22nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., mid read prayers.
– Can the Minister representing the- Minister for External Affairs say whether it is a fact that the Minister for External Affairs, in a recent statement, assured Parliament that elections, for a national assembly would be held shortly in Viet Nam? Is it not also a fact that Mr. Denis Warner, a’ wellinformed newspaper correspondent who has lived in South Asia for over ten years, recently wrote in the Australian press that he had interviewed President Ngo Dinh Diem, who had declared firmly that the elections would never take place? Can the Minister inform the Senate, and, through it, the people of Australia, of the true position? Will he also tell us whether the recent decision to grant self-government to Malaya has, in any way, affected the position regarding the presence of Australian troops in that country ?
– I do not recollect the statement of the Minister for External Affairs to which the honorable senator has referred, nor have I seen the press report mentioned by him. I shall ascertain whether a statement dealing with the matter can be made, and shall let the honorable senator know the result of my inquiries. I understand that the recent negotiations hare not affected the position of our troops in Malaya.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware of the entirely inadequate and outworn state of the post office at Railton, Tasmania? Can he inform the Senate whether plans have been, or will be, prepared for the urgently-needed replacement of the present structure, and can he say when we may expect a start to be made to rebuild the post office premises there?
– I cannot give the honorable senator any information offhand on the subject that he has raised, but I shall bring his question to’ the notice of the Postmaster-General, and have a report prepared for him.
– I was very interested in a question which was submitted to the Minister for National Development on Tuesday last by Senator Annabelle Rankin, concerning the Zillmere housing contract, in Queensland. In reply to Senator Rankin, the Minister stated that, recently, he had been obliged to write to the Queensland housing Minister concerning claims for a subsidy of £300 a house, made on the Australian Government by the Queensland Government, in connexion with houses which had not been imported at all, or alternatively, which had been built of Australian materials. Has the Queensland Government yet offered an explanation of its action in claiming subsidy on houses which had not been built?
– There has been a further development in this matter, in that, within the last day or so, a reply has been received by my department to a letter that I addressed to the Queensland housing Minister some five months ago. In the letter that I wrote to him, I asked whether he would obtain from the Queensland Auditor-General a certificate stating that the houses had been imported and that they had been erected. In the reply that I have received, which comes from the Queensland Housing Commissioner and not from the Minister, the commissioner takes the stand that a certificate is not necessary. He takes the view that the Queensland authorities are not required to establish that the houses were imported and were actually built. He says that it is sufficient if the Queensland Government paid the purchase price due under the contract. I am having that letter examined. I do not agree with that contention at all. It seems to me that it is imperative that the Queensland Housing Commission should establish that the houses were actually imported and actually erected. The Commonwealth agreed to pay a subsidy of £300 a house at a time when there was a shortage of houses. It is not sufficient, it seems to me, for the commission to endeavour to establish that all it has to do is to enter into a contract, and that it has no responsibility to the Commonwealth to show that the contract was carried out and that the houses were built. My information is that the Queensland Housing Commission has claimed subsidy on a substantial number of houses,, claiming that they were imported houses, whereas, as to some proportion, the houses upon which the subsidy was claimed were built entirely of Australian materials.
– Entirely ?
– Entirely of Australian materials as to a number of houses. As to other houses, they contain approximately 80 per cent, to 90 per cent, of Australian materials. As I said previously, I am not prepared to let the matter rest there. Five months ago, I asked the Queensland Housing Commission to arrange for the Auditor-General to certify that the houses were built. At the end of that period I received a reply La which it was stated that there was no need for that to be done because the Commonwealth was liable so long as the Queensland Government had paid the amount due under the contract.
– Was the subsidy paid?
– The subsidy was paid, with the exception of an amount of £10,800 that I withheld pending a satisfactory determination of the position. About a month ago I wrote a second letter, in which I asked the Queensland Government to agree to a Commonwealth investigation of the whole of the 886 houses so that the Commonwealth might know exactly which of them were imported. I have not yet received a reply to that communication.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
In view of the widespread interest of Australian people in the exploitation of the Bulolo timber stands in the Bulolo Valley in New Guinea, involving considerable Commonwealth funds, will the Minister inform the Senate whether an annual report and balancesheet is published; if so, will the Minister table such annual report in the Senate?
– The Minister for Territories has supplied the following information : -
As indicated in the report, the production of plywood by the company in 1954-55 was 32,000,000 square feet calculated on a ^%-in. basis.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Debate resumed from the 29th February (vide page 218) on motion by Senator Buttfield -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
May it Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– At the conclusion of my remarks last night, I was discussing the imminent sale of the whaling station which is established at Carnarvon, in Western Australia. I had outlined to the Senate the history of that enterprise which was established by the Chifley Labour Government in 1949. It has proved to be such a success that it has repaid already £850,000 of its original cost to the Government. It has paid £150,000 in interest, has nearly £500,000 in bank deposits and other securities and last season showed a profit of £223,000. This year the profit is likely to be in the vicinity of £200,000, because of a decrease in the number of whales which have been treated at Carnarvon. That decrease is not due to any lack of efficiency at the station but to the fact that the quota for the station has been reduced in order to conserve whales in the Antarctic.
Despite this story of the wonderful success which has been achieved by the. Australian Whaling Commission, the Government has decided to sell this station.. That would not be so bad - bad and all asit is - if the method in which this transaction has been carried on were not shrouded in doubt and secrecy. Since the war, whenever there has been a sale of surplus stock in any government department, the matter has always been advertised and the sale effected by auction or public tender. Advertisements have been inserted in the press of the States concerned. That has been done whether the asset has been a second-hand bed or a face towel. Now, when we come to this very important asset which is making a profit of £200,000 a year on an initial outlay of £1,000,000, and which can rightly be said to have a capital value of about £4,000,000, it is to be disposed of by means of letters sent out by the Minister to interested parties. I believe that the most interested party in this transaction is the Australian Parliament, and the Government should not have handled this matter in the way it did. The Minister has stated that the persons who were likely to be interested in the sale of the whaling station have already been communicated with, and that during the past few weeks interested parties have been given full access to the books, the accounts, and the general records of the working of the Australian Whaling Commission in order that they may arrive at some figure which will enable them to tender for the purchase of this wonderful national asset.
I believe that there are three alternatives facing the Government with regard to this whaling station. First, the Government may continue it as a national asset. The whaling industry is of vital importance to the people of Western Australia, particularly those who live in the north-west of the State. For their sake this very important industry should be maintained at its present highly efficient standard, the standard at which it has been conducted during the five years of ks successful operation. The northwestern part of Australia, to which much lip service is paid in this chamber and elsewhere, but which has received scant attention from the Australian Government, particularly since World War II. ended, is sadly lacking in roads, water supplies and all other developmental assets. The profit made from the conduct of the whaling industry could well be diverted by the Australian Government to the provision of water for the banana growers and others in the Carnavon district, or for the provision of an allweather road from Northhampton to Carnavon which could later become an important part of a fully sealed road from Perth to the north-west.
Failing that, if the Australian Government desires to sell the whaling station its first approach should be to the Government of Western Australia. The Minister has stated that, in 1952, as far back as three years ago, the State Government was informed that the Commonwealth intended to dispose of this asset, but the State Government of the day, which was a Liberal government, was not interested in the projected sale. It has been said that the present Labour Government of Western Australia ought to have had cognizance of this matter, and could have interested itself in it. That may be so, but perhaps the Government of Western Australia was lulled into a false sense of security when no further move was made by the Australian Government with regard to the disposal of the whaling industry. I understand that the Western Austraiian Government is vitally interested, but it was not until the matter was raised in the Australian Parliament a few weeks ago that the State Govern ment was assured that the sale was imminent, and hastened to discuss the matter with the Commonwealth.
Some good has come out of the discussions of this matter in this Parliament, and it now appears that the sale, which was to be completed during the last few days, has now been deferred until the 15th March in order that the Government of Western Australia may submit an offer for the whaling station. That is definitely a matter in which the Australian Government and the State Government should get together and discuss the future of the station. Moreover, priority should be given by the Commonwealth to the State to enable it to continue the station as it is being conducted at present.
Now let us consider whether the whaling station should be sold to private enterprise, as I understand supporters of the Government honestly believe should be the case. They believe that the Australian Whaling Commission has now fulfilled its function, and that the whole matter should be taken over by private enterprise. The history of whaling in the Commonwealth has shown that, over the years, private enterprise has done very little to develop the industry. Whaling was carried on spasmodically around our coasts, but it was not until the Australian Whaling Commission proved that whaling could be carried on successfully, and trained the necessary technicians - some of whom are now serving in other whaling stations in Western Australia - that whaling became a profitable and successful industry.
Since 1952, the whaling industry has been of great value to other primary industries in Western Australia. In 1952, the West Australian agricultural authorities stated that the whaling industry had saved the State poultry industry, because it provided the protein meal which was so badly needed for poultry, and which formerly had been imported from the eastern States. Unfortunately, this meal was in short supply and at that time could not be obtained for Western Australia. The Australian Whaling Commission was able to supply very much needed proteins for the poultry industry and for stock feed. Since that time, it has introduced other forms of machinery to deal with other by-products of the whaling industry, and to-day nothing is wasted. An export trade in whale oil has been established, and every by-product is being used, in some form or another, in primary industries.
Now, after the whaling station has proved successful, the Australian Government has decided to dispose of the assets. Probably the fortunate purchaser will be able to buy the assets on the hire-purchase system. For a deposit of 25 per cent, or 30 per cent., or whatever it may be, the purchaser will be able to take over the whaling station, and will be able to pay off the debt from the profits of two or three years trading. The purchaser will then have a valuable asset completely free of debt because of the efficiency with which the station has been operated.
There is talk of another station in Western Australia taking over the Carnarvon station and then treating 1,000 whales a year. The quota for the existing station permits of the treatment of only 500 whales. Since the profit on 500 whales is £200,000 a year, the operators can expect to double the profit with 1,000 whales. An assurance has been given by a Minister in another place that an endeavour will be made to ensure that there will not be any displacement of staff. However, if a company, which is already operating another station efficiently, takes over the station at Carnarvon, it would be most uneconomic for it to maintain two staffs to treat 1,000 whales when the Carnarvon station is itself equipped to handle that number. If the company can get a modern, well equipped station to take 1,000 whales, it would be ridiculous to maintain two stations and two staffs. The letter of the whaling contract would be observed for twelve months, but at the end of that time, many employees would be out of work if one station were organized to do the work of two.
I should like to see all the papers in connexion wtih this transaction tabled in the Senate to ensure that this vital asset is not sold secretly and so that honorable senators will be given an opportunity to discuss the matter. It has become a burning question in Western Australia. I have here various articles from the Western Australian press which show that public opinion in that State is definitely against the sale of the Australian Whaling Commission’s assets. The people want its activities to be continued. They do not want to see private persons gain the benefit from the Government’s wise choice of management by the commission. They want those profits to be put back into the country’s assets. I put in a claim now for the Government of Western Australia to have some priority if the Australian Government ultimately decides to proceed with the sale of the station.
Similar protests would arise if the Government decided to dispose of some of the other national assets because they were too successful. I remember that, a few years ago, there was a controversy about the future of the Lady Gowrie child welfare centres. The present Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) will remember this, because he, too, was a member of the Social Services Committee. A rumour was spread abroad that, as the experimental period had been successful, the Government intended to close the centres down. The Social Services Committee inquired into the matter and it was decided, because of the great success of the child welfare centres, to continue the work. I should like to see a decision taken today in regard to the Australian Whaling Commission.
I should like now to deal briefly with other aspects of the Governor-General’s Speech. First, I wish to congratulate Senator Buttfield on her re-election to the Senate. It has given me great pleasure to see the number of women representatives in this chamber increased by 500 per cent, over twelve and a half years. That is an increase that the male members of this chamber cannot claim! Of course, we are here not as men and women, but as representatives of the States. The election of five women senators indicates clearly that women can represent States in this Parliament as adequately as men.
Although the honorable senator made an interesting speech, I found myself in disagreement with some of her remarks, one of which was referred to by Senator Seward during this debate last evening. That was her proposition that money should be made available at a low rate of interest for the building of luxury hotels in Australia. Surely there are other more worthy objectives which should receive government assistance. As the Government has withdrawn the subsidy on tea, and reduced the subsidy on butter, it seems strange that one of its supporters should advocate subsidizing the building of luxury hotels, particularly when government assistance is urgently needed for home-building and the provision of homes for pensioners, widows, and so on. 1 am certain that, although the honorable senator did not mention these matters, they were in her mind.
A great deal has been said both in this chamber and in the press about communism on the waterfront. No matter what the occasion, whether it be a criticism in relation to a national crisis, or press comments on a popular question, inevitably, sooner or later, communism, or the waterside workers, will come in for more than a fair share of criticism. I make it clear that I am definitely opposed to communism; I have been opposed to it all my life. To determine my attitude in this matter did not require the setting up of another political party. I deplore very greatly the smearing of the Labour party at election time in an endeavour to link it with communism. Nothing could be further from the truth than the suggestion that there is such a link. As soon as the waterside workers are mentioned, the opponents of Labour raise the cry, “ They are run by the Communists “. I should like to relate an experience I had recently at a waterside workers’ meeting. A proposition was advanced to assist the Communists in some small way. Of the 1,400 waterside workers present, apart from the mover and seconder, only eleven of them supported the motion. The fact that only thirteen of the 1,400 waterside workers present supported the proposition to assist the Communists is significant. It indicates quite clearly that the waterside workers in Western Australia are not Communist-led. We know that in our universities, and among the professions, and even in the British Medical Association, there are some members who espouse Communist doctrines. Such people are to be found in every walk of life. There fore, I repeat that a record of thirteen votes out of 1,400 delegates which, although I am not a mathematician, I know is less than 1 per cent., is really a. very low average. It ill behoves those who look for peace on the waterfront to hold this challenge of communism against the waterside workers, and overlook all those others who play an important part in the waterfront unrest which, unfortunately, has paralyzed our economy from time to time. These disputes are never one-sided, and, therefore, instead of hurling epithets at the waterside workers, it would be better if all parties who are affected by these disputes would get together in an attempt to iron out their differences, and give justice to all concerned. Justice also is not a one-way traffic; there should be justice to all parties. We shall not get justice and. tolerance unless we exhibit those qualities in our actions, and our thinking.
A good deal has been said about Senate reforms. Indeed, this subject is a hardy annual; it arises after every Senate election, and also at other times. I think we are all agreed that there is need for reform in matters relating to the functions of the Senate and the method of electing senators. In this debate we have head the word “ accident “ mentioned. Surely there should be some way to elect members to this Senate without having their election depend on accidents. We hear people say that candidates received a number of accidental votes. I regard that as an indictment of the electors. In Western Australia we found that, with the multiplicity of parties in the election and the form of the ballot-paper, there were many more informal votes than at previous elections. There were seven different columns on the ballot-paper, with the result that the ballot-paper was nearly as wide as I am. Voters became tired before they got half way across the field. The whole system must be looked into. If only five senators are to be elected, and electors have to vote for seventeen candidates, it does not seem right that, merely because a voter puts the same numeral against two different names, or omits a number, or refuses to put a number against a Communist candidate or a candidate of some other party, his vote should be regarded as informal.
The very fact that throughout Australia there were hundreds of thousands of informal votes shows that something should be done. At the declaration of the poll I said that Senate voting had become a lottery. The political parties who were contesting the election had to draw for their places on the ballot-paper. The result can be important. We all recall that a few days ago Senator McCallum declaimed against the charge that he had Communist leanings because he had received the second preferences of electors who gave their first preferences to Communist candidates. The honorable senator explained that that had happened because his name followed the name of the Communist candidate on the ballotpaper. I know that there are some who claim that they are not concerned with their position on the ballot-paper, but these things are true. The placing of names on the ballot-paper is something that should not be the result of chance. It should not be a case of drawing a number out of a hat. In Western Australia the Labour party had sixth place on the ballot-paper. Luckily, Labour candidates were not in the fifth column; the right people were there. We found also that during the campaign some candidates combined to form a team, not because they had similar interests but in order to get into the draw. That is because independents have no part in the draw.
I contend that all candidates should have equal rights as to their place on the ballot-paper. Some years ago Senator Scott put forward a proposal in favour of a circular ballot-paper. Things go round and round enough already without having circular ballot-papers, but the honorable senator’s proposal is worth considering, as it may be a means of solving this difficulty. Another solution may be to give individual candidates equal chances at elections by dropping altogether the team idea,’ and putting the names of individual candidates, not always in alphabetical order, on the ballot-paper. The alphabetical arrangement does not suit me because my name would always be well down on the list. Another proposal is for every candidate to have his name first on the same number of ballot-papers. For instance, if there are five candidates, and 100 ballot- papers are issued, each candidate would have his name first on twenty ballotpapers, second on a further twenty papers, and so on right down to number five. Under that system, there would be no unfair discrimination, and all candidates would be equally treated on the ballotpaper. I realize that such a system would give more work to returning officers, but if it would give better results and avoid the element of chance, it is worth considering. Under the present system, voters who may be quite clear as to which candidates will be given their first preferences, may continue numbering their ballotpapers in such a way that candidates occupying, say, the thirteenth or fourteenth positions would receive preferences which would make those positions more valuable than, say, first and second positions.
The whole subject has become so important that I hope that the committee which it is proposed to set up, and which incidentally was promised after earlier elections but never appointed, will deal with this matter and find a satisfactory solution. I am not in favour of recording on the ballot-paper the political parties to which candidates belong, more particularly if the names are not a true designation of the candidates’ political affiliations. The- Parliament should be able to devise some way by which the names of duly accredited political parties will not be pirated by others. Perhaps it could be done by patenting names, or something of that kind. In Western Australia, some candidates described themselves as a group of the Labour party although they did not belong to the Australian Labour party. In that State also, there were two sections of the Government team; there was the Menzies Senate team and the Fadden team.. There was also what was called the “ Pep “ party; I do not know whether it originated in Canberra. The existence of these sporadic parties does not make for stability, and if our elections are not to become a farce, this is a matter that the committee should inquire into.
