenities room for teachers still consists of the original room provided for the staff when it was restricted to approximately thirty and it now has a much extended staff of up to eighty. In any other industry it would be subject to health regulation enforcement and be made to provide rest rooms for the female staff, which of course do not exist there at the moment, and proper sick room amenities for the pupils. I am speaking of a senior high school whose teachers and Parents and Citizens Association have put these matters before State and Federal ministers from time to time as have of course other schools in my electorate, such as Cannington Senior High School which has a similar problem with a lack of hall facilities. These situations only highlight a compounding situation of a lack of adequate provisions for education facilities by both Federal and State governments.
We have enthusiastic parents in the parents and citizens associations serving these schools who do work in canteens and carry out other activities to raise funds for amenities which should be supplied for pupils when they first attend a school. The early students should not be denied facilities that are gained only after some efforts from the self-same students’ parents for the benefit of later students. It is a Government responsibility to see that all children are equally treated. With a lack of classrooms, classes larger than the experts recommend, a shortage of teachers, a drift away from Australia of some of our best teachers - attracted overseas by more equitable wages and conditions - we are again disappointed to see that despite the anxiety of the electorate no proper provision for relief in the education field in basic matters affecting all families is mentioned. Greater Federal responsibility in education is essential if a solution is to be found.
No mention is made of offering any solution lo the frustrations being felt on wage issues by white collar organisations and trade unions whose confidence in the arbitration system has been shattered, and 1 cite the recent upsurge of protest by .professional engineers at their recent wages decision. These engineers hold this Government responsible for the unsatisfactory nature of this decision. This august body of responsible, well-educated upstanding citizens is beginning to react in a most indignant manner, and rightly so. Is it any wonder then that the trade unions are having an unprecedented spate of militant activity to obtain wage increases.
In a large number of cases over award payments outside the arbitration system are the aim of unions and white collar organisations. In fact, a form of collective bargaining is evolving, but again outside the arbitration system. It must be apparent even to people on whom understanding dawns slowest, that something is seriously wrong when, from the largest to the smallest, labour organisations are dissatisfied, and a pattern of representation of the Commonwealth or its agencies is involved in these cases where the dissatisfaction is occurring. In most cases the Government agencies take a negative attitude to the claims of the organisation putting its case. If it is fitting for the Commonwealth to be represented in this manner in a situation that has brought broad public reaction against it, it is even more fitting for the Commonwealth to take urgent action to give relief to the situation and to ensure that its representatives do not use the arbitration system as a wag: pegging device while prices, taxes and costs to the community go unchecked. I suggest that the Commonwealth endeavour to support arguments that give justice, and even enter into consent documents to make the arbitration system one of economic equity. I note with disappointment that there are no such proposals envisaged by the proposed legislation.
A further disappointment is the lack of any guarantees to provide for immediate interstate pensioner concession travel on Commonwealth railways. We can only hope this will be an early decision of the Government and not become a CommonwealthState relationship argument as this concession is so necessary to our pensioners who have families which left Western Australia years ago. However, this is becoming an even more urgent problem for residents of Western Australia who themselves have been attracted to Western Australia from the eastern States by the reports of boom conditions and are anxious to have their pensioner parents visit them. Distance and cost make this impossible for many, and the lack of early rectification is an even greater disappointment as they were led to believe that immediate relief would be offered by the Government, having regard to its statements during the last election campaign. Some may say that nearly all have cars and can go by road. Has anyone ever taken his prize possession, the motor car, over that unsealed horror stretch on the east-west highway? To do so is most disconcerting for the young, let alone the old.
Here again we in Western Australia note with dismay that no provision is made in the proposed legislation to seal this very important trade, tourist and defence link. Yes, it is a defence link. We would be one of the few countries in this modern age which have to wait until it stops raining and the road dries out before ground support units can be moved by road interstate for the defence of the country. When one considers that the Government now proposes to spend $165m on defence, and has not made provision for the §9m esti mated to seal this road, it shows the shortsighted thinking that has existed for 20 years and continues to exist.
Of course we appreciate that these units may be transported by air or rail, and that in due course sufficient bases may be available to supply sufficient defences in the west. But it is to be appreciated that we in Western Australia have been for so long forgotten and neglected on defence matters while the Government adventures overseas. We demand an adequate and urgent rectification of our defence problems, particularly now that we have proven that value does exist in Western Australia with our vast development projects and overseas investments. We do not want to wait until such time as the American or Japanese Governments decide to protect their interests. We want to be protected by Australia first. We do not want long delayed surveys and promises, but immediate remedial action. We do not want more overseas adventures which detract attention from our own parlous defence position.
The legislation proposed offers many disappointments, for no immediate relief is offered for the people who pioneered our country, fought in world wars and are now pensioners. They are offered no relief in this inflationary period but most exist on totally inadequate pensions which do not reach even the Government’s recognised minimum wage standards as set out in its health legislation. So the pensioners’ restricted living standards continue, when they should be living in comfort and dignity. What of the person who has struggled and invested in the country’s future, shown loyalty in wartime by purchasing government bonds and now, on retirement, finds that he must face the means test before he is able even partially to qualify for a pension as a return for his frugality and loyalty? There are no proposals to ease the burdens of people such as this or the burdens of the people who, over the years, have provided loan moneys to government and other instrumentalities by virtue of their contribution to superannuation funds. Now when they come to draw on these funds they find that they are still taxpayers and must pay tax on their income the value of which has been diminished by inflation.
No relief is offered to these people and their disappointment is profound and well based. We can only hope that the Government will recognise these many problems and will take urgent steps to rectify this situation by legislating for the final abolition of the means test and pension justice for all. If this Government will not do it, the next Labor government certainly will. It should not be said that it will upset the Australian economy, since an official estimate of the cost of the abolition of the means test in October 1967 showed that it would represent approximately 5c in the $1 on the Australian Budget at that time. In fact, a pre-Senate election broadcast by a former Prime Minister stated that the escalation of national defence expenditure by over $700m since 1963 had not upset the Australian economy.
Provision for the aged by national schemes without any means test has been before the Commonwealth Parliament on three occasions - in 1913, 1928 and 1938 - without a final solution. Let us find a final solution to this ever-present source of social injustice. In fact, the Labor Party would no doubt offer no objection if its policy of abolition of the means test within the life of two parliaments were adopted by the Government. No doubt the Government would secure support from the Opposition benches. Again action, not surveys or words, is called for.
