30th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon. B. M. Snedden, Q.C.) took the chair at 2. IS p.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Right Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Represenatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizens respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, should ensure:
That the Commonwealth Government’s long-term policy should be to provide SO per cent of all funding for Australia s roads.
That as a minimum the Commonwealth Government adopts the recommendations by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations for the allocation of $5,903 million of Commonwealth, State and Local Government funds to roads over the five years ending 1980-8 1, of which the Commonwealth share would be 41 per cent as recommended by the Bureau of Roads. by Mr Bonnett, Mr Carige, Mr Corbett, Mr Cotter, Mr Giles, Mr Hodges, Mr Hurford, Mr Hyde, Mr Kelly, Mr Millar, Mr Porter, Mr Thomson and Mr Wallis.
To the Right Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizens respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, should ensure:
That the Commonwealth Government should totally finance national highways and half the cost of constructing and maintaining all other public roads.
That since current road funding arrangements have seen a deterioration in road assets, this backlog in construction and maintenance needs to be reduced by the Commonwealth Government undertaking to make a larger financial contribution. by Mr Lynch, Mr Holten and Mr Simon.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives assembled, the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the delays between announcements of each quarterly movement in the Consumer Price Index and their application as a percentage increase in age and invalid pensions is excessive, unnecessary, discriminatory and a cause of economic distress to pensioners.
That proposals to amend the Consumer Price Index by eliminating particular items from the Index could adversely affect the value of future increases in age and invalid pensions and thus be a cause of additional economic hardship to pensioners.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to-
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Klugman, Mr MacKenzie and Mr Ian Robinson.
To the Right Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizens respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, should ensure:
That the Commonwealth Government adopts the recommendations of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads for the funding of rural local roads and urban local roads in New South Wales for the triennium 1977-1980. by Mr Bradfield
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we are deeply concerned at the threat to the continuation of symphony orchestras throughout Australia posed by the IAC and Green reports.
We believe that the Government should not allow the symphony orchestras of Australia to be reduced in any way
Your petitioners humbly pray that your honourable House will take steps to ensure the continuation and growth of our symphony orchestras, thereby ensuring that the quality of life of the people of this country shall be maintained.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Carige.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned (electors of the Division of Capricornia) in the State of Queensland respectfully showeth objection to the Metric system and request the Government to use the Imperial measure.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Carige.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned (electors of the Division of Capricornia) in the State of Queensland respectfully showeth objection to the possibility that the Thangool Mail Service may be cut back to twice a week, from the three times a week mail service operating at present.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a Mail Service operating three times a week at Thangool will be maintained.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Carige.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that a Citizen Band Radio Service should be introduced on the 27 MHz frequency band incorporating frequencies 26.965 MHz to 27.255 MHz enabling use of good quality 23 channel AM and AM/SSB radio equipment currently available on the Australian market. There shall also be additionally an extension of this service provided for in the VHF/UHF spectrum within 3 years as the usage of the Citizen’s Radio Service increases. Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should, immediately introduce legislation to amend the Wireless Telegraphy Act and regulations to allow such a Citizen’s Radio Service to function legally. These amendments should allow the Service to develop to the benefit of the people and also allow self regulation through the National Citizen’s Radio Association as the united representative body of Citizen ‘s Radio Operators working in conjunction with your Departmental Representatives, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. byMrHaslem.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth:
Our concern that an abortion clinic is to be opened in Canberra to provide abortion on request. This is contrary to the decision of the Federal Parliament in 1973 that abortion on request should not be made legal in the Australian Capital Territory. Our concern that this clinic will carry out abortions away from a hospital and are likely to carry out abortions late in pregnancy, both on an ‘Out-Patients’ basis.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take immediate action to ensure that this abortion clinic is not permitted to function in the Australian Capital Territory.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byMrHaslem.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the existence of a system of double taxation of personal incomes whereby both the Australian Government and State Governments had the power to vary personal income taxes would mean that taxpayers who worked in more than one State in any year would-
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a system of double income tax on personal incomes be not reintroduced.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Morris.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That those who have retired and those who are about to retire, are being severely and adversely affected by inflation and Australian economic circumstances.
The continuance of the Mean’s Test on pensions causes undue hardship to them
We call on the Government to immediately abolish the Mean’s Test on all aged pensions.
To ensure a pension for all on retirement, and a guarantee that all Australian citizens will retire with dignity.
Acknowledge that a pension is a: ‘Right and not a charity’.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Viner.
– I refer the Foreign Minister to reports of threats of reprisals by the Indonesian Government against Australian persons and property should Mr Jim Dunn give evidence of Indonesian atrocities in East Timor to the House Committee on International Relations of the United States Congress. I ask the Minister to reaffirm the rights of all Australians to take part in political activity and to assure the House that Mr Dunn, like any other citizen, will have the full protection of the Australian Government while overseas.
-That can be taken for granted. This Government ensures that Australian citizens are protected where it is within the Government’s capacity so to protect and that citizens have the right of comment in this country on any matters within the law. These reports have arisen from both off-the-cuff remarks and a call that the Ambassador received to see senior members of the Foreign Office in Jakarta. Both these matters have been the subject of widespread news coverage in Australia. In regard particularly to the call to Ambassador Woolcott, may I say that it is not my usual practice to discuss in this House the substance of diplomatic exchanges such as these which I regard as confidential between the governments concerned. In this case, however, I can confirm that the Ambassador has been called to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry where a senior official expressed the Indonesian Government’s grave concern, in its view, about Mr Dunn’s involvement in activities that it believes were hostile to Indonesia.
Obviously this is a delicate question affecting as it does a bilateral relationship of high importance to Indonesia and Australia. The Government is bound to take the representations seriously. But by reacting incautiously- there has been a fair degree not only in Australia but outside it of incautious reaction sometimes to reports on this matter- I would not want to give the whole question a potential for creating misunderstanding between the 2 countries, a potential that it should not have. I have noted concern in some areas of the Parliament about Mr Dunn ‘s role in relation to Indonesia and Timor. This has already been the subject of questions in the Senate. It seems to be assumed that because Mr Dunn is an Australian public servant his report and his allegations in it have in some strange way official Australian sanction. This is not so. Mr Dunn in this matter is, as implied in the question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, acting in a purely private and unofficial capacity. Neither he nor his report has any official status.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. He will be aware of criticism by local government and the State Government of Western Australia of the level of road funding provided by the Commonwealth. Can the Minister indicate the level of funds that will be provided by the Commonwealth under the roads legislation to be introduced during the current session? Will local government in particular get a better deal as a result of the Government’s decision on the allocation of funds for roads in 1977-78? Can the Minister also comment on the level of direction given to State governments by the Commonwealth regarding the distribution of federal funds for roads?
-I have to say at the outset that there has been a great deal of ill-informed comment on the allocation of road funds in Western Australia. I can assure the honourable member that there has been a real increase in funds made available for local government. He will recall that in January this year we announced that an extra $3.2m was to go to Western Australia. Of that amount, $1.2m went to local government authorities. As well as that, from Western Australia ‘s share of the extra funds made available late last year, $1.4m went to local authorities. Even including those 2 sums on top of last year’s grant, there is an increase in funds for next year, as will be seen from the legislation when I introduce it, of 18.7 per cent for rural local government authorities and of 53 per cent for urban local government authorities. This is part of an approach which we have taken as a government to assist local government authorities, as part of the espoused policy of the Government, the federalist policy announced by the Prime Minister in the election campaign.
I should point out that there have been complaints in Western Australia about a reduction in the urban arterial funds. I again make the point that I made yesterday that in point of fact the Commonwealth contribution for urban arterial development in Perth has been running at 85 to 90 per cent. The figures for last year in respect of urban arterial development show that the Commonwealth put in $20.3m, and the State put in a mere $3.5m. If the Western Australian Government is as concerned as it says it is about the construction of the Kwinana Freeway and other freeways in Perth we believe that it should put something like SO per cent of its funds into urban arterial development. Insofar as the dictation of the Commonwealth in respect of the expenditure of this money is concerned, we have laid down categories for the Commonwealth funds. The total funds made available to Western Australia are $60.2m. That requires a contribution by the State of $40.2m. We do not in any way tell the State how to spend its $40.2m. The State is completely free to allocate its $40.2m to any road category that it wishes. In that sense the Commonwealth is not dictating to the States in respect of the expenditure of the moneys. The final point I should make is that part of the comment running in Western Australia is that the percentage share of funds made available to Western Australia has not been sufficient. I point out to the honourable member that the percentage share of funds to each of the States is based on a Bureau of Roads report, not on some arbitrary decision taken by me as Minister or by the Government in Canberra. .
-I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs a question about the Banaban people. Does he not agree that the people from Ocean Island have been most cruelly and unjustly treated over a long period, beginning with their exclusion from their island over 40 years ago, the fact that most of their superphosphate rock has been taken without any benefit to them and, finally, by the dismissal of their appeal for compensation in a British court? If he agrees that they have been cruelly and unjustly treated, can he say whether any suggestions or proposals have been put forward by the British Government or the New Zealand Government to the Australian Government to assist in compensation? Whether such submissions have been made, can be assure the House that the Australian Government will do everything in its power to ensure that these people are fairly treated?
-The honourable member for Lalor will be aware that judgment, as I think he implied in his question, on the Banaban litigation was handed down some weeks ago in London. As I recall, the Banabans were unsuccessful in the royalty case against the British Crown but were rewarded unspecified damages in the replanting case against the British Phosphate Commission. The judge directed that counsel for the Banabans and the BPC were to negotiate a settlement that would not be nominal or minimal, in the terms of the judge, and that on the other hand would not be ‘very large’. Counsel for the 2 parties, I understand, are still negotiating. It is not known when agreement, if any, will be reached. I would need to add, in answer to a question such as this, that the judge criticised the British Government for the manner in which it negotiated royalty payments with the Banabans. The British Government has now stated that its main concern is to reach a settlement that is fanto all concerned, including the Banabans and the Gilbertese. A British Government special emissary, Mr Richard Posnett has been visiting the South Pacific to explore means of achieving such a settlement and to put forward recommendations. I met Mr Posnett the week before last. He told me that his main task at this stage is to gather information on which he could base recommendations to the British Government. He made no specific proposals nor did he seek any commitment from the Australian Government. We did have a useful exchange during which I said that while Australia was not a direct party to the court actions the Government was anxious that a solution equitable to all parties be achieved. A factor inherent in such a solution would be that of assisting in ensuring the economic future of the Banabans who now reside on Rambi Island in Fiji. At the same time Australian officials are giving attention, and urgent attention as I have requested it, to any British proposals made to us. There were some proposals made earlier before Posnett ‘s visit to both Australia and New Zealand. I think this was on 14 February. These proposals concern the size and nature of a joint financial contribution by the 3 governments which would ensure the Banabans’ economic future.
In summary I have had discussions with Mr Posnett. I believe that these discussions will assist in achieving a satisfactory solution that will be fair to both the Banabans and Gilbertese and it will ensure that the Banaban community can develop without being a burden on the Fijian community.
– I address my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the Minister’s statement on foreign policy made yesterday.
In regard to the Middle East, has the Minister suggested that the Government has shifted its stance? Will he indicate whether a change of policy has taken place? If so, what is that change?
-Order! Before I call the Minister, I point out that a statement on this matter is under debate. The honourable member is entitled to ask for explanations in relation to this statement but not for a recapitulation of the statement. I call the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
-My answer will not take another hour and a quarter. There is in fact no question of any substantive shift in Australian policy as would be evident by a detailed reading of that part of my statement which dealt with the Middle East. My objective is to explain the current situation in regard to the Middle East and to indicate some of the changes that have taken place in recent years. Let me stress that Australia’s position hinges upon the need for negotiations between the parties leading to an effective agreement acceptable to all. Such an agreement must be based upon what I called yesterday the absolute recognition of the right of Israel to survive as a nation. The Arab governments have proposed that a Palestinian state be set up in territories on the western bank of the Jordan and in Gaza from which Israel would withdraw. Such a new state might be independent. Alternatively it might be part of a confederation with Jordan. Whether this happens- and this is the important point- is a matter for the parties directly concerned, including, of course, Israel.
If and when following negotiations there is agreement on the creation of such a homeland, this would of course have our support. I am sure it would also have the support of the overwhelming majority of states in the world. However, the question whether such negotiations are possible will depend upon a number of factors, one of the most important of which will be the recognition by the Palestine Liberation Organisation of Israel’s right to exist. This must be in our view publicly and clearly recognised by the Palestinians and not denied as it is now by the Palestinian covenant.
– I address my question to the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs and I trust that he makes a better job of what he says this time than the view that was expressed in the Melbourne Age. Does the Minister agree that due to the way petroleum product prices are controlled in Australia current pricing practices are confusing, anomalous, largely uneconomic and without adequate-
-Order! The honourable gentleman should be asking a question. He should not be suggesting the answer. Will he please ask the question?
– If that is the case, can I use a preface? Without detailed information or statistics, is it a fact that the Minister will perpetuate the findings of the Royal Commission on Petroleum, namely, that the structure for pricing in this country is in a mess? Will he take the following steps: Allocate sufficient funds to enable the Royal Commission-
-Order! The honourable gentleman is suggesting the answer to the question. If he is seeking information he should ask for it and not suggest the answer. If he does not do so I shall have to rule him out of order.
-I ask the Minister: Will he provide the following solution, namely, allocate -
-Order! I give the honourable gentleman one more chance to ask a direct question rather than suggesting the answer.
- Mr Speaker, surely it is appropriate -
-Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I am dealing with the honourable member for Hawker.
-I can do without his help. I ask the Minister: Will he allocate sufficient funds to enable the Royal Commission on Petroleum to complete its findings on transfer pricing? Will he set up an agency to monitor pricing structures in this country? As an interim measure, will he increase the staff of the Prices Justification Tribunal to enable the Tribunal to discharge its responsibilities in this area adequately?
-I think the honourable gentleman asked 3 questions. The first was about the allocation of funds for further work by the royal commission. That is the ministerial responsibility of the Minister for Administrative Services; so I will refer that matter to him. My responsibility relates purely to the Government’s response to the fourth report of the Royal Commission. In answer to the second question, I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave to the question asked yesterday by the honourable member for Wilmot, which was in precisely the same terms as the honourable gentleman’s question. As to the third question, the Government believes that the staffing arrangements applying to the Prices Justification Tribunal are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances.
– I address my question to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. Is he aware that petitions signed by over 20 000 people have been presented to this Parliament this week on the subject of citizen radio services? Is he aware of Press reports that over the last week radio inspectors have been active in seizing radio equipment being used by those interested in citizen radio services? Is it the Government’s intention to introduce legislation on this matter and to instruct radio inspectors to avoid action which in the circumstances may be interpreted as being extremely provocative?
-I am aware of the substantial number of petitions that have come to the Parliament from people who are interested in citizen band radio. I thank the honourable member for Canberra for accepting some on my behalf last weekend. I have not directed in any way, nor has the head of my Department directed in any way, that there should be a step-up of so-called raids against people using this equipment; but those people who break the law have to realise that when they do so the processes of the law must take place. I take the opportunity to make a few comments on this general matter, because it is now of growing interest to honourable members on both sides of the Parliament. I hope that honourable members accept that it is a very complex matter. Anybody who has taken a few moments to look at it will understand that. The Secretary of the Department has been overseas and has studied the matter, particularly in the United States of America. I have had an officer of the Department especially looking at this matter for four or five months now. Almost 2 months ago I released a paper setting out the problems and possible options and asking members of the Australian community to let me have their views in order that I could proceed to make a submission to the Government. The interesting point is that the response to that request has been very poor. There have been a lot of noise and a lot of protests, but even the National Citizens Radio Association- the body which presumably speaks for operators of this equipment in Australia- has not yet made a submission to me. Its representatives are to see me tonight. I hope that I will have their views in order that I can make up my mind quickly, make a submission to the Cabinet within the next few weeks and have the decision announced to the Parliament not long after that.
-Does the Minister for Health support the rigorous evaluation of the qualifications and experience of salaried specialists before they can be appointed to practise in Canberra hospitals? If so, how can he justify supporting the present practice at these hospitals which allows any doctor registered in the Australian Capital Territory to work in them with full and unsupervised privileges without rigorous evaluation of their qualifications and experience? Is this practice of allowing such unsupervised medical practice in Canberra hospitals in keeping with a proper concern for high quality health care in these hospitals or for that matter in any public hospitals in Australia?
– The honourable member will recall that this Government inherited the problems and difficulties within the medical profession in Canberra which arose as a result of some very unfortunate political decisions that were taken by the former Government. These decisions caused divisions between visiting medical officers and salaried specialists in Canberra. We appointed Professor Hughes, a man of considerable repute and the President of the Australasian Royal College of Surgeons, to report on the situation. Professor Hughes chaired a working party consisting of representatives from the salaried specialists council and the Australian Capital Territory Medical Association. A report was duly presented to me and was tabled in the Parliament. It became the basis upon which the Government took a policy decision for the future clinical administration of the hospitals in Canberra.
The Capital Territory Health Commission has pursued in general the recommendations that arose from that report. It was decided that all doctors who were permitted to practise in those hospitals prior to the introduction of the Hughes recommendations would be able to do so but that from 1 December all doctors who wished to practise at those hospitals in the future would ave to go before the Medical Advisory Committee. Through the unit system in Canberra we have now established an inbuilt peer review system which we hope will ensure that the standards of medical practice in Canberra are at least equivalent to those that exist throughout the Commonwealth. As the honourable member would know, we have been concerned to try to improve the professional standards of the medical profession throughout the Commonwealth. Only 3 weeks ago I attended a seminar organised by the Australian Medical Association- it was boycotted by the General Practitioners’ Society- to work out a system that would satisfy the wish of this Government to institute peer review. Great progress is being made and I hope that in the not too distant future I will be able to report to the Parliament in full on that matter. I am quite confident that in the future we will see a better working relationship between the private practitioners and the salaried staff, for whom I have the highest regard. The peer review should ensure that we have proper standards in Canberra.
– I ask the Minister for Transport whether he is aware of the numerous and continuing rumours which have been circulating recently concerning the Government’s attitude towards the construction of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs standard gauge railway and the Alice Springs to Port Augusta road, the Stuart Highway. Can the Minister assure the House that rumours about the railway are false and that the railway will not stop at Manguri Bore? Can he also say whether the old line via Marree, Oodnadatta and Finke will be suitably maintained while the new Tarcoola to Alice Springs line, via Manguri Bore, is being built? I also ask the Minister whether he is aware that neither the dirt road from Coober Pedy to Mount Cavanagh Station nor the sealed road from the Northern Territory border to Alice Springs will be able to cope with the traffic load -
-Order! The honourable gentleman is giving too much information. He has posed his question. I call the Minister for Transport.
– The honourable member for the Northern Territory can be assured that the Tarcoola to Alice Springs standard gauge railway line will be completed- and, I hope, on schedule. It is fair to say that the Commissioner of the Australian National Railways, Mr Smith, has been looking at the sort of half way situation when the railway line to Alice Springs is more than half completed to see whether a stop point should be put in so that goods and freight can be offloaded onto trucks at that point and carried by truck to Alice Springs so as to move away from the old railway through Finke and Marree. He has been giving consideration to this matter to see whether it is practicable to make use of the newly constructed railway line that is already completed. No decision has been made on the matter. The honourable member can be assured that no decision will be taken unless it proves to be a much more economic and sensible form of transport in the interim period until the railway line is completed.
I know that the honourable member is concerned that the Stuart Highway is not yet sealed. He will be pleased to know that $1 Sm has been made available for the national highway program in South Australia this year and that as the Eyre Highway is now sealed from one end to the other hopefully a great deal of progress ought to be made on sealing the Stuart Highway this year. The honourable member can rest assured that all the problems connected with transport services to Alice Springs are under constant consideration, and the Commissioner of ANR is as conscious as anybody else of the difficulties which will ensue should there be any lapse in transport services to Alice Springs. He is making sure that that does not occur. The railway line to Alice Springs is progressing satisfactorily and will be completed on time.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Has the Australian Bureau of Statistics been directed to cut a further $2m from its budget? Is it a fact that the only way the Bureau can comply with this directive is to cut the cost of processing the census forms? Would such a cut require the processing of every second form instead of every form? Would such a sample processing system place in very serious doubt the data received from these forms? Will the Treasurer assure the House that every form will be processed as was originally intended, commencing on 1 July?
– The honourable member poses a hypothesis to me which is quite unfounded. I say to the honourable member that I have not asked the Australian Bureau of Statistics at the present time to save X amount of dollars, and as to the future, the honourable member’s colleagues who have been in government would understand the need at this stage to provide to the Cabinet and the Government a set of forward estimates. I am sure that the honourable member would not expect me as Treasurer in charge of the Bureau itself to seek on its behalf or on my behalf to quarantine any area of government expenditure from that sharp scrutiny which this Government will be exercising in its runthrough of that forward estimates process. As regards the honourable member’s question, I give him no guarantee as to the forward position because I do not quarantine the Bureau from financial scrutiny.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has the Government now made a firm decision on the site of the Antarctic base to be transferred to Hobart?
-The Government has made a firm decision on this matter. As the honourable member knows, the fact that the Government had made a completely firm decision in relation to moving the base to Hobart was announced, I think, on 18 May 1 976 because some doubts had been raised about moving the base. That having been done it did not make sense to say that the Kingston site that had earlier been chosen was the best possible site as others had apparently become available. I am grateful for the interest that the honourable member has shown in this move. He has of course been pressing for decisions to be made as early as possible and for work to commence as early as possible.
– What does the majority look like?
-The honourable gentleman who interjects need have no worry at all. He will have a seat on the other side of the House for a very long time to come. The honourable member for Denison and other members from Tasmania have been pressing for a decision on this matter for a considerable period. It has now been confirmed that the Kingston site will be chosen. It only made sense to review the matter when the Government came into office because, although an earlier decision had been made by the previous Administration, no attempt had been made to process that decision or refer the matter to the Public Works Committee up to the time of the 1975 election. The matter will now continue, as has been planned and announced. The Government is grateful for the support of the honourable gentleman and regrets that a premature announcement about this matter was made by somebody else in Tasmania, especially since the people concerned have shown no interest up to this point.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. In answer to earlier questions he told me that he received 8 months ago the report of the working party on the problems of Aboriginal unemployment, including the impact of unemployment benefit payments on Aboriginal communities and that he received about 4 months ago a draft submission for the Government from the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. As unemployment is higher among Aborigines than among any other group in our populationapparently about 50 per cent-I ask: Has the Government yet considered the submission and when will the Minister announce the decision to the House?
– The submission has not yet been put to the Government. It is still being worked on by my Department, the Department of Social Security and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations.
-A fair gestation. It is 8 months.
– That may well appear strange to the honourable member but the fact of the matter is that this is not only an important area for consideration but also it is a difficult area. It is one thing to hand out money as the Opposition did when it was in government without real effect upon the problem. What the Government wants to see is that when it puts money into reducing unemployment, it is effective and works for the benefit of individuals. The Government also wants to see that when it puts money into communities, despite their locality and the natural lack of employment opportunities, there is real opportunity of worthwhile work for the benefit of Aboriginal people in those communities.
– Has the Minister for Productivity seen reports that the New South Wales Government advocates worker participation as a means of improving productivity? Is the Minister aware that New South Wales Labor Party policy is to have worker directors on boards of companies in New South Wales? Will such a system improve productivity? Does the Minister have any plans regarding worker participation?
– The question, insofar as it relates to a policy adopted by the New South Wales Government, is out of order. Because it is directed to the Minister for Productivity I permit so much of the question to be answered as relates to the Minister’s specific responsibility.
-This Government does not believe in imposing a system of worker directors or works councils or any other form of so-called worker participation by way of legislation or other means. However, the Government positively encourages particular managements and their employees to get together and devise for themselves a better way of communicating and consulting. In that respect the Government is prepared to provide advice and information and to make any legislative changes which may be necessary to eliminate any obstacles stemming from Commonwealth legislation which may be in the way of those managements and their employees who want to adopt one of the forms of worker participation. The Government believes that any notion of imposing a system of worker directors or works councils upon companies will not improve industrial relations or productivity generally. The Government believes that some may decide to experiment with ideas of that nature and they are welcome to do so. The Government will not be imposing such a system in any circumstances. Any government, State or Federal, which seeks to do so will find that there is no panacea, no universal application, and that it will not be of general benefit in productivity improvement.
– Does the Prime Minister recall the first sentence of his Treasurer’s economic statement delivered on 15 February which was to the effect that the year 1 976 was a year of considerable progress towards the aims ‘we have set ourselves in bringing Australia’s economic problems under control”? Is it a fact that employment in the private sector in Australia during that year fell by 7000 and that it increased in the public sector by about the same number? Does that not show that the Government’s policy of slashing the public sector and expanding the private sector is unsuccessful on both counts?
– I think that the honourable gentleman needs to see the result in terms of total numbers employed against the background of the Commonwealth’s own policies and approach in this area to the Commonwealth Public Service, its own direct employees, and also against the background of the totality of its economic policies. The honourable gentleman has a very simple philosophy, namely, that if he spends more money he will provide more employment. Surely he should have learned the lesson from that a long while ago, because in the year 1974-75 when the then Labor Administration increased government spending by 46 per cent or 47 per cent unemployment increased by a figure very close to 200 000 in that one year.
-For Labor I suppose it was a brilliant achievement. During the course of the last year we have taken a number of necessary steps to re-establish a firm basis and security within the Australian economy. We always said that it would take at least a full 3 years to undo the damage that had been done by our predecessors. We have no reason at all to change that judgment.
-The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has a close and personal knowledge of the enormous cost and scale of rehabilitating the fire devastated properties and families in the western part of Victoria. Before restocking and production can begin properties have to be fenced and essential basic buildings restored. Will the Minister examine the feasibility of developing an employment scheme with the dual purpose of speeding up that reconstruction work and providing employment to a large number of potential workers?
– I am aware of the concern that the honourable gentleman has for those of his constituents who have been gravely affected by the recent fires in Victoria. Indeed, all of those honourable members whose electorates have been so affected have expressed similar concern. I am also aware of the costs involved in rehabilitating farms, including the cost of fencing. As far as I can recall, this is the first time that this Government, in conjunction with the Victorian Government, has introduced a form of assistance to help people faced with the cost of restoring boundary fences abutting public roads and railway lines. That assistance will be of tremendous help at least in getting around the farms a perimeter within which stock can be held. As to the feasibility of developing an employment scheme around this program, the Government would have to look very closely at any proposals which involved a direct subsidy to private employment in one set of circumstances which may not be -
- Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Minister is supposed to be answering a question without notice but he is reading his answer.
– I will show the honourable gentleman what I am reading. There it is. Does he want to look?
– There is no point of order involved in the matter raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I call the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations.
– I was making the point that the Government would have to look very closely at any scheme which involved subsidising one particular set of employers in a certain set of circumstances which may not apply generally. Nevertheless, if the honourable gentleman would like to write to me giving details of his proposal we will have a look at it.
-I ask the Treasurer: In relation to calendar year 1976, is it a fact that economic productivity increased by 2 to 3 per cent, inflation by 14.8 per cent and average weekly earnings by about 1 1.6 per cent? Does this mean that the average income earner lost about 3.2 per cent in real income and did not share at all in the productivity increase in the economy- that is, he was about $10.50 a week worse off in real comparative terms at the end of the year? Furthermore, was he required to make a contribution of more than $3 a week to the Medibank scheme?
