18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) tookthe chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– By way of preface to my question, I remind theSenate that some yearsago a verydistinguished party representing the Empire Parliamentary Association in Great Britain visited Australia. Lord Listowel, who is now visiting Australia, was a member of it. Since that time a number of honorable senators, including the Leader of the Opposition have visited Great Britain as members of the Empire Parliamentary Association in Australia and irrespective of the party to which they belong have been treated with the utmost courtesy and almost extreme generosity. Lord Listowel arrived in Australia only a few days ago. I should like to know from the Acting Attorney-General whether he has read in the Sydney Morning Herald of yesterday the discourteous, slanderous and untruthful remarks that are there reported to have been made by Mr. Turner, a member of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament, who claimed that, among other things, this very distinguished gentleman had already sold out Burma to the Soviet, and that ho is here to continue with that course? I have handed a copy of that edition of the Sydney Morning Herald to the Minister so that he may read the statement to which I refer.
– Mr. Turner is an opponent of the right honorable member for North Sydney in the selection for the Bradfield seat.
– I understand that thatis so, although the right honorable gentleman is more discreet than to admit it.Will the Acting Attorney-General ask the Prime Minister to assure Lord Listowel that such a statement about him does not represent the feelings of either the Australian Governmentor the Australian people and was in extremely bad taste?
– The statement referred to by the honorable senator was placed in my hand as I entered the chamber a few minutes ago, and I have barely had an opportunity to read it. I agree that it reveals an utter lack of good taste in relation to a British Minister who is visiting Australia on important affairs of State. It not only dealswith the actions of Lord Listowel, but also makes a bitter personal attack upon him. In both respects it is wholly unfounded. This is far from the graciousness that members of the Labour- Government in Australia extend to visiting celebrities, whether they be members of a government or an opposition. “We have recently had visits from members of the Opposition party in the United Kingdom. I should be horrified to learn that anything of this nature had been said about Mr. Anthony Eden, for instance, during his recent visit to Australia. I am quite sure that the Prime Minister would foe concerned to reassure Lord Listowel that the views expressed by Mr. Turner are not those of the Government or of the people of Australia. Although I doubt whether there will be any need for the Prime Minister to reassure Lord Listowel on that point, I believe that he would, if necessary, take an early opportunity to do so.
– As the Parliament is about to go into recess for two months, can the Minister for Shipping and Fuel inform the Senate what progress has been made by the Government in discussions for the arrangement of a Pacific regional pact along the lines of the North Atlantic pact ?
– I am not in a position to inform the Leader of the Opposition what progress has been made in the matter to which he has referred, but he can rest assured that the Government will honour the obligation which the people of Australia have placed upon it to deal with such a matter in the best interests of the nation.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Fuel seen a report published in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald with relation to coal, the report having been writtenby a staff correspondent? In view of the shortage of coal in States other than New South
Wales the report, if it be true, is a very serious matter. It reads as follows: -
BoardandOwnerArgueWhileCoal Stays Downthe Mine.
While the whole of Australia is crying out for more coal, 30,000 tons of slack coal, ideally suited for the generation of electricity at Bunnerong power station, is going to waste at Hartley Main colliery, near Lithgow.
– Order! The honorable senator may not quote at length from a newspaper report.
– The statement to which I draw particular attention is as follows: -
It has been lying there for years because of the clash of views on mechanization’ between the Joint Coal Board and the mineowner, Mr. E.S. H. Miller.
Is there any truth in that report? Can the Minister explain the exact position?
– I have seen the article to which the honorable senator has referred. I expected that the Leader of the Opposition would have asked a question on this matter following the publication of that report, because on the 3rd March he addresseda question to me on the same subject following a similar article which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the previous day. The article in to-day’s issue of that newspaper is accompanied by a photograph taken at the surface of the mine. The point at issue is whether there is 30,000 tons of slack coal lying at Hartley Main colliery. In New South Wales, at least, the Sydney Morning Herald has a reputation for some degree of accuracy, so much so that the sporting fraternity regard its turf columns as their bible and the “starting prices “ published in that journal as being most authentic. This article, however, is entirely incorrect, and the journal would have been made aware of that fact had it studied the reply which I gave to the Leader of the Opposition in rebuttal of the article which it published on the same subject on the 2nd March, in which it reported that Mr. Miller had said that he had machinery worth many thousands of pounds ready tobe installed under plans approved by the war-time Coal Commissioner, Mr. N. Mighell, and that much of the machinery was lying idle on the surface. The writer of the report that is published in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald states -
He (Mr. Miller) showed me a rail tractor worth £1,200 lying idle near the mine. Thieves had stolen a motor worth £400 out of it. Nearby was armoured lead cable worth £2,000. Other equipment lying idle included £400 worth of trailing cable, a diesel engine, powerful air fan, ventilating equipment, electric motors, roller-bearing steel skips, power borers, and drills.
The article continues -
Mr. Miller said he had a Jeffrey coal-loader worth £1,100 stored in Sydney, a Samson coalcutter worth £2,000 at Excelsior colliery-
That is a long way from Hartley Main colliery - a conveyor wagon-loader at Hillside colliery, and a coal-crusher at Miller’s siding near Stockrington.
Stockrington is much farther north.
– But it is all stored on the ground, at any rate.
– It is spread all over the place. The Leader of the Opposition might be good enough to keep order for a few minutes while I make my explanation. I am sorry that I have had to bring him into the discussion, but I had to do so because he asked the original question on this subject. In any event, I think that I should be allowed to answer the question as clearly as possible. As I pointed out previously when the matter was raised by the Leader of the Opposition, approval for the re-opening of Hartley Main colliery was given by the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner, Mr. Mighell, on the 27th November, 1945. I want honorable senators to remember that the colliery, which is close to a railway line, had been closed for 55 years, lt was closed in 1890. The excuse that was given in the article in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning was that the colliery had been closed as the result of a bank smash in 1S90. I do not know whether that statement is correct or not.
– Was that a private bank?
– There was no such thing as the Commonwealth Bank then, so that it must have been a private bank. Many of us remember the troubles that our parents had as the result of the bank smashes in 1890’s. Hartley Main colliery had been flooded for 55 years when approval was given for its reopening in 1945. Anybody who knows anything about mining methods in the 1890’s is aware that the miners had to fork the coal into the hoppers. They were not allowed to use shovels. Any pieces of coal measuring less than an inch in diameter were not acceptable in those days. The residue that was left after the heavy coal had been forked into the hoppers is what is called slack. That residue is stacked all over the mine. 1 ask honorable senators to visualize the effect upon this slack of the flooding of the mine over a period of 55 years. Much of. the slack is mere dust. It is in the “ gob “ of the mine, which consists of the workings that were left after the heavy coal had been taken out. Some of the slack has already been extracted and I understand that it has been used. With the present shortage of coal, any sort of coal is acceptable in industry. The tractor mentioned in the article in the Sydney Morning Herald fell into a gully eighteen months ago when a rope broke as it was being towed up the side of the mountain. It has been lying in the gully ever since. It is not “ near the mine “ as the Sydney Morning Herald reported. It is a long way from the mine. A reputable newspaper that presents a garbled account like that cannot expect the people to continue to respect its opinions and reports. As I have said, most people regard anything published by the Sydney Morning Herald as bearing the stamp of authenticity, but I assure the people of Australia that the report that I have quoted is anything but authentic. The man who said that he saw the tractor on the surface of the mine is a deliberate liar. I say that with all sincerity, and I accept full responsibility for the statement. .Such falsehoods should not be published by the press of this country, least of all by a newspaper of the alleged standing of the Sydney Morning Herald. The provision of finance for this mine is a matter for the Joint Coal Board. The board has carried out investigations and has made a report. An application has been made for £25,000. A request for assistance to re-open this mine was made to the New South Wales Government many years ago when
Mr. Baddeley was Minister for Mines. However,a condition of the proposed agreement for the working of the mine was. that the Miller family and its heirs should receive certain benefits. Mr. Baddeley turned the proposal down. I emphasize that the potentialities of the Hartley Main, mine have been fully investigated by the Joint Goal Board, the authority set up by the Commonwealth to secure the production of coal in this country. The board has the services of technicians, skilled and experienced in coal-mining; who have reported that to mechanize the minewould cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and that the coal seamwas too thintowarrant that expenditure. There are other coal-mining projects upon which the taxpayers’ money can be more profitably expended. For instance, open-cut mining is being developed. This type of coal production is free from the difficulties’ that are encounteredunderground. According to experts, the expending of even £10 or £20 at the Hartley Main mine would not be warranted. A thorough investigation has been made, and I cam assure the people of this country that whatever may be the opinion of the mine-owners or, in some instances, the miners themselves:, the Joint Coal Board is doing a good job for Australia in the coal-mining industry. It will take many years, however, to eliminate the psychology that has been created amongst coal-miners because of the treatment to which they were subjected in years gone by. In the past hundreds ofcoal-miners have been condemned to an early grave because of adverse working conditions, notably dust in the mines. It is because those conditions existed for so long that the Joint Coal Board is unable to-day to get all the mine labour that it requires to exploit our coal resources to the degree necessary to meet the nation’s requirements. For too long the prime consideration of mineowners has beenprofit-making, regardless of the working conditions of their employees. I know of one family living On the coast ofNew South Wales in which the father and two Sons have become “ dusted “ and thus condemned to an early death. Consider the tragedy of such a loss in one family- three breadwinners incapacitated simply because no attempt was made to rid the mines in which they worked of dust. Nothing was done to improve conditions: in the dustladen mines of the south coast until the Commonwealth. Government itself assumedcontrol of a colliery and experimented indust prevention. So successful have those experiments been, that the dust prevention methods employed in that mine have been adopted in Great Britain.