To emphasise the dissatisfaction with the Government’s policy by all sections of the community I shall quote from a summary of the retail chemists’ case for an increase in remuneration for dispensing national health prescriptions. It states:
Chemists have not had an increase in the fee for dispensing National Health Service prescriptions since March 1961. Only a 10% increase was granted on that occasion although the weighted average of salaries of registered assistants, the basis on which the Government had agreed to pay increases in the fee, showed an increase of 20.78%. The reason given by the then Federal Treasurer, Mr Holt, for the Government’s abrogation of its agreement was that the award handed down by Judge Gamble in Victoria which gave a 50% increase in the salary of a pharmacist was considered freakish, although subsequent salary awards in other States were to confirm the stability of the Gamble decision.
Surely this demonstrates the Government’s own attitude to arbitration decisions. When a decision is against the Government, it rejects it. Then the four pages of the document go on te give a resume of the attempts by the Pharmaceutical Services Guild of Australia, under the guidance of its Federal President, Sir Eric Scott, to obtain a review survey of rates, finishing with the words:
There are more than 5,000 Guild members throughout Australia and everyone of them considers that the chemists have had a raw deal from the Government.
Let us hope that these business people will not be branded reactionaries by the Government but that a review of the Government’s industrial relations with all sections of the community will take place. These people are seeking only what every trade union and professional group is seeking - an unbiased investigation into today’s remuneration structure so that all sections of the community will receive wage and salary justice. It is imperative that the Government act. ft stands condemned for its policies which have resulted in the troubled times in which we live. I have listened with amazement to Government members attacking the ordinary citizens of this great land and in fact, of my electorate, who happen to belong to a trade or labour organisation in the course of earning their living, and their elected representatives, the shop stewards and union officials, who despite whatever political ideology they follow, step forward to present a citizen’s case in a similar manner to a member of Parliament, and are an essential component of the working of an arbitration system, some rising to the ranks of the Arbitration Commission itself. In fact, management very often looks to the field of shop stewards for management appointees. I would be pleased to name, if required, any number of people prominent in our community who set out on their career in this field. A large number of ex-servicemen and women belong to these organisations.
One of the more militant shop stewards I know who resides in my electorate stood as a Liberal Party candidate for the State Parliament - unsuccessfully, fortunately. I do not attempt to detract from him because of this, or to detract from unionists who stand for other parties. AH I ask is that the Government ceases its protected attacks against citizens who are members of organisations provided for them by the laws of this great country, for many of them are residents of that great electorate I am so proud to represent, the electorate of Swan.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Hughes) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– It is rarely that I take the opportunity to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House. Before I do so I try to discuss with the Minister concerned the matter that 1 intend to raise. I try also to give the Minister at least 12 hours notice before I speak on the adjournment. I have followed that practice on this occasion. I spoke to the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) this morning and told him that I intended to raise the matter that I discussed with him last Thursday evening. Some 2 years ago a foreman mechanic of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department workshops in Sydney reported private firms to his superior officers for performing mechanical work on PMG vehicles when the PMG workshops were capable, willing and able to perform such work. The foreman alleged that the work of the private firms was being performed at greater cost and less efficiently than it could have been done in the PMG workshops. The foreman received no reply to his report. He submitted several reports over a period of months. He received no acknowledgement of or reply to any of his submissions, so in January 1969 he submitted a stronger report. Again he received no reply. He followed up that report with a further report in March 1969. Again he received no reply. From all appearances no investigations or inquiries were made into the allegations that he was making.
Then, for him, the trouble started. Two investigation officers appeared in his office in May 1969 to query him on alleged falsification of overtime returns. On 3rd July 1969 the foreman was notified of his suspension from duty under section 55 and section 62 of the Public Service Act. A copy of charges under section 29 b of the Crimes Act against him to be heard before the court was enclosed. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard copies of the letters that he received charging him under section 62 and under section 55 of the Public Service Act and of the charges he was to face before the court.
Public Service Act 1922- as amended
TAKE NOTICE that, as you have been charged on or about the third day of July 1969 atthe Court of Petty Sessions at 119 Phillip Street, Sydney with the commission of a criminal offence a copy of which charges is attached hereto, you have been suspended pursuant to Section 62 of the Public Service Act 1922- as amended and payment of your salary will cease during suspension.
Dated this THIRD day of JULY 1969.
Public Service Act, 1922- as amended
TAKE NOTICE that there is reason to believe that you have committed offences under Section 55 of the Public Service Act 1922 as amended and that you have been suspended prior to the laying of charges against you for such offences AND TAKE FURTHER NOTICE, that subject to the approval of the Public Service Board, payment to you of Salary will cease during the period for which you are under suspension.
Dated this THIRD day of JULY 1969.
COPY OF CHARGES UNDER SECTION 29b OF THE CRIMES ACT 1914- AS AMENDED
On or about the twenty-third day of April, 1969 at Sydney in the State of New South Wales did impose upon the Commonwealth by an untrue representation made in a manner of furnishing in a Workshops Overtime Pay Statement (APS.102) certification that the overtime worked by him on Saturday 19 April, 1969 was from 7.30 to 4.30 which certification was untrue as he then well knew.’
On or about the twenty-sixth day of February, 1969 at Sydney in the State of New South Wales did impose upon the Commonwealth by an untrue representation made in a manner of furnishing in a Workshops Overtime Pay Statement (APS.102) certification that the overtime worked by him on Thursday 20 February, 1969 was from 4.00 to 7.1 5 which certification was untrue as he then well knew.’
On or about the twenty-third day of October, 1968 at Sydney in the State of New South Wales did impose upon the Commonwealth by an untrue representation made in a manner of furnishing in a Workshops Overtime Pay Statement (APS,102) certification that the overtime worked by him on Wednesday 16 October, 1968 was from 4.00 to 7.15 which certification was untrue as he then well knew.’
