22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIIin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether the attention of the Minister has been drawn to a statement in a booklet on the needs of pensioners, issued by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, that “ it is clear that insufficient has been done in the way of keeping a check on the subsistence level of the pensioner group, presumably because no Commonwealth government has desired or requested such information “. Does the Minister consider this to be a statement of fact? If not, will he inform the Senate of the work done by his department in this field of inquiry?
– I have not seen the booklet to which the honorable senator refers, but I did read a press reference to it. My thoughts instinctively went back to the time when I held the social services portfolio. I formed a tremendous admiration for the social workers and almoners on (he staff of the department. There would be few more knowledgeable groups so far as the conditions of pensioners are concerned, and it would be very hard to find people with a greater sympathy for those in need. I suggest, with respect, that a good deal of deference is due to the department for ils work in this field, and its attitude to these problems.
– I ask the
Minister for Civil Aviation whether it is a fact that the Government has refused Trans-Australia Airlines permission to buy Caravelle jets, and Ansett-A.N.A. permission to buy Lockheed Electra turbo-prop aircraft, on the ground that this would upset the economics of the airline industry. Is it a fact, also, that Ansett-A.N.A. complained publicly about this decision? Is it true that before the decision was made Ansett-A.N.A. asked the Government to prevent T.A.A. from purchasing Caravelles, on the ground that it would upset the economics of the airline industry? Is it further a fact that the Minister has agreed to reconsider Ansett’s request for permission to buy aircraft of this type? If the answer is in the affirmative, will further consideration be given to the purchase by T.A.A. of Caravelles? If not, why should there be this differentiation in the treatment of Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. in regard to the purchase of new aircraft?
– The Government recently had cause to consider applications made by both Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. for the purchase of aircraft for re-equipment purposes. T.A.A. sought two Caravelle jet aircraft and Ansett-A.N.A. wanted four Viscount 800’s and four Lockheed Electra turboprops. The Government approved of the purchase of the four Viscounts for which Ansett-A.N.A. had sought permission, but rejected the applications for both the Caravelle and Lockheed Electra aircraft. As suggested in the question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that decision, the reasons for which were given wide publicity, had to do, among other things, with the general economic condition of the industry and the need for maintaining stability in the industry. It is a fact that shortly after the announcement of the Government’s decision Mr. Ansett expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision insofar as it related to the importation of the Lockheed Electra aircraft.
Prior to this matter being considered by the Government, I had, of course, discussed with both major operators their reequipment plans, and during those discussions Mr. Ansett made it clear that he had a preference for the turbo-prop machine rather than for the Caravelle, in stating that in his view the turbo-prop machine suited Australian operating conditions better than did the Caravelle. Subsequent to the Government’s decision, Mr. Ansett saw me and said that he considered the Government had not given proper consideration to some aspects of his application, and suggested that it might have misinterpreted some of the economics of the industry in relation to these aircraft. I felt that if Mr. Ansett held those views, and held them strongly, he should be given the opportunity to re-state his case. I suggested that insofar as he disagreed with the decision of the Government, he should put his case in writing so that I could have another look at it. I publicly stated that if I then considered it appropriate, I would take the matter back to the Government. The question relating to further consideration of the application for the purchase of Caravelles is purely hypothetical, because the Australian National Airlines Commission has made no application for reconsideration. I assure the Senate that I have no doubt that in handling this problem, as in handling all other problems connected with the airlines industry, the Government will act with complete fairness.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the latest figures of the Commonwealth Statistician which show a further alarming increase of the amount owing on hire purchase, which reached a record total of £271,000,000 at the end of February - an increase of £4,205,000 on January and £8,773,000 on December. Does the Treasurer consider that those figures justify concern? Will he consult with representatives of the States with a view to introducing measures for the regulation ,and control of hire purchase, in the national interest?
– Although I am sure the Treasurer has stated that the Commonwealth lacks the necessary power to deal with this matter, I think it is appropriate for me to ask the honorable senator to place the question on the notice-paper so that the Treasurer may answer it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade the following questions: Is it a fact that economic and financial interests of individuals and organizations often overcome social and political prejudice? Is it a fact that some few months ago the Australian Wheat Board sent a delegation to red China with the object of opening up a market for Australian wheat? Is it a fact that large quantities of flour are exported to red China via Hong Kong? Is it wrong for Australia to trade with red China, and would such trading do harm to the Australian nation?
– As I understand the situation, Australia’s policy is clear. We are ready and willing to trade with red China in all classes .of goods except those that are .classed as being of strategic value in time of hostilities.
– I direct to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. a question in relation to new rail and road links with Whyalla. By way of preface, I indicate that, since the matter was ventilated in the Senate a month ago, I :and -my colleague, Senator Mattner, made a survey of the Whyalla, Iron Knob and Iron Baron districts -of South Australia in which the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited contemplates the establishment of a .vast steel project. Can the Minister give any details of surveys that he has caused to be made to date with regard to, first, the establishment of rail communications, secondly, the improvement of aerodrome facilities and, thirdly, the provision of money for additional road links? Will he constantly keep the matter before him as far as his federal portfolio enables him so to do?
– I assure the honorable senator that, as this is a matter which affects South Australia and in which the South Australian Premier is most interested, I shall have no alternative but to keep the matter continually before .me. I think the honorable ‘senator is aware that certain suggestions have been made by the South Australian Premier with regard to the construction of a railway from Port Augusta south to Whyalla - a distance of some 40 miles. The Premier has had preparatory discussions with the Prime Minister on the matter, and within the Department of Shipping and Transport inquiries are now being made as to the economics of such .a line. After discussions that will take place from time to time, a decision will be made as to the actual survey that will be carried out. The honorable senator can be assured that the matter is receiving current attention and will not be dropped from my mind. Although I am aware of the fact .that, as Whyalla develops to the extent that it will under the impetus of this vast project which is contemplated toy the Broken Hill
Proprietary Company Limited, increased aerodrome and road facilities will be necessary, at the moment I am not giving attention to those matters.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Recently it was announced that the Commonwealth Bank had made available to the private banks an additional £15,000,000 of reserve funds, with ^ a request that the money be channelled into the housing programme. Can the Minister ascertain what amount, if any, of that additional £15,000,000 made available to the private banks has in fact been devoted to housing?
– My recollection is that the Commonwealth Bank publishes, at regular intervals, figures showing the amount of bank funds- invested in housing. If my recollection is- correct, the information that the honorable senator requests can be obtained by him. I point out that the £15,000,000 released by the Commonwealth Bank was released for the overall general activities of the trading banks and was not. earmarked for any special objective or purpose.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer a question without notice. Is the Treasurer aware that during the year ended 30th June, 1957, the amount collected in taxes from motorists was £105,900,000, made up as follows: Customs duty on motor spirit, £9,500,000; excise duty on motor spirit, £36,900,000; customs duty on imported motor vehicles and parts, £7,000,000; and sales tax on new vehicles and parts, £52,500,000? Will the Treasurer review the effect of the 1956 supplementary budget, and of the customs and excise duties operating in the moto] industry, with a view to seeing whether some relief can be granted, in order to preserve the employment situation within the industry?
– In answer to the question whether the Treasurer is aware of these, matters, I give an unhesitating “ Yes “. In answer to the question whether the position will be reviewed, I say that all these matters are reviewed on the occasion of each budget, and that when budget time is approaching the matters to which the honorable senator refers will be reviewed, in conjunction with all other similar matters. I add, as a rider, that the last information that I recollect indicated a very substantial increase in motor registrations and in the production of motor vehicles, showing a very healthy condition indeed in the motor industry, for which we all are thankful.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, refers to the position which has been created by the fact that some medical practitioners have formed themselves into companies, presumably for taxation purposes. As a result, some doubt has been thrown on the possibility of their patients being able to obtain, after 30th June next, taxation deductions in respect of medical expenses paid to such doctors. I note that the Treasurer is to make a statement on this subject. As it would appear that this is one of the many cases of legal tax dodging which tends to transfer the tax burden from citizens in the higher income bracket to those in the lower income bracket, I ask whether the Treasurer will extend his investigation so that it will include an examination of the whole field of tax deductions, to ensure that the misuse of these provisions of the act will be prevented.