I hope that what I have said to-day will clear this matter up once and. for all. I realize, of course, that Senator Cooper raised this matter originally on the 2nd March for propaganda purposes, and that he does not like hearing the truth to-day. I trust that in the public interest the SydneyMorning Herald will publish a full report of my statement to-day. ] challenge that newspaper, and the press of Australia generally, to deny the truth of anything that I have said.
– In view of the fact that an agreement exists between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Queensland concerning the sugar industry, can the Acting AttorneyGeneral say whether it is possible to ensure that in future sugar will be handled only by union labour, that is, by trade unionists whose unions are affiliated with the Australian Labour party or trades hall councils?
– The honorable senator has asked a very important question. In making such agreements as that relating to sugar the Commonwealth relies largely on its constitutional powers over export and interstate trade. The sugar agreement includes a clause whereby the Commonwealth prohibits the importation into Australia of sugar from abroad. In return the Queensland Government undertakes to purchase all sugar grown in Queensland and northernNew South Wales and to sell it at fixed prices. The agreement also provides for the payment of certain subsidies for the benefit of fruit-growers, who use large quantities of sugar in canning their produce, and might otherwise be at a serious disadvantage because of the agreement. The agreement has to be renewed from time to time, and, ifmy memory serves me aright, it will expire in June, 1951. The question asked by the honorable senator has. taken me somewhat by surprise, but I should say that in. the industrial sphere a combination of Commonwealth and State legislation can achieve almost any desired purpose. Of course, the power of the Commonwealth in the industrial field is very limited. All that it can do is to establish arbitral and conciliatory tribunals, which may handle interstate disputes which do not come within the jurisdiction of tribunals established by the States. Accordingly there is no power in the National Parliament to provide by legislation that preference shall be granted to any one. The only body which can grant preference is an arbitral or conciliatory tribunal. It is clear, therefore, that the Parliamentcould not exercise the power to order preference to be given to any particular trade union. It may be competent for a State government to legislate within the limits of its jurisdiction, but that jurisdiction is purely territorial, and in Queensland, of course, it applies only within the borders of that State. I envisage difficulty in obtaining the results desired by the honorable senator. However, when the agreement comes up for review, and when consideration is given to the drafting of the joint legislation that will have to be passed by the parliaments of the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland, I shall ensure that the matter raised by the honorable senator will receive consideration.
– On the 10th March Senator Morrow referred in this chamber to a photograph which appeared in the Tribune purporting to show a number of aborigines working in chains in the Northern Territory. As promised, I have taken up the matter with the Minister for the Interior, who has furnished the following information: -
The letterpress to the picture, apparently referred to by the honorable senator, indicates that the natives depicted were held at Fitzroy Grossing in Western Australia. Natives in Western Australia are not under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government, but are the responsibility of the State.
So far as the Northern Territory is concerned, chains may only be used on prisoners with the approval of two very senior officials, who would only give the necessary authority under the most exceptional circumstances.
In actual fact, chains have only been used in one isolated case in the last fifteen years.
Debate resumed from the 16th March (vide page 1497), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill has been brought down for the purpose of extending the franchise to certain of the aboriginal population of Australia and to amend the system of postal voting. It provides that an aboriginal native of Australia shall be entitled to enrolment if he is entitled under the law of theState in which he resides to be enrolled as an elector of that State. He shall also be entitled to enrolment as an elector if he is, or has been, a member of the defence forces. In New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia the aboriginal natives are entitled under State law to enrolment on State rolls, and to vote at elections for the numerically larger House of the Parliament of that State. That means that in certain circumstances they are allowed to vote for the lower House of a State. That entitlement has been given to classes of the aboriginal population that the Government considers has reached such a state of advancement and education that they can understand the full functions of their entitlement to vote. In Western Australia the aboriginal natives are, in the main, disqualified from enrolment and from voting at State elections, but the Native Citizens Rights Act of that State permits any adult native to make application to a resident or stipendiary magistrate for a certificate of citizenship. If the magistrate is satisfied as to the suitability of the applicant, such a certificate is issued, and thereupon, for State purposes, the holder is deemed to be no longer an aboriginal but to have all the rights, privileges, and amenities and to be subject to the duties and liabilities of other British subjects, including the right to enrol to vote. It is clear, therefore, that in some States of Australia the aboriginal native has facilities for enrolment to vote. I understand that Mr. Hanlon, the Premier of Queensland, has announced that it is his intention, and the intention of his Government, to bring down this year a bill .to provide for the enfranchisement of natives deemed to be qualified. Assuming that such a bill will he agreed to, those natives will automatically become qualified to enrol and to vote for Commonwealth purposes.
Although the bill that we are now considering will bring about a uniform system of voting, throughout the .States, the Northern Territory is in a different category .because it is a territory of the Commonwealth. However, provision is also to be made in the Northern Territory under an appropriate ordinance to give those members of the aboriginal natives that are declared fit to assume and perform the functions of citizenship an opportunity to become enrolled for voting purposes. That will bring the Northern Territory into line with the States. There is no doubt that the people of Australia desire to see the lot of aboriginal natives in this country improved. I am sure that that desire receives the whole-hearted support of all members of the Parliament. I assure the Minister that the Opposition supports the bill as it did the Papua and New Guinea Bill that was passed recently. All possible should he done to uplift and improve the conditions of the natives in this country. We are committed to that principle under the Charter of the United Nations, and it is the general wish of the people of Australia. The Opposition supports the general principles of the Government with relation to the first part of the bill.
The second part of the bill contains amendments to the postal voting system. There are other provisions, of course, but those are the outstanding provisions of the measure. The Opposition supports the Government in the methods that it has adopted to liberalize facilities for people who find it necessary to register their votes by post at election time. I am sure that it desires to give as many people as possible the opportunity to register their votes. It is almost incredible that approximately ‘170,000 people availed themselves of postal voting in connexion with the last Senate elections in 1946. Evidently a large number of voters, for one reason or another, are not able to register their votes at polling booths on polling day. We all know that there are always many sick and infirm people in the community, whilst other people may be absent from the State. At all times there are many electors who need some method of registering their votes other than that provided at the polling booth. The bill makes better provision to enable people living in out-back areas many miles from a polling booth to record their votes at elections. They are entitled to facilities equal to those provided for voters in the cities and towns where polling booths are provided in great numbers and at the most convenient places.
The measure also liberalizes the provisions in respect of postal voting. ] commend the Government for making that improvement. Hitherto, whilst a person living in the same house, or a neighbour, could witness another person’s application for a postal vote, the vote could not be validated unless it was endorsed by a person authorized under the act to do so.
– In most instances the signature of a justice of the peace was required for that purpose.
– That is so. That provision gave an advantage to electors living in cities and towns over those living in remote areas where, naturally, persons authorized to endorse postal votes are not nearly so numerous. Under this measure a postal vote will be validated by the endorsement of any other elector. Every opportunity should be given to all electors to register their votes, and this measure will effect considerable improvements in that respect. The bill also liberalizes the provisions applying to the delivery of postal votes. Previously, the time limit allowed for the receipt of postal votes was calculated as from the date of the post-mark appearing on the envelope. It is now realized that delivery from remote areas might be delayed for a number of days due to no fault of the elector. In such circumstances, however, a vote was held to be informal. That position is rectified under this measure, which allows a postal vote to be accepted if the returning officer is satisfied that the votes were recorded before the close of the poll. At the committee stage I shall tate the opportunity to deal with other provisions of the measure.
– I commend the Government for introducing this measure. I welcome wholeheartedly the provision to give the franchise to aborigines who comply with certain conditions. Organizations in the various States are doing all they can to uplift the aborigines whose spokesmen contend that aborigines suffer many disabilities because of lack of sympathy on the part of our white people. It would be impossible to extend the franchise to all aborigines, particularly those who are living in their tribal state. Consequently, a standard must be laid down in order to determine the qualifications of aborigines to vote. Some critics might say that no standard of education is prescribed in respect of white people as a condition to qualify to vote. Nevertheless, it would be impossible to extend that right to aborigines who are still living in their tribal state. Recently, I attended a lecture given by the Reverend Douglas Nicholls, of Melbourne, who is well known to most Victorians as a former outstanding footballer in that State. He is highly respected by the citizens of Melbourne generally. I was surprised when he stated that aboriginal children for whom educational facilities are provided are not allowed to continue their studies beyond the third grade. The time has arrived when governments should make some provision for the education of those people. There should be no bars against them. They should be given every facility to permit them to rise to the highest positions that it is possible for any person to reach. I am sure that the aborigines of Australia, if given proper opportunities, could rise to such positions. “We know how American negroes have been able to shine in many spheres of human activity. Originally an enslaved section of the American population, to-day they have representatives of their race in many positions of trust and responsibility. One American negro has been given the difficult task of trying to settle the dispute between the Arabs and the Jews in Palestine. Many others are highly qualified and cultured doctors, lawyers and community leaders. Australian aborigines have shown that they possess ability to excel in many fields of endeavour. I have in mind such men as Harold Blair, the singer, Albert Namatjira, the painter, and Lieutenant Saunders, who gained a commission in the Australian Army. It is in keeping with the trend of events that this Government should introduce a bill to enable those aboriginal natives who have reached a certain standard of civilized development to participate in the making of the laws of the country. Unfortunately, the administration of the aboriginal population does not rest upon the Commonwealth alone. The State parliaments also have responsibilities in relation to the aborigines. A former Commonwealth Government appealed to the people for permission to amend the Constitution so that this Parliament should have the power to deal with native problems, but the appeal was rejected. Therefore control is still divided between the Commonwealth and the States. I hope that, when the aborigines are entitled to exercise the franchise, their complaints will be properly ventilated in this Parliament. In fact in the very near future they may be able to send a representative to this Parliament to speak on their behalf.