I desire now to deal with some aspects of our immigration policy, and, first, I wish to refer to the success that has attended one form of migration, namely the migration of children. I was honoured by being asked to receive the first group of child immigrants who came to Australia in Asturias seven or eight years ago. Many of those children have become my personal friends and still come to see me, although they are now working in industry. Some of them spent Christmas at my home in Perth, because that is really the only home they have known, other than the institutions to which they went on arrival, since coming to Australia. I have found that these young people who come here as children, who have received their education in our schools, and who are now going into industry, make excellent citizens.
Recently, as honorable senators will remember, there was a tragic accident in Western Australia when some child immigrants were on their way to spend the Christmas holidays in private homes. One o’ them was killed and several of them were badly maimed and injured. It was most heartening, in a community in which so much is heard of communism and nasty things of that kind, to see all sections of the community, regardless of class, creed or political beliefs, rallying to help the child victims of that smash. All the bitterness was forgotten in the wave of human sympathy and understanding which flowed throughout Western Australia, and elsewhere, and the desire to assist in a practical way the children who had been so badly maimed. I think that it augurs well for the success of our child immigration scheme when we find that all sections of the community are so vitally interested in the welfare of these little ones who have come to Australia to make it their home, to receive the best that Australia can give, and to give their best in return.
During the last three or four years, I have been present at many naturalization ceremonies. As I say, it is most gratifying to see such fine types of young men and women coming to Australia and becoming Australian citizens. I want to pay tribute to the city councils, and to local government authorities generally, for the great pains that they go to in order to make such ceremonies attractive and to impress on the new citizens the fact that they are welcome in our community. It is a far cry from the days when naturalization ceremonies were held in court rooms, when dinginess and sordidness were only too apparent. All that has gone. Such functions are now attractive and impressive.
I wish to thank all the various agencies, such as voluntary committees and other bodies, which help to make naturalization ceremonies such as success. I also want to thank the Good Neighbour Councils, church organizations and other bodies which do their utmost to help these new citizens to fit into the community. As I have said in the Senate on previous occasions, it always amazes me to see the volume of voluntary work that is being done in the community by organizations of men and women. There can be no substitute for voluntary service, because such service carries with it the imprimatur of goodwill and self-sacrifice, which is its guarantee of success.
Last year, when we were discussing the Supplementary Estimates in the Senate, I directed attention to the fact that, only a short time before, budget proposals had been brought down in the Parliament and that, within fourteen days or so of that happening, the whole picture of the Australian economy had altered. I suggested, at that time, that the Government should make some kind of economic report, so that the people might know exactly how economic matters stood. I am neither sufficiently vain nor naive to believe that my words were heeded by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), but it is very gratifying to think that somebody apparently had the same idea, because, only recently, the first White Paper on this subject was presented to the Parliament. In my opinion, that was a very good idea, and I hope that it will be continued.
There is a great deal more that I could say about defence and the allied subjects referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech, but as I have taken up- so much of the Senate’s time already, I shall not discuss those matters now. I hope that an opportunity will be given to honorable senators, in the near future, to discuss those important aspects of our national life.
– I wish to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. There is no need for me to elaborate on this matter because congratulations have been forthcoming from honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. I was very pleased to see that in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech priority was given to foreign affairs and defence. In my opinion, that is a sign that Australia is becoming a nation, that it is taking its place more and more each year amongst the nations of the world, and that it is having a larger say in world affairs. Foreign affairs and defence go hand in hand. They are matters which affect the lives of all Australians. If our lives are imperilled by the threat of war they may be saved by the action that we have taken in relation to foreign policy and national defence. I admit that economic matters are important, but in the long run they affect only the comfort of the people. I am pleased to see that increasing attention is being given to the more important matters of foreign affairs and defence. It seems to me also that the people of this country are now taking a much greater interest in those things.
For those reasons I think that it was quite proper for Senator Kennelly, who opened this debate for the Opposition, to stress- the importance of foreign policy and adequate defence measures. The honorable senator referred to the foreign policy of the Australian Labour party, somewhat unnecessarily, I thought, because that policy is already extremely well known to the people of Australia and was a vital question at the recent general election. The people have demonstrated their attitude to that policy. The honorable senator also dea.lt with a. matter that is now one of history: the defence measures taken by the Australian Labour party during the last war. In the course of doing so, he decried the conduct of the Liberal party in that connexion. As I say, that is a matter of history and is not now of real interest to Australian electors. Indeed, I thought that the subject did not merit the time that the honorable senator devoted to it. Of course, I do not blame him for taking pride in Labour’s War effort, but it seems to me that those who may be proudest of the war effort are the people of Australia and the fighting men. They are the ones who really made history and put Australia on the map, so to speak. The part of the Government was not so vital, although it was important.
I ask Senator Kennelly whether history really shows that the war effort of the Labour Government was really 100 per cent, efficient. I doubt that it was. I suggest that the honorable senator read volume IV. of Sir Winston Churchill’s account of the war years. If he does so, he will find there some very caustic remarks about the return of the Australian troops from the Middle East at a very critical period of the war in North Africa.
– Those troops were Australians, nevertheless.
– I admit that, but Australia was a member of the British Empire and was engaged in a common effort. Indeed, it was an effort which involved all the democracies. The fact that Australian troops were taken home at that period endangered the safety of the nations fighting at our side. The formation of two armies in Australia was nothing to be proud of. It meant that one army could go anywhere but the other could not go beyond a. certain line. That created a great deal of discord in Australia and trouble in the Army. It certainly prevented Australian troops from going forward with the American forces to Japan. The Australians were kept behind to engage Japanese who were cut off, and could not take any part in the war and should have been left alone. Somewhere in the Bible is a question -
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?
Neither can, but that does not mean to say that a political party cannot change its policy. Parties may change their policies, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in doing so. An individual is entitled to change his opinion. Circumstances change and throughout the world there is a daily change in all spheres. Since the days of the last war, the Australian Labour party has certainly changed its policy, of which Senator Kennelly is so proud. That .party has opposed every aspect of the Government’s defence policy. At the end of the war, the Labour party reduced the defence forces of Australia to the lowest minimum ever known in the history of the Commonwealth. There were fewer men and ships than in 1901 when the Commonwealth was founded. The Leader of the Australian Labour party (Dr. Evatt), refused to allow the United ‘States of America the continued use of Manus Island as a naval base. The United States had spent £60,000,000 in developing a naval base on Manus Island, and when peace was signed offered it to Australia as a gift on the sole condition that in war-time it might have the use of the base. As a result of Dr. Evatts refusal the base on Manus Island was dismantled and the equipment sold. Since the Menzies Government took office, £30,000,000 has been spent to restore the naval base, but we cannot afford to put it into its former condition.
I recall that soon after I was elected to this House the Labour party opposed compulsory training. It had control of the Senate in those days, and did everything to prevent that policy from being implemented. The Labour party has always objected to the budget allocation for defence, and has argued that the amount set aside is too great. The Labour party attacked Australia’s joining the Anzus pact, which was designed to place Australia alongside the United States of America in the defence of the Pacific because of our mutual interests there. That pact gave Australia a powerful ally for defence, and no offensive action was contemplated. The Labour party opposed the sending of Australian troops to Korea, even when they were serving under the United Nations Organization. Why should they oppose a move to fight aggressive communism under the direction of a world organization ? The Labour party attacked the Government also for sending troops to Malaya, on the ground that such action would make enemies among the people of Malaya, and would be opposed to Malaya’s fight for independence. It is interesting to notice that Britain has now given Malaya its independence, and although it is alleged that Malaya was not in favour of Australian and British troops being sent to that country, yesterday’s press reports that Malaya is asking Britain for an interest-free loan to help in her fight .against communism. When that country’s independence is established, it will welcome troops from the free countries. Malaya intends to stay within the British Empire, and I know that Australian troops will be welcome there. It will not be surprising if they ask the Australian Government to allow them to remain.
The Labour party has always argued that the defence of Australia should be kept within its . own coastline. Such a policy is as out of date as bows and arrows. The Labour party is opposed also to trials of atomic weapons in Australia. The attitude of the Opposition is to keep the defence activities of Australia within this continent, and the remaining countries of the British Empire can do their share in fighting against possible aggressors in other parts of the world. Their policy is, “Leave it to the others to look after the rest of the world, but let us stay at home in Australia “.
I wish to make it clear that, in my opinion, not one Labour senator is a Communist, but the Australian Labour party’s foreign and defence policy suits the Communists down to the ground. The opposition to every one of the defence items I have mentioned is in keeping with Communist policy. I have a very simple faith, which I commend to the Australian Labour party. I am convinced that what is good for the Communists is bad for me, and I definitely oppose any policy - irrespective of the party sponsoring it - that will assist the Communists or which runs parallel with their policy.
– All Labour politicians do not think that way.
– Of course, they do not.
– But they do not say so.
– They have to get up and say so; but that is just party politics. I am not blaming them ; they have to make the best of it. I do not know what happened at the Hobart conference, although Senator Col» says he does; but I think that a fewpeople carried away the Australian Labour party. I guarantee that if Labour senators could say what they really think they would not agree with much of their official policy.
It was stated recently in Russia at a conference at which the Communist party executive was elected - that preparedness and readiness in defence prevents war. This Government has been saying that for a long time. That has been behind our policy, but it was very interesting to hear that principle officially enunciated in Russia only a few days ago. This business of defence preparedness and readiness requires lots of money, and it is interesting to compare what Great Britain and Australia are doing. “Whereas Great Britain is to spend £1,548,780,000 on defence this year, an increase of £11,500,000 on its expenditure for this purpose last year, Australia intends to spend £190,000,000 on defence this year, which is £10,000,000 less than it spent for this purpose last year. Great Britain is spending eight times as much as Australia is spending on defence, although Britain’s population is only approximately four and a half times that of this country. Yet, during the last general election campaign our friends in the Opposition were tearing shreds off the Government for spending this amount of money, and they were urging that it be reduced greatly in order to carry out all sorts of promises which wore impossible of fulfilment.
The Governor-General, in his Speech, stated -
My advisers are, therefore, resolutely purtilling the improvement of the training and equipment of our armed services and research into the design and use of modern weapons.
I was extremely pleased to read that statement, and I commend the Government for it. The trend these days is tip reduce the armed forces by large numbers and to concentrate on modern tactical weapons, which are being evolved and manufactured almost daily, such as field guns, which use atomic weapons. It is also very interesting to know that although Britain is increasing its expenditure on defence this year by £11,500,000, it will reduce its armed forces by .100,000 men. “We, in Australia, Gould well examine our defence arrangements along the same lines. I have never felt that our present system of compulsory train - ing, from a military point of view - I stress that - is all that could be desired. From the point of view of the morale and physique of the youth of this country and also from the point of view of instilling discipline, our training system is excellent. I fully approve of it and hope that it will be continued. However, from a military point of view I have never been satisfied with it as I think that it could be greatly improved. A large number of men are being trained to move in formation from position A to position B, and to use a rifle, a light machine gun and a mortar, but they do not get much more training than that. A reduction might well be made in the number of men in training with a view to releasing suitable men who would be indispensable in primary or secondary industry in the event of war. Such men should be carefully selected and exempted from national training. That has been done to a certain degree, but the time has come when we should examine the present system a little more closely.
Perhaps, we could increase the size of our standing army because at present it is really extremely small. It comprises one brigade group and, as every soldier knows, a brigade group is the smallest tactical unit which can be put in the field anywhere. A brigade group is just a collection of all the various arms, and it is the smallest unit capable of fighting. Of course, difficulties would arise in increasing the standing army. Australia needs a force which can be moved to its northern boundaries at very short notice, but it does not possess such a force under the present system of training. There is not a field formation in Australia, and I doubt whether we could have such a formation ready to go overseas in much under a year. It is most desirable to have one in existence, and we should examine our position in that respect.
As I have said, difficulties will be involved in increasing our standing army. Recruiting has not been good, but surely that problem can be overcome. It is not insurmountable, because all sorts of improvements suggest themselves. It is interesting to note that only last week the pay of members of the British army was increased. This will cost Britain a” large sum of money. Expenditure will be a considerable factor in our case also. But. could we not increase pensions and gratuities and provide better conditions for the armed forces? I suggest that a change-over of battalions would make the army very much more popular than it is at present, lt would be an extremely good idea if an Australian battalion could be sent to Great Britain and a battalion of the British army could be sent to Australia. The families of the men need not be sent over. That scheme would have many advantages. Many young men in Australia would join the army for some years if by doing so they had a chance of going overseas. Many of them, probably, would come back married, and that would help our immigration scheme to a great extent. That suggestion would not cost a lot of money because it could be done on a training basis. There is no reason why an aircraft carrier could not transport the troops overseas. If Australia is ever engaged in another war, troops will have to be carried overseas and the transport of a battalion overseas now would be very good training. This transport type of training is already followed in the Navy and in the Air Force, and could be also adopted by our Military Forces. I can remember as far back as 1913, when the then government - which I believe was a Labour government - was adopting the policy of sending troops of the Citizen Military Forces to England to gain experience on a sort of exchange basis. Our troops went over there, but the British troops did not come here. I remember that quite clearly, because I had been selected to go with a squadron of light horse before World War I. I believe that a similar system, if adopted by the present Government, would make the Citizen Military Forces more popular, and we would thus get better types of recruits. I also believe that there should be a more widespread exchange of officers from the Citizen Military Forces with officers in the British Army, or our officers could be sent overseas for a few months - or perhaps a year - to broaden their knowledge.
One of the difficulties that the Citizen Military Forces face at present is a lack of officers. Officers who served in the last war are getting older and are gradually retiring, but their places are not being filled. Anything that we can do to make the service more attractive in order to increase the intake of officers, would be of a great advantage to the Army and to the nation generally.
I believe that the greatest deterrent to war is the fact that the hydrogen bomb may be used, and in that regard, I suppose that everybody remembers that Sir Winston Churchill once said that probably in the end the hydrogen bomb would prevent war. Consequently, it was with great pleasure that I read the following words in His Excellency’s Speech : -
My Government is co-operating with the Government of the United Kingdom m the testing of nuclear weapons. They will, consistently with the safety of the civil population, continue to do so.
I understand that we are soon to hold two series of atomic tests in Australia, one at Monte Bello and one at Maralinga. Our part in those trials was opposed by Senator Kennelly in a speech that he delivered in this chamber quite recently, but I personally cannot understand why the Labour party opposes the tests. Russia is advocating that the tests should not be held, and I believe that what is good for Russia is bad for us. There is no doubt that it would be of benefit to Russia if the West stopped making atomic experiments. Russia has a vast territory behind the iron curtain, where it can carry on all sorts of atomic experiments without us knowing anything about them.
I am well aware that if the Russians explode an atomic bomb we can detect it by means of certain instruments, but there are all sorts .of other important experiments which cannot be detected at all. I have no doubt that a good stockpile of bombs exists in Russia, and that the Russians are continually experimenting with bomb trigger mechanisms and other important devices which we know nothing about. Moreover, the proposed experiments to be conducted on Australian territory will not involve the explosion of a hydrogen bomb, or at any rate a large one. Senator Kennelly might have been concerned with what is known as the “ spill out “ from the explosion of an atomic bomb, but I feel sure that neither our scientists nor our Government would endanger the lives of any of the Australian people. Indeed, it is just ridiculous to think that they would.
No government of any kind would allow any scientific experiments if there were any danger at all to the population. We must take our place with the other free nations of the world, in that if we have territory suitable for atomic experiments we should give Britain permission to use it. I was pleased to hear that these tests will be carried out in Australia. Long may we continue to co-operate in experimenting with atomic explosions !
His Excellency mentioned research on guided missiles at the long range weapons research establishments in South Australia. I do not believe that many people in Australia realize the danger to this country from guided missiles. In my opinion, these missiles constitute the greatest threat that has ever been offered to our country. We may think that Australia is still rather isolated from the rest of the world, but the advantage of its isolation is gradually being nullified. Even before I left the Army about ten years ago, the authorities considered that within three years it would have been possible to fire a guided missile from a range of about 500 miles with greater accuracy than a 25-pound battery could fire, and I was interested to read in the press last week that the Russians have claimed that they have a guided missile which could be fired from Russian territory and which could hit any selected city in America.
Guided missiles will undoubtedly continue to be developed until the stage is reached when they can be used against Australia from, perhaps, Malaya. Three thousand miles is not a great distance over which to fire a guided missile, and Perth could be hit from Colombo, and Sydney could be hit from a place not far north of New Guinea. Perhaps Sydney could be hit from many places in Indonesia or countries immediately to the north of Indonesia. When it is remembered that an atomic warhead can be fitted to a guided missile, we realize that with the perfection of these missiles our cities could be blown to pieces in a very short time from a very great distance. Moreover, guided missiles would be extremely hard to intercept. All that adds up to the fact that guided missiles may be looked upon as the greatest potential danger to this country, and, therefore, the Government should be commended for the work that it is carrying out in the weapons research establishments in Australia. Our isolation has almost disappeared because the guided missile will supersede the aeroplane and will be far more difficult to stop.
His Excellency, in his Speech, did not mention civil defence but perhaps one could not expect him to mention everything. I am pleased to know that the Government is beginning to undertake some form of civil defence. I understand that a civil defence school has been opened at Mount Macedon, in Victoria, and I believe that instructors have already returned from overseas, having learnt something of civil defence methods, and are ready to instruct our own people. I am well aware that much of our civil defence activity must come under the control of the State governments, but all that activity must be co-ordinated and directed by the Commonwealth authorities. In that connexion I was interested to hear recently that the American authorities, who have been doing civil defence work for some time, now consider that most of their work is out of date. It is obviously very difficult to know the correct line to take in civil defence, but one aspect of it must remain constant. That is, that in the event of attack our population must be dispersed. I believe’ that a tremendous amount may be done in that direction by building arterial roads for the quick dispersal of the people from the capital cities. Australia is a country on wheels. There is one motor vehicle for every four people in Australia. That means that we could evacuate certain areas very quickly, and that would be a most important matter if Australia were threatened with immediate war.
