21st Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Eon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Customs Bill 1954.
Rayon Yarn Bounty Bill 1954.
Flax Fibre Bounty Bill 1954.
War Service Homes Bill 1954.
– A question standing in my name has been on the notice-paper for some weeks. It is of great importance to the people concerned. As the Senate will go into recess at the end of this week, will the Minister for Repatriation inform me whether there is any possibility of obtaining a reply to-morrow? If not, will the Minister send me a written reply as soon as possible?
– Is the honorable senator referring to question No. 3?
– I have not received a reply to the honorable senator’s question, but I have asked the Repatriation Department to furnish an answer. I hope to receive the answer before the Senate goes into recess to-morrow. If I do not receive it then, I shall send the reply to the honorable senator.
– Having regard to the importance of the exports of primary products to the economic welfare of Australia, and with the object of encouraging farmers to increase production, will the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Treasurer urge him to give favorable consideration to the request of the Agricultural Show Council of Tasmania that all payments to recognized show societies by way of membership fees and donations to prize funds, or for any building or ground improvement programme carried out by such societies, should be treated as an allowable deduction for income tax purposes?
– The question relates to policy. I can do no more than assure the honorable senator that I shall place his representations before the Minister acting for the Treasurer.
– I desire to preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Treasurer by stating that in country places the showgrounds depend on the general public for their improvement to a great extent, and that these showgrounds are a great asset to the States and the Commonwealth as well as to the farmers. “Will the Minister request the Minister acting for the Treasurer to permit donations for the improvement ofshowgrounds and pavilions on showgrounds to be permissible deductions from income for purposes of income tax assessment? At present such donations are not permissible deductions and a number of donations could be obtained if they were made permissible deductions for the purposes of income tax assessment.
– The honorable senator’s question is similar to that which was asked by Senator Guy. I will convey his representations to the Minister acting for the Treasurer.
asked the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Treasurer, upon notice -
– -The Minister has supplied the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior read a statement by the Premier of Tasmania that a Commonwealth Government instrumentality in Hobart had received notification , of an increase of 460 per cent, in rent for a suite of offices that it occupies? Will the Minister have inquiries made to determine whether the statement is correct? If it is correct, will the Minister inform the Senate which Commonwealth instrumentality is affected, and whether the instrumentality intends to continue to occupy the premises when the increased rental is payable?
– I shall be pleased to refer the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for the Interior, and obtain a reply.
– I direct a question to the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture with regard to the annual report of the Wool Realization Commission for the year ended the 31st December, 1953, in which the commission reported that it had been unable to receive the refund from one mill of £4,102 6s. 9d. which represented bounty paid on wool not manufactured into wool cloth products by the prescribed date. I ask the Minister whether the amount to which I have referred has since been refunded. If it has not, what are the reasons for the failure to refund the money ?
– I shall be pleased to inquire into that matter and let the honorable senator know the latest pOS/. ! tion.
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General seen the statement in the Tasmanian press that, owing to the occupation of the new mail room at Launceston, mails will close half an hour earlier ? In view of the fact that the new mail room is opposite the old mail room, why has it been found necessary to decrease by half an hour the time available to the customers of the Post Office to post their mail
– I have not seen the statement which the honorable senator mentioned, but I shall refer his question to the Postmaster-General so that he may receive a considered reply to it.
– Recently, Senator Mattner discussed with me a slight defect in the British diesel locomotives which run between Port Augusta and Alice Springs. The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has now supplied the following information on the matter : -
On Srd August last, I reported to you iri connexion with failures which were then being experienced with the Sulzer diesel-electric locomotives due to the voltage regulators, and in that report I indicated that action had been taken whereby the contractors were to arrange to replace the faulty equipment with regulators manufactured by Brown Boveri of Switzerland.
As you are aware, we have at present three of these locomotives in service, and two of these have already been fitted with the. Brown Boveri regulators and are now operating satisfactorily. The third locomotive is now being fitted, and will be placed in service within the next few days.
Four locomotives are due to arrive iti Port Augusta on Belbetty on the 26th November, and of these four locomotives one is already fitted with the Brown Boveri voltage regulator and the other three are fitted with resistances and frames in new position ready for the mounting of the Brown Boveri regulators as soon as they become available. The three regulators required for these locomotives are being despatched to Australia by fast steamer, and it is confidently expected that they will arrive in Port Augusta reasonably soon after the locomotives and that accordingly there will be no long delay before these locomotives are in service with a satisfactory voltage regulator.
Locomotives 8 to 14 will al) be fitted with the Brown Boveri regulator prior to despatch from the manufacturer’s works, and we have received advice that locomotive No. 8 left Liverpool on the 25th October on the SS. Hinakura, and that locomotive No. 9 will be shipped by SS. Helcnus, scheduled to leave Liverpool on the 8th instant.
– The Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is reported in to-day’s Adelaide press as having told the thirtysecond annual conference of the Dried Fruits Association in Melbourne yesterday that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture was examining the possibility of making advances to growers of dried fruits soon after harvest and before the actual sale of their crops. Can the Minister elaborate on that statement and say when the results of that examination will be known? Can he also state the basis of advance that he envisages, and whether the department would require security for such advances? If so, what type of security would it require?
– The honorable senator’s question is an involved one. I am sure we all regret that, owing to a surplus of dried fruits on the London market, the exporters of dried fruits are having a worrying time. My colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, is in London at present and is doing his best to see whether satisfactory arrangements can be made to satisfy the exporters, and to ensure that the price of dried fruit will not be depressed to an unreasonable level because of the fact that there is so much available. The surplus has been brought about largely by the change-over from a governmenttogovernment to a trader-to-trader marketing basis. As there are plenty of dried fruits available, the first objective of the British Ministry of Food, of course, is to dispose of the surplus stocks which, I understand, amount to approximately 50,000 tons.* The position is being examined by the department. I am not yet in a position to say what the Government’s decision is likely to be. I think it will depend, very largely, on the success that is attained in London in selling between now and the 31st March, 1955, the period when the British Ministry of Food has arranged for a floor price to guarantee sales. I should think that it would not be possible to make a decision before February or March of next year. However, those honorable senators who are interested in this matter may rest assured that, as soon as the Minister returns, everything will be done to speed up the inquiry and to give a decision, which I hope will be a favorable one, to the people engaged in this important industry.
– In view of the very serious position of the flourmilling industry in Australia, and in South Australia particularly, where many mills have been closed and others are working only part-time, is the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to inform the Senate, in fulfilment of a promise he made to me earlier in this chamber, of the developments that have been made in securing more markets overseas and a better outlook for the millers? Oan he also say what assistance the’ Government proposes to give to the flour-milling industry in order that it may continue to operate economically in South Australia, and in Australia generally?
– I took the opportunity in Melbourne yesterday to confer with the manager of the Australian Wheat Board, and I am pleased to be able to inform the Senate 1 that export sales of both wheat and flour have improved considerably during the last month or so. In the view of the manager of the board, the prospects for the future are much brighter. In looking at the figures, I was surprised to find that we had exported so much flour. Of course, everybody appreciates the importance of this industry, not only to South Australia, but also to the rest of Australia. I am glad to be able to inform the honorable senator that the ‘ outlook for the future is much brighter, because I know that those who are interested in the industry, particularly in my own State of South Australia, have a very fine record.
Indeed, I do not think that any industry in Australia has a finer record.
– Do not be parochial.
– I am not being parochial. This industry is Australiawide. I know that Victoria produces more flour than we do in South Australia, but I am speaking of the Australian flourmilling industry generally. That industry has established a record of which all of us should be proud. I assure Senator Critchley that nothing could give me greater pleasure than to keep on the wheel, as it were, of the Australian Wheat Board, with a view to ensuring that this industry, which is so efficient and which has made such splendid advances over the years, is not jeopardized in these periods of surpluses.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a question about a matter which is of vital importance to the primary producers of Australia. Can he state the present position in relation, to the bringing up to date of Australia’s trade preferences under the Ottawa Agreement, which subject, I understand, is at present being discussed in Geneva ?
– The matter raised by Senator George Rankin is of very great importance. Although I have been following very closely the reports of discussions that are proceeding in London and Geneva on it, I am . not able to make a statement at present. I assure the honorable senator that there are no more capable members of the Cabinet than Mr. McEwen and Senator O’Sullivan in this field., and he may rest assured that Australia’s views are being ably placed before the representatives of various countries who are at present conferring overseas. I am unable to say what has been accomplished to date.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister by pointing out, that. according to the last annual report of the Australian National University, its income for the year from the 1st January, 1952, to the 31st December, 1952, was £534,202 10s. 6d., which included a Commonwealth grant of £525,000. For 1953, the total income of the university was £647,367 9s. 8d., of which £625,000 was n Commonwealth grant. The total amount of fees received by the university in 1952 was £227 10s., and in 1953, £624 15s. In view of the expansion of the Australian National University, will the Minister inform me whether it is expected that the total amount of fees received annually in future will be much larger than for last year?
– I shall be very pleased to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the honorable senator’s question and endeavour to obtain a considered reply for him as soon as possible.
– In the talks which the Minister who is acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture had with the manager of the Australian Wheat Board, was the question of the first advance on the forthcoming wheat harvest raised ? If it was, is the Minister able to say what the amount of that advance will be?
– Although I did not discuss that delicate matter with the manager of the Australian Wheat Board, it is under active consideration by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the Department of the Treasury. I hope, shortly, to be able to announce details of that advance. I hope it will be generous enough to please even honorable senators from South Australia.
– Has the attention of the acting Leader of the Government in the Senate been directed to the fact that the Australia-wide waterfront strike has sounded the ruination of the 1954 Tasmanian potato export .season, with great financial loss to the potato-growers of Tasmania ? Is it a fact that, although many thousands of sacks of potatoes were scheduled to leave Tasmania last week, not one sack was exported? Is it true that SS. Dalby, controlled by the Australian Shipping Board, sailed from Devonport without the 14,000 sacks of potatoes that are awaiting shipment from there, and that SS. Wanaka, which was scheduled to leave Burnie with 16,000 sacks of potatoes, is likely to be tied up in that port for the duration of the strike? May I bring to the notice of the Government the serious plight of many Tasm an ian potato-growers and ask whether it is possible to take appropriate action to grant relief to those growers, who, because of Tasmania’s isolation, rely entirely on sea transport to get their produce to the markets? If potatoes and other perishable goods awaiting shipment at Tasmanian ports are not shipped without delay in civilian vessels, will it he practicable to place a naval vessel on the run to move them ?
– The questions asked by the honorable senator involve matters of high policy. I think everybody appreciates that Tasmania will be affected by the strike more than any other State. I shall have the honorable senator’s questions examined and I shall reply to them as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether it is a fact that SS. Taroona has been exempted from the dispute that is taking place on the waterfront and will continue to run between the mainland and Tasmania? Is it a fact also that another ship, trading between King Island and Launceston, has been similarly exempted ?
– By whom ?
– By the waterside workers.
– I am very pleased that the honorable senator has raised this matter. According to reports, he has stated the position correctly. I trust that the sanity displayed in relation to those ships will become Australia-wide before very much longer.
– On the 13th October, Senator Marriott asked me to consider whether I would recommend that the Government make a grant of £10,000 to finance major athletic meetings in States other than Victoria after the 1956 Olympic Games, with the object of allowing Australians who will be unable to attend the games to see Australian and visiting athletes in action. I have been informed by the Minister for the Interior, who is chairman of the Organizing Committee for the sixteenth Olympiad in Melbourne in 1956, that the Australian Olympic Federation is arranging, through the State Olympic associations, for as many as possible of the athletes to visit States other than Victoria on their way home after the games have been held. All athletic associations are keen to stage these lesser games, and they hope to be able to make arrangements for people in States other than Victoria to see these athletes before they leave Australia.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Some time ago, the Prime Minister gave publicity to the fact, that the Government proposed to establish an all-party committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Spicer, to examine the Constitution and make recommendations in respect of any alterations it considered to be necessary. Is the Minister in a position to state when the committee will be established, and whether it is still proposed that Senator Spicer shall be the chairman ?
– If the committee is under the chairmanship of the Attorney-General, it is in very capable hands. I appreciate the importance of the honorable senator’s question and I shall ascertain what is being done.
– Some weeks ago, I asked what effect the recent increase of the price of tea had had on the Australian economy generally, and particularly upon the wage structure. Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior any information to give me on that matter? I should like to know whether any progress has been made with the inquiries.
– Considerable progress has been made, and when the investigation has been completed, the honorable senator will be informed of the result.
– Oan the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for Trade and Customs say what arrangements are made on overseas markets for the purchase of tea for Australia? How many firms are involved in these transactions, and what are their names?
– I am sorry I cannot give the honorable senator a detailed answer to his question, but, in general, tea is purchased at public auction. Australian tea transactions are under the control of the Tea Importation Board which purchases its supplies on the open market at auction. I am unable to say whether purchases are made through agents abroad, or by the staff of the board, although I do know that the board has some representatives abroad. I am unable to say what the detailed marketing arrangements are.
– Would it be possible for the Minister to provide that information before the present sittings end?
– I shall let the honorable senator know.
– For seven or eight weeks, I have had a question on notice about the allocation of the Commonwealth petrol and oil contracts. As the Senate will adjourn in the next two or three days, I should like to know whether an answer to my question is likely to be forthcoming within that time.
– The honorable senator’s question is not easy to answer. My recollection is that contracts are allocated by the Contracts Board which has a primary responsibility to the Department of the Treasury. I imagine that the delay in answering the question is due to the fact that considerable information has to be collated.
– The information should be on hand.
– The honorable senator may be right, but I doubt whether all the information would be readily available. I shall see whether it is possible to give the honorable senator a reply to his question to-morrow.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply, has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply has furnished the following information : -
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spicer) read a first time.
– I move -
That the hill be now read a second time.
This bill provides that the Australian Parliament should give its request and consent to the enactment by the United Kingdom of legislation to enable the Queen to place the Cocos or Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia. Honorable senators will be aware that the Cocos airstrip is a vital link in the air service which is operated across the Indian Ocean between Australia and South Africa. The islands could also, in time of war, assume great importance as an aircraft staging point, and as a link in air services between Australia and Asia and Europe. It must, therefore, be a matter of gratification to all honorable senators that the United Kingdom and Australian Governments have been able to agree on this transfer to Australia.
The Cocos Islands first sprang into world prominence shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914, when the cable station established on the group was attacked by the German raider Emden, which was subsequently destroyed by the Sydney in the Royal Australian Navy’s first major engagement. With the development of wireless communications, the importance of Cocos Islands as a cable station was diminished, and it was not until the latter stages of the last war that its new role as an important air link emerged.
The subject of the transfer of these islands has been under discussion for a number of years. On the 22nd June, 1951, it was announced that the Australian Government had expressed to the United Kingdom Government a wish to develop, for civilian aviation purposes, the airstrip which had been constructed on Cocos during the 1939-45 war for the Royal Air Force. On practical grounds, after examining various alternatives, it was considered desirable that the Government controlling the airstrip should also administer the islands, and Australia therefore suggested that the group which comprises two atolls made up of some 27 coral islands with a total area of approximately 5 square miles, should be transferred to the Commonwealth Govern1 ment.
Such a course of action will have considerable strategic advantages for the British Commonwealth as a whole. The United Kingdom Government, after consulting the Singapore Government, with whom responsibility for administering the Cocos Islands rests at present, was consequently able to agree in principle. Various questions of detail had then to be considered by the Australian departments which will assume responsibilities as a result of the transfer. I believe that we have reached a satisfactory understanding with the United Kingdom Government on all outstanding matters.
The Clunies-Ross family have been the acknowledged landlords of Cocos since 18S6, when their position was confirmed by an indenture granted by Queen Victoria through the Governor of the Straits Settlements. Subject to conditions allowing Her Majesty to resume land in the public interests, providing for the establishment of a telegraph station, and preventing alienation of the land to other persons without the assent of the Crown,, the lease was granted to George CluniesRoss and his heirs to hold in perpetuity. The Senate may be assured, as the United Kingdom Government has been, that thelegitimate interests of the CluniesRossfamily will not be prejudiced in the forthcoming transfer of sovereignty.
The manner in which the transfer of the islands should be effected has required careful study. After considering various alternatives, it has been found that the procedure that is now being adopted is the most satisfactory. The legal advisers of the Australian Government and the United Kingdom Government have discussed the technical question of whether the United Kingdom Act, when passed, would operate as part of the law of Australia. If it did, it would require the prior request and consent of the Australian Parliament and Government in accordance with the Statute of Westminster.
The view of the Australian law officers is that Australia’s request and consent are not legally requisite. The United Kingdom Government’s advisers consider, on the other hand, that the enabling act might be ineffective without Australian request and consent. It would be a mistake to leave such a matter open to any possible doubt. Prior request and consent of the Australian Parliament, whether legally necessary or not, would in any case be a perfectly proper and normal procedure, having regard to Australia’s status in the British Commonwealth. Accordingly, the Government has agreed to place the matter beyond doubt from the .start, and to ask Parliament to give its request and consent to the enactment of the United Kingdom enabling act. This is the purpose of the present bill.
When honorable members and senators have approved the bill, a bill will be introduced into the United Kingdom Parliament for the purpose of transferring authority over the Cocos Islands to Her Majesty’s Government in Australia. As the final legislative step in the transfer, another bill1 will be brought before the Australian Parliament after authority has been transferred. This bill will be for an act accepting the transfer and providing for the future administration of the islands. This will be the major enactment to which this present bill is only a preliminary. At that time it will be possible to debate, if so wished., the terms of the transfer which the Australian Parliament will then be asked to accept. I commend this bill to honorable senators, and am confident that they will share my opinion that it will advance the interests of Australia and of the British Commonwealth generally.
Senator ARMSTRONG (New South Wales) £3.48]. - The Opposition supports this bill wholeheartedly. The approach to the bill is one which the Senate has rarely seen. This bill provides for a request to be made to the United Kingdom Government to draft legislation to transfer the sovereignty of the Cocos Islands to Australia. When that bill has been passed by the United Kingdom Parliament, the Australian Parliament will consider another bill and at that time I presume that the Senate will be able to discuss the merits and de-merits of the transfer. I presume that at that time we shall be able to discuss the position of the CluniesRoss family. The Minister mentioned that the interests of that family have been fully protected. The family’s association with the Cocos Islands is an incredible one which could form the basis of a novel. Captain Clunies Ross landed in these islands in 1827. Apparently, they were unhabitated at the time, and the basis of the present population, which is approximately 1,200, was established by the Malayan seamen who were then his crew. I suppose that new infusions of blood have been made from time to time since then, but from what I can gather, 1S27 saw the commencement of the Clunies Ross kingdom. In 1886, the leasehold was transferred legally to the Clunies Ross family, and they have been recognized as the landlords of the Cocos Islands since that time. I should be interested, when the subsequent legislation comes before the Senate, to hear some details of the arrangement which the Australian Government will be prepared to enter into with the Clunies Ross family, in order that their 127 years of occupancy may be continued.
We are requesting the United Kingdom Government to hand over the sovereignty of these islands, which cover an area of only 5 square miles in all, to the Australian Government. To me, it is a most important thing that the searchlight of world affairs was first turned on these islands almost 40 year. ago to the day. I am grateful to Senator Tangney for reminding me that it is almost exactly 40 years since H.M.A.S. Sydney sank the German cruiser Emden off the Cocos Islands. That was a great day in Australia’s history. I think it was then, for the first time, that we realized that the Royal Australian Navy had truly accepted the traditions of the Royal Navy. The action between H.M.A.S. Sydney and Emden demonstrated, in a very practical way, that the officers and men of our Navy were very good pupils indeed of the Royal .Navy. From then on, of course, the history of the Royal Australian Navy, despite the smallness of its size, has been illustrious, and one of which every one in Australia is extremely proud.
I do not know whether the fact that we first became conscious of the Cocos Islands 40 years ago because of a naval action, and that we think they are important to us to-day as an air base, illustrates the march of time. To-day, the Cocos Islands have become very important from the point of view of aviation. Australia, which is a very young nation, with a small population, perhaps has no rival in air-mindedness throughout the world. We are not only strong in internal airlines, but also in the international field we are recognized as a great air nation. Our arlines, such as Qantas Empire Airways Limited, Tas.man Empire Airways Limited, and British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, and our association with other great airlines such as British Overseas Airways Corporation, indicate that civil aviation has a firm hold in this country. The Cocos Islands could mean a great deal to us now and in the future. It has occurred to me that, if a war were to develop and we found that India remained neutral, Australia could be cut off from the western approaches to Europe. With the Cocos
Islands as a developed air base, Australian aircraft could move, via those islands and Africa, to the continent of Europe. That, 1 suggest, is of great importance to us. The Opposition applauds this transfer of sovereignty, and it supports the bill. Australia is to assume the obligation of looking after this small territory. It is not enough for us to say merely that this is an important air base which we must develop. It is more than that. It is a place where 1,200 human beings live, and the responsibility for their future wellbeing rests on the Australian Government. I’ hope that we shall always keep that in mind.