-Order! The honourable gentleman is now making a statement. I call upon him to ask his question.
-Does this mean that there was a total wage squeeze of more than $ 1 4 a week for the average income earner? At what level does the Treasurer propose to stop this squeeze?
-What the honourable gentleman has failed to understand, as have others on the front bench of the Australian Labor Party in this House, is the increase which has taken place in real disposable income. I have debated this subject with his colleague the shadow minister for the economy, or whatever he is called, in this place. I have said before in this place, and I repeat it now, that real household disposable income- surely the honourable gentleman knows exactly what that means- is seen as a barometer of living standards in the Australian community. I invite the honourable gentleman to look at the record for the year to the September quarter of 1976. He will see that real household disposable income during that period increased by 2.9 per cent.
I take the opportunity to give the lie to what the honourable member for Adelaide has said in relation to this matter. He has claimed that real disposable household income has been diminished during the period of office of this Government. The honourable gentleman has claimed that the whole of the increase occurred during the December quarter of 1975 and that real household disposable income fell during 1976. What he has done, of course, is to resort to the dubious practice of citing seasonally unadjusted figures without qualification. As honourable gentlemen would understand, household disposable income as measured in the national accounts- the honourable gentleman who has just asked for information from me does understand the make-up of those accounts- is subject to considerable seasonality and movement from one quarter to another is not indicative of an underlying trend. I have given the seasonally adjusted figures, which give the lie to what the honourable member for Adelaide has said. Finally, let me say that if the honourable gentleman who-
– What about the increase in the last quarter because of Medibank payments?
-Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat. The honourable member for Prospect continues to interject and unfortunately is joined by the honourable member for Corio. I ask honourable gentlemen to listen to the answer in silence.
– The point about real household disposable income in fact matches the point about what the honourable member for Oxley has said. His figure for the rate of inflation, as he knows full well, is grossly irresponsible and not founded on fact because the rate of inflation, on the basis of any test, showed in its underlying trend a marked downward turn during 1976.
If the honourable gentleman wants to compare one year with another I finally invite him to look at his own record when he was the last Treasurer in the Labor Administration. He talked then about real gross domestic product being forecast to increase by about 5 per cent in 1975-76. The fact is that real gross domestic product increased by only 1.3 per cent during the year and would have been negative but for the rise that took place during the last half of that year under the policies of the present Government. The honourable gentleman also said in his Budget Speech that there would be a Budget deficit of around $2.8 billion. When we came into office the Budget deficit was $4.8 billion. I make a final point, but there are many others. I know that the honourable gentleman is looking a little uncomfortable because the prize apparently has not yet come his way; but, as he also raised the question of monetary policy, I remind him that we inherited rates of monetary growth which were running at 20 per cent and which were greatly permissive and inducive to inflation. If the honourable gentleman wants to compare records he might look to his own.
– Pursuant to section 42 of the Film and Television School Act 1973 I present the annual report of the Film and Television School for the year ended 30 June 1975.
Pursuant to section 44 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act 1961 I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for the year ended 30 June 1976.
-Mr Speaker, I seek the indulgence of the House to add a matter of detail to an answer I have given.
-The Treasurer has the indulgence of the House.
– I wish to add to an answer I gave in response to the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) who queried me about the Australian Bureau of Statistics. As I recall the question, it was about whether I had directed that a cut of $2m be made. I answered that question according to my recollection by saying that presently I have not required that a cut be made. I should say to the House, however, that in the early stage of the forward estimates process I invited the Statistician to see to what extent there might be savings in his area. I think that a figure of around $2m was suggested as a likely potential saving. But the point is that there was no direction to the Statistician. There has been no decision about the matter. In fact, that figure of $2m is not built into the forward estimates. The answer I am giving now is precisely in the same thrust as the one I gave before, but I believe this additional information is required to put the matter into better context.
– I seek the indulgence of the House to point out to the Treasurer that the essence of the question was: Will every census form be processed? Would the Treasurer like to give that additional information?
Suspension of Standing Orders
– I move:
This motion is purely procedural and no immediate introduction of sales tax legislation is contemplated. Alteration of sales tax rates usually involves the introduction of 9 sales tax Bills. Over a period of many years the House has found it convenient for the Bills to be taken together. Standing order 291 permits these Bills to be introduced without notice but it is necessary to suspend the Standing Orders to enable the Bills to be presented and dealt with together. When passed, the motion will remain effective for this session. By moving the motion at this time we will avoid the speculation which could result if the motion were to be introduced at any time later in the year.
-The Opposition does not oppose the motion. It is a motion which is normally moved in this House. But I think I should take the opportunity to draw to the attention of the House the fact that when a similar motion was last moved on 7 March 1 974, the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made a speech in which he portrayed the motion as some sort of an evil plot by the then Government in order to enable sales tax legislation to be sneaked through the House. I think this is one of those motions which are moved regularly, which are accepted by both sides of the House excepting those people who do not understand them and which most likely ought to be considered for inclusion in our Standing Orders. I seek the indulgence of the House to incorporate in Hansard the speech which was made by the honourable member for Wannon, the then Leader of the Opposition, on the last occasion on which a similar motion was brought forward so that the difference between the Government’s approach in government and its approach in Opposition can be seen.
– It is already in Hansard. Leave is not granted.
-It would be quite in order for the honourable member to give the Hansard reference.
-I will give the reference. It appears at page 188 of Hansard of 7 March 1974. We do not oppose the motion. I suggest that the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair) might look at the proposition of making this motion a standing order of the House rather than going through this procedure on each occasion. That would overcome the speculation part and also the sort of misunderstanding of the Prime Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
The proposal comprises 2 elements of the overall development at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Point Cook. They are the construction of sleeping accommodation for 96 airmen and the provision of facilities for the No. 1 Flying Training School. The accommodation portion of the proposal consists of six 2 -storey buildings of brick construction, providing facilities for sleeping, toilet, ablution, laundry and common room accommodation. The facilities for the No. 1 Flying Training School comprise: No. 1 Flying Training School headquarters, containing administration and ground training functions of the School, constructed of reinforced concrete, providing necessary sound attenuation; flightline buildings for the control and supervision of aircraft line operations including the co-ordination of maintenance and servicing, the building to be of concrete construction to provide necessary sound attenuation; No. 1 Flying Training School maintenance squadron headquarters and workshops, to be of masonry and metal construction. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $2.55m at February 1977 prices. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 15 March, on the following paper presented by Mr Peacock:
Foreign Policy- Ministerial Statement, 15 March 1976 - and on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the House take note of the paper.
– Yesterday the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) brought down his statement on the Government’s foreign affairs policy. I do not wish to go over the statement in detail, but I would like to make some observations about foreign policy and happenings in the rest of the world, as I see them. I think it is appropriate, when speaking on foreign affairs for the first time this year, to take this opportunity to congratulate the United States on electing President Carter. The reason for this, as I pointed out before the election last year, is that it is important for us to have a United States government and a United States Congress in accord on foreign policy aims, broadly speaking. I do not think it is as important for us to agree with the United States on every relatively minor point of foreign policy as it is to feel reasonably confident that the United States is led by a President and an administration which are likely to get support for their policies, whatever they might be, through the 2 Houses of Congress. For a number of years now this has not been the case in the United States. We had a Republican President in the White House with an executive appointed by that Republican President. We had a situation in which the 2 Houses of Congress were quite strongly controlled by the Democratic Party. I think that this split has been bad for the so-called free world. Nobody was confident or sure just how much United States policy meant.
Looking at overall events that have taken place in the world I put the proposition that to a large extent what happens is influenced by the fact that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China are in conflict. I realise that this view is not necessarily shared by everybody on this side of the House and judging by some of the speeches made by members on the other side of the House and by the usual newspaper editorials, hardly anybody seems to admit this. If China and the Soviet Union had a common policy, as they did up till about 1958, 1 think that it would be extremely difficult for the United States and for countries associated with the United Statesthe democratic countries of the world- to stand up to pressure from the 2 communist super powers.
Australia was lucky, the world was lucky and those of us who believe in individual freedom were lucky that a split occurred between China and Russia after 1958. There is no point in going through the history of this matter. But it is important that that split occurred. First, I think it is important for us that there should be no war between the 2 countries. Secondly, it is important that a state of tension should exist between them. It is important for us that there is competition between China and the U.S.S.R. in the so-called Third World. It is important for us that these 2 countries undermine one another in some of the
Third World countries. It is important that they compete with one another, that they do not trust one another, and that they have large numbers of troops on one another’s borders. I think that all of these points are important from our point of view. I sometimes think that it is ridiculous that people who speak about, discuss and write about our foreign policy do not acknowledge this fact. I think it is the most important factor in foreign affairs at the present time.
To my mind there seems to be more than ever before an attempt by the present Government to imply that we are identified or associated with the Chinese vis-a-vis the Russians. I do not want to take sides. I think that Russia and China are both totalitarian countries completely opposed to what we stand for. The only basis on which I would think it would be reasonable to support China vis-a-vis the Soviet Union is that the Chinese appear to be weaker. It is important from our point of view that these 2 countries should be kept from confronting one another and that the point should not be reached where, as the Chinese would put it, there would be absolute hegemony on the part of the U.S.S.R. vi’savis China. From that point of view I suppose it is reasonable to support the Chinese against the Russians.
I am depressed when I sometimes see people who are opposed to the Russians go overboard and pretend that the Chinese Government is a much better type of government than the Russian Government, that the Chinese society is a much better type of society than the Russian. It is not. It is a completely totalitarian regime. I suppose that if there is any difference from a civil liberties or civil rights point of view that difference would be in favour of the Russian regime which for a number of reasons, one being the effluxion of time, has now reached the stage where at least it allows or is unable to prevent dissent from within and allows dissenters some publicity at least outside the country. None of this happens in China.
I refer now to an article that recently was reprinted in the Bulletin. The article was written by Edward N. Luttwak Associate Director of the Washington Centre of Foreign Policy Research at Johns Hopkins University. The article appeared in the Bulletin of 19 February 1977 and it made a number of reasonable points. The author is one of the few critics to visit China who has reported some criticisms when leaving that country. He makes an important point on the last page of his article. After making the point that China is a weak country militarily compared with the Soviet Union he went on to state:
Nor is there anything to suggest that China will become a superpower in 10, 20, or even 30 years. Hence the right-wing Sinophilia of those who abhor the Chinese system but who see virtue in Chinese power as a counterweight to the Russian, is as flawed as the left-wing Sinophilia of those who see virtue in a society which combines a maximum of unfreedom with a minimum of efficiency.
To me this is a reasonable statement and yet it is only partly true because it is important to support the weaker of the 2 powers at any particular time.
At this stage I would like to move away from the conflict between China and Russia and deal with the Indonesian situation and some of the problems that arise. We have all been upset by what happened in East Timor. I do not think there is any need for me to repeat the arguments in this respect. There does not seem to be much support in Australia for the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. It is not worth while repeating the argument against the occupation because, after all, no one would argue in favour of it. One of the points I would like to make in connection with Indonesia is this: There seems to be the feeling among people whose general attitudes in Australian politics I strongly support that the alternative to the present type of government in Indonesia is in the broadest sense a left type of government, whether we consider it hopefully from our point of view a social democratic type of government, a socialist government or even a government controlled by the Communist Party of Indonesia. I do not see such a government as an alternative to the present Government in Indonesia. The alternative as I see it in Indonesia at present is quite extreme, what I would call right wing and what I think most people would accept as being a right wing government, controlled by fanatical Muslims in the religious sense. They are the real alternative at the present time in Indonesia. They are the dangerous alternative in Indonesia. There is evidence that the Libyan Government is subsidising them. We all know that that has happened in the Philippines where the Muslim groups have been subsidised by the Libyan Government. At present peace talks are being conducted between the Marcos regime and the Muslim revolutionaries. The talks are being held in Libya which seems to be a rather ridiculous arrangement. It is an acceptance of the fact that somehow Libya has a right to intervene in the Philippines. The same sort of thing allegedly is happening, or potentially could happen, in Indonesia, in West Java where the Muslim tradition is much stronger than in the rest of the country.
The present right wing military Government in Indonesia is one which obviously does not hold the democratic attitudes that we would expect in any Australian government. But the alternative government in Indonesia is not a left wing government but an extremely right wing fanatical religious dictatorship. I am sure that that would not be in the interests of Australia any more than the previous Sukarno regime was in the interests of Australia, but really a return to Sukarno is not one of the likely possibilities for Indonesia.
I conclude by going back to the Chinese position. I do not have the question and answer with me in the House at present, but some time ago I put on the notice paper a question dealing with a supplement produced by the Melbourne Age on the exhibition of Chinese art that is touring Australia at present. I referred to the fact that the first page of that supplement had been written allegedly by Dr Chey the Cultural Counsellor in the Australian Embassy in Peking. I did not refer to the rest of the supplement; I referred only to the introductory page attributed to Dr Chey. It read like a handout from the Chinese Government. It had very little to do with art. It was just a political handout. I drew attention to this in the question. In reply the Minister for Foreign Affairs said that Dr Chey is a very nice person and that the rest of the supplement was copied from what had been written in an English newspaper about the exhibition. That had nothing to do with the question I asked. I asked a question about the introduction written by Dr Chey. I did not ask whether she is a nice person. I did not complain about what appeared on pages 2, 3 and 4 of that supplement. I referred to page 1 of the supplement. I would appreciate it if the Minister would at least look at the question.
When I originally submitted the question to the Table Office it contained criticisms of the Minister. Those criticisms were withdrawn by the Table Office without its even consulting me. I have some reservations about that. That is the sort of thing I would expect to happen in China but not in Australia. In any case the position remains that when I finally received an answer to the question it was not a proper answer. I am pleased that I have been able to participate in this debate on foreign affairs, and I hope that members of this House will be given further opportunities to talk on foreign affairs.
– I welcome the detailed and objective statement by the Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock) which sets out Australia’s attitudes to our global problems in foreign affairs. This is the most comprehensive and far-reaching statement in many years. I congratulate the Foreign Minister on grasping so many difficult nettles at one time. He has given us a realistic view of the world as it is, not necessarily the world as we would like it to be. It is a changing world in which many old certainties have been swept away. For the first time we in Australia must think independently and for ourselves in both our foreign policy and our defence policy. We are not used to doing this. There is a need for us to have clearly stated aims and objectives in both foreign affairs and defence. I believe that much hard work needs to be done in this field, recognising our new place in our region and in the world. This will not be easy. It will require both imagination and originality- qualities which have not often been very evident or perhaps even very necessary in our past thinking.
Our national aims and objectives should be a combination of political, geographical, economic and military factors, preferably compatible but often, regrettably, conflicting. Until we define our national aims precisely there is a danger that we will make ad hoc and short term decisions. The Foreign Minister’s statement goes a long way towards clarifying many difficult issues. Other speakers in splendid historical speeches have dealt more than adequately with the past. The honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) was outstanding in this regard. Regrettably, some other speeches have been less than relevant to Australia and its place in the world.
It is impossible to range the world and all our problems in 1 5 minutes. I want to speak of the future, not the past, and to bring the discussion much closer to home. I welcome the Foreign Minister’s statement on the Indian Ocean. He makes a very real point, namely, that it can become a zone of peace only if it first becomes a zone of balance. As the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) stated last week and as the Foreign Minister repeated yesterday, our concern is that this balance be achieved at the lowest practicable level. We should welcome and support any lessening of tension in the Indian Ocean- an area which of course is of vital importance to us. Personally I would be against dismantling the facilities on Diego Garcia unless the Soviet Union dismantled its facilities in Berbera and elsewhere in the Indian Ocean. Even then there would be great risks.
The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) spoke at some length about Indonesia. Indonesia, with its vast population, its potentially great resources and its many islands stretching across our northern doorstep, is the most important country to Australia in South
East Asia. We must do all in our power to maintain and expand good relations with Indonesia. The Foreign Minister gave an excellent summary of the problems inherited by the Government from the Labor Administration in relation to East Timor. The situation is difficult and very delicate, and I am convinced that the present problems are not best served by passionate discussion in this chamber. The Foreign Minister made the same point in answering a question during question time today.
I turn very briefly to Papua New Guinea. Much has been said already about our relations with Papua New Guinea. It is imperative that our present close relations with Papua New Guinea be expanded and developed. The southern coast of Papua is only about 5 kilometres from the northern part of my electorate; so all the people in the electorate of Leichhardt, including myself, are very much aware of the significance of our relations with Papua New Guinea. Several times recently I have been questioned on why we give so much aid to Papua New Guinea. I believe that as the former colonial power we have a great responsibility to help the splendid efforts of the Papua New Guinea Government in developing the country and improving the sometimes very low standard of living of the people. I know New Guinea fairly well, and I strongly support the level of aid which we are giving. It is an insurance policy for the future, and I am sure that it will pay handsome dividends and bonuses. I have similar views on the necessity to continue to give aid to Indonesia. This aid is not large, but it is significant in showing our goodwill towards this very important neighbour.
Much more controversial is the modest aid program which we have initiated for Vietnam. The Foreign Minister makes the point that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has a population of 50 million and military forces which are the largest in South East Asia. We should not forget that a great many Vietnamese supported Australian forces in Vietnam over a number of years, often at great risk to themselves. Our small aid program for Vietnam is for both humanitarian and political reasons, and it concentrates on agricultural development. I have travelled over all of South Vietnam, and I believe that we owe this modest aid to the people.
I turn briefly to our neighbours in the South Pacific. Many of them have become independent recently or will become independent shortly. They are of increasing importance to Australia. I agree with the Foreign Minister when he says that previous governments of all parties have not given the South Pacific the attention it deserves, and I welcome the increased attention we are giving to this area. The greatly increased aid program which was announced recently, of $60m for the 3 years from 1976 to 1979, 1 am sure will have the support of all Australians. By comparison with most of the other countries in our region, we are an extremely wealthy country, and we have a responsibility to share some of our wealth with our less fortunate neighbours.
Perhaps I am the only member of this House who has difficult foreign policy problems within his own electorate. The Foreign Minister is not used to private members banging on his door with problems. I thank him for the patience and understanding he has shown to me. One of the most difficult problems with which I am faced is the definition of the boundary between Australia and Papua New Guinea in the Torres Strait. This is a very difficult problem, and it must be resolved so that the people of the Torres Strait remain Australian citizens and the islands and the territorial seas around them remain Australian and Queensland territory and seas. I last spoke on this important matter in the House on 16 November last year. Now, as then, I welcome the agreement which has been reached between Australia and Papua New Guinea that a protected zone should be established in the area confirming the traditional rights of the Torres Strait Islanders and the coastal Papuans.
I have had many discussions with the leaders of the Torres Strait, the last one being just before question time today. I hope that the leaders with whom I spoke are in the gallery behind me listening to this speech. The Torres Strait Island leaders are agreed that the resources of the Torres Strait in the protected zone outside the Australian islands and the territorial waters should be shared equally between Australia and Papua New Guinea. I strongly support their views on this. I also support their contention that there should be no sea bed line within the protected zone. They believe that such a line would cause much future friction in the area.
The Torres Strait Islanders are a fine, determined and independent people. They have recently produced their own solution to the difficult task of the definition of boundaries. In recent months the leaders of the Torres Strait, together with the leaders of the coastal Papuans, have worked closely to define what they know to be the traditional boundary between their 2 countries. Together they have agreed on the exact line of their traditional boundary, a boundary which was recognised long before Europeans came to the Torres Strait. I strongly support the contention of both the Torres Strait Islanders and the Papuans that it is this traditional boundary which should be recognised by both Australia and Papua and New Guinea and not any one of the various arbitrary lines which have been drawn on the map, often by people who have never been to the area. A traditional boundary line recognised by both the coastal Papuans and the Torres Strait Islanders is infinitely preferable to an arbitrary line imposed by outsiders. I commend this solution to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and to the Government.
Now I turn briefly to the Law of the Sea Conference. I was very interested in the statement by the Foreign Minister on the deliberations of this conference. A number of states have already declared a 200-mile economic zone. In due course I would strongly support a declaration of a 200-mile economic zone by Australia. This involves giving states jurisdiction over the living and non-living resources of the sea and the sea bed up to 200 miles from the coast. Such a declaration by Australia would have great significance in my electorate, particularly in the Gulf of Carpentaria and in the area of the Great Barrier Reef. There is constant friction between local fishermen and foreign fishing vessels in the area. A declaration by Australia of a 200-mile economic zone would effectively close the Gulf of Carpentaria and would protect the marvels of the Great Barrier Reef from ruthless pillage by foreign fishermen. A 200-mile economic zone poses enormous problems for Australia. The sea area involved is almost as large as the land mass of our continent. The task of surveillance and defence of this vast new area is an immense responsibility. I know that the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) is very concerned about the solution to this problem. We will need to spend very much more to provide surveillance and protection in this area.
I agree with the Foreign Minister’s statement that we should do our best at the next Law of the Sea Conference not to prejudice the success of the conference. If the conference fails to reach agreement, we would have little alternative but to unilaterally declare a 200-mile economic zone. Once again I congratulate the Foreign Minister on his statement. I hope that it will generate public discussion on the need for a bipartisan approach to the problems of Australia’s place in our region and the world.
-The first major statement to the Parliament by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) is fine in style and light in content. The style is bland; the substance is missing. Where the whim takes the Minister he can be remarkably self-effacing about his Government. For instance, in discussing China he refers to the need for modest processes and progress in developing our relationship ‘rather than spectacular gestures’. He does not recollect -or more likely prefers to forget- the spectacular thud of the sortie of his Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) into Sino-Australian relations in China a little over 8 months ago when the Prime Minister proposed a 4-power alliance, including clumsily aligning himself with the Chinese on a fairly sensitive issue which the Japanese were trying to handle delicately; questioned the future security of Malaysia and Singapore; raised doubts about the stability of the Indonesian Government; and challenged India’s sincerity in its concern for world peace. The whole world was treated to a detailed account of the Prime Minister’s scorn for our near neighbours and friends.
The Prime Minister, our innocent abroad, became entangled in his own gauche approach to foreign relations. He left his hosts bemused and our near neighbours smouldering with indignation at his gratuitous offensiveness. The Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed satisfaction with trade arrangements for our mineral sales to Japan, ignoring the comment of the retiring Australian Ambassador to Japan, Mr K. E. O. Shann, that most Australians were too easily ‘picked off’ by the Japanese organised system of business negotiations. For the Foreign Minister it is more important to be nice than firm, thorough and commercially successful. To make his foreign affairs statement the Minister had to establish his credentials with a Prime Minister who cut his foreign policy teeth in the cold war period. It was at Singapore that the Prime Minister briefly sought to adopt different positions in foreign affairs, but that was merely an exploratory thrust- a sort of one-night stand.
Accordingly, to propitiate one of the passions of his master, the Minister for Foreign Affairs had to launch an attack against the Prime Minister’s perennial ogre, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, albeit with much less fierceness than was displayed by the Prime Minister on 1 June last year. There were 3 main assertions by the Minister, none of which stand up. He said, firstly, that the Soviet Union had closed the strategic nuclear gap between the United States and itself. In testimony before the United States Senate on 3 1 January 1977 the Joint Chiefs of Staff pointed out that the United States leads in the more important area of nuclear technology and that the United States has a substantial lead over the
Soviet Union in bomber payload, missile accuracy, survivability and numbers of warheads and bombers. Former United States Secretary of State, Dr Kissinger, on 22 March last year, said:
Soviet missile forces today are somewhat larger in number and considerably heavier in throw weight, while ours are superior in reliability, accuracy, diversity and sophistication. We possess far larger numbers of warheads- 8500 to their 2500- and we have several hundred more strategic bombers.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has, wittingly or otherwise, mislead the House on this point. Secondly, he said that the USSR substantially closed the naval gap between the United States and itself. United States Defence Department figures show that since 1960 the United States has built 122 ships over 3000 tons while the Soviet Union has built only 57. In every 5-year period since 1960 United States construction has exceeded that of the Soviet Union in large ocean-going naval vessels. Comparisons of total NATO naval construction with total Warsaw Pact naval construction makes the NATO advantage even sharper. All of the objective evidence available refutes the Minister’s claims.
Thirdly, he said that the USSR had rapidly widened the gap in conventional land forces in its favour. The Joint Chiefs of Staff report to the United States Senate referred to earlier says firmly:
The Joint Chiefs of Staff do not agree that the Soviet Union has achieved military superiority over the United States.
It may be that the USSR has such a goal in mind but, if so, it has not achieved it. Without dwelling further on the vast volume of additional data available to rebut these 3 key, but spurious, assertions of the Foreign Minister let me conclude the point by observing that this sort of unwarranted belittling of American military strength is unnecessarily offensive towards the world efforts for peace of a powerful friend. Furthermore, it wrongly and undesirably raises false doubts about the United States in this country and elsewhere, and especially in our region of interest.
The most remarkable feature of the Minister’s statement is the scant and embarrassed reference to the Indian Ocean. On 1 June last year the Prime Minister ruled out the possibility of a neutral Indian Ocean. It was clear that the Government was then seeking to incite and escalate an American presence there, in the misguided expectation that Australia could once again cling to the slipstream of an American presence instead of developing its own foreign policy and its own defence doctrines.
Defence Minister Killen, armed with a bristling moustache and a brace of metaphors, warned that there was a Russian build-up and that it was a threat to Australia, but he amended the comment 3 hours later by saying the threat was not a direct one. He reported that Australia was to take part in extensive reconnaissance and surveillance activity in the Indian Ocean. Then someone put his Fleet Air Arm to the torch and presumably the Russians accommodated the indisposition of our defence arrangements by arranging some sort of discreet armistice.
The Foreign Affairs Minister does not refer to President Carter’s proposals for ‘demilitarising the Indian Ocean’. With tender concern for his colleagues who thought they could bluff and bully their way through foreign relations, like some latter day maverick Teddy Roosevelt, he seeks to save them from embarassment by referring to a United States policy of ‘restraint’ and ‘bilateral arms limitation’ in the Indian Ocean. What President Carter said was considerably more pointed, namely: ‘We have proposed that the Indian Ocean be completely demilitarised . . .’
Clearly, to use the inelegant expression of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Affairs Minister was caught with his pants down by the saneness and eminently sensible approach of the United States President. More pertinently, the Foreign Affairs Minister in his concern to spare his henchmen’s feelings has trodden with such care that he is fairly open to the criticism of understating to the point of being quite misleading on this issue. The Government is discredited in its meretricious efforts to inject instability into the Indian Ocean as a crude substitute for responsible diplomacy.
The most significant comments are made by the Minister in relation to the Association of South East Asian Nations. He said: ‘The Government attaches the greatest importance to consolidating and developing our close relationships with the 5 members of ASEAN . . .’
This is very close in quality to a declaration on motherhood. It is as convincing as a clock that chimes 13 times because the Minister goes on to confess that while improved trading arrangements are the key to improved relations with ASEAN countries- and further he concedes this is a matter of high priority- nothing beyond windy rhetoric will be committed now or for the future. Indeed, reading between the lines one can detect a rebuff for the Minister at the hands of the believer in peasant farm labour and cottage industry, the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s preference for hand loom technology is well known. If he lived at the dawn of the motor car era, he would have passed a law to prohibit their manufacture so that the stout and traditional profession of blacksmithing could have been preserved.
The Foreign Minister in this statement has lost the ring of confidence which came from his Press conference in January on the eve of his visit to Singapore. Then, while reasonably acknowledging our current domestic economic problems as a restraint on trade adjustments to assist ASEAN countries, there nevertheless was some evidence of optimism for the future. In this statement it is clear that the only bone- and a fairly dry one at that- which the Prime Minister has left him is an interdepartmental committee reviewing our relations with ASEAN. An IDC is too often slower and more dreary than a slow coach to Timbuktu.
