27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable (he Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth - Whereas -
(he Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian Education system.
a major inadequacy al present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all.
200,000 students from Universities, Colleges of Advanced Education and other Tertiary Institutions, and their parents suffer severe penalty from inadequacies in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1968.
Australia cannot afford to hinder the education of these 200,000 Australians.
Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for -
The allowance of personal education expenses as a deduction from income for tax purposes.
Removal of the present age limit in respect of the deduction for education expenses and the maintenance allowance for students.
Increase in the amount of deduction allowable for tertiary education expenses.
Increase in the maintenance allowance for students.
Exemption of non-bonded scholarships, for part-time students from income tax.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth - Whereas -
the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian Education system.
a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all.
200,000 students from Universities, Colleges of Advanced Education and other Tertiary Institutions, and their parents suffer severe penalty from inadequacies in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1968.
Australia cannot afford to hinder the edu cation of these 200,000 Australians.
Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for -
The allowance of personal education expenses as a deduction from income for tax purposes.
Removal of the present age limit in respect of the deduction for education expenses and the maintenance allowance for students.
Increase in the amount of deduction allowable for tertiary education expenses.
Increase in the maintenance allowance for students.
Exemption of non-bonded scholarships, for part-time students from income tax.
And your petitioners, as in duly bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth -
that the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2603 XXIV A (December 1969) declares that the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which Australia has ratified, prohibits the use in international armed conflict of any chemical agents of warfare- chemical substances whether gaseous, liquid or solid - employed for their direct toxic effects on man, animals or plants;
that the World Health Organisation Report (January 1970) confirms the above definition of chemical agents of warfare;
that the Australian Government does not accept this definition, but holds that the Geneva Protocol does not prevent the use in war of certain toxic chemical substances in the form of herbicides, defoliants and ‘riotcontrol’ agents.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray-
that the Parliament take note of the consensus of international political, scientific and humanitarian opinion; and
that honourable members urge upon the
Government the desirability of revising its interpretation of the Geneva Protocol, and declaring that it regards all chemical substances employed for their toxic effects on man, animals or plants as being included in the prohibitions laid down by that Protocol.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned showeth: 1. That the Australian people both in Metropolitan and Rural areas should have the best of television programmes available to them and that television as a powerful means of communication should not be in the control of too few hands.
The increased quota for Australian dramatic productions should not be imposed by the Austalian Broadcasting Control Board at the expense of Australian professional variety or Australian documentary or educational programmes, but directed more towards cutting down expenditure on the purchase of imported productions, thus effecting a considerable saving in Australia’s overseas balance of payments.
The Austalian Parliament has a responsibility to encourage the development of our National identity, character and heritage and the promulgation, for the sake of our children, of an adequate picture of Australia, her standards, mores and way of life, particularly through the media of Radio and Television, which is in the immediate control of the Australian Government.
Until constructive and positive action is taken by the Australian Government to promote Australian culture and protect the employment and professional standards of Australian writers, artists and producers in Australia itself there is little likelihood of stopping the flow of Australian talent from Australia to other countries.
The Australian Broadcasting Control Board must insist that its new quota standards of Australian dramatic content on television are rigidly imposed and enforced on all commercial television stations.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, should -
Cause the Australian Government to recognise the right of Australian professional people engaged in the creative and performing arts to further develop their skills and talents in Australia, and to be protected from overseas programmes in a way that will encourage an Australian Television and Radio industry that can reflect and contribute to our identity and growth as a Nation.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned showeth:
That the Austraiian people both in Metropolitan and Rural areas should have the best of television programmes available to them and that television as a powerful means of communication should not be in the control of too few hands.
The increased quota for Australian dramatic productions should not be imposed by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board at the expense of Australian professional variety or Australian documentary or educational programmes, but directed more towards cutting down expenditure on the purchase of imported productions, thus effecting a considerable saving in Australia’s overseas balance of payments.
The Australian Parliament has a responsibility to encourage the development of our National identity, character and heritage and the promulgation, for the sake of our children, of an adequate picture of Australia, her standards, mores and way of life, particularly through the media of Radio and Television, which is in the immediate control of the Australian Government.
Until constructive and positive action is taken by the Australian Government to promote Australian culture and protect the employment and professional standards of Australian writers, artists and producers in Australia itself there is little likelihood of stopping the flow of Australian talent from Australia to other countries.
The Australian Broadcasting Control Board must insist that its new quota standards of Australian dramatic content on television are rigidly imposed and enforced on all commercial television stations.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, should -
Cause the Australian Government to recognise the right of Australian professional people engaged in the creative and performing arts to further develop their skills and’ talents in Australia, and to be protected from overseas programmes in a way that will encourage an Australian Television and Radio industry that can reflect and contribute to our identity and growth as a Nation.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of residents of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth -
That there is a likelihood that education in the Australian Capital Territory will in the foreseeable future be made independent of the New South Wales education system:
That the decentralisation of education systems throughout Australia is educationally and administratively desirable, and is now being studied by several State Government Departments:
That the Australian Capital Territory is a homogeneous and coherent unit especially favourable for such studies.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a Committee of Enquiry, on which are represented the Department of Education and Science, institutions of tertiary education, practising educators, and the Canberra community, be instituted to enquire into the form that an Australian Capital Territory Education Authority should take, the educational principles and philosophy that should underlie it, and its mode of operation and administration.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Mr Speaker, I inform the House that the Honourable Malcolm Fraser has been appointed Minister for Education and Science. Mr Fraser takes over this portfolio from Mr Fairbairn who retains his portfolio of Minister for Defence. In furtherance of the intention to appoint Assistant Ministers to support certain senior Ministers in the discharge of their responsibilities His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, on my recommendation, has sworn in as Executive Councillors Mr A. A. Street, Mr J. D. M. Dobie, Mr 1. L. Robinson and Mr J. E. McLeay. I also inform the House that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) will be in Papua New Guinea this week.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science a question. The honourable gentleman will recall stating in his last ministerial statement in his portfolio 2 years ago that on completion of the nationwide survey of educational needs the Commonwealth and State Education Ministers would consider proposals for joint action to promote the further development of education in schools. He will also recall that this undertaking was repeated by the former Prime Minister in his policy speech at the 1969 elections for the House of Representatives. He probably knows that the Ministers received the report on 25th May last year. I therefore ask him whether, despite the absence of any provision in this year’s and last year’s Budget for this purpose, it is still the Government’s intention to honour these undertakings which he himself gave, as also the former Prime Minister gave. Since the South Australian and Western Australian Ministers for Education have tabled the sections of the nationwide survey relating to their States, I also ask him whether the other
State Ministers will table the sections relating to their States and whether he himself will table the sections relating to the 2 mainland Territories. Finally, I ask him whether the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria have yet replied to the letter which the former Prime Minister sent to all the Premiers last September about the survey and which all the other Premiers answered before Christmas.
– I am afraid I cannot tell the honourable gentleman whether the Premiers have replied to the letter written in September last year, I think it was, by the former Prime Minister.
– 1 will find out what the position is about that. I think I should say that State Premiers have always stressed the importance of being able to make the allocations of finance within their own States as they have seen Bt. They have pressed for the largest bulk sums which might be made available by the Commonwealth in support of their own projects but they have supported the right to make an allocation, once the bulk sum has been decided upon, between educational and other priority State needs. As a general proposition we do not see State Premiers arguing for a specific sum for a particular area of their State responsibilities. In looking at the question of this educational survey it is necessary to have very much in mind the changes in Commonwealth-State financial relationships that have been inaugurated by the Prime Minister and the access to a significant growth tax by State governments which will enable the States to make decisions on their own account. It is not therefore reasonable to look at the particular problems of education in isolation from other State needs and in isolation from the overall financial arrangements which the Commonwealth has made with the States. If the Leader of the Opposition will forgive me, I would like to take notice of the other part of his question concerning the tabling of the reports. I would imagine that matters affecting areas in the States would be the concern of State Education Ministers and not the Commonwealth; but I would like to take notice of the question as it relates to our own Territories and reply as soon as possible.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that the public at large and many good union members are sick to death of strikes in defiance of the arbitration system and that this irresponsible conduct appears to be encouraged and condoned by leaders of the trade union movement and the Australian Labor Party, at both the State and the Federal level? Is the Minister aware that the people look to this Government for strong action to restrain those responsible for this state of affairs? Has the Minister considered the provision that a compulsory secret ballot, properly and independently controlled, be held before any strike takes place?
– During the calendar year ended December 1970 2.4 million man days were lost as a result of industrial disputes, involving a direct loss to the Austraiian wage earner of $30m in wages. That is a situation of very serious concern to this Government. As the honourable gentleman has mentioned, of course the community at large and I have no doubt the great majority of Australian trade unionists are heartily sick and tired of strikes of all descriptions, particularly political strikes involving, as they do, the manipulation of the workers of this country by a small group of trade union leaders for their own peculiar political purposes. Of course, the Communists and the Socialist Left are adept at this type of manipulation over workers who want nothing more- (Opposition members interjecting).
– One always knows when an answer upsets the Opposition. The Communists and the extreme Left are adept at this type of manipulation of workers who want nothing more than to get on with the job and take a full pay packet home to their families. Fortunately there are signs that an increasing number of trade unionists are prepared to stand and be counted on this subject. I refer to incidents such as the following: Recently in Tasmania some 2,000 workers refused to join in a 24-hour stoppage over dismissals at a plant in Tasmania; secondly, tramway employees in Melbourne rejected moves by their union for a stop work meeting over the gaoling of the Communist official of another union who had been involved in a case of assault; thirdly, waterside workers in a major Australian port recently refused to join in a stop work meeting concerning the National Service Act. Of course, what members of the Transport Workers Union did in relation to the Springbok tour is well known. They were prepared to accept the dictates of their conscience and not those of the union leaders.
In reply to the honourable gentleman’s final question about secret ballots, let me simply say that this Government has under review at the present time the complete provisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is not for me at this time to indicate the direction which the Government is taking, but I indicate that the Government starts with the proposition not that the provisions of the Act should be weakened but in fact that they should be strengthened in the face of increasing trade union militancy in Australia. As far as secret ballots specifically are concerned, I have taken note of all that the honourable gentleman has suggested. This is a matter to which I am giving careful consideration at the present time, but the honourable gentleman will appreciate why I would prefer not to comment further on that issue.
– Will the Prime Minister consider making a statement explaining the attitude of the Government in matters relating to the international monetary crisis?
– During the course of question time last week I informed the right honourable member for Melbourne that I would have prepared a paper relating to the international monetary difficulties and that subsequently I would present it to the House. I had a paper prepared by the relevant departments but because circumstances were changing so quickly and because so many of the foreign monetary exchanges had also been closed I thought that it would not be wise to make, and that it could, in fact, create harm if I were to make, a premature statement. Since that time there have been meetings of the International Monetary Fund which our representatives have attended. There have been meetings of the Group of Ten and meetings within the European Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. But it will not be until today that the
Japanese Foreign Monetary Exchange will open and tonight, our time, when the London Foreign Monetary Exchange will open.
For these reasons I believe that we must bide our time and not be premature in any statement which we make. If we do so prematurely I believe it could be capable of being misunderstood and could create an unfortunate impression and cause false apprehension.
I assure the right honourable member for Melbourne and my friend from Sydney thai we have kept in very close touch with this matter. Over the weekend the Treasurer and I have been in constant contact with our officials in order to keep track of events and to be in a position to make a statement as soon as practicable. We have also been in contact with the Reserve Bank of Australia. I hope to be able to make a general statement to the House within the course of the next few days. I assure the honourable member that I will make the statement as soon as practicable and as soon as I feel that it will contain a constructive proposal which can be debated in the House.
– I address a question to the Treasurer which is supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for Sydney. Will the Government ensure that in the present world financial crisis Australia follows the strengthening British pound’ and that it does not follow deflationary currencies? What is the level of our international reserves? Are they at a record peak, thus negativing the pressures to devalue?
– The Prime Minister has given an appropriate answer to the first part of the honourable member’s question and I shall not pursue it. As to the second part of his question, in July we had record reserves of 2.3 billion dollars and we also had a balance on the payments of $600m which enables us to face the problems of international monetary movements with a great deal of strength.
– 1 refer the Prime Minister to the policy enunciated by the former Minister for Defence during a speech at the Imperial Service Club at Sydney on 18 June when he advocated a fortress Australia policy for Australia’s defence similar to the defence policy of the Australian Labor Party. 1 ask: Is the policy outlined by the former Minister on that occasion the policy of the Government? To what extent did this speech bear upon the decision to remove the right honourable gentleman from the Defence portfolio?
– I think a careful reading of the right honourable gentleman’s speech before the Imperial Service Club will indicate that he was dealing with philosophical problems and not with the specifics of an Australian defence policy. As to the balance of the honourable members question, I have made it abundantly clear that I will not comment about statements made by my former colleague as I will not make any comment whatsoever about the articles he is now having published in the ‘Sunday Australian*.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry explain the position of the Australian Wool Commission in relation to the setting of charges made on growers by wool selling brokers, whether affiliated or non-affiliated members of the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia? If the Commission is a party to the control of charges, can the Minister explain why charges were increased within the last week, coinciding with the Government’s confirmed assistance to the wool industry under the cost compensation scheme? Furthermore, can the Minister explain the charge of 0.4 per cent being raised against growers under the Wool Commission Act as set out at page 10 of his statement which was presented to the House last Friday? Finally, does this 0.4 per cent in addition to the increased brokerage charges mean, in effect, that the Commission in company with brokers is taking away a significant portion of the cost compensation being paid to growers?
– It has always been the practice before the commencement of a season for brokers to determine the charges that should be applicable during the course of the wool selling year. The Australian Wool Commission in the course of its formation was given the responsibility on behalf of the Government to enter into negotiations with the brokers to ensure that the interests of growers could be taken into account and to ensure that when the charges were set, the level of those charges could be justified by the brokers themselves. There is no significance in the timing of the discussions to which the honourable gentleman’s question referred. Indeed, discussions were held in the normal course and prior to the commencement of the selling season. There is nothing untoward that could be seen in that part of the honourable gentleman’s suggestion.
As to the levy of a charge of 0.4 per cent in accordance with my announcement to the House last Friday, the Australian Wool Commission during the course of its first 8 months of operation, under section 24 of the Act was entitled to have a charge deducted from growers’ proceeds in some way in order to pay for its normal administrative expenses. The administrative expenses, of course, are not those specifically related to the cost of purchasing wool, for which a very substantial sum of money has been allocated by the Commonwealth Government and additional sums of money allocated by normal borrowings from the private trading banks. The administrative expenses relate only to the cost of administering the Australian Wool Commission. The first 8 months of operation were financed by borrowings from the Commonwealth Government plus an advance from the Australian Wool Board.
It was felt that in the circumstances of very substantial Commonwealth additional assistance to the wool industry, the charge for administration of the Australian Wool Commission should now be borne by growers. It is that charge which is represented by the 0.4 per cent to which the honourable gentleman referred. In terms of assistance provided by the Commonwealth Government, I think all woolgrowers will see that it will ensure that during the course of the 1971-72 wool selling season they can expect to receive approximately 20 per cent more for their wool clip than they received last year under the very depressed prices then ruling. In these circumstances the minimal charge being paid by growers for the operation of the Commission will have little impact on that increased return they receive. I believe that because of the guarantee of Government assistance the whole wool growing industry will be put in a better position to determine its own long term . future.
– In addressing my question to the Prime Minister I refer to the letters tabled concerning the commitment of Australian troops to Vietnam. Does the Prime Minister admit that for 6 years the Government has misled the Australian public by persistent use of the suggestion that there had been a request from the Government of Vietnam, whereas the words used in both letters refer to Australia’s offer? Does he not agree that this is a most dishonourable use of the English language? How in conscience can he justify the hundreds of lives lost for a lie?
– The word ‘dishonourable’ was used by the honourable member. If ever there was a misrepresentation of the Government’s actions it was by the honourable gentleman who asked the question. Nonetheless, I will use no adjectives to describe what I think is the morality of his question. If he carefully reads the statement that was made by me - and I attached to it copies of both the letter we wrote to the then Prime Minister of South Vietnam and his reply - he will see that on at least 3 occasions prior to that there were requests by the South Vietnamese Government, from the proper authorities, that we and others should provide forces for the defence of that country against blatant and naked aggression from the north, assisted by the Soviet and China. All I can do is ask the honourable gentleman who is, I believe, a stout supporter of the cause of Cambodia to read the statement that I have made. After he has read the statement I believe he will be as convinced as every person on this side of the House that not only was a legitimate request made but also that we were entitled to make our contribution to the cause of Vietnam in exactly the same way as he wanted us to make our contribution to the defence and support of Cambodia.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question further to my question last Tuesday on the control by the unions of employment of women in Broken Hill. Is it a fact that on 4 separate occasions during the year every unionist in Broken Hill is obliged forcibly to wear his badge? Is it a fact that every unionist in Broken Hill is obliged to buy the daily paper published by the Barrier Industrial Council however many unionists may be living under the same roof? Will the Minister say further to what extent life and liberties enjoyed by subjects elsewhere in Australia are in Broken Hill subject to union dictatorship?
– Last week I described the role of the Barrier Industrial Council in Broken Hill as one of the extreme examples of the excess of union power in Australia. That charge can be amply sustained on very many grounds, including those that the honourable gentleman mentioned today. As a direct consequence of the operations of the Barrier Industrial Council, there is an embargo on the right of married women to enter the work force, with some few exceptions. The Council directs that employers give preference to local residents in relation to work opportunities; there is compulsory unionism; every unionist must obey the rules of his union; and, as the honourable gentleman has mentioned, it is in any one year on which all the financial up the picture of the 4 days in Broken Hill in any I year on which all of the financial members of a union are required to wear their badge on a prominent place on their persons so that the badges are conspicuous.
– What would you consider to be a conspicuous place?
– In response to the interjection of the honourable member, I understand, although I do not vouch for it, that there is one story of a trade unionist who was so upset as a consequence of this practice-
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. In referring to compulsory unionism and its undemocratic nature, is it in order for the Minister who administers national service and the penal clauses to cast stones at anybody else?
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The honourable gentleman will be interested in the story, which 1 do not vouch for, of one trade unionist who was so upset-
– I rise to take a point of order. Mr Speaker. If the Minister is not prepared to vouch for the authenticity of his story, is he entitled to relate it to this chamber?
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. If the point of order raised by the honourable gentleman were to be upheld there would be a number of points of order taken during each sitting day.
– For the third time, I should like to attempt to tell the Opposition the story of one trade unionist who became so upset at this practice in relation to the wearing of badges that he decided to wear one on the seat of his pants. As 1 mentioned earlier, this situation has a somewhat Gilbertian perspective but not. in fact, when one has regard to this as an illustration of the extent to which the lives of people in this town can be so regimented as to lose for them individual human rights. I ask members of the Opposition whether they stand for these policies in Broken Hill? Are they prepared to stand behind the concept of compulsory unionism? If they are, I am very interested to hear it because my understanding was-
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. My point of order is that the Minister has been asked a question. He diverged about 5 minutes ago from answering that question and he has moved around to questioning members on this side of the House. I suggest that he should be called to order.
-Order! If my memory serves me aright the Minister was asked a question by a member of the Opposition by way of interjection and he has been answering it.
– I would not want to question the Opposition but I am sure that the Australian community certainly does question where the Opposition stands on these basic questions of industrial relationships. Finally, the honourable member mentioned the practices which I understand operate in Broken Hill and which require every union member there to compulsorily subscribe to the ‘Barrier Industrial Truth’. If 10 unionists happen to be living in one house they must take 10 copies of that paper. There are many other examples, but I think the House will be aware that this is one further instance which constitutes a deprivation of those individual rights valued by this particular side of the House.
-I should like to draw the attention of the House to the length of the questions that have been asked this afternoon and also to the length of answers. I would request honourable members to keep their questions as short as possible and relevant, and I would ask Ministers to endeavour to shorten their answers. This afternoon too many questions have been answered at great length.
– I address a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Government received an answer to the representations which the Minister said it had made to the Government of Pakistan concerning the fate of Sheik Mujibur Rahman and, if so, what was the nature of the answer?
-I am not aware of any answer so far being received. However, I should say to the honourable member that it would not be the practice to reveal the full contents of either the original message or the reply; otherwise we could not maintain confidence between governments in this kind of exercise.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence, although perhaps I should be addressing it to the Minister who is in charge of the archives. I understand that 26 years ago a committee was set up to investigate a defence services disciplinary code. Can the Minister inform me what is the position of this investigation and when the report is likely to be available? Secondly, can the Minister inform me on the situation concerning the memoirs of the former Secretary for Defence, Sir Frederick Shedden?
– 1 have not yet had an opportunity to look into this matter but
I can assure the honourable gentleman that the document referred to in the first part of his question is on my desk at present. I am not certain of the position concerning Sir Frederick Shedden’s memoirs. I will have to check with my Department and let the honourable member know.
– Does the Minister for Defence agree with a former Minister for Defence - that is, the Minister twice removed, who is now the Minister for Education and Science - that an Army task force is necessary in Western Australia to provide a better defence on the west side of the Australian continent? Will he state whether he supports this view? If he does, when will there be a task force in Western Australia, bearing in mind that our troops will be out of Vietnam by Christmas?
– This matter is under consideration at the present moment. However, the Prime Minister recently made a statement in which he said that no early decision on this matter would be taken.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior and refers to reports of miscalculation of estimates of the reserves of the Nabarlek uranium operation in Arnhem Land and the effect this could have on other uranium mines in the area. Will the Minister confer with the Minister for National Development to ensure that this situation does not delay the establishment of the Northern National Park which was planned for this area by the Northern Territory Reserves Board some years ago?
– Some time ago the Government appointed a planning team to draw up proposals for a major national park near Arnhem Land and the report of that planning team will be made available and made public very soon. Prospecting in the area does indicate that in the Arnhem Land region there is a major uranium province of world significance and, although there is some uncertainty about the level of deposits at Nabarlek, nevertheless we understand there are sufficient quantities there for a viable undertaking. The Minister for National Development and I have had a discussion and the Government is not issuing or renewing any authorities to prospect in the region mentioned by the honourable member for the Northern Territory until the Government has had an opportunity to examine, from a national point of view, the importance of both the national park and the mineral resources that are available in the area. As soon as a decision is made it will be made public.
– I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he has had his attention drawn to a telegram from Mr Raymond Cournoyer leader of the Oxfam Relief Organisation in Bengal, to the effect that 200,000 refugee children between 1 and 5 years of age are in danger of death through malnutrition within the next 10 days, that half may be saved but at least 100,000 will die anyway, and that elderly people are also suffering. The telegram indicates also that the Indian Government diet is short of protein and vitamin A. 1 ask the Minister whether he has seen this telegram and whether he has brought the matter to the notice of the Government. If not, will he do so urgently.
-I have seen the telegram in question. The Government deplores the enormous suffering and death that are occurring in this region, not only to children but also, due to disease, lack of food and exposure, to adults in very large numbers. The Government has taken steps which have been outlined in a debate in this House to meet this particular situation and it has done it in very close consultation with the Indian Government. We have been guided by the Indian Government on the things which were most needed and we have sent them. Our representatives in India have indicated that the effect of this has been that our aid has probably been as effective as any aid that has been given. Indeed, the Red Cross in a report to the United Nations has warned people and voluntary organisations with genuine compassion against simply launching supplies which they think may be needed without proper consultation with the authorities in India. It is true that there are many things which are required. We have taken note of the specific items to which the honourable member for Bradfield has referred in this telegram. So far, they have not been included in our supplies, but certainly the matter is under consideration by the aid people in my Department.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service consider requiring the registration with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of Australia’s most powerful trade union, the Australian Medical Association, so that doctors’ fees can be fixed in the same way as the wages of patients whom they treat?
– I would have thought that the suggestion which has been put forward by the honourable gentleman would be entirely inappropriate for the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
– Is the Minister for Social Services able to inform the House when the new code covering Commonwealth employees compensation will come into operation?
– The House will bo aware that a part of the new code came into operation in May immediately following Royal assent to the Bill. That part of the code related to increased rates of payment. I am pleased to inform the House that His Excellency has recently given approval to the necessary regulations antecedent to bring the remainder of the Bill into operation. It is anticipated that those regulations will be gazetted in time to operate as from 1st September 1971. The House will appreciate that in a complex measure of this character, a certain amount of preliminary work had to be done. The new regulations will enable the Bill to do 4 main things: It will make new classes of people eligible for benefits; it will liberalise the conditions under which benefits may be given - for example, for certain diseases, for attendance at work and for journeys to work, and things of that character. It will introduce some completely new benefits; and it will increase the availability of medical compensation and vocational training. I think that the House will welcome the fact that these regulations will become operative as from 1st September.
– I direct my question to the Minister for National Development. Four months ago, speaking in reply to a discussion of a matter of public importance proposed by the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) and to which the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) also spoke, the honourable gentleman told the House that the Bureau of Mineral Resources had carried out an inventory of Australia’s coal resources which the Minister’s Department was examining and upon which he expected to have a report soon. The debate was on the Clutha deal. In view of the statement made by Sir Garfield Barwick on behalf of the Australian Conservation Foundation, of which he is President, that the proposed Clutha exports would considerably reduce the life of our coking coal reserves, which the Joint Coal Board said needed to be husbanded, 1 ask the Minister: When does he expect to let the House know the result of his Department’s report of this matter?
– It is indeed a pleasure to be asked a question by the Leader of the Opposition. I assure him that I am delighted to be given the opportunity to reply, as briefly as possible, to a question on a quite important matter. The Leader of the Opposition has posed matters which will require some study in depth. The point I made at that time was that a study was being undertaken by, principally, the Bureau of Mineral Resources of the Department of National Development into the coal reserves throughout Australia. The study had, of course, to be carried out in conjunction with the departments of mines in the States. That study has been practically completed. I expect that the Bureau will be able to start making its assessment of the situation in the very near future. As soon as that has been made a report will be submitted to me. After I have looked at the report I will certainly make a copy of it available to the Leader of the Opposition.
– But will it not be too late? Will it not be after the Clutha deal has been finalised by the New South Wales Government?
– I was about to say that the study had no relationship to a debate in this House on the subject of the Clutha proposals. The study was conducted independently as an overall appreciation of our reserves so that we will know not only from a Federal point of view but also from a States’ point of view what we should do in relation to husbanding our reserves, particularly high grade coking coal reserves, for the future. The indications are that, as a result of the new discoveries that have been made subsequently, the situation will be better than we anticipated. This applies in particular to the reserves in Queensland. The comments made by the Joint Coal Board refer specifically to the State of New South Wales, for which the Joint Coal Board has some responsibility to the Commonwealth and State governments.
There is, however, another point that has some significance in relation to this matter, that is, the depreciation in the estimates insofar as the steel industry in Japan is concerned. Japan’s imports of coal have declined to a certain degree. This situation has been repeated at the same time in other parts of the world, including the United States of America and Europe. In other words, there has been what we hope is only a temporary decline in the demand for coking coal. Even though the report of the survey conducted has not been submitted to us, we believe that the supplies of both high and low grade coking coal and of steaming coal are sufficient to enable us to meet all of our contractual arrangements without any threat being posed insofar as our industrial future is concerned. The question is one which will require a very careful study as to the position in the long term. When the report is received from my Department I will have this matter examined and brought to the attention of the Government. As I have already said, a copy of the report will be made available to the Leader of the Opposition at a later stage.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for National Development. I ask: What effect will the present industrial situation in the coal industry, particularly in New South Wales, have on our exports? Has this situation seriously disrupted shipping arrangements? Could considerable confidence and valuable export trade be lost if this policy were to continue? Are exporters and coal interests greatly concerned about this position?
– The complex industrial situation that has arisen insofar as the Miners Federation is concerned is some cause for concern, although domestically the production of power and the coal requirements of industry have not been affected so far. There has been a drop in the coal exports from, particularly, the northern ports of New South Wales with a minor drop in the exports from the southern ports and some falling off in exports from the Queensland coal ports. Up to the present time this has not affected the overall situation in that the orders that have been placed and the contracts that have been signed have all been met. I think, perhaps fortuitously, the situation has been helped by a point I mentioned just a moment ago, the falling off in demand, particularly in Japan, for coking coal, which we hope will rectify itself eventually. The situation is that, whilst this industrial situation is posing a problem at the present time, it has not had a domestic or export effect up to the present time. But if it continues and if it is not rectified in the very near future it will have some effect, with the subsequent adverse effects being felt throughout the whole of industry in Australia.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member for La Trobe claim to have been misrepresented?