Senator BYRNE (Queensland) f 3.55] . - Rather than raise this matter during the committee stage, I ask the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) whether the purport of this bill is to provide for the actual divesting by the United Kingdom Government of sovereignty in relation to the Cocos Islands, and the assumption of sovereignty by the Australian Government. I notice that the term used in the Minister’s secondreading speech is “ authority “. Senator Armstrong, however, used the word “ sovereignty “, and I am wondering what the real purport of the legislation is.
– in reply - I think I can best answer the honorable senator’s question by referring him to clause 3 of the bill, which indicates the kind of legislation which we request and consent to the Parliament at Westminster passing. That clause reads as follows: -
The Parliament requests, and consents to, the enactment by the Parliament of the United Kingdom of an Act enabling the Queen to place the Cocos or Keeling Islands under the authority of the Commonwealth. . . .
This bill merely sets the machinery in motion, if I may put it that way. We request and consent to the passing, by the Parliament at Westminster, of an act which will authorize the Queen to pass sovereignty of the islands to us. That is a convenient way of doing it.
– Will it be a transfer of authority or a full transfer of sovereignty ?
– It will be a transfer of sovereignty.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a. second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 9th November (vide page 1292), on motion by Senator Spicer -
That the bill be now read u second time.
– Prior to the adjournment of the debate last evening, I had referred to misconceptions that might arise in the minds of Asian people regarding the terms of this treaty, and I had then gone on to discuss the possibility of coexistence with people who have ways and ideologies which are different from ours. From that point, I attempted to establish that in China to-day there is such a degree of indoctrination and ideological penetration, at the instance of Russia, that there is arising in the Pacific, in relation to China, a problem that the Western nations experienced in Europe in relation to the Soviet Union. I went on, by specific reference, to show that the ideological penetration by the Soviet Union that is taking place in China, is similar to that which took place in Europe. I pointed out that, even in the field of technology, the ideological factor was given the same prominence in China as it had been in the Republic of Russia, and that, therefore, there is going to emerge in Asia for the Asian nations the same problem that faced the Western nations in Europe, which gave rise to the North Atlantic treaty. In a sense, the treaty that this bill seeks to ratify is a similar treaty in relation to the Pacific nations. In Europe, nobody, could guarantee that those aggressive ideologies, sometimes backed by physical force, would not spill over into other countries, and so subvert them and. rob them of their liberty. As the same problem could arise in South-East Asia, we had to devise a means to combat such a state of affairs. That is one of the reasons why this treaty was necessary. In effect, we have followed the pattern of the policy adopted by the great free nations of western
Europe. I am not against co-existence with people who have ideas different from ours, but we must remember that the actions and protestations of those who purport to seek co-existence have been in violent contradiction. If people say, “ We want to co-exist with you “, I do not think we should set our face against the possibility of co-existence with them, but we should do so on our terms. I think that this treaty - as does the North Atlantic treaty - embodies the conditions on which we are prepared to co-exist with them. The free nations of Asia should not be subjected to constant physical or ideological threats. They have independent rights to develop their own national interests. If that condition is observed, co-existence is possible. But, if it is not, we believe that, as a part df the plan of co-existence, we must be prepared to defend the fundamentals in the absence of which co-existence must fail. Therefore, this treaty embodies conditions for co-existence. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has foreshadowed the introduction of several proposed amendments, but, in broad principle, the treaty embodies our terms for co-existence.
In Europe, down the years, Great Britain has pursued a rather extraOrdinary policy in relation to the balance of, power, in the light of its peculiar geographical position. Great Britain has always sought an alliance with some nation in Europe to counter some other major military power, and, by so equating the position, ensure a balance of power. I do not deny that that policy has been very valuable to Great Britain down the years. Nevertheless, this treaty could be construed as an attempt to maintain the balance of power in Asia, where, although it is not possible to build up a major power to counter another great military power, it is practicable to build up a group of powers for that purpose. To a degree, this treaty is a development of the balance of power policy that has been applied in Europe. By building up a series of small powers in Asia, we may maintain the balance of power there. The treaty is open to the interpretation that it is solely a weapon of political expediency in order to provide in Asia and South-East Asia a parallel to the balance of power policy that has been pursued by Great Britain down the years in Europe. If we allow that to become the accepted interpretation, we shall defeat and destroy the intent of the treaty. I think, therefore, that when the treaty is cited, we should emphasize the clauses designed for purposes other than the mere aggregation of strength and power against those who might attempt to destroy any of the contracting parties. I refer to clauses which have no relation to the balance of power policy.
This treaty recognizes the sovereignty and equality of the contracting parties. Secondly, there is recognition, implicit and explicit, that, by the unanimous resolution of the contracting parties, other countries may be brought within the ambit of the treaty. We must develop the Asian nations, in order to enable them to preserve their sovereignty, and not merely to enable us to use them as instruments for the purpose of resisting aggression by a common enemy.
The treaty goes further than that. It is really an extension of the Anzus pact, which is a regional pact to provide defence against actual aggression, as it approaches closer to the shores of the parties privy to that agreement. This is more a perimeter arrangement, in recognition of the fact that to-day military movements proceed with great rapidity. If the perimeter be lost, it may not be long before the centre, also, is lost. From a selfish point of view, apart from our obligations to the other parties, this treaty will provide a bastion of security for the Australian nation, which to-day is in peculiar and imminent danger. If we do not honour the treaty according to its intent but convert it into an instrument of military and political policy, we will, I believe, destroy the conception of co-existence. In those circumstances, the aims of the treaty may be distorted, so that it can be used against Australia by the Asian nations. That is one thing that we cannot afford to have happen. If the treaty is backed by goodwill and a genuine concern and regard for the preservation of the rights of the Asian people, it will succeed.
Honorable senators on both sides of the House have spoken about the economic obligations and rights written into the treaty. I think they are of basic importance. We must ensure now, by raising the standards of living in the countries that are parties to the agreement, that we shall be able to induce other countries to come in on the terms we set down. Those terms are, “ We shall guarantee your freedom, as you will help to guarantee ours, and we shall assist your economic development “. There is to-day - it is the most subtle approach by the Soviet Union to China - a tremendous injection into Communist China of Russian technology, Russian ideas and Russian capital on the basis that the material advancement of the people will assure the security of the regime. There is a lot of common sense in that policy. If the Asian nations that are parties to this agreement lapse into economic insecurity and if, alongside them, there is a Communist China that has been helped to economic security and economic freedom by the Soviet Union, that contrast will lead inevitably to a revolt against everything in the agreement we are now discussing.
As I spoke at some length on the treaty last night, I do not wish to detain the Senate for very long to-day. This is a new venture in international affairs for Australia. The treaty imposes new duties on us, but it gives us tremendous opportunities. Whilst, in its overall conception, it is a defensive treaty, it will open new gates between us and the Asian countries - <gates through which could flow the technical assistance that Asia requires and that we may be able to provide, and gates through which could flow the trade that is necessary to give practical effect to the preamble of the treaty, which states that we recognize the sovereign equality “ of all the countries that are privy to it. The treaty will impose new obligations on us and, in return, will give us a measure of protection. But, in addition, it could be, so to speak, the first article of a new charter - a charter of freedom, a charter of economic development, a charter of liberty and, finally, a charter of hope, not only for the nations of SouthEast Asia, but also for the great white democracies. If this lead from Asia in co-operation, co-existence and the development of nations that need assistance were accepted in Europe, it might give rise to a completely new way of life, not only for the nations of Asia but for all the nations of the world.
.- The most significant fact that has emerged from the discussion of this treaty is that there is no difference of opinion, in principle, between the Government and the Opposition in relation to it. I took a note of the words that were used last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) when he spoke oh the bill. Speaking for the Opposition, he said -
I want it to be quite clear that we do support this treat)’. That statement stands without qualification, despite the fact that we shall be critical of some provisions of the treaty and that we shall offer criticism of some provisions of the bill. . . . The treaty is in line with the United Nations Charter, particularly with Articles 51 and 52, which contemplate the making of regional arrangements.
There could be no clearer statement of the fact that the Opposition, as an entity, is entirely in accord with the Government on this bill and on the ratification of the treaty. Such objections as members of the Opposition have raised have been minor objections relating to the words used here and there. They have made it perfectly clear that they do not regard those objections as being of sufficient significance to justify them, either holding up or opposing the passage of the legislation. I am glad, indeed, to see that measure of agreement between the two sides of the House on this matter. It is a happy sequel to the words used by Sir Anthony Eden, speaking for Great Britain, when he extolled the excellence of the treaty and the hope it could bring to the people of Asia. It is a happy sequel to the agreement to the treaty by both sides in the American political arena. It is pleasing to see the same measure of unanimity in this country on the treaty as a whole.
There are, as I have said, some objections to the wording of the bill and of the treaty. A treaty is an agreement, and it is unusual for any agreement made between a number of persons to be so couched in its final form that every person is satisfied with every clause of it. In this instance, the objections that have been raised to the wording of certain articles are so much without significance and substance that I believe it is clear that the treaty comes as close as it is possible to come, in an unideal world, to what we all desire. I should like to deal with some of the minor objections that were raised by the Leader of the Opposition. The first objection related, not to the treaty, but to the preamble of the bill for the ratification of the treaty. Let me read the preamble. It states -
AVHEE.EAS the independence and integrity of the countries and territories of South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific are threatened by the aggressive policies of international Communism :
And Whereas those Communist policies have already shown themselves in Korea, IndoChina and elsewhere hy armed aggression, by armed insurrection assisted from without and otherwise:
And Whereas those Communist policies represent a common danger to the security of Australia and of the world generally and are a violation of the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations: . . .
Be it therefore enacted . . .
I do not believe there can be any challenge to that preamble as a statement of fact. Indeed, there has been no challenge to it as a statement of fact. As we look around and see in Malaya Communist guerrillas still operating in the jungles and, day by day, taking toll of the settlers there; as we read of a new free Thai movement, based on the southern provinces of China, spreading out into Thailand, and endeavouring, not by armed attack but by insurrection assisted from without, to nibble a little more away from a country outside Communist domination ; as we look at the chaotic position in South Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia, and see that the Communist forces are not observing the armistice agreement but are remaining in Laos and causing trouble and insurrections in South Viet Nam, surely we must agree that the independence and integrity of the countries and territories of South-East Asia are threatened by the aggressive policies of international communism. As we look back on the events of Korea and IndoChina, we see that it is true to say that those policies have shown themselves by means of armed aggression. So the recitals in the preamble of the bill are recitals of plain and simple facts. If that be agreed, what can be the objection to putting them into the bill? The only possible ground of objection would be to say, “Yes, they are true, but why have them in the bill ? “ The answer to that is simple. They are there because it is the fact of this armed aggression that led to the signing of the Manila treaty. That is one reason. There is an even more compelling one. In Australia’s participation in this treaty, as the last speaker on the Opposition side has told us, we see an entirely new departure in Australian foreign policy. We are taking on our shoulders commitments outside this country in time of peace. That is something which has never been done before. The reason why this Parliament and this country are taking on these new commitments is that the independence and integrity of certain countries are threatened and that Communist policies have shown themselves, by armed aggression, to be the danger. Surely we are entitled to be told, when we are asked to make a new departure of this signficance in our foreign policy, the- reasons which led the Government to ask us to do so. Always, somewhere in the world there is, in general, a risk of aggression. But it is not that always existing risk of aggression in general that led to this departure in our foreign policy and to the Manila treaty. It was the manifestation, over a period of years, of the facts set out in the preamble of the bill. So, I can see no significance or substance at all in the objections raised by the Leader of the Opposition to the preamble.
One minor point which the Leader of the Opposition made was that, under this treaty, the countries which are not signatories, could be designated as places which, if subject to attack, were a danger to the peace of Australia and of the other signatories. That means practically nothing, because the treaty goes on to say that no action to protect such a designated country can be taken on the territory of that country unless that country itself invites such action to be taken. That provision is incorporated in the treaty to make it clear that the signatories have in mind, not only the protection of their own land, but also the protection of any country in the whole area which asks for protection in the event of an attack. There can now be no question but that all the signatories to the treaty agree that an attack, even on a country which is not a signatory, can be resisted by them all if the country attacked asks for assistance.
The next point that the Leader of the Opposition raised in the course of his objections to small parts of the bill was that the United States had, under the treaty, limited commitments, whereas the other signatories did not have limited commitments. He objected to the fact that all the signatories except the United States were bound to act to resist aggression of any kind, whereas the United States was bound to act to resist only Communist aggression. He considered that to be an improper reservation to write into a treaty of this kind. I concede that, at first glance, there might seem to be something in the honorable senator’s argument, but when one examines the matter a little more, one realizes that the objection is purely theoretical. Have we, in fact, an unlimited obligation under this treaty? The Minister for External Affairs, speaking for the Government, does not consider that we do. He said, quite clearly, in his second-reading speech that the Australian Government would never regard itself as being committed, contractually or morally, to military action against any other member of the British Commonwealth. In other words, he has informed other members of the British Commonwealth that Australia is not prepared to intervene should there be conflict between, say, India and Pakistan. The United States is not a member of the British Commonwealth and therefore could not, as a member of that family, make these things known to other members of the Commonwealth. Yet, surely America is as much entitled as we are to wish not to be pulled into any conflict that might unfortunately develop between India and Pakistan. That might well be one reason for America’s reservation in this treaty. But there is no need to confine our consideration to that possible risk. America is committed already in this region to go to the assistance of Australia or New Zealand should either of those countries be the victim of aggression from any quarter at all. There is no reservation in the American commitment to help us and New Zealand. America is also committed under its treaty with the Philippines to help that country should it be the victim of aggression from any quarter whatever. It appears, therefore, that America is merely safeguarding itself in this area against automatically being pulled into a conflict which might develop between, say, Indonesia and Ceylon over some matter other than communism. I said “ in this area “. It is significant and necessary to remember that the United States is committed in Europe more than is any other country in the world. America is committed to assist Japan, to assist Formosa and to assist in the Middle East. Its commitments range from one quarter of the globe to the other. Therefore, America will be chary of .taking on complete commitments to other countries or, if it did so, it might well be entitled to say, “ If you wish us to guarantee you against some border war unconnected with communism, we should expect you to join with us in the guarantees that we have given in other parts of the world “. When the matter is looked at fairly, surely the preamble shows that this treaty has been brought into being because of the threat of Communist agression. Recent history shows that threat to be real. There is no threat, present or even on the horizon, in our part of the world except the threat of Communist aggression, and, in this treaty, America has bound itself fully to act to counter any threat of Communist aggression.
What else has been said by responsible speakers on the Opposition side against this bill? We have been told that it is a pity that all the Asian countries are not signatories to the treaty. That regret has been expressed by speakers on both sides of the House. The treaty would, indeed, have had far more moral power if all the Asian countries were signatories to it. But nobody can force, or would wish to force any country to sign the treaty if it did not wish to do so. Indonesia, Ceylon, Burma and India have refused to sign. They have a perfect right to do so, although it is a pity that they refused. Let us remember that should any of those countries he attacked by Communist armed forces, there would be in existence under this agreement a force and a conglomeration of nations ready and prepared to go to the assistance of the country that was attacked. In those circumstances, if India or Burma were attacked, we would at once assist them.
– If they were attacked by Pakistan?
– I arn speaking of Communist aggression. I thought that I made that clear. Should India be attacked over the long border it holds with Communist China because of Communist China’s annexation of Tibet, and which India now guards far more carefully than it did before Communist China became a threat, the forces of those countries that are in the agreement would assist India. We would be in exactly the same position as if India were a signatory to the treaty. That applies to Burma also. It is a pity that those other Asian countries have not entered into the agreement. It would be ideal if they were signatories, but I do not believe that anybody would say, “ If we cannot have the ideal, we shall have nothing at all”. It is. far better to have an agreement of this kind, if it contributes greatly to Australia’s safety, than to have no agreement at all simply because all Asian countries have not signed the treaty.
I have heard it said in some quarters that the agreement should not have been signed, because India might object to it as the pronouncements of Mr. Nehru have indicated that he objects to it. That line of argument is unrealistic. We in 11St support our judgment on the danger in this part of the world- and on the best ways to act to meet that danger despite the wishes of the Indians and their leader, Mr. Nehru. It is a strange thing that those people who are loudest in their condemnation of pressure by the United States on Australia, that is actually non-existent, are loudest in their demands that no steps should be taken by this country unless they meet with the complete approval of Mr. Nehru. They urge that we should take no step of which Mr. Nehru disapproves. If nations are members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, it is open to them all to say, “ We are one of a family with you, but on this question we have reached a different conclusion from yours and, being responsible for our own safety, we will act according to the conclusions that we have reached “.
There are economic clauses and military commitments in the treaty, hut they are not specific, nor can they be specific. The significance of the clauses dealing with economic and military matters is that they set out the intentions of the contracting countries to . take economic and military measures that must be worked out by experts in each field according to the intention of the articles in the treaty.
I believe that those are all the objections that have been raised by responsible speakers on behalf of the Opposition. The lack of substance in those objections is the clearest indication that the treaty comes very close to meeting the desires of all sections represented in this Parliament. It might be asked why we should enter into such a military and economic agreement. Some might ask what is the use of the treaty in this atomic age when the equivalent’ of 40,000,000 tons of T.N.T. can be dropped by one guided missile on one centre of population. The answer is quite clear. Prom the Communist countries, constant forays will proceed around the perimeter against countries that are held by free peoples and are not under Communist domination. There will be constant probing attacks in an endeavour to find some weakness in the defence of those countries. They may be probing attacks of considerable significance, such as those that occurred in Korea. They may be only small forays. But they will go on unless and until there is sufficient force of the same kind to counter them and make them not worth the cost. While they can go on, and while a force is not there ready, the danger of an atomic war is increased. If the dividends that the Communists hope to receive from free countries by using that type of military action are not forthcoming, the incursions are unlikely to be continued. If they are unlikely to take place, we are less likely to get to the stage of atomic warfare, and more likely to reach a peaceful co-existence which, in my opinion, merely means an absence of war, and not an absence of vigilance.
I trust, as an honorable senator on the Opposition side has said, that this treaty may turn out to be the forerunner of a charter of liberty in this area of South-East Asia and, perhaps, be an example for the rest of the world. I trust that those Asian countries that have not yet entered into the treaty may, as time passes, see the economic and protective benefits of such .a treaty as this, and join it. If we find it to be a charter of liberty, it is still true that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance and strength. We must maintain that watchfulness and strength to keep our liberty and this charter, just as we must build it up now. Because this treaty is designed and will help greatly to build our strength, I commend the Government for it. I support the measure, and I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition has agreed to the treaty in principle on behalf of the Opposition.
.- The details of the bill have been examined very closely, and my intention is not to follow that line but rather to make a general examination of the problems that stem from the measure, and how they will affect Australia. We must forgive ourselves for our selfishness in these matters because, after all, if we can look after ourselves, that is an important part of looking after the other fellow. Senator Gorton agreed that we should have lilted to have had all the Asian countries in this treaty organization. It is not impossible that we shall have more Asian countries enter into it as time goes by. Senator Gorton made a point with which I completely agree when he said that it was much better to have this treaty than no treaty at all. As a result of the comments by the leader of the great Indian nation, Mr. Nehru, there has been some suggestion that it would be better not to have the treaty. That is a negative approach. Although we have only eight nations as signatories to this treaty, we hope that as time goes on, that number will grow. After all, the eight nations that are signatories to the treaty include the most important in the world. T.bey include the United Kingdom, the United States of America, New Zealand, Pakistan, a tremendously virile and strong nation in its potential with a population of 80,000,000, Prance, Thailand, the Philippines, and Australia. Even though some nations are outside the treaty, the nations that are in it are formidable, and represent a combined strength that has not been gathered together before in this Asian part of the world.