I thank the House. When he appeared before the court the charges were amended by adding in appropriate places the words ‘with a view to obtain money’. The charges were heard before Stipendiary Magistrate Rodgers on 23rd July 1969, 22nd September 1969, 16th October 1969, 12th November 1969 and 1st December 1969 when the decision was given. The information was dismissed. I shall read the finding by Stipendiary Magistrate Rodgers on that occasion. He said:
The defendant cannot speak with accuracy at the time of his arrival at the workshop on the Saturday. I accept the times as given by the prosecution. Defendant states he got up an hour earlier that day to take his own oxy equipment to his workshop because the shop gear had broken down, I am prepared to accept the fact that defendant did take his own gear to the workshop that morning. If that is so and it was to be a substitute welder, then from the time he began to load the substitute on to his trailer he was working for the Department.
He is charged with imposing by untrue representation. The further evidence is that during the day he left the workshop and was lost in the traffic. His evidence is, and it must be accepted, that he went to Bondi on official business. That is corroborated by Mr Fenton. There again he was in the employ of the PMG and in the course of his duties. It has been suggested that he as the foreman mechanic should have left it to somebody else, but he provides a satisfactory explanation to that. He states he did not arrive at the Bankstown Tech. until after 8 o’clock. That is corroborated, but it could be he left work at 5 p.m. and still not arrived there until 8 p.m.
The only evidence we do have is his admissions to the officers. The evidence is very conflicting, questions and answers, when the defendant said: Well, I might as well tell the truth. I did leave’. It may have been he did leave early on one occasion in order to get to his classes, but so far as these days are concerned I am satisfied he did not reach the classes until after 8 p.m. I am left with some doubt due to the conflict of evidence. I have not got the degree of certainty I should have if I am to find the charges made out.
The information was dismissed. On about 19th December 1969 the foreman wrote to the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in the Postmaster-General’s Department, Sydney, and informed him that he was prepared and willing to return to his position. He received no reply to or acknowledgment of his letter until he received on 11th February 1970 a letter dated 6th February 1970. He was informed in that letter that his suspension under section 62 of the
Public Service Act had been lifted, but he was now charged with the same 3 offences that had been dismissed by the court, plus 2 further offences. He remained suspended from duty under section 55 of the Public Service Act. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard the charges. They are as follows:
I HEREBY CHARGE , Foreman Mechanic, Grade 2, Fourth Division, Engineering Division, Services Branch, Automotive Plant Section, Motor Vehicles and Workshops Subsection, with the commission of an offence within the meaning of Section 55 of the Public Service Act 1922 - as amended, namely: -
THAT the said on or about the eighth day of May, 1968, was guilty of improper conduct, in that he did knowingly and falsely furnish a statement touching upon remuneration payable or claimed to be payable to himself, namely the statement that overtime was performed between the hours of 4.00 and 7.15 on 1st May, 1968, with intent to deceive.’
I HEREBY CHARGE , Foreman Mechanic, Grade 2, Fourth Division, Engineering Division, Services Branch, Automotive Plant Section, Motor Vehicles and Workshops Subsection, with the commission of an offence within the meaning of Section 55 of the Public Service Act 1922 - as amended, namely: -
THAT the said on or about the twenty-third day of October, 1968, was guilty of improper conduct, in that he did knowingly and falsely furnish a statement touching upon remuneration payable or claimed to be payable to himself, namely the statement that overtime was performed between the hours of 4.00 and 7.15 on 16th October, 1968, with intent to deceive.’
I HEREBY CHARGE , Foreman Mechanic, Grade 2, Fourth Division, Engineering Division, Services Branch, Automotive Plant Section, Motor Vehicles and Workshops Subsection, with the commission of an offence within the meaning of Section 55 of the Public Service Act 1922- as amended, namely: -
THAT the said on or about the twenty-sixth day of February, 1969, was guilty of improper conduct, in that he did knowingly and falsely furnish a statement touching upon remuneration payable or claimed to be payable to himself, namely the statement that overtime was performed between the hours of 4.00 and 7.15 on 20th February, 1969, with intent to deceive.’
I HEREBY CHARGE , Foreman Mechanic, Grade 2, Fourth Division, Engineering Division, Services Branch, Automotive Plant
Section, Motor Vehicles and Workshops Subsection, with the commission of an offence within the meaning of Section 55 of the Public Service Act 1922 - as amended, namely: -
THAT the said on or about the twenty-sixth day of March, 1969, was guilty of improper conduct, in that he did knowingly and falsely furnish a statement touching upon remuneration payable or claimed to be payable to himself, namely the statement that overtime was performed between the hours of 4.30 and 7.45 on 20th March, 1969, with intent to deceive.’
I HEREBY CHARGE , Foreman (Mechanic, Grade 2, Fourth Division, Engineering Division, Services Branch, Automotive Plant Section, Motor Vehicles and Workshops Subsection, with the commission of an offence within the meaning of Section 55 of the Public Service Act 1922 - as amended, namely: -
THAT the said on or about the twenty-third day of April, 1969, was guilty of improper conduct, in that he did knowingly and falsely furnish a statement touching upon remuneration payable or claimed to be payable to himself, namely the statement that overtime was performed between the hours of 7.30 and 4.30 on 19th April, 1969, with intent to deceive.’
He was asked to submit his case against the new charges that have been laid against him, and in a letter dated 17th February 1970 he replied to the new charges. He denied them. Again, with the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate that letter in Hansard. It reads: 2 Oswald Street,
CAMPSIE, N.S. 2149
February 17, 1970
Posts & Telegraphs,
I have received your letter of 6/2/70, together with a copy of charges, and I formally deny the allegations contained therein.
I am unable to understand the Department recharging me in connection with the dates 19th April, 1969, 20th February, 1969, and 16th October, 1968, as the previous proceedings against me in connection with these dates were dismissed after Judicial consideration by Mr Rogers SM at the special Federal Court, Phillip Street, Sydney, on the 1st December, 1969, after a hearing lasting four days.
I thank the House. I had never met this man until he sought me out. He was sent to me by no-one. I have had no recommendation as to his character. In this instance the Department elected to charge him before a civil court, and the information that the Department put before that civil court was dismissed. The Department now is taking the law into its own hands and is recharging him with the same offences in relation to which the information was dismissed, plus two other offences.