– Grievously. Last Friday, you may remember, Mr Speaker, there was an insignificant little debate on a question of principle, namely, whether the Parliament had power to make a decision before certain action were taken. You will recall that 3 members of the Government parties agreed with the Opposition that this question of principle should be resolved before action was taken. When I returned to Melbourne I heard on the 3AW news that 3 members of the Government parties had crossed the floor and voted against the Government; when I turned on the Channel 0 news I heard that 3 members of the Government parties had attacked the
Prime Minister; and on another station I heard that 3 members were disciplined in their Party room. May I state for the purposes and use of gossip writers who may be misreporting that no members of the Government parties crossed the floor? No members attacked the Prime Minister - indeed, they were agreeable to the Prime Minister’s action: and no members were disciplined in the party room. That may be a leak, but I make it.
– Mr Speaker, during the course of question time on Friday last I was asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) a supplementary question in which he referred to a statement of Sir Paul Hasluck, and I said that I would obtain further information, if that were possible, to inform him. T wish to give the further information that I have now obtained in answer to that question.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– A statement of Sir Paul Hasluck, then Minister for External Affairs, was referred to by the Leader of the Opposition.
– They were answers to questions.
– ‘It was an answer to a question on notice. Actually, there were a number of answers. In the particular one from which the Leader of the Opposition quoted, Sir Paul Hasluck made this statement:
The Government of the Republic of Vietnam has not made any particular request to SEATO collectively to take action on its behalf. It has addressed various appeals from time to time to both SEATO and non-SEATO members.
Later in the answer from which the Leader of the Opposition quoted, Sir Paul Hasluck said:
In the absence of a specific approach from the Government of the Republic of Vietnam invoking the Treaty, the question of a report to the Security Council has not arisen.
The honourable gentleman then went on to ask me:
Does the honourable gentleman agree with his distinguished predecessor that there has never been a specific request under SEATO by South Vietnam to Australia?
I replied to the effect that it was not necessary to report to the Security Council, and
I went on to say that I would look further into this matter. I have looked further into it. The statement referred to - or the answer to the question referred to - was made in answer to a question on notice in a series - some by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) and another by the Leader of the Opposition himself. But the significant thing about it is that the answer was given on 20th October 1964, that is, before the oral request made by the Government of South Vietnam in December 1964 and before the written request in April 1965 - the very things we were debating and discussing. In fact, the implication in the question of the honourable gentleman to me, asking me whether I agreed with my predecessor that there had never been a specific request, was quite unfounded. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition himself asked one of these questions. He must have been aware that the answer had been given on 20th October 1964 and had no relevance to these other requests.
The other thing I would say is that under the United Nations Charter Article 102 requires treaties and international agreements to be registered. Nothing in these letters has required registration under this Article. The South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty does not require a report to the Security Council of requests received under Article 4 paragraph 3 under which we received the request although it does require a report of measures taken under paragraph I of Article 4, that is, measures taken to assist in defence against aggression where there is an armed attack in a treaty area, and in point of fact on 4th May 1965 a message was passed by the Australian Acting Permanent Representative of the United Nations, Mr Dudley McCarthy, to the President of the Security Council in compliance with that obligation which was not an obligation to report letters. It was in the following terms:
I have the honour to inform you that the Australian Government has decided to despatch forces to South Vietnam in order to assist in securing its defence against the hostile activities, including armed attacks, which have been supported, organised, and directed by North Vietnam. This decision has been made at the request of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and it is in accordance with Australia’s international obligations.
I will not quote to the House the views of my predecessor but if the honourable gentleman wants to see his more recent views he can find them in ‘Current Notes on International Affairs’ of December 1969. There is not the slightest doubt that the Government has been full and frank in Stating the reasons for sending troops to Vietnam and has in fact acted with complete propriety throughout.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) quoted the answers which Mr Hasluck, as he then was, gave to questions by the honourable member for Yarra, as he then was, and myself in, I think, April 1964. In my speech on Wednesday last I went on:
In April 1966 I asked, apropos to the commitment of April 1965, whether the position was still the same as Mr Hasluck had told the then honourable member for Yarra and he said ‘Yes’ and I asked him was this the reason why we had not made a reference to any request in our notification to the Security Council - as he had told me - and he said that we did not spell it out to the Security Council, we gave a comprehensive reply.
I rise to point out that my reference to Mr Hasluck’s replies to questions on notice in April 1964 apropos of the advisers we then had in South Vietnam was revived by me in a question without notice to Mr Hasluck in April 1966 apropos of the battalion which we had sent as a result of a decision in April 1965. I reiterate that Mr Hasluck used the words which I quoted last Wednesday night and, I think, again in question time on Friday. At the notice that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has given me T have been unable to get the Hansard of April 1966 or the Act of Parliament relating to the South East Asia Treaty Organisation.
-Order! I do not want to stop the honourable member but will he tell me what the point of order is?
– Yes, I am coming to it. One Minister this afternoon, with your approval, which you stated from the Chair, acted in deliberate defiance of the Standing Orders in the role of a vaudeville artist and not that of a Minister of the Crown, not giving any information whatsoever but telling, in order to obtain cheap applause, a joke or a story-
-Order! The honourable member is not making a personal explanation on a point of order but is now developing it into a debate.
– Mr Speaker, I am raising a matter about question time and the inability of members of the House to obtain information on a pension, a matter of tremendous importance to 1,000,000 senior citizens and incapacitated citizens.
-Order! There are other forms of the House which will allow the honourable member to raise this matter but he may not do so in raising a point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I shall not be silenced on this matter, Mr Speaker. It is time that an effective protest must be made against the utter misuse of question time.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The honourable member is a very well respected member of this House and I suggest that if he wishes the Standing Orders to be complied with he should now set an example and resume his seat.
– I am afraid that it is time when a protest must be maintained and 1 shall maintain it.
-Order! Would the honourable member mind sitting down while I am on my feet. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– As long as I can rise again, because I shall.
-The honourable member will resume his seat. I point out to the honourable member that I have regard for the fact that he has something of importance which he wishes to raise in this House and so has every other honourable member who stands up in this House during question time. My lists are available for any honourable member to peruse. In fact, they are put up on display by the Whips in the Party rooms. Honourable members will see from those lists that over a period of time every honourable member gets an equal share of question time with the exception of the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. In view of the honourable member’s long experience in this House he should know this and I say to him that he is not entitled to any preference and he will not receive any preference. He will be called in the order of his time, the same as everybody else.
In relation to the length of questions and the length of answers I point out that I have appealed to the House in regard to this matter but the honourable member well knows that the Chair has no control over the length of the answer that is given by a Minister. Provided that the answer is relevant to the question that has been asked then there is little that the Chair can do. I have appealed to Ministers in this regard. 1 believe that some of the answers that are given in question time are far too long and they should be given in the form of a statement after question time so that honourable members would have sufficient time to ask questions. If the honourable member is seeking some preference from the Chair I am afraid he will bc treated the same as every other honourable member.
– Mr Speaker, you have quite wrongly suggested that I have sought preference from you. You will know that I have never in any way sought preference from you. I am speaking for the rights of honourable members. It is true that 1 have been a member of this House for very many years but in all those years I have never seen question time conducted in the way in which it is now degenerating under your Speakership. I therefore make-
-Order! That is a reflection on the Chair. I think the Chair has been extremely tolerant with the honourable member and I would ask him again to comply with the Standing Orders and resume his seat while I am on my feet. The honourable member has the opportunity to raise this matter by using other forms of the House. It is not my duty to tell this to the honourable member at this stage but he can do this if he wishes. I call the honourable member for Blaxland.
– Mr Speaker, I have heard you in reply to the honourable member
-Order! If the honourable member will not comply with the direction of the Chair I shall have no option but to take action to ensure that the business of the House is not again interrupted. If the honourable member does not resume his seat I am afraid that I will have to deal with him. I do not know what the honourable member is seeking.
– 1 am continuing my protest because this afternoon-
-Order! I name the honourable member for Eden-Monaro.
– I move:
That the honourable member tor Eden-Monaro be suspended from the service of the House.
– Mr Speaker, might I have your indulgence for a moment. I have not had the opportunity of speaking to my colleague, the honourable member for EdenMonaro, but there are 2 things I would like to say at this stage. One is that everybody in this House knows of the long and consistent interest and involvement that the honourable member has had in this subject.
– Let it go.
– The other thing I want to put is that I believe we would all agree that it would be a great pity if the honourable member were to suffer suspension from the service of the House, in view of his long and honourable record. I would plead with you, Mr Speaker, to give me or my colleagues an opportunity to ask the honourable member to reconsider the position.
– Yes, 1 would be quite willing to do this, but I want to say that I think the Chair has been extremely lenient in this regard.
– Having spoken to the honourable member for Eden-Monaro in his place in this House I have nothing more to say, Mr Speaker.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston) Ayes . . . . . . 58
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
My reason for doing this arises from the decision of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) last week to appoint in this House 5 Assistant Ministers.
– I take a point of order in relation to procedure. I understand that matters may be referred to the Standing Orders Committee at any time. I do not think it is necessary to move for the suspension of Standing Orders to be able to do this. My understanding is that matters may be referred to the Standing Orders Committee by an individual on behalf of the Opposition or on behalf of the Government.
– That may be done. The Minister is quite right. But if an honourable member wishes he may move in the House that a matter be referred to the Committee.
– I refer again to the fact that 5 honourable members of this House were appointed Assistant Ministers by the Prime Minister last Friday. We now have a situation in the House of Representatives where there are 59 members of the Opposition, who are all questioners, and 65 members on the Government side, excluding yourself, Sir, 22 of whom are Ministers and 5 of whom are Assistant Ministers, making a total of 27 Government supporters who could be classified as Ministers or Assistant Ministers. Naturally those 27 members will not ask questions of themselves so we are left with only 38 questioners on the Government side as opposed to 59 questioners on the Opposition side. Honourable members may have noticed that the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn), who I think asked 3 questions last week, was able to ask another question today. That is 4 questions he has asked within a week.
-Order! I hesitate to interrupt the honourable member but, as I said, the lists in relation to questions are available to ali honourable members. I correct the honourable member: The honourable member for Balaclava asked one question, not at least 3.
– But for the fact that I was fleet of foot, I probably would not have been able to ask any questions myself last week or today. That is no reflection on you, Mr Speaker, but the fact is that all members of the Opposition wish to question the Ministry and the 22 members of the Government do not wish to question the Ministry because they in fact belong to the Ministry, leaving 38 questioners on the Government side of the House. Of those 38, perhaps 20 or fewer are inclined to ask questions. It boils down to inequitable distribution of questions. Honourable members do not have equal rights to question the Ministry. The point 1 make is that the Opposition has the right to question the Ministry, and in fact most of the questions coming from the back bench on the Government side are of such a nature that they are sometimes not critical of the Ministry. I think the House should make allowance for the fact that the Opposition has a particular right to question the Ministry. Therefore I think the matter I have raised should be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. The whole matter should be considered, and each side should be allotted questions on the basis of the number of back bench members rather than on the basis of one for the Opposition and one for the Government. At the moment back bench Government supporters are able to ask an exceptional number of questions each session and individual members of the Opposition are not.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
– As I said before, it is the privilege of an honourable member to have a matter referred to the Standing Orders Committee at any time by simply writing to you, Mr Speaker, or by referring the matter, through the House, to the Committee, as in this case. As far as I am concerned, there is no objection to this matter being referred to the Standing Orders Committee for its consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Motion (by Mr Keating) agreed to:
That the matter of the distribution of questions be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.
– For the information of honourable members I present the official report of the Australian parliamentary delegation to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The destructive effect of the Australian Government’s foreign policy of continued hostility to China on the sals of wheat to that country.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their place. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– The allegation by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) that the Australian Labor Party delegation to China, and I in particular, are responsible for the loss of the China wheat market is indicative of the miserable measures which Ministers of this Government will adopt in order to keep themselves in office. I had 3 objectives in going to China: Firstly, to find out the facts on why China had stopped wheat purchases from Australia; secondly, to see whether it was possible to get China to resume wheat purchases from Australia; and, thirdly, to examine the possibilities of expanded trade from Australia, particularly in primary products and basic raw materials. We found out the facts on wheat from the highest economic and trade policy authorities in China. To put the matter more bluntly, the assertion of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Primary Industry that Australia’s foreign policy or ministerial criticism of China has had nothing to do with the loss of the huge Chinese wheat market is false. Can I tell the wheat growers of Australia that if it were not for this Government’s open and continued hostility to China Australian wheat would still be going to China. The entire blame for the loss of Australia’s most important wheat market must be borne by this Government and noone else - not the Australian Wheat Board, not the Canadian Government, not the Australian Labor Party and certainly not myself, as the Minister for Trade and Industry claimed on television.
China’s Ministers stated that in recent years China has been forced to purchase very large quantities of wheat. In the last 10 years China has purchased 22 million tons of wheat from Australia at a cost of $US1,20Om. The large wheat purchases from Canada and Australia have been due to a food shortage in China in earlier years and they also enabled China to export higher value food products like rice which earned a net gain of foreign exchange. During this period of wheat purchases from Australia neither Canada nor Australia was given any particular priority for China’s wheat because neither of those 2 countries recognised China.
The Chinese Foreign Minister, Mr Chi Peng-Fei, and the Minister for Foreign Trade, Mr Pai Hsiang Kuo, made it patently clear that as regards trade with Australia, economics and trade cannot be separated from political decisions. That attitude was made clear. China’s attitude regarding trade with Australia is and will be influenced by the policies and decisions of Australian governments. When discussing the policies of the Australian Government as they affect China’s trade decisions, both the Foreign Minister and the Minister for Foreign Trade referred to the hostile political policies of the Australian Government against China. I quote the words of the Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade, Mr Pai:
The Australian Government has consistently followed a policy of hostility to China. It has blindly followed United States imperialism and aggression. As far as China is concerned, trade, economics and politics are inseparable. Trade in wheat with the Australian Government can only be continued and further developed if normal political relationships apply between our 2 countries. We regard the political relationship between Australia and China as the fundamental question as regards further wheat sales. Because of Australia’s hostility to China it follows that such an attitude cannot but affect our trade policy with the Australian Government.
In expanding on China’s policies on the wheat trade Mr Pai said that because of the Australian Government’s open and continuing hostility to China certain obstacles to a continuation of Australia’s wheat trade with China exist. When I asked the Minister for Foreign Trade to define these obstacles he replied:
Firstly, Australia is supporting Chiang Kai-shek and has established diplomatic relations with Taiwan; secondly, Australia has continuously opposed the restoration of China’s legitimate seat in the United Nations; thirdly, Australia supports and follows United States aggression in South East Asia; fourthly, Australia refuses to recognise the Government of the People’s Republic pf China as the sole legal government representing all the Chinese people, including the people of the Province of Taiwan; and lastly, Australia is collaborating with the USA to create 2 Chinas, or one China and one Taiwan and is, therefore, interfering in the internal affairs of China.
In explaining China’s relationships with Canada the Minister for Foreign Trade said:
China used to buy more wheat from Australia than from Canada. But last year China established diplomatic relations with Canada. Canada bides by the 5 principles of mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignly, etc.
He went on to state:
At our discussions with the Canadian Minister for Trade and Commerce, Monsieur Jean-Luc Pepin, held in Peking last week, I -
That is the Minister for Foreign Trade - informed Monsieur Pepin that if China continued to buy wheat then Canada would get first priority to supply th:it wheat.
Those are the words of China’s Minister for Foreign Trade.
– ‘Would continue to get first priority.’ I ask the honourable member to quote the words correctly.
– The Minister for Foreign Trade said: ‘ … if China continued to buy wheat then Canada would get first priority to supply that wheat.’
– That is right.
– That is what 1 said, did I not?
– No, not the first time.
– I apologise. The Minister remarked: ‘Surely this is a logical conclusion.’ As regards the possibilities of future trade, the Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade informed the delegation that if the Australian Government changed its present policies of hostility towards China then Australia would receive the same consideration and priority as Canada, but until this happens Canada has first priority to supply the wheat required by China. It must be patently obvious that to try to blame myself or the Labor Party and to maintain that Australian Government policies have nothing whatsoever to do with the loss of the Chinese wheat market is absurd and wrong. As the Chinese Foreign Ministers say: ‘Politics is the fundamental question.’
As regards the restoration of the wheat trade with China, the facts are that while in China I did everything possible to persuade Chinese authorities to alter their wheat policy as it presently discriminates against the Australian wheat grower and to resume wheat purchases from the Australian Wheat Board. I argued that if China were prepared to trade with Australian private companies like Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd which comprised people or shareholders, China should be prepared to trade also with Australian wheat farmers who are really shareholders of the Australian Wheat Board.
On the day I left Peking J was informed that consideration would be given to my request to resume the wheat trade with Australia on the grounds that Australian wheat farmers, like the shareholders of an Australian private company, were not responsible for the Australian Government’s foreign policies and hostility to China. Contrary to the Deputy Prime Minister’s crude attempt to blame me personally for the loss of last month’s wheat sale, if the Chinese Government does decide to resume wheat purchases from Australia in the near future it will do so because of the explanations and pleas which we made to China’s trade policy makers on behalf of the Australian wheat farmers.
The recent allegations of the Minister for Trade - and this is very serious - of the alleged loss of last month’s wheat sales will have been digested already in Peking. The danger now is that, because of this deceit in attempting to blame the Labor Party delegation to China and myself in particular as well as refusing to accept the real reasons why China has suspended wheat purchases, Chinese Ministers who are contemptuous of Australian Government foreign policy may now completely dismiss the extra considerations they were prepared to give to the case that Australian wheat farmers, via the Wheat Board, are distinct from the Australian Government. As China’s highest policy makers are now fully informed of the role of the Australian Wheat Board and its relationship to the Australian Government and wheat farmers, it is my hope that China will once again renew wheat purchases from Australia.
The Minister for Trade and Industry has accused me of mixing politics with wheat. The facts are that Australia was incredibly lucky not to lose its wheat sales to China in 1967 when the Wheat Board introduced politics into its negotiations by handing the Chinese buying agents a threatening political note. But this was not the fault of the Wheat Board. It was instructed to do this by the Australian Government. i want to deal now with another matter. Country Party members interjected and maintained in the Parliament on Thursday that the Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board had indicated that the loss of China’s wheat market had nothing whatsoever to do with Australia’s foreign policy or political attitudes to China. I know of no such public statement by the Chairman of the Wheat Board, but if he has made such a statement or has said that to Country Party members in private, he is playing a most delicate political game. I do not believe that any responsible Chinese authority on the Chinese wheat trade so informed him. 1 wish to expand on this point. Both the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Primary Industry have publicly accused me of losing wheat sales to China which were to be negotiated last month by the Australian Wheat Board. Both Ministers have been publicly rebuked by a member of the Australian Wheat Board for giving to wheat growers misleading and false information and incriminating the Australian Wheat Board. Mr A. C. Everett, a member of the Australian Wheat Board, stated in the ‘Mail Times’ of Horsham on 28th July that the Australian Wheat Board at no stage this year had prospects of selling wheat to mainland China. He challenged the statement by the Minister for Primary Industry made before 1. 100 people at a meeting in Horsham Town Hall. Mr Everett said that the Minister told the meeting that the Australian Wheat Board was on the point of making a good sale to China but the Australian Labor Party went over there and ruined it. Mr Everett, who is, I repeat, a member of the Australian Wheat Board, said that that statement gives a false impression of Wheat Board activities and should be corrected. He said that never at any time was there a prospect of an Australian wheat sale to China this year.
This whole matter of losing wheat sales to China is serious in view of the grave allegation made against me by the Minister for Trade and Industry. Someone in this Government or in other places is telling lies in an attempt to influence Australian wheat farmers and I intend to make further inquiries. I intend to clear my name following allegations made by the Deputy Prime Minister against me. I deeply resent the accusation that I am responsible for losing last month a wheat sale to China. It is an untruth. If the Deputy Prime Minister was told of this allegation by a member of the Wheat Board - and I do not believe that - who is that person? It seems to me, Mr Deputy Speaker that if this sort of allegation is not cleaned up, the only course to follow will be to get the Chairman of the Wheat Board to appear at the Bar of this House or the Bar of the Senate to inform us of the whole truth of the loss last month of a wheat sale to China. He could be asked to prove or disprove the absurd allegation made against me by the Deputy Prime Minister.
I do not believe that there was a wheat sale. It is up to the Deputy Prime Minister, tainly deny that I had anything to do in any shape or form with losing that wheat sale. It is up to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is to follow me in this debate, to prove to this House whether his statement is based on fact. It is not a statement of fact. His colleague the Minister for Primary Industry has been publicly rebuked by a member of the Australian Wheat Board who stated categorically that never at any time was there a prospect of an Australian wheat sale to China this year.
– We have listened to the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) with a great deal of interest, but also with a degree of sadness because he persisted in trying to make a political issue of wheat sales to the People’s Republic of China. I am sure that every responsible member of the Australian Wheat Board and members of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, and informed people in the Australian wheat industry must listen in fear when they hear the Australian Labor Party continue its policy of trying to make it politically impossible for Australia to make a wheat sale to the People’s Republic of China. That is what members of the Australian Labor Party have done up to date. If there has been a loss of wheat sales as suggested by the honourable member for Dawson, it is because politics has been introduced into that field.
Earlier this year, the honourable member for Dawson moved for a debate on a matter of public importance. 1 was not here at the time. I would have found it a most interesting debate because the motion was directed against me. It was a rather extraordinary exercise because at that time honourable members opposite said that I was to blame for the loss of a sale to China because of statements I had made on a television programme in Melbourne. They said that wheat sales were lost to China because T made on that programme statements that were offensive to the Chinese. The honourable member for Dawson had the audacity to put before this House that that was the reason for the loss of sales to China. However, today he apparently is concerned that his actions might have been the cause of the loss of sales to China and he is trying to square off with Australian wheat growers. Let him see whether he can, because he has an awful lot to answer for. Even Mr Price, the President of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, has publicly asked politicians to keep quiet on the subject and to keep out of the field. He has said: ‘Let us get on with our business of selling wheat.’
– I rise to a point of order.
– There is no point of order. The honourable member for Bowman will resume his seat.
– You have not heard me.
-Order! The honourable member for Bowman has continually interjected during the Minister’s speech. He will resume his seat.
– I rose to a point of order. I wanted to ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, why it is that you always move into the Chair when a member of the Country Party speaks in a debate.
-Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Bowman that as a new member of this House he should study the Standing Orders. There was no point of order in what the honourable member said and he will stay in his seat. I call the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– I was mentioning that the honourable member for Dawson raised a matter of public importance while I was away in New Zealand. I suppose it was a good opportunity for him to do so as I could not reply. But I will reply today. My statements on television had nothing whatever to do with a lack of wheat sales to China. Even Mr Tyrell, the honourable member’s colleague who was responsible for organising the trip by members of the Labor Party to China, said in an article he wrote for ‘Nation’ magazine on 7th August 1971, in a specific reference to this matter:
It is true that Peking through the British in mid March complained of foolish statements on China by Australian Ministers. The specific reference was not to Mr Anthony’s ‘sell our soul’ T.V. statement, but to a much earlier one.
That was a reference to a statement made back in 1968. I hope that the honourable member for Dawson will apologise to me for disrupting this House by moving a censure motion against me, particularly when I was not here to defend myself. If there is honour to be done today, it ought to be done to me and not to the honourable member for Dawson. I will now deal with the honourable member for Dawson. The facts of the matter are that last year Canada made its normal sale to China in October. Traditionally, over the 9 years we have been selling to the People’s Republic of China we have entered the field a month, 6 weeks or 2 months later. We were not invited in last year. The reason why we were not invited in leaves much room for rich and fruitful speculation, but 1 shall give the reasons that I believe were influential. The first reason was that the international price of wheat was rising and there was increased trading activity. It therefore made good commercial sense to delay trade negotiations during the period of the upward movement in price.
The other reason was that China had a very good wheat harvest last year. This fact has emerged in conversations with Mr Pai, a Deputy Prime Minister of China. Even reports of his conversation with the Labor Party delegation show that China had a very good wheat harvest last year and did not need to buy as much wheat as usual. That could have been the other reason, but unfortunately the Labor Party was not prepared to accept the 2 sound reasons I have given for the lack of wheat sales to China. Members of the Labor Party had to jump on the bandwagon and start making political issue of it by bringing in the question of Taiwan, opposition to the entry of the People’s Republic of China into the United Nations and diplomatic recognition of that country. They would not remain content with the reasons I have given. They were irrepressible in their irresponsibility to create an issue, irrespective of what price might be paid by the Australian wheat industry. Of course, it is not the first time that the honourable member for Dawson has delved into this sort of thing. I remember quite clearly that during the 1967-68 period, when my predecessor, Mr McEwen as he then was, was trying to negotiate an international sugar agreement, the honourable member for Dawson was trying to create as an issue between Australia and Japan the price at which Japan was buying Australian sugar. He was doing this at the same time as my predecessor was trying to woo and to get close to the Japanese so that they would beome a member of this great international sugar agreement. If the honourable member for Dawson had managed to develop a momentum on that occasion, as he has managed to do on this wheat deal, we would not have had an international sugar agreement. This example demonstrates the heights of irresponsibility to which this man will go in order to gain some political kudos; exactly the same situation has arisen on this occasion.
Whether we recognise China or whether or not it is a member of the United Nations, the facts are that Australia until March 1971 had sold more wheat to China than had Canada. We had sold 22 million tons against Canada’s 18 million tons. The facts also are that whilst there is great difficulty in selling wheat to China at the moment, other trade is going along normally. I believe it is fair to say that Australia did better at the Canton fair than did Canada. We sold more aluminium, more pig iron, more electric wire and other articles than did Canada.
– Who are ‘we’?
– The Australian traders sold more.
– Not the Government?
– This is an interesting point, and I should like to take the honourable member for Dawson up on it, because this is what the Australian Labor Party is now turning the argument to. It is trying to make out - and it has told the Chinese this - that the Australian Wheat Board is an instrument of the Australian Government, lt is not. The Australian Wheat Board is an instrumentality to sell wheat on behalf of the Australian wheat growers and is controlled and managed by the Australian wheat growers. Let me show the audacity of the Labor Party in this matter. The honourable member for Dawson has admitted that he went to China and told the Chinese that the Australian Wheat Board was a Government instrumentality.
– I did not.
– Well, a minute ago you said that it was a government instrumentality. This is why we found selling wheat to China so difficult. If there is a political reason for this difficulty, it is that the Labor Party has made out that the Australian Wheat Board is an instrument of the Government. The Broken Hill company, the Electrolytic Zinc company and other companies including Comalco are continuing to increase their trade with China whereas the Australian Wheat Board, because the Labor Party is trying to make out that it is a Government body and because politics have been brought into the matter, cannot sell its wheat to that country. Those who continue this line, as the honourable member for Dawson and his Party are doing, are carrying on a reckless policy and they are nothing more than delinquents. Honourable members opposite are laughing but it is not quite laughable because there is a big wheat industry in Australia which wants to sell its wheat. There is surplus wheat and we would like to continue to develop the Chinese market because it is a big market.
I have not been backward in expressing my desire for normalised relations with China. We would like to see China seated in the United Nations. But we do not want to see China seated there at the expense of Taiwan, which is another republic of some standing and which is also a considerable buyer of wheat and other products from Australia. But the Labor Party disregards Taiwan; it means nothing; it has no significance whatsoever in the eyes of the Labor Party. What the Government wants is a rational approach to this matter and. if only the Labor Party would keep quiet. I am sure the Australian Wheat Board would be able to go ahead and negotiate. The honourable member for Dawson has referred to the loss of a sale in July. Nobody knows accurately whether a sale was lost in July but what we did know and what I was told-
– By whom?
– I was told by responsible people in the Australian Wheat Board and the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, and also through trade sources, that it was expected from about April onwards that we would be invited into China to talk about another possible wheat sale. That was the thinking within the Wheat Board which has the best contact with the Chinese resources in Hong Kong and which has some idea of measuring what the trade possibilities are. The Board planned to go back in July to make a sale. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) also stated this at a meeting at Horsham. I stand by his words because this statement has been made to me and this is what I was led to believe. However, it became such a political issue, with the Labor Party going to China, that it was quite impossible either for the Chinese to sit down with the Wheat Board or for the
Wheat Board to go to China and sit down with the Chinese. I think it is disgraceful that we have got into this situation.