I try to keep my approach to international problems as simple as possible. My desire has always been to make as many friends as I can in case of need. If a man or a nation shows any evidence of friendship towards me, I go more than half-way to meet him, and to try to make a friend for the moment, and, perhaps, for ever. The cause of this treaty is that, in the community of nations, there are some who not only do not want to be friendly with me and my country, but want to be aggressively hostile. Therefore, men of common thought and common ideals find themselves joining together, not in an offensive organization, but in a defensive organization so that if any of them, or all of them, are attacked, they will stand together as friends. No country in the world has more cause for alarm than has Australia. I speak not of this year or next year, but of the future. One glance at the map reveals our isolation from people of our own kind. We are a European outpost, as it were, in a part of the world that could be considered Asian. The great Communist colossus that bestrides Russia and China thinks little of absorbing a few millions more people. Australia faces an entirely different situation from that which is faced twenty years ago. If I had been told twenty years ago that there was a threat of Asian aggression against Australia I would have laughed.
– There has always been a threat from Japan.
– Even that has only developed in the last twenty years. The growth of Japan, was so astonishingly rapid that we did not believe how great it was until the Japanese finally moved south. Japan proved beyond doubt how vulnerable Australia was. But the situation has deteriorated incredibly even during the last ten years.
Before the last war this country was ringed by nations who were friendly to us, and who had strong concentrations of armies and navies. India, Malaya and Burma were occupied by British forces. Indo-China had French forces. The Philippines had American forces. Indonesia was occupied by Dutch forces. The navies of those countries patrolled this part of the world. Now, friendly armies are stationed in those countries no more. The only part of South-East Asia that is occupied- by a European force is Malaya. There the British are waging a strenuous, unremitting fight to sustain their position. The situation in Asia itself has changed materially. In earlier days, any movement in Asian countries of a warlike nature was nationalist in character. Those movements burst forth, they fought, and they either won or were dissipated. Into the vacuum that was left by those movements has come a well-organized Communist force. The pressure that those forces apply does not weaken. In Malaya, the forces that are struggling unremittingly against the Government are 90 per cent. ‘Chinese. Those forces do not represent a national movement. In Malaya the majority of people are Malays but a very small percentage of the guerrillas in that area are Malays. In Singapore, SO per cent, of the population is Chinese. Somewhere in the background, the strength of red China and Communist Russia is sustaining these movements and keeping the governments of the countries in which they operate busy- at tremendous expense. It was demonstrated in Greece how a countrycould be brought to its knees by means of sporadic raids across its borders from a neighbouring country. A country which is not strong can be forced to spend too much money on its armed forces. Those tactics can bring about internal collapse as they did in Korea. The Chinese were able to cross the border into Korea but the areas from which they came were not attacked.
I think that every honorable senator agrees that the peoples of Asia are entitled to govern themselves. I think that we aTe prepared to help those countries that have achieved self-government. National striving cannot be avoided. It has been an inevitable development that we have applauded. Unfortunately, it has left behind it, in most cases with complete justification, a bitter dislike of the European overlords who ruled these people formerly. That is a condition that time will heal. This great country faces a situation which is completely different from that which it faced fifteen years ago. The support that we had in nearby countries has disappeared. Asian nations have become immeasurably stronger. There were no heavy industries in Asia until Japan moved into Manchuria. Now, because of the support that Russia has given to red China, arms are flooding into that country, and heavy secondary industries are being built there. The government of red China has given the construction of roads and railways first priority. An essential of defence is efficient methods of moving men, arms and equipment. That was one of the first matters to which Hitler gave attention when he came to power in Germany and it is one of the first matters to which the Chinese Government has attended. Such development will make that part of the world tremendously strong.
Australia will not be able to develop its strength correspondingly if it only progresses at its present rate during the next twenty years. The Viet Minh rebels did not use old type arms and ammunition. They had the most modern weapons of war and used them effectively because they were well trained. “We do not face a half-hearted revolution among men armed with spears and pikes and wooden clubs. The forces to which I have referred use the most modern equipment. Australia must be regarded by them as a great prize. In fact, this tremendous area, which holds only 9,000,000 people, must be an affront to the people of Asia. They must consider, in the words of an old song, that this part of the world belongs to them. If they could conquer this part of the world, with its great wool production and secondary industries, in a very short time the European populace of this land would disappear. Such events have happened in many parts of the world and they could happen here.
I believe that we must seek the assistance of other nations. Chief amongst our friends is the United States. It has strength to which this country finally might have recourse in order to save its life. I want Australia to be a partner of the United States in this part of the world. We are already associated under the Anzus treaty and this bill will bring the United States and Australia into an alliance under a treaty that has been signed by many other nations although its hackbone is the United States. The United States knows that Australia can coexist with other nations only as long as those nations are content to leave us alone. The Viet Minh army has achieved its victory. Why will it be twice as big by the end of the year? Although it has conquered the territory that it set out to conquer, it’ intends to double its strength in the course of a few months. Have the Viet Minh really pulled their forces out of Laos and Cambodia? It cannot be established that they have. They are not sitting down, satisfied with victory. This is only a respite. Soon they will move again.
Senator Gorton has told us how the antigovernment movement in Thailand is controlled and fostered from within the borders of China. Red China is basing its policy on that of Communist Russia. Senator Byrne mentioned the parallel movements in the two countries. The leaders of red China have publicly stated that they are preparing their plans in the light of the history of Communist Russia. What did Communist Russia do after the conclusion of the last war? It set up what it called a series of buffer nations. It said that it could not trust the Western powers to leave it alone. It set up East Germany and Roumania as buffer States. It brought millions of Europeans into absolute subjection behind the iron curtain, and red China will try to take similar action. That was the objective of China in Korea and Indo-China. It will not be satisfied until it controls the mainland of Asia with the exception of India. The smaller nations along the Pacific coast of Asia will be. brought under Chinese control so as to act as buffer States.
I think that the extent of Australia’s imperialist aggression was expressed in the speeches that were delivered in this Senate concerning the Cocos Islands. As Senator Gorton said, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and the current movement of Communism makes it impossible to contemplate co-existence. We talk of co-existence because we should like to achieve it, but we are talking of people who do not believe in it. They believe in continuous Communist aggression, and they will continue to advance until they find that there is no further advantage to be gained by advancing. When the leader of the Labour -party in the United Kingdom returned from Australia to his own country he suggested that Formosa should be given back to the Chinese. Perhaps his recommendation was made in accordance with the pattern that was laid down at Munich by a certain United Kingdom Foreign Minister who seemed to think that dictators should be appeased. Fascism is to communism as white paper is to white paper. Fascists and Communists have the same approach to their international and internal problems. We face a similar situation in Asia as we faced in Europe in 193D. Munich was the scene of appeasement then, and apparently the scene is to be set somewhere else in 1954. I feel disturbed when responsible men speak of throwing another 9,000,000 people into subjection behind the bamboo curtain, if it may be so called. I do not think that that would help any one. The Communists feed on their victories. The more victories they have, the stronger they become, and the more difficult it is to talk to them. I contend that our approach to this problem should be to say to the Communists, “ Thus far, and no farther As they are approaching closer and closer to our country, it is obvious that they could become a threat to us in the not-far-distant future.
Perhaps the one satisfactory feature of the South-East Asian position is that there is a nationalist government in Indonesia. The whole picture in Asia could change if the Communists took control of that country. We should then find ourselves confronted by a government which would do its best to embarrass us. Dr. Soekarno has fought the threat of communism in Indonesia during trie years because he is a patriot, but there is always a kind of vacuum when a governing power withdraws from a country and the natives are not sufficiently developed to govern themselves. Indonesia extends for more than 2S000 miles, and has a population of about 80,000,000, which is spread over hundreds of islands. The problem of the Indonesian Government in controlling such an area is a very difficult one indeed. The country has insufficient trained man-power to do it. Naturally, there are always individuals who do not see eye to eye with a new government, and who think that a change of government would provide them with an opportunity to take over control of the country. That has been the case in Indonesia, but the government of the country seems to have brought the rebels under control. Nevertheless, it must watch the growth of communism. So far, the danger of communism has been recognized and has been handled as well as could be expected. However, should there be a general election in Indonesia in the next year or so, and a Communist government assumed office, the whole position would alter overnight. That is why we should make sure that we have as many firm friends as we can possibly make.
I rose, not to discuss the details of the bill, but rather to have a general talk about the problems, as I see them, in our part of the world, and to say that this treaty represents an important step forward in providing security for the people of the countries which are signatories to it. We all want to live in peace. I believe that is the wish of all the peoples who have entered into this treaty. They are fearful that circumstances which have been developing may overwhelm them. The people of Thailand, the Philippines, and other SouthEast Asian countries, now appreciate that unity and friendship with one another will show that that part of the world has realized the common danger and that the tide of aggression is not stopping. They also appreciate that there is no point at which the tide will stop until it has encircled the globe and communism has dominated the world. It seems incredibly naive to say that certain people wish to conquer the world. We did not believe that that was so before World War II., but this plan of the Communists is so enveloping that if two great nations of the world, the United Kingdom and the United States were not able to sustain themselves against communism, there would be no question that communism would move throughout the world. Treaties, which bring us together such as this one does, should be applauded. The members of the Opposition approve the treaty and hope that it will form the basis of an organization in the Pacific that will bring peace to this part of the world.
– My first thought on rising to support the ratification of this treaty is one of extreme satisfaction that this international hurdle has been so safely and satisfactorily negotiated. The thanks of this Senate and of Australia are due to the Government, and particularly to the Minister for External Affairs. It indicates that, at long last, much has been done, not only at Manila, but also during many months and, perhaps, years prior to the date of signing the instrument. To my mind, this treaty is a combination of a great deal of work on the part of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for External Affairs. It indicates that, at long last, these eight nations, some of them great and some of them not quite so great, have become unanimous in regard to the policy to be adopted on this important question. My second thought is to congratulate Senator Armstrong on his very thoughtful contribution to the debate. I find it extremely gratifying that members of the Opposition should now see eye to eye with the Government on matters of major political import. I think that it is a good augury for the future government of this country when the two great political parties are prepared to discuss these matters objectively.
The treaty that we are discussing, and which has been signed, opens up many interesting political and other questions relating to security. I have no time to discuss all of those questions, but I wish to make certain observations about political and security matters which I think are important. This treaty is a normal security pact by eight nations, but I think a significant feature of it is that, for the first time, Australia is forming a pact with its neighbours in the Ear East.- The three Asian nations of Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines at long last see eye to eye with Australia and the other white democracies. This, I think, marks a most significant and signal move in diplomacy. “We, in Australia, welcome these young partners in this common attempt to combat the menace of communism in Asia.
So far as the treaty provisions themselves are concerned, the document follows the pattern of Anzus, the United Nations Charter, and other treaties that are aimed against aggression, but this treaty makes- an important new approach to the question of security,” upon which I wish to make some observations. The treaty is more than a pact to resist armed aggression. It is also a pact to combat what I might call the subversive elements of international communism. In this respect, it is quite unique. To my mind, it is the first treaty of the kind which has attempted to get at the very roots of the problem of international communism. The world is well acquainted, of course, with the underhand1 strategy of Russia. We all know the pattern. A country, which is earmarked by the Communists for conquest, gradually but systematically becomes beset with political and industrial disruption. There are strikes and lockouts, political intrigues, the splitting of political parties, the weakening of government, conspiracies, corruption, bribery, and, of course, assassinations, capped eventually by a coup d’etat. Then, of course, there is the usual and inevitable free election, at which 99 per cent, of the people vote for the Communist candidates, and so another country goes behind the iron curtain. That pattern is well known. It is the pattern of the Communist conspiracy with which the document which we are now about to ratify attempts to deal. I refer particularly to Article TV., paragraph 2 of which reads as follows : -
If, in the opinion of any of the Parties, the inviolability or the integrity of the territory or the sovereignty or political independence of any Party in the treaty area or of any other State or territory to which the provisions of paragraph I of this Article from time to time apply is threatened in any way other than by armed attack: or is affected or threatened by any fact or situation which might endanger the peace of the area,, the Parties shall consult immediately in order to agree on the measures which should be taken for the common defence.
I have said that that attempt of the treaty to combat what I have called internal subversion by international communism has always been regarded, heretofore, as the prerogative of the government concerned; but now, we have eight nations, for the first time, agreeing to intervene and interfere in a country in which that situation arises. It is, I think, the only method of democracy to combat the espionage of Russia. Of course, it can only be brought about with the consent of the nations concerned. That is consistent with democratic principles. It is interesting to speculate on this provision, because I can foresee great difficulties in regard to it. For example, let us consider the position of South Viet Nam, which has been designated, I understand, under the provisions of this particular article. That remnant of Viet Nam, as is well known, has at present an antiCommunist government, but the political situation there is extremely grave. At any moment, there may be a coup d’etat, and. we may find a Communist government superimposed on the wishes of the people. At any moment, the Communists may be in possession of South Viet Nam. I think that that is fairly common knowledge. In those circumstances, one might well ask: What is the great virtue of paragraph 2 of Article IV..? I think that there, will be grave difficulties in implementing that provision.
Let us apply the effect of that provision to a set of hypothetical circumstances in, say, the Philippines, Thailand, or even Australia. Again, I think that considerable difficulties might ensue. No government, whether it be the Australian Government, the Government of Thailand, or any other government, likes to admit that it is unable to cope with an internal situation. I do not think that any government is prepared to make such an admission, because to do so is to confess its inability to govern. Applying the principle embodied in this part of the: treaty, surely the position will always be that no government will call for outside help, in relation to subversive activities, until the. position within the country, has deteriorated to the stage where, as1 is probably the case with. South. Viet Nam,, outside help will be of little avail. Therefore-, the implementation of this part of the- treaty is fraught with considerable danger and difficulty. Perhaps the difficulty could be overcome if the parties,, after consultation, were prepared tet actually move in. and take control of the administration of law and order, if necessary by the use of armed force. I do’ not know whether the parties to the treaty envisage- action along those lines, t expect, some of those- efforts would fail, but there is no alternative but for us to try along the lines that the treaty prescribes.
There is one other political question with which I desire to deal. From time to* time during the existence of this treaty, no doubt the question of the admission of red China to the United Nations organization, and its de jure recognition will crop up. It has been advocated in this chamber that red China should be admitted to the United Nations, and that its Government should be officially recognized by Australia. Let us examine some of the arguments that have been adduced in. support of those contentions. It has Been stated frequently that recognition should be given to red China because the Communist Government is in effective control of that country. Although General Franco is in effective control of Spain, Mr. Attlee strongly opposes his recognition by the British Government. How, then, could the recognition of red China on that ground be sustained? During World War II. the Quisling government was in effective control of Norway, but that did not justify Norway’s admission to the United Nations. Effective control is not, of itself, sufficient justification for admission. It has also been argued that Communist China is too powerful not to be recognized. That is an extraordinary argument. Those who advance that contention in relation to a country having a population of more than 400,000,000 people have not a proper appreciation of the natural and- probable consequences’ that would flow from, admission on that ground. They say, in effect, * We do not want to strengthen red China, but’ to weaken it “. In other words’, they advocate the strengthening of red! China, with the object, ultimately, of weakening that country. That is a ridiculous proposition. A third argument that has been, advanced for the admission of red China to the United Nations - one that is trotted out repeatedly - is that both the United: States and Australia have refused to recognize red China because it is a Communist country. There is no merit in that argument, because Australia has already recognized several Communist governments, including Tito’s Government in Yugoslavia, and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The ridiculous claim has also been made by those who advocate the admission of red China to the United Nations that war would- not have occurred in Indo-China and Korea if red China had been given a seat in that organization. That argument ignores the- purpose of communism, and assumes that all that China fought for in Indo-China and Korea- was a seat in that organization. That is a preposterous contention. Can anybody refute that red China desires to conquer the whole of Asia ?’
– It cannot be denied that red China want3 to kick out of Asia every interest other than Communist interests. The suggested recognition of red- China- entails a consideration of international law. Red China has not demonstrated a desire to act as a lawabiding nation, and live in peaceful relations with other South-East Asian countries. That is an essential and very important prerequisite. By its own actions, red China, has debarred itself from recognition. The- onus is on that country to show, by its. actions in the future1,, that it is entitled, to recognition.
The most important feature of the treaty, from our point of view, relates to’ the defence of Australia. As has been stated by -previous speakers, we stand committed to take- up arms to combat aggression in South-East Asia. That obligation involves considerations relating to the defence of our own country, such as strategy, the training of our forces, and so on. An outbreak of hostilities in the future would probably occur in South-East Asia. It is on that basis that we must plan our defence system. The Government has announced that, in the event of another major war occurring, the Air Force would perform the major role in the defence of this country. I congratulate it on that announcement. Emphasis must, therefore, be placed on the development of our Air Force. “We must ensure that our bases shall be so situated that long-range bombers can fly from them to the centre of Communist activities in Asia and return without landing. It is elementary, that the nearer our bases are to the enemy, the better off we shall be. We have an air base at Darwin, and we arc in the process of establishing another one at Manns Island. With the greatest of respect, I suggest that those locations are not, strategically, the best from the point of view of our bomber aircraft being able to fly over central Asia and return. One has only to study the map of this part of the world to realize that they are too far to the east. Their situation was determined by strategic considerations during World War II., when aggression came from the north. A future war would probably come, not from the north, but from the west, and the Indian Ocean would be a greater centre of service activity than the Pacific Ocean. We should consider very carefully the location of our air bases. I consider that the best places to establish them are in western New Guinea, which is at present owned by the Dutch. It may be worth the while of the Government to consider acquiring Dutch New Guinea, which is a vital area from the point of view of the defence of Australia. Although, at first sight, this is a fantastic proposition, I “ do not think that the Dutch are very happy about the situation that is developing there, and, after all, the United States bought Alaska for 7,000,000 dollars. The acquisition of Dutch New Guinea is desirable, also, for social and economic reasons with which I shall not deal at present. I consider that western New Guinea is strategically important to u3. We badly need a base there. We also want a base in the northwest of Western Australia, which is at present unprotected. Darwin is too far away. A base should be established at Potshot or Broome. The actual choice of a site must, of course, be left to the technicians. From the second-reading speech that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) delivered to-day on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Bequest and Consent) Bill I do not think that the acquisition of Dutch New Guinea would be impracticable.
I come now to considerations in relation to the Army. Quite frankly, I am not very happy about that part of our defence system. This treaty imposes on Australia an obligation to provide armed forces to resist any aggression that might occur in South-East Asia. Let us assume that it is necessary for us to train and equip three or four divisions. If war broke out to the north of Australia, it could take us months to provide a division of men in New Guinea, Borneo or the Philippines. Defence considerations go hand in hand with this treaty. If we accept the proposition that we are in danger, we must realize that we need a well-trained army fairly quickly. Our present method of recruitment to the Army is not satisfactory.
Silting suspended from 5.30 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I had almost concluded my remarks, but I had not quite made’ the point that I was endeavouring to make. I had expressed concern about the possibility that an Australian army of perhaps two, three or four divisions would be required to be mobilized at very short notice. I think it is reasonable to say that if war broke out to-morrow, it might be a few months, perhaps many months, before even one Australian division could be mobilized and sent overseas. The only conclusion to draw is that the voluntary enlistment policy of the Government should be reconsidered and revised. I suggest that, in any event, an army for overseas service would have to be conscripted, and for that purpose legislation would be necessary. ,So far as our military role in South-East Asia is concerned, eventually it will be necessary for us to resort to conscription for the purpose of raising a force to send overseas. The sooner that is brought about, the better it will be.
I shall conclude my remarks with one more general observation on the treaty.
For the first time in history, eight nations have entered into a pact for the security of the most vulnerable part of Asia from our point of view. I describe it as the Balkans of Asia. The treaty is a good one, but I stress the fact that what is important is not so much what has been written into the treaty, as the determination and co-operation of the parties in relation to what has not been written into it. The treaty, at its worst, is a mere scrap of paper, but at its best, it represents a combination of free nations which, [ am certain, will eventually prevent the onrush of communism towards this land of ours.
.- This treaty, which was signed by eight nations at Manila recently, represents a part of the effort being made by the peoples of South-East Asia to stem the march of communism. A regional pact such as this is in keeping with the principles and objectives of the United Nations, and for that reason I agree with the Government that it may do some good. I regard it as a duplication of the Anzus pact, although in one respect it goes beyond that pact. I refer to the fact that the United Kingdom is a party to’ this treaty. That is a. good feature of the treaty, because I believe it is right that the United Kingdom should be a party to all treaties to which Australia, New Zealand, and other members of the British Commonwealth subscribe.