I am glad that this problem is receiving consideration. Many other preparations could be made. None of us is an authority on the subject, but we know that certain things must be done, such as the preparation of hospitals, supplies of water, food, clothing, and medical requisites at various parts of the country. Preparatory steps could be taken now after close consideration.
T wish to refer now to the Colombo plan, with which. I am in full agreement. I believe that we must expand that plan as time goes by. We and the Americans are doing a great deal now towards it. Honorable senators on the Opposition side are in favour of it, I believe, because they have emphasized the need for friendship with the Asiatic countries to the north of Australia. My only grouse about the Colombo plan is the way in which it is being put into operation. The object of the Colombo plan is to make friends for us. How can we make friends with the Asians if they do not know that we are helping them? For exampLe, we built a hydro-electric scheme in Pakistan. On it, we placed a small brass plate with the inscription, “ A gift from the people of Australia “. As 90 per cent, of the people in Pakistan cannot read and do not know anything about -Australia, the plaque was of little value to us.
Wheat is being distributed in those countries as a gift from Australia. Probably it is being dished out by Indians with an Indian politician standing by and saying, “ What good fellows we are to feed you during the famine “. We should have good Australians there while the wheat is being distributed to tell the people that it is a gift from the people of Australia. We are sending tractors and farm material to India. We need propaganda to tell the people where that equipment is coming from. We will never make friends by pouring stuff into those countries if the people do not know the source from which it comes. We should increase the flow of people from Asian countries into Australia to attend universities and colleges, and we should send more Australians to the Colombo plan countries. I support the motion, and I believe that the Governor-General’s Speech gives a clear indication of the matters with which the 22nd Parliament will deal.
– I am glad to have an opportunity to speak on the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, which was delivered in this chamber at the opening of the twenty-second Parliament. First, I wish to congratulate Senator Buttfield on the excellent manner in which she spoke to the motion that initiated this debate. Her plea for co-operation industrially, politically and in every possble way is some thing worthy of more than passing notice. I should also like to congratulate my fellow Australian Country party member, .Senator Maher, upon the able way in which he seconded the motion. While I am in a congratulatory mood, I wish to to congratulate also Senator Wordsworth on the fine address that he gave the Senate on the defence of Australia. It was particularly valuable because it came from a man who knows military affairs, and it was an education to the honorable senators who heard him.
Many subjects have been touched upon by honorable senators during this debate, and I was especially interested yesterday to hear the sentiments of love and loyalty to the Throne that were expressed. Because of the visit to Australia of our beloved Queen Elizabeth the Second and the Duke of Edinburgh, the sentiments of loyalty in Australia have been quickened and possibly deepened. We have also been pleased to observe that the Queen and the Duke were given a very warm reception in Africa, and we are glad that they are now home again with their own people after a successful tour.
The Governor-General referred to the appointment of an all-party committee to resolve some of the problems that beset the Senate as it is to-day. According to some honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives, I was one of the problems. When that partielar problem was under discussion, I was virtually cremated. All that was missing was the inscription on the casket, but I refused to lie down and die. I was very interested personally in the announcement of the proposed appointment of the all-party committee to deal with some of the difficulties that arise when there is no clear majority for the Government in the Senate. The abolition of the Senate would deprive Australia of its bicameral system of government at the federal level. I agree with Senator Gorton, who gave reasons why the abolition of the Senate would be a retrograde step. I agree with him, also, that some very definite powers should be given to the Senate, in accordance with the wishes of the founders of the federal system in Australia that this chamber would have an unbiased influence on all matters that came from the other House. I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to an editorial that appeared in the West Australian recently on this matter. It stated -
The introduction of proportional representation for the Senate, while removing the most objectional features of the original system, has raised new problems of its own. As experience has already shown, there is more danger of the work of governmentbeing frustrated by a hostile Senate majority and as the Constitution stands at present, there can be no certainty of overcoming a deadlock by final resort to a double dissolution. . . The value of the proposed all-party committee is that it may be able to work out some agreed compromise in the national interest. It has been demonstrated clearly enough that it is virtually impossible to carry any referendum to amend the Constitution if one party or another opposes it.
That puts our feeling on the matter of an all-party committee in a nutshell. One of the very important matters mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech was immigration. Last year, we welcomed our millionth immigrant. In that connexion, Senator Henty cited a very interesting paragraph from Canberra Comments in which stress was laid upon the fact that, although we had taken Into our population 1,000,000 people, there had been no disturbance of our work force. I think it is correct to say that the progress which has been made by many of our secondary industries has been helped considerably by the skill and the art of the people who have been admitted to this country. Another significant aspect is the large number of immigrants who apply for naturalization. That is evidence of their desire to become an integral part of this country to which they have come to settle. However, our successful immigration programme has brought many problems in its train. As a teacher, I can say with confidence that it has imposed a tremendous strain on the State governments in the provision of schools and educational facilities in general. At various times in this chamber, I have expressed the hope that the Australian Government - preferably the Government now in office - would raise a special loan for the provision of educational facilities by the States, instead of a loan for war and destruction. I think the time has arrived when very serious consideration should be given to this suggestion. InWestern Australia, which I have the honour to represent in this chamber, we wish to settle immigrants in the country districts, but many of them are reluctant to go to the country because of the inadequate educational facilities available for their children. Although in Western Australia children in country districts are conveyed to the various schools by buses, I think I am safe in saying that not in any part of that State is adequate school accommodation provided for the children. I urge the Government to consider making a special grant to the States for education purposes, over and above loan funds allocated by the Australian Loan Council.
I was very interested to notice a reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to what I was pleased a couple of years ago to call the human scrap heap. I am very glad that at last Australia has realized that it has available a very considerable pool of experienced workers who have been arbitrarily retired at 65 years of age. After I had addressed myself to this subject in the Senate a couple of years ago, I noticed with pleasure that the New SouthWales Government had extended the retiring age of a section of its employees - I think the transport workers - to 70 years of age. The Cosgrove Government in Tasmania, also, extended the retiring age of certain workers in that State. This problem is being tackled in many countries, including Great Britain and some on the Continent of Europe. Australia, as a young country, needs the experience and education possessed by these old people to help it to develop.We cannot afford to neglect this valuable pool of labour. I take this opportunity to congratulate the new Minister for Social Services (Mr.Roberton) for appointing a departmental committee to study this matter, because many people, when forced to retire, are apt to develop ill health and listlessness. That raises all sorts of problems, not only for individual families, but also for the various governments in this country. I have before me a very interesting article that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on this subject. A part of the article reads as follows : -
Professor Harvey Sutton reminded us last year of the increasing numbers of people over 70 and 80 who are being committed to mental hospitals by their own children - “ for little more than a failure of memory and inability to look after themselves “. We should find out the truth about ourselves - whether, in fact, many Australians look upon their old and “ useless “ relatives with a less kindly eye than do most savages upon theirs.
If the nation can find a way of utilizing more effectively the productive capacity of old people able and willing to work, it will by that very means make growing old a happier experience for many. A 90-year-old British doctor, under pressure to retire this week, put his philosophy of persistence into three words: “Rest means rust”.
The Minister for Social Services is to be commended for his prompt action in appointing the committee I have mentioned, because at present a valuable pool of labour is being wasted.
I am particularly interested in the subject of international affairs. I was astonished last night to hear Senator Grant, who is an intelligent person, say that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) had again delivered a speech that he had learnt off by heart. I am sorry that the honorable senator is not now present in the chamber. I do not think his criticism of the Minister for External Affairs was justified. I have taken the trouble to read most of the speeches on foreign affairs that have been delivered by the right honorable gentleman, and I consider that his latest speech on that subject in another place was one of the finest expositions in relation to international affairs that have ever been presented to this Parliament. I was especially pleased with the manner in which he reduced Australia’s aims in the sphere of foreign affairs to seven telling points, which I intend to cite.
Australia’s foreign relations are at present on a very high plane. One of the most remarkable achievements of our time is the advance that has been made in the establishment of friendly relations between Australia and the countries of South-East Asia. I have personally witnessed the result of this advance, and can speak of it with authority. It is not many years ago that the name “ Australia “ was absolutely hated in those countries. As Senator Wordsworth has pointed out, the improvement of friendly relations with them has been brought about by an interchange of technicians, university students and, indeed, people in all walks of life. It is also due to the success of the Colombo plan and the efforts of parliamentary and other delegations. I hope that such efforts to further friendly relations will be continued. I was very distressed to read in to-day’s press a resolution of a political conference in Melbourne in relation to this matter. In my opinion, it was ill-considered and could, if adopted, injure tremendously the efforts that are being made to cement the friendship between Australia and the countries of South-East Asia. Doubtless, already, the resolution has complicated the work on which the Minister for External Affairs is now engaged overseas. The points that the Minister made in his speech in the House of Representatives are worth noting. He stated -
I conclude by referring to what I might describe as the “ working rules “ by which this Government conducts the management of our relations with the rest of the world.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2JB0 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was dealing with foreign affairs, and stressing that the Minister for External Affairs had given seven points in which he drew attention to Australia’s aims in relation to external matters. So far as I know, this is the first time that the department has pinpointed what it is doing not only to make new friends, but also to retain existing friendly relations with the people of other countries. The seven points made by the Minister are as follows : -
I ask honorable senators to consider that, although those aims seem to be high, they are not too high to be attained. I congratulate the Minister for External Affairs on putting Australia’s aims so clearly before us.
There are many other matters included in the Governor-General’s Speech to which I should like to refer, but I shall leave most of them for other occasions. I now wish to make some comments on trade matters. This morning Senator Tangney addressed the Senate, and in the course of her remarks she referred to the whaling industry. Although I do not agree with all that she said, I do agree that it has been a successful venture. Recently, I had the pleasure of inspecting the work being done, and while I was there a whale weighing 40 tons was drawn up. I thought that if the whale that swallowed Jonah was as big as the one I saw, Jonah must have had a fairly comfortable time inside it. I spoke to the manager, who told me that no part of the whale was wasted. I was particularly interested to notice that some scientists were there, conducting experiments with some of the liquid assets of the whale, from which they made a produet similar to “ marmite “, which is something with which honorable senators are familiar. I should like to know how far the authorities have gone in marketing that product. I sampled it, and found it very tasty. I have said that every part of the whale is used, but I qualify that by stating that the manager told me that, at present, the whale-bone itself is not used. He added that if women would go back to the kind of corsets they used to wear, even the whalebone could be utilized. Meat meal made from the flesh of the whale is very much in demand for cattle fodder in Western Australia. I was told that large orders for it had been received from the eastern
States of Australia, and from overseas countries, but that Western Australia had decided to be rather selfish, and had retained all the meat meal for its own use. 1 agree with Senator Tangney that the whaling industry has been successful. I was pleased to notice in the newspapers a day or two ago that the Commonwealth Government, in pursuance of its policy of encouraging private enterprise, was willing to part with the whaling project, and had, in fact, offered it as a going concern to the State Government for, of course, a monetary consideration. As the present Government of Western Australia is a Labour Government - 1 hope that there will be an alteration after the 7th April - and as Labour governments are inclined to want to control housing and everything else that it can get its fingers on, it will probably be willing to take over the whaling industry. I should like to correct some figures given to us this morning by Senator Tangney. I understood her to say that the capital value of the industry was £4,000,000. The figures given to me show the value to be £1,000,000.
– I included goodwill.
– In our programme of trade expansion we must bc very careful about the kind of product; that we want to sell in greater quantities. It is Australia’s duty to find out what the rest of the world requires from us, so that we shall not have continually on our hands large surpluses of products that the rest of the world does not want. The nearest markets to Australia are those of South-East Asia. The countries to the north of Australia have a rising standard of living. We are glad that that is so, and also that Australia has had a hand in raising that standard. That will be a very slow process. A great number of people are affected. We know all of those things, and we know also that many of the countries of South-East Asia are becoming wheat-eating countries. Therefore, our wheat and wheat products should be a very welcome addition to their diet when their economy will allow them to purchase it. Possible markets in that area should be considered. I think that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in reconstructing the Cabinet, was very wise when he appointed Mr. John McEwen as Minister for Trade. In my opinion, no Minister has done more to improve our trade than he has. Therefore, I feel sure that when this new department gets into full swing, we shall really see a great difference in our balance of trade, because of improvement of our export markets.
We have to be very careful that the goods we send away from Australia are true to label. That is not always the case. We housewives of Australia often purchase goods which are not true to label, and it is very annoying to do so. The annoyance of people overseas who have a similar experience can well be imagined. In January last, an editorial in the publication, West Australian Chambers of Commerce, contained the following comment: -
The position is that markets for Australian products do exist overseas, but that production costs and inexperience in modern selling methods make it difficult for Australian manufacturers to compete. The extent to which Australian manufacturers and merchants can outsell overseas competitors facing similar difficulties will measure inexorably the actual quality of Australian initiative and drive. .It will also indicate, just as inevitably, the kind of future that lies before us. Five ways to increase Australia’s exports are:- (1) Pep up advertising. (2) Establish export credit system. (3) Grant tax concessions. (4) Grant interest concessions. (5) Grow exportconscious.
In other words, we should try to induce everybody to think that their future livelihood is wrapped up with the need to grow commodities that are required by the rest of the world, and that all of us must put our best foot forward in that direction. ^ I am sure that, under Mr. McEwen’s guidance, the new Department of Trade will help to realize that ideal.
In concluding my remarks, I want to congratulate the Government on its splendid win at the recent general election. Last night Senator Grant referred to that victory as a “ sound “ one, and I am very glad that we are in agreement on that point. Of course, the honorable senator’s use of the word “ sound “ may not have been meant in quite the same way as I mean it to-day. It is one of the beauties of the English language that the same words may be used with a variety of meanings. I think the fact that the Go vernment came back with such an overwhelming majority is in itself a tribute to the good sense of the Australian people. I also want to congratulate the new Ministers on their appointment. I have pleasure in supporting the motion before: the Senate.
– In rising to participate in thisdebate I desire, first, to deal briefly with< that part of the Speech of His Excellencythe Governor-General which concerns oureconomy. In doing so, I may say that itis only a short time since the PrimeMinister (Mr. Menzies) said that equilibrium had been restored to our finances and that, because of the effortsof the Menzies Government, our economy was back on a stable basis and everything in the garden was absolutely grand. I know many people on fixed incomes, resident throughout the Commonwealth, many age and invalid pensioners who are attempting to balance their budget on the miserly pittance they are receiving, who have entirely different ideas concerning the state of the economy.
We all know that, at the conclusion of World War II., inflation affected all countries to a greater or less degree, and? that most of the countries concerned’ dealt with that problem in accordance with their particular views and took the necessary action to stabilize the economy. The people of Australia have had to face this problem, along with the people of many other countries. As a matter of fact, as Senator Grant mentioned last night, the Menzies Government was elected in 1949 because of a promise to arrest inflation. The Government partiespromised to keep prices down and to restore value to the £1. They contended that they were sincere in making thosepromises, and they also professed to believe that, because of their peculiar political philosophy, they would be able to carry out the promises that they had made. What they forgot and completely overlooked was the fact that, if the economy failed, the Government would not.be able to meet its commitments, and inflation would go merrily on its way.
I submit that most of the problems which have arisen in this country since 1949 have arisen because the present Government lacked a definite and positive policy to deal with inflation, and because of the numerous mistakes made by the Government in attempting to deal with this problem in a piecemeal manner, together with the inability of the whole of the Cabinet to understand the fundamental causes of inflation, and failure to take the necessary steps to control it. From January, 1950, to June of last year, retail prices in Australia increased by 66.4: per cent., whilst wholesale prices increased by 67 per cent. Never before in the history of Australia have we witnessed such unbridled inflation. To-day, the inflationary position is absolutely abnormal, and for that reason, abnormal remedies are needed to control it. Most of the problems which face this country to-day have been dealt with by other countries already. Great Britain, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and many other countries have had to face up to similar problems, but because those countries were able to implement rigid controls, prices were kept down and the economy was stabilized. In Australia, prices have continued to soar.
In 1946, and again in 1948, the Chifley Labour Government, appreciating the danger of inflation to oureconomy, sought to procure alteration of the Constitution to permit the Government to deal with that problem. However, all of the forces opposed to Labour, including every member of the Government in this chamber and the House of Representatives, did everything possible to make sure that those alterations were not made. We remember what they said on that occasion. I have a vivid recollection of the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, taking the people of that State for a walk up the garden path and telling them that the States could do the job much better because they were closer to the people. Apparently, the policy of the Government on that occasion was to permit prices to find their own level: If Great Britain had followed a similar policy she would not be the great and powerful nation that she is to-day, and might easily have been relegated to the position of a second or third rate power. If the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and many other countries had adopted similar principles they would not have been able to implement the rigid controls which they did, nor would they have been able to keep prices down and stabilize their economies.
During the past five years, the people of Australia have been told, many times, by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) what his Government would do to stabilize the Australian economy. One of the first acts of the Government was to abolish capital issues control, which had been utilized by the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments to ensure that whatever surplus capital was available would be directed into certain channels for the manufacture of essential materials. When this Government abolished capital issues control, the result was that much of the money, which previously had been available for the purpose mentioned, found its way into non-essential industries, to the detriment of the community.
Then, out of the blue, the Government decided to dismiss 10,000 Commonwealth public servants. Why the number of 10,000 was chosen I have notbeen able to ascertain, but that was decided by the Government without any investigation of any kind. At the same time, the Government decided to increase rates for postal and telegraph services. No doubt, it expected that the Postmaster-General’s Department would continue to operate satisfactorily and effectively as it had done in the past, notwithstanding the fact that 5,000 of the 10,000 Commonwealth public servants dismissed were taken from it. The only results that were achieved by the Government’s action were that State governments, which were then short of labour, were able to engage dismissed Commonwealth public servants, and State instrumentalities, for the time being, were able to operate a little more effectively and satisfactorily.