As Mr Michael Richardson, the Singapore correspondent to several Australian newspapers has pointed out frequently over the past several months, this country’s attitude towards trade between ASEAN and Australia is the cause of friction for and resentment by ASEAN partners. In one article Mr Richardson says simply and pointedly:
The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is losing patience with what it sees as empty rhetoric from Canberra on trade reform.
The Australian Financial Review yesterday reported Malaysia’s irritation at the way in which the Australian Government continues to prevaricate and obstruct on this important matter. Our relations with ASEAN are of major importance. The member countries are among our nearest neighbours. There is growing commercial and personal involvement between them and Australia. The relationship, however, is a much one-sided thing and in our favour. There was a growing trading deficit in our favour of $342m in 1975-76.
The ASEAN countries, with the exception of Singapore, are developing countries with major development problems. They have relatively large and rapidly growing populations. In terms of international self-interest and of stability in our region of interest we have a very real interest in the progress of ASEAN members. It is in our interest to help that progress, as much as we reasonably can, through trade and aid. A trade imbalance of $345 m in our favour is trade aid from the developing to the developed. About 3 per cent of ASEAN exports come to Australia but about 7 per cent of our exports go to ASEAN nations. ASEAN has to have trade outlets outside of its members if it is to get enough room for growth and stability. The ASEAN members economies are largely competitive and this is reflected by the fact that less than 13 per cent of the exports of member countries are traded within the ASEAN bloc.
We have a complementary economy. We can do much more to aid, through trade, the development of ASEAN nations. I do not suggest for a second that we hurl out to sea our system of domestic support for industry and invoke Adam Smith in his purest form overnight. I do assert that letting the matter rest in the graveyard of so many good ideas, and an IDC, is a discouraging response. Too often, IDCs are the ‘too hard baskets’ for problems facing governments. This is obviously one such case.
The case for open economic planning as frequently outlined by my colleague, the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), is as important here as it is in other respects. Here we have to consider external and internal adjustment. I do not believe we can stress too much the need for more concerned and involved responses to ASEAN. Let me illustrate the major resource problems arising for ASEAN countries over the next 2 decades, coming from population pressure alone. Indonesia, with a population of 120 million at the beginning of this decade, is expected to have a population of 240 million by the year 2000. The population of the Philippines is likely to rise from thirty-eight million to around twenty million over the same period. For Malaysia, the increase is projected from eleven million to twenty million and for Thailand from twenty-six million to seventy million. The projections, I hasten to add, presume massive drops in fertility. In short, in the absence of adequate physical development because of inadequate trade opportunities, this sort of population growth would put enormous pressure on the stability of the region.
As a rich, spacious country, sharing our open spaces and valuable resources among a small population and enjoying one of the highest living standards in the world, we have a vital, vested interest in the future, stable development of nations in our near regions. The Government’s responses are too parochial, too short-sighted, and lacking in sufficient sense of moral obligation to international involvement. The Minister’s statement on this matter is as empty as it is wordy. ASEAN is justified in its irritation at the way in which this matter is being handled by the Government. The Government and the Minister do us, as much as ASEAN, a disservice by prevaricating on this matter.
Finally, I come to the matter of Timor. It is sometimes said that self-interest rather than some higher concept of international morality guides nations in their external relations. It is too simplified a view of the world to expect that moral judgments alone will regulate international relations. It is a dismal prospect to accept however that self-interest alone, even with the sugar coating of ‘enlightened’ before the ‘self-interest’ guides such matters. President Carter is making a determined and perhaps an optimistic effort to inject more morality into international affairs and the effort is welcomed. (Extension of time granted.) Accordingly, one hopes that some semblance of morality will seep through and affect the future determination of the Timor issue. It seems clear that the Timor problem, far from having faded away, persists as a major problem in Australia foreign policy. We cannot escape the fact that a small, vulnerable territory, only a few hundred miles from Darwin, was annexed by Indonesia in violation of the right of non-self-governing territorities to determine their own future, a right strongly supported by Australia for more than a decade, as well as being acknowledged throughout the modern world.
Resolutions in both the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations have called on Indonesia to withdraw her troops, to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to operate in East Timor, and to allow for a proper act of self-determination, but these have been ignored by Jakarta. One of the most disturbing aspects of the incorporation of East Timor is the way this operation has been carried out. The seizure of a territory adjacent to Australia is a serious enough matter in itself, but the persistent reports of brutal treatment of the civilian population deserve our close attention. Reports of mass, indiscriminate killings have now come to Australia from Fretilin, which alleged that the Indonesians were ‘massacring’ the population and from Chinese sources, including from Taiwan, which claimed that the Chinese minority in East Timor bore the brunt of much of the indiscriminate killing in the territory from Timor Democratic Union- UDT- refugees in Portugal, many of whom claim actually to have witnessed atrocities of a disturbing kind.
There have also been disturbing reports from within Indonesia, including the remark to the press by Lopes da Cruz, a former UDT leader, who is now deputy governor of the provincial government of East Timor, early last year that 50 000 to 60 000 people ‘mostly women and children’ had been killed, and the report from church aid workers in Indonesia that in October last year as many as 100 000 Timorese, or about one sixth of the population may have been killed in the brutal military operation against this territory. It is impossible to make an accurate assessment of these figures, let alone authenticate them but they all point to a gross violation of human rights, perhaps in relative terms infinitely more serious than the situation in any other country at this time. And this is not happening in distant Uganda, eastern Europe or Chile, but on an island not very far from the north Australian coast.
Can Australia afford to continue to ignore this situation in East Timor simply because of our concern at the possible harm to AustralianIndonesian relations that an Australian initiative might engender? How will Australia look if other Western countries, including the United States of America, decide to apply pressure on Indonesia to reconsider her Timor policy? In the event of international pressure building up, are we who know more about the situation than probably any other country in the West, to remain noncommittal? Such a posture must inevitably affect Australia’s integrity and sincerity in international relations. Can Australia ever again criticise United Nations agencies, such as the Security Council, for their ineffectiveness when, in an international dispute which did not involve a super power confrontation and in which an Australian response could have influenced the course of events, we failed to take up the challenge?
Perhaps the most important issue is the Australian-Indonesian relationship, concern for which has caused us to avoid any kind of involvement in the Timor affair. But one might ask whether this stance is really helping the relationship with Indonesia. Are we not merely appeasing those forces in Jakarta in such a way as to help them maintain, or even strengthen, their influence, at the expense of the forces of moderation which most of us would like to see strengthen their role in Indonesia. Finally, a policy of appeasement is not really likely to enhance our credibility in Jakarta. In a society such as ours public disapproval of Indonesia’s action against Timor must weaken the credibility of government policies of accommodation, leading inevitably to mounting suspicion among Indonesian leaders that our representatives are speaking with forked tongues and that our foreign policies lack sincerity and integrity.
– I rise to congratulate the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) on his very long and complete statement on foreign affairs and to express my support of the present-day policies of the Government. I feel that I must reply in this debate to some of the comments of the previous speaker, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). He seemed to me, with his military comparisons, to be under the impression that there was some significance between the shipbuilding program within the Warsaw Pact and that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I thought that reference seemed to indicate that he did not understand that the Warsaw Pact is geared mainly for land military operations and that the NATO countries are the countries which need the shipbuilding capacity. They need the naval forces because they have the coastlines. The member countries of the Warsaw Pact have very little in the way of maritime power. They are, in fact, virtually satellites of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In August 1968, when the Dubcek Government in Prague appeared to be engaged in policies inconsistent with the policies of Moscow, the result was that Warsaw Pact forces, including those of the U.S.S.R., by invasion of Czechoslovakia, caused a change in personnel in the government in Prague and caused a change in the minds of those who felt that they might indulge in policies more consistent with democratic freedom.
– Was that before or after the Gary Powers spy plane incident?
-The spy plane incident referred to by the honourable member for Hunter occurred in the time of Premier Khrushchev and President Eisenhower. I point out these facts because by informing the House that there is some significance in comparing these figures, the honourable member for Oxley misleads not only himself but also honourable members who are not familiar with the actual position. He talked about the problems of neutrality in the Indian Ocean and referred to the comments of the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) about a possible threat. I think there is some advantage on some occasions at least in the House of Representatives in being absolutely frank. Many of the words that are used by political leaders constitute part of an international jargon. They have very little real meaning and very little relationship to what is actually going to occur. If honourable members consider the words, for example, of the Japanese emissaries in Washington in 1941 and contrast those words with the actual events of 7 December 1941, they will appreciate what I mean. If one looks at the words that have come out of Moscow and from the people behind the Iron Curtain right up to 1968, one would believe that these were peaceful, genuinely concerned and compassionate people. I frankly believe that anyone who saw the Russian tanks boring into Prague would really have felt that there was a little less compassion and a little less tolerance demonstrated than was consistent with the talk that emanated from behind the Iron Curtain.
Therefore, I think it is about time that we realised that in this day and age, when there are nuclear submarines that can move from one side of the earth to the other underneath the water without detection by satellites and taking into account the military capacity involved in weapons of this description, it is an exercise in jargon to talk about neutralised areas of peace. If it ever suits people to act in a way that is consistent with their own national interest and if, in fact, some neutral area stands in their way, we can rest assured that what will happen to that neutral area will be exactly what happened to Holland and Belgium in 1940. It is exactly what happened to Belgium in 1 9 1 4. 1 think that the people of Australia are better served by some pragmatic, frank statements which set out the situation for them, hopefully so that they will understand the problems of the future.
I support what was said by my colleague, the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Thomson), about Papua New Guinea. Those of us who have had an association with that country over a long period of time and those of us who fought in that country in the armed Services during the World War II have developed a genuine feeling of respect and affection for the people who live there. I take the view that we would all hope and pray that cohesion will in fact be the result of the Australian influence in that country. I hope that in Bougainville those who talk of secession will realise that it is in the best interests of all of the nations of the Pacific that cohesion is sustained. If the Port Moresby Government is able to keep itself in a happy relationship with New Britain, with Bougainville and with Papua I think that the best interests of that nation and also the best interests of the people living in this country will be served.
I congratulate the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) on making a rather low key speech which I regard as being extremely frank. It was straight forward and pragmatic. In my judgment, it recognised the facts. I was interested to hear his comments on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the People’s Republic of China and his description of those nations. I agree with everything that he said. He said, however, that he thought it was of great international significance that the conflict between the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union should continue, the inference being, of course, that were there to be established between the Government of Peking and the Government of Moscow a rapport and an understanding the probability would be that there would be a greater threat in the world because those 2 governments would be so powerful- in truth, two super-powers combined- that the rest of the world would need to tremble. Let me say this to the honourable gentleman: Governments make wars, people do not. There is no animosity between the ordinary human beings that one would meet in the street in those 2 countries. Governments are the influences and the forces that make war. I doubt very much that there is any real basic animosity between the people who live in Western Europe and the Soviet Union and the people who live in the People’s Republic of China in the south.
History teaches us, however, that the antipathy between those 2 peoples goes back to the days of Genghis Khan. It was in those days that influences were spread into Russia, and those influences have survived right through to the present time. The Mongol invaders stayed in Russia and subsequent generations were influenced by them. They grew up with remembrances that were passed on from father to son and so on throughout the years. So this great antipathy developed.
There are many thousands of men and great installations of weapons in the eastern area of the Soviet Union. They are there obviously because the Russians believe that there is a threat from the People’s Republic of China. The stories we have heard about the efforts in Peking to create underground facilities which will protect the population of the capital city against nuclear attack lead me to believe that there is a very serious apprehension in that country. However, being pragmatic, I believe that if there is one influence which will prevent the outbreak of nuclear war on this earth it is the doubt as to whether or not anyone will win it. From my study of history I do not believe that people go to war unless they believe they are going to win. If Hitler had been able to look into some sort of mirror and see what happened to Berlin in 1945 his whole attitude in 1939 might have been substantially different. I believe also that the same remarks could be applied to the Hohenzollern royal family and to the Kaiser and his colleagues in 1914.
I found very interesting the references made by the honourable member for Prospect to Indonesia and the Philippines being subsidised by Libya. I know that Colonel Gadaffi enjoys throughout the world a reputation for eccentricity. I am well aware of the fact that certain people who were responsible for that monstrous murder of athletes at Munich have in fact found solace and protection with the people of Libya. It makes one wonder whether the new riches produced from the increased oil prices will be used in the future in the revelation of such things as the antipathy between the people in Europe and the people in Africa. If that is the case one can rest assured that, on a religious basis, the future will be as stormy as has been the past. I hope that from our point of view we in this nation will be able to meet people on a basis of understanding and so be able to control our education system and the development of this country that that sort of antipathy will not develop in Australia.
I suppose one cannot look at what is happening in Uganda without thinking of Ireland and what is happening in Belfast and places like that; one cannot look at the areas of the world to which the honourable member for Prospect referred without bearing in mind that governments do tend to take strict control of those who intend to interfere with the development of their policies and programs. From my point of view, I think that people living in Australia can be very grateful for the measure of freedom they enjoypersonal freedom, political freedom- and for the understanding, the moderation and the tolerance that have characterised politics in this country over the last 70 years.
I conclude by again congratulating the Minister for Foreign Affairs on his statement. I express the hope that he will be able to fulfil his objectives. I again caution him with the words that I have used to him before, namely, that he must remember that, in looking to the future, no one in 1929 could have predicted what was going to happen in 1939. I hope that he will not take to much notice of people who look into crystal balls, if he imagines that he can predict what the world situation will be in 1997- in 20 years time. I think Australia must move into the future with compassion, tolerance and understanding for its neighbours, always trying to be the good friend, taking an interest in their affairs and helping them, rather than being the school master and the nation trying to give instructions to them.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is very difficult to decide just at what point to begin in discussing the foreign policy review of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). It covers a very wide range of issues but it covers them to a very large degree in generalities. In my view it glosses over some of the most critical questions concerning our attitudes to foreign policy and, indeed, substitutes rhetoric for substance on most of the issues. It is so general that it is difficult to distil the actual policy content of the statement. To be fair, I think it should be said that at the level of general rhetoric it is a more sober and mature account of Australian foreign policy and of the wider aspects of national security than has been any previous statement made by a Liberal Foreign Minister. I am happy to concede that to the present Minister. It eschews the threatmongering that has characterised most previous ministerial statements as well as statements by some current Ministers, including the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The statement implicitly rejects any possibility of returning to the old posture of the pre- 1972 period, despite the personal predilections of the Prime Minister. At least at the level of rhetoric the Government has to some extent come of age. For instance, it was heartening to hear the Minister at the beginning of his address acknowledge the general trend in the international system towards the break-up of the bi-polar structure and the increasing role of economic matters in international affairs. Of course, they were apparent some 5 to 10 years ago and were readily acknowledged and acted upon by the Labor Government.
Where substantive policy content can be distilled from the statement, virtually all of the initiatives appear merely as the consequence of pressures of the Australian Labor Party and decisions by it when in government.
-I shall spell them out for the honourable member: The initiatives in regard to Japan, the recognition of China, the withdrawal from Vietnam and the recognition of Vietnam, and the normalisation of relations with those neighbours. There is no question about this. These were Labor initiatives which this Government was glad enough to go along with. But we initiated them; not the present Government. The appreciation of the legitimate interests of the Third World and the recognition of the global issues and their implications for Australia are other such initiatives. However, what is different is that this rhetoric is not represented by the actions of the present Government. The Minister’s discussion of the Government’s intention to change our trade relations with the member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations, is humbug. In practice, as the Minister said, any change is to be deferred until the Australian economy improves. When that may take place under the present Government is anybody’s guess. Meanwhile, actions such as devaluation make the relations worse. There has been plenty of evidence of that in the reaction of Malaysia recently to the recent changes in our currency.
The hollowness of Government policy when it comes to actual situations is revealed in a number of sections of the Minister’s statement. The one to which I want to pay particular attention is that dealing with the question of Timor, about which so much has been said in this debate. I believe that the issue of Timor is quickly developing as the conscience of the Australian people in foreign affairs. Australia has turned its back on the wishes and aspirations of the Timorese. In fact, it has tried to forget the considerable sacrifices which the Timorese made for Australian servicemen during World War II. This is not just a matter of what we did or what the Government did; it is a question of Australia’s interests in relation to our credibility and our standing in the community of nations on the question of the preservation of human rights and on the question of self-determination. In the area of the community of nations I suggest, from my own experience in addressing the United Nations Security Council, that our credibility was decreased considerably by our failure to take a moral stand on the Timor question. When many other nations looked to Australia for a lead Australia failed to give that lead, and that was noted by countries throughout the world.
It is also a question of whether it is in our long term interests to have Indonesia in Portuguese East Timor rather than to have an independent nation such as the East Timorese want. Australia’s present position threatens our own security interests. Most particularly, since any major threat to Australia is likely to come either from Indonesia or at least through Indonesia, it makes strategic sense to oppose Indonesian territorial encroachment in this region. More generally, it is an essential part of Australia’s security posture to work for general acceptance of international principles of national sovereignty and non-intervention in the internal affairs of neighbouring states- principles simply violated by the recent Indonesian action.
It is interesting to note that Indonesia is becoming so upset about Mr Dunn’s appearance before the Donald Fraser Congressional Committee in America. That merely highlights the growing importance of this issue as a matter of principle. I suggest that it is highly insolent and impertinent of Indonesia to question the propriety of Mr Dunn’s actions. These actions are concerned with discovering the truth of what went on in Timor, including the truth as to how 6 Australian citizens met a brutal death there. It is interesting to note that the Indonesians have invited Mr Donald Fraser to inspect the situation in Portuguese East Timor on behalf of the Committee. If he is prepared to do this, the Indonesians might be prepared to accept an inspection by an Australian parliamentary committee. It will be interesting to see whether the Minister for Foreign Affairs puts this proposition to the Indonesians. It would be consistent with the Indonesians inviting an American committee to have a look at the situation in Timor.
I doubt that the Indonesians would accept that proposition, because we could not even get them to agree to let a member of the Australian Red Cross or the International Red Cross go to Timor to supervise what was happening to our aid. On the evidence that Mr Dunn has produced, our aid was used by Indonesians, not by Timorese. I think it is an even greater impertinence to call in the Australian Ambassador in order to ‘ reprimand ‘ him for his actions. If Mr Woolcott ‘s status is such that he is regarded by the Indonesian Government as a servant who can be reprimanded, I think the Government must give consideration to recalling Mr Woolcott and replacing him with someone who will not be seen as being so identified with Indonesia on the Timor question and who is prepared to concentrate on explaining our point of view to the Indonesian Government rather than trying to tell the Australian Government the best way that it can accept the Indonesian point of view on Timor.
It is highly desirable that we maintain good relations with Indonesia, but I suggest that these relations should be based on a mutual respect for basic human rights and the right of selfdetermination for all nations. We get no marks and no prestige at all from Indonesia by appeasing its territorial ambitions. It is only through the activities of a small band of people who have been prepared to speak up for basic human rights and particularly through the actions of Mr Jim Dunn- shame on those who seek to frustrate his actions- coupled with the advent of the Carter Administration that we now have been able to get the United States of America interested in the Timor question and in looking at the allegations of atrocities and of the use of American military aid in Timor.
The other question, to which I want to refer briefly, is the Indian Ocean. Of course, on this the
Government has been caught floundering in a very sad way. It has been government policy to try to commit the United States to a military presence in the area, as it tried previously through the instruments of the Vietnam war and the United States defence intelligence facilities in Australia. Manufacturing a Soviet threat is a basic ploy in trying to generate this commitment. Again this policy is short sighted. For one thing, it only antagonises the Soviet Union. There is no point in ignoring the realities of growing Soviet strategic power and internal repression, but nothing is to be gained by exaggerating the Soviet presence in the Indian Ocean, particularly in the scare-mongering terms sometimes used by Government Ministers.
More importantly, it flies in the face of the direction of American policy developments. President Carter’s recent call for super-power disengagement from the Indian Ocean while the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) have been arguing for an expanded American presence is outstanding only for the stark way in which it contrasts differences. These differences have been apparent for some time, as evidenced in the quite lukewarm response which the Minister for Defence received to his proposals last July for a joint United StatesAustralian naval presence in the Indian Ocean. The fact is that, apart from patrolling areas for its Poseidon submarines, the U.S. is not interested in a major presence in this region. The U.S. is having to take stock of its world-wide deployment and has realised that it must give greater attention to Europe and especially to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The Indian Ocean and the South West Pacific are quite low in the American order of priorities, I suggest. I should like to refer to a recent publication by Mr Malcolm Booker, a senior officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs with some 35 years service. I shall quote a very significant passage at page 2 1 5 of his book, The Last Domino. It reads:
The decline in American power in the Pacific must be expected to continue. It is becoming increasingly unacceptable politically- both at home and abroad- for United States bases to be maintained in Japan and the Philippines. Even in the Indian Ocean- where the Americans seemed at one time to have contemplated a forward policy- it would be rash to assume that they would wish to maintain major installations on a long-term basis.
This next part is very significant:
It seems unlikely for example that Diego Garcia will ever serve as the base for a major American fleet.
Such bases have ceased to be strategically necessary to the defence of the United States. Although, because of the inertia of the United States defence establishment, the withdrawal may be gradual, the logic of new naval technologies may eventually be manifested in a virtual abandonment of fixed establishments overseas. The safety of the United States rests upon the maintenance of superiority in nuclear striking power and upon that alone.
America’s reorientation away from South East Asia, the south-west Pacific and the Indian Ocean towards its more traditional centres of interest will not be immediate and may be subject to temporary reversals. But it will undoubtedly occur and any Australian policy which is based on other assumptions is doomed inevitably to failure.
The Government has seen fit to introduce a new concept- that of balance at the lowest level of balance at low levels- in an attempt to adjust its desires for an American presence to the fact of an American withdrawal. The concepts of ‘balance’ and of ‘low’ have not been defined. What do they mean? I suggest that they are completely meaningless concepts. The first, that is, balance has been one of the most intractable terms in the history of international relations. It is doubtful whether this Government has produced a formulation which has any real meaning. Who is going to judge when balance is reached? Would it be that the Russians or the Americans would have the same idea about when a situation of balance is reached, or would somebody like General Suharto be called in to referee as to when the balance has been achieved? This is a ridiculous gimmick. It is an unreal concept. It is a form of words that has been dished up by the Department of Foreign Affairs to get the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) off the hook, to try to rationalise a statement that could not be substantiated about balance in the Indian Ocean. How can the Soviet balance the United States Poseiden submarine presence in the Indian Ocean? Putting some of its own submarines there is no answer. It may require a surface fleet including anti-submarine vessels which the United States must then respond to with carriers. Because of the quite different structures of the 2 navies and their different strategic interests in the region, the only balance which could work in practice is at a zero level. The Government should go all the way in this case with President Carter in his call for the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace and should stop talking about these meaningless concepts of balance at a low level.
The third question to which I wish to refer briefly concerns the fact that east Africa, although it is a major focus of turmoil in the world today, hardly rated any reference in the Minister’s statement. Obviously the Government has not realised the full significance of what is happening in south and east Africa.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is often said in Australia that we should have a bipartisan foreign policy. Very few people who take an active interest in foreign affairs would disagree with that proposition. The Government certainly made its contribution towards achieving a bipartisan foreign policy with the statement delivered yesterday by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). I say that because the Minister’s statement was balanced and reasonable. It is, however, very unfortunate that in response to that balanced and reasonable assessment of foreign affairs, all we had from the Opposition, so far as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) is concerned anyway, was something over an hour of abuse.
I should like to take some examples of the reaction that the Leader of the Opposition had to the Minister’s speech because they seem to me to be very worthy of highlighting. The first and, I think, the most pernicious was the series of remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition with respect to our attitude to the problems of Africa. With respect, I would have thought that the Government and particularly a number of honourable members on the back bench of this side of the House had made it abundantly clear that we have no truck with the present situation in South Africa and with the present situation in Rhodesia.
– He did not read your fine article in Claire Clark’s book. I think he launched the book but did not read the article.
-It is kind of the Minister to refer to my article. But it is appropriate that he should do so because it is one example of what I am saying. They were views that were put forward some years ago. Apparently the Leader of the Opposition did not read the article. Apparently he does not listen to remarks made by the Minister, by me or by other people on this side of the House. What we have said is that we do not support apartheid in South Africa. We have said in the United Nations and in other places that we condemn that policy. We have said that we will have no military alliance or contact with South Africa. We have said that we do not support the Bantustans as separate and independent nation states. We have also said that we will not support or welcome to Australia sporting teams which are selected on a racial basis. All that the Leader of the Opposition can do on this subject is abuse honourable members on this side of the House for being Smith’s friends. I assume by that expression he meant to convey that on this side of the House we are supporters of the present regime in South Africa and its policies and of the present regime in Rhodesia. I should like to speak on this point at length but I say very concisely that the Government and its supporters reject that allegation without any equivocation.
Not only was the Leader of the Opposition given to abuse in his remarks yesterday but he was highly selective in some of the evidence that he sought to put forward for the views that he expressed. The most glaring example of that was his reliance on a speech made by the former Secretary of State, Dr Kissinger. Honourable members will recall that the remarks that were made on that occasion by the Leader of the Opposition were directed to the Indian Ocean issue. The general tenor of the argument put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, as I understood it, was that we had been deflated in our policy towards the Indian Ocean because of certain remarks made recently by President Carter. As I understood President Carter, he said that he and his Administration supported a bilateral arms limitation in the Indian Ocean. The Leader of the Opposition sought to say: ‘Well, there you are. Your policy so far as the Indian Ocean is concerned is in ruins’. In any case, in effect he went on to say that the policy had never had any basis in the past anyway. He sought to draw some comfort for that proposition from remarks made by the former Secretary of State, Dr Kissinger. He relied on a statement from a speech made by Dr Kissinger known as the Alastair Buchan Memorial Lecture, which was delivered in London on 25 June last year. He said that Dr Kissinger had made this statement: its -
That is, the Soviet Union’s- naval power … is far weaker than combined Allied naval strength in terms of tonnage, firepower, range, access to the sea, experience and seamanship.
Always being very doubtful about the sources used by the Leader of the Opposition, I took the trouble to extract Dr Kissinger’s speech on that occasion. I found, I must say not altogether to my surprise, that Dr Kissinger did not say what the Leader of the Opposition quoted. He used those words which were used by the Leader of the Opposition, but he also used additional words which were left out by the Leader of the Opposition without any indication that he was leaving out part of the speech. Let me read what Dr Kissinger said. He said:
Its naval power, while a growing and serious problem, is far weaker than combined Allied naval strength in terms of tonnage, fire power, range, access to the sea, experience and seamanship.
So the Leader of the Opposition omitted a reference in Dr Kissinger’s speech to the view that Dr Kissinger presumably held that Soviet naval power was increasing- not only that it was increasing but that it was posing a serious problem. Let us listen to what Dr Kissinger also said on that occasion. He said:
Beneath the nuclear umbrella, the temptation to probe with regional forces or proxy wars increases. The steady growth of Soviet conventional military and naval power and its expanding global reach cannot be ignored.
The Leader of the Opposition omitted that. Dr Kissinger also said:
And we must conduct a prudent and forceful foreign policy that is prepared to use our strength to block expansionism.