But I believe that the treaty has some very serious shortcomings. It could be partly responsible for the beginning of the disintegration of the British Commonwealth, which includes the great land mass of India. Senator Vincent, during the course of his remarks explained why, in Iris view, certain parts of Asia that have come under Communist influence should be kept outside the field of our recognition. I should like to read, for the benefit of honorable senators in general, and for the benefit of Senator Vincent in particular, some opinions that have been expressed by a great statesman and a great democrat. I refer to Mr. Adlai Stevenson, the present leader of the great Democratic party of the United States of America. In that office, he is the successor, of such great statesmen as Mr.
Roosevelt and Mr. Truman. Mr. Adlai Stevenson recently made a tour of the Asian countries, and the opinions that he expressed after that tour could quite easily be given effect in the foreign policy of the United States. As honorable senators are aware, right-wing governments often have a short life in democratic countries, although their actions while in office can commit those countries for many years. Therefore, we should perhaps pause for a moment to ascertain the views of the new leader of the American Democratic party in regard to Asia. In a speech delivered in Chicago, Mr. Stevenson stated -
A trip like mine is a sobering experience. It is more than a privilege, it is a responsibility to be an American in this world. It isn’t one world; it is more like three worlds - the Allied world, the Communist world, and the uncommitted world.
The uncommitted world, generally speaking, is the part of the world that has been excluded from this treaty. For that reason, I believe the statesmen or the diplomats responsible for the treaty, by restricting its scope, have failed to bring into being a real South-East Asia defence treaty.
– “What part of the world is the honorable senator referring to?
– I am referring to the exclusion of countries such, as India.
– India was not excluded. It did not come in.
– I am referring also to Ceylon and Indonesia. They are all powerful countries. I am certain that, with proper diplomacy, they could have been persuaded to come into the treaty. Mr. Adlai Stevenson said also -
Almost a billion people live along the route that I took. Most of them live in Asia, and most of the so-called uncommitted people live in Asia. They don’t belong to the white minority of the human race, and tragically many of them are poor, undernourished and illiterate. Asia is in revolution. Civilizations are very old, but political independence is very young. In the new states the economies are shaky, public administration is weak; they are hungry and poor and sensitive and proud. Nationalism is rampant. And the West, identified with the hated colonialism, is suspect.
Those words were spoken by a man who has given a great impetus to modern political thought in the United States. Although America is led at present by another very distinguished man, it is quite likely that, in the very near future, Mr. Adlai Stevenson will exert considerable influence on other treaties of this kind. I believe it was incumbent on the people who were responsible for the Manila treaty to pay more regard than they did to the opinions expressed by Mr. Adlai Stevenson in the speech he made on his return from a trip
*u Asia. He went on to say -
The Asians, -utterly preoccupied with their own overwhelming problems, see little of the world conflict and don’t appreciate America’s global responsibilities. They know from experience a lot about feudalism, landlords, money lenders and oppressors, and about the theories of Karl Marx, and they sound pretty good to many of them who know surprisingly little about the ugly realities of communism in practice. . . . There is little tradition of democracy in the new States but independence, won at long last, is u passion, which partly accounts in some quarters for their opaque view of Communist China, where to many Asians it appears that the foreigners have ‘been thrown out and the ignominy of centuries erased by Asians.
Dealing with the ideological conflict., Mr. Adlai Stevenson said -
The ideological conflict of the world doesn’t mean much to the masses. Anti-Communist preaching wins few hearts. They want to know what we are for, not just what we are against. And in nations like India, Indonesia and Burma, they don’t accept the thesis that everybody has to choose sides, that they have to be for us or against us. Nor do I believe that we should press alliances upon unwilling allies. After all, we had a long record of neutrality and non-involvement ourselves, and the important thing is that such nations keep their independence and don’t join the hostile coalition.
The area covered .by this treaty extends through Pakistan to the borders of Persia and, in the other direction, right across the Pacific. Yet we have bypassed Indonesia, one of our nearest neighbours. Oppression through the years -caused the Indonesians to revolt. Now., despite the influence of Communism,, which they h-ave overcome, they are in the -process of trying to work out their own destiny. We nave entered into a pact with countries much further away from our shores than Indonesia, yet we have by-passed that country. In my opinion, that is very shortsighted statesmanship.
Similar considerations apply to India and Burma. Geographically, Australia is a part of Asia. We live in a community of Asian nations. Therefore, we should do everything in our power to make friends with our near neighbours. India is a potential powerful friend. At present it is what Mr. Adlai Stevenson described .as an uncommitted ar.ea. Its leader was educated in British schools, and has repeatedly shown his knowledge and understanding of democracy. He is busily engaged in trying to introduce democratic processes in the vast land that he leads. That is a feature of the treaty which I believe indicates a shortsighted attitude on the part of .the diplomats who framed it. I was going to say “ statesman “, but I am afraid that term would be an exaggeration if it were used to describe the men responsible for the treaty. We should be very careful about ratifying this treaty because of its implications, and because our near neighbours are not parties to it. If Australia is the first nation to ratify the treaty, and others fail to ratify it, we may be regarded as having taken the initiative in a move “to gang up against other Asian countries. We should be very wary of doing that. We must bear in mind also that some countries signed ‘the treaty with reservation. Certain provisions of the treaty may he open to various interpretations. Some of the words used in it are abstractions. Words can be interpreted differently by different people. The words of the treaty may be interpreted by some people to suit themselves. The whole treaty may mean one thing to Australia, but it may mean something else to other people who look at it through different coloured spectacles - and not necessarily red ones. Every effort should he made to ensure that, by ratifying this treaty, we shall not be making any bad friends. Undoubtedly the treaty has some good qualities, but it has inherent in it the possibility of breaking friendships.
An important consideration, of course, is the possible use of Australian troops. As I have already pointed out, some revolutions that are taking place in Asia have a history extending back for more than 100 years-. The people of those countries have lived in poverty and squalor through centuries of colonialism. I may be accused of following the Communist party line when. I use the word “ colonialism “, but every Australian knows that the history of some Asian countries reeks of oppression and exploitation. . Although the missionaries who went among the primitive- Asian peoples did magnificent work, and suffered great hardships in their chosen task of teaching the Christian way of life, in. their wake went the merchants who could speak only the language of profits. They left n legacy in Asia which is having a profound influence on present-day events. We must acknowledge the fact that even although communism has gained strength i.u many Asian countries, there is agenuine desire on the part of some peoples for independence. The preamble to the treaty follows very closely that of the United Nations Charter. In. it, the signatory nations undertake to strengthen their free institutions, to co-operate with one another, and to promote the economic well-being and development of all peoples in the treaty area. But there is nothing in the treaty to show how those ends are to be achieved, and. if I am any judge of past form,, we cannot expect anything very great to bc achieved. It is true that, under the Colombo plan,, we are making what” we consider to be a generous contribution to the assistance of Asian peoples, nevertheless, when one considers the magnitude of the problem that exists: in Asia, one realizes just how little is being done under that plan. We: shall never convince: the. people of Asia that we genuinely desire- to improve their living standards whilst they hold the view- that ai man with a white skin represents the exploiter., Unless we are able to show ourselves as people of goodwill, who- are prepared to teach the Asian peoples how to. develop their own natural resources, we- cannot expect the countries of Asia to- join with us in the fight against: com:munism. When we are able, to convince important. Asian countries, such, as India, Burma and Indonesia,, that, we ‘ are genuinely interested, in the welfare of their peoples, and are seeking- to improve their.’ living standards, we ‘ shall really be making some progress..
I agree with honorable senators on both, sides of the chamber that we have a. tremendous responsibility to check the forces of communism. The- Godlessness of communism is a threat to the- Christian) world. But we who profess to be Christians, must be prepared to follow out. the principles of. Christianity. Manyof the concessions made in the past by people- with easy consciences, are rebounding upon us.. We have sown the wind in South-East Asia, and we are reaping the whirlwind to-day.
– Is that all that the honorable senator can say for British influence in this part of the world ?
-I am afraid that the story of our influence on some Asian peoples is not a. very happy one. It is incumbent upon us to stem the- tide that is flowing against us; to prove our goodwill, and -to prove that the basic principles of Christianity can bc put into practice, and are not merely theories to be used as they have been used in. the past in some- Asian countries. I hope that the treaty will do something, even; if it is: only in a small way, to show that we are capable of altering our traditional attitude- towards Asian peoples and that we realize that the revolutions in some Apian countries are genuinely aimed’, towards improving living standards. We must also show that, whilst we are pre pared to defend the principles that we believe to. be right, peace is our main objective and that we are. prepared to strive, even to the eleventh hour,, to. attain that objective.. The Asian, people must be convinced of our goodwill.. We must shaw them- that, what we have for them is not the hydrogen, bomb, but the hand of friendship
– Voltaire said that if there were no God. we would have to. invent one. I say that, if there- were no Communists we would have to. invent them, otherwise. Government supporters would have no-thing to talk about. One thing- 1, will say about the Opposition is: that, if the Government has anything: sensible to. say, we will listen to i% and if necessary adopt it.. Honorable senators opposite, are not prepared to extend, to- us the same, courtesy. Senator McCallum, told us of the mistake that President Wilson of the United States of America made in failing to take into consideration the views of the opposition when he went to the Versailles conference after World War I. I hope that this Government will give due consideration to the position of this Opposition in the next week. There are people who say that any one who does not agree with the right wing line is a Communist. If a Communist says, “ It is a quarter to three “, I am supposed to say, “No. It is a quarterpast nine “. I will not do that. I am sick and tired of Labour people being stampeded by the red bogy, and having to give way again and again. We have given away far too much now.
– Be careful.
– It is, of course, very difficult for any Scotsman to give anything away. I am opposed to this treaty in certain ways, but not because I am a Communist or pro-Communist. I am implacably anti-Communist. I have never bowed to them. They have no time for me; and I have no time for them. Unfortunately, Senator Gorton is not in the chamber at present. He never seems to be here when I am, but apparently he is always here when I am not. I am astonished at his lack of knowledge. For instance, earlier this year, after our poseur Prime Minister, who is probably the vainest politician since Mussolini,, said that Australia would supply troops in the Far East, Senator Gorton attempted to clear the way for his boss by creating the impression that Australians were then committed to serve in the East. Every time there is a foreign affairs debate, we on this side of the chamber are criticized, and Senator Gorton usually goes out of his way to tell us that if we do this, do that, and follow the Government, we shall stop Communist aggression. But what happens? Every time we reassemble, we find that the Communists have become stronger in the East and that we have become weaker. Why is that? Can Senator Gorton or some other honorable senator opposite tell me the reason? Will anybody deny that we are weaker? Will anybody suggest that a white line-up will induce the Chinese to come round to our side? Does anybody suggest that intelligent Asians will heed the nonsenical statement that the treaty is designed to achieve peace? What Asian countries are on our side? First, there is the Philippines. Perhaps we would be better off if it was not on our side.
– The Minister for External Affairs does not think so.
– The Minister for External Affairs does not think at all. He just puts his name to anything that Mr. Foster Dulles submits to him.
– The honorable senator has misunderstood me.
– Whether I misunderstood the honorable senator or not makes no difference because he never says anything worthwhile anyway. I do not object to interjections, and I cannot help it if fools rush in where angels fear to tread. However, I shall not digress further. If we are to get tilings in their proper perspective, we must endeavour to see the other fellow’s point of view. Let us assume that we are intelligent Asians, and that we are told that this great white man, this wonderful fellow who is superior to anybody else, is going to help us. We know that the white man is superior to anybody else because Hitler said so in 1939. He said that at the opening of the Olympic Games in Berlin, and then the American negro Jesse Owens walked away with three events, and Hitler walked out.
Let us assume that we put forward our proposal with intelligence and say to the Asians, “ Here is a treaty. It is not against you.” What will be the reaction? Let us examine the Philippines. A handful of people there own all the land. The country is riddled with ignorance. There is little education and virtually no provision for social services. Then consider Thailand. Most of the people in Australia have never heard of it. They want to know whether it won the Metropolitan or the Melbourne Cup. Then there is Pakistan. One-half of it is on one side of the Indian peninsular and the rest of it is on the other side. A large part of it is desert. Much of it is not worth talking about.
Who are the Asians on the other side for the purposes of this treaty? First, there are the Chinese, who number at least 550,000,000. Of course, China does not exist for this Government. Why? Because Mr. John Foster Dulles has said so and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has said, “Amen”. They are supported in that view by Senator Gorton who hangs on to their coat tails. Then there is India with Mr. Pandit Nehru at its head. Mr. Chifley once told rae that, in his opinion, Mr. Nehru was the wisest politician in the world. He has a great knowledge of Asia, and is the great bridge that we should use to link us with the Asians. Mr. Nehru is not a Communist or a right-wing reactionary. He leads 300,000,000 people, and he is fighting for his existence against the Communists. In those two nations there are 550,000,000 and 300,000,000 people. Honorable senators on the Opposition side can add those figures together. The total is 850,000,000.
In addition, Burma and Ceylon are outside the treaty. Yet we claim that this is a great Pacific pact. How wonderful ! It is just a lot of nonsense. We cannot expect to fool a group of people like those I have described. What do they think? They believe that the treaty is designed to encircle China. The first thing to be done, before we can do anything worthwhile in Asia, is to recognize China. All history is against what the supporters of the Government are trying to do. Senator Vincent said that we had recognized the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Do supporters of the Government know why we did that? We did it because we had to. We used the same tactics once in Russia that we are using against China. In 1917, Russia was developed industrially only sufficiently to have what we call a democratic revolution. I mean a democratic revolution in the social democratic sense of the term. The Bolsheviks were trying to impose a dictatorship. Conditions were very bad in Russia. The people were starving. Like Mr. John Foster Dulles and Mr. Casey, the British said, “We will invade Russia “. What happened ? The great Lenin and the great Trotsky organized the people who were in a state of starvation, without boots and almost without weapons. The British under Churchill and Lloyd George decided to act. Then Lenin spoke. I hesitate to use the word “ comrades “ because, although it is a most beautiful word, it has been prostituted by the Communists and has lost all meaning, like many other good words. Lenin said, “ Comrades, this is no longer the cause of the Bolsheviks. It is the cause of our fatherland, which is being invaded “. The Russians rallied to Trotsky. Nobody can call me a Communist, but if there had not been an invasion, I doubt whether communism would have triumphed in Russia.
I invite honorable senators to consider the treaty that is under discussion. What is likely to happen? We shall invade Asia. There is no doubt about that, because troops are to be provided. They acted differently in Britain. If it were not for the British Labour Government, we would not have India on our side. The Australian Labour party has not yet discussed recognition of China, and an opinion has not been expressed by it, but the Conservatives in Great Britain, let alone the Labour party there, have accepted red China. What happened at the time of the American revolution ? We say that we do not want Communists. The British at that time said, “ We don’t want the rebels in America “. They sent over the red-coated soldiers of that period., and reinforced them with German Hessians similar to the troops that we shall use now, if necessary, against China. If honorable senators read Tom Payne’s pamphlet The Crisis they will learn from it how atrocities took place as soon as the British invaded the American colony in force. There was an almost unanimous uprising among the Americans and the British were defeated. That is history, and the pattern recurs again and again.
How can anybody suggest confidently, in the face of history, that this treaty will fail to consolidate the Chinese? What would honorable senators say if they were Chinese? Senator Pearson was abroad with me recently, and I am sorry to notice that his experiences have not improved him. He said, by way of interjection when Senator O’Byrne was speaking, “ Tell us -what the British have .done f or the Asians ? “ I shall tell honorable senators what they have done. There was a British Prime Minister named Lord Palmerston. At that time the ‘British were determined to force opium -on the ‘Chinese.
– That is not true.
– I can very soon prove to the honorable senator that it is true. The ‘Chinese emperor was a Christian who had been converted by missionaries, just as some of the Africans aire now. The .Emperor of China said that they would not have opium, so Lord Palmerston ordered .a bombardment of the Chinese ports. They forced the Chinese to accept opium that was grown in India. Now nearly .all the Allies under the proposed treaty .are cobbers of the Japanese. An honorable senator on the Government side said, “ The free world with which we are lined up “.
– Hear, hear !
– It is a wonderful free “world. One representative of this free world is Syngman Rhee. What a wonderful ally lie is! Another great ally is Chiang Kai-shek, the greatest graft artist of the century, who sold the Allies down the river during World War II. He and his brothers and sisters and ‘brother-in-law were worth £350,000,000. I received a dodger to-day headed, “ Nationalist Government of ‘China “. It -was about Chiang Kai-shek. That is another example of the prostitution of a word. We hear of the “ National “Bank” and “National Airways’”. None of them is national in the true sense ‘of the word. The only nation’al thing that belongs to the people is the national debt.
I do not -want to prolong this debate, because many honorable senators and visitors are waiting for the next important measure to. be .introduced, but I emphasize that the first thing we have to do is to get worth-while people on our side. Instead of backing progressive for.ces, we have backed people like Syngman Rhee. First, we must bring all worth-while people together, get all the allies we can, ;a.nd develop a giar.t Colombo plan. We talk about our w.r~ of .life. What is it:? The Asians do not agree with io,ur ways. Our way of life does not mean anything .to the Chinese. All they want to know is whether there is .any more rice in the howL They want to know whether the landlords will charge less rent, and whether some of the interest burden will be lifted from them. What is their (conception of the Western world.? Australians could do much to foster friendship with China. When J was there, I had the pleasure ‘of knowing some very fine businessmen. Some years ago, many leading Chinese firms founded branches in Australia, and then returned to China. Their sons and grandsons came here ;and continued in business. We had a great opportunity to foster trade. Instead, when the last war broke out- .
– Why does the honorable senator not tell us what the United States of America did?
– 1 do not disparage anything that America did. 1 do not agree with what the Americans are doing now, because they have not taken a trick in international diplomacy.
– Will the honorable senator vote for this bill ?
– I :shall make up my own mind. I do not do what the Prime Minister tells me to do. When I was interrupted, I was saying that when World War II. broke out, we did not reciprocate by assisting the Chinese. Honorable senators may have forgotten that the Chinese kept l,’000.,-000 Japanese soldiers occupied .in China for ten years. The Japanese would not have stopped at Darwin if the Chinese had not held out in their own .country. War is :a great field for atrocities, hut the Japanese committed more fiendish atrocities in China :and *am. World War II. than any :other nation has committed for hundreds of years. At the rape of Nanking, -they took ‘Chinese prisoners, tied them in bundles of 50., ‘poured petrol over them and burned them to death. They took live prisoners and .used them for bayonet practice. The Chinese defended us. Then the allies sent their bombers to China. What would hon or. a.ble senators think of this treaty if they had the same background as the Chinese have? We have to retrace our steps. If we continue as we are going, our position will be worse in the end. So far as I know the Chinese, they are a lovable people. They have not tortured our men. They have not done ns any harm, but the Japanese did. Some persons have the cheek to suggest that the Chinese should show us where they stand. I suggest in all sincerity that it is up to us to show them where we stand. These people have a terrible case against the Western Powers which, in the name of civilization and Christianity, have committed many atrocities.
In order to induce Asian nations to accept a treaty such as this, we must show our goodwill towards them. Up to date, we have not done that. The Chinese are most important as far as our foreign policy is concerned and the Indians are next in importance. Our first objective should be to get them “ on side “. But how can we expect the people of Asia to have any faith in us in view of our history? In reply to the honorable senator who interjected a little while ugo, I say that I shall vote for the bill but I shall do so without enthusiasm just as honorable senators opposite will vote for a certain piece of industrial legislation, although they will be shaking in their shoes. I agree with some remarks that have been passed by honorable senators opposite. I do not say that they are not sincere. Perhaps their minds are a little warped. At all events I am afraid that, instead of improving present conditions, this treaty will make them worse.
– in reply - It has been gratifying to listen to a number of speeches in which Opposition senators have supported this treaty. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and Senator Armstrong said that the treaty had the approval of the Opposition. Apparently, that is the official attitude of the Opposition. But the last two speeches that were made must create doubts as to whether that official view of the Opposition has the support of a number of members of the Labour party. One would have thought that the honor able senators who made the last two speeches would vote against the bill. At any rate, the Government and the Government parties know where they stand in connexion with this measure. We believe that this is a good treaty. We believe that it will provide some security for Australia at a time when it is in need of security. For that reason, apart from any other, we give our wholehearted support to the treaty which has been produced as .a result of the conference at Manila.