Next, overnight, the Government decided to re-institute capital issues control. In doing so, industries were divided into three categories - essential, less essential and non-essential. At the same time, in order to implement this policy, the Government introduced a series of drastic credit controls. These controls affected our economic way of life in an amazing manner, and events began to happen with startling rapidity. Retailers classified as non-essential were unable to obtain necessary capital to carry on their businesses, and manufacturers classified as essential were unable to dispose of the goods they were manufacturing. A case in point was the textile industry from which hundreds of employees were dismissed in South Australia. Davies, Coop Proprietary Limited practically closed down. That was the fate of most textile industries throughout the Commonwealth at that time, but the goods which these firms were producing were in short supply and urgently required by the community. The building trades and housing schemes were all placed in a similar position - unable to obtain the necessary capital to carry on their work at a time when Australia required more homes because of its rapidly increasing population. During that period, hundreds of employees were thrown out of work because of the maladministration of this Government in regard to the re-institution of capital issues control.
Honorable senators will recall the wool boom of 1952 that brought millions of pounds to Australia and increased Australia’s overseas trade balance in London. But once again the Government failed to meet its obligations. A prudent government would have made sure that a tight rein was kept on imports coming to Australia, but this Government did nothing at all. I have a vivid recollection of the speech made in another place by the Prime Minister concerning that year’s budget in which he claimed the greatest credit for allowing, to the greatest degree possible, the import of goods into this country.
Five months later came the dramatic announcement by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) that because of the serious deterioration of our overseas trade balance, practically all imports into the country would cease overnight. Honorable senators will recall the wails that that decision provoked. Never before in the history of the British Parliament were stronger words used against Australia than in the debate on that issue. All political parties, irrespective of their complexion, were unanimous that the action of this Government was a direct repudiation of its contracts with the manufacturers of Great Britain. At that time, 70 per cent, of the imports coming to
Australia were essential raw materials and! equipment for secondary and, to a lesserextent, primary industries. When our secondary industries began to run short of essential raw materials, thousands of employees were dismissed, and denied theright to earn a sufficient wage to maintain themselves and their dependants at a reasonable standard of living.
Then, for some reason known only to itself, the Government decided to increase interest rates. This action had a more drastic effect on the Australian economy than had the previous credit restrictions,, because increased interest rates depreciated the capital value of bonds so much that the people of Australia became bond shy and refused to invest in Commonwealth loans. Repercussions immediately followed,- and essential urgent public works: were severely curtailed or abandoned altogether. An example was the Khancoban Reservoir in Victoria from which 800 men were dismissed. That project was undertaken for the express purpose of providing more water in order to increase primary production for export. In Queensland, the Labour Government found itself unable to meet its obligationsto the settlers on the Wandoan-Taroom. land settlement scheme, and work at the Tully falls and on the Burdekin River scheme was curtailed. In each State could be found examples of hardship and difficulty in carrying on or completing urgent public works. Thousands of persons were thrown out of employment, not because? there was not work for them to do or because they could not be fully or profitably employed, but because of the stupid.’ action of this Government in increasinginterest rates.
While all this was going on, the Government was steadily disposing of the people’s assets which had been built up over a long: period of years by Labour governmentsin the interests of the people. The first togo was the Commonwealth Oil Refinery,, then Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and then the Government turned its attention to Trans-Australia Airlines. The Government decided to subsidize Australian National Airways - a private airline company - to the extent of £7,000,000 to enable it to compete with a government project, TransAustralia. Airlines. At the same time, as mentioned by Senator Tangney last night, the Commonwealth line of ships was hawked around the world. Australia retains them to-day only because a general election intervened; but we should keep our fingers crossed because anything is likely to happen to them in the near future.
Last, but not least, was the sell-out in regard to the Commonwealth Bank. As one who participated in the debate in this chamber on that matter, I say that the arguments advanced by honorable senators opposite concerning the amendment to the 1945 Chifley banking legislation were based on nothing more or less than sheer fictitious and supposititious reasoning and bore a striking similarity to the many arguments advanced by kindred interests when the measure to establish the Commonwealth Bank was being debated in this chamber in 1911. On that occasion the Melbourne Argus said that the whole scheme was conceived in idiocy and that it constituted a malicious use of public funds to compete with private enterprise which then enjoyed the full confidence of the public. The journal also said that there was not the slightest justification for the scheme, and that the whole scheme would be abandoned following a few months of a glorious experiment. Well, the success of the Commonwealth Bank, since it was established in 1911, is a complete answer to such propaganda, and the insidious, hysterical outpourings of honorable senators opposite concerning the amendments to the 1945 Chifley banking legislation were just as false. Time will prove that statement to be correct. Just imagine handing over to these people, who control the private trading banks of this country, the right and power to control the financial affairs of the country - these people who, at the conclusion of World War II., when they realized that their assets and skins were safe, came out of their fox-holes and indicted the Chifley Government by claiming that during the war and after the war it had indulged in a. glorious financial spree. By innuendo, in the cold dawn light of the morning after, with nerves on edge and twitching fingers, they said that the Chifley Labour Government must be made to realize that such conduct could not continue, and that Government must be chastised in the interests of the nation.
That was the story splashed across the front pages of the vested interests press of this country from one side of Australia to the other at the conclusion of World War II. That insidious propaganda paid dividends in 1949 when the Chifley Labour Government was defeated. Immediately the present Government came into office, money revealed an unaccountable tightness. At the same time, industry declined and unemployment became rampant. The people of this country, struggling against the tide, found themselves left high and dry on the shores of disappointment and disillusionment. Overnight, because of the actions of this Government in reconstituting the Commonwealth Bank Board, the sovereign power vested in this Parliament to control the financial affairs of this country, was removed from the legislative halls of Canberra to the board rooms of the associated banks. We remember that the anti-Labour policy during the last depression doubly intensified the effect of the depression upon Australia and decreased the purchasing power of the people. The same policy seriously embarrassed the Scullin Labour Government when it required £11,000,000 for the purpose of getting the unemployed back to work. The same policy was responsible for thousands and thousands of business people being made insolvent during that period. That policy was the greatest single factor in the disastrous wave of unemployment which swept through this country at that time like a bushfire. What Government, other than one of the calibre of this Government, would be prepared to hand over to the people I have mentioned the right and the power to control the financial affairs of this country?
I have mentioned . inflation. I was surprised to hear the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) say the other day in this chamber that our problems to-day were prosperity problems. If that is his logic and his approach to this problem, to my way of thinking it is on a par with that of the swagman who, while on the track from Broken Hill to Moonta, put his hand inside his shirt and pulled out a flea and said, “ That is not the one that bit me, it was a bigger one than that”; and put it back again. The Government is completely unable to deal with the problem of inflation.
In conclusion, I remind honorable senators that a wise man once said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. That, indeed, is a truism as far as the Labour movement is concerned. Time and time again, when we found that the flowing tide was in our favour the tide commenced to ebb and left us high and dry on the shores of disappointment and disillusionment. Time and time again, Labour has had to fight the same battle twice and then turn found and fight it all over again. Well, next Saturday the people in South Australia and New South Wales will have their opportunity to join in this fight, and if they play their part as they should, Labour governments will be returned in both those States. I leave the position there. As I said before, the statement, made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that equilibrium has now been restored to our finances and that, due to the efforts of his Government, our economy is now on a stable basis and everything in the garden is lovely, is not borne out by events. The Government now has called in the brains trust to assist it to solve these problems because it is not big enough to solve them itself.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) [3.8J. - We have just listened to a speech from Senator Nicholls which, I think, can best be described as a farrago of fluent confusion. He displayed, with a fluency which engaged my interest immensely, a parade of most inconsistent ideas, the most prominent of which seemed to me to be the emphasis he put on his claim that this Government had produced unemployment. For any senator to advance such a notion in this day and circumstance is an insult to the intelligence of this chamber. It is notorious that the unemployment figure is now at an all-time low record and that the number of vacancies waiting to be filled by working men are unusually high. Senaler Nicholls’ speech emphasized, as L have felt deep within my spirit for many years, that the crying shame of this country is lack of leadership on the part of those who are closer to the labouring men than is the Liberal party. They have opportunities through organizationssuch as the trade unions to bring about,, for the welfare and future of those bodies,, a realization of the responsibility of full employment. The future of this countryis filled with challenge and risk and! opportunity abounding, if only the Labour party will give adequate leadership to the working force of the country, and assume responsibility for full employment as well as accepting the benefitsof full employment.
At present, we are addressing ourselves^ to the Speech of His Excellency. I am bound to confess that three important subjects mentioned in the Speech - constitutional matters, external affairs and the internal economy - were not dealt f with in such a way as to excite in me the belief that we were about to get off on a practical programme of real objective achievement. I trust that those who havegiven some time to considering the statusof the private member in the Parliament will reflect that in this Parliament every member and senator has an opportunity during each of its sessions to bring forward matters of public importance fordiscussion by the chamber of which he is a member.
Insofar as His Excellency’s Speechleaves untouched matters of great importance to the country, it correspondingly provides opportunity for every honorable senator, or every member of another place, to make his contribution to the debate on those subjects Upon which a lead has not been given.
I shall abstain from a discussion of the constitutional matters mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. In the focus given to it in that Speech, namely,, the narrow focus trained on the relations between the two chambers of the Parliament, I confess to a withering disappointment. Constitutional review could cover a much more expanded field than that. It should not be considered in relation to the chambers of the Parliament assuch. This country is being restricted in the field of real achievement by constitutional limitations which are .irritatingthe various governments of the country.
We should have in mind reforms that will contribute to efficiency of government and the welfare of the country.
With regard to foreign affairs, after the survey made this morning by my Tasmanian colleague, Senator Wordsworth, I do not intend to say much. I was delighted to follow with my mind’s eye the searchlight that he turned upon the various countries of Asia. Because he has put the searchlight of penetrating discussion on the various considerations that should influence us and should weld our thought into decisions that will be best for Australia, I shall not venture to intrude into the field of foreign affairs.
However, it is now opportune,, before the Government has announced any part of its programme, to deal with the unusual economic condition of this country. I shall, therefore, refer briefly to one or two matters upon which one may be permitted to have an opinion. It seems that anybody with any responsibility for the welfare of our citizens, or their defence and security, should look to the future as containing possible risks of dislocation of the economy and the possible loss of the fruits of the good years that we have just experienced. The gap between imports and exports is increasing, and all the portents indicate that it will grow wider in the next few years. Therefore, we now have a real opportunity to make internal arrangements which will produce future economic strength. If we have economic strength within every section of the community, we may expect strength in our trade abroad.
I applaud the establishment of the Ministry of Trade, especially as it has been placed under the leadership of a Minister whose record in this Government is nothing short of inspiring. I refer to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), and I applaud the Government’s realization that this country’s trade deserves his undivided attention. It was wise to separate the Ministry of Trade from the Ministry of Customs, but in saying that I do not mean it to be understood that I think our tariff policy is unimportant. During the last Parliament, I intended to indicate the importance of our tariff policy. But I now say that the establishment of a Ministry of Trade with a policy of positive expansion, aided by the establishment of an export guarantee corporation, will enable this country to progress. I am looking forward with a great degree of confidence to the activities which that department will undertake.
However, the Department of Trade cannot prosper if some of our internal financial arrangements persist. The first arrangement that needs immediate reform is the organization of the central bank. The central bank is established under the chairmanship of a’ person who is also supposed to contribute some of his capacity to governing the Commonwealth Trading Bank. We have a central bank designed to control the banking policy of the country and to inspire confidence, not only in the Commonwealth Bank but also in the various private trading banks, but it is against human nature for the private trading banks to feel confident when they are controlled by a central bank under the chairmanship of a man who is also the governor of their main competitor.
The Commonwealth Trading Bank has expanded greatly during the last few years, mainly because it has been competing on a basis that could not be justified by ordinary banking practice, and that has contributed in no small degree to the inflationary situation in which we find ourselves to-day. In the forefront of the remedies to be applied, there is the establishment of a completely independent central bank under a control completely divorced from the Commonwealth Trading Bank or any other trading bank - I emphasize, any other trading bank - so that the whole banking system will have implicit confidence in, and give immediate compliance to, the policies enunciated by the central bank from time to time.
I wish to refer now, in the merest outline, to our policy of import restrictions. That is a policy whereby the overseas trade of Australia is arrested or expanded according to a department of government. I do not believe that it isalways done according to ministerial control because, as this policy is interpreted in the various ports of Australia, subordinate officials are bound to exert their opinion as to whether merchant A or merchant B should import such and such an article in certain quantities at a particular time. Senator Henty directed attention to the abuses of that system under which licences for imports become a very artificial and inflationary unit in the importers’ make-up of assets, and under which licences are traded in quite an improper way. All those artificial controls breed corruption of that sort, but apart from that, the policy of import restrictions is unreal. It does not give the man of enterprise the opportunity to exert his faculties in the trade of the country.
I ask whether, before the session ends, the Ministry could give a convincing explanation why the external trade of Australia cannot be governed by merchants and bankers and trading circles, so that the man whose earnings abroad have established credit there, might have available to him the finance abroad for imports that he should be entitled to buy. I realize that, through the banking system, that would afford to the traders an opportunity for themselves to provide, according to their efforts and enterprise, the right to import. That would have to be accompanied by some sort of selective programme of imports under guidance that would be given by the Department of Trade in respect of the essentiality of imports, but that would be a proper range fixed by general regulation and not by individual decision by an officer in relation to an individual trader. In those circumstances, there would be abundant trade. “We would get away from the restrictive policy of import restrictions, and put our trade upon the basis of enterprise.
Next, I wish to insist again upon the importance that I believe attaches to our system of industrial arbitration, which has, in an artificial and, to a great degree, an irresponsible manner, made a contribution to the inflation we are now experiencing. Of all the agencies for which the central Government is responsible, the arbitration processes have been, perhaps, the greatest contributor to inflation over the past five or six years. No honorable senator on the Opposition side will accuse me of trying to deny an advantage to the working man, or an equal distribution of the wealth of the country according to the work that is done. I yield place to nobody in emphasizing the benefits of arbitration to the man who works. But within the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, we have a system whereby the actual participators in industry appear simply as litigants before what is called a court - an industrial court. On a so-called parade of evidence and argument, a decision is given which can be of terrific importance, having regard to the role that is now assumed by the Arbitration Court, which is really the economic legislature of Australia.
When one realizes that the parliamentary legislatures of Australia have no power or authority to control or correct or influence the decision of that court, it is time for us to make some review of the Arbitration Court, and determine whether it is working for the advantage of the industrial section of the community - particularly the agricultural section - and whether it is working ultimately in the national interests. I have my doubts as to the efficacy of this so-called legal process for the purposes of doing practical business and giving industrial justice, which means sharing in the products of industry according to the contribution made to the work of the industry.
This “debate affords an opportunity to direct attention to what is, in my opinion, an abnormal contributor to the inflationary processes. I ask honorable senators to recall the decision given in October, 1951. when, against the dissent of the Chief Judge, Mr. Justice Kelly, Mr. J Justice Foster and Mr. Justice Dunphy took the responsibility of granting an increase of fi in’ the basic wage. If any one will take the trouble to read the judgments given on that occasion, and will recognize how immediately subsequent experience falsified every reason put forward by the majority decision and confirmed, in hard reality, the views of the dissentient Chief Judge, it will be evident what can be the effect of the error of one man. If Mr. Justice Dunphy had been on the side of the Chief Judge instead of on the side of
Mr. Justice Foster, what a difference it would have made to the economy of Australia over the past six years ! I believe that public men would not be wasting their time if they gave concentrated attention immediately, not to the destruction of the arbitration system, but to an improvement of its machinery. While we have a government that is responsible to a parliament elected on a democratic basis, such as we have in Australia, I believe that the Parliament should accept responsibility within its own field. It is the unhappy history of the present Government that, although its policy provides for giving to the various States responsibility for their own finances in the fields of both revenue and loan capital, nothing has been done in that direction up to the present time. I am not advocating that the States should have returned to them the gnawed loaf of bread which the Commonwealth leaves after taking its meal of income tax on the present basis. I think it would be an insult to the States to suggest that they should simply take back the unexhausted field of income tax, and have returned to them the right to raise revenue out of that remnant of the income tax field. That would be an impracticable proposal, having regard to the proportions of Commonwealth revenue to-day. But that does not relieve us of the responsibility to see to it that the States have their fields of finance and the Commonwealth its fields of finance, and to ensure that each, within its own field, accepts its responsibility to the people.
The representatives of the States, year after year, come along and seek grants additional to the amounts of tax reimbursement that are due to them under the uniform taxation scheme. The Commonwealth has no responsibility for the expenditure of that money, and I should be the last person to advance any scheme to set up apparatus whereby the Commonwealth would presume to control State expenditure. That would be a defiance of the federal spirit. However, what is even more important, we are getting a confusion of Commonwealth-State financial relations in the capital field. It will be recalled that in the period from 1920 to 1930 individual State borrowing for capital works got into such a state of chaos that the States came cap in hand to the Commonwealth and asked it to frame a uniform scheme of loan raisings in order to rescue them from their financial predicament. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) made a lasting contribution to the financial structure of the Commonwealth when he prepared the Financial Agreement, and succeeded in having it written into the Constitution. The intention of that agreement was to place with the States financial responsibility for their own capital expenditure. But in 1951, this Government, from revenue, supplemented State government borrowings by about £100,000,000. In this financial year, I understand this Government has committed its revenue to make good any amount by which loan raisings for State public works fall short of £191,000,000. The Commonwealth has no say as to the public works on which the money is expended; whether they be wasteful or productive, we shall have no opportunity to pass judgment on them. It is that irresponsibility and confusion about Commonwealth-State financial relationships that has contributed to inflation in this country. Finance, as between the agencies of the Commonwealth, should be on a basis of responsibility. Even when I advocate it to that extent, permit me 10 say that I remain conscious, perhaps in an ever-increasing degree, of the fact that acceptance by the Parliament of its responsibility is fading year by year, as is the exercise of individual responsibility by parliamentarians fading year by year, due to inactivity.