I say that this is not justice; this is not democracy. I would not care if this man had been as guilty as sin. He faced bis accusers and was exonerated. The Department made its decision to charge him before a completely independent tribunal. The Department lost. It might not be legally incorrect, but it is certainly morally incorrect for the Department to make a second attempt to destroy this man. Even if the Department’s motives were of the highest I would still oppose the action that has been taken in this case. A man was taken before a civil court. The information was dismissed. He was recharged after a period of months with the same three offences, with two new offences added.
The information that I gave in the first instance was that the foreman had written to his superiors chiming that things that he did not like were going on within the Department. He received no action on that correspondence. The follow-up was that the Department began to investigate him. I cannot help but believe that an attempt has been made to silence this man - an attempt that should not be made and an attempt that nobody in this community is obliged to take. Charges were laid before a civil court - an independent tribunal - and they were dismissed. The same three charges were then levelled against this man within the Department.
I only wish I had more time to develop my case. But I think I have said enough to convince all fair minded Australians and all fair minded members of this House that this man has been treated unfairly and unjustly. I request the Postmaster-General to withdraw the charges under section 55 of the Public Service Act. I further request the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) to look at this case with a view to amending the Public Service Act so that similar action will not be taken against any other Commonwealth public servant.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I appreciate the action of the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) in indicating to me today that he intended to raise this matter in the adjournment debate this evening. In fact, he saw me last week in relation to this matter. At a later hour today it was suggested to him that pending a continuation of the investigation his speech might be held over until perhaps next week, by which time a decision might have been taken. He preferred to continue with his purpose of bringing the matter before the House tonight.
Whilst I admit many of the things which have been said and which I agree should be recorded in Hansard, I believe that I should make one or two comments in relation to the matter, at the same time giving an undertaking that I will continue, with the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes), to investigate the situation. There are two Acts under which charges may be made against employees of the Commonwealth. One is the Crimes Act, to which the honourable member has referred. It was believed that in this case the offences or alleged offences were of sufficient importance to justify action under the Crimes Act. Section 55 of the Public Service Act covers what 1 might term an administrative process within the Public Service. Section 62 of the Public Service Act deals with what I might term more serious charges than those dealt with under section 55.
I think it can be stated that really we were trying to resolve two things. One was whether a crime had been committed and the other was whether, irrespective of the decision of the magistrate, the person concerned was a fit and proper person to continue in the employ of the Commonwealth. The mere fact of discharge by the magistrate in relation to the charges under the Crimes Act did not necessarily indicate that this person continued to be appropriate as a servant of the Commonwealth.
– This is Australia.
– I merely tried to put this in context. Honourable members opposite may interject. They may have their own views. I have indicated that I am prepared to continue to examine the case in conjunction with the Attorney-General. There is not very much more that one should say, at this point of time, in relation to this matter. I can as Minister act in accordance with the advice which is given to me. The advice given to me was that, in fact, this is a long standing practice within the Public Service.
It might be - and I think I can put it in this way - that the honourable member for Lang virtually is saying that a person cannot be charged twice for the same offence. In broad principle, one might be tempted to accept this situation. But am I to assume therefore that, if the trial under the Crimes Act in fact had gone against the person charged, the penalty imposed by the court should be the end of it and that no further charge could be made and the person concerned should still remain a servant of the Commonwealth? I think that one could take this approach in regard to the situation. It is very easy in view of the way in which this case turned out - the man was charged and he was found not guilty - to suggest that a further charge should not be made.
But let us assume that a different decision had been reached in the first place. Would it reasonably be expected then that this man should continue in the employ of the Commonwealth? In other words, that in relation to the same offence a second penalty should not apply? I suggest to honourable members opposite who may be inclined to interject that they should perhaps analyse this situation. I think that one is entitled to take this into consideration in coming to a final determination in relation to this matter. I regret that the honourable member for Lang did bring this matter forward at this stage when he knew that it was under consideration. But it is his entitlement. Having put this point of view, as I believe I am justified in doing, I make no excuse for it.
– I listened to the reply of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). I think that probably he might have related to the House that the honourable member for Lang first saw him on 16th February.
– I was in touch with his office on 16th February.
– That is some time ago. Mr Hulme - He might have spoken to my secretary. He did not speak to me.
– I think that the honourable member probably was quite correct in adopting the attitude that he did. I wish to refer to another matter of some significance and importance. It concerns entitlements of servicemen. In this case, I refer to serving members of the Royal Australian Air Force who, under Government legislation, become entitled to the normal benefits to which servicemen are eligible. I refer to repatriation benefits and the benefits that these servicemen would have extended to them as a result of the war service homes legislation.
This case concerns some serving members and, I have no doubt, those members who are no longer serving in the forces. 1 am referring particularly to a number of members who served, and probably who are still serving in some instances, at the RAAF base at Richmond. I raise this matter because, whatever we may personally think about the situation in Vietnam, I want to make it perfectly clear that we on this side of the House always have adopted the principle that while our servicemen are there we would not deny to them the benefits and rights to which they are entitled. Whatever one might think about the situation in Vietnam is another matter entirely. Unquestionably a number of members serving in the Royal Australian Air Force are being denied benefits to which they are entitled.
The Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) who represents in this chamber the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) has been good enough to come into the chamber tonight to listen to what I have to put on behalf of members of the RAAF who have served in Vietnam. I appreciate his interest and I will recite the situation to him. The members of the RAAF to whom I refer are entitled to the Vietnam medal. As the Minister knows, a soldier who serves in Vietnam, even if for only 1 day - provided he was sent to Vietnam, or to any one of the areas that have been prescribed by the Government, but I am now referring particularly to Vietnam - becomes entitled not only to the Vietnam medal but also to the returned from active service badge. This is the issue with which I am concerned.
There is no doubt about it. Airmen at Richmond air base were attached to the Hercules squadron, flying in Hercules air craft into Vietnam, some of them on as many as thirty flights. They are entitled to the Vietnam badge. This is the same entitlement as a soldier who served in a regiment in Vietnam for 1 day and then, for various reasons, was invalided back to Australia, but that soldier has an additional entitlement to the returned from active service badge.