Whilst the Leader of the Opposition supported the treaty, he did indulge in some criticism of the language in which it has been drafted. That is a pastime which, as a lawyer, I think that lawyers find not unpleasing. He picked out a word or two and asked precisely what they meant. He asked what would happen in this event and in that. It is not difficult to do that, particularly in relation to a document which is the product of the desires and aspirations of eight nations, all of which have different traditions and outlooks. If the representatives of the countries that went to Manila had approached the construction of this treaty in the spirit in which the Leader of the Opposition attacked it, I venture to say that the treaty would never have been signed. In view of the diversity of interests represented by the countries which have joined in this undertaking, it is remarkable that such a large measure of agreement has been achieved. I suggest that it has only been achieved because those who approached this problem at Manila approached it from a broad point of view with a full recognition of the real nature of the danger which faced their countries. Expressed or unexpressed as it may have been by the parties which entered into this treaty, they all realized that the immediate danger to all of them was the menace of Communist expansion and aggression. Whether or not one country or another saw fit to express that opinion in the treaty itself, it is perfectly clear that it was the menace of that aggression which was the occasion for the treaty, and that without it there would not have been any treaty.
The Leader of the Opposition had some criticism to make of the recitals to the bill. They merely express in a few short sentences the events of recent history which indicate the nature of the menace with which we are faced,, and which led these countries to enter into an undertaking of this kind. I suggest that great credit is due to the statesmen who took part in the conference at Manila. Having some inside knowledge of what took place there, I think that Australia can be proud of the services that were rendered to it by its distinguished Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey).
Attention has been invited by the Leader of the Opposition to the fact that the United States of America attached to the treaty a note to the effect that the “ aggression by means of armed attack “ which is referred to in Article IV., paragraph 1, of the treaty was, in the view of the United States, Communist aggression. The other countries that entered into this treaty have not placed such a limitation u upon the words “ aggression by means of armed attack “. The obligations that we have undertaken in this treaty are precisely the same as those which the United Kingdom, France and New Zealand have undertaken. The .Leader of the Opposition was disposed to express some criticism of our representative at the conference because he did not press the United States to omit this note. Does he assume that this is not a subject that was discussed among all the representatives at the conference? Does he not think that exchanges must have taken place on this subject between the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia? Does he not think that after all these problems had been ironed out, the United States found it neccessary, for the very good reason that Senator McCallum expressed, to include in the treaty a statement of its understanding of “ aggression by means of armed attack “ while the other seven nations did not consider that to be necessary?
The hypothetical circumstances that have been mentioned by those honorable senators who have suggested that some limitation should be put on the word “ aggression “ were not the problem with which the delegates at the conference were concerned. It is easy enough to imagine hypothetical circumstances such as a conflict between Pakistan and India. The
United Kingdom had to face that problem just as Australia had to face it, and the position was made perfectly clear in the speech that the Minister for External Affairs made in another place and in the speech that I have already made in this chamber. Our understanding of that position was made clear to Pakistan. It was inconceivable that the members of the British Commonwealth, to which we all belong, would regard a dispute between members of the Commonwealth as coming within the concept of “aggression “ as mentioned in this treaty. It would be a great pity if, because of our concern over a purely theoretical problem, we were not prepared to enter into a treaty of this kind which must bring great benefit to all the parties that have joined in it. The Government derives some gratification from the fact that, at least, this treaty will pass through this Parliament without formal opposition and will become an historic document, which will provide security and protection not merely for ourselves., but for all the parties that have joined in it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
– Clause 3 of the bill is in the following terms : -
Tho ratification by Australia of the SouthEast Asia Collective Defence Treaty (being the Treaty set out in the Schedule to this Act) in approved.
I move -
That, after the word “ approved “, the following proviso be added: - “ Provided that such ratification shall not take place until the treaty has been ratified by, or firm assurances of intended ratification have been received from, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and New Zealand.”.
I addressed an argument, when the Senate was in another phase, on the need for this amendment. The Opposition feels that we should not be precipitate in entering into this agreement until we are assured, above all, that the United States of America, the United Kingdom and New Zealand will be signatories. It would be an intolerable position if the
United States or the United Kingdom stayed out, or if all three of those nations did so. “We of the Opposition support the treaty, as has been indicated already. What we propose now doe3 not purport to make the slightest difference to the terms of the treaty that are recorded in the schedule. We merely propose an amendment of a clause in a bill that has effect in Australia alone. I understand that the amendment is in line with what the Government itself intends. Clause 2 provides that -
This Act shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation.
The Government, I understand, has intimated that it included that provision instead of providing that the bill should operate as from the date of the Royal assent, for the simple reason that it could delay ratification until the nations I have mentioned also had ratified. If that is the case, there can be no reason why the Government should not accept an amendment that puts the matter beyond mere assurances and establishes it as a statutory obligation. No harm will be done if the amendment is in line with the Government’s thought in the matter.
I have another amendment to the same clause, and although I appreciate that it will be necessary for you, Mr. Chairman, to put the amendments separately to the committee, I think it might be as well if I now formally submit the second amendment. Therefore, I move -
That, at the end of the clause, the following sub-el ;i use be added: - “ (2.) Before any armed forces are contributed or made available by Australia, under or in accordance with any of the provisions of the treaty, the prior approval of the Parliament shall be obtained.”.
That brings us instantly to the provisions of Article IV., paragraph 1 of which provides, in effect, that if there is aggression by armed attack against any of the parties to the treaty, the other parties will act to meet the common danger.
– At this point of the explanation of the proposed amendments by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), I rise to order. I suggest that this second amendment goes beyond the long title of the bill. The bill is merely concerned with the ratification of the treaty.
– The long title of the bill is “ A bill for an act to approve the ratification by Australia of the SouthEast Asia Collective Defence Treaty “. It is limited, apparently, to ratification, but surely it is relevant to that ratification to deal with the implementation of a treaty that is so ratified. I admit that the amendment that I propose to move will have operative effect, assuming that the treaty has been ratified. It assumes ratification, and I merely develop the argument that it is relevant to the implementation of the treaty. It arises from the ratification which is under consideration.
– The amendment has nothing to do with the bill.
– Nevertheless, I argue that it is really relevant to that part of the bill which comprises Article IV. We are considering the bill as a whole.
– That is not the bill - that is the treaty.
– I point out that Article IV. of the treaty, which is a schedule to the bill, and therefore an essential and integral part of the enactment, ‘ provides for action. The amendment that I am moving is relevant to the action contemplated by Article IV. which, as a schedule to the bill, is a part of the bill. I recognize that I cannot move an amendment to the treaty, but we are taking the bill as a whole. The question of action is immediately raised in the document before us. It is in relation to what will happen on that action being taken that my amendment is moved.
– Order! I allowed the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) to move his second amendment, but I think that it would be better, during the discussion at this stage, if he confined his remarks to his first amendment.
– I am quite agreeable to that course.
Senator SPICER (Victoria - AttorneyGeneral [9.8]. - I suggest that the proposal made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) is quite unnecessary. The bill itself provides that it will come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation, and the purpose of that is to leave the Government in a position in which it can give effect to the ratification at a date which best suits the interests of Australia. It would be quite an unusual departure from practice to include a provision of this kind. Furthermore, I suggest that the proposed amendment is undesirable, in that it expressly refers to ratification by certain countries, namely, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and New Zealand, and, in terms of the bill, will tie our ratification to theirs. I suggest that that may well be an invidious distinction to draw in the bill. In all the circumstances, the desirable thing is to leave the position quite flexible. Honorable senators may rest assured that the Government will give effect to this bill and make it effective in relation to the ratification of the treaty at a time when the Government is satisfied that it will best serve the interests of Australia.
.: - I thank the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) for his assurance. ‘It disposes, of the substance of the matter. So far as the members of the Opposition are concerned, however, we feel that the substance of the matter, upon which we are agreed, ought to be translated into the enactment and put beyond all possibility of doubt. I am reassured and happy with the assurance that the Minister has given, but the Opposition, nevertheless, presses its amendment.
– I think there are very good grounds for the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I invite the attention of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) to the fact that both the United Kingdom and the United States of America have tied tags, to their treaty commitments. As far as I can see, New Zealand has about as much to gain from this treaty as has Australia, which is very little. Apparently, the
United Kingdom will support the treaty by means of the armed forces and equipment which are now in Malaya. I suggest that it will need to keep in Malaya all the forces it can at the present time. If trouble should arise in South-East Asia, British forces would have to be taken from Malaya, and thus give the bandits a free hand. Otherwise, Great Britain could play no effective part in the checking of aggression. According to the Minister’s second-reading speech, it is plain that the United Kingdom has tied such a tag to its commitment. The United States has also tied a tag to its commitment, in that it is prepared only to counter Communist aggression. What would happen if Indonesia should decide to invade Dutch New Guinea and to give Australia a crack on the cheek at the same time? Would America come to our assistance then ? As I read the Minister’s speech, America, in those circumstances, would have nothing to do with that aggression. Similarly, what would happen if Japan decided to acquire a little additional territory in the South-East Asian area ? Would America say, “ We do not come into that at all “ ? I suggest that it would.
As honorable senators know, Indonesia is very close to Australia. They also should know that Japan will be no ally of ours if we are attacked. We know what that country thinks of Australia and what the Japanese would do to us if they had the chance-. In the event of Japanese aggression, under this treaty America could say, “We will have nothing to do with it, because Japan is not a Communist country “. I suggest that if Australia and New Zealand ever had anything to gain from this treaty, it was. killed by the provocative–
– - I rise to order. I submit that Senator Aylett is discussing, the merits of the treaty, instead of the merits of the amendment.-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Senator Aylett must confine his remarks to the amendment before the committee.
– I agree with you, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I am discussing the merits of the amendment and giving reasons why I support it. I think that the amendment is plain enough. I was about to say that, after the provocative speeches made by honorable- senators in this chamber this afternoon, concerning countries, to the north of Australia, any benefits which Australia and New Zealand might have obtained from this treaty have been killed by this debate. I point out that there was nothing to prevent the people of those countries from listening to the broadcast of those speeches, and there will be nothing to prevent them. from, obtaining copies of them.
– We are losing the benefits now.
– Some honorable senators opposite do little else but talk about the use of armed force against Communist countries.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the amendment.
– New Zealand wants to live, in peace and does not want honorable senators in this Parliament, to make speeches which will provoke another country to bring armed force to bear against, it. If Australia requires assistance to resist aggression other than Communist aggression, we- are not going to receive it from the United States, according to the qualifications, in this treaty. If we require assistance from Great Britain-
– Order ! This amendment deals with the ratification of the treaty. I cannot allow the honorable senator’ to proceed along those lines. If he does not keep to the. amendment he will have- to resume his seat.
– I am supporting the amendment on the ground that we should not ratify this treaty until such time as the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand have ratified it, or until we have a definite assurance that they intend to do so. The United Kingdom will not supply any forces for th, defence of Australia other than those which are now in Malaya.
– The bill does, not contain anything to that effect.
– The Minister stated in his second-reading- speech -
United Kingdom participation in the treaty therefore means that the military strength and political experience and influence which Great Britain has in. the region will be available to support the new organization.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! If Senator Aylett persists in defying the Chair, I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– As New Zealand is- in the throes of a general election, it is not likely that the treaty will be ratified by that country for some time to- come. New Zealand has not assured Australia that it will ratify the treaty, and it is unlikely that that country will, in effect, put out its head to be knocked off. The proposed amendment provides clearly that Australia shall not ratify the treaty until it has been - ratified, by, or firm assurances of intended ratification have been received from, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and New Zealand’.
Other than by France, which counts for nil in Asia, the treaty has not been ratified by- its signatories.
– New Zealand has already agreed to ratify the treaty.
– Although the present Government of. New Zealand has given that assurance,, there is nothing to say that a new government in that country, of a different political persuasion, will honour its predecessor’s assurance. It is foolish for the AttorneyGeneral to rely, in the circumstances, on the assurance that has been received that New Zealand will ratify the. treaty.
– We have already received such an assurance.
– The Minister should not. anticipate the result of the election in New Zealand. He does not even know whether the present Prime Minister of the Dominion will be returned to office. Furthermore, if Great Britain declined to ratify the treaty, and the other signatories decided likewise, we should find ourselves out on a limb.
– The proposed amendment reads -
Provided that such ratification shall not take place until the treaty has been ratified by, or firm assurances of intended ratification have been received from, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and New Zealand.
It is implicit in that wording that we should not ratify the treaty until firm assurances of ratification have been received from all its signatories. Since the provisional treaty was signed there has been a change of government in Pakistan following a coup d’etat in that country. Can the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) assure me that the new Government of Pakistan holds the same view in relation to the treaty as its predecessor ?
Since the provisional treaty was signed, there has also been a shift of political power in the United States Congress and a general election is at present proceeding in New Zealand. Therefore, I consider that the proposed amendment should be accepted. We do not know very much about the new Government of Pakistan. According to to-day’s Melbourne Herald, the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Foster Dulles, is reported to have said that the United States Government would have no part in any policy which contemplated a preventive war with Russia,, and that he did not believe that Russia had any intention of starting a war now against the free world. This treaty anticipates a war. As we have adopted an attitude different from that of the rest of the world, I urge the Government to accept the proposed amendment.
Question put -
That the proviso proposed to be added ( Senator McKenna’s amendment) be so added.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– There is another proposed amendment before the committee, which seeks to add the following sub-clause to clause 3 : - (2.) Before any armed forces are contributed or made available by Australia, under or in accordance with any of the provisions of the treaty, the prior approval of the Parliament shall be obtained.
Will the chairman indicate whether he is familiar with the point of order that was raised by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) during the occupancy of the Chair by the Temporary Chairman (Senator Pearson) ?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid) . - I have been informed of the substance of the point of order that was raised by the Attorney-General.
– I shall repeat my point of order. I submit that, as this bill is concerned solely with the ratification of the treaty, it will be exhausted immediately the treaty is ratified. In these circumstances I consider that it would be inappropriate to incorporate in the bill a provision concerned with the implementation of the treaty after it has been ratified.
– Order ! As the adoption of the proposed amendment would have the effect of qualifying the Parliament’s ratification of the treaty, I uphold the point of order that has been raised by the Attorney-General.
– I refer to Article IV. of the Schedule, under which each party agrees that, if there is aggression by means of armed attack on one party, the others will act, in accordance with their constitutional processes, to meet the common danger. Action does not include, as one of its elements, the supply of armed forces. Although that is the ultimate, it might then be the primary purpose of action. 1 recognize that our Executive Government must be free, in the event of attack or threatened attack upon Australia, to move instantly to meet that attack either abroad or on our own shores, i do not suggest anything that would cut across that very necessary power of the Executive. But any action that we took under Article IV. would be action to meet an attack on one of the other signatories to the treaty. The Australian Government would have to determine whether there had been an attack, and then decide whether the attack was by way of defence or ‘by way of offence. That preliminary point would have to be determined by the Government. It would involve investigation, which, obviously, would take up time. Is the AttorneyGeneral prepared to give an assurance to the Senate that, in such circumstances, where opportunity permits, the Parliament will be called together and, before Australian troops are sent overseas, the prior approval of the Parliament will be obtained? I am not seeking to put any restraint on the executive power of the Government in the event of an attack or a threatened attack on Australia. I am dealing solely with an attack on one of the other signatory nations. I point out to the Attorney-General that the procedure that I suggest be adopted in future was the procedure adopted by this Government in relation to Korea. On that occasion, the Parliament was summoned within, I think, a matter of hours.
– There was no undertaking in the case of Korea.
– I am not saying there was an undertaking. I am pointing out that, before the Australian Government sent Australian troops to Korea, it consulted the Parliament. I am asking now for an assurance that the Government will adhere to that principle in future, when circumstances permit.
– We expect the Americans to support us, which would involve sending their troops overseas. We have got to reciprocate.
– The honorable senator entirely misunderstands the point I am making. I am not arguing that Australian troops should not be sent overseas in the circumstances contemplated by the treaty. That is our contract. I am not arguing that point at all. I am asking merely that, before Australian troops are sent abroad, the Parliament be consulted. I think every one will agree that it would be a matter of the greatest seriousness to Australia if Australian troops were committed to action abroad, particularly in the Asian area. A little war, as the war in Korea seemed to be, could easily develop into a huge conflagration that engulfed the world. Therefore, it would be desirable, in the interests of Australia, that Australian public opinion should support any military action by the Government under this treaty. In such an event, there would have to be a recruitment of forces. It would be preferable that, as in the case of Korea, all parties in the Parliament should be united in support of the Government’s action, rather than that Australian troops should be sent abroad when there was a division of opinion in the country about the wisdom of that course. I suggest that, when circumstances permit, the Parliament should be summoned. I cannot- imagine any circumstances to which Article IV. applies when that could not be done. It is vastly important that the great body of public opinion in this country should approve the action taken by the Government. Therefore, I ask the AttorneyGeneral to say whether the Parliamentwill be called together before Australian troops are sent abroad and, if not, to explain why that course should not be taken.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has asked for an undertaking which it would be impossible for any government to give in relation to a matter of this kind. Quite obviously, the course that the Government took would depend upon the circumstances. We do not know where and trader what circumstances the aggression might occur. Any government that was entering on a venture such as the Leader of the Opposition envisages would desire the fullest support it could get from the people of its country. Doubtless, in an appropriate case, that desire would be expressed in a meeting of the Parliament to consider the wisdom of the Government’s action.
– That course was taken in relation to Korea.
– That is so. I Suggest that, in the modern world and under modern conditions, it would be impossible for the Government to accept an obligation not to take action unless the Parliament were consulted. I could not possibly give the Leader of the Oppotion the undertaking for which he has asked.
Senator GRANT (New .South Wales)
P9.37] i - I hope the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) will be accepted. During this session, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made a statement in which he said that Australia was committed to Send troops overseas but, so far as I know, he had no authority to make such a statement. It appears that the Australian people, and perhaps honorable senators, have no real understanding of what this treaty may involve. In the Sunday Sun of last week there appeared an article in which the following statement was made: -
When the Communist army took over Hanoi from the French in accordance with the Geneva agreement for a truce in IndoChina, the Vietnamese people gave them :an enthusiastic welcome. It is unlikely that more than a handful of these people were Communists.
They were applauding for patriotic reasons liL-cause their fellow countrymen in the Communist army had forced France out of North Vietnam by their victory at Dien Bien Phu.
To them, the Communist entry .meant first and foremost the -end of SO years’ colonial rule by France.
– I do not believe it.
– The honorable senator never believes anything that is true. That article was not published in the Tribune. It was published in the Sunday Sun three or four days ago. We have a White Australia policy. I realized when 1 was in China and I realized when I was in South Africa the effect that that policy has on the views that other nations form about Australia. As soon as an Australian in South Africa talks about the .apartheid policy, the South Africans say, “What about Australia, with its White Australia policy? “ I do not think we understand fully the antagonism to .Australia that that policy has caused in Asia. If we sent troops to Asia, they would be opposed by Chinese troops, possibly assisted by Russia, with its tremendous striking power. India, at the very best, would be neutral. If an Australian army were sent to Asia, it would never be seen again. So I say that a decision to send Australian troops abroad under this treaty is too important a matter to be left to a Minister.. The question should first be discussed by the Parliament. In all sincerity, I ask the Government to consider what action under this treaty would involve. It would not be another Korea. It would be an all-in war. Therefore, I say that the extreme step of sending Australian troops to fight in Asia should not be taken unless the Parliament has given its permission.
.. - The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) described my proposal as impossible of acceptance by any government. I think he was in error in saying that. I think he was confusing the terms of an amendment to clause 3 of the bill, which I proposed and which was ruled out of order, with what I said just now. If the Attorney-General will throw his mind back to what I did say, he will remember that I asked him whether, when circumstances permitted, the Parliament would be called together to consider whether Australian troops shouldbe sent overseas. I understood the Attorney-General to give me the specific assurance for which I asked, because she indicated that, if ‘circumstances did permit, any government would desire to consult the Parliament and get its backing and the backing of the Australian people. I am taking from the Attorney-General’s remarks an assurance on the proposition I submitted to him., namely, that when circumstances permit - thecircumstances being those contemplatedin Article IV., paragraph I., of the treaty - the Government will consult the Parliament.
– You can take it which way you like, but I am not giving any assurance.
– I gathered from what the Attorney-General said that, when circumstances permitted, any government would wish to consult the Parliament. I say publicly that I interpret that statement as an acceptance of the suggestion I made.
– Article IV., paragraph 2, of the treaty provides that if, in the opinion of any of the parties, the territory of any party is threatened in any way other than by armedattack,or is affected or threatened by any fact or situation which might endanger the peace of the area, the parties shall consult immediately in order to agree on the measures which should be taken for common defence. I assume that what is envisaged is insurrection. Article V. states -
The Parties hereby establish aCouncil, on whicheach of them shall be represented, to consider matters concerning the implementation of this Treaty. The Council shall provide for consultation with regard to military and any other planning as the situation obtaining inthe treaty area may from time to time require.