– I think that the important thing to say in reply to this question is that the Treasurer announced, in another place, that those who paid their medical bills would obtain a tax deduction for them, whether or not the payment was made to a doctor in his personal capacity or to a doctor trading in a company. The position of a person who pays medical bills is protected. As to the rest of the question, I have no doubt that the Taxation Branch will be as vigilant as it usually is, that it will, look at this development and consider the legal and equitable rights of those who are forming themselves into companies, and that it will decide, what it should recommend the Government to do in due course.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport by stating that it relates to the tragedy that occurred in connexion with the ship “ Skaubryn “ which, it will be recalled, caught fire in the Indian Ocean recently, as a result of which the passengers and crew were transferred to the ship’s boats and subsequently were picked up by another ship. It will be recalled that “ Skaubryn “ was a ship under charter, as it were, to bring migrants to Australia. Has the Minister noted that some of the passengers who have already been brought here by air have made press statements to the effect that whilst the captain, officers, and crew did a magnificent job in getting the people into the boats, nevertheless the lifeboats, according to their account, were inadequately equipped and people had to get into them in large numbers - to the order of 80 in one particular boat? Further statements were to the effect that but for the fact that the sea was very calm, there could have been most unfortunate results. I ask the Minister to inform me what action is taken by the Department of Shipping and Transport to ensure that all ships registered in Australia and other ships coming to Australia are adequately provided with life-saving equipment and what supervision is carried out to ensure that all ships conform to the Australian requirements.
– The statutory requirements for Australian and overseas vessels in regard to safety appliances are governed by the provisions of the 1948 Safety of Life at Sea Convention, to which Australia was a party. That convention provides that there shall be accommodation in lifeboats for all persons aboard the vessel, plus a further provision by way of what is regarded as buoyant apparatus, such as rafts, &c, for 25 per cent, of the persons. The honorable senator will no doubt remember that some years ago, as a result of adverse comment, action was taken by the Department of Shipping and Transport in respect of the condition of safety of life appliances on certain migrant ships. At that time, all shipping companies, masters and parties were warned that failure to observe the provisions of the convention would lead to prosecution, and that did, in fact, occur in a number of cases. It is relevant to point out that a bill which is currently before the Senate provides for a very steep increase in the penalty to which shipowners who do not meet these conditions are subject. My information is that the vessel to which the honorable senator referred, “ Skaubryn “, was tested as late as October of last year in Fremantle and that her apparatus was then found to be completely satisfactory.
– It must have been for the decision to be made to allow her to embark the migrants.
– The department is currently making inquiries to locate the people who are alleged to have made statements as to the inadequacy of the equipment. If they can be traced, they will be interrogated to find out whether the reports are reliable or not.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise by reminding him that in reply to a question I asked on 12th November, 1957, he stated that the principle adopted in determining whether goods were admitted duty free, or at a reduced rate under by-law, was that where suitable equivalent goods were not reasonably available, first, in Australia, or secondly, in the United Kingdom, they were admitted under by-law. Is this principle still being followed by the department? Recently I received a letter claiming that in several particular cases the principle mentioned has not been followed.
– Every application for admission of goods under by-law is treated on its merits. As I indicated to the honorable senator in my reply to his previous question in November last, the principle governing the admission of goods duty free or at a reduced rate is still being followed. If the honorable senator brings to my notice any particular case, I shall have great pleasure in having it investigated.
– My question on immigration concerns either the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, the Attorney-General or the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. It relates to the admission of immigrants sought for alleged war crimes. Has the attention of the relevant Minister been drawn to press reports in the Melbourne “Age” and “Sun” of 31st March referring to the demand for the extradition of certain Czech immigrants who were alleged to have been involved in war crimes? Is the Minister aware that although the immigrant population generally has complete faith in the justice of the Australian Government which has no desire to shield criminals, the immigrants become acutely disturbed by such reports because they have seen Communist justice, or the lack of it, in operation? Will the Minister consider issuing a categorical statement confirming the position as set out in the Rankin case last year to the effect that no immigrant will be extradited to Communist countries on any political charge whatsoever, and that in the case of allegations of crimes such as murder or the like, it will insist on the strongest possible evidence before it will take action? Will the Minister consider protecting the position by legislation in case the administration of these laws should fall into hands which do not appreciate the Communist menace as fully as he does?
– I remind the honorable senator that on more than one occasion my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, has made it abundantly clear that this country will not lightly hand over to a travesty of justice people who are claimed for political offences. In cases where there were genuine civil or criminal offences, I take it that full inquiries would be made to ensure that such grounds were not being used merely as a subterfuge for the purpose of dragging migrants back to face a Moscow mockery of a trial. However, I shall again mention the matter to my colleague, and if he considers the circumstances appropriate, I shall get something further from him on the matter. Meanwhile, I can assure the honorable senator and those immigrants who might be affected that they have nothing to fear at our hands.
– By way of preface to a question addressed to the Minister for National Development, I mention that I have had several inquiries recently from South Australian manufacturers seeking first-hand information on the industrial uses of radio-active isotopes. Has the Australian Atomic Energy Commission yet established an office, agency or representative in South Australia where industrialists may present their problems and discuss them, or do they have to journey to Sydney, or present their problems in writing, addressed to the head-quarters of the commission in New South Wales?
– The honorable senator asks an interesting question to which it is not easy to give an answer. After all, the Atomic Energy Commission is really only commencing its activities. The establishment of the radio-active isotopes section has not long been completed. That section, under Dr. Gregory, is endeavouring to conduct some campaign - and I think it is doing so with success - to educate industrialists in the use of isotopes. With the “’ Hifar “ opened this week, we shall shortly reach a stage at which we shall be producing isotopes. What the honorable senator asks, in effect, is whether we are going to extend that establishment by opening branches in the various States of the Commonwealth, in particular, of course, he being a South Australian senator, in South Australia. The best answer I can give is that at this stage I do not know, but I am sure that the Atomic Energy Commission will be intent on rendering the best service that it can to industry. The decision as to whether best service would be given by establishing branches requires more technical knowledge than I have.
– My question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral is prompted by a heading to a news item in the press this morning, reading, “ £5,300,000 Phone Branch Profit in Post Office Figures “. Can the Minister say whether any research is being conducted for the purpose of replacing the present full-length type telephone boxes in use in New South Wales which are unbearably hot, indeed to the point of suffocation during summer months, with the result that window panes are sometimes broken by irresponsible persons? Will the PostmasterGeneral consider, as the first stage of some reform in this matter, the introduction of sound-proofing in all telephone boxes where several are joined together, as, for example outside post offices, to ensure that telephone users in these boxes will be able to conduct conversations without hearing cross-talk from the adjoining boxes, and without their conversation sometimes being audible to other persons outside who are awaiting their turn to use the boxes?
– The honorable senator’s question is important. I have myself suffered the heat in those boxes. If he puts the question on the notice-paper I will obtain for him a considered reply by the Postmaster-General.