The significant point is the very important consideration that a returned from active service badge gives to an ex-serviceman two rights. Firstly, he becomes entitled to benefits under the Repatriation Act and receives the normal entitlement under the war service homes legislation; secondly, it entitles him to become a member of the Returned Services League. The point I wish to stress tonight is that some airmen who served and are now serving with the Royal Australian Air Force have had as many as thirty flights into Vietnam, some of them during the Tet offensive when they flew into Phan Ran air base. The Minister will be aware that the air base is quite frequently subjected to rocket and mortar fire. Those airmen are doing the same kind of work as members of the United States Air Force, and in fact worked together with United States airmen in transport aircraft at the Phan Ran base. Those members of the United States Air Force are entitled to all the benefits that the United States gives to those who have served their country in a theatre of war, including taxation concessions, but the Royal Australian Air Force personnel are denied that benefit.
I concede that those airmen immediately qualify for the Vietnam medal, but why is there a distinction? Airmen who have flown on 30 missions into Vietnam - into Vung Tau to take out wounded or to bring in supplies - become entitled to the Vietnam medal, but for some reason known only to the RAAF they are denied the returned from active service badge. Until about a month ago some RAAF personnel were issued with both the Vietnam medal and the returned from active service badge, but subsequently the returned from active service badges were recalled.
I do not wish to refer to individuals because it might be embarrassing to some members of the RAAF to have their names mentioned in this chamber. However, I have here a Royal Australian Air Force memorandum from which I wish to quote. I will make it available to the Minister. He can look at the names. It reads:
Then it gives the names of the Air Force personnel. If the Minister wants me to state them, I shall, but I think it would be better for me to let the Minister have the document.
– I do not want the names read.
– It continues:
The confusion referred to relates to the fact that some members of the RAAF, having qualified for the Vietnam Medal and having been issued with the Return from Active Service Badge, applied to the War Service Homes Division for loans. Their applications were returned to the RAAF for verification. Subsequently they were told that they were not eligible. As I have indicated to the Minister, their Return from Active Service Badges were taken from them.
I ask the Minister to study this matter very carefully. I know that he is not unsympathetic. Maybe it will have to be determined by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and by the Cabinet. No-one can convince me - and I hope that the Minister will agree with me - that a person in the RAAF who has had 30 flights into a combat zone and who has accepted all the risks that go with service in that area should be denied a Return from Active Service Badge. Normally the badges are issued to members of regiments serving in Vietnam. After only 1 day a person serving in Vietnam becomes eligible for all the benefits of the repatriation legislation and of the war service homes legislation as well. The same circumstances should apply to members of the RAAF. In this chamber the Minister for the Navy is the responsible Minister. I hope that he will have the matter investigated thoroughly for me.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– My friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) will appreciate that in this chamber I represent the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman).
– And not very well, either.
– That is a matter of judgment. I have my view of the honourable member, too. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition this evening has raised a matter which, I tell him in a spirit of complete frankness, has impressed me. I am impressed by the argument that he put with great simplicity. I do not say that offensively. He put his argument with great conviction. I would like my honourable friend to know that I cannot answer off the cuff. But I am impressed with his view that any member of the Royal Australian Air Force - and I hope that I will not be accused of speaking with the prejudice of old - who flies some 30-odd missions into a ‘war’ zone should be entitled to a Return from Active Service Badge. I put ‘war’ in quotation marks.
I will undertake to speak with my colleague, the Minister for Air, at the first opportunity. I am not trying to tranquilise the honourable member in any way. I will speak with the Minister who is in the Senate. I understand that at one time I was supposed to say ‘in another place’. But now I can say ‘in the Senate’. The Minister is a former member of the RAAF. I hope that I can speak with him early next week. If I cannot speak with him before next weekend, I will undertake to convey to my honourable friend what the Minister thinks. However, in summary, I am impressed with what my friend has had to say.
– You have said that before.
– Repetition on some occasions adds to the charm of the event. I would like the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to know that I will undertake to see the Minister for Air about this matter. If there is some anomaly, providing it can be surmounted with goodwill, I assure him that for my part I will see that it is surmounted.
– I wish to speak on the subject of Aboriginal health and housing. 1 mention this matter this evening because although it was raised yesterday as a matter of urgency the debate was gagged and I did not have the opportunity to say a lot of things I would like to have said. I would like to mention that during that debate - a most important debate for about 140,000 Aboriginals in this country - the benches on the Government side of the House were almost empty. There were twenty to thirty members of the Opposition but only six or seven Government supporters present when the debate started. That should show the people of Australia just how interested the Government is in Aboriginals. Three honourable members on the Government side, the honourable members for Kennedy (Mr Katter), Gwydir (Mr Hunt) and the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), who represent electorates with a large population of Aboriginals, were present. I was pleased to see them in the chamber.
Having listened to the reply of the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) to the matters raised by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) yesterday, I would like to say that I was not impressed with his statement that he has no accurate figures relating to Aboriginal health. It seems to me that one of the first things that ought to have been done when the Minister took charge of Aboriginal affairs was immediately to have a survey taken to determine the exact situation. We need to know the exact state of health of Aboriginals throughout Australia, the types of disease they suffer, and how prevalent those diseases are. I ask the Minister: What steps is he taking now to see that comprehensive surveys are carried out? It is extremely difficult for any of us to analyse the situation unless we have proper statistics. Not only are honourable members on this side of the House lacking this information. I shall quote once again from what Dr Coombs said in his address to the Australasian College of Physicians. He said:
Information about Aboriginal health is fragmentary. Since Aboriginals are not recorded separately it is impossible to make comprehensive comparisons of their health experience as compared with that of the community generally. We can rely therefore only on the result of surveys and studies of particular localities and communities and comparisons of areas with known predominantly Aboriginal population with others.
The results of such surveys and comparisons are far from complete and have not been brought together by competent authorities in a systematic way.
Nearly 3 years have elapsed since the Government was given the responsibility for Aboriginal welfare and still no accurate figures are available about almost any area that requires concentrated attention - health, education or housing.
In his reply the Minister said that this was a complex problem. He does not have to remind honourable members on the Opposition side that it is a complex problem. We are well aware of this. We are well aware that all those areas are inter-related but the first step in making this matter less complex would have been to ascertain accurate statistics. What effort is the Minister making to ascertain these figures? One wonders what would happen if accurate statistics were required in one of the fields of primary industry. They soon would be ascertained. The pressure groups in the Country Party would make sure of this.