Am I to understand that, under the provisions of Articles IV. and V., the council will be able to tell the Government of this country what military commitments it mustundertake? Or is it envisagedthat therecommendations of the council shall be referred to the Australian Government or the Australian Parliament.?
– Article V. provides for consultation.
– It provides for action too, if we read it in conjunction with Article IV. Article IV. refers to a threat” in any way other than by armed attack “, and Article V. provides that the council shall decide what is to be done to counter such a threat. “Will the council be permitted to commit this country to send forces to wherever some of the other parties to the agreement desire them to be sent? I should like a definite assurance from the Minister that any proposal by the council that affected Australia would be considered either by the Parliament or the Government.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) to tell us Ms objections to the suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that the Parliament be called together and asked to approve any decision by the Government to send Australian troops abroad under the terms of this treaty. In these days of fast transport, the Parliament could be called together within 45 hours. That is not a very long time, especially when the action taken by the Government would require thousands of young Australians to fight overseas. Their lives would be at stake.
Motion (by Senator Kendall) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Thechairman - Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid.)
Majority … . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senator Sandford having submitted in writing his objection to the Chairman’s ruling,
In the Senate:
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) - Before this debate goes any further, I should point out that it is the responsibility of the Chair to decide whether or not a remark is offensive. I believe that we should first establish the words that were actually used.
Those who are against the “commos” always know where they stand.
– Order ! Senator Willesee will resume his speech. I ask him to avoid reflecting upon the report of the Chairman of Committees.
– I apologize, Mr. President, if I have reflected on the ruling of the Chairman of Committees. My purpose was to endeavour to assist you in your difficult task. The position is that Senator Tangney, quite properly in my opinion, raised a point of order with regard to some words that were used by Senator Maher. Senator Maher made some reference to the Opposition defending “ the Commos. “. The correct thing and the manly thing for Senator Maher to do would be to clear the atmosphere. He should have done so long before you, Mr. President, entered the chamber. Hecould have done so by stating the exact terms of his interjection. So far, he has declined the opportunity to do so. When Senator Tangney raised the matter, the Chairman of Committees asked Senator Maher to state clearly what he had said. When we tried to press the matter further, the Chairman of Committees gave a ruling. I submit that it was his second ruling on this matter. Neither Senator Tangney, nor any other honorable senator on the Opposition side, was able to get a word in edgeways. When we tried to establish what Senator Maher had said, the Chairman of Committees ruled that as the phrase to which the Opposition objected was not clearly stated by Senator Tangney, there was no point of order. Since then an honorable senator from Western Australia has stated clearly the words that were used by Senator Maher. With all deference, I suggest that those words were offensive.
– What were they?
– Senator Gorton’s colleague has already stated them. They were, “ Those who support the Commos clearly know where they stand “.
– In the next debate we shall suggest that all honorable senators on the Opposition side support the Communists.
– -If Senator Maher would do the manly thing and stand on his feet-
– I shall do it. If Senator Willesee will sit down, I shall get up.
– On a particular occasion, an attempt was made to eject me from this chamber without an opportunity to defend myself. I suggest, Mr. President, that you were in a. confused state on this matter. Two rulings were given, and only one was stated to you. The honorable senator who made the statement to which we object sits in his place and will not explain himself.
– Nobody will give me a chance-. I am eager and willing to do so.
– Order !
– If Senator Maher will do that I believe,. Mr. President, that in accordance with the justice you have dispensed during your occupancy of your high position, you will have no hesitation in demanding that Senator Maher withdraw his unwarranted reflection upon Senator Tangney and honorable senators on the Opposition side.
– To clarify the position, and in accordance with the challenge that has been thrown out by Senator Willesee, I wish to state very clearly to the Senate and to those who did not understand the. nature- of my interjection, that what I said has been clearly indicated by Senator Paltridge. I said, “ Those who are against the Commos always know where they stand “. That is no reflection on the Opposition. The Opposition has declared during the debate on this bill where it stands. The Opposition is in favour of the bill. I threw in the interjection, “Those who are against the Commos always know where they stand “.
– What is the implication?
– There is no particular implication at all. Those whom the cap fits may wear it by all means.
– Order ! This has gone far enough. In the first place, a remark such as that made by Senator Maher in a. general way could not be deemed offensive. As I indicated earlier,, the responsibility of deciding whether a remark is offensive still remains with the presiding officer. I uphold the ruling of the Chairman of Committees.
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 1330).
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted’.
Motion (by Senator Spicer) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– I rise to object to the gagging of the debate at the committee stage. I had asked the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), who had charge of the bill’, some questions with regard to clauses 4 and 5. Before the Attorney-General could answer me, the gag was applied by some honorable senator on the Government side. It was not applied by the Attorney-General. Therefore, I raise the matter on. the third reading. I say quite definitely that. I shall not support the third reading because of the unscrupulous methods; adopted in putting the measure through. I object, to honorable senators coming into this chamber full of jungle juice and kicking up a row as they do.
– Order !
Motion (by Senator McLeay) put; -
Thatthe question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin.)
Majority … . . 4:
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the -affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator McLEAY) agreed to-
That the -Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow at 3 “p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spicer) read a first time.
– -I movE -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill sets out to do two things, and two things only, at this stage. The fact that the 1949 Stevedoring Industry Act will remain mostly unchanged, following the amendments that will be made by this bill should not be taken as implying that the Government has endorsed, in principle, either in part or in whole, some of those untouched portions of the principal act. It will be seen from what I shall .say later that we have some other changes in mind and that we may, at a later stage, ask the Parliament to make the comprehensive review of the legislation that the Government considers to be necessary. As I have said, the bill sets out to do two things. It authorizes the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) to appoint a committee of inquiry to examine the organization and operation of the waterfront industry and the other matters that honorable senators will see set out in clause 11 of the bill. The second thing that the measure does is to vary the present procedure by which men enter the stevedoring industry.
The reasons for the appointment of a committee of inquiry will, I believe, be Obvious enough to most honorable senators. The waterfront industry, throughout its history, ha3 presented a complex set of problems. The industry is undoubtedly a difficult one, and the reasons for this are not hard to find. Stevedoring is one >of the few remaining casual industries, and such efforts as have been made from time to time to work out a system of permanent engagement for those in the industry have proved fruitless. “What distinguishes it from most other industries is the fact that the normal direct relationship between employer and employee does not exist. Subject to minor qualifications, only one union comes into the picture to represent the employees. This is the “Waterside “Workers Federation of Australia, which is a powerful union with about 27,000 members. The registered employers of those waterside workers number about 450 bodies and persons. They include the shipowners and the stevedoring companies concerned. Then there are the harbour trust authorities, and prominently in the picture in recent years has been the statutory authority appointed by this Parliament in accordance with legislation introduced by the Labour Government. That body is known as the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board.
I believe it to be a matter of notoriety that performance on the Australian waterfront over the years has caused widespread dissatisfaction. Performance -on the waterfront is of importance to each and every Australian because the cost of goods to Australian consumers is directly affected by what happens on Australia’s waterfront. The belief is general throughout the community that the conduct of waterfront operations either by design - and malicious design at that - or as a result of incompetence, is very much less efficient than the community has a right to expect. The Government shares the view of most members of the general public that unwarranted delays, unnecessarily slow loading rates, a slow turnround of shipping, and frequent and . unnecessary stoppages of work, have imposed on the consuming public cost burdens that they should not have to bear. Freight rates have increased out of proportion to the general rise of costs in the post-war years.
I am aware that there is room for controversy about, these matters. There will be some who would place the blame for this unsatisfactory state of affairs entirely on members of the “Waterside Workers Federation. They will point to its Communist leadership as a principal factor in causing disruption and inefficiency. Others would blame the shipowners and will say that shipping freight increases are attributable to their rapacity and that .inefficiency on the waterfront is the result of their incompetence. There will be others, who will include some from both the groups that I have just mentioned, who will declare that the prime cause of the unsatisfactory situation is the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. There will be others who will assert that there can be neither peace nor good management on the waterfront until management and labour are put in a position to deal directly with each other without having in between them the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. In short, in relation to an industry in which there is so much room for disagreement, the only thing upon which every one will agree is that the present state of the waterfront is, as it has been for many years, entirely unsatisfactory to the people of Australia.
Consequently, the Government considers that an impartial and fact-finding inquiry will be useful in this industry. It takes the view that comprehensive changes in the stevedoring industry legislation and in the organization of the waterfront are desirable. We had hoped that we should have been in a position to make those changes during the current session. Indeed, my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, has discussed with representatives of the unions concerned, with representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, and with representatives of the shipowners and of the other interests directly affected, some of the changes that he believes might usefully be considered. However, it soon became very obvious as a result of those discussions, that there was considerable disagreement not only about the course that the Government should follow, but also about the facts on which judgments should be made.
We believe, therefore, that there is value in setting up a committee of inquiry to ascertain the facts and, as far as we can judge, there seems to be general agreement that the Government’s decision in this connexion is sound. If, as we believe, it will be necessary later to proceed with other changes in this legislation, then it is important that there should be an impartially found body of facts on which our own conclusions and the judgments of other persons can be based. We have in mind a committee of three members, the chairman to be, preferably, a person with legal qualifications, although not necessarily a judge. Of the two other members, I hope that one will be representative, not of management in the maritime industries, but of management generally; and hope that the other will be representative of labour, but not drawn from the union concerned. The committee, as the bill reveals, will be given adequate powers to compel the attendance of witnesses and to secure information.
Honorable senators will naturally wish to know why we are setting up an inquiry into the industry and why we are, at the same time, proceeding with a variation in the method of recruiting labour. The reasons will appear more clearly as I go along. The proposals in the bill to alter the method of entry into the industry are simple. First, however, I shall state just what the bill does not do, because it is tremendously important in an issue of this kind that the thousands of workers who have been instructed by their executive to stop work, to hold up shipping at great cost to the economy, and to lose their pay and the benefits that it affords to their families, realize what that means. The first thing, I gather, that they have been told is that this proposal means a return to the bad old days of the pick-up at the gate. It means nothing of the sort. This bill does not touch, in any way, any aspect of the employment of the 27,000 men who are now registered as waterside workers. They will be dealt with and will work under precisely the same conditions as those which exist at present. The only persons who will be affected by this legislation are those who will be recruited in future; and such persons will be allocated, as they are now allocated, through the Stevedoring Industry Board pick-ups whilst the board will occupy the role that it occupies at present.
This measure does not cut into any industrial principle. I emphasize that because it would appear that this union is now trying to embroil the entire trade union movement in this issue. ‘ It is presenting what is being done as a violation of some fundamental trade union principle. The so-called justification for their considering this to be some violation of a trade union principle appears in a declaration of the federal council of the union which was circulated to the various branches of the union in order that they might vote upon this issue. The declaration was that “ the right to recruit labour is a fundamental right, enjoyed by us for many years “. The union went on to claim that -
This condition is one agreed to by the Government, shipowners and ourselves in 1942 after due consultation and the recommendation to the Government of the day by the chairman of the special committee, Sir Owen Dixon.
Note the reference to some “ fundamental “ right, although it is admitted to be of comparatively recent origin. A copy of the recommendation referred to by the union has already been supplied to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) at his request. This document was signed by Sir Owen Dixon, now Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Thomas Gordon for the shipowners, and Mr. James Healy. There is not a single suggestion in this document that the federation should have the monopoly of engaging labour which has since been conferred on it. There is not even a single reference to the federation.
I was intrigued to find that the report contained some very interesting provisions, considering that the union has always expressed its abhorrence of any arrangement involving the use of nonunion labour. It provided for the organization of a volunteer reserve of persons ready to undertake waterside work on occasions when the supply of regular labour proved insufficient. The next provision was that registers should be kept of regular labour and of volunteer reserve labour. Another provision concerned the protection of regular labour from the abuse of the system of volunteer reserve labour. In short, there is no reference in this document to the arrangement which has now been alleged to have been reached by these three gentlemen and adopted by the then Government, but Mr. Healy set his signature to proposals involving use of nonunion labour.
At the end of this document are the initials of the then Prime Minister, John Curtin, at the foot of a handwritten note of his which reads as follows : -
The foregoing report is approved for consequential action and referred to Ministers accordingly.
The “ consequential action “ took the form of National Security Regulations which gave effect to the recommendations and which gave no monopoly of any kind to the federation. The monopoly was first conferred by the Stevedoring Industry Act of 1947, well after the war ended, and against the protests of the Liberal party which was then in Opposition and of the shipowners who asked for a return to pre-war conditions, for which the recommendations already referred to provided.
So, for the first time in the history of this country, and, I believe, in the history of any country, a union was given by legislation a monopoly right of providing the labour that was to work for the employers on the waterfront. I repeat that the Waterside Workers Federation was given its present monopoly, not by the document to which I have referred, not by the National Security Regulations which gave effect to that document, hut by the legislation which was introduced in 1947 by the Labour Government, following conferences: between the then AttorneyGeneral, Dr. Evatt, the then Minister for Labour, Mr. Holloway, Senator Ashley, and representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation. The justification that was then given for this extraordinary performance was that, to all intents andpurposes, only one- union was concerned with waterfront employment. The Stevedoring Industry Board was being established to deal with the organization of labour for the industry. That board would determine the quotas for the various ports, and the federation would provide the number of men needed to fill such quotas. Those of us who were in Opposition at that time strongly criticized this provision, which seemed to us to be utterly unsound in principle and likely to prove an utter failure in practice. But despite our opposition and criticism, the legislation was passed.
I know that it is now being said that we are taking away a right which applies to every other union in the maritime industry. That simply is not true. I have had the circumstances of the unions examined. They represent the seamen, the marine stewards, the marine cooks, butchers and bakers,, foremen stevedores, and ships’ painters and dockers. In all cases, the employer has- the right to determine who will work for him. In one case, I noticed that the award provides that the union “shall admit to membership all persons who may be hereafter appointed by employers “. In the case of waterside workers, the employer has no say as to who shall enter the industry, and no say as to who shall work for him.
We are told, too, that because of section 27 (2) of the act, the federation has no monopoly. That section authorizes the recruitment of non-union labour where sufficient registered waterside workers are not available. Is it now being advocated by the Opposition that we should recruit non-union, labour for work on the wharfs ?
When the Stevedoring Industry Bill of 1947 was before the Parliament, the then Attorney-General, in concluding; the debate on the measure, said -
The Government admits frankly that this is an experiment in a -most important province of: our economic and industrial life which may not be wholly successful,, and. may even fail. Should the experiment- not be a success, this Parliament or some, succeeding Parliament will have to review the legislation.
That is what we are doing now. Are we reviewing- this legislation because, in our view, it has failed? I say emphatically, “Yes”.
I propose to establish reasons for claiming that this aspect of the legislation has certainly failed. I shall show how the assurances that were given by the Waterside Workers Federation have been broken. I should have stressed earlier that, in order to- justify what was accepted by the then Government as an experiment, some consideration had to flow from the union itself. The consideration which flowed from the union in return for this remarkable arrangement was the undertaking that it would at all times ensure that the quotas in the ports were maintained at the strength prescribed by the statutory Australian Stevedoring Industry Board that was then being set up.
Before the war, many applications had been made by this union- for preference in. employment to be accorded to members of the union by the employers. Honorable senators opposite wilt know the significance of that in an industrial sense: Not a monopoly of engagement, but preference, so that, if employers had a choice between men offering from the union and non-unionists, or members of some other union, members of the federation would be given preference under the award, and be picked up first. Indeed, the federation gave assurances to the court when it made these applications, that if preference were granted, it would raise no objection to its members working alongside non-union employees who had been picked up by the employers.
So highly did the union prize this preference that no fewer than sixteen such applications were made to the court in the years: preceding- the war: However, because of the course of conduct pursued by members of the federation, and for other reasons, on every occasion die court, which, was able to look at this business objectively and fairly,, rejected the applications for preference. But what, the court, in. its wisdom and fair. ness, had refused to do the then AttorneyGeneral and his colleagues not merely hastened to do, but carried to the almost incredible length of granting a complete monopoly of engagement to- the union.
How has it worked out? I have some figures which indicate what has happened. I shall refer to the loss of working days over the last two years, because, if I am to be told that there is no need for this legislation at this time, I say that such patience as the Government might have had in 1953:, when some improvement over the very modest achievements of 1951 and’ 1952 was evident, has been exhausted by the serious deterioration in relation to both average loading rates and the incidence of industrial disputes which we have experienced in 1954. Industrial disputes caused the loss of 1 3’3’;000 working days by members of the Waterside Workers Federation in the year ended the 30th June, 1953’. In 1954,. that total increased to. 209,000 working days lost. In other words, between 4 and 5 per cent, of the total working time in this industry was lost as a result of disputes. That represents about fifteen te twenty times the rate of loss over the whole field of industry generally.
I am not alleging that the unionists have always been in the wrong. I am saying that this was the trend that came to the notice of the Government. If we thought that the men were always in the wrong, we should not be having an inquiry into the important matters that are mentioned in the bill. Nevertheless, a major share of the responsibility for this deterioration must, in view of the record, be sheeted home to the members of the. federation.
The average daily tonnage handled at Sydney declined from 393 tons at the end of 1953 to 303 tons in August last. In Melbourne, it declined from 459 tons to 329 tons. I do not think I need add much to those figures in order to indicate that a serious deterioration has occurred. This, of course, has had an important impact upon every sector of the economy. When, as at present, there is not merely a hold-up in one port but a stoppage in all the ports of the Commonwealth, such as is in progress now, the cost to the community becomes heavy indeed. The total costs involved;, of course, are not only those of maintaining- a ship while it is in port. If the unloading rate is slow,, the turn-round is: delayed, which means that the vessel spends far less time at sea than would otherwise be possible. This brings other costs into the picture as well. Therefore, the Government maintains that there is an overwhelming case, both for action of the limited type now proposed, and for the kind of inquiry which will assist this Parliament to decide what further action may be required.
I shall refer now to recruitment, which, after all, is a vital, issue. Over the whole period of the present act’s history, we have been plagued with repeated refusals and frustrating delays by the federation in relation to the admission of new members to fill quotas or to make up deficiencies which have occurred in them. So bad did the situation become that two years ago, the Minister for Labour and National Service prepared a bill to cope with this very problem. Perhaps overoptimistically, after discussions with representatives of the federation and the Australian Council of Trades Unions, he deferred the introduction of the legislation in order to give the union a chance to honor its obligations. What was the unhappy and tragic result? Just a series of frustrations, obstructions and delays, which have persisted to this very time !
Every senator will know personally of the happenings in the principal port of his State, in Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle and Hobart, to take some only of current instances. At Port Kembla and New.castle, vital steel ports of the Commonwealth, we have had special difficulties. Since Port Kembla has become the subject of some argument, let me quote from a statement prepared by the chairman of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. He says -
It is true that the Port Kembla quota was last increased oil 20th October. But to put that statement in its. proper perspective, it is necessary to examine the attitude of that branch towards quotas. And, although the record of the Branch - in common with most
Branches oi the Federation - has been one of resistance to quota orders through the years, the facts for this year speak for themselves.
From 1st January, 1954, until 20th July, 1.054, the quota for Port Kembla was COO. The registered strength was below that figure for the whole of the period until 20th May. It was maintained at the quota figure sporadically during June, but fell below the figure on 2nd July, and remained below it thence forward.
On 20th July, by which date the registered strength had fallen to 583, the quota figure was increased to 670, and the Port Kembla Branch was urged to recruit 87 new members at once, so that some inroad could be made on the huge accumulation of steel products at the Port. The Branch was informed that the quota figure would be reviewed in the light of the steel position on 20th October. The Branch made no arrangements to meet the new quota figure, and on 20th October, by which date the registered strength, after some lastminute admissions, had reached 653, the quota figure w;is increased to 750. In the meantime, the backlag of steel had increased to 75,000 tons.
Let me now turn specifically to the provisions of the bill. I refer to clause 6. What reasonable person is there who after reading these provisions could claim that the Government was attacking any trade union principle? What do the provisions say? They say that no person shall be registered unless - (1) he applies for registration; (2) a waterfront employer endorses his application; (3) he satisfies the board’s requirements as to age and fitness; (4) the federation is consulted and raises no objection, or if it raises an objection, the board over-rules it because it has no substance; and (5) the applicant satisfies the board that he is a member of the federation or has applied for membership. Can any one say that that is a harsh provision, one that completely disregards the proper interests of the federation ?
It has been said that these proposals mean that the Government is forcing members into a union. It is said that this is a part of the Government’s plan to have tame cat unions.