It would seem to me, with respect, that if one puts a fair interpretation on Dr Kissinger’s speech one would come to the conclusion that he was drawing attention to the potential problems to which the present Australian Government is drawing attention- that is to say, Dr Kissinger and we both draw attention to the fact that there is a substantial Soviet naval presence in the Indian Ocean and that not only is it a substantial presence but that it is increasing. He and we both draw attention to the fact that not only is that power increasing but that it poses problems so far as the strategic balance of the region is concerned. As I said at the outset of these remarks on this part of the issue, all that President Carter has said is that he wants a bilateral arms limitation in the region. So do we want a bilateral arms limitation in the region. As I understand it, we have always said that. We have also said that we want that guaranteed by the big powers. We want the military presence to be as small as possible. We want it to be balanced. We want to see a situation in which, if there is a limitation on military presence in the region, it is guaranteed by the big powers. Until it is guaranteed, Australia must have regard to its own defence situation. We must ensure that we have proper defence installations and proper military associations and connections with our allies to ensure the security of Australia.
There are a number of other areas- in fact, many- in the Minister’s speech to which I would like to address some remarks. Time makes that difficult to do. May I content myself by referring to some of them. The Minister rightly drew attention to the importance of the United Nations and to the importance of Australia having a proper and substantial working relationship with and role in the United Nations. We cannot be too sanguine in our hope that the United Nations will solve all international problems, because the United Nations and any other organisation will not be able to solve all international problems. The advantage of the United Nations is that it brings countries together. It keeps them talking, and in the course of debating serious international problems usually some compromise can be reached. As the House knows, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and I had the privilege last year of being the 2 parliamentary members of our delegation to the United Nations. It was an honour to be travelling in the company of a former Minister who was widely known and held in very high regard in international circles. One of the intriguing features of the honourable member for Hindmarsh, as far as some overseas people were concerned, was that here was a former Minister who had clearly had some difficulties with a former Prime Minister. They were very concerned to see what sort of man the honourable member for Hindmarsh was.
– When they find out, let us know.
-Yes. It seems to be the season for analysing the issue of personalities on the other side of the House. The interesting thing was that foreign observers came to the conclusion, as I think most of us have, that the honourable member for Hindmarsh had made a substantial contribution to his country. He had been balanced, restrained and sensible in most of the things he had done. Perhaps inquiries should be directed at the Leader of the Opposition to see why he had the problems that he had with the honourable member for Hindmarsh. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that the Labor Party is looking to get rid its present Leader.
I depart from the subject. To return to it, no one who goes to the United Nations can come away with any view, I would have thought, other than that the United Nations serves a very useful purpose. It cannot be expected to solve all international problems, but it is a very useful venue for debate and discussion and for providing a vehicle by which compromise can be reached. There is one aspect of our relationship with the United Nations to which I would draw attention. We are a member of a group called WEOGWestern European and Other Group. We are one of the others. I would like to see the Government investigate the possibility of our forming a separate group within the United Nations. Australia is a leader in this part of the world. We are widely respected by nations in South East Asia and in the Pacific. We could be a leader of that group at the United Nations. I hope therefore that the Government will investigate the possibility of our having a closer working and voting relationship with the nations of South East Asia and the Pacific so far as our activity in the United Nations is concerned.
– We participate in the ASEAN group.
– The Minister has reminded me that we have an association with those countries. He referred to that in his speech. However, it would seem to me that there is perhaps scope for an even closer and even more formalised relationship with those countries.
Attention should be drawn to the situation in respect of refugees. Australia has taken many refugees from the world’s trouble spots. These days Australia seems to be one of the very few countries to which people apparently want to come rather than leave. I emphasise this because, although the Government has done a great deal to receive refugees, I believe it should do more. The Minister has drawn attention to the fact that his colleague the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) will be making a statement on this matter. I will wait for that with interest. We have a enormous and an overwhelming humanitarian responsibility to people who are being rooted out of their own countries, cast upon the seas, almost literally in many cases. I hope we can translate that very deep responsibility into positive action. There are many subjects on which I would like to speak in this debate, but time makes that impossible. Finally, I congratulate the Minister for Foreign Affairs for what I described before as a very responsible and substantial contribution to foreign affairs discussion in Australia.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-I doubt that there has been any area of government action in which Liberal-Country Party governments have been so consistently wrong as they have in the field of foreign affairs. Their track record is abysmal. What is worse, they have been wrong for the basest of motives, namely, their own political aggrandisement. They have consistently and persistently taken decisions in our relations with other countries that have sought to advance their own political fortunes in Australia, either in terms of playing on the prejudice of some sections of the Australian community or in terms of enhancing trade and profit. The question of morality has rarely entered into their deliberations.
Where they have not been completely wrong, they have been slow in recognising the changes that have been occurring throughout the world. They failed to recognise the aspirations of the subject peoples of the colonial empires in South East Asia and Africa. They backed the colonial powers and alienated the emergent nations. Every attempt at independence was seen as a communist plot and the more they supported the oppressors and exploiters the more they made certain the self-fulfilling prophecy of communist domination. Instead of supporting moderate national forces they threw in their lot with the rich landowners, the military and the gangsters who fawned on the colonial powers. Twentythree years of Australia being identified as the opponent of self-determination was finally put to rest by the advent of the Australian Labor Government armed with the best foreign policy this country has ever had.
The Liberals had been wrong about Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, South Africa, Rhodesia and New Guinea. Now they show their immorality again with their attitudes towards East Timor and their absurd posturing in relation to the Indian Ocean. Mercifully President Carter has just pulled the rug out from under the feet of the Fraser Government by proposing that the Indian Ocean should be demilitarised. Whilst I find myself staggered at the Liberals ‘ neanderthal attitudes on many aspects of foreign policy and the tardiness with which they finally come to terms with reality, occasionally they get on the right track. I find myself generally in agreement with their views on the Middle East. However, I would like to see Australia playing a more constructive role in urging Arab nations to come to terms with Israel’s right to exist.
It has never ceased to amaze me how little debate has occurred in this Parliament on the Middle East. It would be fair to say that since World War II it has remained one of the major trouble sports in the world and a potential source of World War III. During my 8 years in the House there have been numerous debates on South East Asia, Timor, South Africa, Rhodesia, Russia, China and a host of other countries. Yet there has never been a debate about the Middle East. There seems to me to be no obvious reason for the omission. More debate about the Middle East may lift the general level of debate throughout the nation which in recent years has been carried out at an incredibly low level. The debate is a slanging match between pro-Arab, proPalestine Liberation Organisation forces and Zionists in the language of 1948. One realises how absurd it is only when one goes to the Middle East. I would say in fairness to the Arabs and
Israelis that debate on this issue in their region is about 25 years ahead of debate in Australia. I am not talking about debate in the Parliament but debate in Australia generally.
I have never been quite able to understand the term ‘even-handedness’. I do not know what it means because no one has ever explained it to me. It seems to me to mean that we do not say anything at all about the situation in the Middle East. I find this attitude staggering. We have a view on every other country and every other problem. I do not suggest that we need to be neutral. We have a view on South Africa and Rhodesia. We have a view about the cold war. But here the term ‘even-handedness’ means that we are not going to say anything. I have no objection to Australia chiding the Israelis if they are not doing the right thing or chiding the Arabs if they are not doing the right thing. I think it is in our interests to have a view and to say when we think the Arabs are wrong and when the Israelis are wrong.
I have been to the Middle East twice in the last 2 years. I am staggered- I suppose I am not staggered historically- at the lack of trust. I have been fortunate to have been able to speak to people from both sides. I think that the Israeli point is easily understandable. I do not have time to canvass the whole history of the Middle East because that would take at least an hour.
– Have you been to Egypt?
-No, but I was able to speak to Egyptian politicians in Madrid during the recent Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference. I am not sure that I would be welcome in Egypt. However, I would be delighted to go if I was given the chance. As honourable members know, in 1948 the Arab countries refused to recognise the United Nations partition of 1947. There was a concerted attack by a number of Arab nations on the fledgling state of Israel. In the period between 1948 and 1956 there were constant and repeated attacks by the Fedayeen, which was the forerunner of today’s PLO, upon the Israel moshavim and the kibbutzim. There was a buildup of Arab forces prior to 1956 in the Gaza and Sinai areas. There was a blockade in 1956 on the Gulf of Aqaba, which was preceded by the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. Of course, Israeli forces then moved into Sinai, routed the Egyptians, forced the lifting of the blockade of Aqaba, captured the town of Sharm el Sheikh, removed military bases at Gaza and Sinai and brought relative tranquility to the area.
Unfortunately the big powers claimed that they would guarantee the Israeli security and safeguard her right to free passage through the Suez Canal and into the Indian Ocean. Without access through the Gulf of Aqaba and of course Suez, Israel has to go right around Africa to get into the Indian Ocean. These guarantees, of course, turned out to be quite useless. The major powers simply were not able to guarantee these conditions and Israel was once again excluded from the use of the Suez Canal. In 1967, when it suited the Egyptians, the United Nations peacekeeping force was forced out overnight. It was told to get out and it went with its tail between its legs. Of course, for years prior to that there had been constant Arab rhetoric about its intention to destroy Israel, to push it into the sea. Rhetoric about the extermination of Israel was heard constantly and daily by the Israelis.
As I said before, in the period 19S6 to 1957 thousands of raids took place upon Israeli border settlements. As a result many hundreds of Israelis were killed. When war broke out in 1967 and Egyptian forces threatened to crush Israel the Israelis were determined that this would never happen again. They were determined that never again would they have to face a situation as they did on the Golan Heights where Syrian guns were able to be turned daily onto the Israel kibbutzim and kill a farmer here and a school child there. They were not going to allow the PLO terrorist forces to come from Gaza which is only about 40 or 50 miles from Tel Aviv. They would not allow them to cross over and carry out terrorist activities. They were not going to allow the same sort of thing to happen on the west bank where some hundreds of thousands of Arabs lived and carried out terrorist activities against Israel.
I have spoken to members of a kibbutz on what was the old border. They told me of the frightening experience of 1 967 when they looked up in the morning and saw hundreds of Syrian tanks facing them a few hundred yards away from their families and children. They said to me that there was no way in the world that they were going to permit that sort of thing to happen again. Admittedly in this day of modern warfare maybe the distance between you and the enemy’s guns does not mean a great deal. Perhaps it is easy for some people in Australia, who are thousands of miles away from this trouble spot, to pontificate. But we have to take into account the psychological effect that such a situation has on people who are sitting a few hundred yards away from guns trained on homes and families. It is something else again when one’s wife and children are sitting in that home. It is easy for politicians or people outside of the political arena to say that Israel should do this or Israel should do that. But it is not their children or family who will be exterminated if war breaks out again and if terrorists are allowed to return to the same areas and continue to do the same things.
I think that we need to understand a number of things about Israel. It is a terribly tiny nation. On the basis of the pre- 1967 boundaries, in length it would probably run from Taree to Wollongong. Its maximum width would be no greater than from the New South Wales coast to Penrith or Katoomba to a minimum of 10 miles. The Israelis know that a concerted military thrust would cut it in half in half an hour. I believe that there is a fervent, desperate desire in Israel to come to peace with the Arabs. The Israelis know that they have more to gain from peace than have the Arabs; because the Israelis cannot afford to lose one war, whereas the Arabs could go on losing wars simply because of their numbers. The second thing that needs to be remembered is the small population of Israel-3 250 000, including the 250 000 Arabs. Then, of course, there is the national consciousness, which would take me hours to explain. So many Jews were killed during the last war- some 6 million- in what is called the holocaust. There is a lack of trust of the Arab nations and a hatred of the PLO and the tactics it has used, which have gone beyond what is normal warfare and a people’s right to attempt to win back their rights, if that is what the Arabs think they are doing. They have gone as far as the murder of children, the murder of athletes and the blowing up of innocent civilians- people who often have had nothing to do with the thing, who are not Jewish, Israeli or whatever.
I find it fascinating to listen to the pro-Arab rhetoric of those who talk about Israel being a racist, imperialist, fascist, Zionist- they use the term ‘ Zionist’ as an insult- and expansionist country. There are elements in Israel that are expansionist. Israel has its nuts, the same as we in Australia have. There is a full spectrum of political views from the extreme Right to the extreme Left. Some of them horrify me. I have talked to people of the extreme Right in Israel, and they are as nutty as a fruit cake. But they are not the government. They do not represent the general view of the present Labour Government, of the Likud which is the Opposition. So, to play up, as some people do, the odd statement by someone on the lunatic fringe as being the view of the
Israeli Government is like- I cannot think of a good analogy at the moment.
When I hear people talking about Israel denying the Palestinian people the right to selfdetermination I think of the countries about which they are talking- Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Tunisia. Almost without exception they are totalitarian, authoritarian, one-party states, countries with military juntas or absolute monarchies. They have the gall, the temerity, to talk that way about Israel- a country which has all the civil rights and freedoms that we have in Australia. These countries have virtually no civil liberties. They do not allow the right to strike. Most of them do not have trade unions; or, if they have, they are tame cat unions set up by the government. They have no free elections, no freedom of association, no free Press. The rights of minorities in these countries are virtually nonexistent. I mention particularly the rights of the Jews who live in Syria and Iraq.
When I was in Israel I was able to meet and have talks with the communist mayor of Nazareth- a man who was elected in free elections but who is opposed to many of the things Israel has done, and he says so. He told me so during a public meeting. The mayor of Nablus is a pro-PLO mayor elected in free elections. As Bob Hawke has said: ‘How bloody democratic can you get?’ Israel allows the free election of people who oppose the government and people who say that they will destroy Israel. In Israel there was public debate about the rights of the Arabs. Some claimed that they were not getting the full rights, and maybe they were not; but there was a free debate at which the Prime Minister was on the podium and was cross-examined and attacked by Arabs. What a great thing it is that this should happen in a society and that there should be those freedoms. Those freedoms do not exist in many Arab countries. I can only hope that people in Australia will start to take a more intelligent attitude on this matter.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is, of course, not possible to reply in any detail to the comprehensive and very effective introduction to this debate which was made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). We all have to concentrate on just one or two things. For us in Australia, as for all people, foreign policy must be directed towards our own interests. We in Australia do not determine world politics. We may sometimes act as an honest broker, but we should not exaggerate the influence we wield. We have to observe what happens on the wider scene, adjust outselves to it, and inside that framework look after our own interests. Our problem in Australia now is one of sheer survival because the dream world of security which we once had is now gone, and I fear gone forever. No longer have we the automatic effective protection upon which, except for that small Japanese interlude, we have always been able to rely and inside whose aura the Australian nation has been able to forge its own foreign policy.
In this wider world which we observe and in which we have to live, for the last 30 years all history has been the history of the communist push to dominate the whole of the rest of the world. That is what 30 years of history has been about and what the next decades of history, I fear, may well be about. With that, all foreign policy in fact has been atomic policy, because it has been the nature and the possession of the new weapons which have determined the course of history and the way in which the greater nations could act in order to further what they thought were their own interests. We all recognise now that neither side can face willingly the consequences of total war. So, with the communist push remaining, the will to dominate still there and the scandal of totalitarianism still spreading like a cancer all over the world, even the worst willed have had to have recourse to weapons which are in a sense short of being weapons of total war and are in a sense, one might say, the weapons of peace. The objective is not peace. The objective is total. Survival is threatened just as much as by the cruder weapons of total war. Vae victis. There is no hope, no prospect, in surrender.
Although the issue of war is still as bloody and as violent as the issue of total war, in this phase it is going forward in ways which are short of the total means of conducting it. To paralyse the will to resist is the rationale of the communist attack upon us. For Australia, that is to paralyse the will to survive. The war is now being fought both in Australia and elsewhere on what we could call the political front. We allow the communists to organise against us, but because of their totalitarian organisation we are unable to organise similarly against them inside their countries. If there were freedom, if the balance were held equally and if both sides had the same access, then the position would be quite different. I believe that in the big totalitarian centres of Moscow and Peking there is still the same desire for freedom on the part of the masses of the people but there is not the same capacity to exercise freedom. The appalling irony of it is that the mechanisms of freedom among us are being used to destroy our ultimate freedom.
I want to talk of something small in this great context. After all, these great issues are the accumulation, the concatenation of small things. Let me speak of something that came into my hand only a few moments ago from the official Soviet sources. It is the Novosti Press Agency release on the arrest of a man called Yuri Orlov. I will not be able to read the whole of the article but so that it may not be thought that I am distorting it I ask for leave to incorporate the whole of the article in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
WHY WAS YURI ORLOV ARRESTED?
By Vladimir Lysenkov
The name of the man has been in the reports broadcast by West European and American radio and television companies and in the foreign press for almost a year. Certain circles in the West claim that Yuri Orlov, a 52 year-old corresponding member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, heads a group to monitor … the Soviet observance of the Helsinki agreements. Orlov and a handful of his associates prepared and distributed all sorts of propaganda material slandering the Soviet policy and the socialist system.
The authorities had warned Yuri Orlov that his activities were an act of provocation and a violation of Soviet laws. He and other ‘campaigners’ from his group had been told that their organisation called ‘the group to assist the observance of Helsinki agreements’ could not be regarded as a mass organisation because it did not reflect the interests of any broad section of society and had only twelve ‘angry’ men and women as its members.
The Orlov group ignored the warning, however, and stepped up their activities, distributing their slanderous writings besmirching the Soviet Union and its state and social system.
Orlov and his group received moral and material support from anti-Soviet circles abroad. They were given substantial financial aid and space in the propaganda media in a number of countries.
The Procurator’s Office of the U.S.S.R., which under the Soviet Constitution exercises supreme supervision over the observance of Soviet laws in this country, could not overlook these practices. It issued a warrant for a search of Yuri Orlov ‘s flat.
Since a lot of anti-Soviet and other slanderous material was seized at his flat, on February 1 Yuri Orlov was summoned to the Moscow Procurator’s Office. There Yuri Orlov abused the authorities and refused to comply with their legitimate demands. When he was summoned again, he defied the order. A preventive measure was applied to the offender in accordance with existing laws of procedure, Yuri Orlov was detained on February 10. Later in the day the Deutsche Welle radio station broadcast a report, which was later seized on by other western news media, saying that ‘Yuri Orlov, a prominent human rights campaigner’ was arrested by the Soviet authorities ‘ for his dissenting views. ‘
Let’s make things clear. Yuri Orlov was arrested not for his ‘dissent’- no one is punished for this in the Soviet Union -but for spreading slander, that is, an offense punishable under Articles 70 and 190. 1 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation. The latter envisages punishment for systematically spreading lies slandering the Soviet state and social system.
Novosti Press Agency, Moscow
– I thank the House. Now let me speak of some parts of the article. Mr Orlov is a 52-year old corresponding member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences. He heads a group to monitor the Soviet observance of the Helsinki agreements. These basic agreements were meant to preserve and to give freedom of political activity inside the Iron Curtain, to make those people equal to us in this regard so that if they wanted to have propaganda among us we would have the equivalent means of having propaganda among them. Here was a man who was setting out to monitor the Soviet observance of the Helsinki agreements. The article says:
Orlov and a handful of his associates prepared and distributed all sorts of propaganda material slandering the Soviet policy and the socialist system.
That is to say, he criticised the totalitarian repression of the Soviet system. He was warned that ‘his activities were an act of provocation and a violation of Soviet laws’. The article continues:
He and other ‘campaigners’ from his group had been told that their organisation called ‘the group to assist the observance of Helsinki agreements’ could not be regarded as a mass organisation because it did not reflect the interests of any broad section of society and had only twelve ‘angry’ men and women as its members.
That is to say, there is a judgment that somebody who puts forward a point of view and does not represent anybody else is criminal for putting forward his point of view. The article goes on about his arrest and so on and it ends up like this:
Let’s make things clear. Yuri Orlov was arrested not for his ‘dissent’- no one is punished for this in the Soviet Union -but for spreading slander, that is an offence punishable under Articles 70 and 1 90. 1 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation. The latter envisages punishment for systematically spreading lies slandering the Soviet state and social system.
Compare that with the position in Australia. Do we jail people for criticising our system? Most assuredly we do not. Do we say to them: ‘You are only a small group. You have no mass support. Therefore it is a crime for you to put forward your views’? Most assuredly we do not. We are not allowed to put our views to the Soviet people in this war, which is at present a peaceful war but whose end, if the Soviets win, will be bloody enough. If they can paralyse our will to resist they will have no mercy upon us. Do not think that there is any prospect of survival. We cannot approach them. They are able to approach and disaffect our people. If people look around them they will see through communist and other organisations which are paralysing our will to resist. It is the duty of the Government to meet this threat and to meet it by publicising the truth about what is happening in the Soviet Union and in other communist countries.
Let me take another example- communist China. Ironically enough we have had praise from top government circles of a wonderful communist archaeological exhibition. What irony it is that the people who are putting this forward are the people who are doing everything to besmirch and destroy the culture which they put forward to us as something to admire. There is a complete contradiction between the way they treat these things in China and the way they use them to deceive us here. I say this knowing that it is a very wonderful exhibition of what the Chinese people and the Chinese culture are capable of being. It is being put forward by the people who are destroying that whole culture and whose way of political organisation is to destroy. Let us have no doubt about this. That exhibition, wonderful as it is, is a living lie and we should not be deceived into thinking that the people who put it out to us have any other kind of motive.
There will be visits to China. They are being organised by well-meaning people. People who have been in such a country will know that they see what they are meant to see. They cannot speak the language. They cannot even read the script. They see a sign but do not know whether it is a street sign, a shop direction or a sign on a women’s lavatory. They do not know what the sign means at all. They are utterly in the hands of their guides. These people, well-meaning as they are, will come back from China giving us the version of things there which the Chinese communist authorities want to put over to us- a version which is a lie. They are going to use these wellmeaning people, to encourage them to go to China and to come back and propagate a lie with all the authority of returned tourists. It is exactly what happened in the 1930s in Soviet Russia when in the excesses of the Stalinist purges, murders and filth people came back to England and Australia telling us of the wonders of the socialist sixth of the world.
– I do not doubt the sincerity of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) but I doubt very much his wisdom. In his remarks about the People’s Republic of China I do not know whether he is attacking purely this side of the Parliament or whether he is attacking both this side of the Parliament and his own side. Without a doubt, if one were to accept the remarks which he made, one would realise very obviously that they were directed as well to members of his side of the Parliament who have visited China. This is a pity- a tragedy, in fact- for future relations between Australia and China. Everyone must remember that there are 800 million people in China and that China forms a very great part of Asia. It is of very great importance for Australia to understand China and for China to understand Australia. For that reason I think it may be a great pity indeed that the honourable member for Mackellar has not had an opportunity to visit China. For example, I can recall speaking to Embassy officials in Peking after a visit to China by a delegation from this Parliament during the term of the Labor Government. The late Senator Greenwood, an Attorney-General in the previous Liberal-Country Party Government, led the then Opposition members in the delegation. The officials said that he gained a good deal from the visit; that he went to China with a lack of understanding as to what was really happening there and he came away with a far greater understanding, particularly of the need for the 2 countries to work together to understand one another. They felt that he benefited very greatly indeed, and I understood from the people who spoke to him privately that this was the case. Nobody would suggest that the former Attorney-General, the late Senator Greenwood, was a young radical of the Liberal Party- far from it. He was looked on as being one of the right wing members of the Liberal Party- and I say that without any disrespect because he had a right to express his own views at all times. Yet he went to China and he came back with a greater understanding of China than he had previously. I think it is a pity that the honourable member for Mackellar continues on with what I can only feel, with due respect to him, is fanaticism when he refuses to acknowledge anything which may be good as well as those matters with which he could validly disagree. I think all of us are in this category because sometimes we agree with some things and disagree with other things. I think it is a bad thing when one’s mind is closed. Unfortunately I feel that the honourable member’s mind is closed on this issue. I am not saying this facetiously or in order to score a point. I recall one night during an adjournment debate in this place bringing forward some Hansard quotes in which the honourable member had suggested military action against China. His reply was not apologetic in any respect whatsoever; that is what he believed should have been done. I think that very foolish talk. If he had taken what he suggested to its logical conclusion he would have realised the holocaust that would have been brought upon the world. As I have said, China represents 800 million people in Asia. It is, I believe, very important that we should get to know and understand China. China is one of the oldest civilisations in the world. It is a civilisation which over thousands of years has had the ability to bring to the world great wisdom, a great civilisation in itself, a great capacity in the arts and so on. I believe that it is a civilisation which can still give a good deal to the world.
I think that one of the great pluses of the Whitlam era during the period leading up to the election of the Labor Government in 1972 and during the period of its term of office from 1972 to 1 975 was that we were able to get rid of the isolation of China. I can recall very well the visit of Lord Attlee to Australia in 1 954. 1 can recall him addressing a group of people at a reception in the Sydney Town Hall. He said he had just come from China and he made the point then that he was very deeply concerned about the ignorance at that point of time of the leadership of China about what was happening in the world outside. He felt that the ignorance was dangerous and that it was very very important to involve China in the councils of the world. Fortunately, that is what the Labor Party realised in that year of 1954 when it first adopted as its policy at the Hobart Conference that not only should China be given diplomatic recognition but also that she should be admitted to the United Nations, to the councils of the world. That policy was adopted by the ALP. That policy received a great fillip from the visit to China in 1972 by the then Leader of the Opposition Mr Whitlam. Of course upon the election of a Labor Government in 1972 there was recognition of China by Australia, and not that long after the admission of China to the United Nations, to the councils of the world. I believe this was a step towards achieving greater international understanding not only between Australia and China but also between China and the rest of the world. I think it was a step towards world peace. I regret very greatly that there are people who have completely closed their minds to the need to get this understanding between China and Australia in particular and between China and the rest of the world. I have in my hand a copy of an article which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 1 1 October reporting the result of an opinion poll. It says:
Most Australians fear the country will be threatened by military attack within 15 years . . .
It says that China was seen as the most likely invader. I do not believe that. If there is to be an invasion I am not going to suggest which country I think will be responsible for that because I think to do so would do a great disservice to the interests of Australia as a whole. But I believe that we on this side of the House very greatly regret that there are people who still inflame relations between this country and other countries simply because they are sitting on the fanaticisms of the past, the fanaticisms of the McCarthy era, that dreadful era of the 1 950s.
Looking back on history, one of the issues of which I am most proud as a member of the Opposition and of the ALP is that we were able to forge new links with Asia and the rest of the world. We were able to update our foreign policy to make it a policy of this era, of this decade, instead of still following the policies of the 1950s. That was a decade which saw great damage done not only to Australia’s relations with other nations but also to relations between various other nations throughout the world. The Labor Government was able to update attitudes and policy and forge new links with the third world, that group of developing nations which will have such a tremendous impact upon the future of the world for so many years to come. If Australia is able to make sure that she is looked on, not as white policeman in Asia but as a country which is prepared to work with other nations, irrespective of their colour, their creed and their culture, it will have gained a great deal indeed.