– On 20th March, Senator Tangney asked me, as representing the Postmaster-General, the following questions: -
The Postmaster-General has now furnished the following reply: -
– I understand that a reply is now available to the following question, which was asked by me on 19th March:-
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that recently an advertisement appeared in the press calling applications by the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the position of organizer of women’s sessions at Sydney Head-quarters, and stating that the duties will include general supervision of programmes for women’s sessions conducted in other States? Will the Postmaster-General give an assurance that this stipulation will not mean dictatorship, and wil] not imply any radical change in the highly educational and interest-stimulus programmes in Western Australia, which fulfil a lively and vigorous local touch with a widely spread listening audience of women in outback centres and the city area? Will the Postmaster-General note that the two-way interchange between the session in Western Australia and the listeners - which is the most fruitful form of broadcasting - would become quite impossible between Western Australia and Sydney where conditions differ so completely?
– The PostmasterGeneral has now furnished the following reply: -
The proposed appointment of a women’s session organizer at the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s head office in Sydney will not change the form of the State women’s session in Western Australia in any way.
To meet the increase in the number of women’s television sessions which will result from the extension of television to other States and to ensure that the standard of the sound sessions will be maintained it has been decided, after close examination of all factors, that ‘the situation could best be met by the appointment of one officer who will be responsible for the planning and direction of sessions on both media.
The women’s session in Western Australia win continue to be broadcast from Perth as at present subject to the usual overall programme supervision from the commission’s head office, which applies to all other programme sections in all States to ensure a uniform programme standard is maintained.
– I think it is desirable that when questions of the kind that have just been answered are asked in the first place, and a Minister is unable to furnish the desired information, the original question should be placed on the noticepaper. It makes for better working of the Senate if honorable senators can both read the question and hear the answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. As a result of a question previously answered, he is doubtless aware of the millions of profits disclosed in the Postmaster-General’s report. Is it not recognized that such huge profits are the result either of overcharging, or of failure to provide the services that the public needs? Will the Postmaster-General instruct his department to examine the telephonic and telegraphic services - where, I understand, these huge profits are made - with a view to reducing the heavy charges now imposed for their use?
– I do not agree with the honorable senator that the profits of the Postal Department indicate a state of affairs that is not in the best interests of the community. They merely show that the department is giving an excellent service, and that the public is supporting it on a greater scale than in previous years.
– I understand that a reply can now be given to the following question, which was asked by me on 11th March: -
Is the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral aware that the frequency modulation transmissions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Melbourne appear to be drawn exclusively from the programme material of station 3LO? This results in a great deal of speech and overseas relay matter being transmitted which, of its very nature, cannot take advantage of the superior frequency response of frequency modulation transmission. Is there any technical or economic reason why the programme material of Station 3AR could not share the Jolimont frequency modulation transmitter with Station 3LO? If not, will the Minister discuss with the Australian Broadcasting Commission the possibility of removing much of 3LO’s talks and news broadcasts from the frequency modulation transmitters and replacing them with 3AR’s musical programmes, for which the frequency modulation transmitter is so much superior?
– The PostmasterGeneral has now furnished the following reply: -
It is, of course, inevitable that the frequency modulation stations will at times carry spoken word programmes, as it sometimes happens that spoken word in the’ form of talks, drama, documentary or parliament is being presented on both networks at the same time.
However, it has always been the policy to broadcast as much fine music as possible on these programmes and in line with this practice the frequency modulation transmitters relay either the interstate or the national programme whichever one is broadcasting although, for various reasons, it has in the past been more practicable to tie the transmitter to the 3LO programme.
As from 24th March, however, it has been possible to arrange that the frequency modulation transmitter shares both the 3LO and 3AR programmes with particular emphasis on the music sessions. This will ensure that much of the spoken word material, to which the honorable senator referred in his question, will be eliminated from future frequency modulation transmissions from the Melbourne station.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral a further question. In view of the healthy state of the department’s finances, will the Postmaster-General take the opportunity to remove from the regulations the provision for the so-called new connexion fee for telephones? I am sure the PostmasterGeneral will agree, if he checks with his departmental officers, that this charge is annoying, almost impossible to administer fairly, and one which should never have been imposed in the first place.
– I can assure the honorable senator that the charges made by the Postmaster-General’s Department are constantly under review. There is no doubt that during the preparation of the budget the charge for installing a telephone will be reviewed, together with other charges.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Who is the commissioner and who are the members of the consultative council of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation set up under the act passed by Parliament on 13th June, 1956?
– The Minister for Trade has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer: -
The main effect of the recent increase in the power of the Perth commercial broadcasting stations will be felt in the areas close to Perth, one of the objects of increases which have been made in the power of all capital city stations being to provide a better service to listeners on the outskirts of the expanding metropolitan areas and in adjacent country districts. This step will not, therefore, substantially improve reception in the central midlands, but a recent increase in the power of national station 6WA Wagin to 50,000 watts has improved broadcast reception over a large area of Western Australia including that region.
It is realized that there are still shortcomings in the national broadcasting service available in several areas of Western Australia but the establishment of additional stations is not in all cases the best means of overcoming these difficulties, nor is such a course always technically and economically practicable. However, an engineer of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is at present visiting Western Australia to study reception conditions following the increase in the power of 6WA, with a view to determining what further improvements are desirable and practicable.
Is it a fact that there has been a shortage of Salk vaccine?
If so, is this shortage now over?
If not, when is it expected that there will be adequate supplies?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
– On 13th March, Senator McManus asked me a question without notice relating to the fall in Australian farm income and the prospects ot an approach to overseas shipping interests for a reduction in freights. The question is not on the notice-paper. My colleague, the Minister for Trade, has supplied an answer, and in view of the fact that it is an interesting answer I propose to read it and have it recorded in “ Hansard “. The reply is as follows: - tn the export overseas of Australia’s primary products, vessels of the shipping lines trading regularly with Australia as well as chartered tramp tonnage are used. For regular liner tonnage, the freight rates applicable are those laid down from time to time by the companies concerned. In the case of exports to our most important market area - the United Kingdom/ Continent - the freight rates for many of the principal commodities carried in liner tonnage are settled in negotiations between duly organized groups of producers and exporters on the one hand and shipowners on the other. This is done within the framework of the Australian Overseas Transport Association, the producer/exporter side of which has been revised recently to take full account of the various Australian interests concerned with exports to the United Kingdom/ Continent. This method of determining freight has been recognized by successive governments - apart from war-time - and under the legislation recognizing this procedure there is no basis for government participation in these negotiations. The freight contracts in the United Kingdom/Continent trade will be up for review within the next six months and the interests of the Austraiian primary producers and exporters in these negotiations will be fully covered by their representatives on this association. The products for which freights are fixed in this manner include wool, all refrigerated cargoes and canned and processed foodstuffs.
Such negotiations do not apply to bulk commodities which generally are moved in charter tonnage. When bulk commodities move in liner tonnage, the freights levied follow world charter rates. Products lifted on a charter basis include wheat, sugar, coarse grains and metals. The charter freights ruling at any time are determined by the world supply/demand position for charter tonnage and as a result these freights fluctuate freely. For example, a little over a year ago, charter rates were at record high levels because of the shipping shortage during the Suez closure. It then cost about 230s. sterling per ton to lift Australian wheat to the United Kingdom. To-day, it would cost around 70s. sterling per ton. This rate reflects a world depression in charter rates which has resulted in many hundreds of thousands of tons of shipping being laid up because of the uneconomic rates offering.
Debate resumed from 19th March, (vide page 223), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the following paper: -
Defence Organization - Ministerial Statement - be printed.
.- The Senate now has before it one more statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the subject of defence. This statement stems from’ the appointment in November last of a committee consisting of very distinguished persons in Sir Leslie Morshead, Sir William Dunk, Chairman of the Public Service Board, Mr. Bunting, Assistant Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department, and Mr. E. W. Hicks, Secretary of the Department of Defence. The Prime Minister’s statement, which was repeated in this chamber by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), is directed to a consideration and a rejection, for the most part, of the recommendations of the committee.