Fortunately, because of its efficiency, the Australian Wheat Board has continued to make excellent sales around the world. On every world market, with the exception of mainland China, it can be seen that wheat sales have risen. We have actually had record sales this year but also we have almost had record deliveries of wheat this year. It is a pity that we did not get another sale to mainland China so that we could have cleared up any surplus that we might have had. China is a great market for wheat but I think it is wrong for people to get carried away with the idea that the potential market opportunities are as great as the Labor Party would lead us to think. China has its difficulties in earning foreign exchange. Indeed, China’s imports are 40 per cent less than Australia’s imports and its exports are about 40 per cent less than Australia’s exports. Those are the dimensions of China’s trade. Its biggest trading customer is Japan which does not have any form of recognition with China but still does very attractive trade with that country.
Until the Labor Party involved politics in the issue this year, we were China’s fourth biggest trading customer. We were bigger than Canada. Of course, if we take wheat out of the situation for the coming year, the picture will be very different. But do not let anybody ever put the blame on this side of the Parliament for any loss of sales due to political reasons. If there is any blame it lies fairly and squarely on the heads of the honourable member for Dawson and his colleagues who sit behind him and who are prepared to support him. I said earlier that they have been behaving like a mob of reckless delinquents and if they have any respect, any feeling for the Australian wheat industry or any concern for the possibility of a large crop this year and for difficulties in the selling of that crop, on this issue they ought to do as the Leader of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation suggested: ‘Sit down and shut up’.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, we have just heard an apology by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony). It was an apology couched in terms of personal abuse directed mainly at members of the Opposition and particularly at the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). The apology is in the inadequacy of the reply. Now, the Minister probably will say: ‘I have cleared the traps; I have answered it all’. In fact, he has misled the Parliament and the nation quite deliberately. I will give one or two examples of the way in which the Minister did this.
In the first instance, the Minister spoke of the involvement of politics in trade as if it were something that we had suddenly discovered. This is not borne out by official documents from Peking. I have here the Peking Review* of 12th March 1971. In a communique authorised by the Chinese Government, this intertwining of politics and trade is referred to specifically. The Peking Review’ states:
We reiterate and affirm once again that the 3 political principles and the principle that politics and economics are inseparable will be adhered to.
That is the Chinese assessment of the situation.
The Minister said to members of the Opposition: ‘My advice to you is to be quiet’. This is the Minister who, just a short time after being sworn in as Minister for Trade and Industry, rose to his feet in front of a television audience and said with respect to politics in trade and wheat sales to China: ‘1 will not barter my soul for wheat’.
– Why should he?
– The honourable member for Mallee asks: ‘Why should he?’ I respect his conscience. I am worried about the soul of the Minister. I am most concerned about it. I am so concerned on his behalf that I think the Minister would he doing well by the nation and by his soul if he took himself and his immortal soul home where it belongs, found himself another portfolio and let the nation get on with the business of trading. This is exactly the situation that must be faced. When we are talking about politics and trade it is a sad thing that the Minister, probably quite deliberately, did not complete his quotation from ‘Nation’. Not only was he telling the Chinese that they were unfit to be dealt with because of the peril to his soul but also a former Foreign Minister, Sir Gordon Freeth, spoke of ‘serious questionings of conscience in Australia about how far we are justified in trading with China’.
– It was not I.
– The Minister is the Deputy Prime Minister in this Government. He must take responsibility. He should not try to get away here with what he does outside. Outside he says: ‘Everything is terrible; I am with you’ but then he comes in here and does exactly what he is doing. He is two-voiced and two-faced, and this is not good enough. He will not get away with it in this debate. A colleague of his, the former Foreign Minister, spoke of conscience and trade. ‘We should not involve ourselves in trade with China’, says he. But the former honourable member for Chisholm, Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes, a long-time member of this House and Minister and part of the establishment supporting of this Government of 22 years, often criticised the Country Party and said of its members that their hands held money that was stained with the blood of Tibetan peasants. He said this because we were actually selling wheat to China.
This is a pattern of insult. So the Minister for Trade and Industry says: ‘We must not deal with politics in trade’, but the Government has been dealing with politics in trade in relation to China for a long time. Only the other day in this House the Deputy Prime Minister, when referring to trade, criticised the Government of Britain, He said in effect ‘You know, the British let us down. We left everything to London and London did not look after us.’ The Deputy Prime Minister was the little colonial boy lost running around the great corridors of power in London, hoping desperately that someone would rescue him and his Government from a situation they got themselves into because they had not done their homework in relation to the European Economic Community and Britain’s entry into it. That homework should have been done 10 years ago.
The other major point on which the Minister misled the Parliament was in respect of the great fiction about who was responsible for trade. The Deputy Prime Minister has been trying to convince everybody in the nation that the farmer is responsible for world selling. In fact, the Government has largely convinced the Australian farmer that the farmer is responsible for world sales, for shipping arrangements, for credit and all the facilities which are provided by the Government. Let us be clear about this. Who makes the basic decisions on trade? The Government does. It is necessary to have an umbrella of trade treaties and the Deputy Prime Minister should know this, even though he has not been long in his portfolio. But the trade treaties set the basic decisions. Following that it is Government which determines credit, terms of repayment and interest. It sets the whole basic fabric for trading, not the Australian Wheat Board. It is a fiction, improper and wrong to say that the Australian Wheat Board can do all these things and make all these decisions, lt does not. The Government does it in the same way as the Government dictates to the Australian Wool Commission.
Let us consider a few facts about trading in relation to our situation. We are 10 years behind Japan in trade with China, 3 years behind Canada, 2 years behind Italy and I year behind the United States of America. While the Minister for Trade and Industry is in this House abusing the Opposition and trying to cover up for his errors President Nixon is going to China, not out of sweetness, love and charity but because the United States corporations have prospects of Si, 000m worth of sales to China and they need the sales and want the trade. Of course, the Deputy Prime Minister ignores this, but this is the situation. Australia is 1 year behind the United Slates of America in trade with China. This is the situation we face. Let us consider the Japanese position. We are talking about recognition of China. The Minister tried carefully to give the impression that there were no links whatever between China and Japan. This is untrue. Since 1968 there has been a Japan-China memorandum trade agreement. There have been trade offices in Tokyo and in Peking.
– I think that the Minister should do his homework. The Japanese have been doing extraordinarily good trade with China amounting to S800m a year.
– Get back to Australia and tell us what the BHP is selling.
– Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting.
– The new Assistant Minister has just made his first contribution in that role and he advises me to get back to Australia. The facts of Chinese trade are available for him to study and digest. Members opposite talk about politics in trade. I have given examples and instances which have led China to say: These people are insulting us. These people are not dealing with us properly. We will give preference elsewhere’. I draw attention to the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of Monday, 5th July, wherein it is stated:
The Government of the People’s Republic seems to have gone out of its way to co-operate with the Canadians in reaching the agreement. Few of China’s trade agreements seem to be so open ended and timewise as this one on wheat purchases from Canada. Australia is the major sufferer.
In the speech of the Minister for Trade and Industry there was no initiative at all - nothing but abuse. Australia should have a trade office in China now. The Minister knows it. A trade office should have been established in China years ago. How dare he come into the Parliament and abuse the honourable member for Dawson who at least went to Peking with his colleagues of the Australian Labor Party and opened the door. At least the Minister could say: ‘You opened the door; let me go up there and see what I can do*. He should have done this instead of hanging around in the cold streets of London left like the proverbial shag on the rock.
The makeup of China’s foreign trade, particularly its imports, has changed substantially over the last 15 years. China’s major goods are being imported from the United Kingdom, France, West Germany and Italy. All of these countries are ahead of us in their trade links with China. In fact, as a result of the lack of initiative by this Government we have missed, for the moment at any rate, the boat to China. This is the whole crux of the question. The whole of this episode is set down in the records for all to see. One can see the responsibility of the Minister for Trade and Industry who confuses his conscience with the conscience of the Australian people. He has done a grave disservice to Australia from the day he took office as Minister for Trade and Industry. He is a failure. He should know it, and he should resign.
– The first point in this discussion on which I must join issue is the suggestion that the Australian government’s foreign policy is one - I quote from the wording of this matter of public importance - ‘of continued hostility to China’. This is demonstrably false. The Government’s policy on China has been stated clearly on a number of occasions in recent times. On 11th May the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) announced that the Government had as its long term objective the normalising of our bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China, to which end it had been decided to explore the possibility of establishing a dialogue with that Government. Is this evidence of hostility? Is this a hostile policy - to seek to normalise our relations? It is completely wrong and even mischievous to suggest that it is.
On 13th May the Prime Minister again emphasised Australia’s desire to have normal bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China. He pointed out 3 things. First, that there is no restriction whatsoever on the movement of Australian people to China; provided only that they can get a visa from the Chinese and provided that security considerations are not involved. Secondly, apart from special restrictive lists - this refers to goods of strategic importance - we permit trade with mainland China. For example, for the year ended 30th June 1970 our exports were SI 25.8m, mainly but not wholly wheat, and our imports from China were $32m. Thirdly, we have not barred movement in the field of cultural activities. For example, not long ago approval was given for the Peking Opera Co. to come to Australia. Unfortunately, because the only theatre that was suitable in size to take the company had closed down, it was not able to come. But there was no bar. This has been the position for many years. The Opposition talks about the Government following America and following some other country. We have been way ahead of the other countries in the movement of people and actual trade. In the light of these facts, to suggest that the Government has a policy of continuing hostility is nonsense. On 28th July, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) reaffirmed our position, saying that we have no hostility to the great
Chinese people whose history and culture have contributed much to the achievements of mankind, and that we look forward to the day when we would be able to recognise the People’s Republic with honour and without deserting old friends. He said further that in the meantime we want to keep moving towards normal relations with mainland China without waiting for the completion of formalities for full diplomatic recognition.
I stated the position again in my foreign affairs statement in his House last Wednesday. This statement is in the course of being debated in this House and it is really a misuse of Standing Orders to raise this matters of public importance in order to waste the time of the House which was this afternoon to have been devoted to regular business when the same matter can be fully argued in the course of a debate which is actually in progress. It is true, as the Prime Minister has stated, that we have to be careful. He has called attention to the fact that as far as trade between Australian and China is concerned we are dealing with different political systems. This is not to suggest we would not trade with countries that have different political institutions from ours but to call attention to the fact that we need to remember in the course of our dealings that there are differences. We have a free Press and freedom of expression; their Press is controlled and their people know little or nothing about what the real objectives of their government might be.
As the Prime Minister has said, we have to look much further and ask ourselves when we are engaging in dealings with China: What are we likely to gain as far as the interests of Australia are concerned in the long term, in the medium term and in the short term? Surely this is a sensible approach. It is not a hostile one. Any other approach would be naive and not in accordance with Australia’s interests. Indeed, a major criticism of the excursion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) to China lies in the way in which he conceded in advance everything to the Chinese, leaving his country with no negotiating elements at all.
On the question of membership of the United Nations Organisation, the position of Australia has been made quite clear. As 1 said in my foreign affairs statement last Wednesday:
It seems to the Australian Government both inevitable and desirable that the People’s Republic of China should be represented in the United Nations and should hold the China seat in the Security Council. At the same time, we consider that the Republic of China should remain a member of the United Nations. It has a population larger than that of most members. It was an original signatory of the Charter and has been a loyal member of the United Nations since ils foundation. It will be a bad day for the small and middlesized members of the United Nations if the right of 14 million people to be represented there is arbitrarily removed.
This question of recognition and diplomatic relations should be seen in proper perspective. We need to base our policies not on any narrow view of one particular subject such as wheat but on an objective view of all the factors and a careful assessment of our interests at all stages. We believe this is a responsible position having regard to all our existing relationships with other countries. It certainly reveals no hostility to the People’s Republic. On the contrary, by indicating that we think it desirable that the People’s Republic should hold the China seat in the Security Council we have gone beyond what many countries have so far been prepared to concede.
On the question of recognition it should not be supposed that recognition will lead immediately and automatically to trading advantages, as honourable members opposite seem to think. It is true that the Chinese have bought no wheat from Australia this year and that they have said they will continue to consider Canada first as a source of wheat as import needs arise. Of course, they have always considered Canada first in point of time. But they have had a very good grain harvest for some years now and are continuing to buy Australian goods, particularly minerals and metals, which they want. I point out that contracts with a number of Australians firms were negotiated at the Canton trade fair in April and May last. This will result in export from Australia of metals and manufactures to the value of about $15m and perhaps much more as further contracts are signed.
Even if we went all the way with Peking, as the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to do, by declaring that we recognise its sovereignty over Taiwan, there would be no guarantee that this would give us new orders for wheat. Many countries have found that even though they recognised Peking they did not gain any increase of trade. Some of them have suffered a reduction since recognising Peking. As has been pointed out, China buys more from Japan and West Germany, which do not recognise it nor have diplomatic relations with it, than from any other country. As has been pointed out, Australia’s wheat reserves last year were 265 million bushels. The reserves this year are estimated to finish at about 160 million bushels. We have sold not only the current crop but also 100 million bushels from our reserves. This means that we have been in a very good position so far as wheat sales are concerned.
Once China saw that the Australian Labor Party was making a political issue of wheat sales naturally it took advantage of the situation to twist our tail. Would honourable members opposite expect it to do anything else? They have compounded this by going to China and making this an international public political exercise. Of course China will make it a political exercise; the Opposition has handed it to China on a plate. But China is not doing it in any other area except the area the Opposition has nominated, that, is wheat. China is not making it a political exercise in respect of metals or any other trade. As I said, at the Canton trade fair we got SI 5m worth of trade contracts with China. But in the one item that the members of the Opposition pick on to make a political exercise - wheat - China sees its opportunity and of course takes the opportunity the Australian Labor Party has offered it and puts the political screws on in that way. I believe China has done so and may continue to do so so long as the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) persists in raising in the House matters which may compound this problem. We might even have had a chance for sales. Do honourable members opposite think, now that this debate on a matter of public importance has publicised the possibility of putting political pressure on Australia, that any sales will eventuate? Of course they will not. As long as the Opposition persists in this course which is against Australia’s interests we will not succeed in getting further sales of wheat.
– We have just heard a dismal duo of diatribes from the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and the new Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen). It is part of the story that they are now kicking up that the wheat trade has been lost to Australia not because of their actions, not because of their policy but because of the words of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). It is a good story to put in the local country newspapers as long as there are not a few people who have an ounce of knowledge about this to wake up and point out what humbug they are putting over. It is of course this Government - whether through the words of one Minister or another does not matter to me very much - which has lost this trade. There is clearly one factor and one factor alone involved in this. We are dealing in a commodity in which we have one principal rival at the present moment and that is Canada. The Government can leave out its arguments about secondary manufactures and other primary produce because all we are talking about is wheat in relation to which we have virtually only one competitor.
The point is that this wheat trade was lost last year. It was about the time of the Senate elections last year that the Canadian Government finalised its arrangements for the recognition of Communist China anr) 2 weeks after that was announced to the world the Chinese announced that the Canadians had won a bumper contract, one of the best that the Canadian Government had ever pulled off. That is where it goes back to. Do not start talking about what has happened over the last few weeks with Mr Whitlam’s going to China. We on this side of the House know how concerned the Government is. We know of the initiative we took and of the image this has given to the Australian Labor Party. This is admitted by Mr Eric White, public relations manager for the Liberal Party in election campaigns. Go back earlier to the time referred to, for example, by Maximillian Walsh in his interview with Mr Anthony on 26th July. Mr Anthony said that it all happened in July when that treacherous person, Mr Whitlam, went away with another treacherous person, Dr Patterson, and together they subverted the Australian Wheat Board, lt is a good story, but it will not stand up. 1 quote from the television programme ‘Monday Conference’ of 26th July 1971. Mr Walsh said:
But the entry of the Labor Party has only been part of the political tempo heating up over China. In point of fact there was an Italian trade minister in, there was a Canadian trade minister in, and now we’re having President Nixon going in. Mr Gough Whitlam’s very, small fry compared with that group of people. And the Canadian communique was signed before Mr Whitlam went in. And you’ve said subsequently that Mr Whitlam’s to blame for us not going in in July and it’s a non sequitur to me. lt is a non sequitur to anyone who has any sense. There are too many people in the Australian community who are not going to see through this smokescreen of propaganda that the Country Party, very understandably, is throwing up over this. Mr Anthony says that what the Labor Party has been doing is to make it politically impossible for the Wheat Board to sell wheat to China. The political impossibility in the sale of wheat to China lies with the Government’s own policy. All honourable members on the other side of the chamber on the Country Party benches and on the Liberal Party benches know that, contrary to their claim that trade and politics in China do not mix - a little in the same way as sport and politics do not mix in South Africa - the reality is that the Chinese Government has announced that they do mix. If honourable members on the Government benches want to see some evidence of this, they should look at the speech made by Mr Nigel Bowen on 1 8th August:
It should not be supposed, for instance, that Australian recognition of Peking would’ lead immediately and automatically to substantial trading advantages. The Chinese have indicated that they prefer at present to buy wheat from Canada, which recognises them, rather than from Australia, which does not.
If that is not a statement that politics and trade have been mingled, contrary to the time hallowed doctrine of the Country Party, I do not know what is. Some of the statements made by Mr Anthony are really just a little too hard to believe. One of the statements - 1 have seen about half a dozen of them - was made on ‘Monday Conference’. It did not go down very well. I have seen some of the statements before. One of the statements was that the Chinese did not buy wheat from Australia because the price of wheat was going up. So the Chinese waited. They are Mr Anthony’s own words. The Chinese were waiting for the price of wheat to go up so they can buy it at a higher price. They ended up not buying it at all from Australia. Those are Mr Anthony’s own words. Honourable members opposite can do the Parliament a favour and check this in Hansard for themselves. Mr N. H. Bowen, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, has made the statement that the Australian Government does not have a policy of hostility towards China. He used the term ‘Chinese people’, but 1 dare say that the Chinese Government would regard the term ‘Chinese people’ as relating to the Chinese Government. I just ask Mr N. H. Bowen, the very knowledgeable Minister for Foreign Affairs, backed up by an entire department of experts: Does Australia pursue a policy of 2 Chinas or not? As the Minister is sitting at the table rummaging through his notes, perhaps he would just like to nod his head, or give honourable members some other indication. He has given no answer. I do not blame him. In fact, the Government is pursuing a policy of 2 Chinas. What the Government is trying to get the Chinese to agree to is nonsense. What Mr N. H. Bowen, Mr McMahon and Mr Anthony are really trying to tell the Australian people is that it is not reasonable for the Chinese to refuse to go into the United Nations as one China with some rival claimant to the same power sitting opposite them. What the Government is trying to say, in fact, is that there are 2 Chinas. That is absolute nonsense. There is only 1 China. Whether it is Chiang Kaishek or Mao tse-tung speaking, each claims that there is only one China. The Foreign Minister, who is very learned and very knowledgeable, is now telling us that there are 2 Chinas.
I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs another question. Is Chiang Kai-shek the sole and legal governor of the whole of China?
– You have only to read the statement on foreign affairs that I read to the House last Wednesday.
– Can you put it simply for us now? Does Chiang Kai-shek govern the mainland?
– The honourable member should take the trouble to read my statement on foreign affairs.
– I have read the statement on foreign affairs. The reason why Australia has just said goodbye to S904m in wheat sales is because of the sort of foreign affairs statement to which you refer has been made by yourself and the Prime Minister. They set out a policy which is based on nonsense. The Minister for Foreign Affairs talks about Australia looking at the realities of foreign affairs. The reality to which the honourable member refers is that there are 2 Chinas. Of course, there are not.
– In whose judgment is it nonsense, besides yours? That does not mean much.
– We get a very intelligent and comprehensive interjection from the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who says: ‘On whose judgment is it nonsense besides yours?’ The people who should be asked this question are the Chinese themselves because they are the people whom you are trying to win over. They regard it as nonsense. Apart from a few minority groups such as the little, dogmatic groups that keep the Government in power, there are not many people in the Australian community who agree with the policy of the Government.
– Be careful. You are referring to the Australian people.
– The majority of the people want China admitted to the United Nations. The majority of the American people want China recognised. Here is a government that knows what is happening in its allied nation but has not seen the writing on the wall.
– The problem is: Will they recognise us?
– That is the question, as the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) says. The Australian Government has placed itself in a dismal situation in which it has lost $100m a year - a total of $904m since 1969, and a total of 743 million bushels of lost wheat sales to China. It has been stated in official or semi-official statements of the Chinese Government that the Canadian Government from now on will receive priority. To put it in a negative way, it means that Australia will receive last consideration from the Chinese. It is hardly surprising that Government members are so very embarrassed today, lt is hardly surprising that once again they are trying to make such a big smokescreen. I wonder how many more Country Party members will speak in this debate. 1 dare say that there will not be too many more.
Finally, I wish to refer very briefly to the statement that was made by a member of the Australian Wheat Board. Mr Anthony has referred to members in general talking about politicians in general. Here is a member talking about a Party. Mr A. C. Everett has said that the Australian Wheat Board had lost its sales of wheat to China for one simple reason. It was because of the dogmatic and inflexible policies pursued by the Australian Government. Because of this, we have lost $100m a year in wheat sales to China. This has occurred at a time when our trade is threatened by Great Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community and at a time when the United States of America is going to sell substantial quantities of wheat.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Before I call on the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) 1 point out to honourable members that under the Standing Orders if an honourable member refers to another honourable member, he shall do so by using the name of that honourable member’s electorate. He shall not use the honourable member’s name. I have noticed that it is becoming a practice to refer to honourable members and to Ministers by name. I would hope that this practice would cease and that honourable members will revert to following the Standing Orders.
– I remember an old proverb that hung on the wall of an institution which 1 once attended. The proverb read: ‘It is best to keep your mouth shut and have people think your are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.’ A corollary to that proverb is that you do not go to a sheep sales, talking all the time. You do not go giving your opinion about the market or the season or the Government. You keep your mouth shut. That is the only way in which you can sell effectively. The tragedy of the poor old Labor Party is that it has not anybody in the House who has ever sold anything but themselves. I have not anything personally against the honourable member for Dawson. He is a nice man at heart, and it is true that he has a doctorate of philosophy of more than usual magnificence. But he has never sold anything except himself. If he had, he would not have talked his way to China, talked his way down the steps of the aircraft, talked his way around China and talked his way home again. Above all, he would not have come into this House today and talked at all about the problems of selling wheat to China because the honourable member, and he above all, has made it more difficult to sell wheat to China. That is not just my own opinion, although I hold it sincerely. It is not just the opinion of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) or the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony). It is the expression of opinion of Mr Price, the leader of the Wheatgrowers Federation. It is certainly the opinion of my electors, too, although I have not influenced them in any way in their coming to this opinion. They know that things are not sold in this way. I do not blame the honourable member for Dawson for not knowing this, as he has never operated in this area, but he has to learn about these things if he has aspirations of being the Minister for Primary Industry, as I understand he aspires to be if ever there is a Labor government.
The thought that the honourable member for Dawson could be selling our products on the world’s markets is a terrifying thought to me. It is true that some of his speeches have been splendid. He speaks quite rapidly and some of the words he uses are quite long. But it is laughable to picture him going round the world selling our products in this way. I beg of him, with all respect and friendship, to remember that just talking is not the way in which to go around selling our products, particularly in China of all places. The Chinese are famous for being inscrutable and for playing their cards close to their chest. The honourable member for Dawson recently talked his way to China, talked his way down the steps of the aircraft and then threw his cards face up on the table. The honourable member for Dawson told the Chinese he spoke for the Australian Labor Party. Is it any wonder the Chinese have expressed a desire that the Labor Party should govern in Australia? If the honourable member for Dawson were heading the negotiations the Chinese would get wheat from us at half price.
If the honourable member could only stop himself from talking he could do lots of things to help. If I were as eloquent as the honourable member I too would find it difficult to restrain myself from talking. It is not only my opinion and the opinion of honourable members on this side of the House that the honourable member for Dawson talks too much but also the opinion of others. Let me quote from a letter written by Professor Arndt to the Canberra Times’ on the visit of the Australian Labor Party delegation to China. I have an immense personal respect for Professor Arndt’s integrity and intelligence. He was a member of the Labor Party but he resigned from it. About his reasons for resigning from the Labor Party, Professor Arndt said:
With a naivety astonishing in someone who hopes to be Australia’s Prime Minister -
He was talking about the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) - he gave away in advance every bargaining counter that Australia has in future negotiations with China and in the process gratuitously insulted not only the United States, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia but even the Soviet Union.
I am not expressing this opinion. This opinion was expressed by Professor Arndt. He went on to say:
He gave Chou En-lai the opportunity not only for a significant propaganda victory against the West but also for explaining that he would welcome a Labor government in Australia.
He continued: 1 have for 20 years advocated diplomatic recog nition of Communist China and its admission to the United Nations - but not at any price.
If the honourable member for Dawson could restrain his notable eloquence he would find out that not only the Ministers on the front bench but also the very people who used to support him do not think that by going around with one’s mouth open and one’s eyes shut one is helping one’s case.
The honourable member could help us in our efforts to sell wheat by doing 2 things. Firstly, he could stop talking while selling things. Secondly, he could do something about the trade union embargo on the export of merino rams. It is nonsense for him to come into this chamber and talk about selling wheat to China when he knows that the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions - indeed, the Australian Labor Party - deliberately to prevent the export of rams from Australia has resulted in Australia having to rat on its international obligations. What kind of respect can we expect to get from other countries when we do this? The Labor Party policy has done great harm to Australia’s international reputation. If the honourable member really wanted to help he should heed my advice. There is a tremendous imbalance of trade between Australia and China. We are importing from China a third of the value of commodities the Chinese buy from us. If he really wanted to help he should do something urgently about freeing the channels of trade with regard to not only the export of merino rams but also of textiles. We have imposed a 100 per cent effective rate duty on many items, including textiles. It is true that it is harder to make a decision than it is just to talk, but these decisions have to be made if we are to have an effective trade in wheat or anything else. The same thing goes for soccer boots - any mundane thing. The real crunch will come when we say that we are going to trade with China. It is no good just coming into this House and sounding off eloquently when it is known that the fundamental problem facing us all is how to have a freer flow of trade between Australia and not only China but also other parts of Asia. 1 beg of the honourable member for Dawson to remember that he has an additional responsibility from where he sits on the front bench to try to influence the policies of the shadow Minister for Trade and Industry and his other colleagues on this matter so that we can have a more effective trade with China. I am doing what I can to try to influence the Government on this matter. I do not deny that we have problems, but it is an Australian problem and not a party political problem to have an effective trade relationship with China. We have to buy more from them. To go on in a loud mouthed way about selling wheat is not the answer to these problems. Wheat is only a part of the world’s trade. It is only a small part of our trade with Asia. The honourable member is dodging the real issue. My final and sincere advice to him as a person who hopes to represent Australia as the Minister for Primary Industry is that he will not do much good by just going around and talking, he has to think more often than he talks.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 am prepared to accept some of the advice that has been given, but in doing so 1 would point out that -
Motion (by Mr Chipp) agreed to:
That the Business of the Day be called on. Mr Foster - The House will hear what I have to say about this matter in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House if it does not want to listen to me now. The Government should not be applying the gag so early in the session.
– Order! The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat.
– I seek your advice, Mr Deputy Speaker. Has the Minister for Customs and Excise moved the gag?
-The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat. I warn the honourable member for Sturt.
– Has the Minister moved the gag?
-The House has accepted the motion of the Minister for Customs and Excise that the Business of the Day be called on.
– I move:
On the afternoon of 18th September 1970, while the House was sitting, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) was attending a Moratorium demonstration in Sydney. On 19th October 1970 he laid an information against a New South Wales police constable alleging assault on 18th September 1970. At the trial the honourable member alleged that the constable had assaulted him during the demonstration. On 5th January 1971 the magistrate dismissed the charge. The magistrate, under section 81 of the New South Wales Justices Act, ordered the honourable member to pay $80 in costs, allowed him 3 months to pay and further, under section 82 (2) of the Justices Act, ordered that, in default of payment, he should be imprisoned for 40 days with hard labour. The honourable member for Reid himself stated in the House on 17th February 1971 that he had told the magistrate that he would not pay the $80. He repeated in the House that he would not pay what he called the ‘fine’. He said: ‘ … the money awarded is called costs but in reality it is a fine’. On 10th April 1971, the costs not having been paid, the honourable member was committed to prison; he was released on 12th April after someone else had paid the required amount.