One of the positive aspects of this debate is the fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) was not as reactionary in his statement as the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who is still endeavouring deliberately to foment the Indian Ocean issue and who has already been virtually repudiated by the Carter Administration in the United States. The Carter Administration is today adopting a directly opposite policy to the policy espoused by the Prime Minister of Australia, who is not even being consulted when major announcements affecting this country, the Indian Ocean and United States relations with Asia are made. Australia is not being consulted. The Prime Minister is not being consulted because the policies he has been espousing are out of date with the United States. I think this is one of the great pluses which have been achieved. The former Labor Government, by espousing the new era in foreign affairs leading up to 1 972 and by its actual implementation of these new policies which brought so many other countries into association with Australia, has forged new links with Asia, with the third world as a whole and with the Association of South East Asian Nations. They have had an impact even upon the present Government or, particularly, upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The statements he made yesterday were by no means as out of line with Labor Party policy as they would have been had they been made when the Government was in Opposition. In other words, the Minister has matured in the short period since his Government came to power and his policies are very much different to those which have been espoused by his Leader, the Prime Minister of Australia, who, in many respects, is still living in the past. But at least the Prime Minister has now visited other countries. He has been to China and his attitudes are in direct contravention of the attitudes expressed by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). I think that is very good for the future of the world. Those are the major issues which I thought I should bring up in the House today. I hope that this tendency towards greater understanding between nations will continue.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I would like to refute a few of the arguments advanced by previous speakers. One, in particular, concerns the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) who is accused of having a closed mind with regard to certain aspects of foreign affairs and with regard to his appreciation of what has been occurring in the world during the last 30 years in the battle against communist domination. I would say that the honourable member for Mackellar has a very open mind and a very able and sharp mind. He is capable of seeing through a lot of the facade which is built up to hide the communist advance towards world domination and the support of it by the Australian Labor Party. I compliment the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) on his statement which has been described as quite the most comprehensive and level headed assessment of the realities of Australia’s foreign policy which any Minister has presented for years. It must be considered a success yet the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) saw fit to drone on that the statement was irrelevant and outdated even before it was delivered.
I do not think any honourable member on either side of the House, certainly not the public or the Press, would agree with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition. He made statements to the effect that Australians overseas could walk 2 feet taller because, I take it, of his own superman performance as the greatest foreign minister ever. He stated that the Indian Ocean is the central question in Australia’s foreign policy. Let us face it, it is a very important area. It was dealt with, among many other areas in the foreign affairs field, by the statement. The Leader of the Opposition said that this region is of vital interest to Australia. All honourable members would agree. But he went on to say that the Government does not want to know. When the Labor Party was in Government it was his policy ‘not to know’ with respect to the Indian Ocean and the steady build-up of communist influence in the Indian Ocean and around its shores. The Leader of the Opposition stated- and there are many of his party members who support him- that President Carter’s statement concerning an Indian Ocean zone of peace has virtually torpedoed the Government’s red baiting and militaristic stance. President Carter’s zone of peace for the Indian Ocean is a fine ideal and I agree that it should be supported. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has agreed that it should be supported but we must realise, and the Opposition must surely realise, that it must be a mutual affair. If the forces on one side are to be reduced, the forces on the other side must also be reduced. This has never happened. In the past the Russians have built up their forces around their bases on the East African coast. They have patrol ships or fishing vessels throughout the whole of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. They have submarines and the facilities to refuel them.
I remember that when I was last flying over the Indian Ocean, one of the crew, who was making an announcement, stated that we were airborne and heading for Perth with nothing underneath us for the next 6 hours except the Indian Ocean and, as an afterthought, the Russian Navy. I was coming from Mauritius at that time and it is generally conceded on the island of Mauritius that you could virtually walk across the Indian Ocean, stepping on Russian ships, and not get your feet wet. We are told that there is nothing there and that it should be a zone of peace. All right, it should be a zone of peace but, my heavens, much of the Russian or communist build-up would have to be taken away before the meagre resources of the United States and our own even more meagre resources should suffer any diminution at all.
We heard some criticism of the Minister’s comment that the Indian Ocean should be a zone of balance. That is what it should be. The military presence in the area should be balanced, whether it is achieved by ensuring no further military or services build-up or by some other means. The main point is that there should be a balance. Do not forget that Malaysia called for a sphere of peace in the area covered by the Association of South East Asian Nations. On the basis of that stance there has been a steady creeping forward of the communist influence into at least two of the ASEAN countries. They are Malaysia itself and Thailand. When we are talking about zones of peace and a sphere in which there is no major build-up of power, we have to look at the past performance of the communists in those ASEAN countries. That is what the ASEAN countries concern is all about. I think that they probably realise even now that they are in grave danger, that there has been a considerable build-up on the east African coast of Russian strength- naval, air and technical. So the Russian build-up is no myth at all.
Speaking of the ASEAN countries, I welcome the Minister’s statement that the greatest of importance is placed on consolidating and developing the Australian Government’s relationship with those 5 countries. Last December the Government formed an inter-departmental committee to review all aspects of our relations with those countries. I commend the Government on taking that action. I notice that in its composition the committee was heavily weighted to the economic side of the situation. That was for a very good reason, I think. Australia is in a position to assist those countries. It is in a position to assist all the countries in its vicinity, but especially those 5 ASEAN countries. We can assist them and assist ourselves. We are at the bottom end of the Indonesian archipelago. I have been advocating for years that we should play a leading role in their development. I know that we were not asked to be a member of the ASEAN group, but we could assist them- I hope we do assist them- and offer friendship and advice and generally ensure that we are considered to be a country which is interested in that area. To do so really could do us nothing but good from the point of view of trade and defence and from the cultural point of view. We should be looking towards the possibility of making northern Australia the centre of that activity. We should be, say, converting the Darwin Community College into a university to which students from the ASEAN countries could come in tropical Australia in order to learn before returning to their own countries. It is a great opportunity for us to assist our neighbours.
Do not let us forget what was the situation in Timor when the present Government came to office. It was a ‘no action’ situation. The previous Prime Minister sat back and hoped, I imagine, that something would happen in one direction or the other. I think he must have assessed the situation and decided that he could not do anything about the Indonesian military build-up in East Timor anyhow. Since coming to office this Government has taken many initiatives in regard to refugees, exerting pressure for the withdrawal of Indonesian troops, and sending a special representative to Timor to mention a few. The Government is continually criticised by the Opposition for having done nothing in regard to the situation in Timor. Had the Labor leader asked for the support of the ASEAN countries during the early stages of the trouble in Timor I am certain that the situation would not be anything like as bad as it is now if it existed at all.
In the last few minutes available to me I would like to refer to what the Minister said in his statement under the heading ‘Areas of tension’. When dealing with South Africa the Minister stated that we are maintaining a policy of correct diplomatic relations with South Africa to oppose without reservation that country’s policies of racial discrimination. That is, we are antiapartheid. That is fair enough; strictly everyone is. I have heard it said that the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act and the Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act have the effect of introducing separatism. Apartheid is separatism. Although it is not acting in quite the same way, it is separatism. If that legislation as it is now drafted were pursued to its ultimate conclusion it could produce a black state in the Northern Territory. I am not certain that the Labor Party did not have that idea in mind when it drafted the legislation originally. If the legislation does not create a black state, it certainly will result in separate development.
We have stood by and watched Rhodesia battle against communist backed nationalism. Let us face it; Australia followed the policy adopted by the British towards Rhodesia, and we have done nothing about altering that policy. We have stood by and watched Rhodesia. I ask: Are we going to do the same with regard to South Africa? We have stood with those countries in world wars and they have stood with us. Yet we are not lifting a finger even to help them now. I want to know why we do not set up dialogue with these countries, especially with South Africa, instead of standing off and adopting a sanctimonious attitude to their problems. They have problems, just as we do- we should discuss them.
-One could take issue with the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) on a number of matters. Not the least of them is the indication of white arrogance that ran through his address to this House when we have a world which is multi-racial. He said that the granting of land rights for Aborigines in the Northern Territory would make the Northern Territory into a black state. I remind the honourable member that not quite 200 years ago Australia was a black state and it was the white Europeans who came here with weapons and took possession of the land. Now to deny the indigenous people rights is, in my view, far from being honest. Along with the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), the honorable member seems to have his attitudes in relation to foreign affairs coloured very much by his paranoic hatred of a political philosophy which is different from his. It is known loosely by the term ‘communism ‘. They would implant in the minds of the Australian people the idea that the philosophy of communism held by every country in the world that cares to declare itself a communist country involves the existence of one rigid system. Of course, anybody thinking or reading about the matter will know that this is not necessarily true. One cannot say that democracy is the same in all of those countries which profess to be democratic. We know that democracy varies from country to country and that the people in those countries have their own interpretations of how they want it applied. The same applies to communism.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory seemed to me to be defending the stand of the illegal Smith regime in Rhodesia. He seemed to be lauding that regime for standing up against communist-backed nationalism. I should like to reflect on those words for a moment. The movements in Asia, Africa and indeed most parts of the world- in China it was the Long March- were all part of nationalist movements. The exploiters were not communists. It was the communists who came forward and promised to lead the people away from their exploiters. That is exactly what happened. In Rhodesia a minority of European people went there and took possession of the land, obviously against the wishes of the people who inhabited it first- the black people- and now they are most resentful of the fact that, they having built their wealth and their white empires there, those who traditionally and over many centuries owned the land now demand it back. So, because they take this unusual step they are branded as communists.
To me, that goes to the very crux of Australia ‘s foreign policy and why the debate on foreign policy in Australia has never been broad enough to encompass all of the matters that are of concern to us. It has always been narrow and the community has always been peppered with the view that all things that occur around us are communist inspired. The honourable member for the Northern Territory went further. He was told by the captain of an airliner- I guess some 30 000 feet above the Indian Ocean- that the only things below them were the Indian Ocean and the Russian fleet. To use that as a debating point in this House seems to me to have no credence whatsoever. Even the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen) gave away using that sort of an argument a long time ago. The so-called build-up of Russian ships in the Indian Ocean is very plausible. It is a claim that cannot be disproved easily by the community; but nobody has ever brought forth a shred of evidence to prove that this is occurring. The honourable member spoke of communist bases on the east coast of Africa. There is no evidence to support that, but there is ample evidence of the presence of American submarines armed with Polaris missiles in the Indian Ocean.
The statement made by the honourable member for Kooyong, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, did not have much credence. I believe the Minister to be a very good Foreign Minister. Were he to be not under the dominance of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), perhaps a foreign policy would emerge. The statement that was made to this House yesterday was not a statement of foreign policy as the people of Australia wanted to hear it; it was not a policy statement as to where we were going to go. On page 7 of the Melbourne Sun- that is the prominence that that newspaper gave the statement; it seemed to think that the cricket was more importantjournalist Don Baker commented:
The speech was a review of the Government’s actions rather than an announcement of new initiatives.
We can have rehashes any time. When our Foreign Minister stands up in this place the people of Australia expect him to give some indication of where Australia is going in this area, not where it has been. The attitude of the Foreign Minister, unless given his head- even given his head- can never equal the attitude towards foreign affairs expressed by the most recent Prime Minister of this country, who is now the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) and who is destined to hold that position for a long time.
– He will be Leader of the Opposition for many years.
Mr KEITH JOHNSON I meant to say that he will be Leader of the Australian Labor Party for a long time. All we seem to hear in these debates is a generalisation on all of these things. The white arrogance in this area shows through again when the Association of South East Asian Nations is mentioned. After a recent visit to the South East Asian countries I came away with a distinct impression that they do not regard Australia as an Asian country anyhow and therefore do not think it would be proper for Australia to be a member of that organisation. They regard Australia as a Pacific country. If one cares to think about it, one realises that they are right. The world being round, of course, there are countries on each side of us and I suppose we can select the group to which we wish to belong.
The attitude of the conservative governments over the years- in fact down through the centuries has always been that their foreign affairs and defence policies have been inextricably mixed. Their whole attitude towards their neighbours and other countries has always been one of aggression. The governments of the day have made their decisions on foreign policy with a gunboat in mind to enforce them. I suggest that up until the sixth decade of the twentieth century the people generally were quite prepared to accept these myths that were put to them, to the effect that enemies were around them, and they were willing to offer themselves as soldiers to go into other people’s countries to fight. If honourable members opposite would have a look at Australia’s history in this respect they would find that there is hardly a country on earth to which armed Australian soldiers have not been sent to fight the people in those countries at the behest of another nation- never for our own protection. One would think that the frontier of Australia was the Rhine in Germany. One would laugh loud and long if a Frenchman were to suggest that the frontier of France was the Murray River.
During the 1960s the people of the world- the people of the greater nations and the lesser nations- whose governments had involved them in a warlike operation in the Indo-China region questioned the wisdom of this. People came out and demonstrated their dislike for their governments’ involvement and their own involvement. It was a war fought with conscripts because at that time-and I believe since- the attitude of the people was changing. They believed that there were other ways to solve these problems than to send armed men to do it for them. So the land war in Indo-China came to a close. In 1973 the
Labor Government took the action of withdrawing all Australian servicemen from Vietnam. We were told then, as we were told about the independence of Papua New Guinea, that with the removal of the Australian and other armed men from the area bloodshed and wholehearted slaughter would take place between the people who lived in those countries. It was for this reason, we were told, that we must leave our soldiers in Vietnam. We were told that we could not take any steps towards giving Papua New Guinea its independence; that we must keep it as one of our colonies. This policy, of course, would take us back 100 years in our attitude towards foreign affairs.
I am pleased to say that when the Labor Government came to office it had a far more enlightened attitude towards foreign affairs. It told the Papua New Guinean people that a timetable would be set for them to have their independence, and the timetable was adhered to. Where did we see the bloodshed in the streets, the wholesale slaughter, that we were told would happen if the white man left the country? Where did we see the wholesale slaughter in Vietnam? It will probably be said that Vietnam is now a communist country and that we will never know about the slaughter there. I dispute that. I should think that if wholesale slaughter had occurred in Vietnam we would certainly have got evidence of it through the many journalists in this world who would have a nose for such a story.
– They would not be let into the country.
-The honourable member for Darling Downs says that the journalists would not be let in. Again that is a generalisation. The honourable member has no evidence to the effect that journalists would not be let in. I think the Government there would raise no objection even to a visit to its country of the honourable member for Darling Downs if he chose to do so.
This whole attitude of generalisation, this attitude that the conservatives of this country have adopted over the years has always been one of divide and rule. They have done this within our country and they have endeavoured to maintain the same attitude outside it. As a device to divide our people they keep peddling the attitude that unless we, the white Australians, are involved in these areas, those other people whose skin is a different colour will never be able to manage their own affairs. They argue that those people need our presence and that they need us to show them how to do things. History has shown that attitude to be wrong time and time again but honourable members opposite use these arguments to justify their very questionable actions in this whole area of foreign affairs.
I should like to return to one point and that is, the South East Asian area which, I suppose, is of great interest to Australians. We are that area’s nearest neighbour. Indonesia is a very large nation which straddles the Indian Ocean. This afternoon we were told about communist influence in Malaysia. After questioning people very carefully last year, I could not find any substantiated evidence of communist terrorist activity there. I was told that because the border between Thailand and Malaysia is not very carefully defined and not many people know exactly where it is, and because it is not patrolled, it was there that the communist activity took place. I then did some homework and studied up on the matter. I found that in that area which is at the head of the Malacca Straits for centuries the people have lived as bandits and pirates as we now term them. So far as they were concerned, it was an honest trade. They were far more honest than are those who sit on the opposite side of this House. But modern parlance would term them bandits or pirates. Practising banditry and piracy is exactly what they are doing now. But because they are engaged in this sort of activity, it suits the Malaysian Government and this Government to assert that there is communist activity in Malaysia. The whole activity in Vietnam was centred more around nationalism than around the communist monolith, as I have heard it described. In Africa, in Asia and in all like countries, those who have been oppressed for centuries will rise up. Each time they do those who sit opposite will term them communists.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
-May I commence my remarks in this debate by complimenting the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) on the outstanding foreign policy statement which he put down in this House yesterday afternoon. I believe the Minister enriches his stature in the world by the sort of statement which he brought before the Australian Parliament yesterday and by the vision he is bringing to the office. I reject completely the suggestion made by the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) prior to the suspension of the sitting that the Foreign Minister had told us where we had been and not where we were going. I would have thought that the Minister’s statement, taking as it did some 24 pages of detailed information, not only traced the background of the foreign affairs policies which have been evolved by this Government but gave the clearest possible indication to the people of Australia, indeed to the people of the world, of where Australia stands in respect of foreign affairs. I believe the Minister is to be complimented. This is the second time within a period of 3 weeks that I have had occasion publicly to compliment the Minister on the job he is doing. I believe he is without doubt one of the most outstanding Ministers of the present Government. Notwithstanding his comparative youth in the world scene I believe his views are achieving and receiving a recognition throughout the world somewhat equivalent to that accorded the views expressed by Mr Anthony Eden, as he then was, when he was Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom in the pre-war days. I believe we are fortunate to have a Minister of the capacity, ability, drive and integrity of Andrew Peacock.
May I say in dealing with his remarks that I do not agree with everything that is said. The whole purpose of this debate is to give back benchers on both sides of the chamber an opportunity to express their opinions on Australia’s foreign policy. It is an unfortunate reflection on a debate of this nature that as I speak there are so few in the chamber. Perhaps this is because others have already spoken and others are still to come. I would have thought that foreign affairs was a matter of paramount importance to all Australians and to all people concerned with the future of the world and the goal which I believe can be achieved, and hopefully will be achieved, of a working arrangement which will ensure that we go into the twenty-first century without a major conflict such as those conflicts which have blighted this world for the first 77 years of this century.
The Minister, in his very detailed statement, referred to specific countries and specific areas. I will adopt the same order that the Minister adopted. I would like to make my comments with respect to the countries and the regions to which he referred in the order in which he chose to put them before the Parliament. I have no quarrel with anything he said about our relations with Japan. The only comment I desire to make about Japan is that I believe that he, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Government have come to a far more stable and rational working basis with Japan than the previous Administration did. I hope that the nightmare period of the previous Administration, the complete and absolute disarray in respect of foreign policy, particularly dealing with minerals and trade, are well and truly behind us and that the Japanese can look forward to a working relationship with this country in accordance with the basic principles laid down in the friendship treaty entered into between Australia and Japan last year.
With respect to the United States, I adopt completely these remarks of the Minister:
The first thing to be said about them - he was referring to our relations to the United States- is that the uncertainty about the future course of Australian policy, the doubts, reservations and acrimony which were so much a feature of the previous Government’s dealings with the United States, have been removed.
I recall quite vividly the extraordinary Press reports of statements by quite senior Ministers of the previous Administration attacking not only the United States as a nation but personally denigrating a number of persons holding a high office in the United States. It is one thing to disagree with the policies of another country; it is a completely different matter to attack personally those who are in executive office in that country. I believe that the actions of certain Labor Ministers in the previous Administration were nothing less than reprehensible. I am delighted that at least this Government has recognised that one deals on a government to government basis, one does not engage in personal mud slinging and character assassination such as we observed under the previous Administration. The Minister emphasised:
We pursue Australia’s interests, express our disagreement with American policy where it exists, but the fundamental importance attached to the alliance and the general relationship are no longer in question.
The Minister made some comments about the new President of the United States. Might I say that as an Australian I was delighted at the election of President Carter and that in some small way we may have rendered some assistance to his election in that we were honoured to have in this country a few months ago a most distinguished American, Mr John Ryan, who was the overseas campaign director for President Carter. Before anybody jumps in and asks what Australians were doing becoming involved in the internal affairs of another country, let me say that I as an Australian, see nothing wrong in playing a pan, even if it is a small part, in one of the great exercises of democracy in the world- namely, the United States presidential election.
I believe President Carter has brought a new hope to the world. He has brought a new dynamism to American foreign policy. He has brought to America a new strength of leadership which I believe it sadly needed. I wish to make only one comment on President Carter’s early remarks on the question of foreign affairs. I completely and absolutely agree with his statements on the question of civil liberties, particularly for those who unfortunately live behind the Iron Curtain. I completely and absolutely agree with his condemnation of the behaviour of certain administrations, in particular Uganda. I wish him well in his desire to have the Indian Ocean a zone of peace. I point out that we in Australia, who are perhaps most proximate to the Indian Ocean, appreciate that it is easier to say than effectively to ensure that the Indian Ocean is a zone of peace. The Government’s policy is that it should be a balanced zone and that it should be balanced at the lowest possible level.
I refer to a letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, published yesterday, from Professor A. L. Burns, which referred to the number of littoral states of the Indian Ocean. If honourable members listen to this list of countries they will appreciate that it is very hard to say simply that we will put a blanket on the whole of the Indian Ocean and have it declared a peace zone. The littoral states of the Indian Ocean are Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran, the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Kenya, Mozambique, the Malagasy Republic, South Africa and Australia. There is a very wide divergence of countries in Asia and in Africa. They have widely differing political opinions and beliefs. Whilst, in the optimum, a free zone in the Indian Ocean should be sought and worked for, I have the gravest doubts that this is feasible in the light of the extraordinary and substantial Russian build-up in that area. I would be failing in my duty as a member of this House if I did not say that whilst I support philosophically the proposition of a free Indian Ocean this can be achieved only if there is a substantial reduction of the Russian presence in that area.
The next area to which the Minister referred was our relations with Western Europe. I applaud the Minister and the Government for saying that Australia must have closer relations with Western Europe because whilst we are geographically part of Asia our ties and heritage to a large extent derive from Western Europe. We are recognised in Western Europe as a power of some considerable significance in this area and it is appropriate that we have a proper basis of dialogue with Western Europe. I would like to see Australia use its influence with respect to Western Europe to ensure that those groups which are unfortunate enough to be behind the Iron Curtain are not deserted by the West as they were in 1956, as they were in Poland in 1965 and as they were in Czechoslovakia in 1969 when they struggled for freedom. The basic minimal human rights laid down in the Helsinki Pact of 1975 are already being dishonoured in Czechoslovakia. I hope that Australia is prepared to express a view, and to express a strong view if necessary, at Belgrade this year at the conference to consider the application of the Helsinki Pact, that we as a country believe it is about time that those countries behind the Iron Curtain which deny basic civil rights to their citizens should think again and should at least acknowledge that they have a responsibility to ensure that those who live within their boundaries have the same basic freedoms and rights as we enjoy in Australia.
I applaud this Government for establishing a real and workable basis for relations with the People’s Republic of China. The Government’s action in this regard was not a sham pantomime operation such as we saw under the previous Administration. We now have as a direct result of the highly successful visit of the Prime Minister to China a working relationship with the Chinese. Let me say that rightly or wrongly I believe the Chinese are non-aggressive at thus point of time. Provided they remain non-aggressive I believe that Australia and China can have strong friendship bonds. I hope that they will.
I must confess that I do not feel exactly the same with respect to Russia because I find it impossible to reconcile what Russia is doing with its claims that in fact it wants only peaceful coexistence. I suggest that even a humble back bencher is permitted to put a point of view that if Russia continues to build up its arms, if Russia continues to extend its military influence in the world, there will be people who will believeand they will do so with justification- that Russia in fact intends to pursue one of the basic objectives of Marxism, namely, the domination of the world. I hope that we will not enter a generation in which war will be inevitable between those who wish to live in freedom and those who espouse the Marxist communist cause. I would hope that Russia would respond to President Carter’s invitation to adopt a more realistic and reasonable line, to demonstrate by practical means that it wants peace. It does not seem right to me- and I am ignorant in these matters- that
Russia can be talking about peace while multiplying up to 400-fold its defence expenditure and extending its military tentacles throughout the world. If someone wants to say I am a red baiter, he can say it. But frankly I am frightened by the expansion of Russian militarism.
– How about our association with the United States?
– I have dealt with that. I am quite frankly frightened by the expansion of Russian militarism. I say that at the moment, rightly or wrongly, I believe that China wants peaceful co-existence.
I now wish to refer to regional policies, in particular to the area closest to us. I have expressed my view- and I shall express it again and againthat I believe that Australia as a nation has a moral responsibility not to turn its back on the allegations of atrocities having been committed in East Timor, whether committed by Indonesian troops with or without the approval of the Indonesian Government, or whether committed by others. East Timor is less than 400 miles from Australia. Many thousands of Timorese laid down their lives in World War II alongside Australians. If the Indonesian Government is prepared to invite Congressman Donald Fraser and his committee to come to Indonesia to sift out the facts in respect of the allegation of atrocities, on what possible basis could they deny that same request if it were put forward on behalf of the Australian Parliament? I repeat that this Parliament has a duty to investigate those allegations, to ascertain whether there is truth in them or not. I would have thought that the Indonesian Government had nothing to fear if there were nothing in the allegations.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– When I came into the House after the suspension of the sitting I enjoyed some of the remarks made by the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), a man for whom I have a certain respect as have many members on this side of the House, particularly when he expresses in sincere terms his personal concern for the suffering of the underprivileged people of the world. But then, when speaking about China, he went on to kill his good speech and his image by such references as ‘the sham pantomime working relationship of the previous Government’. He went on to say, ‘We are prepared to express disagreement with the United States alliance whenever it exists’. A change of wind in Liberal Party thinking has been blowing for some time, since not so many years ago the catchcries of his Party before he came into this House were ‘All the way with LBJ’ and ‘We go a-waltzing Matilda with the President of the United States’. The path that was followed then by the Conservatives was none other than to tie Australia to the apron strings of the United States. The United States government and people began to gain more respect for Australia when the Whitlam Administration came to power and expressed a more independent line in foreign policy, particularly in respect of the Vietnam war. The respect of the American governments and the American people started to increase for the Australian nation and its people when the Government of the day said that we were not going to be puppets of the United States. By using phrases of the kind that I have just quoted the honourable member killed what I thought would have been a respectful, appreciated and well worded speech.
As I have said, the honourable member used the words ‘sham pantomime’ in respect of the Labor Party’s policy on China. I do not know how a man of his intellectual talents and the respect in which he is generally held could sincerely say ‘the sham pantomime working policies of the previous Government’. He knows too well, through his superior intellect and training, the benefits of great schooling and the position he holds as a barrister at law that for years it was Labor Party policy that the People’s Republic of China should be admitted to the United Nations. He knew for years that if the Labor Party got into power it would immediately recognise the People ‘s Republic of China.
This is a strange debate in many respects, particularly when the truth comes out. I remember that after I came to this House in 1 960 abuse was levelled against the People’s Republic of China by the Conservatives and the Tories of this country. My old friend the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), whom I respect in many ways and who has just come into this chamber, at one time suggested that Australia should use its influence to drop an atomic bomb on the People’s Republic of China. That country for over 30 years fought against the tyranny and exploitation of foreign business and foreign imperialism. The average life expectancy under the old Kuomintang Government was 28 to 30 years. Children born in China had to be sold by the pound in the streets by their mothers. These children were loved by their mothers just as much as white mothers love their children but they had to be sold because their parents could not afford to rear them. They lost thousands of lives in fighting for a new social order, for which we should have applauded them from the day the members of the Mao Tse-tung Government became the people in charge of People’s China. The Chinese have managed to dam the Yellow River, which for centuries under the old Kuomintang Government went into flood. They are able to feed their people better today than ever before. Whether it is communism or fascism that achieves these goals, I am prepared to applaud it. I am prepared to applaud governments, irrespective of the political flag they fly, if they can uplift the living standards of their people.
The honourable member for Kooyong, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock), in his speech on foreign policy which we are now debating in this House, 1 1 times in 10 minutes very courteously used the expression ‘China’. Only a few years ago the constant remarks were ‘the Red barbarians’, ‘Communist China’, ‘the Reds of the North’ and ‘the atheists’. There was a change overnight after the Whitlam Government came into power and recognised People ‘s China. Dr Kissinger did not give the tories of this country prior notice that he was going to People’s China to cement good relations and to get the recognition of his own Government of People’s China. The Tories were not advised of that visit. Mr Whitlam went there and was accepted. He rebuilt the bridges in Asia and in People’s China that had been torn down by the privileged and the tories in this country and wherever else they had influence. The Whitlam Administration gained respect throughout the world by rebuilding the bridges that had been torn down by the reactionaries and the tories of this country.