The second provision of the bill relates to postal voting. Objection has been taken in some quarters to the proposed elimination of the system under which the list of persons authorized to act as witnesses to postal votes is strictly limited. That system is somewhat anomalous. Any elector may witness an application for a postal vote, but the actual vote must be witnessed by an “ authorized witness “. That has caused confusion. Many people consider that, if a friend or a member of the family is permitted to witness an application for a postal vote, the same person should be allowed to witness the vote. Furthermore, the system permitted malpractices. Party organizers made themselves active in securing postal votes and all sorts of misrepresentations were indulged in. The enactment of this measure will prevent the continuance of such undesirable practices. I have always considered that the postal vote is a very unsatisfactory way of polling. Commonwealth law permits absentee voting as well as postal voting. An elector who happens to be out of his electorate but still within his State of residence on the day of an election can visit any polling booth and lodge an absentee vote for the electorate in which he is enrolled. That is a very wise provision, especially as voting is compulsory. The postal vote is exercised mainly by people who are ill and those who happen to be outside the State of residence on the day of a Commonwealth election. At first, I thought that the new form of postal voting for which the bill provides might act to the detriment of certain electors, but, upon reflection, I reached the conclusion that the proposal was wise.
Many Labour supporters are postal voters. Those who live in institutions have been subjected to considerable pressure by authorized witnesses who are not supporters of Labour party candidates. If any political porty has suffered as a result of the limited system of authorized witnesses, it has been the Labour party. Anti-Labour parties have most “of the authorized witnesses at their disposal. In electorates where the votes recorded at ordinary polling booths have registered overwhelming support for Labour party candidates, it has frequently happened that most of the postal votes have been in favour of anti-Labour candidates. One would expect that the political colour of an electorate would be reflected consistently in all of the voting. That expectation is usually realized in the general consistency of the results of voting at individual polling booths. I do not know why postal voting should not show a similar trend. Surely most of the postal voters are not supporters of the antiLabour parties.
– The anomaly works both ways.
– I have taken particular notice of the results of postal voting, and I have noted that, in electorates that are predominantly Labour, postal votes often reveal a disproportionately strong measure of support for antiLabour candidates. That has led me to be suspicious of the system. Only recently in Victoria a by-election for the State Parliament became necessary as the result of the death of a Labour member. It is well known that, immediately after the death occurred, opponents of the Labour party began to canvass for postal votes. They set to work, before the date of the by-election had been fixed and before the names of the candidates were known, collecting forms for postal votes They knew that, in the course of time, the machinery for filling the vacancy would be set in motion, that nominations would be called and that applications for postal votes would be sent to the electoral officer. Labour’s opponents had the advantage of having quite a number of witnesses. In Victoria, application for a postal vote must be signed by an authorized witness. That is the electoral law of that State. So, authorized witnesses have been turned loose in the various electorates seeking applications for postal votes. Probably it will take the electors of this country some time to become fully conversant with the new system provided for in this legislation. In future it will be possible for a husband to witness a wife’s vote and vice versa. Other members of the family, too, may act as witnesses. There will be no need for authorized witnesses. When this proposal was first mooted, I was not in favour of it, but after examining it more closely and considering the results of postal voting figures at various elections, I have come to the conclusion that the reform is most worthy. If we can secure purity of ballots in the future this legislation will have been worth while.
.- Many aborigines in this country are living in a semi-civilized state, and in framing the provisions of this measure relating to aborigines, the Government has, no doubt, been guided largely by anthropologists such as Professor Thompson, who examined the matter thoroughly. There is ample evidence around us that notwithstanding the environment that the white races have enjoyed for centuries the Australian aboriginal, given equal educational opportunities, can hold hi9 own with the white man in almost every walk of life, including even the arts.
The bill proposes an alteration of the method of witnessing postal votes, and the efficacy of the new provisions will be tested at the forthcoming federal elections. In my opinion, unless the new legislation succeeds in curbing the abuses that have taken place in postal voting in the past, the total abolition of postal voting should be considered. It is obvious to any one who has taken an interest in the political history of this country that postal voting in recent years has become a “ racket “. Let us consider the results of the Concord by-election held in New South Wales last week-end. Although the Labour candidate received a majority of votes recorded at the polling booths, postal votes secured the election of the Liberal candidate. This result, if duplicated in half a dozen electorates, could mean a change of government. The Liberal candidate at the Concord byelection received a six to four majority of postal votes. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) has said that 170,000 postal votes were recorded at the last Senate elections. In five States, Labour candidates secured an overwhelming majority of votes at the polling booths, nevertheless Labour’s opponents secured a majority of postal votes. Therefore, I say that although it might be regarded as unfair to disfranchise people who happen to be ill or away from home for some other reason, Labour supporters should consider the advisability of abolishing entirely a voting system which invariably operates against Labour candidates. To correct this abuse, I am sure that even, the most ardent Labourite would forgo his right to vote by post should he be absent from his electorate. The Leader of the Opposition interjecting during Senator Sheehan’s speech, said that perhaps the anti-Labour parties have more supporters who are ill. I have no- doubt that they have more mentally ill supporters than has the Labour party.
Senator Sheehan mentioned voting by patients in public institutions. I remind the Senate that the Labour Government at present has a fight on with the British Medical Association. In the past,, doctors have signed most postal votes recorded by hospital patients. At the last elections, in the second largest hospital in Victoria, canvassers for the Labour party went around the various wards. The Labour organizer went around to witness the ballot-papers, and it was found that doctors at the hospital had “pinched’” the lot and witnessed every ballot-paper.
– Why did the honorable senator not take up the case with the electoral authorities ?
– What good would that have done? Nothing could have been proved. Patients could only have said that their ballot-papers had been witnessed by the doctors. The doctors would have said that they had been asked to go and see certain patients and were within their rights in doing so. The Leader of the Opposition and his supporters are talking with their tongues in their cheeks when they say that the postal voting system is above board. I admit that people living in remote parts of the Commonwealth would have great difficulty in voting at polling booths, but I remind the Senate that postal votes are not recorded only in country electorates. Speaking from memory, I think that at the last Victorian elections approximately ten times as many postal votes were polled in the metropolitan electorates as in the country electorates. I repeat that at the next Federal elections the new postal voting system will be on trial. If the system of recording votes by post continues to be abused in the manner in which it has been abused in the past the Government will be justified in abolishing the system entirely.
– If the operation of the new postal vote system does not favour the Australian Labour party, undoubtedly the members of that party will want to abolish it.
– I point out to the Leader of the Opposition that the votes cast at the polling booths in Commonwealth and State elections in the industrial area in which I reside invariably favour the Labour candidate in the proportion of approximately two and one-half votes to one. However, not even 50 per cent, of the postal votes cast in that area favour the Labour candidates. How can the honorable senator therefore suggest that the system of postal voting is operated fairly and without manipulation? Senator Sheehan referred to the unscrupulous tactics pursued by the anti-Labour parties at election times, and he pointed out that the day after the funeral of the late Mr. Quirk, who represented Prahran in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, the Liberal party released a squad of organizers, who visited every home in that electorate. Thirty-five men were engaged at £2 a day to visit every home and canvass for votes. They went from door to door and pressed every householder to vote for the Liberal candidate. They suggested to many of them that they might not be well enough on the polling day to visit the polling booth or that it might be inconvenient for them to attend, and that it would be preferable for them to lodge postal votes. In that way they obtained a large number of votes-
– Those were fraudulent votes.
– Yes, and the Leader if the Opposition realizes that. Because <>f this legislation it is hoped that in future postal voting will be more demo.cratic than it has been in the past. It is significant that the Opposition in this chamber and in the House of Representatives has not opposed the measure. The reason why it has not done so is that it realizes that if the present system is not reformed it will have to be abolished altogether. Because that system confers distinct advantages upon them, they want to perpetuate it as long as they can. They have the money and the facilities and they make opportunities to exploit the present system to their advantage. The power of money has been graphically illustrated at a number of recent by-elections. Before the recent State by-election in Prahran, to which I have already referred, the Labour candidate was prevented from obtaining the hire of a room for his committee. By the lavish expenditure of money the Liberal party saw to it that no room was available to him for hire. Nevertheless, as we know, that by-election resulted in a victory for the Labour candidate. Although I support the measure, I point out that postal voting under the reformed system will be on its trial at the next general elections. If no improvement is discernible in the operation of the system, 90 per cent, of the members of my political party will vote for the abolition of postal voting. The bill is an experiment to discover a better method of recording absentee votes, and if it does not succeed I repeat that action will be taken to abolish postal voting altogether.
– in reply - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) has given his blessing to the measure, and those honorable senators on this side of the chamber who have spoken have indicated their support of it. It is not necessary, therefore, for me to reply at any length. The measure is in keeping with the progressive and humanitarian policy of the Government. I emphasize that it proposes to confer long delayed justice upon those Australian aborigines who are sufficiently educated to be capable of exercising the franchise. When aborigines reside in the settled areas of this country they are subjected to the ordinary laws of the land, and they should be therefore entitled to share in selecting the parliamentary representatives who make the laws.