The matter was referred to the Committee of Privileges which has made the following findings:
The Committee itself referred to the ‘complexities’ of the case. Immunity from arrest is the oldest of the immunities of members. It clearly extends to arrest in purely civil cases. The immunity does not, however, extend to arrest for crimes. In between purely criminal and purely civil cases the position is debatable.
Erskine May, in his Parliamentary Practice, says that the test is whether the case is more of a criminal than of a civil character: if it is, there is no immunity. Courts have said that the test is whether the arrest is merely to compel performance of a civil obligation, such as to pay money, or whether it also has some punitive purpose. The Committee of Privileges received differing legal opinions on these complex questions from the Secretary to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and from Professor Geoffrey Sawer, Professor of Law at the Australian National University. The Committee by majority must be taken to have preferred the opinion of Professor Sawer that the imprisonment of the honourable member was a purely civil matter and not at all punitive for his failure to pay the costs on time.
The New South Wales Premier has written to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) a letter dated 13th August 1971 expressing the strong view of the New South Wales
Government that the Committee’s first finding is inconsistent with decisions of New South Wales courts that imprisonment for costs is ‘criminal in nature’ - though, of course, this does not imply that the honourable member has been convicted of or charged with any criminal offence. The Premier enclosed a letter dated 26th July 1971 from the New South Wales Attorney-General to the Commonwealth Attorney-General which set out the legal arguments in support of the New South Wales Government’s point of view. The Premier asked that these views be brought before the House when it is considering the report of the Privileges Committee.
The views of the New South Wales Government have particular significance because the point in question turns upon the construction of a New South Wales statute and the New South Wales Supreme Court has at least twice previously given an interpretation of that statute which is the opposite of that adopted by the majority of the Committee in the report before the House. The New South Wales Government has pointed to the dilemma facing New South Wales authorities who in the future might have to choose between following the decisions of its own court and following the decision of this House if it were to adopt the Committee’s first finding. I think the House could have tabled for the benefit of its consideration a copy of the letter from the Premier, dated 13th August 1971, and a copy of the letter from the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral, dated 26th July 1971. I table those letters.
– I ask that they be incorporated in Hansard.
– If it is convenient, with the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate a copy of each of the letters in Hansard.
Dear Mr McMahon,
Following consideration by my colleague, the Attorney General, of the Report of the Committee of Privileges relating to the Commitment to Prison of Mr T. Uren, M.P., urgent action was taken to bring to the notice of the Hon. Nigel Bowen, Q.C., M.P., as Attorney General, the contrary view held by this State as to the Committees finding that the commitment to prison constituted a breach of Parliamentary privilege. I enclose a copy of my colleague’s letter where the matter is dealt with in detail.
As a result of discussions by telephone between Mr Bowen and Mr McCaw today, 1 am now writing to seek your good offices in ensuring that my colleague’s letter is brought to the notice of the Honourable the Speaker of the House of Representatives prior to the Committee’s Report being considered by that House, as reflecting the considered views of this State. I am in no doubt that Members, when called upon to consider the Committee’s finding, should be aware of a view contrary to those apparently relied upon by the Committee in arriving at its conclusion. I refer, of course, to Professor Sawer’s submissions.
I would be most grateful, therefore, if urgent favourable consideration could be given to my request, and for this purpose I am sure that you would wish to discuss the matter with your colleague, whose co-operation is gratefully acknowledged.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd) R. W. ASKIN Premier
The Rt. Hon. William McMahon, M.P., Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia.
26 July 1971
The Honourable Nigel Bowen, Q.C., M.P.,
My Dear Attorney-General,
As you are aware the Report of the Committee of Privileges of the House of Representatives relating to the Commitment to Prison of Mr T. Uren, M.P., was tabled on 7th May 1971, but has not yet been considered by the House.
The Report shows one finding of the Committee to be that ‘the Committee is of the opinion that the commitment to prison of the honourable member for Reid (Mr T. Uren) constituted a breach of Parliamentary Privilege’.
It appears to me after a careful consideration of the Report that there are some aspects of the matter the subject of the Committee’s deliberations that have such an important bearing on the administration of justice in New South Wales that they should be brought specifically to the notice of the House or the Committee of Privileges before the Report is finally dealt with; and in particular to draw attention to the dilemma that could face the law enforcement officers of New South Wales if the House adopts the finding of the Committee set out above.
The Full Court of the Supreme Court of New South Wales said in Ex parte Duffy: Re Automobile Advance Agency Co. Ltd. (1958) S.R. (N.S.W.) 343 that imprisonment of a person in accordance with section $2 of the Justices Act is not a mere imprisonment as a judgment debtor and it said this because the section provides that the imprisonment shall be either with hard labour or light labour; that is to say, imprisonment under section 82 is not coercive but punitive: and it also said this although the case was one where, if section 82 had not been made applicable to the order for payment of a sum of money by the defendant, to the plaintiff, the proceedings would have been purely civil. Unlike the English case of Seaman v. Burley (1896) 2 Q.B. 344, where the proceedings were held to be criminal simply because they might result in imprisonment, there was then, in Ex parte Duffy, an express statement by the Court that imprisonment under section 82 is not mere imprisonment as a judgment debtor end it was also expressly, stated that it was for that reason that the Court agreed that proceedings under section 82 were criminal in their nature. With respect 1 cannot, therefore, agree with Professor Sawer’s statement in his Opinion to the Committee, upon which the Committee appears to have placed considerable reliance, that the provision for imprisonment in default payment is in the clearest terms a method of enforcing the order for payment of costs’; if it were merely that, the legislature would not have authorised the award of hard or light labour.
The view I have expressed as to the effect of section 82 when applied to an order for the payment of money that would otherwise bs regarded as a civil order is consistent with the passage from Lord Brougham’s judgment in Wellesley v. Duke of Beauford (1831) 2 Russ. & M. 639, cited by Professor Enid Campbell in her Parliamentary Privilege in Australia at 61 and described by Professor Sawer in his Opinion already referred to as an eloquent explanation of what we are concerned with in these cases, namely, the substantial nature of the specific order. The case concerned a member of the House of Commons who had clandestinely removed a ward of court (his own daughter) from the custody, of the person with whom the ward had, under the authority of the court, been residing; when examined by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Brougham, he admitted the removal, refused to disclose the present residence of the ward, and stated that he had directed that she be removed from the jurisdiction of the court and that he would never bring her again within that jurisdiction. Lord Brougham declared the conduct of the member in removing the ward and in concealing her present residence to be a contempt of the court and further declared his conduct in forcibly and without consent removing the ward beyond the realm and his refusal before the court to inform the Lord Chancellor where the ward was to be found to be gross and aggravated contempt of the court. And as the member, notwithstanding admonition, still persisted in his contempt, his Lordship committed him for contempt. His Lordship in the passage cited by Professor Campbell was concerned to reject Counsel’s argument that no distinction could be drawn between a civil and a criminal contempt of court and quite clearly said that the privilege protects a member against all civil process, no matter what the form of that process may be, including contempt for not obeying civil process, but not against such a contempt if the contempt is in its nature or by its incidents criminal. The passage then continued: that members of parliament are privileged against commitment, qua process, to compel them to do an act - against commitment for breach of an order of a personal description, if the breach be not accompanied by criminal incidents, and provided the commitment be not in the nature of punishment, but rather in the nature to compel a performance.’
For the reason given by the Full Court in Ex parte Duffy supra, namely, that imprisonment under the section is not mere imprisonment as a judgment debtor but, as the discretion to impose hard or light labour shows, is punishment for disobeying the court’s order, it does appear to me that his Lordship would not have regarded commitment pursuant to section 82 of the Justices Act for non-payment of an order for costs as being designed ‘to compel’ a person ‘to do an act’ or as being ‘in the nature to compel a performance’. Lord Brougham summed up his lengthy judgment in Wellesley v. Duke of Beaufort supra by saying at 673: ‘ . . .the true grounds upon which to rest the case are these two: first, that privilege never extends to protect from punishment, though it may extend to protect from civil process; and, next, that privilege never extends to protect even from civil process where the object of the process is the delivering up of a person wrongfully detained by a party’.
Unfortunately the Opinion already, referred to make only a passing reference to Ex parte Duffy, treating it, together with the English case of Seaman v. Burley as being concerned with procedure, that is, with the course of appeals from one court to another; 1 cannot, with respect, agree that the test in those cases can be so regarded nor did Street J., with whom Ferguson and Rich JJ. concurred in Ex parte Walsh (1912) 12 S.R. (N.S.W.) 306, especially at 318, where the test was applied for a purpose unrelated to procedure or the course of appeals from one court to another, but for the purpose of determining whether proceedings could be taken by a husband against his wife - if they were criminal they would lie, if they were civil they might not lie; the court held that they were criminal so that they were maintainable by. the husband. lt is not necessary to consider here whether privilege would have protected a member of parliament against imprisonment of the kind with which Seaman v. Burley deals. There was nothing in the legislation before the court in that case authorising the infliction of hard or light labour so that it may have been open for the court to hold, if the point had arisen, that the imprisonment there was merely to enforce a civil obligation and not punitive. On this aspect Ex parts Duffy is clearly distinguishable from the English case. I note too that Professor Campbell puts the position no higher than that, had the order in Seaman v. Burley been made against a member of parliament, ‘in all probability he might successfully have claimed privilege’: op. cit. 63. It is immediately after this statement that Professor Campbell submits ‘that the proper test for determining whether or not a member of parliament is entitled to claim immunity from imprisonment in any particular case is whether the liability to imprisonment is imposed for the purpose of coercing the defendant into doing or abstaining from doing some act, or whether it is for tha purpose of punishment. If the purpose is punitive, then it would seem, a plea of privilege should not be available, for in such a case the misconduct for which the defendant is sought to be imprisoned is essentially criminal*. One can, like Professor Sawer, completely agree with this submission. It is precisely because the imprisonment under section 82 is punitive and not coercive, that
I take the view that the imprisonment of Mr T. Uren, M.P., was not an imprisonment in civil proceedings.
It would, I think, be unfortunate if the ‘dualism’ that now exists between the courts and Parliament on the existence and extent of parliamentary privilege in general should find a new and technical application in the nature of proceedings under section 82 of the Justices Act of New South Wales, with the courts in this State taking one view of the nature of the proceedings and the House of Representatives another.
One result of such a development could be the dilemma adverted to at the beginning of this letter. Suppose, for example, in a future case similar to Mr Uren’s a Justice refuses to issue, at the instance of the person in whose favour the order for costs was made, a warrant of commitment under section 87 of the Justices Act on the ground that the House of Representatives had decided that because the matter is a civil proceeding, that is to say, that the order for imprisonment in default is not punitive but merely to enforce payment of the costs, it is a contempt of the House to do so; it seems clear, however, that if the person in whose favour the order for costs was made should seek mandamus from the Supreme Court to compel the Justice to issue the warrant then mandamus would go, because the Court does regard the order as being punitive and not as a means of enforcing the order for costs. Hence the dilemma of the Justice in such circumstances: if he issues the warrant he may be dealt with by the House for contempt; if he does not do so he will be dealt with by the Court for contempt of court. If the Justice issues the warrant, the persons to whom it is addressed, in deciding whether to act on it or not, face a similar dilemma.
The kind of dualism just referred to would be the more unfortunate, first because as May says of the privilege from arrest (1 7th. edn., at 78): The development of the privilege has shown a tendency to confine it more narrowly to cases of a civil character and to exclude not only every kind of criminal case, but also cases which, while not strictly criminal, partake more of a criminal than a civil character’; and, secondly, because, to use the language of the English Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege that made a comprehensive review of parliamentary privilege in 1966 and 1967, the ‘diminished importance’ in modern times of this privilege of freedom from arrest may not, perhaps, be regarded as warranting a divergence between the view of the House of Representatives and the view of the courts; in saying this I am mindful that the Committee just referred to recommended that the privilege of freedom from arrest be abandoned, the reasons for the recommendation being set out in the Committee’s Report -as follows:
Yours faithfully, (sgd.) K. McCAW Attorney-General
I shall table these letters, as well as having them incorporated in Hansard. Some copies are available for distribution to any honourable member who would like to have a copy.
I have given consideration to the questions that arise in this difficult matter and I am bound to inform the House that I find myself in disagreement with the majority views of the Committee on the legal question. In my view, the order that the magistrate made under Section 82 (2) of the Justices Act was such that the imprisonment resulting from it did not give rise to a breach of parliamentary privilege. However, there would seem to be little point in debating the legal question in this House. The Committee itself has recommended that no action be taken. The Prime Minister has announced that he has called for a report from the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) in conjunction with the SolicitorGeneral on the whole question of parliamentary privilege and this will, of course, cover the question of freedom from arrest. It is clearly time for a new look at this whole question. In the United Kingdom itself, from which we derive our rules, a select committee of the House of Commons in 1967 recommended the complete abolition of the immunity from arrest, even in purely civil cases. This is entirely a matter for the House itself. However, in all the circumstances I suggest to the House that the appropriate course for it to take would be to carry this motion: ‘That the House take note of the Committee’s Report’.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-I have just put the question.
– That is what I thought. Mr Speaker, will you allow me to make a comment about the people who operate this House?
-Is leave granted for the honourable member for Wills to make a statement? There being no objection leave is granted.
– I just want to make it clear that I think it is terribly important that we do, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) has suggested, examine this question of privilege. Privilege does not belong in this case, just to the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren); it belongs to the Parliament itself and, in a way, it belongs to the whole community. I believe that the failure to update the position is due to all of us having ignored the question over the years. It is not very often that anything occurs which demands our attention in this way. 1 am the first to admit that there are very serious implications for the community in a possible misuse of privilege. We can drag people to the Bar of the House; we can do all sorts of things to them; and there is no court of appeal. Therefore, to allow the position to continue is a serious abdication of our responsibilities. Of course, I am in no position to argue the legal point that the Minister for Foreign Affairs put here today. I can support the view that Professor Sawer put before the Committee. As I see the matter, it is very important that the membership of this Parliament be protected from any kind of arbitary or capricious prevention of attendance here. I believe that in the present state of society this is more important than it has been for a long while. Therefore I hope that the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) will take immediate steps to do something about this matter.
Let me express my disappointment that no members of the Privileges Committee who attended to this matter felt any need to expand on it. I would like to have heard from the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) exactly why he disagreed in the report. The rest of us have to rely on committee memberships in these matters. That is basic to the whole situation. That is why I just sat here. Ordinarily I am not diffident about getting to my feet, as honourable members will be aware. There are some matters that transcend any personal or political considerations. It does not matter to me what the politics of the honourable member concerned are in matters such as this. On the Privileges Com mittee there were at least 2 people who had a view which apparently was very much different from or contrary to that of the majority. I think they should have placed their reasons on record. Therefore, I can only express my disappointment at the Committee’s failure to expand the debate in the House and my hope that the Attorney-General will take urgent steps to have us launched into a new look at privilege, even if we do only what has been done for the Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea.
– by leave - I desire to make a brief statement explaining to this House why, as a member of the Committee of Privileges, I abstained from voting on this occasion. I was assured by members of the Privileges Committee that I would be given an opportunity to make this explanation. I did not cast a vote on the question now before the House for the reason that I desired to draw the attention of this House to the need for a guide to action in such cases. Two very prominent legal men were invited to advise the Committee on the evidence before it which we were considering, but they expressed completely opposite opinions. One said it was a civil offence and the other that it was a criminal offence. Had it been the former the case must have been dismissed, but had it been the latter, the charge would have stood. Without legal training one has to depend largely on the advice of experts, but as one opinion offset the other I decided that it was not in the best interests of justice that I vote on this subject. In the 3 minutes that I have said I will take - and I am watching the clock - I say that it is my opinion that this House should lay down rules to follow in such cases. Section 49 of the Constitution states:
The powers, privileges and immunities of the Senate and of the House of Representatives and of the members of Committees of each House shall be such as are declared by the Parliament, and until declared shall be those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom and of its members and Committees at the establishment of the Commonwealth.
Since Federation there have been changes in the rules on privilege in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom but still we have to go back to many of the rules it laid down at the time of the Commonwealth Federation. It is well established, of course, that immunity from arrest arises only in relation to civil causes and not in relation to criminal causes.
I congratulate the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the honourable N. H. Bowen, on his speech on this subject and I am hoping - I believe he has already set the necessary machinery in motion - that the whole question shall be fully investigated. This will, of course, have no bearing whatever on this case, but in future when members of the Privileges Committee have to make a decision they will have some basis in law on which to work.
– by leave - As the person involved in this case 1 of course attended court and made my stand even though I had been advised by responsible officers of the Parliament that I could have sought the protection of privilege. I did not seek the protection of privilege and did not even ask the Parliament to take action in my case. The former AttorneyGeneral, now the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen), set out the case but he omitted to say that I set out my case much more thoroughly in a speech I made in this House on 17th February 1971. I was hoping that the community as a whole would examine the case in some depth but as most people do when one challenges society, it has only looked at the case superficially. This has brought about certain reforms but not to the extent I wished. The magistrate, Mr Lewer, tried to deter the police when they attempted to press me for the payment of the costs. They applied pressure because they wanted the costs to be paid by me. in fact, they were showing how vindictive they were in the whole case and I hope that even in considering this privilege case people will examine the details of the whole case.
There are only 2 aspects of this case about which I want to speak briefly. Firstly, 1 would not pay a fine because 1 think that a law which threatens people with punishment if they dare to air their grievances in court is an unjust law. In my case 1 was assaulted by a police constable. His number was 3136. The police would not identify this policeman. They even tried to conceal him by dressing 5 other young constables of similar size and colouring in civilian clothes and making me pick him out of a group of young men seated in the court. I was able to do so and yet be said that he had never seen me before in his life. The Minister knows that I am not a vindictive man and yet I was able to select this policeman who assaulted me. Senior police officers went into court and if they did not perjure themselves they stretched the truth to protect the system. The last point that I want to make is that I think that a law which threatens a man with gaol when he has broken no law is a stupid law and a sentence of 40 days hard labour for failure to pay a fine of $80 is a stupid sentence.
– The eminent legal interjector says: ‘Costs’. I said it was a fine. I treated it as a fine and that is how the police used it - as a fine, an intimidation. What the legal men ought to do is get down to earth and stop living up in the clouds. It is ironical that the result of this case was that I spent only 3 days in gaol. A person was manipulated into paying the fine. I made it perfectly clear that any person who paid the fine was a stooge for the authorities and I still stand by that view. lt is interesting to note that the New South Wales Cabinet reviewed the position the day after I was released from gaol. A sentence of a day in gaol for every $2 of a fine or maintenance not paid was altered to 1 day for every $5. It was pointed out in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 14th April 19.1 in an article ‘Reform Follows Uren’s Release’ that one-third of the prisoners in New South Wales gaols were there for failure to pay debts, fines or maintenance. They were sentenced to 1 day’s gaol for every $2 of a fine or maintenance not paid. The day after I was released that was altered to I day for every $5. One-third of the prisoners in gaols in New South Wales received a remittance of 60 per cent of their sentences. Ironically, it probably saved the taxpayers of New South Wales hundreds of thousands of dollars. It might even run into millions. I placed a question on notice to find out what were the actual ratio of days of imprisonment to fine or debt in each State. Surely even the Minister for Foreign Affairs would say that to put a man in gaol for 1 day for every $2 of maintenance or fine not paid is a stupid law. If the Minister does not agree with that then there is something wrong with his thinking.
– It is not the position in any Territory that we control.
– I am very pleased that the former Attorney-General said that. The question I placed on notice read as follows:
Can the Attorney-General say what scales of imprisonment are laid down to cover cases where default is made in paying a fine or court costs in (a) a criminal and (b) a civil case in each State and Territory of the Commonwealth.
I will not go into all the details. I have read that question to answer the interjection made by the Minister. The reply was given under the name of Mr N. H. Bowen. In the Australian Capital Territory it is one day for each $2 or part thereof, with a maximum of 12 months imprisonment.
– I am sorry but what I was referring to was the fact that you could not have had an order for costs made against you in the Australian Capital Territory, so you would have got nothing.
– Do you mean in a criminal case?
– Not in the circumstances under which you were prosecuted.
– Do not let us quibble. I am not talking only about my circumstances. I am talking about justice in the community
– A prosecutor having costs awarded against him for an unsuccessful prosecution - that could not occur in the Australian Capital Territory.
– I am dealing with all types of fines and maintenance costs, as well as my own case. In the Australian Capital Territory it is one day’s gaol for every $2. It is about time that this Territory caught up with the position in New South Wales. It is about time that this Parliament reviewed the position in relation to the provision for $2 a day maintenance costs in the Australian Capital Territory. Of course this applies to any costs at all. A law which can put a person in gaol for 1 day for every $2 in default is a stupid law but this is the position in the Australian Capital Territory. What I would like to see eventuate out of my case is a little bit of justice to counter the inflationary trends that this Government has inflicted upon the people of Australia in the last 22 years. I want to say something about gaols. It is about time that this Federal Parliament had a look at prison reform. There has been no action by this Govern ment to bring about prison reform or improved conditions for prisoners because there no votes to be had from such action. The conditions in the gaol at Long Bay, and in other gaols in many parts of Australia, are very bad. The only way to get better gaols is for the Commonwealth Government to make financial grants to the State governments. If my going to gaol did no more than open my eyes to prison conditions I am glad that I went to gaol. I hope that my going to gaol has awakened some other people to the need for prison reform. I conclude by saying that I did not seek privilege and I would do the same thing again. If I was treated in the same way again and had to go to gaol again I would not claim privilege.
– by leave - I wish to speak very briefly on an associated matter. I rise to comment not on the report. I was part of the majority. There is no need for me to speak on the report. My reasons for supporting it are apparent from the report. I have risen to speak in this debate because the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) stated that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has announced that he has called for a report from the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) in conjunction with the Solicitor-General on the whole question of parliamentary privilege. I should have thought that this was an appropriate matter to be instigated by the Parliament rather than by the Executive. The Constitution has entrusted it to the Parliament to determine the law on privilege. My recollection is that the Senate has entrusted to one of its committees - it may be the Committee of Privileges - the question of formulating the law of privileges in general. If the Parliament is to do it it would be appropriately done by a joint committee. This is not a matter on which there would intrinsically or inevitably be differences of opinion between the different parties represented in the two Houses.
Questions of privilege always are likely to come up in a controversial atmosphere. Once the controversy has evaporated we forget about the matter. There have been common references to this subject, usually on the notice paper, ever since the Browne and Fitzpatrick case. I take this opportunity to mention this because a couple of months ago at its Federal Conference the Australian Labor Party committed itself to modernising and codifying the law of privilege, not only of the Parliament but of course of its own committees. The occasion could very easily arise when somebody will defy an order or a question by one of the committees of either House or of a joint committee. The whole matter will then come to. a head. I would hope that a joint committee or the two Committees of Privileges would consider this matter. Those two Committees could be authorised by their respective Houses to sit together to consider this matter. I can assure the Minister for Foreign Affairs that my Party would collaborate in such an endeavour. We are committed to taking an initiative in this matter when it falls to us to do so. It should, I reiterate, be in a parliamentary and not an executive context.
– by leave - I do not think there is a great deal of difference between the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and myself on this matter, lt is a matter for each House and I understand the honourable member’s suggestion that the 2 Houses might co-operate when this matter comes before them. It is our view that there would be value in having a report from the law officers as a basis for consideration of the matter. When the Government receives this report it will have to consider it in the first instance but I would envisage that ultimately the House would have the benefit of this when it entered upon consideration of the matter. It is not to be thought that the Executive, as it were, was taking it out of the hands of the House at all. This may be regarded more as a preliminary look in some depth at the legal matters involved in the whole question of parliamentary privilege.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill was foreshadowed in my statement to the House on 28th April 1971, when I said that the Government had considered a suggestion by a number of leading industry associations that there would be advantage in having the simpler types of tariff cases dealt with by one member of the Tariff Board so that decisions on them could be reached more quickly. The cases concerned are those which are generally referred to as non-tariff revision cases. I mentioned then that the Government had decided there would be advantage in the following matters being handled in this way - customs by-laws, both admissions under by-law and certain cases of cancellation of by-laws; tariff classification; dumping; the addition of goods to the New Zealand-Australia free trade area; and questions relating to the granting of entry of products from developing countries. I said that it was proposed to introduce amendments to the Tariff Board Act to allow for the addition of a ninth member to the Board and to authorise the Chairman of the Board to appoint single member boards to inquire into the types of cases mentioned. This is not possible under the present Act. This Bill gives effect to the amendments I talked about on that occasion. The Bill will permit the expansion of the membership of the Tariff Board from eight to nine, and will give the Chairman authority to appoint single member divisions of the Board to inquire into and report on references from the Ministers concerned in certain types of cases. In addition the Bill provides for certain changes of an administrative nature.
The Government’s purpose in making the proposed changes is to achieve maximum expenditure in the Tariff Board’s handling of non-tariff revision matters referred to it, while, at the same time, enhancing its general work capacity. Full discussions in relation to the proposed changes were held with the Chairman of the Tariff Board. The average time now being taken between the sending of a ministerial reference to the Tariff Board and the receipt of a report from the Board for references of all types is almost 2 years. Generally, non-tariff revision cases are considerably less complex and can be dealt with more expeditiously than those involving tariff revision. References involving the admission of goods under by-law are expected to constitute the major workload, and it is important to the Government and the companies concerned that early reports be received on these references because goods are often in transit when applications for by-law admission are made and major investment decisions may be involved. It is expected that the introduction of the one-member Board system should permit reports in cases of this type - that is, questions of the admission of goods under by-law - being made within 3 months of a reference to the Board.
The new member is being appointed primarily to enable the expeditious handling of non-tariff revision cases. He will also be available, should the Chairman so wish, to assist in the Board’s work generally. The Chairman may appoint any member of the Board to constitute a single-member Division of the Board for non-tariff revision inquiries. This arrangement will provide the Chairman with maximum flexibility in undertaking the Board’s overall work programme. Under the proposed arrangements, where the appropriate Minister, either the Minister for Customs and Excise or the Minister for Trade and Industry, refers to the Board a non-tariff revision matter of the types concerned, he may direct that the inquiry and report may be made by a Division of the Board constituted by a single member. The normal expectation is that it shall be so dealt with. However, there may be occasions where it is more appropriate for the matter to be handled by a normal Division of the Tariff Board. For example, it often happens that separate references are made to the Board on the same products for inquiries into dumping and tariff review. In such circumstances it may be convenient for the inquiries on both matters to be dealt with concurrently, avoiding duplication of evidence and public hearings, thus enabling the presentation of an earlier report on the dumping question than if it were handled separately. To enable such a procedure in appropriate cases the Chairman is provided with a discretion to determine the allocation of non-tariff revision cases as appropriate between single-member Divisions of the Board and normal Divisions of the Board.
There may also be non-tariff revision cases where the issues are of such significance that consideration by a singlemember Division of the Board would not be appropriate. The cancellation of by-laws in areas of high tariffs that have not been looked at by the Board for many years is one example. In those cases consideration of whether the substantive duties are appropriate could be involved. Other examples are complex inquiries under the provisions of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Important inquiries such as these would not bc considered appropriate for a single-member Division of the Board. Inquiries conducted by singlemember Divisions of the Board will be subject to the same procedural arrangements as those which apply to normal tariff revision inquiries. That is to say they will be held in public, evidence will be taken on oath and reasonable notice of such inquiries will be given in the Gazette and the Press.
The Bill also contains a number of administrative changes which have awaited a suitable opportunity for inclusion in the Tariff Board Act. Provision is being made for a Deputy Chairman to be appointed as Acting Chairman of the Board in the absence of the Chairman. This corrects an existing anomaly. Previously, a Deputy Chairman was required to perform all the functions of the Chairman in the latter’s absence but no provision existed whereby he could be formally appointed as Acting Chairman. Provision is also being made to permit the retirement of a member by the Governor-General with the consent of the member, and for resignation of a member upon acceptance by the Governor-General of his resignation. In the present Act the only provision relating to the termination of an appointment provides for suspension by the Governor-General of a member for misbehaviour or incapacity. A statement of the grounds of suspension must be laid before both Houses of Parliament and the suspension must be removed unless each House passes an address praying for the member’s removal on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. The procedures are considered to be inappropriate in the cases of enforced retirement, for example because of invalidity, or where a member wishes to resign for personal reasons. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
– I move:
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1971.