We know that the Minister would like to do more. The problem is that he does not seem to be able to get any help from the Cabinet or from honourable members on the Government side. The honourable member for Fremantle outlined in detail various deficiencies in Aboriginal health and the appalling situation that prevails at the moment. In my maiden speech in this House 1 quoted also from the Australian Medical Journal and other sources. I do not intend to go into technical and medical details tonight because they have already been quoted twice in Hansard. Once again 1 want to quote a description of the health of Aboriginals given by Dr Coombs. I believe this sums up the situation perfectly. He said:
If an Aboriginal baby is born today it has a much better than average chance of being dead within 2 years. If it does survive it has a much better than average chance of suffering from substandard nutrition to a degree likely permanently to handicap it in its physical and mental potential and in its resistance to disease. It is likely in its childhood years to suffer from a wide range of diseases but particularly ENT and respiratory infections, from gastroenteritis, from trachoma and other eye infections. If it reaches the teen ages it is likely to be ignorant of and lacking in sound hygienic habits, without vocational training, unemployed, maladjusted, and hostile to society. If it reaches adult age it is likely to be lethargic, irresponsible and, above all, poverty stricken - unable to break out of the iron circle of poverty, ignorance, malnutrition, ill-health, social isolation, and antagonism: If it lives in the north it has a good chance of being maimed by leprosy and, wherever, its search for affection and companionship may well end only in the misery of VD. If it happens to be a girl it is likely to conceive a baby at an age when her white contemporary is screaming innocent adulation at some ‘pop’ star and she will continue to bear babies every 12 or 18 months until she reaches double figures or dies of exhaustion. 1 detailed in my maiden speech the appalling conditions of housing in the north west of New South Wales and I said that if the Government were really fair dinkum on the question of Aboriginals it ought to get to the root cause of this ill-health and that is the housing conditions which exist within this country. 1 do not have a great deal of time left as 10 minutes pass much more quickly than 1 thought. I intended to quote from a report of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. This report was compiled, as I am sure the Minister is aware, by one of Australia’s leading architects, Mr Ian McKay, twice winner of the Sulman Award. He was recently appointed by the National Capital Development Commission to undertake some major projects in the Woden Valley. I do not have time to cite figures in detail but I am sure the Minister has seen them. In his report Mr McKay pointed out that in mid 1968 in New South Wales alone, where the housing survey was done, 2,520 homes were needed. If the population predictions were correct, by 1978 another 1,700 homes would be needed. I have been through all of the Minister’s reports and I have been through all of the reports of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. These reports disclose that in the year 1968-69, the figures for which are the only ones available at the moment - I quote from the Office of Aboriginal Affairs booklet ‘Kunmanggur’ - $525,000 was spent on housing in New South Wales out of a total of 52,297,000. For this amount 65 homes were built in New South Wales. If Mr McKay’s figures are correct and we need 2,520 homes now and another 1,700 within the next 10 years, we are falling behind at the rate of 65 homes per year. That is the situation as far as housing is concerned but I hope the Minister can prove that I am incorrect.
The question of health as you know, Sir. is vital. As I look through recent publication No. 2 of ‘Kanmanggur’ from the Office of Aboriginal Affairs I see that of 550,000 spent in New South Wales, $25,000 went to the Boomerang campaign appeal. For the provision of community nurses in various rural and outback areas the grand sum of $1,500 was provided. I do not know what can be done with $1,500 but if that is all that can be spent on rural nursing in outback areas, I think it is a joke. Another $1,500 was spent on sessional fees to medical practitioners in various country areas. To me, that amount is in the same category. I am not condemning the Minister; I am condemning the Government. It is a disgrace that this situation has occurred. I do not think the Government is making any real effort. It is just window dressing. I hope that the Minister can show us that something real is being done.
– I wish to refer tonight to an event which happened approximately 7 weeks ago and which devastated a part of my electorate. 1. refer to cyclone Ada. Despite the seriousness of the faults in communications and the weather warning techniques which were so glaringly exposed by the recent cyclone Ada disaster, the Government appears to have done nothing to rectify these faults. 1 remind the Government that we are still in the cyclone season in the north. It would appear that the Government’s complacency about cyclones is similar to its complacency about floods, fires and drought. Ils failure after 20 years in office to implement any constructive semblance of a plan to minimise the effects of national disasters is a disgrace. It would seem that the Government takes the view that cyclones may never occur again in settled areas of the north. This is a defeatist attitude, because if it adopts that policy it must argue that there is no real need for any preparatory work.
I want to deal with two of the most glaring faults which were exposed by the cyclone. I am speaking in all sincerity and seriousness to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) because I feel deeply disturbed about these events. One of the most glaring faults revealed was the apparent inability of the Bureau of Meteorology to forecast with any degree of accuracy the intensity or wind velocity of the cyclone. I want to impress upon the Minister that this is quite distinct from giving a warning that a cyclone is approaching. I am not alleging a lack of warning, and I have never alleged that. There was adequate warning that a cyclone was in the area. My argument is that the Bureau is not able to forecast wind velocity or pressure. My second point is that there are almost criminal delays in providing the public with urgently required weather forecasts during an emergency.
– What was the honourable member’s second point?
– I am referring to the delays in getting the message across to the public. As I will repeat later, this is not the fault of the Bureau; it is the fault of the communications set-up. While the local radio stations were informing the people that the cyclone was small - a flea bite - and not dangerous and that the winds were averaging between only 40 and 50 miles an hour, the cyclone was in fact smashing and devastating island resorts and coastal areas with winds approximating 150 miles an hour. The radio stations were being given inaccurate information - information hopelessly out of date; 6 or 7 hours out of date. Six hours after the cyclone had demolished the buildings on Hayman Island the local radio stations were still forecasting winds of 40 to 50 miles an hour. This false information was a major contributing factor in the tragic death of people, particularly those who took their small boats out to sea. If these men had known the violence of this cyclone they would have beached their boats. I personally know some of the men who were killed. I have taken it on myself to take a very keen interest in, to the extent of almost looking after, one family which lost its breadwinner because he took a boat to sea. It is a very sad business because the mother of the family is a Tahitian who can hardly speak English and she has four little children to look after. Her husband’s body has never been found.