– That is the Government’s plan all right.
– Let us just examine this. Honorable senators opposite may be interested to hear a different point of view. Under section 83a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which applies in this case - and the attention of honorable senators is drawn to clause S of the bill - the federation can still refuse to admit to membership a person who is of general bad character.
– What is the Government doing about that ?
– We are not upsetting it. Let me contrast this position with the position in, for example, New South Wales. There, under the Industrial Arbitration (Amendment) Act of 1953, which provides for compulsory unionism, no option is given to a union to refuse to admit as a member anybody working in the industry or in the calling covered by the union. That legislation, as every one knows, was introduced by a Labour government at the behest of the Trades Hall Council. Neither the Labour Government nor the Trades Hall Council seems to have been fearful of tame cat, unions or unions packed with employers’ stooges when they included the provisions they did in the Industrial Arbitration (Amendment) Act I have referred to.
So much for the content of the bill. Before concluding, I must make some reference to the way in which the Waterside Workers Federation has reacted to this move by the Government. It has, as I have said, caused an Australia-wide stoppage of stevedoring operations, with all the heavy loss and damage that such a stoppage entails, without even waiting to learn the details of this legislation. It is not, of course, unusual to find unions such as this striking first and then arguing or asking questions afterwards. But this House will find a very much deeper significance in this latest stoppage and the threat to prolong it than is to be found in any ordinary industrial dispute. This stoppage is a truculent and arrogant attempt to intimidate this Government and so prevent it from proceeding with its policies. It is deliberately intended to intimidate this Parliament into refraining from going ahead with the proper consideration of the legislation placed -before it. What the Government is now proposing can only become law if this Parliament so desires. When the then Attorney-General introduced his legislation in 1947, despite the criticism of Opposition members at the time, it was a decision of the Parliament, and it was given effect. Dr. Evatt, acknowledging the ultimate rule of the Parliament, said that if the experiment failed, it must come back to this Parliament for review. Now, apparently, the Opposition aligns itself with the very men whom the Labour Government threw out of their posts on the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Both Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach were expelled from the commission by the Opposition because they failed to co-operate with the commission.
The Government, which sincerely believes that the recruitment of labour aspects of the legislation have failed, now asks the Parliament to consider the amendments proposed. When, however, the necessary bill is introduced, we are confronted with an Australia-wide stoppage of work on the waterfront, calculated to dissuade us from going ahead with the amending bill, and to intimidate the Parliament of which we are all members. It is for this democraticallyelected Parliament to decide the policies of the country. It is for us to make a decision on this matter. This bill will, I hope, be law in a few days. Whatever the Opposition may think about the proposals in bill form, when it is the law there can be no doubt where the Opposition, and, indeed, every one in the land, will have to stand on the matter.
– I address myself to the bill at this stage of its progress through the Parliament for one purpose. I say at once that I, and my colleagues, would be lacking in a sense of responsibility if we did not address ourselves immediately to the nationwide waterfront strike which has been precipitated by this legislation, which has already done untold harm to the Australian community, and which runs a very grave risk of being extended, with disastrous results not only to the watersiders, but to all sections of industry and all persons in the community. I do not want to say one word to-night that will aggravate the position, and if, perchance, I do utter a word of that kind, I ask the Senate to believe that it was through sheer inadvertence.
The bill before us, as the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) indicated, has two main purposes. The first of those purposes, although it is dealt with in the third and last part of the bill, was the first to be adverted to by the Minister, which indicated, I think, the pre-eminence in both his mind and that of the Government of the proposal to set up a committee of inquiry. If the matter began and ended there, I could accord to the bill the complete support of the Opposition. The Government has made out the best possible case for the setting up of an inquiry. I think that that theme was developed very well by the AttorneyGeneral. But the second purpose of the bill, which is set out in some clauses of Part II., alters the whole basis of recruitment to this basic industry, and proposes to effect a complete somersault by shifting the basis of recruitment from the Waterside Workers Federation to the employers - the shipowners. It makes a complete turnaround from one side to the other, and eliminates any intermediary altogether. In other words, it is a complete reversal of the practice that has been followed, with statutory authority, since 1947.
In my approach to this matter, I shall take the most unusual course for me, when I oppose a particular clause or a particular measure, of not debating the merits of the Government’s proposals at this stage. My reason for refraining from doing so will become apparent as I proceed. My primary concern, to-night, is to bring a strike to an end, and let the Australian economy run free once more. I offer the good offices of the Opposition for that purpose. In these circumstances, I do not want to complicate the issue, or destroy the chance of a formula being evolved for a settlement, by getting into an argument about the pros and cons of the proposals which are contained in clauses 6, 7 and 8, where our objection rests. If I find that my efforts are fruitless, at other stages I will certainly address myself to the merits of the bill, and my colleagues who will f ollow me will do the same.
There can be no argument about the proposition that the changes contemplated in Part II. of the bill are highly contentious. They have been opposed almost unanimously by the 27,000 members of the Waterside Workers Federation, as well as by the Australian Council of Trades Unions, which is a thoroughly representative and responsible body that speaks, almost without exception, for the great trade unions of Australia. I am quite sure that everybody will agree with me, when I say that that body appreciates not only its duty to its members, but also its responsibility to the Australian community as a whole. I am quite certain that many members of this .chamber know, approve, and speak with approbation of the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, Mr. Monk, and the general secretary, Mr. Broadby. They are men who command universal respect, and could not be regarded as acting irresponsibly or hastily. In addition, the combined strength of the Australian Council of Trades Unions is behind the attitude that the Waterside Workers Federation has seen fit to adopt. I add to the list of those in opposition to the proposed change, every member of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party. On that issue, they are completely unanimous in their opposition to clauses 6, 7 and 8 of this bill, which alter the basis of recruitment. So I establish the point that there is contention on a high level. It is unquestionable that they are the clauses that have led to the present strike in Australia. I emphasize that a strike in an industry of this kind, upon which so many other industries and livelihoods depend - particularly one that extends for a period - can only have the most disastrous and costly results. If what I read on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald to-day is correct, it appears that the strike is likely to grow. I think that any growth of it would be a most unfortunate thing for this country. The report to which I refer reads as follows : -
Canberra,, Tuesday. - The Federal Cabinet today adopted a schedule of action to break the waterside strike if it continues after the Stevedoring Act Amendment Bill becomes law on Friday morning.
The Cabinet decided on its plan at an emergency meeting held this afternoon to consider the decision of the Australian Council of Trades Unions to support the waterside workers.
So far, it is quite dogmatic, but then it gets into the region of speculation, which may or may not be right. I have no knowledge of that aspect of the matter.. The report goes on -
It is believed that the stage-by-stage steps contemplated include :
Putting troops on the wharfs to load and unload cargoes;
Freezing of the Waterside Workers Federation’s fluids;
Proclamation of the Crimes Act, so that it would become an offence to remain on strike, or to “ incite, aid, urge, or encourage “ strike action ;
Deregistration of waterside workers who refuse to return to work.
I do not know whether that was the decision of the Cabinet or not. It is what that newspaper believes, and I accord to it as much credence as it deserves. But if those courses of action are to be embarked upon, I fear that we are heading for one of the greatest industrial upheavals in the history of this country.
– Is that a threat?
– No. Please do not misunderstand me. It is not a threat. I hope that the Senate will bear with me in the approach that I am making to this matter to-night. It is not a natural one for me to adopt towards a measure that I oppose; and I record the fact that we do oppose the measure. T am trying to avoid contention. I hope that no honorable senator will tempt me off that course, until I’ have developed my theme. My purpose is to suggest a formula that will -enable men to go back to work and the country to go on, with, I suggest, as little loss of dignity as possible to everybody concerned.. That, is an inevitable element that is introduced into strike settlement. The immediate problem before the Government, . the nation, and the Opposition is to end the strike on satisfactory terms. If the worst happens, and this strike involves other unions and gradually affects the community - even if matters proceed only a little distance along that line - there will be mass unemployment throughout Australia - not measured in tens of thousands, but in hundreds of thousands - because many industries are dependent upon the importation of goods and their quick circulation. We had an example of that when only one industry was on strike. I refer to the coal industry. Hundreds of thousands of people not connected with that basic industry were projected into unemployment. If the waterside strike continues
– There will be a loss of profits.
– As I have indicated, it will affect industry from one end to the other. Already, I have received a telegram from the Retail Traders Association of Tasmania, to the effect that that State is short of basic foodstuffs, despite the fact that Taroona is being loaded. Another vessel is trading to King Island. Taroona cannot carry all the supplies that are required by industry and to meet the normal daily needs of the people of Tasmania. I pose the proposition that, if this strike is to develop, one day it will end. If it ends on the basis that there are new features in trade unionism, or new trade unions, I suggest there will be a legacy of hate and resentment in those unions that will defeat what I am sure are the very purposes of the Government, namely, to get long, continued peace and efficiency on the waterfront. I am sure that honorable senators opposite agree that all those results would flow from an extension of the strike. The most strenuous efforts should be made to avoid a continuance of the strike. Let me quite calmly say this : The decision to make this strike, whetheror not the controlling body of the Waterside Workers Federation is Communistcontrolled, was not a Communist decision. In the first place, I am informed - and I have no reason to disbelieve it - that Communists are in a minority on the central council of the Waterside Workers Federation.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D.Reid). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I have made the point that the central council, or the controlling body - let me put it that way - of the Waterside Workers Federation, is not Communist-dominated. But even if it were, would anybody argue seriously that the vast majority of the 27,000 members of the federation - I understand they are nearly unanimous on this matter - were Communists, or were influenced by Communist action in deciding to strike? I think everybody will accept the proposition that that is not so. I invite the Senate to remember that approximately 30 per cent, of the members of the Waterside Workers Federation are returned servicemen, men who have served their country and have its interests at heart. While I am on that theme, I add that nobody would suggest for a second that the Australian Council of Trades Unions is Communist-dominated or Communistaffected. When I have said that I think I have completely disposed of the suggestion, implicit in a good deal that the AttorneyGeneral said, that this is a Communistinspired action. Quite plainly, it is not. Many decent citizens, utterly opposed to Communism, are in this strike of their own free will, because they have a grievance. Let us leave for a moment the question whether that grievance is justified.
The Government has acknowledged, quite properly, that this is a very difficult industry. Everybody who has inquired into it knows that that is so. There is a lack of security and regularity of employment, which are most important for any worker. Those elements are not present in this industry, because of its very nature. Goods come and go in unpredictable quantities. There are periods of intense activity, and there are periods when there is nothing to do, when ports are idle and, consequently, men are idle. It is a most complicated industry. To the uninitiated, it might appear to be a simple industry, but work on the wharfs involves the stowage of cargo, upon which the lives of ships’ crews depend. Conditions vary from port to port. The conditions in one port are completely different from those in another. The weather is another factor that causes difficulty. It is not an industry in respect of which one broad common rule can be laid down to cover all aspects. In dealing with the industry, there must be a great deal of flexibility, and also a great deal of tolerance.
The Attorney-General, in the course of his second-reading speech, probably made out, as did the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) in another place, the best case that could be made out for the appointment of a committee of inquiry. He explained that some people concerned with the industry Warne the Waterside Workers Federation for the troubles that occur,, that some blame the Communist leadership of the federation, that some blame the shipowners, that some blame the presence of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board in the field, and that others say that the cause of all the trouble is the absence of direct dealings between employers and employees. The Minister might have added something to that list. He might have talked about the difficulties caused by the limitation which the Constitution imposes upon the Commonwealth in this matter. The fact that such a limitation exists is shown by the bill, which states that the proposed committee of inquiry shall limit its attention to stevedoring activities in relation to overseas trade and interstate trade and in the territories. Intra-state trade is beyond its purview. Without going further into the matter, I say that the division of power between the Commonwealth and the States is one of the basic troubles in this industry. Harbours and wharfs are under the control of the States, whilst stevedoring operations, or the bulk of them, are under the control of the Commonwealth.
The stowage of cargo causes difficulties. Sometimes the people who are responsible for stowing cargo do not put cargo for intermediate ports in the right place. Very often, cargo for intermediate ports is stowed below cargo for ports further on. The stowage of cargo, therefore, is a very important matter. Difficulty is caused by delays in deliveries to and from wharfs, and by the fact, to which I adverted a little while ago, that there is no security or regularity of employment in the industry. I referred to some of the difficulties indicated by the Attorney-General, and I have mentioned others myself. The Attorney-General reached his climax in this matter when, in the course of his second-reading speech, after talking about the discussions that the Minister for Labour and National Service had had with the Australian Council of Trades Unions and other bodies concerned with the industry, including the shipowners, he said -
However, it soon became very obvious, as a result of those discussions, that there was considerable disagreement, not only about the course that the Government should follow, but also even about the facts on which judgment should be made.
He said further -
We believe, therefore, that there is value in setting up a committee of inquiry to ascertain the facts and, as far as we can judge, there seems to be general agreement that the Government’s decision in relation to this matter is sound.
One of the five matters mentioned by the Attorney-General in his second-reading speech was the absence of direct relations between employers and employees in this industry. That is one of the difficulties to be resolved. Clause 11 of the bill, which sets out the charter of the proposed committee, states that the committee shall inquire into, and report to the Minister upon, the facts relating to, among other things, the arrangements for the regulation and control of stevedoring operations and of persons employed in the stevedoring industry. If the Minister feels there is any doubt both about the facts and about what should be done in relation to that particular matter, will he explain why clauses 6, 7 and S resolve the matter, when an inquiry is pending? The Minister has acknowledged the need to establish the facts by an independent and competent inquiry, yet the bill that proposes an inquiry into that particular matter also disposes of it.
Surely that action is the very kernel of the dispute. I might add that it is also the cause of this strike. It is quite clear from the decisions of the bodies concerned with the promotion of the strike that if an inquiry into that matter had been mooted, the strike would not have taken place. I think it is reasonable to say that probably there would have been a general acceptance of the findings of the committee if proper opportunity had been given for the presentation of cases and the establishment of facts. It is reasonable to assume that, whatever findings the committee made, they would have received general acceptance.
The parties to the present dispute are the Government on the one hand, and the Waterside Workers Federation and the trade union movement on the other hand. The dispute is about industrial conditions, about a vital matter of employment. I suggest that the dispute about the recruitment, of labour might well be the subject of arbitration. Surely it is the kind of dispute to which the processes of conciliation and arbitration should apply. The Government has affirmed its belief in those processes. Here is a dispute between the Government and the whole trade union movement. Should not an attempt be made to resolve that dispute by conciliation and arbitration, rather than by one party to it, armed with the colossal resources of a government, directing the full force of those resources against the other party? We argue that this is a situation to which conciliation and arbitration might well be applied.
– What does the honorable senator suggest the dispute is about ?
– The dispute is about whether a committee of inquiry should investigate the industry before the Government prejudices one vital aspect of it. That is the real issue at the moment. I am certain there would have been no strike if the bill had proposed merely the appointment of a committee.
– It is not a dispute with, the employers.
– I have indicated the parties quite clearly. It is a dispute on this point between the Government and the whole trade union movement. I am suggesting that the processes of arbitration might well be applied to it.
– They applied for four years.
– For longer than that, if Senator Wright is thinking of the same thing that I am thinking about.
The system of recruitment of labour through the Waterside Workers Federation has operated for five years under this Government. One can be pardoned for believing that, after that length of time, the waterside workers felt the Government acquiesced in the system. It is reasonable that they should assume that, under two governments, they had acquired something of the nature of a prescriptive right in this matter. That viewpoint is at least understandable. Reports on the behaviour and performance of workers in this industry are, on the whole, not unfavorable to the workers. The fourth annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, the last report issued by the board, indicated that there was a greatly improved turn-round of ships and a greatly improved rate of handling cargo by stevedores.
– What date was that?
– I am speaking of the last report issued by the board. It was dated the 24th November, 1953, and was in respect of the year that ended on the 30th June, 1.953.
– A year ago.
– I do not overlook the fact that it was a year ago.
– In fact, eighteen months ago.
– Not quite, but getting on for eighteen months. If we accept that in the year that ended in June, 1953, there was a greatly improved turnround of ships and a greatly improved rate of handling cargo, it is obvious that the Government must have tolerated’ in the industry conditions worse than those that existed in 1952-53. It is quite clear that the Government must have tolerated, acquiesced in, or done nothing about - whichever term we like to apply - worse conditions. Let me come to the period subsequent to the 30th June, 1953. I listened very carefully to the Minister when he recorded what he claimed to be a serious depreciation of the rate of work of gangs. If honorable senators followed his speech carefully, they will have noticed that he compared December, 1952, with August, 1954. His figures may have been quite accurate, and I do not dispute them, but I issue the warning that in this industry, where there are seasonal spurts and seasonal slack periods, it is very dangerous to compare two points of time and draw conclusions from them unless they are truly comparable. It is very dangerous to take the performance for a whole year and compare it with the performance for a part of a year. I am not contesting the figures cited by the Attorney-General, but a proper examination of them on a comparable basis might produce an entirely different result. That is an additional argument in this important matter for not taking arbitrary figures, but getting down to the facts before stepping into this difficult industry, and perhaps causing far more trouble than has been caused hitherto. The Government and the Opposition owe it to the nation to get this strike finished as quickly as possible. I suggest, as a broad consideration, that a display of magnanimity at this stage would be infinitely better than a rigid attitude. I believe, therefore, that the Government might consider some element of conciliation. “Whether the men are right or wrong, they feel greatly aggrieved and seriously disturbed over what the Government proposes. In extenuation .of them at least I say that they feel that they must, at this stage, make their strongest protest which is reserved for use only in extreme cases. They make that protest by striking and it is important to them that they should do so now so that their viewpoint may be pressed before this legislation becomes law. I emphasize the word “before”. Both sides have expressed strong views but it takes far more courage to get off the high horse than to sit on it. I say that to both parties in this dispute between the Government on the one hand and the Waterside Workers Federation and the trade union movement on the other.
I confess very readily that, as the Government has a majority in this chamber, this bill will be passed. Therefore, I record straight away the fact that we will oppose the bill because of the presence in it of three clauses which seek to alter fundamentally the method of recruitment that has been in operation for a long time. If this bill is passed, and the strike develops as I fear it will, everybody will lose. Its effect will be felt not only by the strikers, but also by everybody else in industry, by the community at large, and by the Government as well. The Government may well break the strike and the strikers, but that will be a pyrrhic victory. I speak with very bitter experience. My mind goes back to the coal strike of 1949, when the Labour Government was arraigned against one union.
– That Government had the assistance of the Opposition.
– That may be, but do not let us become contentious about something that is in the past. I am merely seeking to draw a lesson from the past. On that occasion, the Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, did not take one single step against the Miners Federation without first winning, very often by a laborious process, the support of the trade union movement of this country. It took six weeks to beat one union, even with the assistance of the trade union movement as a whole, and I have no hesitation in saying that although we broke that strike, and the miners went back to work, from the viewpoint of our continued existence as a Government, the result was no good to us. Our action in that strike, and the feeling of the people that it was too long in being settled, were held seriously against us in 1949. People do not understand that these things take time, and have to be handled very carefully. I refer to that matter to indicate that even if this Government succeeds in breaking this strike, the matter will not end there. Consideration must be given to the after effects. I am not threatening the Government in the slightest degree when I say that. I think that the Government, from its own viewpoint as well as in the interests of Australia, must avoid at all costs - certainly at great cost - a growth of this strike. For that reason, I believe that it should be conciliatory. I am not directing my appeal solely to the Government. I am directing it also to the other disputants in this matter. They, too should be concerned about the effects of the strike on the Australian community. They should go back to work as soon as possible and they should fill the port quotas as soon as possible. The formula for a settlement that I suggest is this : The great bone of contention is that the men believe that they were promised that this action would not be taken without conference and consultation. I understand that is denied, but I do not know where the misunderstanding has arisen, or where the truth lies. Nevertheless, the trade union movement believes that it was made a promise that has not been honoured and it asks for an inquiry before action is taken in this very turbulent industry. That is the point on which this Government might be conciliatory. The Government will be able, because of its majority, to secure the passage of this bill, despite our objections to three clauses in it.
– What is the honorable senator’s specific suggestion?
– My specific suggestion is that the Government might be prepared to postpone the operation of clauses 6, 7 and S to a date to be proclaimed, and it could agree that the proclamation would not be made until after the report of the committee of inquiry envisaged in this bill had been made. That is the one concession I ask the Government to make.
– It may take years to hold the inquiry.
– The inquiry is in the hands of the Government. The Government will select members of the committee.