Controversy has raged about postal voting ever since it was first established. Each political party seeks to exploit the system of postal voting, and it is well known that the Australian Labour party candidates invariably obtain fewer postal votes than do the candidates of the Liberal party. The instance mentioned by Senator Katz of the Liberal party turning loose 35 professional canvassers in a by-election campaign the day after the funeral of the deceased member indicates the ruthlessness with which the Liberal party endeavour to exploit the undoubted advantages which they possess because of their substantial party funds. The Australian Labour party certainly could not afford to engage professional canvassers at wages of £2 a day. Of course, I do not contend that the Australian Labour party has been entirely scrupulous in seeking to obtain postal votes for its candidates. However, that party cannot hope to compete with the Liberal party, which has, as I have said, huge funds at its disposal at election times. The present system of postal voting cannot be permitted to continue, and I agree with Senator
Katz that postal voting according to the revised system will be on its trial at the next general elections. At the same time, I point out that the measure intends to liberalize the system for the benefit of persons who are genuinely unable to record their votes at the ballot-boxes. There is no reason why a personwho is ill and confined to his home should not be permitted to avail himself of the assistance of his next-door neighbour to record an absentee vote, and the measure aims at enabling him to do so, without leaving the way open to the grave abuses which occur under the present system.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Penalty for inducing elector to apply for postal vote) -
– The clause proposes to insert in the principal act the following new section : - 87a. A person shall not persuade or induce, or associate himself with a person in persuading or inducing, an elector to make application for a postal vote certificate and postal ballot-paper.
Penalty: Fifty pounds or imprisonment for one month.
I should like the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) to inform me how the proposed new section will affect the personal activities of candidates at election times. Doubtless at such times many candidates visit people sick in hospitals and in their homes. If, for instance, I should be accompanied by a friend when making such a visit, I may say to a sick person, “You had better get moving so that you will be able to claim a postal vote at the coming election “. Would such a remark by me be construed as an infringement of this provision ? If, on the other hand, my friend were to say to the sick person, “ Senator Cooper is standing for election again and we hope to be able to get him in. We want to get all the postal votes we can. Do not forget to arrange for your postal vote “. Would my friend be liable for so speaking to the sick person?
– In essence, clause 8 means that no canvasser or candidate shall persuade or induce, or associate himself with a person in persuading or inducing, an elector to make application for a postal vote certificate and postal ballot-paper, against his own inclination. If, in the hypothetical case that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) mentioned, the sick person raised any objection, both Senator Cooper and his friend would be acting wrongly if they continued to use persuasion. If the sick person said for instance, “ I am not interested.I intend to vote for somebody else “, and either Senator Cooper or his friends persisted, that would be wrong. That if perfectly plain. If, however, the suggestion were made that as the sick person might not be out of hospital before election day, it would be wise for him to make application for a postal vote, that would not be coercion. That is the reason for the provision.
– The Minister’s explanation is much clearer than the wording of the clause, which merely says that “ A person shall not persuade or induce “
– It could be used in various ways.
– This provision is very important, particularly in relation to people who are blind. Will a candidate or other person be prevented from speaking to such persons about postal voting?
– A person will still be able to record a vote for a blind person as in the past. There is no restriction or impediment so far as this aspect is concerned ; the provisions of the past will still obtain under this bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 19 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 16th March (vide page 1497), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
, - As this bill is solely a machinery measure, the Opposition does not desire to . delay its passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from, the 16th March (vide page 1497), on motion by Senator Asn let -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– As this bill is a machinery measure consequent upon the passing of the Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1948, the Opposition has no desire to impede its passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 16th March (vide page 1521), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill deals with matters relating to the Commonwealth .Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was inaugurated about the beginning of 1926. At that time many requests were made by primary producers for research with relation to diseases in stock and pasture improvements. Although the staff originally numbered only about 128, it has been increased considerably during the last 23 years. I think that it will be readily conceded by any honorable senator who has had anything to do with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, that the work of that body has been of enormous value in connexion with the progress of primary and secondary industries in this country. Although the council concerned itself initially only with investigations in relation to primary industry, it later extended its activities to secondary industry. During the period that it has been in existence the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has established experimental stations in various parts of Australia, so that conditions could be examined on the spot instead of the scientists having to rely on experiments conducted in Canberra or central positions in the States. The establishment of those experimental stations has been of immense value to persons engaged in primary industries. Both during World War II. and since the cessation of hostilities, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has conducted important research in connexion with matters relating to defence. That work, in conjunction with research in connexion with primary and secondary industries, has been responsible for that body developing into a very much larger organization than was originally conceived. Including scientists and technicians employed in various parts of Australia, I understand that almost 3,000 persons are now employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. On many occasions that body has had the advantage of discussions with professors and eminent technicians who have visited this country. Furthermore, they have had the benefit of communication with research specialists in all parts of the world and the free exchange of ideas with scientists overseas. More recently they had the advantage of consultations with Sir Henry Tizard and Professor Marcus Oliphant when those two eminent scientists visited this country. I have no doubt that such consultations will prove to he of immeasurable benefit to Australian scientists.
The bill provides for the transfer of the branch engaged in defence research to the Department of Supply and Development. My mind is exercised with respect to the screening for security purposes of scientists and technicians who will be engaged solely in defence research. No indication is given in the bill as to how such personnel will be received into the Department of Supply and Development. Do similar security provisions apply to all employees of that department? Are all of them obliged to take the oath of allegiance? Axe they subject to security screening? Our defence scientists and technicians are not only engaging in research on their own initiative but are also working in conjunction with British scientists in accordance with an extensive defence research programme in the interests of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Although our scientists will be confronted with very great problems in the future, [ have every confidence they will be able to carry out their task efficiently, and that in doing so they will prove themselves to be of a calibre equal to that of scientists overseas. Australia with its immense sparsely populated areas is admirably suited for the testing of the most modern defence weapons.
The name “Council for Scientific and Industrial Research” is to be changed to “ Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization “. No doubt the Government has its reasons for effecting that change. Although there is ground for regret that the name of this renowned organization will disappear, I am pleased to note that the initials by which it has become so well known will be preserved in the abbreviated name of the new body. The new organization, like the old, is to consist of an executive council of full-time appointees and an advisory council which will assist that body. I am pleased to note that the State advisory committees also are to be retained. Those committees have proved of great assistance to the executive council. The provision that .all temporary and permanent employees of the organization shall be obliged to take the oath of .allegiance has been rendered necessary by events :in recent years. On various occasions during the last twelve months the Opposition parties have drawn attention to the need for such a provision in order to ensure that only persons whose loyalty and record are unquestioned shall be employed in the organization. The Opposition supports the measure.
– Having regard to the growth of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in respect of its organization and activities, the need to provide for changing circumstances is obvious. In 1929 the council’s employees totalled 128, and its expenditure amounted to £104,000, whereas in 1938 the number of its employees had increased to 454 and its expenditure to approximately £250,000, whilst in 194S its employees numbered 2,911 and its expenditure amounted to £1,825,000. Those figures reflect the rapid development of the organization and the expansion of its activities. Reference has been made to visits of eminent scientists such as Sir Henry Tizard and Professor Marcus Oliphant, who recently conferred with our own scientists with respect to future research in the scientific and industrial spheres. It is significant that this measure has been introduced following the visit of those scientists, and it is clear that as a result a greater measure of co-operation will be established between Australian and British scientists. The need for such reciprocation in the interests of the British Commonwealth of Nations is obvious. The degree of assistance which we have already received from Great Britain in this respect is most heartening. I also note that as the result of consultations between the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) and visiting overseas experts, the Government, decided that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should not be entrusted -with research relating to defence. That decision was implemented under .a measure passed during an earlier period of the session whereby the aeronautics division was transferred to the Department of Supply and Development. It is obvious that such re-organization is necessary in respect of what is now termed defence research and that the new body should be enabled to concentrate upon the tasks for which the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was originally established, including the combating and eradication of plant, insect and animal pests, the improvement of food processing, f.he development of our fisheries and the provision of assistance to industries which play a.n important part in the economy of this country. The Government’s plans in respect of defence research are fully justified, particularly when it is clear that this country is taking such measures for purposes of defence and not aggression. Australia has no designs upon any other country.
I compliment the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on the record that it has achieved in its investigations in many industries whose progress is essential to our economic welfare. I refer particularly to its investigations in relation to food processing. When the American troops were in Australia we learned that we lagged far behind other countries in that sphere. On the basis of the knowledge gained from the Americans the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has already undertaken considerable experiments in respect of the packaging and processing of food, with the result that we can now produce a ration which is as good as, if not better than, the standard ration issued to American troops. The council has also done very good work in the eradication of plant, insect and animal pests. Perhaps its efforts to eradicate the rabbit pest have not been so successful as they might have been. I suggest that it might intensify its efforts in that direction because any means that can be evolved to minimize that pest will be of great value to our primary producers.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I stressed the importance of divorcing defence research from other scientific projects, such as those related to food processing, pest eradication, forestry, and fisheries. I also traced the growth of the various branches of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Obviously, the enactment of this legislation is necessary to provide for the efficient organization of the various undertakings that are now controlled by the council. The bill provides for the screening of appointments to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. At present, the responsibility for the integrity of persons employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research rests upon the Minister in charge of the council. Obviously such a measure of responsibility could not continue to be borne by the Minister, considering that he already controls a staff of over 3,000 persons. In the circumstances, he could not reasonably be required to answer for any of the acts of omission or commission of any persons employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Under the bill, responsibility for minor appointments will be borne by the administrative staff of the new organization. The bill will also change the name of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which in future will be known as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. That title lays stress upon the fact that it is a Commonwealth organization financed by Commonwealth funds. Clause 27 provides that all discoveries, inventions and improvements in processes, apparatus and machines made by officers and employees in the course of their official duties shall be the property of the organization and may be made available “ under such conditions and on payment of such fees or royalties or otherwise as the Executive, with the approval of the Minister, determines “. That is a very important provision. The Government provides the money, the apparatus and the laboratories which enable officers and employees of the organization to pursue their scientific investigations, and it would be wrong if any discoveries that they made in the course of their work should become the property of individuals. Clause 28 provides that any officers or servants of the organization who make such discoveries may be paid bonuses. That will provide an incentive for them to pursue their activities diligently and to engage in new fields of scientific research. The bill has received the approval of the Opposition. It provides for reforms that have been recommended by distinguished scientists from Great Britain and other countries who have visited Australia, and it is in keeping with modern trends. I commend the bill to the Senate.