The technicians at the Bureau of Meteorology in the area did the best job they could during cyclone Ada. I have no criticism of the technicians themselves; my criticism is of the system of red tape, of the Government bungling and of the mismanagement of communications. The best equipment was not available in the area and this deficiency must be rectified immediately. I believe - I hope that the Minister for the Interior will assure me on this aspect - that the Bureau should be immediately provided with an aircraft which is equipped to measure accurately the velocity and pressure of cyclones threatening Australia. I have seen these aircraft used in southern parts of the United States of America where tornados are prevalent. I know that the Bureau of Meteorology wants one of these aircraft because it is the only way, other than the use of ships, to gauge accurately the force of a cyclone.
The Government’s policy in respect to the operation of its post offices must be reviewed. The closing of the telegraph stations on a Saturday afternoon and a Sunday in an area which was in a state of emergency was an act of irresponsibility. It accentuated many of the delays. I believe that radio links are necessary in the closely settled areas which are susceptible to cyclones. As happened in this instance, telephone lines can be destroyed. Radio links must also be established to allow data on river heights, floods and so on to be quickly disseminated. As was found in this cyclone, radio is the only safe way of getting communications through. The civil defence procedures and the communications system should be tightened up. An aircraft of the type I have referred to would not cost a lot of money. It is totally unacceptable to me for the Government to argue that it cannot afford such an aircraft. It maintains a large fleet of aircraft in the VIP Flight. The Department of Civil Aviation has a fleet of aircraft. These aircraft, as well as the aircraft of the RAAF, could be used in an emergency. The Government can afford to purchase a specially equipped aircraft of the type I have mentioned.
The most serious aspect is the bureaucratic approach and the insistence on red tape procedures being followed. It has to stop. 1 am critical of the whole system. The Bureau of Meteorology at, for example, Mackay cannot officially supply information in regard to its weather forecasts. Instead, it has to send the information down to the Brisbane office where it is analysed and then Brisbane sends it back to Mackay. With the telegraph stations closed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday and the telephone lines down, delays of up to 6 and 7 hours occurred. After the islands in the region and Airlie Beach had been demolished and people had been killed, the local radio station was still broadcasting that there would be winds of 40 to 50 “miles an hour. During an emergency the local radio and television stations and the Press should be immediately linked with the local Bureau of Meteorology so that they can flash the weather forecasts to the people straight away. 1 also think that there should be more naval patrol vessels in the area. But for the boats owned by the proprietors of the tourist resorts and the fortuitous circumstances of the ‘Clutha Oceanic’, being in the area, there would have been more fatalities.
– You seem to have an obsession about northern Queensland.
– lt is a very serious matter, Mr Deputy Speaker, but it would appear as though some honourable members do not think so. People were killed in this cyclone. The destruction that has been caused is something which words are totally inadequate to describe. I was in a cyclone in the Gulf of Carpentaria just after the war and I never ever want to see one again. I was only 20 miles from cyclone Ada. I was in it as far as the rain, floods and wind were concerned but not in the middle of it as far as the intensity was concerned. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) was unfortunately in the middle of the cyclone at South Mole Island. The Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) came up on behalf of the Prime Minister to investigate it. I hope that the Minister will give us some indication of-
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I do not think that anybody in this Parliament could but agree with the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) when he expresses regret at the loss of life during the course of cyclone Ada. I have shared the experiences, as apparently the honourable member has, of natural phenomena, and I am not inclined to forget them. I had an experience when I was quite young where a meteorological bureau forecast coming in late had a devastating effect on my particular circumstances at that time. When I learned about cyclone Ada and the devastation that it caused I had the directors of the meteorological bureaus in Melbourne and Brisbane come here and we discussed all the details of the cyclone. I have prepared a document which demonstrates on paper the accuracy of the forecasts. I notice that the honourable member for Dawson does not challenge the accuracy of the general forecast of the bureau except in one area upon which 1 will comment in a moment.
I think it is true to say, and it is borne out in fact, that the forecasts made by the bureau were accurate and people in the area should - and I use that word advisedly - have had plenty of warning. The honourable member for Dawson has touched on what is presently the weakness in the system. He stated strongly that the Government was not doing anything about it, but that is not true. The fact is that the Government is doing something about it. Cyclone Ada was first noticed on 5th January by the satellites. Ten days later on 15th January, we named it cyclone Ada. The satellites had covered the course of the disturbance up until that time. On 17th January between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. the cyclone passed over an automatic weather station at Marion Reef. At 5 a.m. on 17th January the meteorological bureau issued its first public warning that there was a cyclone in the area. I can detail for the honourable member the bureau’s forecasts from that time until the end of the cyclone. They show that the bureau was on top of the situation in respect to forecasting. The criticism made by the honourable member was that the bureau was unable to forecast with accuracy the velocity of the wind in the centre of the cyclone, and this is so. It was a most peculiar cyclone even in the history of cyclones in Queensland, in that it had a centre of about only 20 miles whereas a normal cyclone extends over some 100 miles.
There was no ship within 300 miles of the area. When the cyclone was first noticed the people in the area refused to believe - and said that they did not believe - that there was a cyclone present. Reports show that people on some of the islands that were badly affected were not believing the warnings coming from the bureau right up until a few hours before the cyclone. That was one of the circumstances which made things more difficult. When the cyclone finally hit Hayman Island the people had been informed and knew of the force of the cyclone. But unfortunately there is no technical way of measuring the centre of a cyclone unless there is an instrument in the area over which the cyclone passes. Cyclone Ada passed right over the top of the Marion Reef automatic weather station and we received an accurate reading of the wind at that point of time.
We experienced trouble in the honourable member’s area because there was difficulty in the dissemination of information. I do not blame the Postmaster-General’s Department for this, as does the honourable member for Dawson. In fact, the Postmaster General’s Department did a very good job. Communications which go from the Bureau to the Postmaster-General’s Department, which is our distributing authority, were all sent by telephone or by telegram. In point of fact, as this cyclone struck on a Saturday afternoon, many of the people who are employed as our local recorders were not in their normal places of duty. These are the people who normally set the alarms going in places such as Mackay. I think thai one fellow was playing bowls and the Post Office was unable to raise him. These are the difficulties which we experienced with the cyclone striking during the weekend. I have asked the Bureau specifically to deal with this problem. At the present time the bureau in Queensland is trying to make better arrangements for weekends so that there are no gaps in the dissemination of information.