– What if the Waterside Workers Federation fails to fill the quotas in the meantime?
– Although I have no authority to speak for the trade union movement, or for the Waterside Workers Federation. I have some reason to believe that an undertaking that could be accepted would be given if the Government met the union in this manner.
– The union gave an undertaking before.
– The ‘ situation has ripened since then. Everybody is older and wiser. I hope that wisdom will prevail, and that the Government will not be adamant. I make a plea to the Government, as I shall to the other party to this dispute, to do everything possible to end this strike. I make that plea in the belief that what I have proposed can be done. There should be tolerance in this matter. No strike that is hammered to a finish is ever successful. In effect, it never finishes. It drags on over the years and conditions the thinking and behaviour of men who are not even in the industry now. Its effects may last for decades, and I am in grave earnest when I beg the Government to be as concerned as I arn to see that the strike shall not develop. I ask the Government not to be influenced by the fact that it has already declared that it will take this bill. The Government can take it all right, but I ask the Government to make a small gesture of conciliation. The delay may only be for six months.
This may be an opportune time to adjourn this debate. I do not wish to press my views any further at this stage. As I indicated at the beginning of my speech, I do not want tq raise contentious issues. I do not want to get down to the merits of clauses 6, 7 and 8. I do not want to see a destructive assault on the economy of Australia. I do not want to see good Australians involved in grave distress. I do not want to see people hungry. I do not want to see debts piling up against hundreds of thousands of people in this community. It is a picture that I view with real alarm. I do not ask the Government at this moment to express an opinion one way or the other. The Senate will adjourn in a few minutes, and I hope that,, overnight, the Government will consider my plea. If it does so, we may find to-morrow there is a possibility of a solution of this grave national problem. I conclude with the comment that we cannot accept the bill in its present form. At the committee stage, when the merits of the various clauses may be debated more adequately than they can be debated now, we shall submit certain amendments on the lines I have indicated. I hope that tolerance and wisdom will prevail in this matter, and that the Government will give deep consideration to what I asked for on behalf of the Opposition.
– The remarks which we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), and which he himself has said were not in his usual vein, are remarks of conscious restraint compared with the action that his leader, Dr. Evatt,, has taken to encourage and incite the strikers by a series of vehement and intimidatory statements in the last fortnight. Now that the significance of that action is borne upon the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, he has adopted an attitude designed to give the Senate and the country the impression that his main objective is to avert the consequences of a strike. He has chosen to use that as a cloak to conceal the fact that he is not prepared to support the arguments of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), or Dr. Evatt, both of whom have vehemently attacked this bill. I wish to remind honorable senators of two documents that are before this Parliament. The first is the report of Mr. Henry Basten, in 1951, which Dr. Evatt waved in the House of Representatives and described as a splendid report. In the foreword to that document, Mr. Basten said he had consulted with every interest associated with this industry and that -
My discussions with them have revealed perfect unanimity in one opinion. Not a single person has suggested that the turnround of ships is other than bad and, although some are well aware that this state of affairs is not limited to Australia, there can be no consolation in that for Australians, whose cost of living is raised by the delays which ships experience in their ports.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide for the payment of a bounty on sulphuric acid produced from materials of Australian origin. Before commenting on the various aspects of this bill, I should like to give honorable senators a brief outline of the Australian sulphuric acid industry and the considerations which led to the Government’s decision to introduce this particular bounty legislation. Sulphuric acid is, as honorable senators are aware, essential for the manufacture of almost all of our fertilizers and many of our strategic materials. Its adequate production in Australia is, therefore, of vital importance in the overall economy of this country.
The payment of a bounty on sulphur and sulphuric acid production in Australia is no innovation, as such provision has existed in the Commonwealth statutes since 1923. However, due to the war and subsequent substantial increases in the cost of imported brimstone, together with a global shortage of that material, the production of sulphuric acid in Australia from Australian sulphur bearing materials, such as pyrites, has not, until recently, been in need of governmental assistance. Existing bounty legislation is, of course, completely out of line with present day prices and it is now proposed to replace that legislation with the bill under consideration.
In 1950, when it was evident that brimstone would be in short supply and the future looked uncertain, the Government decided, as a matter of urgent policy, that every effort should be made to utilize Australian sulphur bearing materials to the greatest extent practicable. At the instigation of the Government, therefore, and with the industry itself well realizing the importance of becoming much more independent of overseas supplies of brimstone, a programme of converting some of the existing acid plants and the designing of new plants to use local sulphur bearing materials for the manufacture of sulphuric acid was started. This programme became known as the conversion programme. It is still proceeding, and it is not expected to be complete until the latter part of 1956. By that time the Government is hopeful that at least 65 per cent, of the capacity of the industry will be available to use Australian raw materials. Although the bulk of the cost of the conversion programme has been carried by the industry itself, the Government also has endeavoured to play its part in a practical manner.
Recent estimates have shown that the capital cost of new and converted acid plants constructed since 1950, have amounted to approximately £10,320,000. Of this amount, approximately £1,200,000 has been used to convert brimstone-burning plants to pyrite plants and approximately £1,520,000 has been expended in the development of pyrite production. Needless to say, the industry would not have entered into this capital expenditure without some form of assurance and continued assistance from the Government. To this end, the Government assured the industry that it would be protected against importations of brimstone at an imported cost which might render uneconomic the’ use of indigenous sulphur-bearing materials as a source of sulphur dioxide gas. Furthermore, the Government has already given assistance to the industry in the form of guaranteed bank overdrafts, and also the granting of import licences and the duty-free entry of plant and equipment for use in the conversion programme.
At this stage I should explain that the output of brimstone in the United States of America has a major influence on the world supply of that product. For example, in 1953 the world production of brimstone was 6,350,000 tons; of this 5,490,000 tons were produced in the United States. Expert opinion suggests that shortages and surpluses of world brimstone supplies will occur in cycles over the next twenty years, and while immediate prospects seem reasonably good for a period up to 1955, there is a general uncertainty regarding adequate supplies of sulphur in all forms being available to meet the demand in the period before 1960. This forecast alone should serve to stress the need for our industry to become more and more independent of imported brimstone supplies.
In this country, the bulk of our brimstone supplies are obtained from the United States. Those supplies, together with those available from other world markets, are purchased solely by the British Phosphate Commissioners who, on behalf of and in consultation with local acid manufacturers, distribute the brimstone throughout Australia at a common agreed price, usually referred to as the pool price. When the conversion programme was initiated the pool price of brimstone was £25 a ton. At that time it was possible to produce sulphuric acid from pyrites at a price that was competitive with acid from brimstone.
In July, 1953, as a result of a reduction of shipping freights, the pool price of brimstone fell to £20 10s. a ton which is its present price. This had an adverse effect on most Australian acid-producers who had converted, or who were in the process of converting and building, new plants for the utilization of pyrites since this made the cost of acid from brimstone less than that from pyrites. The Government has been most concerned over this situation, and while it is realized that brimstone could at any time be in short supply again, it is most desirable as a long-term policy that a pyrites-burning industry should be established in this country on a permanent basis.
Following a Tariff Board inquiry in 1952, the Government decided that if manufacturers producing sulphuric acid from materials of Australian origin required assistance to ensure that they would be protected against importations of brimstone, such assistance could be by way of a. bounty, subject to conditions to be prescribed. In view of the fall in the pool price of brimstone in 1953, and the degree of conversion that had already been carried out by the industry since 1950, it was clear that some form of assistance was required. As a consequence, the question of the level of bounty assistance needed by the industry was referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report. The Tariff Board conducted its inquiry in April and May of this year and in its report, which I have already tabled, the board has recommended, in effect, that a bounty be paid during the five years from the 1st July, 1954, on sulphuric acid produced in Australia from such Australian sulphur-bearing materials as are prescribed by regulations. As the board visualized that it may be necessary to provide for different rates of bounty in respect of sulphuric acid produced from different materials, it has also recommended that the rates of bounty be prescribed by regulations.
The Government has adopted these recommendations, and the bill now before honorable senators has been drafted accordingly. Contingent upon the passage of the bill through the Parliament, action will then be taken to issue regulations, effective as from the 1st July, 1954, which will give effect to the further recommendations of the board that -
pyrites produced in Australia be prescribed as a sulphur bearing material for purposes of the bounty :
The important feature of the conditions I have indicated is that bounty will, at this stage, be limited to sulphuric acid produced from pyrites. However, if and when representations are made for the payment of bounty on sulphuric acid produced from other Australian materials, such as spent-oxide and sinter gas, the bill provides that such action can be taken, if necessary, following a further inquiry and report by the Tariff Board. I would also point out that while the bill provides for the payment of bounty during a fiveyear period, it does not necessarily follow that the rate of bounty to be initially prescribed for pyritic acid, will automatically continue for that period. The need for the payment of the bounty will be kept under review and, if warranted, either by an upward or downward trend in price, the Tariff Board will be asked to again report on the measure of assistance required by the local industry.
Other significant aspects of the bill are that a total of £600;000 per annum is appropriated from Consolidated Revenue for the payment of bounty, and that bounty will not be paid so as to raise the net profit of a producer of sulphuric acid above 121/2 per cent, of the capital used in the production and sale of the sulphuric acid. I feel sure honorable senators will agree with me that it is essential, in view of the uncertainty which surrounds future supplies of brimstone, that the Australian industry should be developed to a stage where full advantage can be taken of the raw materials indigenous to Australia, at the committee stage, I shall move an amendment of a drafting nature to the bill. I shall explain the amendment fully in committee. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Flaherty) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill now before the Senate contains proposals for assisting the goldmining industry of Australia and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. From the national view-point, the goldmining industry is highly important. The annual value of gold output is in the region of £17,000,000. The industry thus makes a significant contribution to the national income, and, at the same time, produces a commodity that is of direct benefit to our balance of overseas payments. All the gold produced in Australia and the territories, apart from a minor quantity used for industrial purposes, represents an addition, in one form or another, to our international reserves. furthermore, there are large areas in Australia, especially in Western Australia, which are almost entirely dependent on gold -min ing. Any significant decline in gold-mining activity could lead to the depopulation of those areas and a widespread loss of housing and other utilities that have been developed over the years in the areas concerned. The Government believes that, for a number of reasons, it would not be in the national interest for these areas to languish.
A peculiar feature of gold is that, because its main use lies in the effecting of monetary settlements between nations, its price is not determined primarily by the market considerations that influence the price of other commodities in international trade. The Australian Government has consistently supported moves for an increase of the official world price for gold, and it will continue to do so. Unforunately, these efforts have proved of no avail to date, and the problems at present confronting the gold-mining industry can only be considered on the basis of the world price now ruling. The Commonwealth Bank’s buying price of gold, which must necessarily be related to the official world price, has remained unchanged since September, 1949, except for a minor adjustment of 2s. 8d. an ounce last May. Since 1949, there has, of course, been a substantial increase of the general cost level in Australia as well as in other countries, and this increase of costs is pressing very hard on sections of the gold-mining industry. Some of the largest mines are, in fact, currently operating at a loss.
During 1952 and 1953, the gold-mining industry obtained some relief from the pressure of increased costs by being able to make sales on overseas premium markets at prices in excess of the official price. The additional return to the industry from premium sales in those years amounted to about £1,800,000. The. price of gold on overseas premium markets slumped sharply in the latter part of 1953, and it has since been possible for the industry to make only odd sale3 at prices very little above the official price. The virtual disappearance of premium prices on overseas markets has, therefore, had an adverse effect on the financial position of the industry.
I shall now briefly explain the nature of the assistance to the industry that is proposed in the bill. Except in the case of small producers, to whom I shall refer later, the proposal is to pay a subsidy which varies according to the particular mine’s cost of producing gold. The amount of subsidy payable in a year on each ounce of fine gold produced is equal to three-quarters of the excess of average cost of production per ounce over £13 10s. The maximum rate of subsidy which may be paid is £2 an ounce.
The application of this formula will be clear if I give one or two examples. To begin with, a mine at which the cost of production is less than £13 10s. an ounce will not qualify for subsidy. As the official price of gold is £15 12s. 6d. an ounce, such a mine would be making a profit of at least £2 2s. 6d. an ounce and could not reasonably be regarded as needing assistance. A mine with a cost of production of £15 an ounce will receive a subsidy of £1 2s. 6d. an ounce, that is three-quarters of £1 10s., which is the excess of cost of production over £13 10s. At a cost of production level of £16 an ounce, the subsidy will be £1 17s. 6d. an ounce. The maximum subsidy of £2 an ounce will be payable if a mine’s cost of production is £16 3s. 4d. an ounce or more. A mine can operate at a profit unless its cost of production rises above £17 12s. 6d. an ounce. When a mine’s cost of production reaches this figure, it makes a trading loss of £2 an ounce on the official price of £15 12s. 6d., and this loss will be offset by the maximum rate of subsidy of £2 an ounce.
The extent of assistance provided under the scheme is based on the assumption that a producer receives £15 12s. 6d. an ounce for his gold, which is the Commonwealth Bank’s official buying price. A provision has, therefore, been included in the bill that, if a producer’s return rises above £15 12s. 6d. an ounce, whether as a result of premium sales or any other factor, the subsidy otherwise payable to him will be reduced by the amount of any excess over this price. As the purpose of the scheme is to assist the gold-mining industry, and not other mining industries which produce gold as an incidental part of their activities, there is a provision that a gold-producer is not eligible for subsidy unless the value of his gold output is more than one-half the value of his total mining output. If a producer operates more than one mining property, this test will be applied to each property separately.
In accordance with the usual practice, there is a provision that subsidy may not be paid so as to raise a producer’s profits above a certain level. The proposal is that if payment of subsidy in accordance with the formula would result in a producer’s profit from the production and sale of gold rising above 10 per cent, on capital employed by him in producing and selling gold, the amount of subsidy to which he is entitled will be reduced so as to restrict his profits to 10 per cent. A large section of the bill is devoted to the manner in ‘ which a producer’s cost of production will be calculated for the purpose of applying the formula. The actual cost to a producer of the mining and treatment of his gold up to the stage of refined gold will be allowable, together with appropriate charges for depreciation of plant and equipment and for administration. In addition, a producer will be allowed, within certain limits, to charge into his current operating costs his expenditure on development, that is, the finding, testing and preparation of ore bodies for future workings.
I mentioned earlier that subsidy payments to small producers who are defined as those whose annual output is less than 500 ounces of fine gold, will not be based on the formula. These producers will receive a flat rate subsidy of £1 10s. an ounce. Small producers will be treated in this manner mainly for administrative reasons. They are not subject to income tax and few of them keep detailed books of account and other documents relating to the cost of their operations. It would, therefore, be a formidable task to try to ascertain their costs of production for the purpose of applying the formula. For this reason, the Government concluded that the only practicable way of dealing with small producers would be to pay them a flat rate subsidy without cost of production or profit limitation tests. The proposed rate of £1 10s. an ounce is considered to be reasonable in relation to the rates of subsidy that are proposed for large producers.
In general, subsidy will be payable on gold produced in each of the financial years 1954-55 and 1955-56. In cases where a producer’s accounting year differs from a financial year, however, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) is given the power of adopting the producer’s accounting year if he considers that this is necessary for purposes of administration. There can be no doubt that sections of the gold-mining industry are in a parlous financial state, mainly because of circumstances beyond their control. The provision of assistance as proposed in this bill should do much to enable the industry to meet its present difficulties and to continue to play its important part in the Australian economy. The bill is, therefore, one which will, I feel sure, meet with general support and I commend it to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this bill is to ratify an agreement which has been reached by the Australian Government and the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia to increase the storage capacity of the Hume reservoir to a total capacity of 2,500,000 acre feet and to provide for the construction of regulators or other works on effluent creeks of the Murray between Tocumwal and Echuca to reduce to a minimum the loss of water down these effluents during the irrigation season. Under the original agreement of the 9th September, 1914, and subsequent amendments, the last of which was on the 19th December, 1948, works then estimated to cost £14,000,000 have been completed or are in course of construction. These works comprised the construction of the Hume dam, thirteen weirs and locks on the Murray River, two weirs on the Murrumbidgee River, a diversion weir on the Murray River at Yarrawonga, the Lake Victoria storage, and barrages at the Murray mouth.
Under the 1948 amending River Murray Agreement, the River Murray Commission was given authority to increase the capacity of the Hume reservoir from 1,250,000 acre feet to 2,000,000 acre feet and enlarge the inlet channel to Lake Victoria storage. These works, which are now in hand, were estimated at the time to cost approximately £2,000,000 and it was agreed that the cost should be borne in equal shares by the four contracting governments to the agreement. On the basis of present costs, this work will now approximate £4,450,000. Under the 1948 amendment the commission was also given authority to institute investigations into additional storages. The investigations have disclosed, that the further increase of the Hume Reservoir from a capacity of 2,000,000 acre feet to 2,500,000 acre feet is an economic and urgent proposition for the purpose of controlling the present flow in the river Murray. The estimated cost of the proposed increase in the capacity of the reservoir is £3,200,000, and an estimated increased production of £2,500,000 per annum gross from the additional water is expected.
At a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers oh the Snowy Mountains scheme in 1949, it was suggested that the Snowy Mountains authority should contribute towards the cost of a new storage on the upper Murray for the purpose of controlling the waters diverted under the scheme from the Snowy River to the Murray catchment. In more recent discussions it has been suggested that if the Snowy Mountains authority constructs works to divert water to the Murray River it should be bound either to provide additional storage on the upper Murray or to make a contribution to the cost of increasing the Hume Reservoir from 2,000,000 acre feet to 2,500,000 acre feet.
Since the recent’ war there has been a rapid expansion in irrigation in New South Wales and, to a lesser extent, in Victoria. With this increased storage capacity, the regulated flow available at Albury will enable the increased demands of the upper river States and the entitlement of South Australia to be met. South Australia will benefit to the ‘.extent that the incidence and severity of restriction in drought years will be lessened. The land on both sides of the river between Tocumwal and Echuca is very low lying and many effluent creeks take water from the river in that area. When the river reaches a certain height, creeks commence to flow. During the summer months it is necessary to pass a comparatively high flow down the river in order to meet irrigation requirements, and a considerable volume of water is wasted down the effluents. This loss could be particularly serious in time of drought.
The forests which are situated on both sides of the river in this district have considerable economic value, but due to the highly regulated flows required for irrigation purposes, effluent creeks have continued to run during the summer to the detriment of the trees and with considerable interference to the operations of saw-milling interests. Regulation of these effluent creeks will give added protection against flooding of the red gum forests in this area during the summer.. Therefore, these proposed regulators and other necessary works will be carried out on effluent creeks of the Murray between Tocumwal and Echuca.
The cost of construction of these regulators and other works would be relatively small, being in the vicinity of £100,000, and would be spread over a number of years.
The proposals forming the basis of the amending agreement have been the subject of a conference of Ministers representing the four contracting governments. This conference was held on the 19th July, 1954. Briefly, the amending agreement provides for -
Contracting governments have agreed that the total cost shall be borne in equal shares. They have made a provision, however, that in the event of contributions being received from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority towards the cost of works necessary to increase the capacity of the upper Murray storage from 2,000,000 acre feet to 2,500’,000 acre feet, the proceeds shall be applied in reduction of the amount which would otherwise have been shared by them. The Hume Reservoir is the key storage of the scheme and the Commonwealth has in the past contributed its share towards the cost of the works at Hume Reservoir and the other structures built under the agreement.
From the national viewpoint, I consider that the Commonwealth should continue as a full partner in the scheme by contributing its share towards the cost of the works that are now recommended. The contracting governments are willing to impose on the commission the further duties that are provided for in the new agreement. By doing this they have expressed their confidence in the commission and have again made manifest their interest in the success of the scheme.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Canned FruitsExport Control Act - Twentyeigth Annual Report of the Australian GuineaFuits Board, for year 1953-54.
Commonwealth Railways Act - Report on Commonwealth Railways operations for year 1953-54.
Distillation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1954, No. 108.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Thirtieth Annual Report of the Dried Fruits Control Board, for year 1953-54.
Excise Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1954, No. 109. judiciary Act - Rule of Court, dated 18th October, 1954.
Meat Export Charge Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1954, No. 111.
Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Regulations -
No. 9 ( Supply of Services Ordinance ) . 1954-
No. 11 (Motor Vehicles Ordinance).
No. 12 (Prisons Ordinance).
No. 13 (Supply of Services Ordinance) .
Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Works - D. S. McLagan.
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Twenty-sixth Annnal Report of the Australian Wine Board, for year 1953-54.
Senate adjourned at 12 midnight.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 November 1954, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1954/19541110_senate_21_s4/>.