– in reply - On behalf of the Government I express appreciation of the support given to the bill by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) and his colleagues. I was pleased to hear the very well deserved tribute that was paid to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research by the Leader of the Opposition and the remarks that were made by Senator Murray in support of the measure. The Leader of the Opposition inquired about the position of those employees who will be engaged in defence research sections of the Department of Supply and Development. All of those persons will be employed under the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. In short, they will be public servants of the Commonwealth either on a full-time basis or on a part-time basis, [n those circumstances, they will be obliged to take the oath of allegiance and will be subject to the security screening that is applied to public servants. There is no provision in the legislation for security screening. That is a matter of routine practised as an administrative act under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Board. I especially appreciate the support given to the bill by the Senate in view of the nature of the reception that was accorded to it in the House of Representatives. ‘
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Bill - by leave - taken by Parts.
Parts I to III. agreed to.
Part IV. (The Advisory Council and State committees) -
.- Clause 20 deals with the functions of the State committees. Are the services of those committees called upon very much at present in connexion with the work of the
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research ?
.- The State committees have functioned very usefully. 1 have particular knowledge of the committee that operates in Tasmania, where people who are very well known to me serve upon that body. Owing to the fact that the chairman of each State committee is a member of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, there is a strong liaison between the committees and the council as constituted at present. That relationship will be preserved within the new organization that is contemplated in the bill. The chairman of each State committee will have a place upon the advisory council. The council will be obliged, pursuant to clause 16, to meet at least twice in each year and on such other occasions as the executive may determine. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that the advisory council and the State committees will be very active and useful organizations. The honorable gentleman will appreciate that, in a country as large as Australia, with its diversity of climate and conditions, and its variety of problems that affect both primary and secondary industries, many conditions are peculiar to individual localities. It is found, as a matter of good administration, that such problems can be adjudicated upon best by people who are on the spot and have an intimate knowledge of the problems and their implications. The honorable senator can be assured that the greatest possible use will be made of the State committees. I draw his attention to the passage in my second-reading speech in which a special measure of thanks was conveyed, on behalf of the Government, to the men who had functioned on those committees for many years. That tribute was not idly voiced. It had been earned by the sterling services of the State committees. The honorable senator will recall also that I expressed the hope that the present members of the State committees would continue to function upon those bodies.
Part IV. agreed to.
Part V. (Staff)-
.- Clause 23 deals with temporary and casual employees. It states, in sub-clause 3 -
A person shall not he employed under this section unless, when required by the Executive <o to do. he makes and subscribes an oath or affirmation of allegiance in accordance with the form in the Second Schedule to this Act. tt will probably be necessary at times for eminent scientists or technicians of foreign nationality to be employed in the organization. For instance, it may be desirable occasionally to secure the services of United States citizens. It is most unlikely that any such person would renounce his citizenship and swear allegiance to the Crown, as required by clause 23. I do not know whether that clause is coupled with the provisions of clause 14, which will permit the executive to delegate any of its powers, or functions to a member of that body or to an officer. Could the executive give permission for a person of foreign nationality to be employed by the organization without having made the oath of allegiance in accordance with clause 23 ?
– As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) obviously realizes, clause 23, applies merely to temporary and casual employees. Clause 21, dealing with the appointment of permanent officers, provides for the taking of an oath or affirmation of allegiance in all circumstances: The Leader of i he Opposition correctly poses the difficulty that arises when a scientist from abroad, owing no allegiance to this country, is retained for temporary employment. He obviously cannot reasonably be expected to renounce his own. nationality and allegiance, merely to take a temporary appointment in the organization. It is for that very reason, amongst others, that it has not been made completely mandatory on the executive to require the oath or affirmation of allegiance ro be taken, by temporary employees. The Leader of the Opposition has stated the position as well as anybody could state it. There may also be temporary employees of the organization who are engaged as caretakers or gardeners and perform no real administrative, clerical, or scien tific functions. As they will not be in a position to jeopardize the security of this country in any way, it is not considered desirable that they should be required to take the oath of affirmation or allegiance.. The Minister, of course, has a general power under other clauses in this measure. The broad policy of the Government as expressed in this measure is that all permanent employees should be required to take the oath or affirmation of allegiance. The executive can be relied upon to require that oath or affirmation to be taken in other appropriate cases. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that it would not be proper to ask a visiting scientist, owing another allegiance to abandon that allegiance to subscribe to ours. He would be here virtually as a guest, and solely to make some valuable contribution, over a. short period perhaps, to our sum of scientific knowledge.
– The way is left open for the. organization, to use the services of those people if it so desires ?
– That is so.
Part V. agreed to*
Part VI. (Finance) -
– Clause 25 relates to a trust account. I understand that there are certain trust accounts in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research at present. For instance, the wool industry has established a trust account by means of a special levyon the production of the industry. That money has been subscribed to further the interest of the industry. I ask the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) whether such trust accounts are to be transferred in toto to the new organization. If so, will they be used for the purpose for which they were subscribed ?’
– Clause 25 isdesigned merely to replace a similar provision in the original legislation. The new clause represents merely a trimming” of words to ensure definition and decision. I understand that certain trust funds havebeen established in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research by separatebequests arid so on. Being trust accounts,. of course, they should not he interfered with, and this bill does not propose that they should be interfered with. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) may rest assured that trust accounts established for specific purposes - particularly those subscribed from sources outside the Government - will be preserved for the purposes for which they were established. Clause 5 provides that, notwithstanding the repeal of the earlier acts, all the rights, obligations, and liabilities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research existing immediately prior to the commencement of the measure, shall be invested in, or imposed upon the new organization. Therefore, whatever obligations attached to those trust funds in the hands of the old council, will attach to them under the new organization.
Part VI. agreed to.
Part VII. (Miscellaneous) -
– I should like some explanation of clause 2.9, which relates to fees and agreements for investigations. If a farmer seeks an investigation of some particular pest or disease that he has encountered on his property, is he charged a fee for that service?
– This is an authorizing’ provision enabling the organization to make charges. Frequently it happens that a section of a primary or secondary industry has a particular problem to be solved. Being unable to find the solution: themselves, the people concerned approach the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and ask for an investigation of what is, in effect, their own private problem. Down the years, the- council has rendered great service in this way. It is not mandatory for the organization to charge fees, but in cases in which an investigation is entirely to the advantage of the individuals concerned, it is reasonable that: a charge should be made. Clause 29 simply authorizes the organization to undertake that work and to charge an appropriatefee for its service.
– It will not be obligatory to make the charge ?
– No. The words “may” indicate that the clause is permissive.
Part VII. agreed to.
First and Second Schedules agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 16th March (vide page 1518), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the following papers be printed: -
Report of Australian Delegation. Resolutions adopted.
Resolution on Berlin presented to the Security Council by Argentina, Belgium’, Canada, China, Colombia and Syria- 22nd October, 1948.
– A popular criticism by the Opposition of this Government is that it has no foreign policy, and that its attitude to international problems is dictated by certain trade union leaders. I remind the Senate that the election of executive officers of the trade union movement has nothing whatever to do with the. Australian Labour party. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) himself has said, many trade unionists are not members of the Australian Labour party. When the Australian trade union movement is to join with similar movements overseas in discussing matters of mutual interest, the Australian trade unionists elect their own delegates, but those delegates have no power to determine the foreign policy of this Government. I am sure that no Opposition member in this. Parliament could have matched the record of the Minister for External Affairs. (Dr.Evatt) in the councils of the nations. The. right honorable gentleman is recognized all over the world and by a majority of the Australian people, as an outstanding internationalist. He has played a big part in the endeavours that have been made by the United Nations to secure the peace of the world. I believe that the Australian Government has em ployed the correct technique in its approach to international problems. As 1 said last night, we cannot have peace unless we have economic and social security for the masses of the people. The only nations that do not support the efforts of the United Nations to-day are those that have lost faith in the alleged democracies. The people themselves arc not altogether to blame. They have been misled by the use of the word “democracy”. For instance, the electors of this country have not been given an opportunity to know what is behind the foreign policy of this Government. In Australia, as in other capitalist countries, the press never devotes space to an explanation of the policy of Labour administrations in relation to foreign affairs or any other subject. Therefore, the people cannot be blamed if, on some occasions, they make mistakes at elections as they have done in the past. I have never read in tho Australian press a word of praise of any member of a Labour administration. Surely the people of Australia realize that Labour cannot always be wrong. I believe that the Australian electors are gradually becoming aware of the insidious nature of the anti-Labour propaganda that appears in our newspapers and is broadcast over the air. If we want peace in our time, we must prepare for it, and the Australian Government, like the governments of other true democracies, is preparing. But, because it is not preparing on the lines that were laid down by previous reactionary administrations in this and other countries, the Opposition is most critical of its policy. If we desire to prevent war we must prepare for war. Anti-Labour administrations, it is true, took that view, but their preparation for war consisted of letting huge contracts to big monopolists and profiteers. Whilst the present Government realizes the necessity to prepare for war, it is concerned to ensure that the public purse shall not be exploited by profiteers. It has, therefore, determined that as far as possible munitions and the materials of war shall be manufactured by government instrumentalities. The present Government firmly believes that one of the best preventives against war is the provision of economic security for the people, and to that end it has introduced a record number of measures designed to improve the social conditions of the masses. However, on every occasion that a social measure has been introduced the Opposition has attacked it and attempted to prevent the implementation of the principle contained in the measure, irrespective of its merits. To ‘return to the subject of preparation for the defence of the country, I recall the sorry plight of the nation, which was then led by an anti-Labour government, when war was declared in 1939.