I should like now -to mention one or two other and more obvious things, in relation to the industrial arena and the general industrial set-up. Over the last six years, the basic wage has risen from about £6 15s. a week to about £12 a week. There are some who say that an unprecedented period of industrial peace has prevailed. That is so, but it has been obtained only at a tremendous cost. But now industrial peace is disintegrating. We had an example, potent in its significance, in recent months. The waterside strike, which was brought on by Comrade Healy, rendered the nation almost impotent. His position of predominance on the waterfront is contributed to in no small degree by the maintenance on the statute-book of a most retrograde, disruptive and unfortunate statute - the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949. We are prevented from an immediate consideration of that act with a view to improving it by the lingering efforts of a committee of inquiry that is sitting in Sydney and Melbourne, and leading us God knows where.
– That is what we think.
– That is not a satisfactory state of affairs. The committee, which is entrusted with authority merely to inquire into the facts- I emphasize “ facts “ - relating to certain aspects of the waterfront industry, will not conclude its deliberations before the facts have changed. So vital is the waterfront industry to our shipping industry - both coastal and overseas - and so vital is the shipping industry to our economy, that this Parliament has an immediate duty to address itself to the situation with a view of evolving a means whereby the waterfront industry might become an effective channel of commerce instead of continuing as a strangulation point for the trade of the country. Lastly, I shall refer to Treasury matters. I take this opportunity to refer to them because I have seen in the press that there is a possibility of increasing taxes. I make it clear that, so far as income tax in this country is concerned, I believe that it is bearing with increasing severity on the earnings of the people and is being intensified with every step down the slopes of declivity that our economy is going. May I put it in another way, and say that, to the degree to which the purchasing power of incomes is disappearing, the maintenance of a fixed rate of income tax applies with increased severity on the real values of those incomes. I should need a lot of persuasion to entertain any idea of increasing that impost on the earnings of the community.
The same applies to sales tax. There may be elements of adjustment that could be made, whereby a proper application of sales tax could do something to arrest inflation, but as for the general field of sales tax, I want to be understood as being completely opposed to any such suggestion. I have also seen references to excess profits tax. I do not think that we should be deterred from considering that matter simply because Dr. Evatt put it forward as a part of his proposals at the recent election. The sobering thought is that we on this side put it forward as our proposal in 1950. I believe that it would be to the credit of the Parliament to require a complete explanation of the reason why a proposal of that sort is rejected as being impracticable. The merest reflection will reveal to any of us that there are difficulties in the way, but the existence of such a tax as a sobering restraint to excessive profits would, perhaps, merit its imposition. Having said that, may I be permitted to say that this is not a time for a dismal outlook on our economy. With this country attracting immigrants, with its many resources, and with its attracting the interest of those with American and British capital, as is the case, I think he would be a dull soul, and shortsighted indeed, who could not see that the opportunities for young men in this country to-day, if we re-organize our internal arrangements, are tremendous and exciting. Therefore, as a man with a liberal spirit, I pray that steps will be taken immediately to abolish gift duty, which is a capital levy imposed against the distribution of family property only in order to maintain big estates for death duties, and to main high income producing assets so that there will be a greater yield of income tax. There is no other purpose for which gift duty was imposed in 1940 or 1941, and for which it is maintained to-day. It means a mere £1,000,000 in revenue, but that distribution of big aggregations of property among individual entrepreneurs, whereby the sons would be given individual control of property instead of it being under the control of one old man, would facilitate enterprise, and give encouragement at a time when we may be facing a stringent economy, and would, I believe, tinge the whole subject with a blue ribbon outlook and convince the people that we are determined to be liberal.
In conclusion, I must say that I listened to the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General on Australia Day with intense fervour. It was exciting. The way in which His Excellency expressed
Australia’s spirit that night was such that I wish that in the Speech to which we have the humble duty to address a reply we should have had just as much reason for enthusiasm.
– I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Go vernor-General and to congratulate Senator Buttfield on the excellent address in which she supported the motion, anr] also to congratulate my old friend Senator Maher on the sound speech he made in seconding the motion. I refer particularly to his reference to trouble on the waterfront in Australia and the damage it had done to the economy of Australia.
The Governor-General’s Speech contained some very important matters, possibly the most important of which was the question of Australia’s economic position at the present time. I believe that there is room for improvement on both sides of industry. I believe that management in many companies is completely greedy, is grabbing at exceptional profits, and is not prepared to do the fair thing. On the other side, there are great numbers of men who are accepting high wages, and giving no real service in return. Really, they are lying down on the job and doing their utmost to destroy this country’s economy. Both sides should get together and do something, not in their own paltry interests, but in the interests of Australia as a nation.
I was astounded to hear Senator Kennelly, a man for whose ability and intelligence I have a high regard, talk about defence in the way that he did, and say that we should wait until an enemy came here before we dealt with him. He referred to South-East Asia, and said that we should not have sent troops to Malaya. That, I believe, is a completely indefensible argument. I believe that, if we are to be regarded as a nation, we must be prepared to take our share with Britain, New Zealand and the United States of America in attempting to stop the dreadful possibility of Communist doctrine making headway, and infiltrating the islands north of Australia and eventually finding a footing in this country. Unless we do that, generations yet unborn will curse the people of to-day when their bodies lie rotting in the grave. I believe that, as far as defence is concerned, wa have to keep up to date. There may be some slight risk in detonating atom bombs, and in using guided missiles in Australian territory, but that is one of the risks we have to take to defend our. country. We cannot expect the American people or the British people to take all those risks, nor can we expect to stand aside. We must be prepared to do our share. In addition, when we send our men to fight, we must send them armed with the very latest weapons that science can devise, the latest things that the ability of man can produce for the defence of this country. We have to make up our minds that we need weapons to defend Australia. We should expend not lives but weapons.
Recently, I asked a question in this’ chamber, and to my amazement, and also to the astonishment of, I should say, 99 per cent, of the people of Australia, a Minister of the Crown rushed in and apologized. All I have to say is that I think it is pitiable and disgusting to see a man who is a Minister of the Crown grovelling - and that is what he did - to these people whom we have no need to respect, people who have been against us in the past and who are against us to-day. They preach that colonialism, should never be allowed in any circumstances. That is, as far as they are concerned, there must be no colonialism, but when it comes to their own colonialism, as they are practising it in Ambon and as they wish to practise it in Western New Guinea, that is quite all right. I” have letters here from people who know the circumstances to which I referred, including Dutch people in official positions in Holland. It must not be forgotten that Holland was our very loyal ally during the war, when these people were against us.
The people who have written to me say that the Indonesians have never, at any time, been on our side, and that they were Communists in 1936, when there was a Communist rebellion in Indonesia. That rebellion was put down. They say that the Indonesians collaborated with our enemies throughout the whole war, and that when our servicemen were escaping, they betrayed them. Even when our nurses were escaping from Singapore in an old ship, and had struggled ashore, they were ravished and murdered by the Indonesians. Those nurses whom they did not ravish and murder they handed over to the Japanese for the Japanese to do likewise, at a price of 15 dollars a head. The gallant remnant from H.M.A.S. Perth struggled ashore in the Malacca Straits to be treated in a similar manner. Every member of the Allied forces, whether male or female, who came into their hands was badly treated.
I say that, as far as Mr. Casey is concerned, I have no faith in his Department of External Affairs. He has the remnants left to him by Dedman.
Opposition senators interjecting,
– Honorable senators opposite may laugh, but that is the fact. There are also the remnants left by Dr. Evatt, and remnants, of those who were there during the time of Dr. Burton, the man who could not be trusted with any document, the man who went to Peking, to the Cominform there, the man who was a traitor to this country, a fact which is known to all Australians who read the newspapers. The Minister now has these people amongst his top men in the Department of External Affairs, although he has only one returned soldier there. “What marvellous preference to returned soldiers that is! Yet he rushes in and makes this apology and crawls to these people.
The day after I asked that question in the Senate, I received eight telegrams of congratulation. I shall not read all of them to the Senate, but the following is typical of them: -
Congratulations your forthright statement on New Guinea. Your continued interest in this matter vital. Bryan Tonkin, Kalorama.
I also received another telegram from a Victoria Cross winner. It read as follows : -
Congratulations your courageous speech on Indonesia. Disgusted with Casey. Chamberlain policy. Don’t back down. Regards. - Towner V.C.
Another of the telegrams I received read -
My league strongly endorses your stand concerning Indonesian leaders. Casey’s wretched apology means loss of faith- in Asia.- Eric D. Butler, Director league of Bights.
Although I have dozens of letters and telegrams here, not one of them supports Mr. Casey. Every one who has written has congratulated me on the stand I took and confirmed the truth of my statements.
– I remind Senator Henty that, although the Government can handle Senator George Cole, it cannot make Senator George Rankin do what it wants him to do.
– I think that Senator Cole can look after himself quite well. I do not think he needs Dick Keane’s off-sider to do anything for him.
One of the letters I received, written by a person by the name of A. Roots, who lives at 4 McGregor-street, Woodend, Ipswich, contained the following remarks : -
It must be gratifying to those people who are following the international position in Asia to know there is one man in Australia courageous enough to speak the truth about the position, especially when the person criticized is a member of his Government.
Another letter, from a Mr. Robert A. Dunworth, of 97 Boomerang-road, East St. Lucia, Queensland, stated -
I read your remarks re Indonesia and the pro-Japanese Quislings and I wish to inform you that I concur with your remarks. The evident proposal to hand West New Guinea over to the Indonesians is on a par with British policy of late years and will be accompanied with the same disastrous results - same as France with Indo-China, Tunis, Algeria and Morocco. Portugal will not hand its nationals over against their will. I am writing this as a private individual and not as Chairman of the St. Lucia branch of the Liberal party. However, we are holding a mooting early next month to thrash out the matter. We have notified our local representative, Mr. Nigel Drury, of our uneasiness of the drift of affairs re New Guinea. We have asked him to give us his ideas re the above subject. I am sure many other Australians feel like I do re this matter and only require a lead to express their disapproval of the proposed “ deal “. We would appreciate your views re the transfer.
Another letter reads -
Thanks for telling the truth about the Indonesians. You are supported ‘ by all the responsible overseas political reviews (which the vast majority of people do not even know exists leave alone ever read!) The Sydney
Bulletin has said the same thing (they’re ready for the Communist “take-over”) for a long time. The curse of to-day is the corrupt daily press, which is only concerned with advertisements and circulation and mealy-mouthed politicians, victims of their own wishful thinking.
Ken Newman, Secretary, R.S.L.
The next one is from the Hague, Holland -
Senator George Rankin,
It is with great appreciation that the “ Groter Nederland Actie “ has read in the Netherlands newspapers a summary of your statement in Parliament about the proJapanese Quislings Sukarno and other Indonesion politicians. You were perfectly right to identify them as such, for it is a wellestablished fact that Sukarno helped the Japanese to enslave hundreds of thousands of Indonesians who met their fate under terrible circumstances in Japanese slave camps. This one time Quisling Sukarno is now turning Communist and it is obvious that he is now playing the Red card.
Enclosed we send you a paper written in December, 1947, by one of us called the Rising Sovjet Star over Indonesia, which may interest you. We can assure you that this Sovjet Star is now rapidly rising in Indonesia. This will be of great consequence for your country too. As experts in Indonesian affairs, we warn you that things are taking a bad turn in Indonesia. We therefore send you a copy of an English summary of an article in Dutch which has appeared in a Dutch periodical “ Tijdschrift Nieuw Guinea” 1955, No. 4, p. 97 . . . (Australia and New Guinea in the battle for world Supremacy of Communism). You will find this periodical in the Commonwealth National Library, Parliament House, Canberra.
We sincerely hope that Australia will pay attention to this serious warning.
We are, dear Sir,
The Secretary. (.15. L. Martens, Kewikstaartlaan,36, The Hague, Holland.) (Dr. W. K. H. Feuilletau de Bruyn, President of the Groter Nederland Actie.)
Here is another communication which should be placed in the hands of every senator in this House. It is from the Minister Plenipotentiary of the South MoluccaRepublic, which is mainly
Ambonese. They are the main fighting force against the Communists in Indonesia. It reads -
We have taken cognizance of your declaration delivered in the Australian Senate and published by the United Press on February16th.
We have the honour and the pleasure to inform you that we fully agree with your principle expressed so clearly in the mentioned declaration.
It is no secret that the lending figures in the Republic of Indonesia deserve to be branded as absolutely pro-Japanese Quislings like you have rightly done. Your alert not to give way to their deceptions, should be taken in earnest consideration.
There are four pages on similar lines, but I shall not weary the Senate with them. The next communication was written by a man called MacCulloch, and could be described as doggerel. The title of it is “ Doctors of Murder “, and the lines are as follows: -
I am writing these verses thankin’
Heaven for Senator Rankin!
All true British-Australians (Also a lot of White aliens)
Back his words, virile and racy,
And repudiate “ Sosorry “ Casey
And his decadent followers -
Winners, crawlers and hollerers
Who “ flop “ to Indonesians
And desert our friends, the Dutch …
Just wait till these Doctors of Murder
Get New Guinea in their clutch!
Let Casey “apologize” till he’s blue!
But not for me and never for you!
We’re white and Australian and still half free
And we’ve got a few friends left over the sea;
And if little Dickie would know where hestands
Let him ask Australia for a show of hands!
So, as I began, I end this, thankin’
Heaven for a leader in Senator Rankin!
That is signed by E. W. MacCulloch, Kogarah, New South Wales, a person whom I have never seen or heard of before, but whose sentiments are quite good.
SenatorBrown. - Did the honorable senator send a copy of those lines to the Right Honorable R. G. Casey?
– I did. I have received a considerable amount of correspondence from Dutch authorities in the Hague, Indonesia and Ambon, also from the Minister Plenipotentiary of the South Moluccan Republic. They have been fighting the Indonesians for six years because they did not want to be in the Republic of Indonesia. To-day, they are fighting on the island of Pallas and will continue to fight rather than submit. During the war, the President of Indonesia sent the Premier of Japan, Tojo, a telegram, which was quoted in another place, congratulating him on the victory of Leyte and Taiwan, and said that the Indonesians were prepared to fight a life-and-death battle to destroy America, England and the Netherlands. They are still prepared to fight that lifeanddeath battle, with the assistance of Russia and red China.
Although the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) may be a Minister of the Crown and an imitation English “ Johnny “-
– He has absolutely no right to say that senators may not discuss any matter in this House. You, Mr. President, and honorable senators are the persons to decide what matters shall be discussed in this House, and also what shall be its behaviour. .Honorable senators have a constitutional right to discuss any subject, and the Minister for External Affairs has no right whatever in the matter. Neither has he any authority to apologize .for anything that is said in this House. It was a piece of colossal impertinence on his part, even to attempt to do such a thing. I have no time for counterfeits. Counterfeit money is no good, neither is counterfeit clothing. I have a tremendous admiration for some of the genuine “English Johnny” class, but I have a complete contempt for the imitation, the counterfeit.
I am sure that everybody in this chamber looks forward with great hope to the future. We are in a better financial position now than we have ever been. Production, particularly in our primary industries, is good. There has been some fall in prices, but they are still very good and quite profitable. If we have the luck to experience good seasons, we will go on to even greater success.
I was pleased to read in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that the Government intends to continue the immigration policy which was started, largely, by the party opposite when the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was Minister for Immigration, and which has been carried on by all parties since. If we are to hold this country and be able to defend it, we must have immigration. We have to have numbers. The island of Ambon has 10,000,000 people, that is more than we have in the whole of Australia. In Indonesia there are 70,000,000 people, in China 500,000,000 and in India 418,000,000. The numbers within striking distance of Australia are so colossal that our only hope, in spite of the magnificent fighting material of Australian soldiers which has been proved in every war in which they have taken part, is to increase our population. Otherwise, we shall be overwhelmed by weight of numbers. No matter what arms our soldiers may have, if these people to the north were to combine and .come down here, it would be just hopeless for our forces to attempt to stop them. I am pleased to see that the Government intends to continue its immigration policy, and I hope that it will bring to this country not 100,000 immigrants a year but 250,000 a year. We could absorb that number. There are great works in existence such as the Eildon Weir and the Snowy Mountains scheme which will bring into production the great valleys of the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers. Those valleys could support 10,000,000 people; and there is no end to the production that could be achieved in those areas. In the Mallee there are wonderful places like Robinvale and Mildura, as well as Murray Bridge and other centres extending into South Australia. Production in those areas is magnificent, and they have wealthy resources. Much more could be accomplished if the necessary money and work force were provided.
The north-west of Australia, with proper encouragement, could carry a tremendous body of people and would be one of the great safeguards in the defence of this country. At present, being vacant, it is an open gateway for any enemy. There are vast areas in Queensland at present undeveloped, and in the Northern Territory, where, virtually, there is not one soldier settler. When Mr. Dedman was in control of post-war reconstruction, hundreds ‘of young ex-servicemen with money wanted to go up there, but Mr. Dedman did not settle one o’f them in the Northern Territory. *I .regret (to say, too, that .the present -.Government has yet settled very few -ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory. I hope that it will encourage .the right type of .man -to go up there .and establish what he will he prepared to fight for. The .Northern Territory would then .become a safeguard for cities and .areas in the i south and south-eastern/areas of Australia. .As. long as our .northern areas .are open we shall not .be safe, but will always be in grave danger. .1 hope that the .Government will not only carry on its present immigration scheme, but .will also increase it substantially.
Many splendid people have already come “her.e. I saw some Poles in Tasmania who were splendid types. In fact, I have .never seen a better type of man anywhere. They were a magnificent body o’f men, -such as those who fought with o.ur people in North Africa, and any country would be glad to get them.