I turn at once to what the Prime Minister said. I propose to quote from his statement to indicate that he himself, in a brief passage, has made a most damning indictment of the Government’s administration at the highest level of the defence of this country. When I say “ the highest level “, I mean at the political level, because the whole control in the important sphere of defence stems from that level. What happens at that level conditions all that follows right down to the lowest rating in the Navy and the most humble private in the Army. I now refer honorable senators to the Prime Minister’s statement and invite them to consider what kind of situation the Government has allowed to develop during the. whole eight years of its administration. The Prime Minister said -
Meaning the Government - are, like the committee, and greatly assisted by it, convinced that the present administrative structure in defence needs candid examination and, in important respects, material improvement.
The authority of the Department of Defence, which should be clear and commanding, has come to be regarded as uncertain in various particulars.
The existence of separate service departments, although it has advantages, tends to make it difficult to get truly unified joint service views. Sometimes it may make those views amount to a somewhat uneasy compromise between honestly maintained but conflicting conceptions and interests.
The two departments of Supply and Defence Production have operated outside the overall authority of the Department of Defence, and this has no doubt lead to a state of affairs in which there may be, and occasionally has been, divergence between the views of the service departments and the two supplying departments on matters of defence supply and production. Examination shows that there may be some overlapping or duplication of services which might well be common services.
The association between the three Chiefs of Staff and the Minister for Defence, and the constant formulation by the three Chiefs of Staff of joint professional advice, both need material improvement. Administrative efficiency in the service departments themselves requires a much closer contact between those departments and the Department of Defence on the political, professional and administrative level.
I invite the Senate to consider whether there could have been a worse condemnation - and from the mouth of the Prime Minister himself - of what this Government has been concerned with over the past eight years - a lack of authority in the defence ministry, a failure to co-ordinate the activities of the Department of Supply and the Department of Defence Production with those of the Department of Defence, a lack of unified advice from the service chiefs, a failure to eliminate overlapping and to develop common services. In short, there is an admission that at the highest level there has been complete incompetence and ineptitude.
As to where the difficulty arises, I refer the Senate to a statement by Viscount Montgomery, who should command the respect of everybody in the Parliament and who, in a lecture entitled “ Organization for War in Modern Times “, which was published in the November, 1955, issue of the journal of the Royal United Service Institution, had this to say under the heading “The Right Organization at the Top “-
It is clear that there is much to be done to get defence organizations geared to the requirements of future war. Whatever is done must begin at the top. If the organization there is right, progress will be possible. If the organization at the top is faulty, there will be no progress.
I point out that the Government, in addressing itself to the question of defence, has begun at the wrong end. Instead of starting at the top, from which everything else stems, it has begun at the bottom.
For a moment or two, I wish to review the history of statements by the Prime Minister in recent months so that this last statement may fall into its right perspective. The Senate will recall that on 2nd October, 1956, the Prime Minister declared that Australia’s defences were never in better shape in peace-time. Yet on 4th October, 1956, only two days later, he indicated that there would be a review of defence from top to bottom! Then, instead of following that procedure and reviewing the defence structure from top to bottom, he left the top until now. Not only did he not do what he proposed to do, but also he offended against the most fundamental principle that, if we are to have adequate and competent defence services, we must begin with their control from the top. On 4th April, 1957, after months of delay, we got that first famous statement of his which in itself, was an abject confession of the failure of this Government in the matter of our defences. That was followed, after Sir Philip McBride’s mission to America, by a further statement in September, 1957.
Now, after the services have been mutilated and their requirements have been determined, the Government begins to look at the organization at the top. That review commenced in November last, thirteen months after it was originally promised in October, 1956. The committee necessarily took some time to make its investigation. It furnished a report in December last, and a further report in February of this year. On 19th March, this statement in regard to defence organization was furnished by the Prime Minister - just seventeen months after the time when he indicated there would be a review from the top to the bottom!
A review of the top structure is above all a review of the political structure, because it is at that political, civil level that the whole structure of our defences is determined and its functioning is conditioned. To leave that phase of the matter till the end is in itself proof of the greatest lack of vision and understanding, and of complete incompetence.
It is little wonder that, down the months, the Opposition has been obliged to point to instances of waste, incompetence, bungling and vacillation on the part of the Government in relation to its defence proposals, when we find now, on the admission of the Prime Minister, that the top organization has been ill-conceived and ill-based. That is not merely an allegation made by the Opposition; it is proved by the Prime Minister’s own statement. I venture to say that if the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ had picked up the passage with which I began this speech and posed it as a leading article, the words used would have been regarded, as I have described them, as the most damning indictment of this Government. If it had proceeded from that source, it would no doubt have been completely repudiated by the Government. Yet, here is the Prime Minister himself making the frankest of confessions of failure by his Government to tackle the problem of defence at the first and the most vital point.
When one comes to consider the report of the Morshead committee, I say at once that that committee of distinguished and competent people has been treated by the
Government not only shabbily, but also most unfairly. What has happened in this statement of the Prime Minister? He purports to give the recommendations of the committee. He does not give one reason for those recommendations, but in his statement, five and a half pages out of nine are devoted to giving reasons why the main recommendations of the committee should not be undertaken. How utterly unfair that is to a man of the standing of Sir Leslie Morshead! How utterly unfair it is to the distinguished administrators who cooperated with him! Their recommendations, in their words, are not before the Parliament, nor are they before the public. They are presented in the form in which it pleases the Prime Minister to present them. Not one of the reasons for the recommendations advanced by the committee is given. I repeat that the Prime Minister most unfairly then proceeds to demolish the main recommendation and to give his reasons for rejecting it, but he does not present one reason that the committee advanced in support of its recommendation.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Government should have tabled the report?
– I do. Does Senator Hannaford suggest otherwise? After all, Sir Leslie Morshead is not a public servant. He is a public man, and this report is public business, not the private business of the Government. It is a report directed to the most vital matter in the whole of defence. Not only do I suggest that it should be tabled, but we of the Opposition demand its publication. How can we assess the wisdom and the virtue of the recommendations of the committee unless we see the reasons that actuated it, and unless we see the facts upon which it based its conclusions?
The Prime Minister has been most churlish to that committee, and has placed it in a most unfair position in not putting the whole report before the Parliament.
– The Parliament has a right to know.
– The Parliament unquestionably has a right to know. The Government seeks refuge in the story that there are some public servants on the committee and that it is general practice not to disclose the recommendations of public servants. But this is not a Public Service committee. The moving spirit in it is the very distinguished soldier and citizen, Sir Leslie Morshead - a public man. He is no departmental man. I say that the committee’s presentation of its report has been completely distorted by the Prime Minister, and 1 defy anybody in the Senate to read through the statement of the Prime Minister and to point with any particularity to more than two recommendations. In a moment, I shall show that it is obvious that there were many more recommendations made by the committee.
The Morshead committee made two main recommendations. The first related to the amalgamation of the service departments in one department of defence. It was suggested that there should be two associate Ministers with the Minister for Defence, and that their duties should be on a functional, not a service basis. There is the first clear indication that appears in the statement by the Prime Minister about the committee’s recommendations. The other main recommendation was that the Departments of Supply and Defence Production should be amalgamated. Apart from those two recommendations, I invite any honorable senator on the Government side to tell me what recommendation of the committee can be found in the Prime Minister’s statement. At the beginning of his statement, where he was dealing with the recommendations, he stated -
The second group of recommendations included a variety of matters.
He then referred to a matter that I have mentioned - the amalgamation of the Departments of Supply and Defence Production. I invite the Senate to listen to the following paragraph: -
He meant “ other recommendations “ - related to various devices for improving efficiency, reducing overlapping . . .
Will anybody indicate to me where any recommendation regarding those matters was detailed by the Prime Minister? He continued - encouraging the development of common services . . .