– The former Prime Minister, the late Mr. Curtin, did not subscribe to that view.
– I remember quite clearly that the Australian Labour party fought the general elections in 1937 on a policy that we should provide a modern air force to defend the country. At the time we were ridiculed by our political opponents, who included those who controlled the press and tinradio of this country. Indeed, if I had been a member or supporter of any of the anti-Labour administrations that were in office before the war, I should be ashamed to raise my head, particularly when T recall such dreadful happenings as those which occurred at Darwin. Members of the Royal Australian Air Force were sent into the air in aircraft, which had been designed only for pleasure jaunts, to combat one of the most efficient, bestequipped and highly trained air forces of the modern world. All this occurred although we had been assured many times by the political parties to which our friends opposite belong that Darwin, the islands to the north of Australia and Singapore were well defended. When reference was made to this matter by some honorable senator on this side of the chamber, the Leader of the Opposition complained that such remarks gave him a headache. I remind the honorable senator that the policy pursued by the anti-Labour administrations before and during the early stages of the recent war may not have caused many headaches in this chamber, but it certainly caused many heartaches to the mothers, wives and sweethearts of those who lost their lives. The present Government is deter.mind that it will not make similar mistakes to those that were made by those administrations.
– When the Curtin Administration assumed office it was very glad to be able to follow the course set by the previous Administration.
– The antiLabour Government may have laid a foundation, but it was very rickety.
– The late Mr. Curtin applauded what had been done.
– I have never read of Mr. Curtin applauding anything that was done by his predecessors in office.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! Members of the Opposition must refrain from interrupting the honorable senator who has the call
– I realize that my criticism of the anti-Labour administrations is very hard for the Leader of the Opposition “ to take “. There is something very good deep down in him. Our former colleague, the late Senator Keane, told me of the many excellent suggestions advanced by the present Leader of the Opposition when he was a member of a parliamentary committee over which the late senator presided. The Australian Labour party is doing its utmost to maintain the peace of the world, and the excellent work of the Minister for External Affairs has been applauded by every one except the “ reds “ in Russia and the opponents of the Government in Australia.
Our defence preparations are based on truly democratic lines; if we want to inspire loyalty in our people the first consideration is to provide economic security for them. As a major contribution to maintaining peace and security in the world the present Government <et about acquiring control of the national credit but it encountered the most bitter opposition from the political parties represented on the other side of the chamber, from vested interests and from the “ money bags “, who spent fabulous sums in their endeavours to defeat the Government’s proposals. Those interests controlled the national policy until
Labour assumed office in 1941. Labour is determined that there shall not be a repetition of the situation that confronted us at the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. I remind honorable senators that before the recent war, Hitler and the nazis commanded a certain amount of respectful admiration from our political opponents. After his return from abroad in 1938, the present Leader of the Opposition in the House if Representatives . (Mr. Menzies) was reported by the Bulletin, which is certainly not a Labour organ, to have stated that real progress was being made by only one country in the world, which was Germany, and that no progress would be achieved in this country until we had a leader like Hitler. Even if that report were not quite accurate, the right honorable gentleman has never taken the trouble to contradict it. We certainly do not want to introduce to this country anything resembling the former nazi dictatorship. I remind honorable senators that starvation, misery and poverty were the causes of the revolution in Russia and of the political rise of Hitler in Germany. The experience of the modern world is that internal revolutions inevitably lead to international conflicts. It is necessary, therefore, for us to ensure that there shall be no internal conflict in this country, and that is why it is so necessary for us to provide adequate social security for our people. I have already pointed out that the present administration, while doing everything possible to provide for our defence, has. unlike other administrations which have been in power during periods of international crisis, ensured that munition manufacturers shall not exploit the community. Our defensive preparations are going ahead, but no large private firms are making money out of them.
The Shipping Bill, which was recently introduced in this chamber, is another example of the Government’s determination to provide adequately for the defence of this country, which requires that we should have available a reasonably large, modern and unified fleet of merchant vessels. I remind members of the Opposition that although the only criticism that they could make of it was that it was a “ socialist “ measure - indeed, their arguments seemed to be confinedto accusations of “ communism “and “socialism” - they did their utmost to oppose it. Members of the Opposition would oppose even more violently the introduction ofsuch measuresas the Shipping Bill if it were not for the brake imposed uponthem by the knowledge that the electors will pass judgment upon them in due course. The policy of the present Government accords with the”Four Freedoms “ to which members of the United Nations have pledgedthemselves, andthe Minister for External Affairs,whoencounters somuch criticism from the Opposition, was largely responsible for the inclusion in the AtlanticCharterof the “Four Freedoms “.If men are to be expected to defend theircountryin time of warthey must be convincedthatthey will befairly created ifthey survive,and if they donot, that their dependants “will be properly cared for. I appeal tomembers ofthe Opposition toco-operate with the Government in ordertoensure that those Australianswho fought for this country daring the recent war shallreceivefulfilment of thepr omises madeto them on acertain Sunday night in September, 1939.Of course,I realize that,beforethe next generalelection,all sorts of propaganda will be employed, and thattheMinister for External Affairs, and even thePrime Minister (Mr. Chifley), will probably be described as “ Communists”. Irecall that on my return fromserviceafter World War I, no provisionwhateverwas made formanythousands of exservicemen. Imyself saw hundreds of them receivingState sustenance payments in Maryborough, Victoria. Ultimately, many of themhad to go cap inhand to the munitions factories in Maryborough in order to obtain employmentmanufacturing munitions of war. Possibly some of them who lost their lives in World War IIwere killedby munitionswhichthey manufactured for private enterprisemany years before. Such a state ofaffairs cannot be allowed to recur.
I emphasize thatthe foreign policy of this country is interwoven with the policies of the other democratic nations. One of the foremostplanks of that policy is, as Ihave said, the maintenance of the economicsecurityofour people. To the
Scullin Labour Government fellthe task of combatingthe cruel depression of the thirties, in which decent men who had acquired homes and provided for their young families, lost everything. The ‘election of Labour to office atthe preceding general election came about really as the result ofa political confidence trick, because the Opposition parties did not want to be in office during the throes of the depression. They were quite content to retain effective power by the possession of a majority in this chamber. I took particular notice of a speech delivered in the Houseof Representatives by -the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), whose husband was Prime Minister of this country duringthe depression period. When both , she and iter husband were on the platform in Bendigo, they said that the people were getting too used to good things, that they should forget the good cuts of steak and get back to shins of beef, and pull in their belts and realize that something had to be done to get this country back to security. ‘The honorable member has boasted thather husband led Australia out of the depression back to prosperity. But what wasthe position? When war was declared in 1939 there were 300,000 people unemployed in this country. ‘The majority of the soldiers who comprised the first contingent of the second Australian ImperialForce never knew what it was to have a job in this country, andthe first time that they had the pleasure of drawing a fortnight’s pay was after they joinedthe Army.
– Alot of those men enlisted in sand-shoes.
– Some enlisted withoutfootwear. I contend that there cannot be continued prosperity in this country until Australia’s foreign policy is brought into operation. I warn young men who are inclined to be indolent in their attitude towards politics thatthe boss did not , go to sleep last aright and wake up this morning and say “You have fought well ; I will give you an increase of £5 a week in your salary and give you economicsecurity “. Those youngmen owe theconditions that they enjoyto-day to the pioneers ofthe Australian Labour movement. This Government has made available tothem the greatest concessions that have ever been
Known in the history of Australia. If they are prepared to listen to the subversive and insidious propaganda that will be poured into their ears they themselves will be to blame if any of those conditions are curtailed in the future. During the 1940 election campaign, it was stated by the present Leader of the Liberal party (Mr. Menzies) that the present Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) had stabbed him in the hack.
– That is incorrect.
– The only means that we have of obtaining information with relation to the Opposition is through the capitalistic press. It was reported in the Melbourne newspapers that that statement was made.
– The position was quite the reverse.
– Irrespective of what those knife-throwing people did, the young people of to-day must be told the truth. “We can only tell them verbally, because the Australian Labour party does not serve any big interests, whose mouthpiece is the press. It serves the useful people of Australia, not the Collins-street farmer, who “ farms “ the farmer, or the banker who takes the profits from the farmer. The members of the Australian Labour party serve the people who toil.
– The big unions.