Jimmy Carter has blown a new breath of change across the world. The tories in this country for years waved a fluttering flag saying that the country was in jeopardy because of the Russian build-up in the Indian Ocean. It was a furphy from beginning to end. I have said that to public audiences that I have had the privilege of addressing and I said it forcefully and sincerely at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Mauritius last year, to the disappointment and hurt, unfortunately, of some of my conservative colleagues who were present at the Conference. I was backed competently and equally sincerely by my colleague, the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry). I am pleased to inform this House, if I have not informed it before, that the overwhelming opinion of the countries of the Commonwealth that were represented at the Conference in Mauritius last year was in accordance with the thinking of the
Whitlam Administration and the Australian Labor Party over many years, namely, that the Indian Ocean should be declared a zone of peace. Now we see the Carter Administration stating its position without previously advising the tories of this Government, pulling the carpet from underneath it, ripping the braces and the elastic from the trousers of the tories of this country and letting their low garments fall to a dangerous point- and we know what is likely to happen then. The tories of this country have had the carpet pulled from under them.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, with his dignityhe is a man whom I respect- comes up with the best reply he can produce, but it is the weakest reply. He says that in the Indian Ocean he still supports the build-up of Diego Garcia until the Russians abdicate their base at Berbera in Somalia. The Foreign Minister does not really tell the truth, although he knows it well, namely, that the base at Berbera in Somalia is nothing more than a servicing base.
– Listen to the donkey over there yelling for hay. Berbera is a base over which the Russians have no long term lease. The Somali Government can terminate the Russians’ presence at or use of the base at Berbera at a moment’s notice. I have said in this Parliament that there was no justification for the Ford Administration spending millions and millions of United States taxpayers’ dollars on the build-up of Diego Garcia. There is every hope that the Carter Administration will not go ahead with the plan. My conscience dictates that I remind the Australian people that it was the tory Government which was in power recently that earmarked $80m of Australian taxpayers’ money to build the Cockburn Sound naval base. The honourable member for Swan (Mr Martyr) always avoids reference to the expenditure on the Cockburn Sound naval base, intended to be built to service and repair American Polaris submarines.
– It is not in my electorate.
– I am not saying that it is in the honourable member’s electorate. He is a Western Australian member and he should be conversant with the amount of public money that is being spent on the Cockburn Sound naval base in Western Australia.
– I applaud it.
-The honourable member applauds it. Of course he would. He was a war monger before he came into the Parliament and he will remain a war monger until he goes out, because he has to echo the principles and political philosophies of Lang Hancock, who spent a considerable amount of money in order to bring the honourable member into this Parliament. The Cockburn Sound naval base which is still in the process of construction is to have $80m spent on it. It was intended to bring our warships and submarines and American nuclear submarines in there for repair. I wonder what the Government thinks, now that Jimmy Carter has said- he did not say these words, but he echoed the meaning of them- that the Indian Ocean will become a zone of peace in accordance with the overwhelming wishes of the people of the world and particularly the people who live around the Indian Ocean- the people of Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Ceylon and India, which are all countries that belong to the Commonwealth. They have been hoping that one day in the immediate future the Indian Ocean will become a zone of peace. The carpet has been pulled from under the tories by Jimmy Carter, and I hope that Jimmy Carter will continue to follow those principles. I hope that he will be spared for a long time, because it looks as though he is projecting throughout the world a voice which will be appreciated by the world ‘s people.
I do not think enough was said by the Foreign Minister in his speech on foreign affairs about the underprivileged and poverty stricken people of the world. The world is hungry for peace. It is more hungry today than it has ever been before, and it looks as though peace may break out. Unfortunately, I cannot see it breaking out when one-quarter of the world’s people are going to bed at night hungry. In my view, peace cannot have a solid and lasting foundation if it is built in the circumstances of the great inequalities which exist in Latin America and on the African continent today. It cannot be built among inequalities and injustices in a world where transport, communications and technology bring mankind closer and closer together. Great differences in standards of living become intolerable. Peace is indivisible in the world, but so is prosperity. The General Assembly of the United Nations once more is seized of these problems, and we all hope that it will come forward with new solutions.
I hope that the Timorese or Fretilin will achieve independence for Timor in the immediate future. I pay great tribute to Jim Dunn, a public servant who has had enough courage to go to the United States and give evidence before an important committee. I also applaud the spirit of the honourable member for Fraser, who has fought unflinchingly and made known in the forums in which he has spoken in this country and outside the country the plight of the Timorese people. For centuries they were under neo-fascist Portugese rule and, when it looked as though they would gain independence for the first time in history, they were dominated by the military junta of Indonesia. If there is a semblance of decency in any member of Parliament in this House he should raise his voice and speak up against the butchering that is taking place in Timor at this time.
– It is my pleasure this evening to support the statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock). At the outset let me say that unfortunately the history of civilisation has proved that peace is not achieved merely by wishing for it.
– Or by shouting about it either.
– As my friend the honourable member for Swan said, not even by shouting for it. Peace is achieved when a nation is strong and in many instances when it can speak from a position of strength with the support of arms and allies. That is what my colleagues in the Government are saying on this occasion and what they have said on every other occasion. The honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) said that one of my colleagues here would support the establishment of the naval base at Cockburn Sound because he was a warmonger. That remark shows a complete lack of understanding of the situation. We support the establishment of the Cockburn Sound base because it is urgently needed for the defence of this country in the present circumstances.
From listening to the words of the Foreign Minister when he was presenting his statement to the House we gained an appreciation of the complex problems that face not only this country but also other countries. That is illustrated by the tragic situation in Northern Ireland at present. I think the events in that country make people realise how tragic history can be. The situation in Northern Ireland has been going on for a long time. The problems should have been eradicated and forgotten generations ago. That situation, which does not benefit the people of that tragic country or the world, was created by bitterness, in some cases by arrogance and intolerance. We should remember that the people in Northern Ireland are fighting against people of the same blood. Not only are the prayers of the people of the world and the efforts of the people of that country needed but the efforts of all people are needed to overcome that situation. This should be remembered when we look at the problems and complexities of the world situation.
A great deal has been said about President Carter’s statement concerning the demilitarisation of the Indian Ocean. Not one member on this side of the House would be opposed to the idea of the Indian Ocean being an area of peace, a peace zone or a demilitarised zone, whatever term one may like to use. What this Government has put forward is that a zone of peace will not be created by one nation but by the co-operation of many nations and particularly of two of the major nations- the United States of America and the Soviet Union. If one studies President Carter’s statement I think one will find that that is just what he said. To that degree there is no contradiction in what was said by the President and this Government’s policy. What we have said is that if there is no indication of the Soviet Union accepting its responsibilities, the only answer to that is that the United States and other nations must take precautionary measures to see that there is no advantage to the Soviet Union in this area. Whether this will eventuate will be seen in the months that lie ahead, in the response from the Soviet Union to the initiatives taken by the President of the United States. I do not think that there is any contradiction either in the attitude of the members of the Government parties at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference held last year.
I turn now to the situation in Africa and in Asia. What is the answer to the problems facing Rhodesia and South Africa? I must confess that I do not have an answer. In recent months a number of people have said that the people of Rhodesia should be given their independence, that they should be given their freedom and that they should be allowed to rule and control the country themselves.
– But which people?
– Perhaps the major question that could be asked in regard to that is: Which group is to be given the independence? At the moment there are 5 different groups. If control is given to one then the other four would immediately work against that group. This fact is appreciated by Prime Minister Smith. We have to accept that there are extremists in his Cabinet and within his Party. What I think we have to do is to give the moderate element all the support they need to work out a solution that will be to the advantage of all people. In instances where it has appeared that one group is getting greater control there has always been a revolt or a resistance by the other groups, with chaos and confusion in the area. I have said on many occasions in this House in regard to South Africa that the problem is not one of black versus white. The problem is the Bantu against the Zulu. It is black against black; it is black against white; it is black against coloured; it is coloured against white. There is no simple solution to these problems. I remember on one occasion I had an interview with Prime Minister Vorster. He said: ‘I wish the people who talk about this apartheid problem would come over and have a look at it. I know the Bantu. I used to swim with them in a creek when I was a kid’.
This is the position in South Africa. One very highly educated native said to me: ‘We go overseas, we go around the world. We are accepted and received by people in every country but when we come back to South Africa we are second-class citizens’. I admit that that is one of greatest problems, but it will not be solved by handing over authority to some people in that country who have no sense of responsibility themselves and who have only a desire to have the power and authority themselves. There is a double standard in some African states. Let us have a look at the position in Uganda and think of Idi Amin. These sorts of people take the power and authority and that is all they are interested in. As I have said, there are these elements in South Africa and in Rhodesia. The problems will not be solved merely by turning around and saying ‘That is your independence, you control everything’, and walk away and leave them. One man said to me once: ‘Yes, but they want their independence’. I said: ‘Have a look at Nigeria.’ It was set up as an example. What happened in Nigeria? There was a bloodbath. What happened in the Belgian Congo? There was a bloodbath. There was not much value in independence for the thousands of people who had been massacred in both those countries. The position is exactly the same in these African states. I wonder how the relatives of the people whom Idi Amin has massacred feel about the independence that was given to them.
In the time left to me in this debate I want to say something about the situation in Asia. We in Australia need to realise and appreciate our responsibilities and opportunities in this area. Not the least of our responsibilities is the economic responsibility that we have. When we look at the economic situation in Australia we want to remember some of the things that have been said by some of the leaders in Asia, including Lee Kuan Yew and many others. They have said that it is Australia’s responsibility to assist Asian countries. I fully appreciate the need for economic stability in Australia so that our industries are given opportunities, but we must also look ahead and realise that we have to accept responsibility to ensure hat there is economic stability in Asian countries as well.
I wish to make one brief comment about the United Nations. The Minister has mentioned it in his statement I shall have something further to say on it at a later stage. I believe that we need to think very seriously about the United Nations and our membership of that organisation. I support the Minister’s statement and congratulate him on his presentation.
– I am delighted to join in this debate on the Government’s foreign policy. I belong to a generation of Australians who had the opportunity to travel abroad when they were young. I first went overseas when the presentation of an Australian passport in any foreign country put you in the category of people in other conservative countries. You were immediately put in the category of the persons from that part of the map which used to be coloured pink or red and which was primarily populated by persons of the European race. In other words, they were the white conservative selfish nations of the world. In this debate I have the opportunity to join in while all that has been changed. It was changed dramatically of course by the directions irreversibly set under a Labor government for 3 years. I do not want to give a kiss of death to the present Foreign Minister (Mr Peacock) but I think it fair to say that he has not wanted to set that trend back, and he has not done so. The trend was set irreversibly. Australia cannot go back to joining that backwater of nations to which it used to be consigned. One used to feel, I regret, a sense of shame at being an Australian in enlightened company overseas. That is no longer the case and I suspect will no longer be the case.
No matter what proposition the Foreign Minister has to defend in this House I am sure that in his face to face negotiations with the governments of other countries he strikes a relatively balanced note. The main problem that confronts Australia in its conduct of foreign relations at this time is the tendency and willingness of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to see every issue in black and white terms, in terms of good and bad, in terms of a gross oversimplification which should have disappeared in the last half decade from the conduct of foreign relations and from sophisticated commentary about them.
Honourable members who have preceded me in this debate have spoken at some length about the new directions of foreign policy being signalled by the new President of the United States, and clearly for us here in Australia that will be terribly important. We are a great ally of the United States and I hope we will always remain so. Any informed liberal developments in the policy of that country should be welcomed by all persons in this country. I believe that during the past couple of weeks the popular Press has oversimplified the direction of that policy. Popular news magazines display the headline ‘Carter: The New Morality’. That is a tremendous oversimplification.
American foreign policy has always been informed by a tremendous morality, for good or ill- I believe during the early part of the 1950s for ill- but at least the difference between the morality that the Americans espoused and that pursued by conservatives in what used to be the British Empire was based upon a principle albeit somewhat perverse. The Americans have pursued consistently since the Second World War the view that they will assist those nations which most deserve it. All that has changed is the subjective American assessment of the countries which deserve it. The Americans have come to look at those countries which observe most rigorously or at least most decently human rights. They have moved away simply from their view that the countries most deserving of support were those which had the most virulently anticommunist governments.
That kind of tendency clearly is one which we in the Labor Party will support. It was one argued by social democrats throughout the 1950s and the 1960s. It was one that saw a brief resurgence during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. It was a policy that went sour in South East Asia, one of the pans of the world closest to Australia, not least because of the silence and the acquiescence of the then Australian Government in the disgraceful and shortsighted policies pursued by the American Government. There is now a new American Government and those members of it, such as the new Secretary of State, who had any pan to play in those early policies of the 1960s have recanted completely. I believe it would be a very good thing for this nation if those in this country who now have control of the destiny of our foreign policy were prepared to make exactly the same kind of clean breast of their own pasts and were prepared to admit that they were wrong, that the policies that sent Australians to die in South East Asia in that war in Vietnam and the policies that encouraged American intervention in Cambodia to overthrow the Sihanouk regime were wrong.
That kind of clean breast will go a good deal of the way to giving the Australian Government the kind of credibility that all of us in Australia, Government and Opposition, Tory and Labor, would wish for our image in Asia. If the Americans, who, in terms of men and material committed to that war, made a much greater effort than Australia, are prepared to do so, why cannot Australia take the initiative here, particularly in seeking to reconcile the United States with the now united new state of Vietnam? I believe that would be a significant contribution on the part of this Government to world peace.
The popular Press seeks to over-simplify. I mentioned earlier that it talks about the Carter Administration in the United States being the first to discover morality. In fact, it is only a different perception of morality, a different perception of the states deserving of the support of the United States Government and hopefully, its allies around the world. The over-simplification leads, of course, to the view that someone like Secretary of State Kissinger was only interested in realpolitik. The practice of foreign relations in the world, whether by great powers like the United States or by middle powers like Australia, is a mixture of the two and it always will be so. What Australia must remember is that as a middle power we can never pretend that the clout we will have in terms of realpolitik can be as great as our moral influence. So long as we remain committed to the mainstream of western democratic ideals we can never underestimate our power to have influence and effect in that alliance.
The Foreign Minister touched on many parts of the world and many aspects of the development of foreign policy. The aspect which interested me as much as any was the attitude of this Government towards trade with less developed countries. I can say to the House that as one of the younger men in this Parliament, one of the things that concerns a great many of my friends of my own age when I talk to them about large issues is that they say ‘Look, what happens in Australia does not matter. It is only a matter of degree in this country. What matters is what happens outside. There the questions are so much larger. There the differences in standards of living are so much greater.’ I believe that to an extent they are right but to an extent, of course, it is a copping out of making assessments and judgments in our own society in Australia. I believe that we ought to make some sacrifices in this country. We ought to have regard for the fact that we are, in spite of our present economic difficulties which we experience with the rest of the industrialised western world, a peculiarly fortunate society existing as we do as a piece of western European civilisation on the fringe of Asia.
The decisions that we need to make if we are to make any contribution towards the lifting of living standards in the less developed countries will be hard decisions for us and for our constituents to bear. They will not be easy. I am not talking simply about textile industries in South Korea and Hong Kong or about electronics industries in Singapore, Thailand or Hong Kong. I am talking about the prospects of developing labour intensive industries which can improve the conditions of people’s lives in the big countries to our near north, in Indonesia, Malaysia and, most importantly if we are to have peace in this part of the world, in Indo-China including Vietnam. Hopefully, one day this will include an again civilised Cambodia and Laos. It is here, after the thousands of words that he spoke yesterday, that the Foreign Minister skates over the hard decisions. This Fraser Liberal Government often says that there are no easy options and it uses that as a code to cut back on public expenditure and on the development of community services in Australia.
The Australian people may forgive the Government for that for one, two or three years. Who knows? But out neighbours in Asia will not forgive us if we engage in empty rhetoric about giving better trading terms to Asian nations at the same time as we are setting up needless and selfish barriers against those countries. That kind of policy and that kind of government decision making is being perceived very clearly now in Asian capitals. It is being perceived in China which has a system that we do not share and which, while we understand the historical origins, we clearly do not aspire to emulate. It is being perceived in other Asian nations which have such different social systems although some, at least, share perhaps the trappings of our western parliamentary system or the newspaper systems and media treatment that we have. I say to all honourable members that we leave this debate tonight and return to an empty debate such as the Address-in-Reply debate and talk about things that narrowly concern us in this country and ignore the perception of this Government’s decision in Asian capitals at our peril. It will be to the disadvantage not only of Australians now but also of those who are to follow.
I started my speech by saying that there are certain elements of Australian policy which were irreversibly set during the 3 years of the Labor Government. I believe the most important of them, however tentatively taken, was that in relation to our trade relations and the development of the economies of our near neighbours. That remains the area in which we can have the greatest influence. I urge the Government to think again more seriously about this matter.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-I have the honour of presenting the tenth report of the Publications Committee.
Report- by leave- adopted.
Debate resumed from 15 March, on motion by Mr Groom:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of Her Majesty the Queen be agreed to:
We, Your Majesty’s loyal subjects, the Members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to thank Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
The presence in Australia of Your Majesty and of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has once again brought the greatest pleasure to Your Australian people. We, their representatives in this House, are grateful for the opportunity to re-affirm our allegiance to you as our Queen.
-In entering the debate on the Address-in-Reply I would like to say, firstly, that long will I remember 8 March when that gracious lady, Her Majesty the Queen, opened the second, session of the Thirtieth Parliament of Australia. She, I believe, received a wonderful reception here in Canberra, as she has done as she has moved around the continent. I feel quite sure that wherever she goes in Australia from now on she will get the same sort of reception. I thought that the Press reports that she received a mixed reception when she came to Canberra were quite misleading. When one thinks of a mixed reception one has in mind something like 50 per cent of the people not receiving the Queen graciously and perhaps 50 per cent of the people receiving her graciously. Let me tell the people of Australia that when the
Press reported that she received a mixed reception it meant that there was a tiny group of people who perhaps were not welcoming our Queen in the manner in which she should be welcomed here and as we would all like to see her welcomed.
I think I could best sum up the reaction to the Queen’s visit here by referring to a small cartoon which appeared on the front page of the Australian on the day following her visit and which depicted the situation so well. The cartoon showed 2 typical Pickering figures holding signs which read ‘Republic’. One of them had a very shaky smile on his face and his banner was lowered to the ground. He said to the other fellow who looked quite sternly at him: ‘I think she smiled at me’. I think that our Queen, our monarch, has that ability, with one gracious smile, to produce a different reaction completely even in those who want to change to a republican system. I also compliment the Services on their splendid display. Their preciseness and brilliance on that day, I thought, were magnificent and were a credit to them. I can imagine the amount of work that went into that exercise. I say to them that I believe that it was more than worth while and I thank them for the part that they played on that day. It really was a memorable day in our lives in Canberra.
The Queen’s speech outlined the Government’s intentions for the future. At the beginning of her speech she said in part:
As I look back over Australia ‘s development since my first visit in 1 954, 1 am impressed, as you must be, by this nation ‘s many social, economic and cultural achievements.
Today the qualities of the Australian people, the character of Australian society and the resources of the Australian continent hold out a great promise and a great challenge.
What she said is so true. We still have opportunities available to us. We still are, without any doubt, the lucky country. The maintenance of that position is something that we have to earn. It is not our right and it is not something that we have inherited from the work and foresight of our forefathers. It is not something that we can keep for ourselves without doing the necessary work and without having the necessary dedication to achieve the greatness that this country has the riches and the resources to enable us to achieve. It does not matter how many riches we have; we have to exploit them wisely. We have to earn them.
I would like to say a few words about the Government’s record over the last 15 months. Its record has been surprisingly good, considering the state in which we found the economy when we took it over 1 5 months ago. It is worth repeating today some of the economic indicators that we are enjoying. The recovery in business profitability is evidenced by the increase in the profit share as measured in the national account from 12.4 per cent in the final quarter of 1975 to 14.4 per cent in the September quarter of 1976. In the September quarter of 1 976 company profits were 39.4 per cent above those of a year earlier. That situation, of course, is essential to the revival of business confidence. National production began to grow in 1976. Between the December quarter of 1 975 and the September quarter of 1 976 there was a 7.5 per cent rise in real gross non farm product. Real growth in the non farm section is expected to be at a rate of around 4 per cent in this financial year.
Industrial production has been expanding overall in recent months. In December the ANZ Bank’s index was 9 per cent above its low point in mid 1975. An increase in private consumption 4.2 per cent as an annual rate- was recorded over the first 3 quarters of 1976, despite a slight fall in real household disposable income in the 3 quarters to June 1976. Disposable incomes rose in real terms during the September quarter of 1976, revealing the effects of personal tax indexation and the new family allowances. The Opposition would say that that is not good enough. I believe that that is an indication of the steady improvement that has taken place over the 15 months that this Government has been in office.
One must recall just what the economic and political situation was like 1 5 months ago. One must recall what sort of economic trouble we were in as a result of the 3 years of mismanagement by the Labor Government. It is not easy to go back to the situation which existed prior to 1972 when we had economic growth, low inflation rates and all of those good things that were part of our economy at that stage. It is not easy, following the fairly traumatic 3 years that we have been through, just to leap back to that situation. Going back to that situation sensibly must be done steadily without dislocating the community too much and without fuelling the fires of inflation.
I would like to take this opportunity to speak briefly about the Government’s decision to devalue. The devaluation decision was, as we recall, forced upon this Government for the reasons that we know about. I do not wish to canvass them at this stage. It became apparent that it was essential that devaluation should take place. It was essential because there had to be a return to balance- some type of balance and justice to different sections of the community. The situation had reached the point where our exports and rural industries and manufacturing or import competing industries were not able to survive. It gave to the manufacturing industries, certainly, and also to the rural industry the opportunity to improve their position.
For devaluation to be an effective economic weapon, a few measures have to be taken by all sections of the community. Those industries which have gained substantially- there are many of them, such as the exporting and rural industries and those manufacturing industries which have found themselves with a windfall gain because of the tariff situation- have to be careful over the next few months to make sure that we do not lose the value of devaluation.
I turn to the manufacturing industries and those other industries that are put in a more profitable position. Profits from these industries must be ploughed back into productive development or used to lower the cost to the consumer. There must not be a situation where the wage earning section of the community can quickly take up the slack of the profitability that has come about quite deliberately by devaluation. If that happens, very quickly we will be back in a 1974 situation where any productive gain was quickly swallowed up by a vast increase in wages and we found ourselves continually falling behind. I do not want to knock the wage earner. Goodness gracious, we all are wage earners. I belong to a particular section of the community. I come from a rural area of Australia. We all wish to see our lot improve as time goes by, but this can come about in Australia, mainly because we are a vast trading nation, only through increased productivity; there is no other way. There is no way we can continually try to take more out of the system than we put into it. We cannot continue to live beyond our means.
There are sections of the community that have no protection. I should like to speak briefly about the rural sector. It has been particularly hard hit over the last few years because of inflation. That has been pointed out time and time again. Anyone who has anything to do with that productive sector of our community knows that.
– And the Labor Party’s anti-rural policies.
-Quite right. Being in general heavily dependent on export markets, primary producers for the most part have been unable to pass on the increases in their costs of production in higher prices for their products. Chiefly because of rising costs, farm income fell by $ 1 ,32 1 m or 45 per cent between 1 973-74 and 1975-76 and was predicted by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to fall by a further $495m or 30 per cent in 1976-77. When allowance is made for the effects of inflation on the purchasing power of the dollar, farm income in 1 975- 76 was 56 per cent less than in 1 973-74 and a further fall of 36 per cent is expected for 1976- 77. The decline in primary producers’ incomes would have been considerably greater if they had not cut back substantially in their expenditure on farm inputs. To a significant extent, however, these cuts have been of a type which, if continued, eventually will lead to a running down of the farm assets, a reduction of productive capacity, cuts in maintenance expenditure and fertiliser use, etc. Net farm income has been forecast to fall to around $126 a week this year- less than half what it was in 1 973-74.
Of course, a comment like that does not really show up the differences between the various rural industries. For sure, some are doing quite well, such as the grain and sugar industries. But, if they are doing quite well and we end up with an average weekly income of $ 126, how well are the lower echelons doing? How well are the people in the horticultural, apple and beef industries doing? They are receiving far below the $ 1 26 a week. It is a very poor return to the farmer for his hard day’s work and for the capital he has invested in his land, plant and machinery. On the other hand, average adult male earnings have increased by more than half since 1973-74, to somewhere in the vicinity of $185 a week. The farmer’s income is not indexed, as that of the trade unionist is. The last increase of 2.2 per cent awarded for the last quarter by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission would have further worsened the imbalance between people living in the rural and urban sectors. Even with the projected increase in farm income to $143 a weekthis is after devaluation- in 1976-77 net farm income will be down on that of 1 975-76. So there is still a long way to go before the farmer once again enjoys the same standard of living as his urban counterpart.
Primary producers export about 55 per cent of their production, in terms of value, and must remain competitive against the alternative overseas suppliers. The devaluation will help the primary producer regain his competitive position. The $4,500m of export earnings from agricultural products is vital to the economy. Devaluation has given us, the whole community, an opportunity to have this country really motivated again. We should not jeopardise this in any way. The wage earners, the unions and the business people who are in a position to invest today must use this opportunity wisely and well if we are to prosper in Australia as the Queen in her Speech said we have the opportunity to do. She admired what has been done in this country since her visit in 1 954. She can see, as we all can, the opportunities that we have. I appeal to those who are out in the market place and who have the ability to influence the economic future of this nation not to be greedy about it, to take the long range look and to see that Australia does recover and prosper as it should.
-We have just heard the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Drummond) tell us that everything would be all right in Australia if only the workers would work harder and take less money. The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron), who is the Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party, nodded ponderously when the honourable member for Forrest said that the only increases should be on the basis of productivity. He was one of the members of the Government members committee who made a submission to the Remuneration Tribunal. It is all very well for people to stand up and say that everybody else should work harder and make sacrifices and get benefits only when there is an increase in productivity. Honourable members opposite are never prepared to make sacrifices themselves. I am not suggesting that they should make them but why be so hypocritical about the matter and ask other people to make them? That is what I object to.
– Be honest.
-That is exactly what I am being. That is why I am calling honourable members opposite what they are. The honourable member for Forrest referred repeatedly to the benefits of revaluation. I assume that he was actually referring to the alleged benefits of devaluation and that he was not referring to the revaluations which have repeatedly followed the devaluation. I will be interested to look at Hansard after he has corrected his greens to see whether he was referring to devaluation or whether he was referring to the revaluations.
I think one of the important things about this Government and one of the depressing things about this economy is that we are getting a lot of big talk from the Government. We have heard from honourable members opposite before they came to power and since they have come to power how they are going to improve the economy and all the great things they are going to do. I do not agree particularly with their propositions but it is a defensible economic proposition that one tries to encourage the private sector by trying to slash the public sector. I am not one of those who support that proposition. But I will ignore that point. The important thing is that that is the Government’s policy. It is the Government’s belief that if it carries out that proposition it will in fact make the economy pick up.