Where is the recommendation about that? What particular service is it suggested should be made a common service? Is it not obvious that the Prime Minister, in his statement, has suppressed many of the clear recommendations of this committee? The Prime Minister went on - defining the responsibilities of service chiefs-
Something was said about that matter by the Prime Minister, but with no degree of particularity. It was said, not in the words of the committee, but in phrases that had been selected by the Prime Minister himself. In the final words of the paragraph, he referred to - strengthening the overall authority and control of the Minister for Defence.
Where were those recommendations dealt with in the Prime Minister’s statement? The right honorable gentleman did not face the matter squarely. He avoided, evaded and concealed the recommendations. He said, in his next paragraph -
As I will refer to these recommendations in detail as they have been dealt with by the Cabinet, it is not necesary to set them out categorically or separately at this stage.
The truth is that he did not set them out at all, categorically or otherwise, in the rest of his statement.
– He forgot all about them.
– Yes, he forgot all about them. He can, at least, claim that he adverted to them. Through you, Mr. Deputy President, may I say to Senator Brown that, in addition to the two main recommendations in regard to concentrating authority in the Defence Department and amalgamating the Departments of Supply and Defence Production, there is a whole flood of individual recommendations which the Prime Minister, in the opening part of his speech, undertook to deal with categorically, but he forgot all about them - and plainly not by accident.
So I say that the Government has been brutally unfair to the committee, first in not making known the whole of its recommendations; secondly, in not presenting the recommendations in the words of the committee; and thirdly, in withholding the reasons for the recommendations. It is obvious why the Prime Minister has decided not to put before the Parliament the reasons of the. committee for its recommendations. It would make too plain the disorganization and confusion that exists in the defences of this country. For those reasons, the
Opposition demands that the Morshead committee report be made available to the public, in justice and fairness to Sir Leslie Morshead and his colleagues, and because of the right of the Parliament and the public to have such information. How are we of the Opposition to assess the virtue of the recommendations of the committee when we do not see the wording of the recommendations, and when the whole of the reasons for the recommendations are kept from us? Somebody on the Government side no doubt will stand up presently and ask, “ What would you do about the committee’s recommendations? “ I invite honorable senators opposite to consider how utterly unfair such a proposition would be, in view c the fact that the Government has not put before us the recommendations of the committee and has entirely suppressed the committee’s reasons for its recommendations.
– The honorable senator is arguing on suppositions.
– I am talking about what appears very plainly from the Prime Minister’s statement. I have particularized five matters in respect of which the Prime Minister said there were recommendations by the committee and with which, he said, he would deal categorically later in his statement, although he did not refer to them again. Let some honorable senator opposite deal with, the specific charge I make and refer to any paragraph of the Prime Minister’s statement in which those other recommendations of the committee are dealt with. I challenge honorable senators opposite to point to one recommendation, other than the two main recommendations with which the Prime Minister dealt, that is referred to in the statement. Now, if that is not suppression of the committee’s recommendation, I should like to know what is. I invite somebody on the Government side to tell me where in the Prime Minister’s statement there is one word about the reasons that actuated the committee and the facts upon which it based its recommendations. When the Government cannot answer that challenge, it must agree with the proposition that I have put for the Opposition - how unfair it is to everybody that this report has been kept from us.
– What was the composition of the committee?
– It was composed entirely of public servants, apart from Sir Leslie Morshead.
– Public servants, when they join with a non-public servant on a committee, completely divest themselves of their public service character and the committee becomes a public committee.
– The Government has something to hide.
– Of course it has! That is the whole answer.
– You are destroying your own case.
– I shall be very interested to hear somebody on the Government side accept the challenges that I have indicated, and point out the answers to the queries that I have posed and the omissions from the Prime Minister’s statement. I also ask somebody to tell me whether the committee has objected to the publication of the report. Has the committee been asked for permission? Well, I am asking those questions, and I want the answers to them. Was it a unanimous report? Was there a majority and a minority report? These are the things we want to know.
– And we are entitled to know.
– As Senator Cooke says, we are entitled to know them. I shall pass from that in the hope that I will get some answers to my questions and some assurance that the Parliament will be told what is really contained in the Morshead committee’s report. We are not concerned with the Prime Minister’s version of it.
– I thought we were debating the Prime Minister’s statement.
– That is exactly what I am referring to. His statement purported to refer to the committee’s recommendations in the report. It is before the Government and it has been deliberately kept from the Parliament without the faintest justification.
Now, let us have a look at some of the decisions of the Government. It has completely rejected the main recommendation that there should be one department of defence, that the services should be co-ordinated under one command, and that there should be associate Ministers operating on a functional basis - not on a service basis - attached to the Minister for Defence. The Prime Minister went into a complete side-issue by developing the theme that associate Ministers are unconstitutional. He set about drawing a red herring over the trail, because the committee obviously understood that the associate Ministers might be unconstitutional. The committee suggested that the associate Ministers should be those who already held firm portfolios and were operating in the service departments, whether on a functional or a service basis. The Prime Minister completely begged the question in developing that argument. He claimed that under the proposal there would not be proper parliamentary control and responsibility. Have a look at the associate Minister for Defence to-day. The associate Minister for Defence is the Prime Minister himself. And when we find that the Minister for Defence lacks all control, lacks authority and is only a persuasive influence, let us see who did more to undermine his authority and subvert his authority than the Prime Minister himself? Time after time in this Parliament during the last eighteen months he has taken control of defence out of the hands of his Minister. He has pushed him aside on every occasion but one. I would say that the Prime Minister is primarily and personally responsible for completely subverting the authority of the Minister for Defence. He has made a puppet of the Minister. And the one time the Prime Minister let him off the chain, what a fool the Minister made of his Prime Minister! What a colossal fool he made of him! That is why the Prime Minister will not let him talk, and it accounts for the bungle. The Prime Minister, the associate Minister, has got in over the top of the Minister for Defence. It is the blighting hand of the Prime Minister that has pervaded the defence structure and weakened it.
I shall refer to the occasion that the right honorable gentleman let Sir Philip McBride off the chain. The Senate will recall that in April, 1957, the Prime Minister indicated that we were to have a new type of defence aircraft known as the Lockheed Starfighter F104. lt was to be the very latest, and the then Minister for Defence Production, Mr. Beale, announced that we were to make it in Australia. A couple of months later, Sir Philip McBride, with a mission, was sent to America to arrange the whole matter with the Americans. When he came back, did he bring the Lockheed, or plans for its manufacture here? No, he had made a discovery. Just two months after the Prime Minister’s statement, he discovered that this was a supersonic aircraft, that it was not what we wanted at all, that it was not an all-purpose fighter aircraft. Secondly, he discovered that the Starfighter required electronic ground control far beyond our capacity to supply, and that our aerodromes could not accommodate it, anyway. Then, with the most colossal audacity, the Prime Minister said, in effect, “Thank God! Look at all the money we have saved! “ One can well understand why he does not let his Minister for Defence off the chain too often. It is completely obvious that what was said about the Lockheed Starfighter, and about its manufacture in this country, showed that the Minister for Defence had no knowledge of the matter at all, that he had been completely ignorant. So, is it any wonder that lack of control from the top, from the Minister for Defence, has permeated through all of the services? For that, I lay primary responsibility upon the Prime Minister himself.
One of my colleagues, Senator Willesee, commented to me just before I commenced my speech what a priceless opportunity this committee gave to the Prime Minister to reorganize his Cabinet and get rid of some driftwood. What a priceless opportunity was presented to him, not only to make for efficient control and co-ordination of activity under the one head, the Minister for Defence, but to get rid of some Ministers who probably make very little contribution to the well-being of the Government or the country.