Although conditions have improved in England, .Ireland and Scotland, there are vast .numbers in those countries who would be .in a .better position within five years were they .to come to Australia. People from northern .Europe - Norwegians, .’Danes., Swedes, .Finns and Germans - -.also .make .good immigrants. We fought against the Germans, and found them to be gallant soldiers. They have also proved to be fine settlers. The wheat industry in Australia was virtually established by German settlers. They have ‘been grand settlers in the past, and we -could do with ‘lj000,000 more of them. We should be prepared to welcome them with open arms even though they were our enemies in the past. I should like to see as many as possible of British stock and .northern ^Europeans come to thi3 coun’try. We must have men who aru prepared ‘to fight and stand up for ‘their adopted country, their homes and their liberties. If -we could introduce .another 10:000:000 -people into Australia we need fear -no threat from any other race or any cither continent. As .1 have said, I am -very glad ‘that the Government intends to continue its ^present immigration policy.
I do ‘not -know ‘that I -wish ‘to say -very much more. I “have ‘here dozens of letters - a ‘drawer ‘full-which I have read on the matter I raised earlier. Those which ‘I read to the Senate are a fair sample of the remainder. I did not receive one letter in which T -was mot congratulated on the stand “I ‘took, *and every -writer was -completely disgusted with ‘the Minister for ‘External Affairs because -of the attitude ‘he adopted. Some of ‘the letters were ‘insulting ‘to ‘him, almost as insulting -as I should like to be –myself.
i - Jin -speaking ito 7£he motion for the adoption .of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered -by H-is Excellency the Govenor-General at the opening of the Twenty-second -Parliament, )I :should like ‘to congratulate the ‘mover, Senator Buttfield, and the seconder, -Senator Maher. I also congratulate ‘the Prime Minister (Mr. “Menzies) on the splendid victory achieved by .him and by Jus Government .at the .recent general election. To-day, -the problems of government are so -complex ‘that they impose a relentless strain upon the leader of the Government, and the more firmly he holds convictions relating to the needs and the future of the country whose policies he directs, the more difficult is the task imposed ‘on him in implementing those policies. We -Liberal members are proud of the fact that in our Prime “Minister we have a leader whose ‘voice is heard with attention not only in Australia, ‘but also throughout the world. At the recent general election the people -again showed their confidence in his Government and their distrust of the internal and external policies that were submitted to them by the La’bour party. Split from top to bottom on the issue of communism, ‘the Labour -party was unable to goto the -polls as a united force and therefore was rejected by the people, who very rightly believe f h at sectarian differences and class hatred have no place in our Australian way of life. The most amazing -feature of the campaign was the way in which the Labour party’s objective was so skilfully concealed from the .electors. One would have thought, seeing that it is the Labour party’s only objective and one which was re-affirmed at the Hobart conference, that it would have been mentioned during the last general election campaign. However, it was not mentioned at all. That was done deliberately in order to avoid a loss of votes, and many thousands of people who gave their votes to the Labour party had little or no knowledge of its socialist objective. They did not realize that every member of the Labour party is pledged to implement a policy of socialization of the means of industry, production, distribution and exchange.
As the result of the election, the Government now enjoys a splendid majority in the lower House of the Parliament, but after June it will not have a majority in the Senate. The Governor-General brought that fact into sharp relief when he mentioned the important constitutional problems involved in the relationship between the two Houses. He said - (The Government) . . . proposes the setting up of an all-party committee of both Houses to investigate constitutional problems which may be referred to it . . . Should agreement bc reached by the suggested committee the electors may be more disposed to vote for any constitutional amendment that would subsequently be submitted to the electors by referendum.
My colleague, Senator Gorton, referred yesterday to the Senate and its powers, and to the problems of resolving a dispute that may occur between the two Houses; but, concerning, as they do, the proposal for a revision of the Constitution, I desire, sir, to address myself to a matter which I believe is of immense importance to the whole federal system. It is quite true, and it has been said in many places, that under a system of proportional representation, minorities are able to obtain the balance of power in a parliament and so frustrate the declared will of the people. However, I do not believe that we should allow ourselves to be stampeded into believing that we should deal with this problem in isolation from all others, because there is another very important matter that should be taken into consideration. That is the failure of the Senate to function as it was intended to function. It has failed because, as we know very well, it has been increasingly subjected to party interference and party discipline. I believe, therefore, that these are dual problems which require our care ful thought and consideration before any proposal about them can be presented to the Australian people.
As we all know, the Senate is constitutionally welded into the legislative procedures of our federal system, and its organization can be changed only by referendum, or -through enabling legislation passed by all the State parliaments. The Senate enjoys perpetual existence. It cannot be dissolved except in the event of a deadlock, or abolished except by referendum. In the 55 years of its existence the Senate has been dissolved on only two occasions, once in 1914, and more recently within our own experience, in 1951.
On the question of its abolition, we have a very clear lead from the people themselves because, as all honorable senators well recall, in November of last year a Gallup poll was taken on the question of whether the Senate should be abolished. At that time only one person in four declared himself or herself as being in favour of the abolition of the Senate. That figure indicates that any attempt to interfere with the bi-cameral system of government would fail. It would fail because uni-cameral systems of government have been tried in other countries of the world, and the concensus of opinion is that they are not suited to the needs of a democracy and that a bi-cameral system is essential for the successful working of a federal system.
The English Constitution is based upon no single instrument. It is unwritten and flexible, and we find if we review the history of the bi-cameral system, that it developed in England in the year 1330 or thereabouts and has been in operation ever since. From 1330 to the time of the founding of the American Constitution there was no legislative system comparable with the British Parliament; but to-day we find that our Constitution, modelled on the American Constitution, is, next to the Constitution of the United States of America, the most rigid in the world. It took 60 years to bring the Commonwealth of Australia into being, and our Constitution was the result of ten years of almost continuous work. Therefore, I believe that if the Constitution is to be altered in any material way, the alterations should be made as the result of the deliberations of a convention, similar to that which preceded the establishment of federation, and representative of every shade of public opinion.
Only a few minutes ago Senator Wright said that constitutional review should provide a much more open field than that which applies only to matters concerning both Houses of the Parliament. That statement falls in completely with my own thoughts on the matter. However, as we are now dealing with the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, we must consider problems as they relate to the two Houses, and I shall therefore continue to relate my remarks to those problems. It is true that under the Constitution the Senate enjoys very definite powers. Summarized, they may be said to be powers to make amendments or requests. The Senate cannot originate money bills, nor may it amend money bills, but otherwise it has equal powers with the House of Representatives.
To-day we hear much discussion concerning the exercise of those powers, but I am sure that any honorable senators who have read the speeches that were made at the time of federation are aware of the fact that when those powers were granted to the Senate it was clearly laid down that the rights were not to be exercised as antique or obsolete powers, but were to be exercised as real living powers. If we look for the reason why those powers were granted to the Senate, we have no difficulty in finding it. Federation was based on the union of individuals and of States, and that union is expressed in our Constitution. The House of Representatives represents the rights and powers of the electorate and of the people in the electorate, while the Senate was designed to represent the rights and powers of the States in their separate capacities.
Looking over the speeches that have been made in this chamber during the last couple of days it is very interesting to find that the representatives of the smaller States are still very jealous of the rights of the States in thi3 Senate. In 1890, when discussions on federation were taking place, the total white population in Australia was about 3,250,000, and of that number, 2,250,000 were in Victoria and New South Wales. It is easy to understand, therefore, why fear of the financial and political power of the large and populous States was responsible for the granting of equal representation in the Senate to the States by providing for the people of the States to vote as one electorate and the interests of the small States, and of the people as a whole, could be protected. This fear of centralized authority was emphasized at the Convention because, in 1891, Mr. Cockburn is reported as having said -
We know that the tendency is always to the centre; that the central authority always constitutes a vortex which draws power to itself. Therefore, all buttresses and nil ties should bc the other way, to enable the States to withstand the destruction of their powers by such absorption. Government at a central and distant point can never be government by the people, and may be just as crushing a tyranny under republican or commonwealth forms as under the most absolute monarchy.
Despite the failure of the Senate to fulfil the functions for which it was intended, if an attempt were made to reduce its powers or abolish it, many of the people throughout Australia would hold exactly the same views as Mr. Cockburn did at the time of federation.
It is interesting to observe that the founding fathers of the United States of America were terrified of central power. A study of their system shows that they divided the powers of government amongst three departments. The first was the legislature, represented by the Congress. The second was the executive, represented by the president, and the third was the judiciary, represented by the Supreme Court. In that way, the United States has devised a system of triple checks. The Constitution of the United States of America was originally based upon a fear or distrust of all governments. That original suspicion and fear of executive excesses has been retained by the American people themselves. However, we find that the American Constitution deliberately provided for the Senate to be a more powerful House than the House of Representatives, and practice has tended to maintain that position.
Unfortunately, the Australian Senate has not been used in the way intended by the founders of federation, and both
Liberal and Labour -governments in turn must accept .some responsibility for that. The Labour movement has traditionally been dedicated ito single chamber legislatures, and it -has .taken active .steps to a.bolish upper houses. It abolished the Legislative Council in Queensland. For twenty ‘.years, it conducted a -cold war against the Legislative ‘Council in New South Wales. In 1926, and again in 1983, .the Lang Government attempted to abolish the upper House. The McKell Government tried .to do so in 1943 and in 3.946, but all -attempts -were abortive.
The curbing of .the -Senate has always been Labour’s objective, and it has been t’he party mainly responsible for putting forward proposals to increase the power of the Australian Government and wea’ken the power of the States. Certainly, it has never attempted openly to abolish, the Senate, but it has made it an endorsing chamber for the decisions of caucus and also for decisions of the executive of the Australian Labour party which. since the .Hobart conference .last year, has been dominated by the left wing of the Labo.ur movement. Indeed, on occasions in this .chamber, we have seen honorable senators turn political somersaults after the Australian Labour party executive has reversed a previous decision. By bringing .members of both Houses under the control of a party caucus .and .an .outside party executive, the Labour .party .has .done .much to demean the Senate in .the eyes of .the .Australian people, and reduce it to its present level.
I believe that a properly elected government .needs continuity to put its programme into operation, hut here I should like to sound a note of warning. Lt has been said in another place, and with great truth, that in Great Britain and in Australia, there is an increasing tendency for the -executive to take power from the legislatures, and to make -of them endorsing bodies only. We are .tending to forget that ^parliaments have achieved their status by wrenching powers from absolute forms of executive government which, however, either through power or numbers, have in all .cases tended to become tyrannical and despotic. In t’he same way, .we find that the residual and unexercised powers of the Senate constitute a (menace ‘-to executive ^government ‘by any party which happens to command a majority .in the .House .of Representatives., but 1 still say that those powers :may prove a -valuable check and balance in the .federal system.
Because the Senate ;has not fulfilled t’he functions for -which it was intended, there has been a popular -clamour for its reform and, in .some cases, its abolition.; but to my mind, any -proposal to set up ;a joint committee of both Houses on -which the Senate would -not have equal representation is one that should -find no approval in this chamber. If -we were to accept membership of a committee upon wine we would be outvoted, there would he little value in an honorable senator being a member of such a committee.
I believe that there are three principles which are fundamental to this subject. Tie first is.: Do -we accept that there should be any check on the House of Representatives which is regarded as being directly responsible .to the people, or do we believe that .there should be some .effective power and control over ill-considered and hasty legislation ? Secondly, -do ,we believe it is /necessary .to preserve the identity of the -separate States and safeguard the interests of the smaller “States-? The third point is most important. Are we., as honorable senators, prepared to submit to the Senate becoming constitutionally a mere instrument ,of endorsement ‘when our own party is in office, and ;an instrument of obstruction to .all measures and suggestions put forward by ,the Opposition ? I emphasize the word “ constitutionally “., because I believe that if we in this Senate wei;e to agree to ou-r being constitutionally a mere instrument of endorsement, -the Senate would .be on the way towards abolition. When we .make up our mind with regard to those three points, I believe we would be in a position to state our views to any committee which may be set up. In my opinion, there is no sound reason why the Senate, which was designed to play a significant part in the legislative procedures of Australia, should not continue to do so. .Experience has proved that, under a strictly disciplined .party system, almost absolute power can be wielded by any government which, enjoys a majority ia.a lower House. The Senate, therefore,, in, my opinion, lias both, a present and a future function to perform, not to. act as a capricious rival to the. lower House, or. to be used us a rubber stamp in relation to the decisions of the lower House,, but to remain strong enough, to exercise, a real check should the. necessity arise. Those are the constitutional problems,, as I see thom. The internal problems fall within two categories. The first is the lack of opportunity presented to honorable senators for study. Senator Gorton has already elaborated, how this deficiency could, be overcome by the; setting up of special probing: committees, which would enable senators to study more, and- to form an appreciation- of measures that th« Senate- would have to consider.
The second, problem, with regard to the Sen-ate. is the standard that is set by the Sena te- itself . I should like, with all th>, sincerity at my command1, to emphasize the1 importance of this problem. This’ is something that can- be rectified only by ourselVes, the individual members of the- Sena te. It is our responsibility to improve- our efficiency and! our’ methods ; no* one else can do that for us. As I have said on- previous occasions, I consider’ that the tone’ of any legislative chamber depends- on tile- character and capacity ©j its members: Ne, mechanized system of selection- or election can* over1- come the absence of’ those qualities. That brings: me to the final point that I want to make, which is that parliamentary reform is> the responsibility of the Parliament itself. Reform of the Parliament, therefore;, should and must come from the Parliament. “We know that in other spheres-, whenever executive- government has> stepped’ into tha» arena* of paT:liamentary reform, decay of the- Parliament has- taken place; I should like, therefore, to conclude on this note: The- reform Ml the- Senate should, be’ undertaken by the Senate- itself. I suggest that’, before we join any committee,- and before, anything: else is done in the matter,, we should *et up from the floor of this chamber an dl-panty select, committee- to study the future: role of. the Senate and consider, ways- and means of increasing- its importance in. the- minds o-fi the- Australian: community.
– First, I should, like to add my congratulations- to. the many that have been offered to the. mover of the motion, Senator Buttfield, and. the seconder, Senator Maher. By. their co-operative efforts; at worthwhile contribution was made to- the dignity of this chamber. I should also like to- associate myself with the expressions, of loyalty that have been voiced b.y the: mover and seconder, and the. honorable senators who- followed them. His. Excellency’s. Speech contained very many, important statements. From, my point of view, the most important related to our policy, on international affairs and related defence measures- to make it effective. As this- subject has- been already dealt with very fully by Senator Wordsworth and other honorable senators, I shall- touch, only lightly on it. There aire many aspects of our foreign policy, including, defence, security, the maintenance of a healthy economy, development of national resources, and the social welfare of the people. I. am particularly interested in. the second problem that was mentioned by His Excellency. He said - mm second can be described broadly as. thu economic problem. It has particular relation to internal development: the increase of prnduction; restraint upon the rising costs of production, which threaten to impair our international, trading position; the encouragement of our exports; the control of our imports: the restoration of a sound balance of trade: lira preservation and building up of our international financial reserves and- the protection of our currency…
I notice, too, that of the restricted imports of the country today, 51 per cent, represents goods required for production, 20 per cent, is for capital costs, a total of 71 per cent. Items such as oil and tea represent 15 per cent., whilst another 12 per cent, covers household goods, such as crockery and clothing. We have reached, a fairly dangerous stage in our import restriction policy and, therefore, the time has come to take a positive step towards increasing our exports. In the light of the fact that 51 per cent, of the restrictions on imports relates to imports for production, it cannot be accepted as satisfactory that only 8 per cent, is returned overseas as exports by our manufacturing industries. The figure to-day may be as high as 10 per cent, or 12 per cent., but it should be at least 25 per cent. I hope that this year there will be a distinct improvement in this direction, and that the improvement will continue in the years to come. I am sure that the appeal of the Minister for Trade for increased production will be responded to by primary producers in the right spirit, as has been the case on previous occasions, but it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that the primary producers are in a position to produce extra goods for export. For that reason, the Government should help in every way possible, particularly by making finance easily available to farmers, so that they may bring their machinery and equipment up to date and be able to handle efficiently the problem of increasing their production. I am sure that, if given encouragement, the primary producers will wholeheartedly support the appeal.
– A reduction of sales tax would help.
– I agree with the honorable senator. Farmers also consider that they are not given the security to which they are entitled as Australia’s principal exporters and they stress that one way to place them on a better basis would be to make it easier for them to obtain financial help. Farmers work many hours each day to produce foodstuffs, not only for internal use, but also for export, but they confront difficulty when marketing and distributing costs are added to the fairly low prices that they themselves receive. In addition to saying that primary products constitute So per cent, of our present exports, the Minister said that he looked forward to our exports of manufactured goods being increased by at least 25 per cent. It is clear that Australia cannot any longer look to its traditional ‘ markets for the disposal of its primary products. Competition is keener and more aggressive to-day than it has ever been. The main factor to be considered is the cost of production, and therefore, if Australia is to maintain its present position, it must expand its export trade, including the export of manufactured goods. In order to maintain our existing standard of living, and the existing full employment and development, our export trade must be increased considerably.
I have already said that 51 per cent, of our imports relates to goods required for production in this country, that 22 per cent, represents capital values, and 15 per cent, such items as tea. As our imports appear to have reached the irreducible minimum, an increase of manufactured goods is necessary to rectify the position. The Government’s policy is to promote trade overseas, and in the drive to obtain markets the cooperation of the trade unions and other trade organizations is essential. I believe that that co-operation will be forthcoming if the position is put to them fairly and honestly. The appointment of additional overseas trade commissioners, with the object of increasing the sale of Australian products in other countries and also to ascertain what goods can find a market overseas, is a good move. The development of overseas markets requires that attention be given, not only to the prices charged for our goods, but also to their quality and suitability. In the United States of America it is generally accepted that too many countries to-day are living on the import-export economy, and are forgetting or neglecting their home markets. America has given up the belief that there must necessarily be cycles of prosperity and depression, and they are now in favour of a more vigorous sales policy. That is an aspect of trade on which we, in Australia could, with advantage, concentrate more. For a long time I have stressed the importance of developing our home market, because I believe that it is the best market for both our primary products and our manufactured goods. Any campaign to develop the home market should be co-ordinated with a vigorous overseas selling policy. I believe that that could easily be done, and that if we were to engage in a campaign with that objective the result would be shown in increased sales of Australian goods, both locally and abroad.