One of the depressing things about the whole matter is that the Government has not done that. The Government has talked big, but whenever it has had to do anything about the matter, whenever the Treasury has tried to do anything about it, the Government has panicked. The figures to which I referred at question time today and which were published last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that civilian employment in Australia during 1976 increased by three hundred. That is bad enough because an additional 185 000 people over the age of 15 years were living in Australia at the end of December 1976 compared with 1 January 1976 but there were only 300 extra jobs available. But from my point of view of criticism of the Government, the important thing is that the details reveal that employment declined in the private sector but increased in the public sector. That is the impressive thing as far as I am concerned. We can criticise the Government from our political point of view as it is my personal belief that even if the Government carried out its policies they would not work. But the Government does not even carry out its own policies. It talks big. As soon as there is any pressure on the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development (Mr Newman), he caves in. As soon as there is any pressure on the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner), he caves in. As soon as there is any pressure on the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) from whom I consider to be rather pampered tertiary students in Australia, he caves in. As soon as any group in Australia, be it academics or students or other people in the community, puts pressure on the Government to give it extra money, the Government caves in. It does not even carry out its own policy. I do not know whether the Government really believes in it, because I think that deep down it really believes that the public sector ought to be restrained. It puts forward the proposition that people can spend their own money on the sorts of things that they want rather than give it to the Government in the form of taxation so that the Government can spend it on the sorts of things that it considers to be important.
The Government is not doing those things. I remind the honourable members of what the
Government introduced in the last Budget. It talked big about tax savings. Let us look at the real facts. This year the increase in payasyouearn taxation, which is the net tax paid by the wage and salary earners of this country, is estimated to be $ 1,775m. This is much more than we have ever increased taxation by. It is an increase of 25 per cent when inflation is running at a rate somewhere between 13 per cent and 16 per cent. The Government prefers the 1 3 per cent figure and we argue for the higher figure. But the Government is collecting 25 per cent more in taxation.
– At the same time it collects less from companies.
– That is right. The latest statement of financial transactions which is dated 28 February 1977 reveals that outlays- the things that the Government was going to slash because it was the great government that was going to slash things- have increased from $13.9 billion to $15.8 billion during the first 8 months of this financial year. That is an increase of more than 14 per cent during that period, which is greater than the alleged rate of inflation. Where has the slashing been? This Government promised the people that it would reduce income tax payments to give people the choice of where they could spend the money. In the period to 28 February 1977, the 8 months of this financial year, net pay-as-you-earn taxation has increased from $4,066m to $5,080m- an increase of $1,0 14m. This is extra money that has been collected from the people. It does not include the Medibank component, or if it does it is only a very small proportion of it because the levy came in on only 1 October. So the first 3 months of this 8-month period did not include that component. So proportionately the amount of extra payasyouearn taxation will be even more as we come to the end of the financial year.
All I am suggesting to this Government is that if it believes in its policy, if it believes that it has to reduce government spending and encourage the private sector- it has even been completely unsuccessful with that- it should do something about the situation. It should do so on both counts; on the basis of resources because as I have pointed out, the number of people employed in private enterprise has dropped while the number of people employed in the public sector has increased, and on the question of money being taken by governments as distinct from being left in the pockets of private persons, I feel it is a pity that there is no representative of the so-called Workers Party or whatever it is called in this House. I think a John Singleton in this House could tear Government supporters to pieces because they are not doing the sorts of things which they promised to do and in which some of them at least believe. I am not sure whether the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) really believes the sort of stuff that his Treasurer (Mr Lynch) puts forward. Many honourable members opposite really believe those sorts of things yet the Government is not carrying them out.
Social security payments will be increased by 8.2 per cent from the first pay period in May. Now the Government is arguing against a similar increase in regard to wages. All I should like to hear from the Government is on what basis it can justify its argument. On what basis can it say that whilst it is prepared to pay social security recipients an 8.2 per cent increase in benefits it is prepared to go into the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and argue that that increase should not be spread across the work force in general? There may be arguments for this approach but we certainly have not heard them in this House. In all the Budget Papers which we discussed at Budget time earlier this financial year, the predicted increase in the pension based on the estimated inflation rate was to be $3 a week payable in May. In fact the increase will be $3.60 a week- 20 per cent higher than predicted. Instead of rising to $46.50 the pension will rise to $47. 10. But the important thing is that inflation is 20 per cent higher than predicted. Yet we have the Treasurer coming into this House and saying in his first economic statement of the year on 15 February that the year 1976 was a year of considerable progress towards the aims the Government had set itself in bringing Australia’s economic problems under control. What hypocrisy! Who believes the Treasurer? The Government makes predictions in the Budget, it exceeded the predictions by 20 per cent, and then it pretends that the situation is going according to plan.
– Are we doing anything right?
– I am not criticising honourable members opposite on everything, I am just criticising them from their own point of view. The Treasury estimated a decrease of $55m in expenditure on unemployment benefit payments. It will be interesting to see during this financial year just how big the increase, not the decrease, is.
Surely if the Government has a plan, if it believes that certain things will happen, if it plans its outlays and its income, if at about Budget time for the financial year 1976-77 it makes certain predictions and if those predictions do not come true, surely it is ridiculous for the Treasurer to make in this House an economic statement in which the opening words are that considerable progress has been made and that everything is going according to plan. The Government attacks us and other people. Recently I heard Mr Eric Robinson, the Minister Assisting the Treasurer, criticise people on his side of the political fence, federally and in the States, for talking down the economy, for criticising the Government by saying that it is not being effective. The Government cannot treat all members of the community as morons, especially those who make decisions on investment. An investment manager or a person who had to make some decision would think twice about taking any definite steps which could possibly improve the economy if the Government was always telling them that everything was going according to plan and yet if its predictions on unemployment and inflation were wrong. The predictions were out by 20 per cent or more and if the shift has not been from the public sector to the private sector, if the opposite has occurred both in expenditure and resources, surely people will think twice about taking those steps.
– They might decide to leave the country.
-Yes, if they had alternative incomes outside the country.
– You are upsetting me.
– I am being perfectly serious about this. I think that if the Government wants the economy to improve- I assume that all of us do, because a significant number of people are suffering since the economy is not improvingthe community must have some justified faith in the sayings of the Government, the Treasurer, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the others who normally make statements on behalf of the Government. I emphasise that word ‘justified’.
-Would you give us a hand with the Budget?
– You are trying to be very clever and funny.
– He will not get a say either, so it does not matter.
-That is true. Hopefully there are people in his electorate who have sufficient intelligence to ask him at some stage: ‘Now, exactly what is the policy of your Government?’
-I will refer them to you.
– I hope you do. Then you will not be a member after the next election. Surely a member of Parliament must have sufficient intelligence to look at the sorts of things that governments, whether it is a coalition government or an Australian Labor Party government, are doing, to see whether governments are getting anywhere. Honourable members opposite should have the guts to stand up in their Party rooms, or wherever they raise matters in their Party committees, and ask their leaders, advisers, etc.: ‘What can we do about it? What alternative methods of dealing with the economy are available to us? Should we really try to enforce the policy which we pretend we are carrying out of shifting things to the private sector, or should we give in to what our people like to call the big spenders and go ahead and spend more money?’
If the Government intends to spend more money, hopefully it will do so in such a way that it will be employment-producing, not spend it in areas where the claw-back to the Government may be greater but certainly is not employment producing. It always shocks people when I say to them that from a fiscal point of view it is better to give money to doctors than to pensioners, because more of it, about 60 per cent, comes back if it is given to the doctors. Very little of it comes back directly if it is given to the pensioners, because they do not pay tax.
– That is a nice piece of rationalisation.
– I am not arguing in favour of it. All I am saying is that the net cost to the Government, to the Treasury, is different, depending on whom the Government gives the money to in the first instance.
– That is not very logical.
– All right. 1 put it to the honourable member that the Government’s policy is not working. I must admit that I had a vague feeling during the last year that we were in power, 1 975, that maybe what honourable members opposite said was correct- that there was a lack of confidence in the community and that the people with whom the present Government superficially at least had more empathy, the people who control our business enterprises, felt that a change of government would improve the position and that they would have more confidence in the Lynchs and the Frasers than they did in the Haydens and the Whitlams. It was a possibility. I am one of those who believes that the psychology of the people is quite important. I really felt that it was a possibility, that this could happen. It has not happened. It is obvious that it has not happened. If anything, the contrary has happened.
The Government has taken certain steps, and the result is that the position is even worse than it was before the Government got into power. Surely it is time now to look at the Government’s attitude and policy, to see what is going wrong. Why are people not spending more money? Why are they scared? Why are Ministers attending luncheons each day, speaking on every radio station and every television station, telling the people that things are on the improve, when nobody believes it? Why is that happening.
– Would you buy a used car from these people?
– No, but there is more to it. The reason why people do not buy used cars is that they have been caught buying used cars before. The cars have not been very good cars. Surely it is up to a government, when it makes a prediction that inflation will run at a certain rate, to see that it is not too far out. When it makes a prediction about unemployment it should not be too far out. If it is out significantly it must have the guts to say: ‘Look, certain things have gone wrong.’ It was a ridiculous performance by the Treasurer to say in the House that this is exactly what the Government planned. The Government cannot have it both ways. All I am asking of a reasonably intelligent group of people is that they put pressure on their Treasurer, their Prime Minister and whoever the so-called planners in their Government are to make up their minds. Should the policy be changed, or if the Government still believes that the policy is the correct one, should it be enforced more?
– What do you suggest?
– It is up to the Government. I disagree with its policy, so it is not for me to say. At the beginning I said that I did not believe its alleged policy that slashing public sector expenditure and putting faith in the private sector would work. There are all kinds of reasons why I believe that, but I have not time to give them. Honourable members opposite believe it. Yet, believing it, they still do not carry it out. Then they get the wrong results. Hopefully somebody on the other side will try to reply to me.
– I am honoured to take part in the debate on the Address-in-Reply to Her Majesty’s Speech. The visit of Her Majesty and the opening of Parliament by her were great Australian occasions. The visit of the Queen sparked a great deal of comment devoted to the cause of a republican Australia. Just after the arrival of Her Majesty I attended a luncheon at the National Press Club in Canberra, which was addressed by that high priest of republicanism, Donald Home. If I had been a swinging voter on the question of a republican Australia, I would have come away from that luncheon a confirmed monarchist. The speech was dull, repetitive, destructive and negative. It was over-concerned with and overinfluenced by the events of November 1975.
– Typical of Donald Home.
-Yes, it was very typical of him. The questions by the media after the speech were little better. I suppose most of them were covering the visit by Her Majesty. It seems that so far all the running in this discussion has been made by the republican cause. It is high time that those who believe in our form of constitutional monarchy spoke out loudly and clearly. This is what I propose to do tonight.
I am not an emotional monarchist tied to the past. I am a practical monarchist because I believe that is the best system of government yet devised. I have spent many years living and travelling in other countries and I have seen dictatorships both of the right and the left. They are equally bad. I have seen one-party governments of different sorts and I have seen various forms of presidential government. None of these, as far as I could see, offered a really satisfactory alternative to our form of constitutional monarchy. The Canberra Times of 1 1 March carried the headline ‘Wishy washy monarchists versus rootless republican intellectuals’. I think that is a splendid headline, the author of which should be congratulated. I am certainly not a ‘wishy washy monarchist’ but there do seem to be many ‘rootless republican intellectuals’. They seem to want to destroy our present system of government without producing any clear idea of a worthwhile alternative.
Republicans, particularly of the rootless intellectual variety, seem to be committed to a republic which is a socialist and unitary state. Very often the formation of a socialist and unitary state is the first step towards various forms of dictatorship or one-party government. The republicans seem to be confusing arguments against the Constitution because of the events of November 1975 with arguments against the monarchial system. Surely they are 2 different issues. There are very good arguments for changes to the Constitution but I believe there is one vital principle which must be preserved. That principle is that the head of state must be able to dismiss a bad government and order an election. In this way the people can speak and make a decision on the issues. This is the very essence of democracy. On 13 December 1975 the people spoke in a loud clear voice. The composition of this House today shows that they were in no doubt as to what they wanted. This power to dismiss a bad government and to call for elections is a major guarantee against dictatorship or one party government. It is one of the great checks and balances of our system. It is insurance against a Watergate in Australia.
It is regrettable that the issue of republicans versus constitutional monarchists is bound to be a political issue. If this is so, those who support our present system of constitutional monarchy must speak out so that their voices are not drowned by those tasteless demonstrators whom we saw during the Queen’s visit and by the rantings and ravings of the rootless republican intellectuals. Donald Home, in his speech to the National Press Club, said:
The Queen can be seen as a symbol of division.
What utter nonsense. The overwhelmingly friendly and enthusiastic welcome which the Queen received everywhere she went was an indication of what the Australian people really think of the monarchy and our system. I must congratulate the armed services for their magnificent parade after the opening of Parliament. The parade brought back to me many happy memories of times past. I hope that parades such as that will be repeated throughout Australia so that people can see more of the Services.
Having declared myself as a believer in constitutional monarchy I would like to turn now to some of the problems in my electorate of Leichhardt in far north Queensland. In February and March we had 2 very destructive floods. The rain gauge on top of Mount Bellenden Ker, which is not very far from where I live, registered from 28 January rainfall of over 7 metres- that is over 280 inches of rain- in less than 6 weeks. That must be something for the Guinness Book of Records. I repeat that we had 280 inches of rain in less than 6 weeks. Record or not, it caused a great deal of destruction.
– You must be growing webbed feet.
– Yes, we are growing webbed feet. I spent last weekend visiting the flood areas and inspecting the damage. I know that my friend and neighbour, the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett), was doing the same thing in his electorate which also suffered very badly. The amount of damage is still to be calculated but I am certain it will run into many millions of dollars. There was damage to roads and bridges and to train lines. There was also damage to sugar fields and to banana crops and damage of course to houses and personal possessions, furniture, carpets, vehicles and machinery.
The announcement last week by the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) that the Commonwealth will meet its commitments together with the State Government will do much to provide funds to repair the damage. But much more needs to be done. On 8 December 1976 the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Eric Robinson) tabled in this House a discussion paper entitled A Natural Disaster Insurance Scheme for Australia. The Government has decided in principle to introduce such a scheme and I hope that the details will be worked out as quickly as possible and a suitable scheme announced. Whilst it is not possible for householders and property owners to insure against cyclone damage, it is very difficult and very expensive to insure against flood damage, particularly in flood prone areas. I have tried and I know. This makes a properly instituted national disaster insurance scheme of the utmost importance and urgency.
I note that the discussion paper tabled on 8 December does not attempt to discuss the question of natural disaster crop insurance which is under separate consideration. I would urge the Treasurer to have this matter resolved as soon as possible. I saw large areas of cane fields destroyed and millions of dollars will be lost to the sugar industry as a result of this destruction. At present there is no way in which such crops can be insured. Perhaps our experience of the Brisbane floods, the Darwin Cyclone, Cyclone Ted on 20 December last year which destroyed so much of Burketown and Mornington Island in my electorate, the terrible fires in Victoria last month and now the floods in North Queensland will impel the Government to move very quickly on the matter of a natural disaster insurance scheme.
I would like to deal now with another major problem in my electorate, namely, the lack of communications in all forms. During the debate in this House on 24 February 1977 on the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) at page 484 of Hansard is reported as saying:
We live in a world of communication- telephones, travel, television and all the rest of it and we are now in communication in a way which was not possible when electorates were first drawn.
The honourable member knows much better than that for he is one of the few members of this
House who knows something of my distant and isolated electorate. The honourable member knows that very large areas of my electorate have no telephone service. There are very few roads and those roads which do exist are unusable for four or five months of the year during the wet season. Beyond a radius of 60 kilometres or so from Cairns there is no television service and no commercial radio. Many people in my electorate can receive the Australian Broadcasting Commission only by use of strong short wave sets and none of them can listen to the broadcasting of parliamentary debates.
– You will regret it when they can.
-I must say that listening to some of the debates, particularly speeches by the honourable member for Hunter, I am delighted that they cannot. Two weeks ago I toured my electorate with the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. We travelled from Cairns to Cooktown, Thursday Island, Weipa, Normanton and Burketown. That is about 20 times around Victoria. On this trip the Minister became aware of the grave deficiencies of communications in isolated areas. For example, the people of Burketown assured us that their postal and telegraph services were much better 30 to 50 years ago than they are today. When the people in my electorate hear about the cities with their FM and ethnic radio, a choice of several television channels, many commercial radio stations and private telephones and public telephones available to nearly everyone, it is very hard for them to understand why they cannot get the barest minimum in the form of communications.
– You tell them how lucky they are not to have all of that.
-They would not agree with you there. The Minister for Post and Telecommunications announced recently that the Australian Telecommunications and Postal Commissions were to spend more in rural areas. Let us wait and see whether that happens. I know that these commissions are statutory authorities, that they are in effect a law unto themselves and that they are not readily responsible to this Parliament. The Act setting up the statutory commissions gives the Minister power to direct the commissions to act in the national interest. If the communications and postal services do not improve I will urge the Minister to invoke that power and direct the commissions to act to provide better services to the people in isolated areas of Australia. It is these areas that produce so much of the wealth of the nation. They do not use very much of it but they produce it. The cities use the wealth. They eat it up and it is time that we had something back. It is very unfortunate that there seems to be an increasing lack of understanding between people in the cities and people in rural areas. I do not want to add to this problem, but I am convinced that the imbalance between city and country must be corrected in order to give country people at least some of the amenities which are taken for granted by city people.
Debate (on motion by Mr James) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 10 March, on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation. Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Amendment Bill and the Apple and Pear Stabilization Export Duty Collection Amendment Bill, as they are related measures. Separate questions will, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the 3 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering these 3 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
-The purpose of the Bills with which we are dealing in this cognate debate is to extend the existing stabilisation scheme for the export of apples and pears to cover the 1977 season. Under the Government’s legislation, the extension of the scheme will be based on a maximum level of support of $2 per box for apples, with a maximum quantity eligible for support of 2 million boxes; and for pears the support will be at a maximum level of 80c per box, covering a total quantity of up to 1 .4 million boxes. For apples the ambit of the scheme will be limited to sales at risk to Europe, including the United Kingdom. For pears the limitation will be on sales at risk to Europe, including the United Kingdom, and also to North America.
The Opposition supports the broad spirit of this legislation but regards it as being inadequate. It seeks to have the Apple and Pear Stabilization Amendment Bill withdrawn and redrafted. Hence I move:
The present scheme has operated since 1971 and originally was designed to protect the apple and pear industry against sinusoidal movements in export income. Like many other horticultural industries, the apple and pear industry is facing stiff export competition in the areas which have been its traditional markets. The competitive position of the industry in these markets has declined in recent years because of increases in freight costs and the high labour inputs into Australian production. A great deal of manual labour is still necessary in the industry as it is difficult to increase its efficiency by capital intensification. So, with the dual trends of higher production costs and shrinking export markets, the industry now is facing continuing social crisis. It is because of this social crisis that the Opposition seeks to amend the legislation to help maintain the real incomes of growers and to secure adjustment within the industry that may allow it better to tailor its production to available markets.
The $2 per box for apples and the 80c per box for pears mentioned in the legislation are the same as provided last year, and in the view of the Opposition are now inadequate. It is true that the real value of the $2 a box will be somewhat improved by the additional income accruing to growers from the devaluation of the Australian dollar. However, this is not an amount upon which growers may live and maintain their families. The Government wants the worst of all worlds for the fruit growing industry. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) said flatly in his second reading speech that the Government does not accept the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission in respect of reconstruction; yet at the same time he will not provide growers with an incremental payment upon that made last year. The Government wants subservient farmers on the poverty line depending on it for a meagre existence.
The Minister blithely said that the present level of support cannot continue indefinitely and suggested that the Government will be looking at the industry situation and considering the appropriate support level which might extend into 1978. The truth is that the Government will not look at the industry with a view to solving its problems at all. It thinks that by keeping this industry and the growers in it on subsistence incomes it is doing something humane each time it introduces this annual legislation. Growers have long been sceptical about the intentions of this Liberal-National Country Party Government and the eventual job of reconstruction that needs to be undertaken. Obviously the Minister hopes that the tree-pull schemes which operate within the industry will reduce further the level of production and bring with it a self-imposed rationalisation by growers that will leave a stable industry without the need for government surgery and without any cost to revenue.
In the meantime, growers in the 2 export States of Tasmania and Western Australia face a depressing situation. While exports account for only about 25 per cent of Australia’s apple production, these 2 States, because of their export bias, are the hardest hit. In Tasmania the proportion of production going to exports varies between 55 per cent and 65 per cent depending on the season and in Western Australia from 45 per cent to 60 per cent depending on the season. It is particularly in these 2 States that the Opposition believes its amendment proposing $3 a box for apples and $1.40 for pears will give substantial relief to growers. One can only hope that the Government has the decency and the sympathy to agree to the amendment without hesitation.
The Minister, in his second reading speech, talked about a supplementary assistance program and said that some State governments had not been inclined to support this additional assistance. I know that the New South Wales Government and the South Australian Government take the view that assistance for export apples and pears is the province of the Australian Government and not the States, whereas the Tasmanian Labor Government will join a supplementary assistance program for 1977 which, jointly funded with the Commonwealth and the other exporting States, will provide an additional $lm to the industry. Last year, as I mentioned in my speech in the second reading debate on legislation of this nature in that year, the Tasmanian Government made an offer to the Minister for Primary Industry to extend cover additional to the stabilisation scheme to 340 000 boxes on a dollar for dollar basis with the Commonwealth.
The Fraser Government refused this offer; so the Tasmanian Labor Government then extended its scheme to growers for an amount equal to that which would have been the State contribution to a Commonwealth-State arrangement.
If the Government should be so insensitive as to refuse the Opposition’s amendment on this occasion, I trust that at least the Tasmanian and Western Australian members of the Government Parties will fully support the Opposition’s amendment. We have put the issues squarely before the Parliament. Let some of these honourable members put their vote where their mouth is.
– Quite a change from last year.
– The honourable gentleman talks about last year. Last year his Government refused to enter a supplementary assistance scheme with the Tasmanian Government and the Tasmanian Government then had to extend $2 a box to the growers without the assistance of the Commonwealth. All the Commonwealth did was introduce its general scheme; it did not take up the Tasmanian Labor Government’s offer. So we have heard enough humbug from the Government side of the House. We will see where the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) stands when the vote comes on this issue. We will see whether he believes that growers in his area are on subsistence levels. He and the honourable members for Braddon (Mr Groom) and Forrest (Mr Drummond) can stand up and be counted on the issue, instead of seeking to propose amendments that they know will not be carried and making big fellows of themselves in the States from which they come. This time they can stand up and put their vote where their mouth is.
The other pieces of legislation which are part of the cognate debate are supplementary to the primary piece of legislation. They operate to complement that legislation in respect of the various separate funds that exist for the various types of fruit. The issue squarely remains this: Substantial adjustment needs to take place within this industry. The industry is facing a critical export crisis. Traditional markets overseas are shrinking and the domestic base is not large enough to take production.
The approach of the Government in not accepting the recommendations of the Industries Assistance Commission, in not putting forward a positive plan for a rationalisation of the industry, has left growers in a subsistence situation in which they face a continuing social crisis. There can be only one answer: Let the Government bring in a comprehensive plan for the rationalisation of the industry or this year let it agree to the Opposition’s proposal of $3 a box for apples and $1.40 a case for pears so that the growers will not be left on the poverty line, as the National Country Party and the Liberal Party would wish- subservient people, in their view, happy to take what is modestly handed out from Canberra in the hope that they will vote for those parties at the ensuing election. This time the growers can see that they are being treated in the same way this year as they were last year and that all the election promises made throughout 1975 will not be fulfilled. There will be no drastic legislation. There will be no surgery to clean up this industry and to help it rationalise itself. We on this side of the House are determined that at least those who are left foundering in the industry will have some assistance in excess of that provided by the Government.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
Debate (on motion by Mr Goodluck) adjourned.
-The Speech of Her Majesty, which foreshadowed Government activities and policy for the remainder of the Government’s term of office, has disappointed most honourable members on this side of the House, not because of any lack of respect for Her Majesty but because the Speech is a dismal document produced by the Government. The Fraser Government is in a deep dilemma. Things have not turned out as it expected. During the short time in which I have the privilege to address the House I intend to point out some of the inconsistencies in the Government’s policies. The Government claimed when it came to power that it principal objectives were to overcome inflation and unemployment. It accused the Whitlam Administration of being responsible for them when unemployment and inflation constituted a disease that had enveloped the Western world, created in the main by the financial policies and the activities of multinational corporations that operate so freely in the Western world without governments being able or wanting to take the necessary action to curb their activities.
Let me point to some of the remarks of the present Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) prior to coming to office and after he came to office. In his election policy speech on 27 November 1975 the Prime Minister said that the principal objectives of overriding concern to the Liberal-National Country Party Government would be to create new jobs and control inflation. Since that date general unemployment has risen by 33 per cent, youth unemployment by 87 per cent, Aborigine unemployment by 50 per cent, and female unemployment by 45 per cent. The underlying rate of inflation is now increasing to over 12 per cent per annum. Will the Prime Minister assert, as the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) did last Friday, that these figures reflect the success of the Government’s policies and that the high unemployment and high inflation are indicators of a satisfactory economic recovery?
I have a copy of a Press statement issued by the Prime Minister on 1 October 1975. He said that the Opposition would delay Supply in the Senate. Whilst not wishing to hark back to the events of 1 1 November it may be useful to refer to the criteria which the Prime Minister enunciated as the reasons why Labor should go to the people. He said:
We have the highest unemployment since the Depression. In January 1977, over the 12 months after the Fraser Government came to office, the number of persons registered as unemployed reached 334 589 or 5.8 per cent of the estimated work force- the highest level of unemployment since the Great Depression. The Prime Minister was the man who went into power to cure unemployment and inflation. He also stated:
This is the worst prolonged inflation in history.
In its first year in office, in the March to December quarters of 1976, the Fraser Government presided over a 13.7 per cent rate of inflation. The 6 per cent increase in the December quarter consumer price index is the highest since the December quarter of 1951. It is inevitable that inflation will increase to record levels in 1977 as the effects of the hasty devaluation flow on into higher prices for goods and services.
The Prime Minister also said:
School leavers will no longer be able to get jobs.
In January 1977 there were 155 944 young people under the age of 2 1 who were registered as unemployed with the Commonwealth Employment Service. When Labor was last in power, in October 1975, there were only 87 762 young people unemployed. Youth unemployment has increased by 78 per cent under the Fraser Administration. The Government’s only substantial response to this problem has been the Youth Employment Subsidy Scheme, which will assist only 4000 young people with jobs out of a total of 1 5 5 944 young unemployed. This is a disgraceful and deceitful example of the performance of a government which claimed that it was coming into office to clean up the unemployment mess allegedly left by the Whitlam Administration. A lucky 0.03 per cent will gain employment from the subsidy scheme for a limited period as a result of the Government’s grudging generosity.
The Prime Minister said in his election policy speech:
The savings of the retired are being destroyed.
He was referring to superannuitants and pensioners. The rampant inflation that will overtake Australia in the next 12 months because of this Government’s economic policies will strike hardest at those on fixed incomes. To use Mr Fraser’s own words, ‘those least able to defend themselves will suffer needlessly’. Small businessmen are seeing their life’s savings being wiped out as a result of the Fraser administration. The Labor Party when in power under the leadership of Mr Whitlam was frequently accused of creating unlimited bankruptcies throughout Australia. Let me cite to the House some of the figures concerning the number of persons who went bankrupt during the LiberalNational Country Party administration prior to the Whitlam Government coming to office. Labor was accused of sending small businesses to the wall, yet under the McMahon Government Australia saw the highest level in bankruptcies in the last 5 years or 6 years. In 1972, 1685 businesses went bankrupt. That number included 975 personal bankrupts. Almost certainly the Fraser Government will create more bankruptcies than occurred during the McMahon administration. In my view, it will send more small businessmen to the wall than the McMahon Government ever did. This Government, as a result of its mismanagement of this country, should give serious consideration to resigning and going back to the people.