– The Australian Labour party is loyal to the great unions of Australia. It is proud of that. When I read the history of the Australian Workers Union I am proud to belong to one of the movements that sprang from it. The Australian Labour party does not legislate for big business. We realize that we have a trust from the workers of this country and we cannot accept the things that we know are wrong. When this Government brought down legislation to control the credit of the nation, the banks provided hundreds of thousands of pounds to defeat that legislation. If the Leader of the Opposition claims that that is not so, can he tell me where the money came from to hire the radio and provide for the enormous quantity of newsprint that was used for propaganda against that legislation? I have friends in the employ of some of the trading banks who have told me that they are looking forward to the day that the Government takes control of banking, so that they will not be dictated to as they have been in the past. Although many of the managers of the branches of the private banks in this country are looking forward to that day, they are afraid to open their mouths. I venture to say that not one manager employed by the private banks in this country would be prepared to express such views openly over the air or in the press. If he did, he would probably bc sacked on the next day. I have never seen or heard of one word of praise in the press of this country for legislation that has been introduced by this Government.
– The honorable senator is not often here.
– I read the newspapers ; the Leader of the Opposition cannot take that right away from me.
– Order ! The honorable senator should confine his remarks to the motion before the Senate.
– The press does not give this Government any credit for the work that it has done since it has been in office. I remember that during, the 1940 election campaign, propaganda in broken German was disseminated by the radio stations in this country. Listeners were told that the electors of Australia should elect Mr. Curtin to the Prime Ministership, so that he could hand over to Hitler. That happened whilst our menfolk - the workers - were shedding their blood in Egypt, in Greece, in Crete, and in the islands because of the lack of a foreign policy by previous governments. That is the kind of insidious and unpatriotic propaganda that was disseminated.
– The Government that the honorable senator supports wanted to stop sending troops to the Middle East.
– If this Government had been in power, no troops would have been sent to the Middle East, because they had nothing but broomhandles with which to fight. They had no. arms or munitions. Later, when this Government took control and the Conservative party of England called for the co-operation of the Labour party in that country, definite action for the defence of this democracy was begun. Previously the foreign policy of Great Britain and Australia was to give this country away to fascism. Whenever this Government attempts to support the principles of the United Nations, it is criticized by the Opposition.
– Is not that the job of the Opposition?
– It is the function of the Opposition to offer constructive criticism. This country was never better off than it is to-day. The great job of work that has been done by the Minister for External Affairs would have been done just as sincerely by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman), the Minister for Labour and National Service, (Mr. Holloway), the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) or any other Minister, carrying out the policy of the Government in the interests of the people of this country. The young electors of this country must beware that they do not fall into the traps that the “little Digger” prepared for the young men following World War I. The Prime Minister has led this nation through the greatest crisis in its history. I appeal to the young people of Australia to continue to progress towards economic security under his leadership.
– in reply - I was not present during the whole of the debate, but I assure honorable senators that I have read the speeches that I did not hear. Amongst those that I read was the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper), which was a very thoughtful contribution. I am sure that he will not think me discourteous, if, as on a famous historical occasion when the good wine was reserved until the last, I shall leave his remarks until I am concluding my address. When reading through the speeches I was particularly impressed with the very thoughtful and eloquent speech that was delivered by my friend and colleague, Senator Sheehan. It was a speech that was inspired by a real love of humanity and very high idealism. I frankly regret that I was not present in the chamber to hear him deliver it in his own inimitable style.
I pass now to the extraordinary speech made by Senator O’sullivan. After carefully protecting his flanks by saying time and again that he knew very little about the subject, or else that he was not in a position to deal with it fully, he embarked upon the most emphatic and dogmatic statements, despite his earlier confessions. The two instances that occur to my mind were his comments regarding India and Hyderabad, and comments on the position in Palestine. One simply discounts his very fixed opinions as expressed by him after his confessions of lack of study of the particular subjects. However, he did pay a very well-deserved and graceful tribute to the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in these words-
I extend my unqualified congratulations to our Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) upon the great distinction that he has brought upon his country by his election as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. That he is in world class as a brilliant jurist, an outstanding man of letters, and all-round u man of exceedingly high intellect cannot reasonably be challenged. I do not attempt to deny that at all, and I add my congratulations to those that have already been expressed by other honorable senators. That the Minister is a man of tremendous energy and capacity is also very well known’.
It was a great pity that, immediately following what I have described as a well-deserved and generous tribute, the honorable senator should have launched an attack against Dr. Evatt, not so much against his actions on international matters, but against Dr. Evatt personally. I deplore that aspect of the honorable senator’s speech. He also referred to the subject of Finland and other countries, and said in relation to them that he did not know the position but sought information from the Government as to its attitude. The Australian Government’s regard for Finland and for its democratic and freedom-loving people is best illustrated by the fact that, in answer to a request from the Finnish Government recently, we advised that Government that we were prepared to enter into diplomatic relations with that country and to exchange representatives. We made it very plain that we would welcome a representative from Finland in Australia. Honorable senators will understand, however, that a reciprocal appointment now is not very easy by reason of the very heavy commitments facing the diplomatic resources of this country. Senator O’Sullivan also asked what was the attitude of the Australian Government to the absorption of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia by Soviet Russia. The Australian Government has not recognized, and does not intend to recognize, the absorption into the Soviet Union of the formerly independent republics of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The Australian Government believes that these accessions by the Soviet Union cannot be said to have been made as a result of the clearly expressed wish of the people of those countries. I draw the attention of the Senate to the action of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) some time ago when a request was made on behalf of Soviet Russia that nationals of those countries should register in Australia as members of the Soviet Republic. The Senate will recall that an announcement was made that they were under no obligation to do that, and that if they cared to do so it would be of their own volition and not as the result of any pressure on the part of this Government or of any obligation the Australian Government felt was cast upon them. However, the absorption of those countries by Soviet Russia is an accomplished fact. I doubt whether this or any other Government could take action that would result in a change being effected in the foreseeable future. Senator O’Sullivan referred to the admission of Ireland into the United Nations. Australia has constantly supported the candidature of Ireland for membership of the United Nations. “Wo hope that the day will come when every question that is founded upon justice and democracy coming before the United Nations will be recommended by all members of the United Nations, among whom there are some which, for their own reasons, now oppose the admission of Ireland. With regard to Spain, which country Senator O’Sullivan also mentioned, I point out that Spain has neither applied, nor been proposed, for membership of the United Nations.
I was interested in the comments made by Senator Rankin regarding the defence screen towards the north of Australia. Thought in that direction is very important. By reason of the fact that Australia controls Papua and New Guinea as a defence screen to the north of this country, the honorable senator argued that it was desirable that the Australian Government should take over the British Solomon Islands as well. As I have indicated, our interest in Papua and New Guinea was prompted by the consideration to have that screen of islands as a defence for this continent, and it would never do, from our point of view, for those islands to fall into alien hands. The British Solomon Islands are in the hands of the United Kingdom Government, and it is inconceivable that Great Britain could ever pass them over to an alien power. Defence arrangements in the Pacific are the subject of regular and constant consultation between all members of the British Commonwealth of Nations which are interested in the Pacific. Senator Rankin also expressed concern regarding the welfare of the natives in the British Solomon Islands. There is no reason to believe that the British Government, in its care for those natives, is not animated by the highest motives or is not making the best efforts on their behalf, having regard to the need to provide for their social, political and economic welfare. Australia, in an effort to assist administrations in the South Pacific, including that of the British Solomon Islands, took the initiative with the New Zealand Government in establishing the South Pacific Commission. As honorable senators are aware, the activities of that body are directed particularly towards ensuring the interests of the natives in the South Pacific, including the inhabitants of the British Solomons. It is desirable that Australia should play an expanded part in relation to the islands in the Pacific, which form an important aspect of our own defence considerations, and if the other countries concerned were willing to agree to such a course Australia would be prepared to play an even greater part in that direction. However, such action, of course, is subject to the views of the various other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I suggest that that would be a corollary to the assumption by Australia of far greater responsibilities in world defence as well as in the defences of the Pacific region which has marked the part Australia has played in world affairs in recent years.
It is noteworthy that, despite the fact that the Minister for External Affairs tabled with the papers which we are now discussing a document consisting of 102 pages which he prepared himself and covering the activities of the Australian Government in relation to a score of matters affecting every phase of international relations, criticism has been offered on not more than two points throughout the whole course of this debate. So, the report in which the Minister has presented to the Australian people the Government’s attitude upon the great variety of matters relating to foreign policy stands unassailed in the Senate, and one may accept that fact as the best possible endorsement of the Government’s foreign policy. Certainly, members of the Parliament are not in a position to say that they have not been fully informed on every aspect of external affairs by the Minister, or that the fullest opportunity for debate upon such matters has not been afforded to them. It is desirable that the Government should provide opportunities for debates of this kind. I was delighted to hear the remarks of Senator Hendrickson both yesterday and to-day when he made a substantial and lengthy contribution to the debate.
I shall now place before the Senate the perspective of the Government in relation to the problem that has arisen in Berlin. The Government’s views are best expressed in a statement which the Minister for External Affairs made to the press on the 6th July last in which he said -
The presence of the occupation forces of the western allies in Berlin is clearly authorized by the agreement of 1944 nominating Berlin as the centre of allied control for Germany and setting up machinery for allied government of the city itself. This agreement is thus referred to in the communique of the Yalta Conference: “Under agreed plans, the forces of the three powers will each occupy a separate tone of Germany.”