I believe that honorable senators generally will be disappointed if a Tasmanian senator, speaking on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of the Governor-General, did not refer to the recent waterfront strike which affected Tasmania to a greater degree than it did any of the mainland States. A disastrous stage has been reached. We, in Tasmania, have stressed the need, on every occasion possible, for a solution to be found of these costly upheavals. I know that the cost of these disturbances has been estimated in loss of wages and loss of profits of the shipping companies, but I do not think that anybody could estimate the losses occasioned by our overseas markets, particu larly in relation to forward selling. As honorable senators know, a contract is of no value unless an idea is given of the approximate delivery date. Unless a definite statement can be made concerning how, when and where the goods will be delivered, there can be no contract. I believe that, even at this stage, some Tasmanian apple-growers have been advised that only 60 per cent, of their production can be sold on the overseas markets, because of the lack of shipping during February and March.
In Tasmania, there is peace on the waterfront at the moment, but even so, a state of cold war seems to exist. We do not seem able to get very far with the quick turn-round of ships and the achievement of a really good turnover of goods a man-hour. I cannot understand why this difficulty has not been resolved before now. It appears to me that the waterside workers and the shipping companies have reached a dead end in their negotiations and are not able to arrive at a satisfactory agreement. Therefore, I am of the opinion that unless this matter can be resolved by an outside authority we shall get nowhere.
The fight between the waterside workers and the shipping companies is affecting primary producers, manufacturers and sawmillers to such an extent that it may very well ruin those people. Therefore, I make a plea to all who are connected with the waterfront to do their utmost to arrive at an arrangement which will be acceptable to the waterside workers and also to the shipowners. Any increase of wages should be related to increased effort and turnover. In my opinion, the only solution of the problem is to return to the old contract system, or a similar system, whereby payment would be made according to results. I think that if waterside workers were paid £25 a week, with a minimum turnover of 20 tons, it would be an excellent arrangement. The main thing is to turn the ships round as quickly as possible. The Australian worker has no equal in the world, provided that he is allowed to work, but the workers on the waterfront are being badgered continually by our friend Healy and his henchmen and are reaching the point where they will not be allowed to work at all. It seems to me that the waterside worker himself does not favour that position. I was pleased to see only recently that either 400 or 600 watersideworkers had refused togo on strike because of some imagined slight in relation to two men who had not been reinstated. By refusing to strike, the waterside workers flouted the decision of the officials of the. union.
Perhaps, the position could be improved by giving these men good conditions of work, permanent jobs, a full eight hours work a day, and a 40-hour week, with a minimum of £25 a week, and the usual holidays and amenities that are provided for the average working man-. That might result in a quick turn-round of ships. An American said to me recently that he could not understand Australians because, although we did everything possible to attract to this country capital for national development, when we had that capital here, we immediately placed restrictions on the use of it. I could see his point clearly, becauseI appreciated that many millions of pounds had been invested in Australia in ships, sheds, equipment and gear which was used only for a token number of hours a day. There is no reason why the money so invested should not be employed to a greater degree, at least for two shifts a day of eight hours each. If we were to use to advantage the money that has been invested, and also our labour, and if we could co-ordinate those two things, most of our troubles would disappear.
Whatever the difficulty is on the waterfront, I think that an effort should be made even now to see whether a solution cannot be found.From what I have seen personally of the shipping position I think it is impossible for the waterside workers and the shipowners to solve this problem, which has become a pain in the neck to all Australians, particularly Tas- manians. As far as we are concerned; we havehad it. Every primary producer in Tasmania is of that opinion. In conclusion, I have pleasure in supportingthe motion before the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) agreed to -
That, the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-Generalby the President and such honorable senators as may desire to accompany him.
– I shall ascertain when His Excellency will be pleased to receive the Address-in-Reply, and when a time is fixed, I shall notify the Senate.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that the following members of the House of Representatives had been appointed to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee: Mr. Downer, Mr. Drummond, Mr. Joske, Mr. Kent Hughes, Mr. Lucock, Mr. MacKinnon, Mr. Timson and. Mr: Wentworth.
– I lay on. the. table the following, paper : -
Statement By Mr. E. G. Casey;, Minister, for External Affairs, on International Affairs, in the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, 22nd February;1956.
The statement is as follows: -
When I last spoke in the House about Foreign Affairs the meeting in Geneva of the Heads of Government of Britain; France, the United States of America, and. the Soviet Union was not long over and the world was going through a state of at least temporary optimism.
The Prime Minister and I hadboth feltit necessary in public statements to recommend caution in coming to too rosy conclusions at that time. I told the House that it would he premature to assume that all was well by reason of the Soviet smiles at Geneva. These reservations have unfortunately been, justified by what has happened - and what has not happened- since then. I said that; though the Heads of Governmenthad been able to agree on certain general observations, the test wouldbe when these general statements had tobe applied to particular issues such as German unity. European collective security, East-West contacts and disarmament: The first testing times have passed - a. session of the United Nations Disarmament. Sub-committee, the November meeting of. Foreign Ministers, and the recent General Assembly of the United Nations. All these meetings have shown that, when it comes downto specific issues, the Communist attitude is fundamentallyunchanged fromwhatit was before the Heads of Government met at Geneva. lt is now clear- that, the Russians meant, to reduce surface! tensions only, without, giving way on. any. of the; specific matters that created the tensions..
Let US, look at*, those specific issues. Although many of.’ these, matters directly concern the. European, area, the results’ oi them have’ direct relationship- to our own’ situation’. The Asian area, is part of the. whole world picture, and’, isi influenced by events and tendencies occurring anywhere in the world.
The m inds of men- in Asia- are influenced by the- apparent successes or- the apparent- failures of the- democratic side or the- Communist side in- any part of the world. With- instantaneous world-wide communications, the,minds of’ people in any particular area are influenced” By events in- any part of the world’. The mind’s of uncommitted individuals in Asia are- swayed by democratic successes- or Communist gains’ in countries half the world away. The’ Battle- for men’s minds in South-East Asia nr not’ a selfcontained one-. The free world1 i’s one’, and is faced’ with an aggressive’ antagonist1 that never sleeps.
On the- question of tHe unification of G’er1 many, the Russians have made it quite clear that they will’ not agree: to the unification- of Germany through- free; all-German elections. They are, in fact, more interested1 in keeping the eastern part of Germany- under Communist domination: than in permitting German, unity in- freedom-. And until’ there is agreement’ in Germany, there can-. hardly be any agreement on the second big outstanding question’ in Europe - collective security.
The next question- before’ the Foreign’. Ministers in Geneva, was disarmament: There, too* practically no progress lias been made either in Geneva or elsewhere. I will speak about this great’ problem, of” disarmament again a little later.
The Foreign Ministers had also. been, asked to consider the development of. closer contact’s between the Communist, and1 non-Communist countries, in. order- to make some advance towar.dk peaceful co-existence. No advance was made on this, in spite of strenuous efforts By the Foreign Ministers of the three democratic countries. The inescapable conclusion is that the Communist countries are afraid1 of free uncensored contact between their peoples and ours. They fear that, the rigid’ controlled regimes that they have built up1 cannot stand the light of free intercourse and’ discussion.
What we can say is that, since the death of Stalin, Communist tactics in international affairs have changed,, but. the basic; philosophy and objectives, remain. The aim. is still world domination. In this new phase of East-West relations, Communist pressure on the free world is being vigorously exerted, in new and more subtle forms,, which are harder to detect and harden to counter,. The crude assertion of Soviet power has given way to more subtle methods, by which, communism seeks to present itself in the most attractive light to the nonCommunist governments and’ to the ordinary people of all countries.
Indeed,, the Communists, themselves scarcely bother, to conceal that, whilst they have turned away from crude forms of expansion,, thenbasic a 1111. of world, domination, is. unchanged. Mr-.. Khrushchev himself has made, this clear in. a speech, to the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics- on 29th December - only ten. weeks, ago. He said- -
If certain, politicians think that our confidence in the victory oi socialism;., in the teachings of. Marxism-Leninism; is u violation, of- the Geneva spirit,, they obviously have an erroneous, notion, of that spirit.. They ought to remember,, once and for a-ll,. that, we have, never, gone back: and never will go- back on our’ ideas;, on our struggle for the. victory of communism. They- need never expect any ideological disarming; on our. parti.
This question of the ultimate aims- of communism is a- matter of the highest- importance. If words- mean what they say, then the Communists have never- wavered’ from I9T7 to the present! day in their- aim of communizing the worl’d. ibr due- course: Tehre are those who- say that practically every faith- has begun- by airing its- determination’ to- become universal and By expressing- intolerance- and hostility towards other faiths- - but that, in: the course- of time; this- attitude, has- smoothed off into tolerance’ and1 more’ or. less friendly co-existence: with other faiths. Those who use this parallel’ say that we should not. Bc too much concerned at the sinister Communist threats of world domination. Such a comfortable philosophy might Be all very well at some time rn the future when the- Beginnings of such tolerance- were in sight - But; this is not so to-day* - and it would Be- suicidal folly for us to> let down our- guard in tto-day’s- circumstances.
In the meantime the Communists- are: going ali out to win a new place for themselves particularly in. Asia and’ in. the Middle East. In these areas they are using the Communist tactics, so frankly expounded By Lenin,, which make use of nationalist movements, merely as a prelude to- their destruction and- the ultimate imposition* of open Communist domination
Let iiic saw a, word about the tense and dangerous situation, im the Middle East. Australia’s, interest in’ the. stability of the Middle East is long established. Now,, as a member, ot the Security. Council,, Australia, is directly concerned: iia the efforts of the United Nations to solve, the- Arab-Israel problem.. Al this stage,, every effort must be. made to avoid further Bonder, incidents or. provocative, action by either side.. This- was our objective in the Security Council discussion a. month, ago when we joined in a. resolution of censure upon Israel for her. action, against Syria, in the Lake Tiberias- region: But. no permanent settlement seems possible, unless mutual fears can be reduced, and’. Israel’s right to exist is recognized By her neighbours. On. the other, hand, Israel Kas an obligation, in. respect of” the tragic situation- of Arab, refugees. Each side mustrecognize that the other. Kas, interest’s,, and that the reconciliation of interests is something negotiable either within or outside the United Nations.
Fear is a dangerous thing and the present situation is explosive, lt is being exploited by the Soviet Union which has abandoned any pretence of impartiality and is endeavouring to mislead Arab peoples into the belief that the Soviet Union alone is their friend.
Soviet Russia has also tried to promote discord in respect of the Kashmir question. The Russian leaders spoke recently as if the Kashmir question was already settled, thereby prejudging an issue which is before the United Nations Security Council and which cannot lie brought nearer a solution by gratuitous and partisan intervention by outside countries. The Security Council has endorsed the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite under United Nations auspices to decide the disposition of Kashmir. Both parties have agreed in principle to accept this method, but have unfortunately not been able to agree on the way to put it into effect. Australia’s concern is to see this outstanding issue between two Commonwealth countries settled by peaceful means which give full weight to the wishes of the people of the disputed territory. The United Nations resolutions point the way to such a settlement: the Soviet intervention, which shows a complete disregard for established processes of peaceful adjustment through the United Nations, cannot fail to make the search for a permanent settlement more difficult.
Let us look at the record more generally. Throughout the world the Communists denounce “ colonialism “ and “ imperialism “. This is good international political talk and a good deal of sympathy can be gained by so doing. A century ago the Russian author Turgenev wrote -
If you wish to put your enemy in the wrong or to damage his reputation, blame him for the very vice which you feel in yourself.
This is exactly what the Communists do when they denounce “ colonialism “. Yet it is the Soviet Union which can be regarded as the new imperialism. The simple fact is that the Soviet Union is the only country which emerged from World War II. with increased territory - in Europe and in Asia.
If colonialism means - as I believe it means - the subjecting of people of one nationality or religion to the rule of another, then there is no doubt that there is in the world to-day only one great colonial empire - that of Russia. All the bad features of nineteenth century colonialism - which for the West is a thing of the past - are to be found in Moscow’s rule over the populations, both inside and outside the Soviet borders, whom it has reduced to what can only be called a colonial status. The results of this new imperialism may be seen in the systematic destruction of the national life of the Baltic Republics, of the Eastern European countries, and in the exploitation of the Asian Republics of the Soviet Union.
Russia’s Central Asian dominions - nearly 4,000,000 square miles of territory lying northwards of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, include five Soviet Republics with a total population of nearly 17,000,000 people. The Soviet constitution guarantees to each of the Republics which make up the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics a long and superficially impressive list of rights, including the right to secede from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In practice these rights do not exist. In all matters, great and small, they are rigidly controlled from Moscow. Their Administrations and economic machinery are filled with Russians in key posts. Every care is taken to ensure* that their economies remain dependent on that of Russia. Everywhere Russians and the Russian language enjoy a privileged position. Local national feeling and the Muslim religion are persecuted as “ reactionary “. This is the work of the real “ colonialism “ of our time.
While the Soviet Union has been making its presence felt in Southern Asia, the policy of the Chinese partner in the Communist coalition has been developing along similar lines. The Peking regime has made many declarations of peaceful intent, and, since the Bandung Conference, which marked a turning point in Chinese Communist tactics, its official statements and propaganda have assumed an apparent air of moderation. Again, however, there has been little sign of a genuine willingness to compromise or negotiate contentious major issues.
Although the Chinese Communists have made many declarations of peaceful intent since last year, they do not seem to have changed their policy on Formosa and the Pescadores, and on the off-shore islands which have been the centre of friction for some time. Indeed they have openly stated that they are prepared to “ liberate “ Formosa by force, if necessary, and that they are pressing ahead with preparatory work for this purpose.
Until we know with more certaintly that Peking has renounced the use of force and subversion in the Formosa area and towards the countries of South-East Asia, it is difficult o see how progress can be made. lt is sometimes suggested that the “ realistic “ course would be to recognize the Peking regime as the Government of China and as the legitimate representative of China at the United Nations. At this stage I shall merely say that it does not appear “ realistic “ to abandon to the mercy of the Communists the island of Formosa with the Republic of China Government and 8,000,000 anti-Communist inhabitants, which is in effect what the Communists continue to demand.
Such is the attitude which the Communist bloc presents to the free world.
In the light of the events of the last twelve months, I would believe that the probabilities of the immediate future are as follows: -
There is not much likelihood of a global nuclear war breaking out in the early future. However, this is only true so long as the democratic nations can demonstrate that they are both able and willing to resist aggression. Consequently it is essential for the democratic nations to maintain their defences at an adequate level and to preserve and develop collective security arrangements for mutual defence.
The Communists, having abandoned, for the present at least, the pursuit of their aims by military means, have now intensified their attempts to spread their influence by other means - not only through propaganda and subversion, but also through more conventional diplomatic techniques.
The main regions which the Communists are attempting to penetrate at present, are South-East Asia and the Middle East.
The maintenance of world peace at present depends in large part on the fact that nuclear weapons cannot be used aggressively without the certainty of destructive retaliation. Communist propaganda will continue to hammer on the theme of “ Ban the Atomic Bomb “. The Communists know that if nuclear weapons were abolished, they would, through their great armies and air force , have a superiority in conventional weapons and thus be in a better position to enforce their demands by orthodox military means.
In democratic countries the Communist tactics are now to use fair words and smiling faces to instil a comfortable and misleading sense of security. In Europe, as in Asia, the Communists call for popular fronts, co-operation among forward-looking men of good-will, and all the rest. One has only to read Australian Communist newspapers like the “ Tribune “ to see how the “popular front” line is being dutifully trumpeted by Communists and fellow travellers in Australia. It is all part of a world-wide pattern.
It is clear that, in the face of the Communist offensive, an essential part, though by no means the only part, of the free world’s strength must be armed strength. The vast expenditure on armed forces and armaments throughout the world is one of the basic problems of our time. The world is oppressed with a burden of war-like preparation. In the hydrogen bomb, there has been developed for the first time a weapon capable of mutual obliteration. The division of the world between Communist and free countries, with the hydrogen bomb in possession of each side, represents the limit in mutually destructive possibilities. This dreadful dilemma leads some people to believe that the solution lies in a simple banning of atomic and hydrogen weapons.
The monopoly of nuclear weapons which the West enjoyed for some years was itself almost a guarantee of peace. Norealist aggressor will move against an adversary that he knows to be greatly stronger than himself in retaliatory capacity. West European defensive strength was built under the protection of Western atomic power.
But the Western monopoly of atomichydrogen weapons is no more. Russia possesses the hydrogen bomb. It is clear that a saturation point will be reached in the near future, if indeed it has not already come, when each, in any all-out war, would inevitably destroy the other. It is thus more vital than ever before that war should be avoided. It is clear that Russia as well as the West recognizes this. The Russian leaders would not lightly risk their own destruction and that of their country.
On 3rd November,1953, in the House of Commons Sir Winston Churchill said - . . I have sometimes the odd thought that the annihilating character of these agencies may bring an utterly unforeseeable security to mankind . . . It may be that . . . when the advance of destructive weapons enables everyone to kill everybody else nobody will want to kill anyone at all.
To the Communists, the present situation is an opportunity for attempted expansion by all means short of the riskof a great war. This is a highly dangerous situation. A peace founded on a balance of terror is a fragile thing. It is at the mercy of mistakes and miscalculations, which have so often precipitated wars before. The border incident, the inevitable reprisal - the reaction to that - and things may have gone too far to draw back - then the Russian use of the veto in the Security Council, and the chain reaction of understandable human action and reaction - and a great war may have started from small beginnings. Surrounded by tinder, the Communist leaders persist in playing recklessly with fire, in all the troubled areas of the world. As their recent actions combine to show, they will constantly pursue their aim of expansion by all means short of raising the international temperature beyond the decisive flash point. If they avoid any fatal miscalculation, the problem that remains for the free world is still very great.