I come now to the second decision of the committee. The Prime Minister tells us now that in future there will be regular meetings of the Chiefs of Staff to formulate purely military views. Why have they not been held in the past? Why should it now be decided that there are to be regular meetings of the Chiefs of Staff for the formulation of purely military views? What a condemnation of this Government that is to be put in a progressive report! That is the type of thing one would have expected to be going on all the time. It is perfectly clear now that nobody has been formulating policy; nobody has had that authority, and nothing has been co-ordinated. That accounts for the complete mess we have in defence matters.
The Government has made another choice decision. The Minister for Defence is to bring the service and Supply Ministers into the closest consultation. Why was not that done all the time? Why were they allowed to run free of Supply and Defence Production? The next decision is that the permanent heads of the service departments and the Department of Supply will be in frequent consultation with the permanent head of the Department of Defence. Again I ask the Government, why has that not been going on all the time? The Defence Department has been running with no consultation between officers; no consultation between Ministers and no consultation between Chiefs of Staff. Where the trouble has arisen in this case is very clear. The focal point, the disease point, is quite clear. The problem has been tackled at the last moment instead of at the first. It has been allowed to lie rotting for seventeen months, and now when the Prime Minister takes the bandage off we find a festering sore at the organization level. As I indicated earlier, Montgomery pointed out that that is the first point of atack
– There could not have been any closer co-operation than previously existed.
– The Prime Minister, in the passage from his report that I quoted verbatim, indicated all the faults which he professes now to cure. It is his statement, not mine, and I prefer his statement on that point to any suggestion the honorable senator might make to me.
The Prime Minister is merely tinkering with a vast problem that now affects the defence forces of the world. With the advent of nuclear power the scene has changed completely. One finds a great man like Viscount Montgomery addressing himself to the problem with particularity again and again. He delivered a most magnificent and comprehensive lecture to the Royal United Service Institution, the report of which appears in the institution’s publication of November. 1955. I am sorry that time does not permit me to read to the Senate the whole of the lecture because it will afford honorable senators a view of the importance of the problem thai is involved in the matter we are now considering - the organization of defence at the top level. That is the vital and fundamental point. However, in the time at my disposal I propose to read for the edification of the Senate a few paragraphs from this very lengthy lecture which was most provocative and excited great attention in Great Britain and the United States of America and which, in different form, was repeated a year later in another lecture to the same institution on the subject, “ The Panorama of Warfare in a Nuclear Age “. The section of the lecture to which I will refer is headed “ One Fighting Service: Not Three? “. It reads -
Looking into the distant future, we must take as our objective bringing the three Services more closely together: even to the extent of combining them into one. Until this is done we limit ourselves to approaching, but not achieving, an ultimate goal of economy of force in the real sense of the word. Let us examine this problem.
Progress and development in the modern world have outmoded the old conceptions of the organization of military forces. But we cannot see this, so strong are our habits and traditions. All the great nations to-day have three Services - Sea, Land, and Air. This separate existence of the three Services results, in every nation, in waste ot money, waste of manpower, and waste of time.
If the world were static, and present conditions could be projected indefinitely into the future, there would not be the same urgent reasons for change that exist to-day, except of course the permanent need for economy of force in manpower, materials, and finance.
But the greatest fact of modern times is that change is inevitable: change in politics, in economics, in techniques, in fact in every field. Progress is not inevitable. Progress depends on courage to make decisions to meet the needs of the times.
The impact of scientific progress makes if essential that we shall be able and ready to adapt ourselves to changes. But the present organization of military forces is incapable of adaptation to changes, neither quickly, nor economically, nor efficiently.
Another extract from the lecture reads -
But in the future, as political, economic, and technical changes accelerate, it is a grave question whether any large military organization which is not closely integrated and gripped tightly at the top can adapt itself successfully to the required speed of modern life. If this is not done,, the lack of adaptability of the organization as a whole will tend continuously to promote individual Service interests over those of the nation concerned. Under such conditions, politicians have to step in to keep things going; they do this in the only way they know, i.e., by the creation of more committees and by additional bureaucracies for co-ordination and arbitration above those already existing.
Political leaders have to grapple with these immense problems by themselves; there is no one to give them the right answer, as a Service Chief fights for his own corner.
Each Service has developed within itself a system which provides for specialization where it is wanted, and yet ensures overall unity in direction.
But the fact remains that we have not achieved for the three Services in combination a. system which is comparable to that which each Service has evolved for itself. We had glimpses of the possibilities during World War II. when Supreme Commanders were appointed; but these have faded out in the British set-up and we are back with our triumvirate of specialists whenever interService affairs have to be dealt with. It is rather as if a ship were commanded by a committee consisting of the Gunnery Officer, the Major of Marines, and the Engineer Officer, each of whom had under him one-third of the crew, and each wearing a different uniform.
It seems to me to be ridiculous to go on in this way. Obviously we cannot to-day go over to one Service. But we might well introduce such a close integration between the three Services that the final step could be taken without confusion if it was ever decided it was necessary.
An essential step would be gradually to produce a new type of senior officer who was trained to be completely inter-Service from his earliest days. This could not be done unless we combined the Service cadet colleges, the staff colleges, and so on, and this I consider might well be done now. The final step would be to abolish the three Services as distinct entities, and organize them into one fighting Service under a single War Department.
There is very provocative thought and very forward thinking conditioned by the vast changes that are taking place in the world, particularly in the nuclear field. I should like to read another portion of the same lecture, but I realize it is boring to honorable senators to listen to too much reading.
– We can obtain the publication from the Library.
– That is perfectly true. It is available there. I hope that every honorable senator who is interested in defence - and I should think every one is, and should be, interested in that matter - will read the printed lecture. I should like also to read to honorable senators extracts from another lecture delivered by Viscount Montgomery in 1956 entitled “ The Panorama of Warfare in a Nuclear Age “. However, due to lack of time, with the consent of the Senate 1 shall incorporate in “ Hansard “ a brief passage from it which appears on page 13 of the report. It reads -
Let us look at some other measures that might help us to solve the problem. The idea of a single Service has been suggested many times. Personally I favour it. But it would not be accepted to-day. However, if we have another world war, I believe we would end up with a single Service - or two Services, the Quick and the Dead.
Then there is unified command. I favour this philosophy. It would help if we could get the men of all the Services to identify themselves more as members of a mission, and less by the colour of their Service uniforms.
To get better integrated commands we need more well-rounded staff officers to man them - officers who have a working knowledge of all the Services. This, in turn, would require a more comprehensive, unified system of military education. Learning about all the Services must start sooner - when an officer is commissioned, or even before. To-day many officers reach the equivalent rank of major before coming into contact with other Services.
But the main need is to get the real truth about defence - the kind of defence we must have. If the truth shows we need a new organization, let’s have it. Or if we need a new reorganization, let’s do it. If re-alignment of roles and missions is necessary, let’s do it.
I suggest that the proper way to tackle the problem is to think out and decide what the defence organization should be in ten years’ time.
We should then work towards it slowly, ensuring that each step taken is an advance towards the achievement of the long term objective. Who is doing this thinking to-day? For instance, in ten years’ time (in the missile age) do you see a very large Admiralty, a very large War Office, and a very large Air Ministry - in addition to a Ministry of Defence? Personally I don’t.
The whole of our defence organization needs to be examined closely, working up to a Minister of Defence who has full responsibility and the power of decision.
To Senator Mattner, who is interjecting, I say that it is very much on the same point as the matter I have been putting, but it summarizes and presents the subject in perhaps more concise form.
– You might also refer to Lord Mountbatten’s remarks in the same context. They are of interest, too.
– Very well. The problem that confronts Australia, and every other country, is to get the best out of three separate services. To provide for unified commands and for any service on a grand scale is a problem that has worried President Eisenhower.