These Proposals implement the Government’s acceptance of the Tariff Board’s recommendations on trout, and plastic products, etc. In its report on trout the Board recommended duties of 10c per lb under both the general and preferential tariffs on brown trout, brook trout and rainbow trout. This represents, an increase of 9.2c per lb in the level of duties on these goods from all sources. In ad valorem terms the new duties will have an incidence ranging between 15 per cent and 30 per cent depending on overseas price fluctuations.
I turn now to the Board’s report on plastic products. This report is of major significance to the future development of the plastics industry in Australia. This is a strong growth industry and represents an important part of Australian manufacturing. Its growth can be seen from the fact that value of output rose from $49m in 1955-56 to S210m in 1967-68, while in the same period the number of people employed increased from 7,464 to 17,158. The book value of land, buildings, plant and machinery was about $15m in 1955-56 but increased to $90m in 1967-68. The Board has concluded that most sectors of the industry are worthy of protection. Nevertheless, the Board has expressed concern that the high protective needs of some sectors of the industry raise serious doubts about the economics of local production. It found that the industry’s most common cost disabilities are those which flow from the high cost of raw materials supplied by the local chemical industry, the high cost of Australian labour and the limited size of the Australian market. The severity of these disabilities varies considerably from product to product with the result that the products under reference need widely differing levels of assistance, that is, from a moderate level to, in some instances, a level which in both nominal and effective rate terms would be very high. The position regarding this latter category was of serious concern to the Board. Most of these products, however, are major outlets for important parts of the Australian chemical industry which it is Government policy to foster and protect. The Board concluded that it must recommend protection for most of the high cost plastic products under reference. Examples of these products are polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene film and sheet and polyvinylchloride coated fabrics.
In relation to the high cost plastic products identified by the Board, the Board believes it necessary to discourage further fragmentation of production and has endeavoured to pitch the recommended duties at levels which would allow moderate profits to the more efficient local producers of each product. The Board has pointed out that because its duty assessments were based on the position of the lowest cost producers in each area of production, the recommended duties are unlikely to provide sufficient protection for all existing production by all the present manufacturers. The- assistance proposed by the Board represents, generally, a rationalesation of rates of duty on plastic products in accordance with the basic resin used in their manufacture. The effect of these proposals is that decreased duties will apply to the majority of the goods under reference. The Board has proposed a “further review of the duties on those products which are to be accorded high effective levels of protection. Because of their dependence on the local chemical industry for raw materials, the Board suggested that the most appropriate time for a reference would be within 12 months of the next review of industrial chemicals and synthetic resins. Chemical raw materials used by the industry are themselves subject to a separate tariff inquiry which is not yet complete. The Government has noted, however, that the Board had settled on the general nature of the recommendations it will make on those synthetic resins which are major raw materials in the production of high cost plastic products, and the statement that to the extent practicable the Board had taken this into consideration in arriving at the recommendations made on plastic products.
The Government was also conscious of the lapse of time since the reference on plastic products was originally sent to the Board and of the continuous investment decisions which are necessary in a high growth industry to compete with imports. It considered that the industry should have the opportunity to address itself to the reorganisation of its activities contemplated by the Board. Much of the plastic products industry is dependent on local chemical raw materials and would be faced with some uncertainty about costs until the Board’s recommendations in relation to those raw materials are made and acted on by the Government. In view of this the Minister for Trade and Industry has writtea to the Chairman of the Tariff Board asking that that part of the chemicals industry report relating to raw materials for plastic products be submitted to him as soon as possible. Close consultation will be maintained between the Department of Trade and Industry and the plastics industry to watch developments in this industry. In accepting the rates of duty recommended by the Board some minor adjustment of the rates has been necessary to accord with our international obligations. Proposals No. 18 includes 2 changes of an administrative nature. The rate of duty on beer containing 2 per cent or less of proof spirit which was included in the tariff simplification changes is being restored to its original level. The Proposals also make specific tariff provision for diagnostic or laboratory reagents and test kits. This will simplify their entry without varying to any practical extent the level of duty previously applying. Comprehensive summaries setting out the changes and the duty rates are now being distributed to honourable members. I commend the Proposals.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Reports on Items Mr CHIPP (Hotham - Minister for Customs and Excise) - I present the following reports by the Tariff Board: Plastic products, etc. Trout.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I move:
The history of this matter goes back to last year when there was an amendment to the Standing Orders and the hours of meeting and days of sitting were changed in accordance with the recommen dation made at that time. Subsequent to that, a number of honourable members have raised the matter regarding the inconvenience of the new days of meeting and hours of sitting. A number of points which have been raised relate to some difficulties associated with the adoption of the new arrangement. Although it has been in operation for only a relatively short time and some changes have been made during that period so many cases against the present arrangement have been brought to notice that it was considered desirable to refer the matter to the meeting of the Government parties last week. From that meeting emerged a feeling that a change to the old days and hours would be desirable. Also arising from that meeting I referred the matter to my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), who I understand referred the matter to his Caucus meeting at that time. As a result of that the matter was referred to a special meeting last week of the Standing Orders Committee as you are aware, Mr Speaker, as you were chairman of that Committee.
Some of the points relating to the request for change have been raised by people who are finding it difficult - where honourable members have been in the habit of allocating regular times or particular days each week for electorate work - to fit into the rhythm of this arrangement each week. Also honourable members in the more remote areas find difficulty in getting home during the short weekend to attend to electorate matters. J can speak personally about this. Living in a country area I know that it is extremely difficult to get back to my electorate during the short weekend. I suppose that one of the ideas behind the change was that during the short weekend honourable members would stay in Canberra, committees could meet and honourable members would be able to undertake other parliamentary duties here. But I think that as a general rule most members still find that they should get back to their electorates during the weekend and the short weekend has produced quite a lot of difficulty for them in fitting in electorate arrangements.
Another point which was raised was that until sitting days have actually been announced no-one can be certain that any day of the week from Monday through to
Friday will be available for electorate or other work. I merely mention these points in support of the proposed change because these are the points which have been raised with me.
Another point is that the Clerks and the staff concerned with the preparation of the business of the House have found difficulty in making the necessary arrangements. I know that the same problem of fitting in a changed week at irregular intervals applies to the departments. In addition to these matters there is the problem of Friday. I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will agree that it has been extremely difficult to conduct business on a Friday. Many honourable members have to go back to their electorates for urgent engagements and other business and many pairs are arranged. In the late afternoon it is extremely difficult to continue the normal programme of business. This is a factual situation which has arisen and my attention has been drawn to it as I am sure has the attention of many other people in the House.
The final point I want to make is in relation to voting arrangements. As far as the Government is concerned honourable members on this side are free to vote as they wish, just as they were on the previous occasion when a similar amendment was proposed to the Standing Orders. I understand that (he Opposition will adopt exactly the same attitude and, no doubt, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will refer to this matter. I commend the motion to the House.
– I will be happy to second the motion which has been moved by the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz). At this stage I do not want to speak at any great length on this matter. As the Leader of the House has pointed out, this standing order was introduced on 23rd October last year. It provided to amend the sitting days to 4 days a week instead of 3 days a week, as previously applied. 1 suppose it can be said that this matter has been given a reasonable trial. Undoubtedly honourable members on both sides of the chamber have been critical of standing order 40. On the other hand, it should be agreed that some members prefer the new arrangement. For this reason J was pleased to hear the Leader of the House indicate that this matter would be the subject of a free vote, not only by members from his side of the chamber, but naturally, also by members of the Opposition.
As a member of the Standing Orders Committee I supported the recommendations of that Committee on the elimination of standing order 40. But in addition, I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not believe that this should be the end of the matter. In effect we are reverting to the procedure of sitting on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays only. I suppose there are some advantages as at least honourable members will know how they stand in relation to the sitting days. They will not have to wait until the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), the Leader of the House or whoever has the responsibility to determine when the House commences its sitting days, advises them accordingly. In this respect there will be some advantage to honourable members. However, 1 have made it perfectly clear in this Parliament on other occasions as I have made it clear, Mr Speaker, in our discussions at meetings of the Standing Orders Committee, that I believe an alteration ought to be made to the sitting hours of the Parliament.
I am drawing attention particularly to the times at night at which the House sits. I am referring, of course, to the late hours. We have not been able to overcome this problem by the new arrangement. If this motion is carried, as I predict it will be. assuming that the feelings of honourable members opposite are the same as those of members of the Opposition, all that will happen will be that we will revert to sitting on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. This will mean almost inevitably that we will be going back to the practice of sitting late at night and into the early hours of the morning. I have repeatedly stated in the Parliament my objection to this procedure.
I want to repeat now that I still hold those objections because I believe that this is an appropriate time to do so. I have never agreed that honourable members should sit in the Parliament in the early hours of the morning. I do not wish to deal with this issue at great length, but I believe that if an opportunity were given to study this matter seriously and to examine the statistics relating to sittings extending into the early hours of the morning following a lengthy sitting during the day, I am sure that it would be found that the health of many honourable members has been impaired over the years. I have no doubt also that that deterioration will continue in the future. As a result of the carrying of this motion we will be meeting an objection that has been raised by some members on both sides of the chamber but it will mean inevitably, as I have already indicated to the House, a return to sittings in the early hours of the morning, particularly towards the end of a session.
I have spoken on this point on a number of occasions at meetings of the Standing Orders Committee and I believe that it should receive very urgent consideration. It could mean that the House would have to sit on a greater number of sitting days in order to eliminate late night sittings. I support the Leader of the House in what he has said in relation to standing order 40, and it is almost certain that it will be eliminated and we will revert to the sitting days in force before the standing order was introduced in October of last year. My personal attitude remains the same. I believe that the Parliament and the Standing Orders Committee must seriously consider whether the House should sit late at night, and whether solutions can be found to the problems that inevitably arise from the strain imposed on members, particularly towards the end of a session. I second the motion that has been moved by the Leader of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.56 to 8 p.m.
Ministerial Statement Debate resumed from 19th August (vide page 353), on the following paper presented by Mr N. H. Bowen:
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 18 August J971 - and on motion by Mr Swartz:
That the House take note of the paper.
– Mr Speaker, the speech on foreign policy by my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen), stands out in complete contrast to the superficial approach of the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr Whitlam). To my mind, the Minister has set out, in a responsible way, the Government’s record and its attitude on the vital issues before us in the international scene. I commend him for what he has said in his first report to the House in his new portfolio. There are one or two objectives of foreign policy I first want to mention. The first is to emphasise very clearly and very simply that our foreign policy is based on the fact that our national interest must be of paramount importance at all times. We are not going to be run around the place by anyone. We are an independent country. We will never be a satellite of any power, close though our relationships with others might be.
But we must face realities. We are not a great power and we cannot play a decisive role in resolving the big issues between East and West. Nevertheless, we have a role which we play, both in the region of South East Asia and the Pacific, and in the wider international community as well. It is up to us to play that role responsibly, keeping in mind at all times that we have a long and honourable record for honest dealing in international affairs and that we want to live in peaceful and profitable co-existence with all. We want to achieve this objective no matter how different the political philosophies of other countries might be from ours. I believe that we are achieving that objective. And I believe those who advise us - our Foreign Affairs officers - have a mature and sophisticated approach to their duties which serves Australia well. These observations need to be made because we are all conscious that this is a period of considerable change - sometimes very rapid change - and we must be alert to the consequences and flexible in our responses. But we must not be pushed or panicked into new postures or adventures with unpredictable consequences, smart though they may have appeared to be at the time. To the contrary, we must move forward deliberately after careful consideration of every step we take. And for good reason.
Foreign policy cannot be made by a series of unthought-out adventures. It must evolve from the passage of events and our own appreciation of the trends of the future and our relationships with others. Our identification with others in the international world is: Our membership of the
United Nations; our membership of the Commonwealth of Nations; our treaties with friendly powers; and our association in a variety of international and regional arrangements for security, trade and economic aid. In this complex of relationships we have made some important advances in recent months as the Foreign Minister has so well pointed out. They have been dealt with fully by him and I will not go over the the ground again. But there is a second matter I want to raise in the context of a foreign policy debate. This is the way we conduct our foreign policy.
No medium power like Australia can negotiate effectively in sensitive areas of international relations in the full glare of the spotlights. The pursuit of our foreign relations depends on frank and confidential exchanges with many countries. We have to respect their confidences as we expect them to respect ours. We do not peddle the gossip of the diplomatic cocktail rounds in the capitals of the world. We do not blab out in Peking what we have heard from representatives of foreign countries. The credibility of a government in its international dealings depends heavily on the sanctity of its undertakings and the security of the confidences given to it by others. No considerations of party politics must be allowed to compromise this credibility. The conventions for international conduct must be high and responsible. 1 deplore the failure of the Opposition to respect these conventions. I deplore the recent antics of the Leader of the Opposition when he led a delegation to some of the countries of Asia, notably to the People’s Republic of China. I remind honourable gentlemen that the Leader of the Opposition went to China to play politics with wheat. He found himself declaring, on behalf of his Party, a foreign policy for Australia that was not within his power to implement. It was not the policy of the elected Government of Australia. It is a policy in conflict with our national interest, and very much - so very much - in line with the policy of the greatest Communist power in Asia. I do not complain about the action of the Chinese leaders. They, too, have a national interest to promote, and they obviously did so. But what I do call into question - I believe a majority of Australians agree with me - is that, at a time when the Government was in contact with the Chinese seeking to open up a dialogue, a full surrender to Peking’s point of view was made publicly by the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition did not come back with any assurance of future wheat sales. He did not come back with anything except defensive responses and evasive answers to those who criticised his conduct, the concessions he volunteered in Peking, and the gratuitous advice he offered to other countries.
He did, of course, come out of China saying that the Chinese Government was quite willing to particpate in a renewed Geneva Conference. Chou En-lai made a categorical denial, saying there was no question of such a conference. The official Chinese Press has also described talk about a new Geneva conference as ‘a sheer fraud which is ridiculous and absurd’. This surely tests the credibility of the Leader of the Opposition, and this is test No. 1. Mr Speaker, we are seeking as a Government to establish better relations with the People’s Republic of China. In concert with our friends we hope she will join in the efforts of the countries of our region and the broader international community to promote peace and prosperity for all peoples in accordance with the Bandung principle to which Chou En-lai himself has publicly subscribed. We want to see this happen, and we will make our contribution wherever and whenever we can. We will do so without sacrificing one single part of our national interest. And we will try to achieve this objective while retaining an honourable position with our friends and allies.
I remind the House again that there is no sudden short cut to normal relations with China, as history so clearly shows, particularly Soviet and Chinese history. Patience and hard headed negotiations are needed. The process is not one that will require on our part, spectacular public gestures or instant decisions. And this problem must be considered in the total context. It is important, I think, to see our own position clearly against the background of the forthcoming meeting of the United Nations and the planned visit to Peking by President Nixon before May of next year.
The Government’s policy on representation in the United Nations of the People’s Republic of China and of Taiwan has already been stated in this House during the course of this debate. I have said it was inevitable and right that China should should hold the permanent seat in the Security Council. I have also said that we believed the Republic of China- Taiwan - should be given the chance of maintaining its membership if so desired. In the final result these are matters for collective decision by the United Nations.
There has been a lot of talk about there being only one China and that Taiwan is a province of China. But when the Leader of the Opposition states this proposition he evades the fact that there are two governments each controlling a certain area with a certain population and each claiming to be the legitimate Government of the whole of China. And he would put a seal of legality on the forceful takeover of 14 million people by a government they do not want. He obviously does not understand that acceptance of the idea that Taiwan is a province of China implies that force can be used to restore control by China without invoking United Nations assistance.
The de facto situation is that neither the PRC nor the ROC exercises administrative control over all the territories they claim. While this situation exists - where 2 Governments are in political and jurisdictional conflict - third countries are free to recognise whichever Government they choose. Australia has for many years recognised the Taiwan Government - the Republic of China - and in 1966 completed the formalities by establishing an embassy there. Mr Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has alleged publicly that the decision to send an Australian Ambassador to Taipeh was arranged by the late Mr Holt as Prime Minister without the knowledge of his Foreign Minister of the day - then Mr, now Sir Paul Hasluck. This is utterly untrue, true. This is the second test of the credibility of the Leader of the Opposition. The decision was made by the Cabinet of the day. It is on record and beyond dispute and Mr Hasluck, now Sir Paul Hasluck, was there at the time.
This then is our position. I believe it is in our national interest first to have a collective decision by the United Ntaions on the admission of the People’s Republic of
China and the status of the Republic of China - of Taiwan. When representation in the United Nations is clarified we shall be better placed to examine the problems of recognition and diplomatic relations with Peking. In his various public statements the Leader of the Opposition has endeavoured to suggest that the whole of SouthEast Asia is about to go - or should go - cap in hand to Peking. The truth is that South-East Asian countries are moving with caution, and so are we. They realise the desirability of adjusting to changing circumstances in Asia and the likely entry this year or next of Peking into the United Nations.
The Leader of the Opposition has said the Canadian formula is the one his Party would adopt for immediate recognition of China. This does not make sense because the espousal of any formula now would prejudge events yet to take place in the United Nations. And in any case only a naive person would set out what he would finally accept as his first position in any negotiation. The Canadian formula notes China’s claim to Taiwan. In his statement on the subject the Canadian Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Mitchell Sharp, said Canada had made it clear to the Chinese from the start of their negotiations ‘that the Canadian Government does not consider it appropriate either to endorse or to challenge the Chinese Government’s position on the status of Taiwan’. But Mr Whitlam, while adopting the Canadian formula as his own, also concedes Taiwan to China. And, as I have said, by so doing does not exclude the use of force in the resolution of this issue by the Chinese.
For reasons I have mentioned there is no need to rush into recognition; there is no need to rush into making concessions. Mr Whitlam has said: ‘we must accept the view of President Nixon that diplomatic relations must be normalised as speedily as possible’. I have no knowledge and can find no information that the President or his Administration have said that at all. This is the third test of credibility. They, the United States, like us, have declared their attitude on China’s admission to the United Nations. And they, like us, are seeking a dialogue in their bilateral relationship.
The Leader of the Opposition, on his recent ill-starred journey, not only dismissed the future fate of the people of Taiwan in a most casual manner. He also took upon himself the role of publicly declaring the policy Japan should adopt about her treaty with Taiwan. 1 quote his own words at the National Press Club here in Canberra.
We should be the first to point out to Japan that she is not in honour or reason irrevocably tied to a treaty forced on her when she was weak and dependent . . . we should say to her that she is now entitled to pursue her own interests which require a restoration of relations with China.
That is the Leader of the Opposition brashly telling one of the great powers of Asia and one that is likely to be, in the foreseeable future, a dominant power what it should do. Japan, 1 emphasise, is a very great trading partner of ours and one with whom we are associated in many regional activities. This kind of advice disregards Australia’s interest by assuming at once that it is to our advantage for China and Japan to move into a close relationship. It also smacks of interference in the internal affairs of Japan. Who are we to say: Japan is now entitled to pursue her own interests’? (Extension of time granted.) In fact it looks precisely the kind of negotiating position China herself could take up towards Japan. In short, the Leader of the Opposition urges Japan to tear up her treaty with Taiwan and do business with China. That any member of this Parliament should seriously advocate such action is utterly deplorable in the context of our national interest. It displays either ignorance of international relations or a cynical opportunism towards international agreements. It implies that international agreements such as ANZUS, which is the corner-stone of our security, are expendable scraps of paper.
This is the first time in Australia’s history - I emphasise this - that a Leader of the Opposition has been the total advocate of another country’s cause. It is a dangerous policy to this country, and I will keep on repeating this until the next elections are well over. Let me quote some editorial comment from a leading newspaper in Asia. The Singapore edition of the ‘Straits Times’ on 14th July said this and I quote -
– Why do you not quote from an Australian paper?
-Order! I think I have warned the honourable member for Sturt more than I have warned any other member of this House. I suggest that he restrain himself.
– I shall quote now from a Singapore newspaper, as follows:
The Australian Government is ready to discuss diplomatic relations wilh Peking and though recognition may be a long way oft (Mr McMahon’s phrase) the intention is sincere and the endeavour is not assisted by the Labor Party mission’s extraordinary behaviour … it is one thing for Mr Whitlam to campaign in Australia for radical policy changes, but quite another to play Party politics openly in Peking. This is irresponsibility of a high order.
– Can you quote one Australian newspaper which supports you?
-Order! The honourable member for Bendigo will cease interjecting.
-Order! If the honourable member offends again I will name him.
– Mr Speaker, a great deal has happened since then. The fact that President Nixon and Premier Chou En-lai have agreed to meet in Peking some time before May of next year has added a new dimension to the international debate on China. The United Nations will meet next month, and in our contacts with China there has been some clarification of each other’s viewpoints. 1 have no dramatic forecasts to make on what the future holds, lt is difficult to see how Australia can have more than a marginal influence on American-Chinese relations.
Because America is a super-power and China a great power I think it may be inevitable that they will treat on a bilateral basis on the big issues. In saying this I do not intend to suggest that wc expect to have no exchanges of views with America on all issues of common interest. It is part, of the practice of our diplomacy to keep in close, continuing touch with America and our other friends, particularly in the Asian and Pacific region. This they encourage and this we will continue to do. I emphasise what I said when I began: We will base our action on two principles: Australia’s national interest comes first at all limes, and our diplomatic conduct accords with the highest conventions of honourable dealing and respect for the rights of others. A clear understanding of the actions of the Leader of the Opposition during his Peking visit makes it extremely difficult to reconcile them with these principles.
– I listened with sadness to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) this evening. After 22 years of Government he still wants to kick the Communist can and after so long his Government on negative policies of hysteria, still wants to stir up this attitude of personal abuse. He said his Government would not be a satellite of any power, but every person, even school children, in this country know that this Government has been a satellite of the United States of America in regard to its policy towards Vietnam. Does the Prime Minister want to forget the statement a former Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, at a time when he was in the Government, who said: ‘All the way with LBJ’, and who committed the Australian Government in Vietnam? Of course, that commitment, that insurance policy, has cost nearly 500 young Australian servicemen their lives, over 2,500 young men have been maimed and over $200m of Australian taxpayers’ money has been spent, and the present Prime Minister who was a member of that Government talks with hypocrisy and says that he does not want to be a satellite of any power. He accuses the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) of playing politics in China with wheat. The Leader of the Opposition said when he was in China that if the Australian Government established diplomatic and normal relations with China he felt Australia would receive a fair share of the China wheat market. But no. The Prime Minister wants to play politics because he wants to play to a sectional interest. He knows he is way out on a limb. He knows he is way out on this issue. His personal abuse of the Leader of the Opposition is no answer. Therefore, I move:
That the following words be added to the motion: but this House deplores the conduct of the Prime Minister in attempting to narrow debate on the question of Australia’s future diplomatic and trade relations with the People’s Republic of China to a personal and partisan level and for basing his approach on incorrect information’.
The day after the full report of the historic meeting of the Leader of the Opposition with Chou En-lai appeared, all the Prime Minister could say was that the Leader of the Opposition had been reduced to ‘platitudes and banalities’. For 3 or 4 days after that the Australian Press was full of praise for the Leader of the Opposition. The Liberals decided that it was too much of a good thing and they must have a counter-attack, so 9 days later the Prime Minister claimed to discover that the meeting was ‘dangerous and irresponsible’. The charges against the Leader of the Opposition boiled down to 2 issues, what was said - and what happened at the meeting itself - and what the Government alleges was the effect on other countries. As for the meeting itself - and I ask honourable members to give some attention to this and to give consideration to what was said by the Australian pressmen who attended in China with the Australian Labor Party delegation - let me read some of the comments by the people who were there. There were 5 members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery present and I will read what they had to say. I ask the Government: Are these pressmen dupes? Are they fools? Are not these people employed by a Press which is opposed to the Australian Labor Party? Let me quote what John Stubbs of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ - surely no one would assert that that newspaper is a pro-Labor journal - said on 7th July 1971:
Mr Whitlam acquitted himself well. … It became clear that one of the central objectives Chou had in the discussion was to have Mr Whitlam repudiate the ANZUS Treaty. Mr Whitlam had spent some time last month defending it in Launceston. It must be seldom anyone has disagreed wilh a parallel he has carefully drawn, as he did between ANZUS and the SinoSoviet Treaty. It is doubtful if it has ever been done as firmly.
Does anybody doubt the remarks of John Stubbs? He is not a gossip writer; he was there. Let me quote Eric Walsh of the Financial Review’ of 7th July 1971:
But he did not give the ground which the veteran Chinese Premier clearly most hoped for, a denunciation or even a backdown on the ANZUS treaty or an expression of hostility towards Japan.
Let me turn to a statement by Laurie Oakes in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ on 7th July 1971:
Mr Chou was clearly trying to get Mr Whitlam to publicly denounce ANZUS, but the Labor Leader refused to be drawn.
Instead, he asserted strongly that we in Australia regard the treaty as entirely a defensive one.
I turn now to an article by Allan Barnes of the Melbourne ‘Age’ on 7th July 1971.
Mr Whitlam has no need to apologise for his deft handling of the encounter. . . .
Mr Whitlam stood up remarkably well to the wily Choirs attempts to get him into a corner on ANZUS, the United States and Japan.
It isn’t easy to stand up to a man of Mr Chou’s intellectual capacity and stature when you are a guest in his country wanting to be as polite as possible.
Would anyone deny that Mr Whitlam is a man of decorum and protocol? He believes in the system of precedent; he believes in the parliamentary system. Of course he is a polite man in diplomatic exchanges. Can the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) say anything to the contrary? I quote now what was said by Ken Randall in the ‘Australian’ on 9th July 1971:
In the circumstances, Mr Whitlam had an extraordinarily difficult task and handled it skilfully.
Does anybody suggest that those pressmen who were with the Leader of the Opposition were wrong? Mr McMahon did not quote any of the pressmen who were with the Leader of the Opposition. He listened to the gossip; he tried to stir dissension and fear by innuendo and did not quote one fact. That is what we have to consider. The ‘Financial Review’ of 14th July 1971 stated:
Only the narrowest of petty politicians-
I have no doubt the Prime Minister is one of those people - could claim that no advantage to Australia at all accrued from Mr Whitlam’s meetings with Mr Chou. .
On Monday night, Mr McMahon said that Mr Whitlam had even spoken contemptuously of the Soviet Union-
Has he forgotten the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia? Of course the Leader of the Opposition had a right to speak in that way. He spoke of the differences between China and the Soviet Union over their border dispute. Did he not have a right to do this? The article in the ‘Financial Review’ continued: . . with whom my Government is slowly building bridges towards a better understanding beneficial to us.
The Government wants to forget Czechoslovakia and the freedoms that have been crushed in that country, lt even wants to ignore the restrictions on the freedom of the artists and writers in the Soviet Union. Laurie Oakes in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ on 14lh July 1971 stated:
Mr McMahon’s claim that Premier Chou played the Labor leader like a trout on a rod is inaccurate.
Plenty of lures were thrown out but Mr Whitlam resisted them.
He was determined not to get caught.
Why do not honourable members opposite give credit to a man who gave leadership? The Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs are 2 people in the Parliament, apart from the Leader of the Opposition, who know best the tremendously cordial reception the Leader of the Opposition received in Japan and the Philippines after his visit to China. Mr Whitlam met probably the widest range of national leaders ever to meet an Australian parliamentarian. Present were members of our embassies in Tokyo and Manila. On most occasions in Tokyo, including the 2 hours Mr Whitlam had with Prime Minister Sato, our Ambassador, Mr Freeth was present. These people reported back in full to Canberra. Does anybody deny that? The Prime Minister must know that the Prime Minister of Japan thanked Mr Whitlam for what he had said about the Japanese and nuclear weapons.
The Leader of the Opposition has authorised me to make this statement in regard to the Philippines. Mr Whitlam is claimed to have offended the Government of the Philippines. Normally, one would not have quoted what I am about to quote, but there must be an end to this campaign of vilification and misrepresentation of the Leader of the Opposition. This is a letter from General Romulo, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines. He wrote on 2nd August 1971:
Dear Mr Whitlam, It was a real pleasure to welcome you to Manila and to be able to get first hand your statesmanlike views on many matters of mutual interest to our 2 countries. May I say that we in the Philippines would welcome the visit of more Australian leaders with your grasp of Pacific problems which 1 so admired during your conversations.