It is essential for the democracies to retain the deterrent power of nuclear weapons as long as they remain in the hands of the Communists. But this is not enough. Mutual ability to deter all-out war may be regarded by the Communists as a kind of umbrella beneath which they can bite off pieces of the free world without the risk of provoking fullscale retaliation. Although the defence of the free world is far more than a military problem, it is essential that the military strength of the free world must be of something like the same order as that of the Communists. The strength of the democratic countries must be varied and flexible. To rely exclusively on atomic and hydrogen weapons would be folly. If a bee lands on your friend’s neck you are poorly placed to help him if your only weapon is a sledge hammer. A shield of conventional forces is still necessary to meet the threat of piecemeal aggression,for which the Communists, with their great land armies, are so well equipped. We must avoid a situation in which the aggressor enjoys freedom to choose the time, the place and the scope of conflict resulting from aggression: Be will lie- robbed of that freedom only if those that ure menaced are prepared to retaliate at any time on tile scale appropriate to the aggression:
The. ideal would be. to be able to rely on die. United Nations to deter, or to cope with* aggression. This is not. possible, for reasons that we all know. So that we have, had to create machinery consistent, with the Charter; but outside the scope of the- veto.. A series cif regional mutual defence arrangements has been established, based on the right of individual and collective self-defence-,, which is consistent with the United- Nations Charter. Australia is taking, a constructive part in developing such, collective defence machinery.
At the heart, oft the grand, alliance oi free nations- are tile United Kingdom and. thiUnited. States, linked with others– through Sato and with: others again through Seato. The present absence of open conflict in the would has been possible only because of. the constructive and generous way in which these two great partners have used their strength and. resources to serve the free world as a whole: It is a vital interest of Australia. - and. of every other free country - that Britain mid. America should maintain and strengthen their, great partnership, with, each- other and with, other like-minded nations:
I have spoken of the dangers of Communist armed’ strength and what must be done to counter– it. But, you may say, rather than thinking in’ terms of counter-threats, should we not be- devoting ourselves to an effort to remove the- dreadful threat of nuclear weapons from- the face- of the earth ? Since- the hydrogen bomb carries- within it thu greatest possible danger to- mankind, would1 it not bc logical and right1 to- get rid of it ? The answer to this simple question is not as easy as- the Communists wa-nf us to believe. First of all, it would be folly- to enter into agreements to ban nuclear weapons without a water-tight and mutual system of inspection and’ detection of: stocks of nuclear material. And at present, it is the fact that, as the Soviet Government has itself admitted, science has not yet discovered any sure way of detecting stocks of nuclear’ weapon- material. An agree ment to destroy or ban- nuclear weapons would to-day, be no- more- than an exchange- of paper pledges, between the democratic and Communist countries. It is obvious which- side would be taking the greater, risk. Pledges and undertakings are- worthless if there are no means of. ensuring- that they are carried out, just as laws are- worthless if there- are no’ policemen.. Secondly, even1 if nucl’ear weapons did not exist, the Communist bloc would have a vast preponderance of conventional strength. There- can be no question, of abandoning or limiting the’ use1 of nuclear- weapons unless we have achieved! a properly supervised and’ controlled: reduction’ of conventional arms and forces to Better balanced and much lower level’s. A’n examination of last year’s- Russian disarmament plan does not encourage any one to Believe that an- early agreement for- such a reduction is- likely.
So that nuclear disarmament is, for the tune being, impossible. I- emphasize “ for the time being”. Every effort is being made in the free world to- find- some means- of detecting nuclear material that would be- capable of being policed.
Meanwhile,, can nothing- bo done internationally to reduce the burden of armaments and tile risk of war?- The answer is” that it certainly could, given- goodwill on both” sides. President Eisenhower’s “ open skies “ plan sought to guard against massive surprise attacks and so reduce the danger of general war, thus creating an atmosphere of increased trust that might make further- progress possible: The Russian leaders have- shown no constructive interest in this remarkable offer. Indeed, it may well be that’ the- Russians have concluded that the Soviet Union runs no risk, of being attacked by surprise by the democracies. No democratic- nation thinks in terms of- aggressive- waa?- - “ preventive “ or otherwise.
I believe that the lifting ot the iron curtain would’ advance the prospect of disarmament. Given that we cannot have foolproof scientific systems of detecting the existence of nuclear weapons, our objective must be to lino other bases for trust. We might create sufficient trust to proceed further with disarmament if we had ready access to each others territory and free discussion and observation by people of’ all’ walks of life: But again it r. file Communists - not we - who have- the power to- unlock this, door:
Other hopeful plans- have been, put’ forward - but. nothing; from the Soviet side flint will begin to stand, up to examination-.. Australia is- a member- of the United Nations Disarm anient Commission and is participating actively in- the search for* practicable- and enforcible disarmament measures,, but it would be suicidal, foi; the: West to reduce its- own defences without, being sure that the Coinmunists were doing, likewise.
I have spoken about the United Nations, which in its first ten. years has become u unique- and indispensable’ factor in world affairs. We have- just had’ the benefit of a. visit by the- distinguished SecretaryGeneral of thu United: Nations,. Mr/. Hammarskjold’, which provided opportunities! foi; many stimulating and useful discussions:
The plus and the minus of the United Nations ar.e well’ known. It cannot be swan to stop wars breaking- out, or be at all sure of stopping them when they have started. Nor have the public deliberations of the United Nations always tended to reduce- international tensions and frictions. The United Nations cannot counteract the corrosive effects of the cold wan United’ Nations machinery can be f ully effective only if all those- who opera tiit* show goodwill”, ses its free-world members do. Nonetheless, even with- these limitations, it has a valuable- role to* play; Its authority and effectiveness may Be expected to increase in future; and Australia will continue to support it. One important recent development was thu .admission of sixteen new members, which we ‘.warmly welcomed and for which we worked actively. Unfortunately Japan was not admitted, but we would hope that her entry will not be long delayed.
The admission .of the new members makes it logical to enlarge the .Security Council and remedy the present situation in which .no Asian country .outside the Commonwealth -.is likely, in practice, to .get on to the Council. At , the same time .we do not .favour ‘any increase in the numbers of permanent members of .4he Security Council. Australia -strongly objected to the use of .the veto in questions relating to the peaceful settlement of disputes, ti nd in the admission of new members. This use of the veto has .in many instances prevented the Security Council from playing its full part in the maintenance of international peace and security, and has frequently frustrated the wishes of the majority of the United .Nations. To extend permanent membership of the Council so that the power of veto in its present .form would be extended t.o .other countries would be inconsistent with our principles. :t have spoken about the ‘international background of East-West relationships. Against this .background, what is the .present outlook for the area .to which .Australia geographically belongs, and of which we are trying to .be a friendly and helpful member.?
Since ‘the war, South-East Asia has been going through a revolution as far reaching in its effects as the ‘French Revolution was in Europe. Colonial links, some of them centuries old, have been, and arc being, abruptly severed. New Asian nations have appeared and their -numbers are growing. Asian leaders have had to repair the effects of the last war which affected every country in the area; rundown economics ‘have had to be restored; the tasks hove had to ‘bo faced of ‘building modern nation-States without many -of the essential skills and the ‘necessary money. And over the whole area, including Australia, lies the shadow of Communist expansionism.
We must expect .the present ‘revolutionary phase with its problems to continue for many years ahead. Considerable progress has been mode; nice shortages have been largely overcome; much of the devastation of war -has been repaired; appreciable economic -progress has been made. General elections have recently been hold or will be “held shortly in practically all the countries of ‘.South-East Asia.
Malaya and Singapore, our -near neighbours, are -making striking constitutional advances. We warmly welcome this peaceful evolution of these two Commonwealth partners. As -they advance towards a new status we are anxious to co-operate with -them in .solving the new problems ‘that they will meet. At -the Malayan constitutional talks which recently ended in London, agreement was reached on a programme providing for internal self-government now and independence within the Commonwealth ‘by August, “1957. In the period before independence, the United Kingdom will retain control over external defence and .external relations, .consulting -the Federation ‘Government in advance about any substantial changes hi the size -or character of defence forces. It has been agreed that after independence there will be a treaty of defence and mutual assistance which will cover the continued presence of United Kingdom forces and the ‘.Commonwealt’h Strategic Reserve and the provision of ‘necessary facilities :for them. We shall .do all we can ito help Malaya in meeting the varied ‘.tasks which confront the ^country -in this new constitutional phase and in its longterm social and .economic development. Malaya’s peaceful progress is complicated by t’he .Communist minority which persists in its campaign of terrorism in spite of generous offers designed ‘to end the bloodshed. We are aiding -the fight against .this ruthless foreignsupported -minority. in Indonesia, an “historic stage was reached towards -the end of “last year with the ‘holding of the first national elections. A new government with a popular mandate arising from these elections will shortly be formed, and we look forward to developing friendly ties and closer contact with it.
In Indo-China, fighting was brought to an end in July, 1954, though not before the Communists had made considerable gains and inflicted much misery on (lie people. The Geneva Agreement provided the basis of a peaceful settlement and International .Commissions were set up in Viet “Nam, Cambodia, and Laos to supervise the armistices. Two Commonwealth countries, Canada and India, are contributing notably to “this work. However, no final political settlements are yet in sight in Viet Nam and Laos. In Viet Nam the two parties have been unable to reach agreement on the basis for free nation-wide elections, while in Laos the Communists are resisting the restoration of the Laotian Government’s authority in certain parts of the country. In these circumstances, it is important to .maintain effective international machinery to ensure that .hostilities n.re not renewed .
In South ‘Viet Nam itself, -considerable progress has been made. ‘The Government has established authority in its own territory and has re-settled more than 750,000 refugees, who fled from communism in the north. Elections for a .National Assembly will be held shortly. In Cambodia and Laos there are elected”, governments determined to maintain their .independence. These governments need understanding, ‘help .and co-operation from the free world .to ensure their continued integrity.
These are some of the -achievements and problems of South-EaSt Asia to-day. To solve these problems we are striving to develop the strength of the area -to which we belong - not only its defensive strength but its economic strength and its strength to resist ideas which would destroy .its independence and integrity. Economic stability is very closely related to political stability.
The task of helping to preserve the security and stability of South-East Asia is far from being a simple military problem. Nevertheless, the problem of physical defence is clearly of the first importance. That is why we have joined with others in the creation of Seato, under which important and promising mutual defence machinery has been set up. Of the eight countries which make up Seato, some are Asian, while the others, though outside the threatened area, have recognized the common defence interests which they share with the countries of the area, and have committed themselves accordingly. So far as Australia is concerned co-operation of this kind is the only realistic way to help to defend the region to which we belong, and to protect our own shores, lt is important that the forces of every member of the Seato organization should be developed to an adequate level of strength and effectiveness and used to the best advantage in the defence of the whole area. Self-defence must be both individual and collective.
I shall shortly be attending on behalf of the Government the second meeting of the Seato Council at Karachi. The meeting will review the general situation in the SouthEast Asian Treaty Area and the work done by Seato, which is a unique experiment in international co-operation as between countries of widely different situations and stages of development. Much work has been done in the past year in building up effective machinery and methods of consultation, and in studying the problems of the area.
The Seato Council representatives, including Australia, have held more than twenty meetings at Bangkok in the last year. In addition to the formal meetings of the Seato military advisers at Bangkok and Melbourne, there have been seventeen meetings of specialist representatives of the Seato countries, including Australia. These specialist meetings have included such subjects as - military planning, military intelligence, training, anti-subversive measures, economic co-operation and information. These meetings have been held in Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, Karachi, Melbourne, Auckland and Pearl Harbour. The preliminary work has now largely been done, and we are entering a newphase in the development of the Seato organization.
Seato is already established as a deterrent to aggression. Its importance is not confined, however, to military security. Its political purpose is the preservation of the integrity and independence of the people of the area. The treaty calls for co-operation among its members in solving the economic and the cold war problems of the area. The Australian Government means to play a positive role in this aspect of the Seato organization’s work.
The main danger in South-East Asia to-day is probably that of Communist subversion and infiltration. An important feature of the Treaty is the provision which it makes for cooperative action to combat subversion, as well as open aggression. Much is in fact already being done in this sphere but much remains, and every member of Seato must be prepared to make an increasing contribution.
I come now to the economic needs of the area.
The problem of defending the integrity of the free countries in our area, is, as I have said, not merely a military problem. The countries of South and South-East Asia are not short of man-power - their population is increasing by something like 10,000,000 each year - but they are short of the means to make man-power as productive and J abou r as rewarding as it can be. They are short of capital and short of skills.
Capital for development can be accumulated only by saving out of income, and the income of the Asian peoples is so low that there is little margin for saving. In many parts of Asia primitive methods make possible only a bare subsistence from hard and unremitting toil. That is why the economic development of Asia must be aided by nonAsian countries which have already raised their own production and living standards high enough to have resources available. We oan understand these developmental problems, for they are our own, but they are on a much more formidable scale than our own.
An immediate and urgent need for Asian countries is to increase their resources of technical skill and technical equipment at all levels of production. Increased technical “ know-how “ is essential not only to increased productivity from immediately usable resources, but also to make it possible to implement much needed large-scale developmental projects.
The machinery through which Australia makes its main contribution towards technical progress and economic development in free Asia is the Colombo plan, which is now in its fifth year, and which has proved itself as a means of helping the Asian Governments to help themselves. It is too soon to look for spectacular results in the shape of visibly increased living standards, for much of the effort has been channelled into large multipurpose projects which have yet to come to maturity, but which will later provide the essential foundation on which the expanded economies will rest. We are also training large and increased numbers of young Asians in a wide range of modern skills and professions. This helps create a reservoir of professionally and technically trained personnel which will make its impact on the social and economic advancement of the area for a generation and more ahead.
Incidentally, a point of considerable importance has been confirmed by reason of the presence of some thousands of young Asian students in Australia over recent years, and that is that it is established that there is no racial feeling in the Australian population.
A further source of valuable help to Asian countries in the economic sphere is the United Nations technical assistance programme, to which Australia contributes substantially. Just over a third of United Nations technical assistance funds are spent in Southern Asia and the Far Bust. While we realize the needs of other areas, Australia has constantly been concerned in the United Nations to ensure that an adequate proportion of the available United Nations technical assistance funds should be devoted to the Asian area, which contains more than 50 per cent. of the population of the areas covered by this programme. It is also the fact that the needs of the peoples of South Asia are substantially greater than those of other areas, by reason of their low standard of living. It is obviously not possible to allot technical aid simplyon a population basis, but it would seem that some further increase in the proportion devoted to Asia is logical, desirable and justified. In this regard we shall continue to give our sympathetic attention to Asian needs.
I have spoken at some length on our efforts to help the countries of South and South-East Asia to improve their standards of living. Whilst this is a matter of principal concern to the free Asian countries themselves, it is not confined to them. Lack of economic stability in Asia would have harmful effects far beyond the Asian area. There is an obvious link between economic stability and political stability. We must find means of speeding up the rate of economic growth of free Asia. I am not without hope that some other of the European countries whose economies are in good order, might join with the others of us in co-operation with free Asia perhaps under the Colombo plan, and so create a new relationship between Asia and Europe in place of the old.
And in all this, let us not forget the simple human fact that no one likes taking something from someone else as a gift. The Asian governments are composed of proud people. Having gained their independence they want to stand on their own feet and not be beholden to others. It is for this simple human and understandable reason that we attach no strings or conditions, nor do we look for fulsome thanks for whatever we are fortunate enough to be able to do for others. We are not trying to buy friends. There is nothing patronizing in what we are trying to do. We are performing a duty to those less fortunate than’ ourselves and for our mutual good. We must steadily and energetically pursue this objective. Australia had a part to play, not only herself, but in emphasizing to those with greater resources than we have the needs of the countries of free Asia.
Defence and economic problems are an important part of the picture, but not the whole. One outstanding problem of our time is the question of the attitude of mind that is in course of being formulated in the minds of the governments and peoples of Asia.
It has been my constant endeavour on behalf of the Government to try to achieve a proper understanding of the aspirations of our Asian neighbours and to bring friendly and constructive interest to bear on their problems. To this end I have made a point of frequently visiting their capitals and of arranging for reciprocal visits to Australia, which will continue. I like to think that I have served my apprenticeship in this regard, and that there is progressively better mutual understanding between the countries of South and South-East Asia and Australia.
On the other hand, I hope and believe that the free Asian countries will not be misled by the sympathetic interest which the Communist countries claim to feel for them. The free Asian countries are a target area for Communist political and economic diplomacy and propaganda which is part of the pattern of Communist power politics.
At the same time, we should not believe that the evolution of the political, social and economic pattern in the free Asian countries should necessarily, or even probably, be on the same lines as our own. Each of these countries has its own long-established tradition and culture. Their environments and economies and religions are different from ours. All of these factors will have their influence on the development of their individual institutions, the nature and structure of which will no doubt deviate from the established order in countries like our own. None of us can live to ourselves alone. Individuals and nations are in a constant process of influencing and being influenced by their environment and their neighbours.
In what I have said to-day I have been concerned to state to the House what I believe to be the main influences determining the international situation, the situation to which our foreign policies have to be addressed. J. have not set out to recapitulate the fundamental principles of our foreign policy which have been repeatedly stated in this House, and no honorable member needs to be reminded of the significance to Australia of our ties with Britain nor of the value which we attach to our other Commonwealth partners, and, of course, also to our American partner.
I conclude by referring to what I might describe as the “ working rules “ by which this Government conducts the management of our relations with the rest of the world. These “working rules” are -
That the paperbe printed.
Debate (on motionby Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Motion (bySenatorO’Sullivan.) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising, adjourn to Tuesday, the 20th March next, at 3 p.m., unless sooner called together by the President by telegram or letter.
Senate adjourned at5:0p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 March 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1956/19560301_senate_22_s7/>.