In the Library may be found the complete text of President Eisenhower’s message on the re-organization of the Defence Department, addressed to Congress as late as 3rd April last. This was prepared by the Library only yesterday. Copies of it are freely available. In the message, President Eisenhower faces up frankly to the very problem that is implicit in the Morshead committee’s recommendations and in the decisions of the Prime Minister and of the Government in relation to defence organization.
– You will agree with me that all those authorities stipulated that the move can be made only over a very long period?
– Not necessarily. President Eisenhower does not suggest that it be done over a very long period. He suggests that it cannot wait, that it must be done now.
– He suggests that it has to be commenced.
– No. Let me quote a passage from President Eisenhower’s recent message. He said -
First, separate ground, sea and air warfare is gone for ever. If ever again we should be involved in war, we will fight it in all elements, with all services, as one single concentrated effort. Peacetime preparatory and organisational activity must be completely unified, combat forces organised into unified commands, each equipped with the most efficient weapons system that science can develop, singly led and prepared to fight as one, regardless of service. The accomplishment of this result is the basic function of the Secretary of Defence, advised and assisted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and operating under the supervision of the Commander-in-Chief.
After that, the President addresses himself to the problem of a unified common concentration of power under one executive, a defence executive, with seven assistants. That is the very recommendation of the Morshead committee, although the question of assistance is not comparable by reason of the divorcement of the United States Executive altogether from the parliament. It is an entirely different position. But he faces up to the necessity for having one coordinated research for all instead of oligarchies in each of the three or four services.
I regret that time and circumstances will not permit of my taking the Senate right through that statement by President
Eisenhower in which he refers to the necessity for making an immediate and not a preliminary approach to the problem, in which he demands immediate legislation to give effect to the new concept. I regret that the Prime Minister has not taken the wonderful opportunity presented to him by the Morshead committee to really get our organization right at the top and then have it move with efficiency in the lower strata.
What could be done in the matter of common services in Australia? Let me spend a minute on that. What could be the objection to having one common land transport service to cover Army, Navy and Air Force needs? Why should there be three separate transport sections? Why could not all that be co-ordinated? What would be the practical difficulty about having one pay office for the three services or about having one office to control personnel in the three services? Why should there be three separate medical services, each with a director-general and all the rest? Why could not there be one medical service for the combined defence forces of Australia? Why do they need separate intelligence services? Could not they be co-ordinated with greater effect, and with far greater economy?
– There is a high degree of co-ordination there now, as you know.
– Unfortunately, I do not accept that, nor does the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s statement indicated that the committee said that there was need for the development of a common service. He agreed with that, but his statement is completely defective in that he doe* not carry the recommendation on to the point of action and say what service* could be regarded as common services to be wrapped together for the advantage ot the defence effort.
There is a suggestion - I think a most worthy one - made by Montgomery that staff and cadet colleges should be integrated for the three services, that the men should be inter-service minded, defence-minded rather than Air-minded, Navy-minded or Army-minded. He suggests that they should be trained in that atmosphere. As Montgomery pointed out, the men in the three separate services are at a very high level in their particular service before they make any contact at all with any other service. That is completely bad. There is need to develop a new tradition, a tradition of inter-service, a need to develop the interserviceman who looks at the defence of Australia and sees three separate services merely as instruments to the hand of defence. Until that concept does prevail, we shall never have the right outlook on defence. A start will have to be made with the cadets and young officers to strain out of them the tremendous loyalty to the tradition of individual services which, whilst it is a good thing by itself, can be a bad thing when it is carried too far, for it can prevent the proper co-ordination of the defence effort of the nation.
Research is a most obvious field in which there should be common services. Solving the problems of one particular arm of the defence forces will assist all others. That is one field in which, unquestionably, there should be a common service. I am very disappointed that the Prime Minister, while acknowledging the need for a common service, while accepting the committee’s idea in the matter, suppresses what the committee has said on the subject and merely indicates that the committee favours a common service. He gives us no information.
Speaking on behalf of the Opposition, I am very disappointed that some of the matters that I have mentioned as being open to amalgamation have never been discussed by the Prime Minister. My fear is that his speech will have the same fate as all the other speeches he has made. I fear that his speech was put in a pigeonhole with the problem the moment he made it. The great trouble is lack of action, lack of drive, the diffusion of effort. We have magnificent speeches, but we get nowhere.
– He is a prince of inertia.
– I am afraid that, unfortunately, that is the position. We lack applied effort on the part of the Government. We have only magnificent words. I have said from this place before that if words were arms we would be the best defended country in the world. The contrary is the position. Let us look at our position in Australia. Again I quote, not my words, but those of the Prime Minister as uttered in April, 1957.
– Make sure Senator Kendall understands them.
– Yes, I shall speak about a matter in which Senator Kendall is particularly interested, the matter of ships. I recall that in April, 1957, when the Prime Minister made his first statement, he indicated there was a shortage of ships for preparing men in the Navy. What is the position to-day? We have fewer ships. Yesterday I received an answer to a question addressed by me to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Davidson). I asked what seagoing ships had been de-commissioned in the years 1955, 1956 and 1957 and what ships it was proposed to de-commission this year. Mr. President, there are seventeen of them. The Minister mentioned only sixteen. He has got so many that he overlooked “ Hobart “, an aircraft carrier. That was retired in November, 1955. It is not mentioned.
– An aircraft carrier?
– A fleet light carrier.
– It is a cruiser. It has nothing to do with aircraft carriers.
– At least it is a ship. I asked what ships had been decommissioned in 1955. I was told there were sixteen vessels de-commissioned in the period. The Minister has overlooked “ Hobart “ and I suggest to the honorable senator that at least it is a big ship. Can any one understand the Minister for the Navy, in giving a considered reply in the Parliament, overlooking the fact that in the period in question “ Hobart “ had been retired?
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.30 p.m.
– Before the luncheon suspension I had touched upon the theme that the confusion and lack of coordination at the top policy-making level was reflected throughout the whole of Australia’s defence activities. In proceeding to show that, I was referring to the Navy and to the indication of the Prime Minister in April, 1957, that that service lacked ships of an appropriate kind. I also directed attention to answers that I received yesterday to questions which I addressed to the Minister for the Navy, and adverted to the fact that these indicated that in the last three years, and during the proposed year, in all sixteen ships were, or would be, placed out of commission. I pointed out that the list did not include “ Hobart “. I have since refreshed my mind by referring to the Auditor-General’s report on that subject. T find that he indicated that in the middle of 1 955 - one of the years referred to in my question - a decision was taken that work on “ Hobart “ should cease, and the vessel be placed in a state of preservation. That happened in July, 1955, and the ship was put into mothballs in November of that year. It is extraordinary that in a considered reply, which took weeks to prepare, the Minister should have completely overlooked that fact.
The second point on which I sought information was the reason why these ships were going out of commission. The Minister indicated that their normal complement - treating “ Sydney “ as a training ship only, and not as an active vessel - totalled 2,120. The real reason for the bulk of the ships going out of commission is that recruitment for the Navy has failed. The men needed to man the ships are just not there. That is why, even though we lack - in the words of the Prime Minister - ships of an appropriate kind, we are putting seventeen vessels into mothballs.
I asked the obvious further question - what steps had been taken to replace them. I was told that between 1955 and 1959 only six ships were to be placed in commission. “ Quickmatch “ was commissioned in 1955, “Kimbla” in 1956- only one ship each year. In 1957, “ Voyager “ and “ Quiberon “ were commissioned. “ Vendetta “ is to be commissioned this year, and “ Vampire “ in 1 959. If we look at the overall position, we see that so far as numbers of ships are concerned, the Navy has gone backwards. This is part of the malaise which affects all the services. Recruiting having failed, they are unable to function at an operational level. The situation is tragic.