Do honourable members on the Government side deny that? This is a letter from General Romulo, who was Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Department in the Philippines. It does not contain the smear or the innuendoes of allegation by the Prime Minister. Let us put an end to this. I am sick to death of this type of politics. It is about time that we in the Australian Labor Party and honourable members in the Government ranks dealt with foreign affairs in a rational manner. It is time that we stopped this hysteria, because the only way that we can solve our problems is to build bridges of friendship with the people to our north. We have to make the people of Australia feel secure - that there is no fear of the great masses to the north. The Leader of the Opposition has done what the Australian Government should have done - trying to build a bridge with China. Of course, the Prime Minister does not dare to attack President Nixon in public. By attacking the Leader of the Opposition he is also doing his best to sabotage the hopes of the people of the world, and the talks between President Nixon and Chou En-lai earlier next year. Let us get down to some rational policy. It is time that honourable members in this Parliament look at the question of the recognition of .the People’s Republic of China to bring it into its rightful place in the United Nations - to bring it into the Security Council. Over 60 countries have already recognised China and have diplomatic relations with China. Australia should establish diplomatic relations with China now. Our future lies with that of China and Asia. The Government used hysteria in the 1966 general election campaign. Where do we draw the line? Do we draw it in Vietnam? Of course, the arrows in pamphlet drawings and on television denote the downward thrust from China. Where do we fight them? On their shores, or do we fight them on our shores? Of course, we know the propaganda which was put out showing an Australian soldier drawing a rickshaw and a Chinese man with an Australian girl. This racism, this fear, this sickness has to stop. Surely the rational attitude of the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party delegation to China was a bridge of friendship. Surely this visit by Labor Party members assisted to prepare the way for President Nixon’s visit to China.
In the few minutes remaining to me, I wish to deal with the great question of Taiwan. Is there any chance of a 2-China policy? I wish to quote the ‘Canberra Times’ of 19th August 1971. Lord Trevelyan, president of the Royal Institute of International Affairs who is giving a series of Dyason Lectures, was reported as follows:
There was no chance at all of China taking a seat in the UN along with Taiwan. . . . ‘There is no question of Taiwan being expelled from the UN’, he added. ‘Taiwan is not a member.’
The article went on to say:
Nor is there any doubt in his mind that Taiwan is part of China. . . . Admission of Taiwan, as sought by the US and Australian Governments, would require Security Council approval and a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly which in his opinion could not be mustered.
Is it again a smoke screen? For 22 years the Government would not recognise China. Now when it knows it is a fait accompli it says that it wants a 2-China policy. Who has decided on a 2-China policy? After all, Chiang Kai-shek says there is one China. Mao Tse-tung says there is one China. Have honourable members opposite examined the question of Taiwan? (Extension of time granted.)
There is only one China. Chiang Kaishek said that Taiwan is a province of China. Mao tse-tung said that Taiwan is a province of China. If one examines the question of Tibet, both Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan says that Tibet is a province of China and Mao tse-tung in Peking says that Tibet is a province of China. If one examines the McMahon line on the IndiaChina border dispute of 1962, one notes there is no difference between the policies of Nationalist China and the People’s Republic of China. They were agreed on this matter. The Leader of the Opposition pointed this out recently.
The question that is inflaming the people of Australia is: Will we sell out the people of Taiwan? It has been represented for a long time that the 14 million people on Taiwan will be sold out to slavery if we recognise the People’s Republic of China. Let us examine without emotion the facts. In the event of the People’s Republic of China being admitted to the UN, I take it that the Nationalist Chinese Government on Taiwan will be expelled. This does not mean that the US Seventh Fleet will not still defend the strait between China and Taiwan. Of course it will remain there. It is the 7th Fleet that will defend the people of Taiwan. It will be a matter for negotiation between the People’s Republic of China in Peking and for the Chiang Kai-shek Government on Taiwan. Of course, it may be that the people of Taiwan themselves may determine their own affairs. But does the Minister for Foreign Affairs deny that at the Cairo Conference of 1943 men of the callibre of Churchill, Roosevelt and Chiang Kai-shek agreed that Taiwan was a province of China? Prior to this, of course, for a good many years the Japanese had ruled Taiwan. Has this Government now repudiated Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek? Who are honourable members on the Government side to determine that there are two Chinas? There is one China. Who are they to make up the mind of Chiang Kai-shek? What special, god-like authority have honourable members on the Government side? Who has gifted them? Why is it that after 22 years of negative thought they now determine that there are 2 Chinas? They know, in fact, that the People’s Republic will be recognised as the rightful Government of China and will take its place in the Security Council. They know that it will take its rightful place in the United Nations and the General Assembly. They know, as Lord Trevelyan said, that their system, the new 2-China policy, would have to get a two-third majority vote in order to be accepted, and that this is an impossibility. Yet this is the attitude taken by the Government of the day. It is a government of hypocrisy. For 22 years it has tried to confuse the Australian people. Now we have come to a position of realism and President Nixon has decided to go to China. There has to be a face saving formula, whether it be for the Government of the United States of America or the Australian Government. The Government is trying to find this formula. Australia has been trying to find a face saving formula for far too long. It is time Australia sought a better relationship with China. It is time we woke up to the fact that one quarter of the world’s population cannot be ignored.
I was in China in 1960. I would bc one of the first people to recognise the dogma of the Chinese Government in Peking. When I was in China hysteria was building up about the taking of their territory, Taiwan. The Chinese said that they had already defeated the paper tiger - the United States of America - in Korea and they could take the territory of Taiwan if they wanted to. I argued against doing this. I said: ‘There are men in the United States who want to use atomic and nuclear weapons against you’. I met Kuo Mo-jo, who was the head of the cultural bureau. He is a man of stature in the Chinese Government. I said to him: ‘Do you mean to say if you cannot get your territory, Taiwan, by peaceful means, you will take military action to gain it? I am aware that there had been over 100 meetings between China and the United States in Warsaw.’ Kuo Mo-jo replied: ‘Mr Uren, we have waited 100 years for the liberation of China. We can wait a few minutes more for the liberation of our territory of Taiwan’. There is no doubt that a fear of the United States is worrying China. If I may say so, I think it is a false fear, although the conflict in Vietnam has probably led the Chinese to think that they should fear the United States. After all, China does not have troops right on the border of the United States. But be that as it may, a new bridge is to be built by President Nixon. It will be a move in the right direction for so many people in the world.
The delegation led by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, was a step towards sanity. He should be commended by this House for his action. He should not be the subject of cheap party politics. I for one commend the Leader of the Opposition and the Australian Labor Party for taking the initiative. I hope that the House will support the amendment I have moved to the motton.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.
– I shall deal first with the visit of the Australian Labor Party delegation to Peking and the People’s Republic of China. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with anyone going - as a delegation or separately - to China. I imagine that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and his team could have learned a lot by going there. It was what was said, what was agreed to and what was not questioned by the ever ready to agree Leader of the Opposition that was so damaging to Australia. It is obvious that the Australian Labor Party members of Parliament in the delegation were on a political and not diplomatic trip. The Leader of the Opposition went there to try to embarrass the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the Government on the matter of recognising the People’s Republic of China and the scrubbing off of Taiwan, and the shadow Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) went there to embarrass Government supporters in wheat seats. So, with these objects in mind, they sallied forth. Little did they know that they were going to be used as a sounding board for Chou En-lai’s policies.
Apart from agreeing that Taiwan and its population of 14-odd million people live in just another Chinese province, the man aspiring to be Prime Minister of Australia gave away in advance during the great kowtow every bargaining counter that Australia would have had in future negotiations with China. This point of view was expressed in a local newspaper. Chou had the Leader of the Opposition agree to the withdrawal of all foreign troops from South East Asia. This would mean that the ANZUS Treaty would be virtually useless. In spite of this, he said that no Australian Government would reject that treaty. The honourable member for Dawson said that the Australian Labor Party’s mission was a great success that had been acknowledged not only in Australia but also overseas. But surely it could not have been a success if the Leader of the Opposition had, according to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, gratuitously insulted not only the United States of America, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia but also, according to Professor Arndt, Russia as well.
Both of these Australian Labor Party men smugly proclaimed that, because of the Government’s China policy, $10On worth of wheat has not been sold. We heard about that matter this afternoon. What price has to be paid for the sale of this wheat? Should the representatives of Australia have to behave like a mob of oily kowtowing menials who are prepared to sell out their trading partners, allies and friends for a political advantage, which is what it would be? Here I quote again:
The main damage has already been done by Mr Whitlam himself in Peking. No less irresponsible than his entirely unnecessary servility to Mr Chou was his use of the occasion not to try and improve relations between China and the Australian Government- any Australian Government, now or in the future - but to limit any improvement to relations between China and the Australian Labor Party.
The Australian Labor Party Leaders performance on this stage was very typical. The same thing has happened before. He has an essential flaw in his character which makes him grasp at straws to try to gain political advantage. He did this last Friday in a debate on the appointment of Assistant Ministers. He also did it when he endeavoured to have Alan Ramsey brought before the Bar of the House earlier this year. In Service language, he is just not leadership material.
On 11th May the Prime Minister announced that the Government had as its long term objective the normalisation of our bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China, to explore the possibility of establishing a dialogue. What effect has the Australian Labor Party’s visit had on this objective? It has polarised Chinese official opinion to support of the Australian Labor Party and not the Australian Government. Mr Chou must be looking forward to an Australian Labor Party win at the next election so that he can extract his pound of flesh from its Leader’s glib promises. He is reported to have ended his meeting with the Australian Labor Party’s Leader by saying: ‘You are a very young man’. Did he mean in diplomacy or politics?
I turn now to the other important region mentioned by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) in his statement, namely, South East Asia or the Indonesian Archipelago - Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. The United States of America is scaling down its external commitments. It is looking to other countries to assume a greater degree of self-reliance, especially in Asia. Japan is becoming an economic and industrial super power; Britain is turning towards the European Economic Community rather than a long way east of the Suez Canal; Russian influence and interest are on the increase; while China - the People’s Republic of China - has adopted a far less inward looking stance.
We, at the southern end of the Indonesian Archipelago, may no longer have the advantage of considering the decisions of others before we have to make our own decisions. We are in a position of advantage on the rim of what is termed ‘South East Asia’. By that broad term I mean the 4 countries of Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. We have vast natural resources to help not only ourselves but, given the chance, others as well. Australia should aim to play her part fully in this changing scene. Our involvement in South East Asia really followed on from the Japanese war. Since then our interest in this area has increased very considerably.
Australia was a foundation member of the Colombo Plan, and by the end of 1970 her total aid under this heading was nearly $320m. Of this amount, the nearest South East Asian countries - Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines - received more than S90m in economic aid. At the same time more than 5,000 students and trainees from these countries have been brought to Australia. Australian aid to the countries of the Indonesian Archipelago has been increased greatly. In 1970-71 more than $40m of our bilateral aid to foreign countries was spent in South East Asia. Of great interest to me is our bilateral aid to Indonesia, to which we have undertaken to provide bilateral aid valued at more than $53im during 1970-71, 1971-72 and 1972-73.
Our trade in this area has also grown. Our exports to these countries are now: To Malaysia $66)m, to Indonesia $39m, to Singapore $118 1/2m and to the Philippines nearly $41m. Our imports from them are: From Malaysia $32m, from Indonesia $22m. from Singapore $23m and from the Philippines $4im. These figures, of course, are small compared with those pertaining to trade with our main trading partners; but they will increase as these countries develop their trading capacities. We cannot expect the value of our trade in this area to grow to a level comparable with that with, say, Japan. But it is very important that we make an effort to build it up.
The extent of Australia’s diplomatic relations with this area reflects its importance to us. We have diplomatic missions in almost every country in the area, with the exception of North Vietnam. Some of them are very large. For example, the Djakarta embassy staff totals more than 100, and there are other large embassy staffs in Thailand and Malaysia. Our effort in this area so far has been fairly impressive, but the significance of this area to Australia from the commercial, security and cultural points of view is permanent and important. It is most important for us to look for ways and means by which we can deepen our interest and involvement in this area.
For one thing, it is still necessary for the Australian people to learn much more about their near neighbours. One difficulty is that only the 30,000 or 40,000 people in the north of Australia are really aware of the fact that these people are our neighbours. I point out that it is very little further from Darwin to Alice Springs by road than it is from Darwin to Denpasar on Bali.
– By road?
– Try it and see. What can we or the Government do to deepen Australia’s involvement in the affairs of this area? Firstly, we could increase our aid provision - which is steadily increasing - for these near neighbours in Asia, provided always that the success of their development programmes does not run counter to Australia’s security. Secondly, more effort could be devoted to improving cultural relations between ourselves and the South East Asian countries with a view to deepening the Australian interest in and understanding of our near northern neighbours. Although there have been great advances in our knowledge and awareness of our neighbouring countries, the appreciation of the average citizen is still limited.
As well as promoting understanding in the field of cultural relations between Australia and these 4 countries, the Government could do more to help promote greater understanding throughout the Archipelago through the media. Speaking of the media, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Radio Australia, operating from Cox Peninsula across Darwin Harbour, which plays a major and very important part in putting Australia into the cities, towns, hamlets and homes of many thousands of people to our near north. I repeat that the Indonesian Archipelago is in our sphere. Here we should aim to assist and to learn and be prepared to show interest and leadership.
– 1 rise to speak to the amendment. Before I come to the remarks made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), since the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) who has just resumed his seat belongs to the Country Party I will quote the words of his leader, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), 4 weeks ago on ‘Monday Conference’, on Australian Broadcasting Commission television. The Deputy Prime Minister said:
I would not criticise Mr Whillam’s visit to China on purely political grounds. I think some of his actions there were a little indiscreet, but if it can help in improving relationships with the Western world then he is doing a service.
That telecast was recorded on 24th July, the day I arrived back in Australia. I believe that the Leader of the Country Party and Deputy Prime Minister is big enough to concede that 2 days later, when I gave my National Press Club talk in Canberra, I removed any suggestion that there was any indiscretion on my part during the 4 weeks in which I visited China, Japan and the Philippines.
I now come to the remarks of the Prime Minister. Last Tuesday he said that he was going to speak about my ‘mischief overseas. The debate on foreign affairs came on on Thursday afternoon. He was listed to follow me. He thought better of it. He has had the intervening days to accumulate his venom. I will come straight to the 4 matters on which he alleges that I betrayed my country or failed to tell the truth. First of all, he says that Premier Chou En-lai has repudiated my comments on my conversation with him about the Geneva Conference being revived and China’s attendance at any such revived conference. I naturally have to speak with some restrictions in this debate; but the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) will recognise the document from which I am quoting. Ministers receive it and the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition receive it. I am quoting from a copy of it which came today. It quotes from an editorial in the ‘People’s Daily’ of 20th July on the seventeenth anniversary of the signing of the 1954 Geneva Agreements. It proceeds:
On the positive side the editorial marks the first time in seven years that the Chinese have noted this anniversary. It was also the first time since the Paris talks began in 1968 that they have made complementary remarks about the Agreements which were described as ‘a great achievement’.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I can go no further at this time in identifying a Foreign Affairs document which corroborates what I said. Next, Sir, the Prime Minister repudiates what I said about the sending of an ambassador by Australia to Taipeh in 1966. Since 1 spoke on this subject last Thursday afternoon, when not so many persons would have heard us. I was quoting from Mr Walter Crocker’s book ‘Australian Ambassador’. He is one of the most experienced, distinguished and articulate of Australian ambassadors. Since the Prime Minister does not refer to the passage I shall repeat it:
Our opening an Embassy in Taiwan in 1966 to the so-called Republic of China, after resisting pressures to do so for 16 years, an off-the-cuff decision made, without consulting the Department of External Affairs or, apparently, iiic Minister for External Affairs, by the Prime Minister of the day, himself an amiable man whom no one could dislike but who knew almost nothing about foreign affairs, was as foolish as it was naive.’
This book was published about 4 months ago. Nobody before tonight has ever repudiated this statement. It is one of the most widely reviewed, widely read books on diplomacy in this country and the only man who denies its accuracy is the Prime Minister; and he does it under privilege.
The third point where the Prime Minister takes me to task is in my account of trends in the United States. Again 1 refer to this document which the Minister for Foreign Affairs will recognise, but which I cannot further identify, which came today, and there are 4 pages listing the sequence of developments in President Nixon’s policies since his ‘Foreign Affairs’ article in October 1967, and listing with particularity the decisions he has taken in the 2i years that he has been President of the United States. Everything in this article bears out the chronology and the analysis which I have given.
Fourthly, the Prime Minister says that I have gratuitously, brashly given advice to Japan. Last Tuesday he put it in the form that I had advised Japan to cancel her treaties. 1 sufficiently disposed of that argument last Thursday afternoon, but let me say that in Japan I was attended usually by our Ambassador, Mr Gordon Freeth, and when not by him by other members of our Embassy. It is true there were a few social visits to Ministers’ homes and so on where I went alone, but in ali the official visits I was accompanied by the Ambassador or by members of the Embassy staff. Five days ago the Department of Foreign Affairs was good enough to send me a copy of the records of my discussions with the Japanese Ministers and officials - 25 pages of them. If there was anything to my disadvantage there the Prime Minister would have spotted it, but I can show these records to any person in this House and they bear out how cordially I was received in Japan and how eagerly my assessment of China and her attitude towards her neighbours, including Japan, was sought.
But may I summarise. These are records of conversation with Mr Miki, Mr Aichi, Mr Fujiyama - former Foreign Ministers - Mr Kimura, still the Acting Foreign Minister of Japan, and various Ministers for international trade and industry and other political leaders of various factions of the ruling party and of the various opposition parties. I will take the opportunity to mention, since this is not recorded here, that members of the Embassy were good enough to arrange for me at various social occasions - lunch, dinner and so on - to speak with the 10 leading officials and bureau chiefs of the Gaimusho, the Japanese Foreign Affairs Department. I was also entertained by the heads of Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, Domei, Sohyo, the Automobile Workers’ Union and various academics. Is there anybody in this place now or previously who has put a week in Japan to such good purpose in learning the society, the politics and the economics of that country? My colleague, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) was good enough to quote what the Phillipines Foreign Secretary sent to me a week or so ago, but in the Philippines I also had conversations with President Marcos - as I always do when I visit that country - with Executive Secretary Melchor and the Secretaries for Justice, Labour and Finance and various persons in business and industry in that country.
I have dealt with those 4 matters where the Prime Minister challenges my credibility. There are some other matters which perhaps I should take this opportunity of mentioning. The Prime Minister uses the words ‘a forceful takeover of Taiwan*. If there were any quotations by any Chinese leaders which would justify that allegation he would have quoted them. There are none, but perhaps I can quote - since I can lay my hands on it readily - an article written a couple of weeks ago by Mr Douglas Wilkie in the Melbourne ‘Sun Pictorial’ which stated:
Peking has renounced any intention of regaining Taiwan by force.
It believes that a ‘gradual solution’ will be possible when the Taiwanese have been able to get rid of Chiang and Taiwan reverts to the sort of society to which Peking could safely grant a semblance of independence as an ‘autonomous’ province of China.
Significantly, the US has given sanctuary to Taiwanese resistance leaders, and tomorrow or the day after we may hear rumours that the CIA is secretly financing a coup to overthrow Chiang.
Then once again it will be too late for Australia to appear as anything better than a hangeron to the tails of a coat that Uncle Sam has already changed for one of a different cut.
The Prime Minister made another reference to cocktail gossip. This apparently was a briefer form of what he said last Tuesday afternoon - ‘some cocktail gossip with a foreign representative in China*. I could not understand what he meant. We attended no cocktail parties in China at all, but I notice that in the ‘Bulletin’ of 7th August there is this phrase:
At the Press Club Whitlam revealed that tha information -
That is about the genuineness of the 7- point proposals - had come from the French Ambassador in Peking, M. Manac’h
The Government had suspected this and had asked its Paris embassy to approach the French Foreign Ministry. The French asked ‘that the matter not be pursued’.
It seems probable that Whitlam picked up the information at one of Peking’s famous cocktail parties and his naming of the French Ambassador as his source may have embarrassed or at least annoyed the French.
I reiterate that we were asked to no cocktail parties. We were asked to dinner by the French Ambassador. He was chosen by General de Gaulle. He is the foremost French and, I believe, European diplomatic expert on China. His name had already appeared in Australia before I ever used it publicly although I had given it to our Ambassador in Tokyo, to the American Ambassador in Tokyo and to the visiting American Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Far East and Pacific, Ambassador Winthrop Brown. So the diplomats knew it, and our Department of Foreign Affairs knew it. But what happened was this: It had appeared in the newspapers before we came back, not from us or from any of the Australian journalists accompanying us from this country when Monsieur Manac’h had in fact visited Premier Chou En-lai in aid of the Australian Labor Party delegation’s visit to China. I believe that this was probably the crucial factor in our being invited and it was this about which the Australian Government complained to the Quai d’Orsay, and the Australian Government was properly rebuffed. In Peking the French Ambassador carries out his duties just as any Western ambassador does in Peking, like the British and Canadian embassies whose staffs we met. They talk to the representatives in Peking not of the governments that their Governments recognised in Saigon, Phnom Penh and Vietniane but to the representatives of the opposing factions in each of those countries and the representative of Hanoi.
If we had representatives in Peking we would know what was going on in all the states of Indo-China and we could pool this information. I think it is contemptible that the Prime Minister should put in the French Ambassador to his Ministry in this way. I sent proper information in a discreet way to the Prime Minister and all I received in return was that this was cocktail gossip’. One of the best informed and most responsible and experienced diplomats from the West in Peking gave us information. I put it to the Prime Minister but he disregarded it and belittled it and Australians suffered and died during the interim. We should realise that Singapore, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma - all of them - vote against us on these Chinese issues. (Extension of time granted.) I thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the House. I will be precise on this matter.
For many years Australia has sponsored in the United Nations a resolution that any resolution on China had to be carried by a two-thirds majority. As other honourable members have already referred in this debate to the attitude of South East Asia on this matter I point out that the countries in that area, including the Commonwealth countries in which we have diplomatic missions, have in general taken the other point of view. Those which have voted against the two-thirds majority, vot ing for the mere majority, have been - and these are the countries where we have representatives - Afghanistan, Burma, Ceylon, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore and also the Commonwealth countries in East Africa and the Pacific countries in South America where we have missions. In fact we are out of step on these matters.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to conclude my remarks by mentioning the grave aspects which are not sufficiently realised in this country. The first matter, which I dealt with in greater detail last Thursday afternoon, is this: There is still no peace between Japan and the Soviet Union. There is still a state of war between Japan and the whole of the mainland of China. If one accepts the view that the treaty which Japan made under American pressure with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek early in 1952 - more than 2 years after he had taken refuge in Taiwan from the mainland - is not a legal treaty then technically there is still a state of war between Japan and China. This is not a trivial matter. It is not just a technicality and it is not just a matter in which Australia should be indifferent. We made peace with Japan in 1951 at San Francisco a week after we signed the ANZUS Treaty in San Francisco. China and the Soviet Union were not represented at San Francisco. China was not represented because those who were represented could not agree on which was the Government of China. This is a serious matter which Australia should be trying to solve. I do not believe that any of our succession of Foreign Ministers or Prime Ministers or Ministers for External Affairs has ever put that position to the Australian people.
The other matter I want to put is also a serious matter. At the end of the Korean War when armistice came about; still more when the armistice came about at Geneva in 1954 through the whole of Indo-China; there was the opportunity to make proper national relations, diplomatic relations, between China and the other countries in the Pacific region. The opportunity was lost and it must be confessed, in the light of the Pentagon papers, that the opportunity was sabotaged. It was sabotaged by our side. We are now coming to the situation where the Vietnam war is winding up and it will not be long before there are no outside troops in Vietnam. This is a second opportunity being given to us. We should do nothing to mess up- this opportunity after 17 years of fruitless conflict, the resumption of the conflict which was ended at Geneva. We have seen the sabotage of those arrangements. We ought to see that genuinely and loyally we seek more arrangements and that we abide by them. The people of the Pacific Ocean cannot tolerate all the sabotage and all the misrepresentations which have gone on in the 17 years since the Geneva Agreement. I have spoken in a much lower key than did the Prime Minister. I have spoken without his partisanship. I have spoken orally instead of reading a text. 1 have not muddled over this matter in the intervening few days. But I have done my best as any Australian should and particularly any member of this Parliament in trying to learn the facts, the history, the emotions and the attitudes of the people of this area. I have done no less than I should in trying to take some initiative in China and 1 do not believe that our fellow citizens and those who succeed us and our neighbours will respect us or tolerate us if we pass up another opportunity, if we take a purely partisan attitude on this matter. The attitudes that the Prime Minister has expressed outside the House, that China has served the Liberal Party well in the past and no doubt it will in the future, is I believe a great miscalculation. I do not believe this generation of Australians will support it. I have no doubt at all what other people in our region will think about an Australian government which takes that attitude. The McMahon Government can get proper relations with China. It can do this on the basis of the Canadian formula. It can then resume its share of Chinese wheat purchases, but still more, it can play a proper role in having peaceful relations in the Pacific. I am glad that the Australian Labor Party has done as much as it has and that it has taken the proper initiative that elected persons ought to take on behalf of their country in this matter of supreme importance to this and future generations.
– This debate on foreign affairs is mainly centred on China. However, I wish to introduce a matter which is far removed from this subject but nevertheless it is a vitally important subject in any foreign affairs debate. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N.
I believe that the refugee problem in India and the plight of the displaced persons in East Pakistan to be the greatest human tragedy post-war, and Australia must accept a far greater responsibility. I might mention that this Government is not accepting a greater responsibility if all we can say is that we are providing 1 per cent of our gross national product, which of course includes private investment, and that therefore we are doing our share. We cannot possibly measure human tragedy that way, as it provides little comfort for the millions of refugees who have nothing - absolutely nothing - and with little hope for the future. Any aid which we provide to these countries must be guided more on need and on humanitarian grounds. Also our aid must be commensurate with the size of the catastrophe. This being so, 1 am afraid that the Government must raise its sights much higher, as the $14 m provided to date, which includes the additional $500,000 announced by the Minister, would not feed the refugees for one day.
Visiting the Asian countries as frequently as I do, I feel that the Government should show a far greater initiative in the field of foreign aid. At the present time it is inclined to shelter behind the Colombo Plan and other multi-bilateral agreements as though this is the beginning and end of aid so far as it is concerned. To indicate what I mean, the Government showed little initiative in coming to the assistance of the survivors of the tragic cyclone that ravaged the coastal regions and off-shore islands of East Pakistan on the night of 12th-13th November 1970. This was the greatest natural catastrophe this century, and I saw plenty of evidence of this when I was there shortly afterwards. All we provided for the survivors was $425,000.
I have just returned from a further visit to these areas, and the situation is far worse than at first envisaged. Ninety per cent of these people are still completely dependent on relief supplies, as saline deposits have prevented them from growing their crops. This situation will continue until well into next year. Unfortunately for the people of East Pakistan they are confronted with a far greater catastrophe, this time man-made, as civil war has been raging in the country for the past 4 months and hundreds of thousands have already lost their lives. Many stories have been written of genocide in east Pakistan as complete villages and towns have been wiped out, with only a few survivors left to tell the tale of the terrible atrocities that have been committed. All this, of course, has resulted in more than 7 million refugees crossing the border into West Bengal and Assam.
At this stage I wish to say a little about events leading up to the refugee problem. It all goes back to the cyclone that I have mentioned. It was the lack of support from foreign governments and, of course, the Government of West Pakistan, in coming to the assistance of the survivors which led to independence first becoming a real issue in East Pakistan. I know because I was there during the elections, and it was at this stage that Sheik Mujibur Rahman pressed for independence, and the movement soon won popular support amongst the masses. The point I make here is that the lack of support forthcoming from foreign governments, including Australia, was a major factor in leading to the unrest and civil war in East Pakistan today, which has caused millions of refugees to flee into the Indian States.
I have visited a number of refugee camps and the position in most of them is indescribable. The people are living under conditions far worse than those depicted in any picture or story one has seen or read.