The honourable member for Dawson criticised the radio stations. It is true to say, unfortunately, that at weekends radio stations either do not answer their telephones or they do not have anyone on duty to answer their telephones. As I understand it, one radio station broadcast the Bureau’s forecasts many hours after they had been made. Not only that, but a local inspector of police - and this is a very serious matter - who did not believe there was a cyclone in the area rang a radio station and asked it to add his own forecast to that of the Bureau. I think it was the local inspector of police who described it as a fleabite cyclone and said that there was no cause for alarm. This was one of the great difficulties which we experienced. A man of some substance or position in the area took it unto himself to denigrate the forecast made by the Bureau. These are the complications which arise when people who are not directly connected with the Bureau’s staff put their own interpretations on fore casts. That is why the cyclone was described as being a small one. I have forgotten the other criticism which the honourable member for Dawson made.
– I wish that these cyclones would blow out.
– The right honourable member for Melbourne knows enough about life to realise that this is a very serious subject and that the honourable member for Dawson is quite right to raise it. I am trying to give the honourable member some replies to the questions he has raised. I conclude by pointing out that the Bureau’s forcasts were accurate but that we experienced trouble in the dissemination of information because the cyclone struck at the weekend. The Bureau has embarked on a programme now to try to overcome this problem concerning the dissemination of information to all those people who are spotters in the area so that more accurate information is given out locally. We have a programme to strengthen the forecasting system on the Queensland coast by the provision of more automatic weather stations. Some announcements have been made regarding these stations. I do not suppose that the system will ever prove to be perfect.
– What about an aeroplane?
– The honourable member for Dawson asks about an aeroplane. The Bureau is investigating this question, and will report to me again by the end of this month. If it submits a worthwhile and practicable proposition I will go to the Government on it. I cannot answer the other point raised by the honourable member for Dawson, but I repeat that no-one was more concerned than I was at the devastation which was caused by cyclone Ada. I join with the honourable member for Dawson in expressing sympathy to the people in the area. I repeat that the Bureau of Meteorology certainly did a great job and did its best during the course of cyclone Ada.
– I rise on a point of order. I would not tike the Minister to think that I criticised the radio stations. I criticised the system and the delay which caused the radio stations to be late in disseminating the news.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.1 a. in. (Friday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for National Development upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) No material has been supplied to overseas Governments;
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
On what dates, at what places and with what results have there been meetings of the -
Ministerial Conference on Drugs of Dependence; and
National Standing Control Committee on Drugs of Dependence.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Meetings of Commonwealth and State Ministers on the problems of drug abuse were held on 14th February 1969, at Canberra, and on 5th May 1969, at Melbourne. A further meeting will be held in Canberra on 24th April 1970.
The National Standing Control Committee on Drugs of Dependence has met in Canberra on 7th March, 11th April and 9th October 1969. It will meet again in Canberra on 3rd April 1970.
As a result of these meetings, Ministers have agreed to action in the law enforcement, health and education areas, to provide concerted and coordinated activity by the Commonwealth and the States to combat drug abuse problems.
Details of this action were set in statements made in the Senate by my predecessor on 28th May 1969 and 24th September 1969 (Senate Hansard pages 1631 and 1271 respectively).
Papua and New Guinea - Broadcasts by Members of House of Assembly (Question No. 161)
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs upon notice:
What initiatives has Australia taken or what responses has Australia made at international level concerning the investigation of pollution and the conservation of the human environment.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Australia was among the co-sponsors of resolutions at the 23rd and 24th General Assemblies of the United Nations on the problems of the human environment, and has given strong support to a Swedish initiative to focus world attention on the effect on human life of science and technology. The then Minister for External Affairs devoted to this subject a considerable portion of his statement in the general debate in the United Nations General Assembly on 22nd September 1969, and the full text will be found in Current Notes on International Affairs* for September 1969 on pages 477 to 479.
In order to provide a framework for comprehensive consideration within the United Nations of these problems and to identify aspects of it that could best be solved by international cooperation, the 23rd session of the General Assembly decided to convene in 1972 a United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. At the 24th session of the General Assembly it was decided to establish a Preparatory Committee to advise the Secretary-General on preparations for the Conference to be held in Sweden in June 1972.
Australia is not a member of this committee, but will be represented by an observer delegation at the first meeting, which will be held in New York from 10th to 20th March.
In the light of reports from this observer delegation the Government will continue to give close consideration to the contribution which Australia might make to the work of the 1972 Conference.
In addition, various aspects of pollution and conservation are involved directly or indirectly in the work of the international agencies, and Australia takes a full interest in this where it is relevant to Australian conditions.
Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Question No. 44)
asked the Minister for External Affairs upon notice:
What further countries have (a) signed and (b) ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since his predecessor’s answer to me on 19th August 1969 (Hansard, page 424), and when did each do so.
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Switzerland- 27th November 1969
Federal Republic of Germany - 28th November 1969
Japan- 3rd February 1970
Singapore - 5th February 1970
Australia- 27th February 1970
Indonesia - 2nd March 1970
Bulgaria - 5th September 1969
New Zealand- 10th September 1969
Syria- 24th September 1969
Iraq- 29th October 1969
Swaziland-11th December 1969
Nepal- 5th January 1970
Sweden- 9th January 1970
Republic of China- 27th January 1970
Iran- 2nd February 1970
Afghanistan- 4th February 1970
Paraguay - 4th February 1970
Romania - 4th February 1970
Ethiopia- 5th February 1970
Malta- 6th February 1970
Cyprus - 10th February 1970
Mali- 10th February 1970
Jordan - 11th February 1970
Laos- 20th February 1970
Togo- 26th February 1970
Tunisia- 26th February 1970
Costa Rica- 3rd March 1970
Peru- 3rd March 1970
Upper Volta- 3rd March 1970
Yugoslavia- 4th March 1970
Jamaica- 5th March 1970
Liberia- 5th March 1970
Malaysia- 5th March 1970
Somalia- 5th March 1970
United States- 5th March 1970
U.S.S.R.- 5th March 1970 (In addition the East German authorities ratified the treaty in Moscow on 29th September 1969.)
asked the Minister for Educa tion and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 March 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19700312_reps_27_hor66/>.