Mr Fraser is on record as saying:
The Labor Government 1972-75 has been the most incompetent and disastrous government in the history of Australia. Although Australia has basically one of the strongest and healthiest economies in the world, in 3 years this has been brought to the brink of disaster by incompetence of the worst kind.
Without reason or excuse the weakest sections of our communitythose least able to defend themselves- have suffered needlessly.
Under the Fraser administration we now have the highest unemployment since the great Depression of the 1 930s and the worst prolonged inflation rate in our history. School leavers will not be able to get jobs in the foreseeable or distant future. Young people can no longer afford to buy a home because of inflationary costs. The savings of the retired are being destroyed and small businessmen are seeing their life’s work wiped out when they were looking forward to a healthy retirement. This cannot be allowed to continue.
Government’s Budget is an admitted failure. It has failed on 2 counts. The Budget is based on a total deficit of $2.8 billion which is already estimated to be over $3.5 billion. By the end of the financial year it could be over $4 billion and the Treasurer is not concerned with this fact. Is it any wonder that his family wants him to retire from political life? On the second count the Government has already announced that unemployment will rise to over 400 000 by the end of the year. The trade union movement has foreshadowed the possibility of 700 000 people being unemployed towards the end of 1977. If the Government is sincere enough to admit that there will be over 400 000 people unemployed in the immediate future, what an admission of the Budget’s failure by the ones who are responsible and who claimed prior to coming to power, that they would overcome these sorts of problems. On top of all this the Government has shown itself to be incapable of behaving with propriety. The Prime Minister has shown himself to be incapable of setting and enforcing decent standards of behaviour for his Government. The Prime Minister, when Leader of the Opposition, stated:
The disgraceful conduct of the Government over the loans affair follows a long record of scandals involving relations of Ministers, political appointments and attempts to evade the Constitution itself.
In just 3 years nine of the Government’s senior Ministers have either resigned, been dismissed or demoted because of incompetence or impropriety, including 2 men who were Acting Prime Minister when Mr Whitlam was out of the country. They are people Mr Whitlam now says he cannot trust.
Mr Fraser went on with these wicked accusations, yet he has in his own Party men holding responsible positions. I refer to the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Baume), a man who would have you believe that he is a decent family man. He well might meet his responsibilities in that regard but as has recently been pointed out he is the man who was involved in a scandal in connection with Patrick Partners which is under a cloud of dishonesty and deceit so far as its shareholders are concerned. He should consider in accordance with the Westminster system resigning until the matter is cleaned up.
– It has been cleaned up.
– It has not been cleaned up- not according to Masterman’s report. I refer also to an honourable member from Western Australia who was once a shadow Minister climbing up the political tree again. He is now responsible for the administration of an important Government committee.
– And a very good member, too.
– You would not like to have been involved in the scandal. Do you condone bribery? I hope you do not. You will lose my respect if you do.
– He was acquitted; you know he was acquitted.
-He was acquitted?
– He was.
– He was not. He was found not guilty.
– I raise a point of order. The honourable member for Hunter is reflecting on the honourable member for Curtin and on the judiciary. The honourable member for Curtin was acquitted of the charges laid against him. The honourable member for Hunter should not refer to him as a man who was found guilty of bribery. I do not think the honourable member meant to say it but he did say it and he should withdraw it.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member for Hunter, in responding to an interjection by the honourable member for Denison, phrased his reply in a way that could be regarded as being a reflection upon a decision of a court. In those circumstances I ask the honourable member for Hunter to withdraw the comment which was made in response to an interjection which was out of order. As the interjection has been recorded I ask the honourable member for Hunter to withdraw the comment that the honourable member concerned had not been acquitted. I ask the honourable member for Hunter to withdraw that part of the remark.
-I withdraw that part of the remark. The honourable member for Curtin was found legally not guilty. But thousands of people hold an alternative view.
– You are a muck raker.
– I am not a muck raker. You cannot afford to -
-You cannot afford to -
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter.
-Well, why did you not silence him? He said -
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter-
-He should withdraw his remarks. He said I was a muck raker.
-Order! I suggest that the House come to order and that the honourable member for Hunter be allowed to proceed to make his speech without further interjection.
– What I have said is the truth, that is the trouble. In concluding my remarks in the Address-in-Reply debate I point out that growing sections of industry, commerce and trade unions in Newcastle have asked me to appeal to the Government, as a result of the industrial redundancy which will be caused by the closure of the Newcastle State Dockyard, to give aid in the establishment of a car assembly plant in the Newcastle region so that the economic turbulence which is being experienced and which will get worse because of the placement of orders with the Japanese for ships for the Australian National Line will be relieved. I am happy to take this opportunity to appeal to the Government to give some consideration to the economic disturbance of those industrial workers in Newcastle experiencing redundancy as a result of the Government’s policies on shipbuilding and to create a car assembly plant in the Newcastle region.
I have also been approached by businessmen and other important persons in Newcastle who think that the time is overdue for the creation in the Newcastle region of an artificial limb factory. This would be appropriate to the region because people from the electorate of Gwydir and even from over the Queensland border must come to Sydney to be fitted for artificial limbs. Unfortunately I do not have the figures with me tonight which show the number of amputees in the region from Newcastle to the Queensland border who would be served by an artificial limb factory at Newcastle. I know that responsible people and organisations from the Newcastle region have communicated with the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) on this matter and I hope that he will see his way clear to set up an artificial limb factory in the Newcastle region.
I have also received appeals from Lebanese people in my electorate as a result of the Government ‘s failure to facilitate the migration of some of their relatives to the electorate of Hunter. The Sirhan family in Cessnock, which is a responsible, hard working family, has been working to have a cousin migrate to Australia. He is a single, educated man who teaches English in Lebanese schools. I hope that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) will consider the application of this man to migrate to Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr Donald Cameron) adjourned.
Census: Employment Statistics- Fraser Island: Timber Harvesting- Sullage Removal Expenses- Australian Territorial Waters-Telecom-East Timor-Traffic Freeways in Sydney-Newspaper Article- Isolated Children’s Parents Association
Motion (by Mr Newman) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
-In the last couple of weeks some of my colleagues have raised questions concerning the 1976 census. They have raised matters of employment and unemployment figures. I wish to refer to this same census with regard to other figures which are of some significance. My attention has been directed to the preliminary figures of population and dwellings in local government areas in Victoria. I rise to express concern because these census figures show in the City of Preston, which forms quite a large part of my electorate, a population of 88 380 people. The estimate of the city valuer and the rate collector of the council of the City of Preston, based on rate and other records, is that the population of the city is 101000. There is quite a considerable difference between the 2 figures. Further, the census figures for occupied dwellings show 25 800 dwellings, whereas the records of the Preston City Council show 26 386 dwellings. Once again there is quite a significant difference between the municipal records and the figures taken at the census.
The census figures state that there are 1 1 89 unoccupied dwellings. This is a quite ridiculous figure. There is a housing shortage in the area. Estate agents have nothing or next to nothing on their books and when they do have something, it goes pretty quickly. One could explain some unoccupied dwellings by people being on holidays but I scarcely think it would be to the extent of 1 1 89 dwellings, particularly in an area where this Government’s economic measures and the unemployment that it has caused are having such a dire effect. It has been put to me that I should raise this question in the House as subsidies from both Commonwealth and State sources are based on a per capita grant. Municipalities receive very substantial amounts of money for those areas based on a per capita grant. The Commonwealth grant to local government has a per capita component which is clearly spelt out. The State government grants in many areas, such as libraries for municipalities, are based on a per capita grant. The question has been asked of me whether the figures are being deliberately falsified to keep these Government contributions at a low rate. I think that in view of the divergence that can be shown in the figures, it is a not unreasonable question to ask. I had my electorate assistant examine the pattern in other municipalities. He has made inquiries and received statements from other municipalities to the effect that this pattern is quite clear throughout a number of municipalities in the Melbourne and metropolitan area. I think this sort of divergence in numbers and the obvious anomalies in the census require an answer by the Government, particularly when they affect the finance obtained by local government bodies.
Honourable members will no doubt recall that following the chain of events resulting in the termination of sand mining on Fraser Island I sought and received from the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) assurances that the traditional timber harvesting activities on Fraser Island were not under threat as a consequence of the report of the environmental commission or, for that matter, from the ambitions of those who might seek to damage or destroy an industry which has served Maryborough and Australia for over a century. Honourable members will understand that the Prime Minister’s assurances, the sincerity of which I do not doubt for one moment, have not completely dispelled the apprehensions of a community savaged by the impact of a decision influenced by a remote society, a society brainwashed by a diabolically effective propaganda campaign waged by elements of the conservation movement.
A fresh apprehension has descended upon the Maryborough community with the appearance of an article which could be the thin end of the wedge to stop timber harvesting on Fraser Island. In an article in a recent issue of ‘Environs’, a publication of the Department of Environment, Housing and Community Development, Professor F. H. Talbot, the Director of the Environmental Studies Program at Macquarie University comments on the report of the Commission on Inquiry into Fraser Island. While the article, indeed the report, is basically concerned with sand mining, Professor Talbot makes references to other uses for Fraser Island, such as tourism, residential development and forestry. In regard to the latter, Professor Talbot quotes from a submission by J. P. Stanton to the Commission of Inquiry on Fraser Island with reference to his criticism of local forestry practices. Mr Stanton states that there is haphazard exploitation. He also criticises regeneration techniques.
Professor Talbot, in this article, does not refer directly to the Commissioners’ report concerning the practices of the Maryborough saw milling companies, which are stringently controlled by the Queensland Department of Forestry. The controls include obtaining official permits from officers of the Forestry Department to fell any tree. These officers also indicate in which direction the tree is to be felled to minimise damage to other growth in the surrounding forest. In their report the Commissioners said, and I urge honourable members to listen to this:
It seems likely that most visitors to the Island . . . would be unaware that its timber resources have in fact been exploited over a hundred years.
The Commissioners report that they were ‘impressed by the responsible attitude to Fraser Island which has been adopted over the years by the Queensland Department of Forestry and the sawmilling companies which process most of the timber shipped from the Island’. The Commission also stated that ‘the selective logging which has been taking place on the Island since the mid-ninteenth century has not destroyed the character of the forested areas as wilderness’. ‘Wilderness’, in the words of the Commissioners, is ‘ a wild or uncultivated tract of land ‘.
Professor Talbot’s article implies that future logging on the island may destroy its natural environment. The official report appears to deny that contention. The most alarming circumstance regarding that article is its publication in a Commonwealth Government departmental journal. That may lead to the assumption that it could become departmental policy or that it could, without reference to the original report, at least influence departmental and Commonwealth Government thinking. That creates a problem of great concern to the people of Maryborough as the timber industry in that city depends largely on the raw timber available on Fraser Island. The approval expressed by the Commissioners in their report must surely negate the attitude of Mr Stanton and Professor Talbot. As long as the firms involved and the State Forestry Department continue with their present responsible and thoughtful co-operation, there is no threat to the continuation of the forestry industry in the area.
I do not suggest that the Department should close its publication to honest and productive points of view, even though they may be provocative to some, but I do insist that articles such as the one to which I have just referred should be subjected to closer scrutiny. For Professor Talbert to use the environmental report as an authority in some areas and to ignore its specific findings in others brings into question either his motives or his competence. The Government should divorce itself from such a mischievous practice as that in which the author has engaged.
– I want to take a few minutes to raise a matter which has come before the House in the form of petitions during the current session of Parliament. In addition this matter has been referred to the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) on numerous occasions. I am concerned about the disadvantage experienced by people who reside in the perimeter areas of cities especially and also by people who live in country towns when they incur expense in connection with the removal of sullage. Many people in my electorate who live on the perimeter of Sydney, some 20 or 25 miles from the city, incur many disadvantages. They pay a great deal of money in fares to travel to their employment. They do not always enjoy the amenities provided by local government in that their roads are often unsealed and they are without kerbing or guttering, or whatever it is called in the various States. In addition to those kinds of disadvantage they have to rely on sullage removal service. In many instances, because of the terrain of the country- a sandstone geological formation, for example- there is no alternative to a sullage service.
Members of the National Country Party would probably be interested to know that many of the people whom they claim to represent are affected by this matter. I remember that before the decision was taken by the Labor Government to instal sewerage in Katherine- I do not contend that the National Country Party represents the people in Katherine- sullage removal was a very great and expensive issue indeed. We have ascertained that those people who incur all these additional expenses and who pay through the neck for the removal of sullage, which often is the removal of toilet effluent and sometimes even bathwater and sink water, are unable to claim the expense incurred as a tax deductible item. In completing a tax return, anybody else, of course, who sought the $1,350 deduction would put together a number of different claims, including claims against insurance, rates and medical expenses, education expenses and the like. Of course, they can make a claim of up to $300 in regard to rates and in respect -
– It used to be more until you fixed that up.
-That is what it is now. That is what it is 14 or 15 months after the election of a Liberal-National Country Party Government. So if an anomaly does exist it is obviously time that the Government took it up. Honourable members opposite cannot go on blaming the Labor Government forever. But the honourable member cannot short circuit me on the matter that I want to raise because it is very important to many thousands of fringe dwellers around this country. The Treasurer, through the Taxation Office, is saying: ‘We will not in fact concede any claims in this respect until the local government authorities are able to assess annually the amount of the sullage cost claimed’. Of course, the councils cannot assess annually because the amount involved is in respect of a particular volume of disposal a month or a week over a period of time.
Obviously there is a communication problem between the Government and the local government authorities. It is a simple matter. They say that they cannot assess annually. But it is a ridiculous situation in which these people continue to be disadvantaged year in and year out. Thousands of people are signing the petition to which I referred. The campaign is gathering very great momentum. It ought not to be necessary to go to such trouble to correct such an apparent anomaly and injustice. I put it the House tonight in the hope that the Treasurer will take notice of the fact that this is one outstanding matter which is very greatly in need of remedy.
– I wish to speak briefly tonight on a matter which will become of increasing importance to the people of Australia, and possibly will happen within the next 12 months. It is mooted at the moment that Australia, along with a number of other countries in the Pacific region, may declare a 200-mile sea limit within the next 6 or 9 months. That will have tremendously important implications not only for all electorates on the seaboard of Australia but also for people who live in other parts of Australia, because it is not often realised by Australians that the 200-mile limit will mean a doubling of the size of the Australian territory which will have to be serviced and defended. It is a tremendously important task for the Government and for the people of Australia to marshal our resources and our thinking towards that day when we will have that extra territory to police. The defence implications, of course, are well known and have been well publicised. We in this country realise that, following the drastic rundown of our defence forces during the period of office of the Labor Government, the tremendous task of building those forces again to some viable size is going to be made all the more difficult as a result of the extra sea area that will need to be policed.
Without going into that matter any further, because obviously it will be the subject of debate in this Parliament at the appropriate time, I point out that there are other implications. The foreign policy implications will also be very important as time goes on. I would just like to say at this stage that any idea of resources diplomacy in the Whitlam sense will never be any good. The idea that we should trade our goods off against some other bit of foreign policy from overseas is, in the worst sense, anathema to me and, I believe, to most honourable members on this side of the House. I think it can be demonstrated, for instance, that if we were to withhold our fishing resources in the interests of some so-called Whitlam resources diplomacy policy we would find that we probably would not be able to sell them anyway. There have been indications that if we do not supply some of the other resources of this country the people who would normally want to buy them from us will go elsewhere. The examples of iron ore and some other commodities for which there are other sources of supply bear out that case. Apart from that, a more overriding implication in regard to resources diplomacy Whitlam style is that it is just downright immoral in the international sense.
The primary industry implications for my electorate of the increase in the fishing limit to 200 miles are of tremendous importance. They put a great obligation on the Government. A tremendous amount of money will have to be spent on research- not necessarily by the Government, but of course the Government will be required to co-ordinate that to some extent. The whole question of the financing of the larger vessels that will be necessary if we are to harvest our resources efficiently obviously will need great attention. Of course, the Australian fishing industry is already large. For instance, it is already Vh times the size of the apple industry, which we are debating in this Parliament this week. I do not have to tell the
Parliament that we export a tremendous quantity of fish, but we will have those extra resources and they will be very important to us. The whole question of Federal-State relations will be a problem. For instance, at the moment in New South Wales there are all sorts of State regulations and restrictions that will have to be washed away or at least modified if we are to get a viable system of fishing within the 200-mile limit. We will have great possibilities for joint venture operations in the servicing of ships, the processing of fish and the ownership of boats, in particular with Japan. The Government knows that there will be a need for extensive policies in this region. I certainly hope that the rest of Australia is becoming aware of the tremendous problems that we will have and the tremendous challenges that we will face.
-The point that the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Sainsbury) raised of course is important- the enormous obligations that will flow from the increase in the size of Australia’s territory as a result of the application of the 200-mile zone. I am always intrigued when I find a member of the Liberal Party talking about morality in the international sense. That is the last thing Liberals ever bring to any of their international dealings. I rose this evening to make a brief comment upon the Australian Telecommunications Commission. I am one of its customers. Like everbody else in this House, I am one of its victims. I was going to say that it is one of the more inefficient of Australia’s public utilities. Perhaps it is one of the most inefficient. Perhaps ‘inefficient’ is not the right word; ‘insensitive’ is the one I would use. I am the proprietor of a telephone in this city. On Thursday of last week it was discovered to be not ringing in. I was not surprised when nobody telephoned me- there were no problems for which I was responsible- but I found that other people were disappointed that they were unable to raise me on the telephone.
That was on Thursday of last week. On Friday I checked out the telephone and found that it did not ring in. So I advised Telecom. This was at about 8 o ‘clock in the morning or a little earlier. I suggested that if a Telecom representative could come within the next hour or two I could be there to let him into the house and if the instrument were faulty it could be fixed. Telecom could not do that; it was impossible. After all, what is a few hundred million dollars profit when it comes to servicing a customer! Subsequently I raised the matter with Telecom continuously. Today my staff raised it with Telecom. Yesterday my staff raised it with Telecom in Melbourne, but unfortunately no one is available before 9 o’clock in the morning. You know, Mr Speaker, that members of the Opposition, in trying to cope with the eccentric behaviour of this Government, have to start early enough to try to save Australia from its aberrations; so none of us will be home after 9 o’clock in the morning. I think it is a downright disgrace that one of the great public utilities of this country, which is one of the most expensive utilities of this country, should be so bereft of its public duty as to be unable to compete with the other utilities in this city in the service that is supplied.
As I have pointed out to the people of Telecom on other occasions, they live in a city in which if anyone has a need for a public service- electricity, water, the fire brigade or even the policethere will be somebody there quick and lively. I think it is disgraceful that we allow this situation to continue. I hope that honourable members opposite will start to pressure the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) to accept his responsibilities instead of turning all the resources of his Department to the business of knocking off other people’s radio sets.
– You should never have made it into a commission.
Mr BRYANT I think that one of the great disasters of the change to a commission is not so much that it removed it from parliamentary responsibility but that it allows the Minister to pass the buck. I have raised the matter with his office staff, who of course are courteous in the extreme, and I take it that something will happen in the next month or so to restore my telephone service.
I want to raise another matter now. It is the insufferable impertinence of the Indonesian Government which is implicit in the demand that we silence a member of the parliamentary staff in what he considers to be his duty and in the pursuit of knowledge associated with his duty, even while he is on furlough. I do not think it is a question of whether Mr Dunn is right or wrong; it is a question of all sorts of decent international morality and our own decent national dignity. I think that our man in Jakarta betrayed his duty to this country when he accepted the protest and transmitted it to Australia. When the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock), as I understand it, in this House today gave his answer in such an equivocal way I think he also betrayed his duty. Mr Speaker, I hope that you will look into the question of whether this has a potential for interference with the rights and the duties of the staff of this Parliament and that the Indonesian
Government is told that we regard its action as an impertinence. I know that there are some honourable members opposite who think that the Indonesians have rights in Timor. Even if they think Indonesia has rights in Timor, it has no right to interfere with the activities of an Australian citizen. I regard it as a piece of insufferable impertinance flowing from the craven attitude of this Government to the actions of the Indonesian Government in Timor.
– I want to draw the attention of the House to something that the New South Wales Government is proposing to do and the disastrous consequences it could have for the city of Sydney. During the term of office of the Liberal Government in New South Wales, it laboriously put together a series of corridors which could be the arteries for the future traffic of Sydney. These apparently are to be sold by the State Government which intends by so doing to make it impossible for Sydney ever to be a well trafficked city. I know that there is always some kind of move against freeways and to some extent there can be an exacerbation of the freeway idea; but in general the freeway environmentally is the only way to save a city and to keep the traffic off the suburban roads and shopping roads on which the commercial life depends. Wantonly to disrupt these plans is quite appalling and one of the worst things that even the present New South Wales Government has contemplated. I refer particularly to those plans which affect my own electorate- the Warringah Expressway and the link between the Warringah Expressway and the Epping Road- but also we are affected by the north-western expressway because only by that expressway can the peak hour jams on the Sydney Harbour Bridge be obviated. The abandonment of the north-western expressway means that traffic through Mosman- not in my electorate- will be permanently a worry to the people of Mosman. It means that the people of my electorate will find their whole traffic future jeopardised.
It is the stupidity of this proposal which worries me. Of course we want to keep motor cars out of the city, but the freeways that are contemplated are designed to do just that- to bypass the city. Sydney has no cross-city road to the east of the Bridge and obviously, because of the geography, there can be no bypass of Sydney to the east. So there has to be a bypass of Sydney over the Bridge. To have abandoned the western distributor and its extension to Mascot, to have abandoned the idea of the Parramatta Roadthe old main road, the main Sydney artery- is absolutely outrageous. It is stupid. As I have said, these corridors were put together with great skill and at some expense by the previous State Liberal Government. The Wran Government, which does not understand transport, is endeavouring to get everything back on public transport. To some extent I have sympathy with this view. But the Government has not understood its own principles because its own principles must involve keeping cars out of the centre of the city and preventing the car caused smog which hangs over centres of cities like Sydney and Melbourne and which must hang over every major city. I protest against the wanton stupidity of what the Wran Government is doing in trying to murder our embryo freeway system in Sydney.
– I was surprised to see the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) and the honourable member for Barton (Mr Bradfield) nodding their heads in agreement with the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) when he spoke about freeways because I understand that the roads which Mr Wran has decided not to proceed with are those roads which go through their electorates. The traffic will disturb their electors and therefore I was most surprised to see them nodding in agreement with the honourable member for Mackellar.
It is of great surprise to me that the honourable member for Mackellar should now become very disturbed about the movement of people around the city of Sydney. It is of surprise to me that the honourable member, whom I understand to be a prominent citizen in the Sydney area with a long ancestry in that area, did not make his views known to the 2 previous Liberal Premiers because these plans were proposed, I understand, as far back as 1954. He made no comment to the previous Premiers. I am sure that he did not give them advice to accept the proposal of the Labor Government to upgrade the public transport system in New South Wales. It is because the public transport system was allowed to run down that the alternative of private freeways for private cars was put rather than apply funds to public transport. If Mr Wran sees his priorities as upgrading the public transport system he will have not only my support and the support of this Parliament, but certainly the support of the people who are very poorly served by public transport in the rather sprawling city of Sydney. That is a matter that the Parliament could debate for some time. I repeat that I am surprised at the indignant attitude taken by the honourable member for Mackellar to the policy of the Wran Government in this respect.
What I really rose to speak about was an article which appeared in the Melbourne Herald some 2 weeks ago. It did a lot to denigrate the people who live in the city in which I live- the city of Broadmeadows in Melbourne. It was very poor reporting by that newspaper. It was not up to its usual standard. It seems to me that when the Melbourne Herald or any other newspaper in Victoria needs to find some news to fill up a space, it has no alternative but go to Broadmeadows, one of the largest housing commission areas in Victoria and indeed almost one of the largest housing commission areas in the Commonwealth. People in that area have a particular socio-economic problem. I think it does no credit to a newspaper of the standing of the Melbourne Herald for one of its reporters to go there to find some young person on the street, to beguile that person with the fact that he is a newspaper reporter, to extract from that person all sorts of information and to print it in that newspaper. It is believed by those who read the newspaper as being indicative of the people who live in that area generally. I would simply like to place on record and to state publicly that having lived in the area of Broadmeadows for 20 years, the people who live there are no better, no worse, no different from the people who live in any other part of the State; indeed, in any other part of the Commonwealth. The matter was followed up on a television current affairs program where again selected people were chosen to be interviewed. The scenes televised were obviously and clearly staged. If the media of this country are going to make that sort of an attack on people who are unable to defend themselves against media which give that sort of an impression, it does not speak well for the media. On another occasion there was a comment in a newspaper about people planting trees. Broadmeadows is a frontier town. It is a rapidly developing area.
– It is well represented.
-Yes, it is well represented. Again the Melbourne Herald carried a story one night about the planting of trees. It did not mention the city of Broadmeadows but it carried 2 photographs- one of the city of Canberra which showed the beautiful trees that have been planted in this city and one of the city of Broadmeadows where houses are being built by the Housing Commission and where there are no trees. There never were trees in Broadmeadows until the area was settled. The photograph was used as an example of the city of Broadmeadows. It did not represent the city of Broadmeadows. There are almost as many trees in that city as there are in the city of Canberra. It is a city that almost equals Canberra in its beauty.
-Tonight I wish to refer to an organisation for which I have a very great admiration, namely, the Isolated Children’s Parents Association. Not long ago the president of the ICPA was in Canberra, having travelled from south western Queensland to present a case on behalf of the people whom the Association represents. He was accompanied by Mr Mitchell, the immediate past president of that Association.
I should like to draw attention to some of the matters that were raised on that occasion with the object of promoting interest in this organisation, the great work it is doing and the sacrifices that are being made by people in the organisation to try to get what is regarded by most people who understand those conditions as equitable treatment. Recently I was listening to an Opposition speaker refer to some reduction in some teaching expenditure. It was felt that this factor should be taken into consideration. I refer now to areas where I believe there are probably the most underprivileged people as far as education is concerned that we could find in this country. I should like to mention that when the ICPA was formed in 1971 the deduction allowance for educational expenses was $400. At the same time the fees at a particular boarding school were $1,200 per annum or, to put it another way, the concession was 33 per cent of the actual cost when a student had to live away from home at a boarding school. So many of these children, of course, had to do that. In 1977, the fee at the. same school is $3,300 per annum and rebate is $250, or 7.5 per cent. If a comparison were taken at the time when the $400 was introduced an even greater anomaly would be shown. The ICPA submits that the present rebate of $250 is totally inadequate and needs increasing to an amount compatible with actual boarding school fees, less what it would cost a parent to keep that same child within his own home and to let that child walk across the street to a school of an appropriate level. The Organisation has submitted:
The problems of those people deserve the utmost consideration, sympathetic treatment of this Government and the sympathetic understanding of the people of Australia.
-Order! It being 1 1 p.m. the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.
The following answer to a question upon notice was circulated:
Income tax deductions are allowable in respect of expenditure incurred on land used for purposes of primary production in:
Where the expenditure represents recurrent costs, not of a capital nature, in carrying on a business, it is deductible in the year in which it is incurred. In other cases, the expenditure is allowable over a period of ten years, provided that the taxpayer who incurred the expenses continues to use the land for purposes of primary production. Before amendments to the income tax law in 1973 the expenditure in these cases was also fully deductible in the year of incurrence.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 March 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1977/19770316_reps_30_hor104/>.