France was not a participant in the agreement of 1944 which was made between Great Britain, Russia, and the United States of America. The Minister’s statement continued - “ Co-ordinated administration and control has been provided for through a central con trol commission consisting of the three Supreme Commanders, with head-quarters hi Berlin …”
Details of the agreement concerning Berlin were substantially amended to provide for the participation of France and were made public in joint four-power statements issued with the declaration on the surrender of Germany, on 5th June, 1945. The statement on voiles of occupation declared that “ the area of Greater Berlin will be occupied by forces of each of the four powers. An inter-allied governing authority (Kommandatura) , consisting of the four Commandants, appointed by their respective Commanders-in-Chief^ will be established to direct jointly its administration “. Further, the statement on machinery of control provides that “ the administration of the Greater Berlin area will be directed by an inter-allied governing authority, which will operate under the general direction of the Control Council, and will consist of the four Commandants, each of whom will serve in rotation as Chief Commandant . . .”
It should be noted that the above agreements became operative prior to the Potsdam Agree ment, so that the Soviet contention that the western powers have brought four-power control to an end by violating the Potsdam Agreement is clearly inadmissible. Equally inadmissible has been the reported announcement by the Chief of Staff to the Soviet Commandant in Berlin on 1st July that four-power government of the city was at an end. The United Kingdom Military Governor has rightly replied that this announcement cannot be recognized as valid. The Kommandatura cannot be dissolved by unilateral act.
I believe that that statement puts very squarely the attitude of the Government in relation to the Berlin difficulty which has not changed since the Minister made that announcement in July, 1948.
I pass now to a consideration of the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition. One of his first points, with which I and my colleagues entirely agree, was that Australia should give unwavering support to the United Nations. The Government regards that as the very first point in its external affairs policy. It recognizes that there is no alternative in world affairs to the United Nations and the ideals for which it stands in promoting world peace, goodwill and the welfare of humanity at large. But the Leader of the Opposition went on to criticize the United Nations on the ground that it had no teeth. He pointed out that when the Charter was introduced in the Parliament by the Curtin Government, it was emphasized that the new international body was to be empowered to use armed force to compel obedience f its decisions, whereas so far no such armed force had been placed at the disposal of the United Nations. The Minister for External Affairs answered that criticism in his speech in the debate in the House of Representatives when he said -
The compelling power of the United Nations, and particularly the Assembly, depends upon something greater than force. I am not so sure when the history of these times comes to be written that it will not be said that it was a good thing for international organization that it was not agreed too early in the history of the United Nations to have military force at the disposal of the Security Council.
Dr. Evatt went on to point out, as the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) had also mentioned, that a situation might arise where force could not be used against a great power although it might be used against a small power with disastrous results to the United Nations. I put it to the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber that the greatest force for peace in the world to-day is public opinion and that the United Nations, particularly when acting through the General Assembly, is the means of expressing that opinion. Some honorable senators may doubt that that is so, but if they consider the matter for a minute and review all incidents in respect of which the United Nations has taken action, the matters it has settled and the difficulties it has resolved, they will find that only on rare occasions have the decisions of the United Nations been disobeyed. Therefore, the gloomy forecasts that the United Nations will’ not work are not only out of place but also out of date. The United Nations does work; it has worked and it will continue to work. It is working under conditions which are by no means favorable. I shall not go over the whole history of the United Nations, but I point out that the organization was formed not to make, but to maintain the peace. That point was emphasized by the Minister for External Affairs in the course of his speech in the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, there is’ no peace yet for the United Nations to maintain because of problems arising from ideological, economic and other difficulties. The main belligerents, the successful allied powers in the recent war, have not been able to come together to resolve their minds upon the peace treaties affecting Germany and Japan. However, the United Nations has succeeded very well in coping with the problems that have come before it, and, gradually, it is building up a framework for a lasting peace based on justice and democratic principles.
The Leader of the Opposition said a good deal regarding co-operation with the British Commonwealth of Nations. The. point I make in that respect is that in. addition to talking about that cooperation the Government has, in fact, practised it to a very large degree. British foreign policy is based on the same unwavering support of the United Nations as is accorded by this Government to that organization. In all matters of major importance in foreign affairs our policy is the policy of the United Kingdom Government. The Leader of the Opposition said that he was confident that the British Commonwealth of Nations should be regarded as the third great world power. I go further than that and say that it: is, in fact, the third world power.’ Furthermore, our sister dominions of’ India, Pakistan and Ceylon have played, and are playing, a very full part in the mutual co-operation that is necessary to maintain the strength and unity that ensure that the British Commonwealth will keep its rightful place in the world as a force for peace. The fact is that the British Commonwealth has never been stronger or more united in all history than it is to-day. I agreed with the Leader of the Opposition when he said that the best way to support the British Commonwealth was to aid the recovery of Britain itself. This Government has done that and is continuing’ to do so. It is helping Great Britain with the provision of food and materials.. The British Commonwealth of Nations gives all its members moral,- as wellas political and economic, support:
Those members unite very tightly. They are truly, as His Majesty the King has said, a brotherhood of peoples bound by ties of mutual interest and affection. That fact is not overlooked by other nations, which have seen the British Commonwealth in action in two world wars in a very brief period of time. They have seen its cohesion, its power and its unity - a unity which many nations do not understand because they cannot see the intangible ties of kinship and affection that were referred to by His Majesty, as well as the pure forms that bind its members together. I can appreciate the difficulty that any foreigner may have in understanding those indefinable ties that result in completely self-governing bodies coming together to move as one unit in the face of common danger and to treat their economic problems with a great deal of sympathy and understanding.
The Leader of the Opposition also referred to regional pacts and asked what was the attitude of this Government to agreements such as the North Atlantic Pact, which is now in course of formation, and the Western Union. The policy of the Government is wrapped up in the first point that I put to the Senate, namely, support for the United Nations. The Government supports, all regional pacts that are made within the framework of the United Nations. The Minister for External Affairs dealt with that matter very clearly in a recent address, in which he said -
It is very important in some cases to have arrangements in certain regions of the world.
I refer the Senate to Articles 51 and 52 of the United Nations Charter. Article 51 states -
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Article 52 states -
I make it very clear to the Senate that both of the pacts that I have mentioned are within the framework of the United Nations and have the unquestioned support of the Australian Government, which itself is giving consideration to a pact affecting the Pacific region, a subject upon which I am not at the moment at liberty to expand. Such regional pacts and organizations are’ really subordinates of the United Nations and not at all in conflict with it or its principles. It is clear, of course, that a situation could arise in which a country might have to defend itself when support was not readily forthcoming from the Security Council. A regional arrangement would be a very good thing to fall back upon in such circumstances.
I agree that the Leader of the Opposition was right when he stressed the importance of food in the maintenance of world peace. The importance of food is recognized by the Government, and it has given very clear expression to its belief that hunger and want are two forces that promote war. Probably they are the prime causes of war. Australia, having regard to broader considerations, was primarily responsible for having written into the United Nations Charter pledges requiring members to foster policies of full employment in their various countries. Senator Collings, whose contribution to the debate I was delighted to hear last night, developed that theme rather extensively. I recall that he put before the (Senate figures showing that, in one way and another, Australia had made a contribution of approximately £100,000,000 to post-war relief and the rehabilitation of the United Kingdom and Europe, a not very inconsiderable contribution having regard to the resources of this small country. When describing Australia as a small country, I am, of course, thinking in terms of its population, not of its acreage. This Government has shown its interest in the Pacific and South-East Asia, and has helped neighbouring countries with food and offers of scholarships and materials. It recognizes that the peoples of Asia have learned much from western civilization and are developing a very strong national sense that no force on earth can keep down any longer. The important contribution that we should make, watching that rising tide of nationalism in the East, is to do our best to condition it and to divert it into democratic and just channels. A great deal has been said about Indonesia. It has been suggested that the Australian action in that part of the world was anti-Dutch. Nothing could be further from the truth than that. I dealt at considerable length with the Indonesian situation in the speech that I made when I submitted this motion to the Senate, and I do not propose to review it now. However, I recall the attention of honorable senators to the findings of the Good Offices Committee, which condition the whole Australian outlook on the matter, and to the resolution of the Security Council itself.
The Australian Government has a most constructive policy in the field of external relations. It can give a very good account of its stewardship tothe people of Australia. It has earned a high place in the councils of the nations of the earth, as was evidenced by the appointment of its spokesman, the Minister for External Affairs, to the highest position in that organization. That appointment was a great honour, not only to the Minister, to his Government and to his party, but also to the people of Australia. I shall state the policy of the Australian Government very briefly under the following seven main heads : -
That is the policy that the Government has been endeavouring to follow. It has directed all of its efforts towards the attainment of those seven objectives. I repeat that every one of us has a responsibility, not only in this Parliament, but also in every other circle where we exercise any influence, to make known the aims and objects of the United Nations and to point out that there is no alternative to that organization for the prevention of war and the misery that follows in the train of war. In conclusion, I revert to the theme with which I opened my address when I say that the very first plank in the external affairs policy of this Government is continued support for the United Nations organization and loyal obedience to its decisions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the sitting this day to the date on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter,
Motion (by Senator Ashley) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Recently I asked the following questions of the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing: -
Can the Minister for Shipping and Fuel inform me whether a reply has been received to those questions?
. - in reply - The Minister for Works and Housing has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1949-
No. 22 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 23- Australasian Society of Engineers.
No. 24 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Defence purposes - Fort Largs, South Australia.
Postal purposes -
Walang, New South Wales.
Waterloo, South Australia.
United. Nations- Food and Agriculture
Organization - Fourth Session, held at Washington, November, 1948 - Report of Australian Delegation.
Senate adjourned at 3.44 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by the President
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 March 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1949/19490317_senate_18_201/>.