Without a doubt mortality on an unprecedented scale must inevitably result unless the refugees are quickly dispersed, preferably back to East Pakistan. I discussed this matter with Mrs Gandhi, and she is adamant that the refugees must return to East Pakistan. However, she has laid down 3 conditions: Firstly, a civil government must be installed in East Pakistan; secondly, law and order must be restored before the refugees can return; and thirdly, a rehabilitation programme will have to be carried out because their towns and villages have been completely destroyed and they have nothing to which to return at the present time. I feel that it is in a rehabilitation programme that Australia has a major role to play. All this, of course, will take some time, and in the meantime India is placed in an intolerable position of having to feed and provide for 7 million refugees, which is breaking her economically. It is preventing the Government from honouring its election promises and is stopping it from fully implementing its 5-year plan.
India initially budgeted for $350m to provide for 3 million refugees in the first 6 months because she thought she would have them for only a few months. Foreign governments have pledged some §200m of this amount. Australia’s contribution is $Hm, which of course is less than 1 per cent of the total amount pledged. But now there are 7 million refugees in India and they will be there for at least 12 months. There is no quick and easy solution to this problem. If Australia wants to play her part a sum of at least $10m is needed immediately to assist the Government of India with the refugee problem. The situation in East Pakistan is far worse as there are millions of displaced persons who are not even receiving relief supplies, and they also are in urgent need of assistance from foreign governments.
I believe that one of the reasons for the small amount of aid channelled into East Pakistan for the cyclone victims, the refugees in India and the displaced persons in East Pakistan is that foreign aid is very low on the list of priorities of the Australian Government. Last year when the Department of Foreign Affairs was reconstructed into 8 divisions, foreign aid was made one of 3 sections in the development division, which indicates its low priority. Surely there should be a separate division of foreign aid within the Department if the priority of aid is to be raised. However, 1 would prefer to see a ministry of overseas development created because it would mean that foreign aid would be given a much higher priority by the Government. It would also mean that Australia was prepared to accept a greater responsibility for development in overseas countries. A ministry of overseas development would enable us to come to grips more quickly with major catastrophes when they occur in these countries. At the present time the Government does not think this way, consequently we do only what we have to do and we are influenced far too much by what other governments are doing.
Another important aspect is that a ministry of overseas development could liaise more closely with voluntary agencies, which have been doing very effective work in these countries for many years. Whilst the Government may have some difficulty in placing aid on a government to government basis, this is nol so with voluntary agencies, which are able quickly to channel assistance where the need is most urgent. I also feel that a percentage of overseas aid should be channelled through voluntary agencies as it could be better utilised. For these reasons the Government should seek a much closer liaison wilh voluntary agencies.
I feel that someone must make a firm stand on the great human problems with which India and Pakistan are confronted at the present time. In times of great catastrophes it is up to the Government to come forward and give strong leadership. I am sure that the Australian people would support the Government in any move it made in this direction. However, I regret to say that the Government is not tuned in on the frequency of such disasters and consequently no special effort is made to initiate emergency assistance. We go to the assistance of friendly countries in times of war to the extent of sacrificing thousands of lives and tens of millions of dollars. But in times of peace - when those 2 Commonwealth countries are urgently in need of assistance - nothing sacrificial is being done to help them. It is time we made a firm stand. To date I am not at all satisfied with the Government’s contribution to these countries which is mean and paltry to say the least. This being so we must raise our sights much higher and any further assistance must be commensurate with the size of the catastrophe. A sum of at least $50m should be provided for short term relief purpose and for long term rehabilitation programmes in these countries.
In the time that I have left I want to give several reasons for suggesting why greater assistance should be given to India and Pakistan. Never before has the need been so great as it is at the present time. This is indicated by the refugee problem in India and genocide in East Pakistan. The plight of the refugees is one of the greatest human tragedies of this century and noone can possibly imagine the tragedy of it all unless one is part and parcel of it. Their present predicament is just as serious and challenging as was any crisis in the last war when huge sacrifices and countless billions of dollars were spent to bring it to an end. This type of approach is needed for India and Pakistan at the present time if we are to play om part in the preservation of peace in this region. Another reason for greater assistance is that in less than 6 months East Pakistan has been ravaged by the 2 greatest catastrophes this century: Firstly a cyclone and now civil war. If ever we needed a good reason for immediate action and self-sacrifice the time to act is now because some 15 million to 20 million people in these countries are urgently in need of assistance. If the Australian population were really aware of the plight of these people, their suffering and human indignity, Australians would demand that far more be done by both the Government and private sectors. On humanitarian grounds we cannot possibly write off 20 million people as though they were sheep or poultry. Surely these people have a right to live as human beings? We must accept a greater responsibility for them. (Extension of time granted.) I believe that any foreign aid policy should be based more on need and on moral grounds and should be commensurate with the size of the tragedy. It is for this reason that I have suggested a sum of $50m for relief and long term rehabilitation programmes in these countries. I say this because approximately $50m was provided to assist Indonesia recover from a rebellion which took place in 1965 and recently S25m economic assistance has been announced for Vietnam.
– I should like to join with other honourable members on my side of the chamber in congratulating the honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid) in his approach to foreign affairs. Earlier tonight we heard the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) make a rather vicious attack on the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) following his visit to China. I shall quote from the Launceston Examiner’ which is an extremely conservative newspaper. It may be relevant to state that while I shall quote from the first editorial the second leader congratulates the Government of Queensland for declaring a state of emergency during the Springboks’ tour. Is there any need to give any further explanation as to the quality of that paper? The editorial states:
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has left Mainland China after a 13-day visit which has made him the best-informed Australian on China, its leaders and their policies. It is firsthand knowledge that is the principal product of the visit by the ALP delegation … but the intangible knowledge they have gained is at this stage more important than trade deals.
The editorial goes on to state:
Mr McMahon cannot be content merely, to try to make political capital out of Mr Whitlands mission. . . . The Chinese have clearly shown themselves to be as completely pragmatic as ever, and Mr McMahon should meet them in the same realistic spirit.
I shall deal very quickly with another point and then go on to a more extensive matter. Last week the Prime Minister finally announced the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam. He followed the United States President in this action. I appeal to our Government which pretends that we have won in Vietnam: Let us admit that we have not or, at the very least, that we may not have. In other words, there is a good chance that the Communists will take over the whole of Vietnam. I hope that if that happens we - that, is the so-called allies - will use all our influence in any peace settlement to protect those democratic elements in South Vietnam from incarceration and/or execution.
– What paper is that quoted from?
– Those are my words. I am not referring to the present Government leaders who will no doubt look after themselves in France or in some other country. I am referring to people who, quite likely, oppose the present South Vietnamese Government but are strongly opposed to North Vietnamese or Vietcong control. Surely they must be the most valuable people from our point of view and probably they are the most dangerous from the Communist point of view as they have not been compromised in the eyes of the South Vietnamese people as has the present Government. We must protect them if necessary by arranging for their admission into other countries, including our own, if they consider their lives threatened. I make a strong appeal to the Government to take active steps on this point.
Now I shall deal with the main point of my contribution. I am not surprised that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) in his wide roaming statement on international affairs on 18th August does not mention South Africa. No doubt he, like most of us who have thought about Australia’s future in that part of the world, has been greatly embarrassed by his Prime Minister’s performance during the recent tour by a white South African rugby union team which was presented and welcomed by him as representing the Republic of South Africa. I express my complete support for a proposition stated by the then Minister for Immigration, Sir Hubert Opperman, on 23rd September 1965, who, when refusing visas to the East German pentathlon team said:
International sport is a marvellous thing. Everyone likes to see contestants on the field of sport but there are international issues which are bigger than sport. This is a matter of Government policy.
We as a Government are not issuing passports unless a combined team from Germany can come and be accepted in Australia. This is a matter of Government policy and involves international attitudes. In this matter there are big world issues that are completely different from the naming of a sporting team.
I suggest to supporters of the Liberal Government that they should take some notice of what their Minister said in 1965. To those who argue that we admit Russian sporting teams and so on may I, as one who has been an active anti-Communist for a long time, say that nobody believes, we are pro-Communist. But the same is not true as regards our attitude to South Africa. The Prime Minister’s promise to use the Royal Australian Air Force to help these South Africans and more recently his appointment of the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) - a selfconfessed supporter of the South African and Rhodesian regimes - to the position of Assistant Minister, as the Prime Minister put it: ‘With a view to joining Cabinet’, have received much publicity among our neighbours. As one who has strenuously opposed the Communist powers I accuse the Government of playing into their hands. The Communists very much like to portray the conflict between the democracies and themselves as between the haves and the have-nots and, simultaneously, between the whites and the non-whites. I think this is completely untrue and I assume that the more intelligent Government supporters would agree that it is dangerous to help the Communist powers and their supporters to portray it as such.
South Africa is only very superficially an anti-Communist bulwark; on the contrary, it is one of the worse burdens we are carrying unnecessarily in an attempt to show the world that the democratic system is preferable to a totalitarian system. Surely nobody can realistically advance the proposition that South Africa is one of the democracies of the free world. Some democracies, for example, the United Slates and the United Kingdom, have of course realised this and have acted accordingly, but Australia’s Liberal Government, because of its deep seated paternalistic attitude to non-British people and especially to non-whites, has not. The Melbourne ‘Age’ of 28th June 1971, in an editorial, put it this way:
We not only play South Africans, but offer taxpayers’ money and official facilities to ensure the games are played. We sincerely hope that the people of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Japan are sophisticated enough to distinguish between our Government’s real reasons and its public relations reasons; that the coloured people who are much more important to our future than all the Afrikaaner in South Africa can detect the difference between racists and political opportunists. And we must do all in our power to persuade Mr McMahon that Australia’s token opposition to South African racism must be consistent and effective, that because of his mistake the world now sees Australia as permissively racist - and that would be the most charitable impression of us in the capitals of Asia.
An editorial in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 11th May 1971 summed up the position in conclusion by stating:
In our long term national interests, however, Australia will lose nothing if seen by Asian friends and neighbours as being an active as well as vocal opponent of apartheid.
A comment in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 28th June 1971 was aptly titled Abhorrent, but don’t make a fuss’. That is a reference to a statement by the Prime Minister that he found apartheid abhorrent. The editorial stated:
Unfortunately the Government has simply paid lip service to conventional criticism of racialism while putting the full force of its executive arms at the disposal of the ‘white man’s club’. It is undeniable that we are entering a difficult period in racial relations with the outside world. But the necessary act of walking a tightrope between our past and our future will simply be rendered impossible if we attempt to play footsie with the most detested and oppressive of racial regimes at the same time.
When it was first suggested that the Government would use Royal Australian Air Force aircraft to transport the Springboks I sent the following telegram to a number of Ministers and Government supporters, and I think it summarises my position well:
Your Government has gone mad, if RAAF is used in support of South Africans. Please try to look at it from point of view of Australia having to live in a potentially hostile world. Do not help Communists to portray struggle of democracies against Communist totalitarianism as whites against coloureds. Government’s pride must not repeat must not lend to Australia’s isolation.
Mr W. H. Ky me, a Liberal Party member and former secretary of the Greensborough branch of the Liberal Party, forwarded me a copy of a letter he sent to the Prime Minister. 1 shall quote from that letter. I know that the attitude of the Prime Minister was also a very significant factor in the decision of Mr Malcolm Mackerras, a member of the New South Wales Stale Council of the Liberal Party, to resign from that Parly. Mr Kyme wrote to the Prime Minister: Sir,
Do nol be deceived by those of your senior colleagues who are reportedly congratulating you for your ‘political master-stroke’ regarding the South African Rugby tour. They are fools, and the master-stroke’, in reality, an act of treason against the future inhabitants of this country.
For no better reason than the salvation of your own miserable political skin, you have rashly and ill-advisedly made a public gesture of support for the South African regime and its rotten-hearted philosophy of apartheid. This may, indeed, serve the short term aim of securing your re-election, since ‘the great silent majority’ (which used to be known as the ‘mindless mass’) is still apathetic about human rights in South Africa. You would do well, however, to waste no time in attempting to reap the anticipated benefits, since it seems that Australian opinion against South Africa is rapidly hardening. And, in your desire to gain the approval of the ‘mindless mags’, do not forget that it contains at least SO per cent of people sufficiently naive to decide that the policy is wrong, for no better reason than that a Liberal Prime Minister has adopted it.
But whether you are re-elected or not, the fact remains that your action has needlessly complicated Australia’s relationships with the countries in our immediate vicinity. Admittedly, the disadvantages of this will be felt in the future, with which, as ‘Time’ magazine recently detected, you do not feel yourself concerned. But those of us who regard our children as something more than useful enhancements of our political images will, on their behalf, condemn you as being both self-seeking and irresponsible.
I agree completely.
– At a time when our traditional and even historical alliances are, to say the least, less effective than in the past, I think we should for a few minutes study some international occurrences other than those involved in the complex question of Communist China. A real danger exists that the intense focus of world attention on the alleged new receptive attitudes of Chou and Mao might suggest that other events in the Asian and South East Asian areas are of little significance. This would be a fatal miscalculation and a condition of complacency that could well sell out the security of this nation. I do not propose to add to the thoughts of Chairman Mao my views of the Communist question. I would just like to comment on what happened at the United Nations last year and on the possibilities this year. I am very pleased to see that the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls), my colleague during our visit to the United Nations, is in the chamber. I am sure he would agree that never was there so much drama, never such an intense atmosphere, as existed for a couple of weeks prior to a vote being taken on whether Communist China should be admitted to the United Nations. It was quite an experience to be there at that time.
On 20th November 1970 the United Nations General Assembly voted for the twentieth consecutive year, excepting 1964, on the admission of the People’s Republic of China. Last year for the first time the draft resolution gained a simple majority. This of course was drama at its highest. The draft resolution urges the Assembly to restore to the People’s Republic of China all its rights and to recognise the representatives of its Government as the only law ful representatives of China at the United Nations. It also calls upon the United Nations to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the places which they are said to occupy unlawfully at the United Nations, and from all related organisations. Those are of course the terms of the Albanian resolution.
The General Assembly in 1961 decided that any proposal to change the representation of China was to be classified as an important question and as such would require a two-thirds majority before any decision on the subject be taken. Last year when the honourable member for Bonython and I were at the United Nations the vote on the proposal for the admission of the People’s Republic of China was 51 in favour, 49 against and 25 abstentions. It is interesting to note that in 1969 the vote was 48 in favour, 56 against and 21 abstentions. On the proposal that the subject be regarded as an important question the vote was 66 in favour, 52 against and 7 abstentions. The moral of the story is in the whittling away of the numbers of those countries who had decided to oppose irrevocably the admission of Communist China to the United Nations. It was quite evident, I would say, that the feeling throughout the corridors of the United Nations was that there were people who were quite undecided. One rather felt that this would flow over into 1971 and that many of those who had abstained in 1970 no doubt would be faced with this proposition: Should they vote for the admittance of Communist China to the exclusion of Taiwan? Here was the crunch.
However, I should like to deal now with the China question in the United Nations and the possibilities of what may happen this year in the General Assembly which will commence on 20th September. The forthcoming debate in the next General Assembly session on the question of the seating of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations promises to be one of the most complex. This is stating the obvious. The prospect for China’s admission are the best so far but the outcome is by no means a foregone conclusion. Let this be well remembered because there will be intense lobbying to support the continued seating of Taiwan in the United Nations. One of the subjects of discussion will be China’s admission to the Security
Council because one must keep in mind that if Communist China does take a prominent seat in the Security Council, perhaps to the temporary exclusion of Taiwan, forever and a day China could veto the readmittance of Taiwan. On one issue China has ample support and that is that it should be admitted to the General Assembly, but the main obstacle at present is the seating of Taiwan and the further issue of which country shall sit in the Security Council.
There has recently been a big swing in favour of Communist China but there is still strong support for maintaining Taiwan’s seat in the General Assembly, although it does seem certain that, if Communist China gets into the United Nations, it will be awarded a seat in the Security Council also. Despite the substantial shift in the position of the United States and other countries, including Australia, Peking still resolutely insists that it alone should have the seat and that Taiwan, which it considers a province of China, should be expelled from the United Nations. There has been a considerable amount of talk in the United States and in Australia about finding a compromise solution which will enable both the People’s Republic of China and the Taiwan Government to be members of the General Assembly. However, the basic difficulty is that both of these governments claim to be the government of China and are accordingly constituted.
In the case of Communist China it seems very unlikely that the Government would be prepared to accept the terms of a resolution which also provided for the seating of the Government of Nationalist China. At this moment the Government of Peking continues to insist that it alone must have United Nations membership. Here is rather a remarkable thing. From my discussions at the General Assembly with delegates from various countries, if I remember correctly, there was not one who did not agree that here was the first case in history where a country set down its own conditions for admittance to the United Nations by saying: ‘I will become a member of this great family of nations provided you meet my requirements’. This is rather a staggering thing. At this moment, the government in Peking continues to insist that it alone must have United Nations membership, but that at a later stage it might be possible for a formula to be accepted by both Peking and Taipei, which provides for the continued seating of Formosa but specifically as a government with political and territorial responsibility expressly confined to the island of Formosa and perhaps some surrounding islands.
The thought that is occupying the minds of those who are looking for a compromise is that Taiwan may have its own seat in the United Nations, not specifically for its own islands but that it may build up a small family of islands under the control of the Nationalist Chinese Government. As things stand, both Peking and Taipei claim to be the government of China and it is very difficult to see how both would be accepted as members of the United Nations on their own terms or how they themselves could accept this arrangement. In short, the position is that, although China’s chances of getting into the United Nations are better than ever this year, whether it actually becomes a member or accepts membership depends essentially upon what sort of compromise formula can be worked out in the course of the Assembly debate. Those remarks were merely a prelude to some of the points that T wish to make. Other sections of my speech are of sufficient importance to occupy considerable time and I will carry those over to the Budget debate.
I shall conclude on this point: It was rather remarkable at the United Nations that those who were to the forefront, supporting the entry of Communist China, were considered to be among those who were the most vitriolic and who had completely ignored the appeal that had been made by U Thant and the President of the General Assembly that the 25th Anniversary meeting was to be a General Assembly of peace. This was utterly ignored by countries such as Albania and others who with vitriolic outbursts and with complete disregard for anyone’s sense of loyalties or traditional loyalties claimed that Communist China should be admitted to the United Nations and that Taipei should be thrown on the scrap heap. This was unacceptable to about 90 per cent of the countries represented. As I said before, there will be great drama on the East River in New York from 20th September onwards.
– The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) complained about the time available to him in this debate. I was rather surprised to hear this because he was unable to use up the time that was allocated to him. We are debating a statement on foreign affairs which was made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) in this House last week. This was an interesting statement because it was based on those things which the Government apparently feels are important to Australia’s interests. The statement appeared to ignore totally large sections of the world. If one examines the statement one might imagine that there are no such places as the Far East, Egypt and Israel. They are not mentioned in the statement.
– Why should they be? They are not involved.
– The honourable member asks: ‘Why should they be?’ I would have thought that, as a former Minister for Foreign Affairs, he would have considered the events in the Middle East to be of some importance to Australia and to the world. My opinion of this rather strange omission - and I think it is the only conclusion that we could reach - is that these countries have been omitted because the Australian Government does not know how to put its point of view on these matters as the Americans have not told Australia what their view is.
We have heard a lot about China in this debate. We have heard a lot about the Australian Government’s about-face on China. Not very long ago, the representatives of this Government in seeking reelection published large red maps with arrows pointing downwards, suggesting that the Chinese would invade Australia.
– They are coming down for the next election, are they?
– Well, the only reason why people of such intellectual incapacity bellieve that the Chinese will come down for the next election is this: They look at a map hanging on a wall and, because China is above Australia on that map, they think that the Chinese must come down to Australia. Like an organisation which still exists in the United States - the Flat Earth Society - they have not recognised that a sphere is round and that, because of the pull of gravity, anything which comes down must use some type of energy and motivation to come down. A great deal of Australia’s foreign policy is based on the belief that everything shown on a map hanging on the wall to be above Australia will come down to Australia.
I should like to point out something which has not been mentioned in this debate but which indicates clearly the basis of the Australian Government’s sudden interest in China. In his statement the Minister for Foreign Affairs said:
On Mtn May the Prime Minister announced that the Government had as its long term objective to normalise om’ bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China.
The previous, speaker slipped back a couple of years when he referred to it as Communist China. This description is not fashionable with Government members at present - - to which end it had been decided to explore the possibility of establishing a dialogue with the Government of the People’s Republic.
There is not any mention in the statement and to my knowledge no mention has been made in the House, that at the SEATO Council meeting in London Mr Rogers, the United States Secretary of State, indicated that the United States wanted to encourage a growing role by China in Asia which was constructive rather than destructive. It is somewhat strange that that statement by the United States Secretary of State was made a few months before the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) indicated that Australia wanted to establish bilateral relationships. lt may be only a coincidence but it is one of those coincidences that are oft repeated, that when the United States makes a foreign policy decision the Australian Government follows along like a yapping puppy dog. I do not know whether as a nation we have a mind of our own but if we have it certainly has not been used in foreign affairs for a long time.
Tonight we heard a speech from the Prime Minister. As Prime Minister of Australia he is a person who should be entitled to the respect of every Australian. When he makes a speech on a matter as important as foreign affairs he should be expected to make statements to which people can refer and which can be accepted as being responsible. Not long ago a Minister for Defence left the Ministry as a result of differences that arose because he gave briefings to a certain journalist. Tt is obvious that the Prime Minister has reversed this practice and is now taking his briefings on foreign affairs from the ‘Bulletin’. The Prime Minister’s speech did no credit to the Parliament, to himself or to Australia. It was a personal fandangle designed to try to belittle the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) for initiatives which he took and on which every responsible newspaper in Australia congratulated him and said that he had done a service to Australia. The Prime Minister’s speech was the speech of a man who knew that he had been caught out by the initiatives taken by the Leader of the Opposition. It was the speech of a man who thought that the only way by which he could justify bis own inaction was to try deliberately to distort the actions of the Leader of the Opposition. This is not unusual. In fact it has been a regular practice in foreign affairs debates in the Australian Parliament.
One wonders what the new slogans will be. We may well have heard one the other night from an honourable member opposite. I know that honourable members opposite think it is better to have an electoral slogan based on gimmickry than to go on the Government’s appalling record in any area of government. It is easier to sell a slogan than a record of failure. Not long ago we had the slogan ‘AH the way with LBJ’. What a tragedy that led us to - hundreds of Australians dead - and we are leaving Vietnam in exactly the same situation as when we went there, with a dictator in charge and when even VicePresident Ky will not contest the elections because he says that they are too crook even for him. I do not know what the Government would suggest have been the results of our 5 or 6 years of involvement in Vietnam. They certainly have not paved the way for the election of a democratic government there. The former Prime Minister was going to go Waltzing Matilda with someone. I think that the present Prime Minister most likely would like to find a way of sticking with tricky Dicky.
– Cut out the slogans.
– It is probably as good as the type of rubbish that your people will be churning out for elections.
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member address his remarks to the Chair.
– I will, but I would suggest that the interjectors do the same. The honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid) referred to the situation which exists in East Pakistan. It is not unusual, in fact it is fairly regular, in countries where military dictatorships exist for elections to be held and for those persons who are elected to be overthrown immediately. East Pakistan is a substantial example of a country which is divided ethnically, politically and economically as well as physically; a country where there is little hope - I say this in some degree of trepidation - of the 2 sides coming together in a uniform government. It is fairly clear that the future of the area can be served only by the establishment of at least a federation where each of the areas is self-governed or where separate States are established. As I see it, the present situation in East Pakistan is such that one of the greatest tragedies in human hisory is being perpetrated there. The Australian Government has taken some action but nothing like action comparable with the demands of the situation and nothing like the level of action which, I believe, the Australian people expect. The action was taken with nothing like the dispatch which the Australian people would have expected from the Australian Government.
– New Zealand did better.
– It may or may not have; I am not in a position to say. I am more interested in what has happened with reference to the Australian Government. I understand that a further $500,000 in aid has been ordered. I do not think that this is the level of aid which the Australian Government can afford. I do not think it is the maximum level of aid which the Australian Government should supply. This is a situation where people are dying and will continue to die. It is a situation which cannot be resolved speedily and which has an explosive capacity because of the abject poverty which exists not only among the refugees but also among the native populations in East Bengal and India. It is a situation wherein the major powers are starting to take sides. If the Australian Government makes the same type of foreign policy mistakes in this case as it has made in the past - mistakes based on its assessment of what is electorally popular rather than what is right - it could find itself on the wrong side in a major Asian war, because the situation in East Pakistan is sufficiently serious for that.
The person who by any test of democratic elections should hold the post of Prime Minister of Pakistan is being tried and if he is executed it will be extremely difficult for the Government of India to withstand the pressures for an invasion of East Pakistan. These pressures are great. Despite the fact that Pakistan is a member of SEATO it is known that she has undertakings from China for support in any such confrontation which would make for a very difficult international situation. It would make also for a very difficult policy decision by Australia. I hope that the Australian Government will take far greater notice of the seriousness of the situation. It is a far more serious situation than that which did or still does exist in Vietnam and it could lead to the most serious position that has ever occurred in Asia in our times. I would suggest that the Australian Government start to give very serious consideration to what action it can take to relieve the situation of the Pakistani refugees and to ensure that the tensions which are developing and growing daily are eased as quickly as possible.
– In a notably constructive contribution to the discussion of Australia’s role in international affairs, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) has delivered a message that is plain for all to see and understand. We stand on the threshold of a new era in which the direction and emphasis of our initiatives and of our actions are undergoing and will probably continue to undergo some pretty substantial changes. These changes will be dictated by the fact that we shall be very much more on our own than we have been in the past.
Certain events of recent weeks show that Peking feels that it is impaled on the horns of a dilemma. Peking seems to fear that an American withdrawal from Asia may be followed by a Japanese takeover. To us that may seem to be a curious, even bizarre process of thought. But if we want to understand the attitudes of a nation we must try to understand how it came to be a nation. China’s struggle to nationhood was bedevilled by aggression, including a lot of Japanese aggression. The greatest hope for a lasting accommodation between the conflicting interests so manifest in the South East Asian and East Asian area may lie along the path of endeavouring to convince the People’s Republic of China that Japan has no territorial designs on Chinese territory and that neither the United States of America nor Japan wishes Japan to move into a vacuum left by an American withdrawal.
Our second military involvement in 20 years in a major Asian war is about to terminate. Our forces have served with distinction in South Vietnam but they will return in circumstances that make it seem highly improbable that any Australian government will undertake a similar involvement in the reasonably foreseeable future. While it may be hoped that the conditions which gave rise to the commitment are not likely to recur, there are, I think, more basic reasons why history will not repeat itself with respect to the involvement of Australian forces in large scale military operations on the Asian mainland. I have always supported our commitment to Vietnam. It is not something that evokes in me any feeling of repentance. But there is about it a paradox with the consequences of which we shall live for a long time: Its public unpopularity has been in direct ratio to its success. No democratic government, however, can shoulder the burden of overseas military operations without heavily preponderant electoral support. Initially that support was forthcoming. But the tedium and the seeming lack of positive success of the operation eroded that support, in conjunction of course with a massive and successful propaganda campaign directed towards undermining public belief in the justice of the cause. This campaign has from time to time been assisted by the insensitivity - to use a mild word - of those whom we have sought to help to the necessity of respecting the values that intervention has been designed to protect. The present unsatisfactory position in relation to the presidential election in South Vietnam is an immediately contemporary example of the sort of thing that I have in mind. Our allies have not always been altogether helpful to those who want to help them.
The result of the process of erosion to which I have referred has been to create a distinct change in the climate of public opinion in this country. That change will not be a passing phenomenon; it will manifest itself in a deep-seated aversion to involvement in warfare on the Asian mainland or its island rim. This is a fact of life which demands recognition in the formulation of our foreign and defence policy. No strategic design can be maintained except upon a firm base of domestic support. Forward defence was such a concept and it has served us well. But that base of support has been heavily undermined and it is no use ignoring this fact. To put it bluntly, I think - as I fervently hope - that it will be a very long time before Australian forces will be called on to take part in hostilities beyond the limits of what are presently Australia’s external territories. We must, of course, remain prepared for the possibility of having to do more. The stance we may have to adopt from time to time is never in the nature of things totally predictable.
We must never ignore from now on the welfare and security of the South Pacific, to which area the Minister for Foreign Affairs very properly devoted a large part of his statement. We have a substantial responsibility to help the states newly established or fast emerging in the South Pacific because few things could be more damaging to Australia’s long term interests than for any of the island states or territories in the South Pacific to degenerate through lack of proper development assistance into a sort of maritime slum with all the potential for future subversion or aggression that such a condition may create. For that reason the Minister’s announcement of a 40 per cent increase in Australia’s economic assistance to the South Pacific area is most welcome.
Whether people like it or not, we are fast coming to the end of any meaningful special relationship with the United Kingdom. We must face up to this fact. It is the unavoidable result of her decision to enter the European Economic Community.
Of course the link with the Crown will remain and I hope will always be retained; but that is perhaps likely to assume a more formal and perhaps less personal character with the passage of time. There will always be certain ties of affection based on common ancestry and common traditions. But these ties will loosen as the original stock in our community becomes increasingly diluted in successive generations. None of these observations is intended to be unfriendly to the United Kingdom; to make them is merely to acknowledge reality. I understand and respect the United Kingdom’s decision to go into Europe. Her failure to do so would have involved passing up her last chance of overcoming great weaknesses the origin of which may be traced to the massive social injustices of the 19th century and the cumulative enervation caused by major participation in two world wars. However, the termination of any special relationship with the United Kingdom requires that we should take certain consequential steps.
There is now a stronger than ever case for removing the Australian High Commission in London from the administration of the Prime Minister’s Department and for placing it under the administration of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Further, I can see no reason for maintaining what is now a largely empty distinction between the Office of High Commissioner and that of Ambassador. As I understand it, the description of a person as High Commissioner whose work is in truth that of an Ambassador is intended to reflect the closer ties that are supposed to exist by virtue of common membership of the Commonwealth. It would be an idle pretence to assert that these ties have not become greatly weakened. As an association the Commonwealth - using that term in its non-Australian sense - has a greatly diminished utility. It has lost much of its relevance because so many of its members have so little in common, except in some instances a desire to use meetings arranged pursuant to the elaborate fiction that they are family gatherings as occasions for vituperative recrimination against other members. Often this sort of conduct is designed primarily for home consumption. I hope that the frequency of meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers will diminish consistently with their virtual inutility. By and large, our discourse in the international field will be better conducted if we discard the shibboleth that all members of the Commonwealth have meaningful family ties. 1 want to emphasise the need, as I see it, to keep public discussion of Australia’s international relations on a high level. For too long, we have suffered from a tendency to conduct debate on these important issues in terms of personalities rather than policies.
– Hear, hear!
– And Opposition members have been just as much to blame as other people. We have on our hands a great problem in seeking to establish normal relations with the People’s Republic of China. It is not a problem that will bc solved overnight. Parties whose respective attitudes are crucial to a solution have taken up quite inflexible stances. We shall need to practice the virtues of patience and coolness. We shall need to be hard-headed. In this connection, I do not see why the move towards normalisation, to use a horrible in-word, of our relations with the People’s Republic of China should be accompanied - as some members of the Labor Party seem to want - by a move to exclude discourse with South Africa.
Still speaking in this vein, if I think that the performance of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in Peking is open to criticism and was in some respects, as I believe, not such as to serve Australia’s best interests, I must say that I feel no compulsion whatsoever to denigrate him as a disgrace to Australia or as the Chinese candidate in our next general election. Nor do I see any evidence that he has made some secret pact with the People’s Republic of China. Verbal ballistics in the end serve no great purpose. They may help to secure the support of some people, but I am hopeful enough to think that such support can be commanded by resort to other techniques, perhaps more constructive techniques.
In conclusion, I would say this: As we stand at what I regard as a watershed in some very important aspects of our foreign relations, it behoves all members of every Party represented in this Parliament to consider afresh some of the attitudes that they may have adopted in the past. I instance this case: How long is the pre sence of Australian ground forces in the Malaysia-Singapore area likely to remain - warranted? I believe it is warranted at the moment. How long are the governments of those countries likely to want them there? The relevance to Australia’s defence needs of their continued presence there for any prolonged period of time ought to be considered, as I would think it is being considered.
Last but not least, the major parties ought to try to hammer out a bipartisan approach to some of the major issues of foreign policy. This will never be easy. It may seldom be possible. But the attempt should be made, not least for the reason that in my belief the people of Australia want it to be made. We face testing times in which it will be a wasteful and expensive luxury to indulge in avoidable divisions.
– I have just heard, as I am sure the Parliament will agree it has heard, one of the best speeches made in this House since I was elected here in 1969. I do not agree with everything that the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) said. I disagree with him on a number of matters. But I do say that his approach is an approach that I have been hoping would be made by honourable members of this Parliament for a long time. When he was referring to the mud slinging and said that some of it came from the Opposition side of the House, I agreed with him. We are not all blameless in this matter. It is about time this Parliament started to debate these foreign affairs matters and a host of other subjects on the level on which they ought to be debated. Far too much mud slinging, name calling and smearing goes on in this House on both sides. I congratulate the honourable member for Berowra on his speech. I am not going to try to score any cheap political points. I hope that he is with us for some time to come.
The statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) dealt in detail with China, Indo-China, Japan, the South Pacific, Pakistan and India. It showed Australia’s area of interest, and quite rightly so. What it failed to mention was a subject that has been of significance in this country which will affect our relations with this area during the years to come. That was the subject of South Africa. All these countries in our near north have one thing in common: That is the factor of colour. Every single one of those nations comprise what we term ‘coloured’ races. They fear imperialism and many of them have had experience of colonialism. I wonder how many of us here in this House have any idea of the emotions that are aroused when the subject of racism is discussed? I wonder how many honourable members have ever felt the hurt of prejudice? I am one who has, and I can assure honourable members it is not a very pleasant feeling. I can also understand the feelings of people in this neighbourhood and their reaction to a country such as South Africa. I say that South Africa is their arch enemy. To such countries it represents all the evil that can be conjured up. I have said that before in this House, and I will say it again. South Africa is to the people of South East Asia what Nazi Germany was to the Jews. I hope honourable members can imagine the shock and horror that greeted the announcement that the Prime Minister was prepared to use Royal Australian Air Force aircraft to fly the Springbok rugby union team around Australia, particularly in view of what appeared to be the very slow reaction to flying aid to Pakistan. The Prime Minister has stated that he has not heard any criticism from our neighbours. Let me assure him that there is criticism. I have heard it from embassies. I will not mention any names. I have heard it from representatives of embassies who are absolutely appalled at this reaction. I suggest that the Prime Minister mix a little more in the cocktail circuit of Canberra and hear exactly what people have to say, even if they are not game to say it publicly. It is time that all the leaders in South East Asia - Lee Kuan Yew, President Marcos and all the other leaders in Asia - spoke out publicly and made it perfectly clear what they think of Australia and our entertainment of teams that are selected on a racial basis.
The Government has accused the Australian Labor Party of playing politics with wheat and on the subject of China. Yet our Prime Minister is prepared to go a great deal further than playing politics. He is prepared to split Australia asunder. He is prepared to play on every prejudice within the community, irrespective of the damage that it does to Australia’s reputation. Why is the Prime Minister prepared to do this? It is because public opinion is with him. I do not deny that that public supports the tours, and it supports the Government’s stance. I have never felt otherwise. The problem we face in relation to the question is that it may cease to be a matter of whether you are for or against the tours. It may well become a matter of whether you are for or against apartheid. That is what is happening in the Australian community today. It is only one step further from taking a stand on such a tour that people start supporting and defending apartheid.
In the 18 months I have been a member of this House I have yet to hear a supporter of the Government speak with any firm conviction in opposition to apartheid. I may be wrong. I hope I am. The Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) is attempting to interject. I have not heard him speak about that subject since I have been here. I may have missed it. I have not looked up the Hansard record. The only person I can recollect speaking about apartheid with any vehemence is Mr St John, who is no longer with us. He spoke about it before I came to this place. To my recollection we have never fought in this country on the question of racial prejudice. I hope to God I will never live to see the day when racial prejudice exists. It is so easy to exploit racial prejudice, particularly in times such as the present when economic pressures exist. It is in times of a rural crisis that all sorts of people will raise their ugly heads. The League of Rights is now jumping on the bandwagon and blaming every small minority group it can find. We saw it happen in Nazi Germany. The whipping boy of the dispossessed middle classes after World War I was the Jew.
I mention briefly the League of Rights. A short while ago I read in the ‘Review’ a report written by a member of the Australian Country Party on the League of Rights. It was one of the best reports I have read. I compliment whoever it was in the Country Party that wrote the report. I was disturbed to read at the week-end that the report was going to be watered down. I hope that this is not correct because it is a very accurate description of the sort of worms that have crawled out of the ground and are now infiltrating political parties per medium of the League of Rights.
We are in the position where the cricket tour of Australia by South Africa is still to be held. I have said before in this Parliament that I will not support those people who demonstrate at and try to disrupt sporting events. I can assure honourable members that I have been in close contact with a number of them and I have had some violent arguments with them. I believe that there are leading those demonstrators people who do not support the Australian Labor Party but who hope to destroy it from within. I believe that they have led the demonstrations because we - and by ‘we’ I mean the members of the community - have failed to give them leadership.
I am very concerned about the fact that a short while ago it appeared as if the Prime Minister was prepared to sacrifice this nation by having an election after the cricket tour had been going on for a few weeks. I am told that the Australian Board of Control is split at about 6 all on whether the tour should be held. I am told that the Prime Minister has been in constant touch with Sir Donald Bradman urging him to make sure that the tour goes on. Our position is perfectly clear: We would not like to see the tour go on. We hope that the Prime Minister will, despite the fact that the public supports the tour, show some statesmanship and be above taking the political advantage that could be gained, by urging the Board of Control to cancel the tour. There is no reason in the world why the tour should now go on. You will have read in the newspapers recently, Sir, that the Marylebone Cricket Club has cancelled its tour of Pakistan and India because of the internal political trouble there. That will mean that no other country apart from South Africa and Australia will have any planned programme of cricket test matches in the coming season. The MCC, Pakistan, India and, if we were to cancel the tour of South Africa, South Africa and Australia do not have any proposed tours this season.
There is no reason in the world why Australians should be denied the right of seeing cricket during the coming season. A precedent was set after the cancellation of the South African tour of England last year when a Rest-of-the-World eleven was selected. It comprised some 6 or 7 South African players. The rest of the team was made up by Pakistans, Indians, West Indians and, I believe, one Australia. I think Graham McKenzie was in the team. That team toured England. There is no reason in the world why the Board of Control, urged on by our Prime Minister, could not do exactly the same thing. I for one am looking forward to seeing such a team in Australia. I include in that the South Africans. 1 conclude on this note: It will be a sad day for Australian politics when political parties set out to exploit the prejudices that are beneath the surface of our community. I hope and I pray that we never get to that stage. I hope the Prime Minister will not take the cheap way out and exploit this situation for its short term political advantage. If he has any statesmanship in him, now is the time to display it.
– All honourable members would be familiar with and well aware of the views of the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), who has just resumed his seat, on apartheid. I do not think any of us doubt the genuineness of his hope that the Australian Government will cancel future tours by South African rugby union and cricket teams as a form of protest against the apartheid policies of the South African Government, but I do believe that a great percentage of the people of Australia are frankly not interested in using the cancellation of these tours as a method of protest. We have often heard the views of the honourable member on this subject before and no doubt we will hear him express them again.
Perhaps the most vital question of an international nature that is at present of concern to us is the question of China. There is no area in the world where there exists greater uncertainty as to what tomorrow holds than exists in relation to the land masses closest to the shores of Australia. An equally obvious comment is that it is the view of the great majority of Australians that the Australian Labor Party has been incapable of rationally and sensibly formulating policies to cope with the uncertainty of our region. Until the structure of the Australian Labor Party undergoes drastic and almost unforeseeable changes this assessment will continue. The only other way in which the foreign policy of the Opposition could acquire popular support would be for Australia to reject completely the philosophies which have determined our economic and defence attitudes since many years prior to the Liberal-Country Party coalition coming to power in 1949. It is only natural that, because of political leanings, some people will reject my utterances as being biased, but bias can determine accidental correctness. I have travelled to the countries of our closest neighbours on 3 occasions, twice at my own expense and once as a guest of another government. I hope that credit will be given to me for some sense of proportion. More than 13 weeks in South East Asia over the last 5 years must be beneficial to my understanding of the situation.
The fundamental difference between the Government and the Labor Party, which has now lost 9 federal elections in a row, is the latter’s apparent willingness happily to accommodate Communism at any time. The only time the Australian Labor Party has spoken out against Communism in recent times was during the Soviet rape of Czechoslovakia. I suspect it was motivated in its action more by indignation at the use of such blatant methods of suppression than considered philosophical disagreement. The only countries the modern Australian Labor Party condemns are those outside the Communist blocs. It is at its destructive best when organising demonstrations against non-Communist countries, such as South Africa. For myself, I reject the concept of suppression, whether it be practised in the United States of America, South Africa, China, the Soviet Union oi any other place in the world. But the selective silence of members of the Opposition has rightfully given the Australian public and the world many opportunities to judge where their sympathies actually lie. I believe that in reality my desire to live in a world of peace is no greater or no less than that of the Opposition. But the question is: How do we acquire and mamtain that elusive dream of man?
If, when in Peking, the Leader of the Opposition had asked Chou En-lai what was one of the greatest lessons learnt by the Chinese people this century, no doubt he would have pointed to the Japanese invasion of a then militarily weak country and the need for preparedness against the unforeseen. This has been and is the foundation stone of Australian foreign and defence policies. We must always be flexible and capable of meeting the demands of a changing world. But I do not believe that flexibility requires of us that we should boot the Republic of China in the stomach and unreservedly embrace the Government of mainland China, as the Leader of the Opposition and those who sit behind him advocate.
The Leader of the Opposition is guilty of gross over-simplification in his endeavours of self-justification. The problems of China have implications far greater than a comparison of 14 million people with 800 million people. How 1 dread and loathe his carefree dismissal of 14 million people. I speak not just as a Liberal member of this House but also as an individual living in a country with a population of 13 million. The corollary needs no explanation. President Nixon, as history now records, announced on 16th July his intention to visit mainland China. The Australian Labor Party, which for years has held to a policy of ‘to hell with Taiwan’, suddenly seizes upon this announcement as a vindication of its policy, as if it were the possessor of a great crystal ball.
The true and stark fact is that mainland China has now shown a tangible interest in becoming involved in world affairs. Regrettable as the necessity for international defence pacts is, history shows us clearly the need to choose strong and reliable friends with a common interest. Mainland China’s intervention in the Korean campaign, her massive contribution to the unrest still existing in South East Asia and the road she is building in Laos in the direction of Thailand are all factors which give the thinking person reason to be wary.
The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) made pleas earlier tonight for the House to recognise the Leader of the Opposition as the Moses of the twentieth century. If one examines the speeches and utterances of the Leader of the Opposition and those who sit behind him, there emerges another clear pattern - the pattern of their being on the defensive, wittingly or unwittingly. There are few in this House who could exceed the contact experience that the Leader of the Opposition has had in Asia. I give him credit for paying close “attention to our neighbours. I, too, have experience with Asians and understand many of their ways. Asia consists of more than just mainland China. There are the 104 million people of Japan, the 40 million people of the Philippines, the 40 million people in Thailand, the 17 million people in South Korea and many others. The effect of Australian Labor Party policy is ‘to blazes with these people’ and ‘recognition of the mainland at any cost’.
Canada, which is cited so often by the Leader of the Opposition and members of his Party - it will be cited by the next speaker, no doubt - is in a completely different situation from Australia. Being placed geographically on the United States northern border, Canada can be sure of one thing: That if ever North America as a continent was attacked the United States geographically would be forced, whether it agreed with the issue or not, to come to Canada’s aid. We in Australia do not enjoy that geographical advantage. I reject completely any comparison between Australia and Canada of policies in the field of foreign relations because the fact of life is that we do not enjoy the position that she does. She is in a different situation.
However, I was mentioning the defensive pose that the Australian Labor Party has assumed. I have been a member of the Parliament all the time the Leader of the Opposition has held that position. Never have I seen him so sensitive to criticism as on the question of his visit to Communist China. My experience with Asians has been sufficient to confirm the view that all the Leader of the Opposition has received in Japan is typical Asian hospitality. He has continued to be frantic in his attempts to retain his shattered credibility by claiming here, even as recently as this evening, that his assessment on the mainland was eagerly sought’. He grasps for anything that might give Australians the impression that we are but of step with the rest of South East Asia. Let me refer now to Hansard of only a few days ago. Last Thursday the Leader of the Opposition claimed in this very House, as reported at page 318 of Hansard:
I might add that that night after my speech to the National Press Club I received a phone call from the Japanese Embassy to compliment me and to thank me on the balance of my presentation.
That was a wonderful quotation. Those who were listening that day would rightfully have gained the impression from what he said that the Japanese Embassy was happy and going along with everything he said. Having some understanding of Japan’s reaction to the Nixon statement - I might mention that I returned only 3 weeks ago after 3 weeks in South East Asia - I could not believe that this was so. I rang the Japanese Embassy at approximately 3 o’clock and asked for the Ambassador. He was out. But, when we eventually made contact at 5 o’clock, he denied that any such statement came from him. He subsequently checked with the Embassy and advised that no such claim was ever made.
If the Leader of the Opposition sees fit to come into the House, as he did earlier tonight, to try to explain with some concocted reason how this denial has come about, he may claim that the driver of the Ambassador’s car, as he was leaving the National Press Club luncheon, said to him: Well done, Mr Whitlam’. Perhaps that is the explanation; I do not know. All I do know is that the Leader of the Opposition has misled this House. The Japanese Embassy in Australia has made no such statement. The Ambassador has disowned it and disclaimed it. I do not consider it fair or just that the Leader of the Opposition or any other member of this Parliament should resort to using people who cannot protect themselves in this House, when trying to build up his own case. That appears to be what has been done. I demand of the Leader of the Opposition that he give a full and unequivocal apology to the Japanese Ambassador, because all he is doing is compounding the problems of this nation. I believe that he is doing every living Australian a grave disservice.
When it was announced that he would leave for China, I wrote him a long letter which was sent by registered post. I said: If you finally get on your slow boat to China, on your trip of dreams, please, Mr Whitlam, raise with the Premier or the President of that great nation which you embrace the question of its involvement in Vietnam and its actions which have prolonged the unrest and unease in South East Asia’. If one looks at the carefully documented reports of the conversations that he had, all one finds is reference to his inability to control chopsticks capably but no reference whatsoever to the question of Vietnam and China’s role in that region. I say: ‘Fair .go*. If the Leader of the Opposition expects Australia to step ahead in international affairs and to play a part, he must recognise that it takes 2 sides to create unrest anywhere in the world. He sets himself against the United States-
– Why do not-
– You sit down, my friend. You will not be here after the next election. He sets himself against the United States and constantly holds out a branch of friendship to China. Recent events have caused all of us some concern as to the direction the United States will eventually take. But if I am going to hitch my horse to any rail of hope - and I think history as it has been and as it probably will be will support me in this view - I would rather align with a powerful ally such as the United States than to put my faith in a glimmer of hope. It is true that we want to live in peace. There is not one Liberal Party or Country Party supporter here or outside the Parliament who wants to live in a state of war. 1 believe that every honourable member, be he on the Government side or the Opposition side, has an obligation carefully to assess history. As I have already said, the Opposition has lost 9 elections in a row. The tenth is coming up. Even after 22 years in opposition honourable members opposite still do not have the trust of the people when it comes to assessing foreign policy and directing our destinies in such a way as will ensure the long term happiness and security of ourselves as a nation.
– That speech from the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) was up to his usual standard - an extremely poor one - dealing with personalities and attempting to kick the Communist can. I almost said ‘kiss the Communist can’ because after so many years of similar speeches from the Government benches Government supporters still think that this sort of thing will work. But the speech deserves no more comment from me because we are debating tonight a motion to take note of a ministerial statement on the subject of international affairs pre sented to this House last Wednesday, to which motion has been moved an amendment. I mention that in case we have all forgotten it after the speech from the honourable member for Griffith. The amendment reads in the following terms:
That the following words be added to the motion: but this house deplores the conduct of the Prime Minister in attempting to narrow debate on the question of Australia’s future diplomatic and trade relations with the People’s Republic of China to a personal and partisan level and for basing his approach on incorrect information’.
If there is one thing to be said for the speech of the honourable member for Griffith he did follow his leader in basing his speech on a personal and partisan level and his approach was, of course, based on incorrect information. But I want to remind the House that the 5 subjects of the statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) were China. Indo-China, Japan, the South Pacific and Pakistan. I shall have time, of course, to mention only a few of these subjects, but firstly let me turn to China. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) entered this debate tonight to make, as I have said, a narrow, partisan and personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) under this heading of China. The Government Parties think that they are on to a winner in these personal attacks. Fear has won them the elections since 1949. If they can stimulate fear in the Australian people on the subject of China, in addition to the fear of the unions and the fear of demonstrations supporting the United Nations resolutions against South African sporting tours of our country, this will support their narrow, partisan cause whatever harm it is doing to our nation at the same time.
Let me state quite clearly that the Leader of the Opposition has not only the support of each one of us on this side of the House but also, I believe, of the vast majority of the Australian people in the initiatives that he and the other members of the Australian Labor Party team took in the way of breaking down the Bamboo Curtain. He and the ALP team he led to China have done a splendid job for our country. There is no future whatsoever for this world of ours while we remain in our separate blocs fearing each other and failing to communicate with each other. My colleagues and I were asked during the recent South African rugby union tour of this country: ‘Why do you oppose’ - nonviolently, I hasten to add, because violence defeats its own purpose - ‘this South African rugby tour of this country and at the same time not oppose the visits of the Russian soccer team and the Moscow Circus or other exchanges with totalitarian regimes behind the Iron or Bamboo Curtains?’ The answer is a simple one.
With a country like South Africa, the main policy of the Government of which - namely apartheid - we deplore, there is no problem of communication. Theirs is an open country with, indeed, a culture very similar to ours - a sporting culture. The way to bring pressure on these people so that they will force new attitudes on their Government is to cut them off from the world of international sport. There are many, many examples of how this policy is working in South Africa today. I break off here to pay my tribute to all those who demonstrated in a peaceful way; those who made these sacrifices and who attempted so hard to curb the extremists who, I repeat, defeat their own purpose by alienating the population by means of their violence. These reasonable, sensible demonstrators have salvaged the reputation of our country in the eyes of most people of the world because most people of the world are non-racist in their attitude. These same peaceful protesters may have saved us from being cast out of the Olympic family; I believe we are after all to be invited to participate in the next Olympic Games.
But let me come back to China, indeed to the question of our attitude towards all totalitarian regimes behind the Iron and Bamboo Curtains. Here the tactics must be quite different. Here our only hope is to break down the curtains and to have as many exchanges of all kinds as possible. I had the opportunity to visit 2 countries allegedly behind the Iron Curtain on my way back from a parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe earlier this year. The 2 countries were Yugoslavia and Russia. I say ‘allegedly behind the Iron Curtain’ because there is some doubt in my mind whether Yugoslavia is behind the Iron Curtain. No visa is required to visit that country today. Over 4 million tourists visited the Dalmatian coast and other parts of Yugoslavia during 1971. The point I want to make is that there are vast differences between the attitudes of the Yugoslavs and the Russians, not only of the governments but also of the people themselves because the curtain is coming down fast with the one but more slowly with the other.
Exchanges with these countries can do nothing but good and it is in this context that we want to see the visit of the Leader of the Opposition and his team to China. They have done a tremendous amount of good in opening up that country to Australia and indeed to the world. The Prime Minister in his partisan attitude this evening talks about normal diplomatic exchanges and denigrates the way this visit was carried out. I point out that at the same time he is denigrating the visit of Mr Kissinger on behalf of the President of the United States of America and indeed denigrating what Mr Nixon intends to do later this year or in the early part of next year, lt is a spurious attitude for the Prime Minister to take about diplomatic conduct when exchanges of top personnel such as took place in this visit of the Leader of the Opposition have of course been going on for years. I do not want to suggest that I support the foreign policies of Mr Dulles but it was the way in which he carried out foreign affairs and there was no criticism of that from government supporters at the time he was doing it. I repeat that this narrow partisan speech we heard from the Prime Minister tonight was nothing more than a personal attack, and for the most part altogether forgetting the issues involved. In talking about a 2-China policy let me make it quite clear that in my personal view if this were a perfect world it would be more satisfactory if Taiwan could be recognised as a second China. But I point out that it is because of the policies of this present Liberal-Country Party Government, believing that there has only been one China and supporting only one China in the United Nations for the last 22 years, that we have been left in this most difficult position. Nevertheless I would hope that even at this stage we might be able to point out to the world and to our own people in particular that it is merely 2 million refugees, among a population of 14 million in Taiwan, who are providing the regime in that country, and that there are 12 million indigenes in that island who have not been given self determination in any way so far as we can ascertain from the information available to us in this country. The first step will be to ensure that the other 12 million get a form of government which they desire. Who knows - they may vote overwhelmingly to join the People’s Republic of China and save us the difficult choice which we are left with in deciding whether to continue with the policy that this Government has perpetrated to date, that there is only one China.
If the only way we can bring the People’s Republic of China, mainland China, into the family of nations is to recognise only the government of that country - and this is not to say that we are going to recognise any forceful takeover of Taiwan - then we must make this difficult choice. Only if we manage to establish lines of communication with this country can we break down the curtains which exist in the world and bring greater hope for peace for mankind.
– What has this Government done for 22 years?
– As I said earlier, for 22 years it has recognised one China and that is the China which exists on the island of Taiwan at the present time. Turning to Vietnam I point out that it was my privilege when returning from the parliamentary delegation visit to the Council of Europe to visit that war torn country. Like my colleagues on this side of the House, I greeted with a sigh of relief the statement by the Prime Minister last week that we are at last to withdraw our troops from that country and most of them, thank God, by Christmas.
In my visit to Vietnam it was clear from the comparisons given by my colleagues who had been there earlier that the country was far more peaceful and one could drive in an unprotected car down the road from Saigon to Nui Dat where our troops were stationed. I made this journey with the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) and a couple of staff members from the Australian Embassy in Saigon. Although the honourable member for Kingston and myself had believed stories told by people such as the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) that this conflict had been won, it did not take us long to meet some of the Vietnamese leaders of the peace groups and to learn that there was an uneasy peace in that country. I believe that the comment by the Prime Minister in his statement announcing the withdrawal of our troops from Vietnam, to the effect that the conflict was being won, that Vietnamisation had taken over and that we could expect the government of Thieu and his successors to continue in control, was probably nonsense. Nobody can foretell what will happen in Vietnam, but I believe that those responsible for our foreign policy are in for a shock. This Government should be prepared to recognise the fact that there are still many supporters of the Vietcong, the partisans, in that country.
The only clear impression I had from my visit to Vietnam was that we had no business ever to be there. If the regime of Ho Chi Minh and his successors ever can take over in a country that has always been divided, where war lords have fought with each other, and is able to bring about peace, then this will be a form of regime which may equate with the sort of government that there is in Yugoslavia. What a mistake we make in believing that Communism is some monolithic thing. How different is the Communism of Yugoslavia from the Communism of Russia. How different the Communism of China could be from the Communism of Vietnam if Ho Chi Minn’s successors take over in that country. We on this side greet with relief the statement that our troops are coming out.
In reply to the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) I say that if ever I. wanted to choose between living in North Vietnam or South Vietnam I would choose to live under the regime in South Vietnam. But I do not have to make that choice, nor should anyone here have to make such a choice. We should leave this choice to the people of Vietnam. We must realise that we had no business in getting involved in this conflict. I would like to move on to other subjects which the Minister for Foreign Affairs referred to in his ministerial statement on international affairs and 1 would also like to touch on the speech of the right honourable member for Higgins, the former Prime Minister and Minister for Defence (Mr Gorton).
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bury) adjourned.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I have pleasure in presenting the Tenth Report of the Publications Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
House adjourned at 11.7 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Will he consider taking steps to establish a committee of both Houses of the Parliament to examine the question of television and radio broadcasting by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and privately-owned television and radio companies?
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
I have considered the right honourable member’s proposal but do not intend to make any recommendation to Parliament for the establishment of such a committee.
asked the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 August 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1971/19710823_reps_27_hor73/>.