So far, I have referred to the position in the Navy only. If we turn to the Army, we find that the numbers of the Citizen Military Forces have been reduced, and national service training for the Navy and the Air Force has been abolished. It took the Government six years to discover that such training had no value for those ser vices. So far as the Army was concerned, national service training was cut by twothirds. The Citizen Military Forces have been disrupted and re-organized. Instead of raising two brigade groups - as promised by the Prime Minister in 1949 - the Government had the greatest difficulty in getting one, numbering 4,000. But for the fact that national service training had been virtually discontinued, it would have been possible to raise half a brigade only. The newly formed brigade had to rely, for 2,000 of its men, upon instructors hitherto concerned with the training of national servicemen.
Wherever one turns in the defence field, one sees example after example of inefficiency, incompetence, and failure to translate our defence policy into something real, vital and forward-moving. I have already referred to the colossal bungling of the Prime Minister in this matter of defence. Last year he intimated that we would standardize our aircraft with those of the United States of America. The Government decided to use the Lockheed Starfighter FI 04, but within two months found - for reasons which I have indicated earlier - that it was completely useless for Australian purposes. My comment on that matter is that it is simply frightening to witness the utter ignorance of the mind or minds who conceived the Lockheed Starfighter FI 04 project, and subsequently found that it was hopelessly unadaptable to Australian conditions. It is frightening to think that some mind simply conjured that scheme, which had so little regard for realities, out of the air. That is the kind of person who is directing the defence policy of this country.
– And other policies also!
– That is so. It is particularly frightening to see the bungling that has occurred as between the defence Ministers. The same story can be told of aircraft production, with which Senator Cameron was intimately concerned in other days. We saw a failure, for years, to let the Department of Aircraft Production know what was to come off the production line next - though Sir Lawrence Wackett was literally shrieking for a policy announcement. Tn the interim, skilled staff were dissipated to the four winds of heaven, and no one could get them back again. After long delays there was a decision to produce Avon Sabres in a modified form.
Wherever one looks one sees calamity in the field of performance. Recruitment has fallen everywhere. This is all part of the general malaise - to be seen very clearly now after the Prime Minister’s statement - which pervades the defence services. It is attributable to failure at the top policymaking level. There has been a failure on the part of the politicians - of the Government itself. I do not condemn the services. We have seen the same kind of thing on the financial side of defence. We have seen the Government pretending to spend £200,000,000 a year and, at the same time, putting tens of millions of pounds into trust funds supposed to be ear-marked for specific purposes such as strategic stores and defence equipment. The Prime Minister, confessing that there were disturbing deficiencies in our defence equipment, did not, however, draw on the trust funds to make up those deficiencies. He transferred them to general revenue and used them for the ordinary purposes of government.
Whether you look at the financial or practical aspects of defence you see the same kind of incompetence, ineptitude and lack of direction. The Prime Minister’s statement now makes quite clear the way in which that arose. The lack of proper coordination between the departments, and the lack of authority in the Defence Department which he himself has exposed, clearly betrays the cause of all the things against which we have been railing on this side in the past few years. I do not blame the services themselves for the trouble that has developed. It flows unquestionably from a lack of direction. The Auditor-General pointed out, in relation to “ Hobart “, that approximately £1,500,000 had been spent on conversion and modernization of a vessel which, because of changes in naval policy-»I underline those words - would now be placed, in its uncompleted state, in reserve. He said, moreover, that additional expenditure of £1,000,000 would have to be incurred before the vessel could fulfil a role in the Royal Australian Navy. That is not the fault of the Navy. As the Auditor-General shows very plainly, it has been caused by changes in naval policy. Those changes were decided upon at the political, and not the service, level.
– In conjunction with similar decisions in other countries.
– I am merely indicating where the trouble lies, and saying that I do not blame the services for the lack of recruitment and other shortcomings. Obviously, they all stem from the Government’s indecision, vacillation, incompetence and lack of co-ordination at the top. The services can only recommend. The decisions are made at the political level. 1 conclude with the comment that confusion and bungling at the top political and departmental levels have atrophied our defence efforts and made them such a tragic and pathetic failure.
– Any one who follows the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in a debate is following an able debater. I was in the chamber during the whole of the time the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, and, having heard his speech, I am more convinced than ever that Labour is putting up a sham fight in respect of defence and defence organization.
It was obvious that the Leader of the Opposition had a weak case. We can always tell when he is putting forward a weak case, because then he reads a lot. He started by reading the Prime Minister’s statement to us, although he knew that we had all read it and there was no need for him to read it to us. As he went on, endeavouring to arouse righteous indignation within himself about the state of the defences of this country, he implied that there were serious faults. Later he read from statements by Montgomery and Eisenhower. I felt that the reading of those extracts had a good effect on the Leader of the Opposition, because it calmed him down and dispelled his righteous indignation. Thereafter we heard from him some good suggestions on the amalgamation of our defence forces. He expressed ably one of the few constructive thoughts offered by the Labour party in the debates that have taken place on this subject here and elsewhere.
As is well known, the Morshead report recommended the amalgamation of the defence forces. The Government has not seen fit to accept that recommendation. But, as Senator Vincent pointed out in an interjection with which the Leader of the Opposition did not appear to agree, you cannot suddenly amalgamate the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. An amalgamation such as that, for many obvious reasons, must be carefully planned beforehand, and the integration of the three services must be a gradual process. 1 am prepared to say that this Government should start to plan the amalgamation of the three services under one commander, and I propose to deal with that matter later.
All we know of the contents of the Morshead report we have learned from the references made to it by the Prime Minister, because we have not seen the report, but I feel that it will be a most valuable document, not only to the Government but also to Australia. Anything that is of value to our defence services is of value to the Government and the country. 1 hope that the Ministers in charge of the services and the Minister in charge of defence production will keep the report in front of them, with the important points underlined, so that as opportunity occurs they can put the recommendations into operation.
When speaking on defence, I think a Government senator is in a far more comfortable situation than are members of the Opposition. Before we came into office in December, 1949, the theme song of the Labour Government in respect of defence should have been, “ My defences are down”. From 1946 to 1949 the Labour Government studiously set about wrecking the defence forces which had been built up to a peak during the war, but the Labour party now criticizes what, has been done during the period the MenziesFadden Government has been in office. However, the general public take little notice of the Labour party’s criticism, because they know the main facts in respect of the defence of Australia. They realize that from year to year modern equipment, as it becomes available, is being provided for the services. They realize, too, that the Government cannot wave a wand and suddenly get everything it requires for our defence.
All countries are faced with one great problem in their defence planning. New inventions quickly make present planning obsolete. We may decide to purchase certain fighter aircraft and then find it neces sary to cancel the order, but that is not necessarily due to bad planning. It is because, in the great age of invention and advancement in which we are living, what seems to us to be modern to-day becomes obsolete almost overnight. I feel that the Labour party is doing itself and the country a disservice by implying that in our defence arrangements there is terrific waste, confusion and a lack of security. The Labour party, for political purposes, is trying to unsettle the minds of the Australian public and is, perhaps unconsciously, giving a great deal of propaganda material to the “ Commos “, who love to hear the talk that we hear from time to time from the Labour party.
All honorable senators will recall that a few months ago the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ published certain articles on defence. This newspaper, normally criticized by members of the Labour party, suddenly came to be regarded by them as a great journal that fearlessly exposed the facts. Extracts from those articles, which were most critical of our defence services, were read to us by the Leader of the Opposition. He read them so fluently, and knew his way about them so well, that we wondered who was the author. At that stage, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, in the view of the Opposition, was a great newspaper that spoke the truth. The Leader of the Opposition, who likes reading to us, said that if some of the statements on defence made by the Prime Minister in another place were published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ as leading articles, they would be regarded as articles condemning the Government. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ publishes a leading article every day. To encourage a little soul-searching by Labour senators before they become too critical of this Government’s defence policy, I refer them to the leading article that was published on 27th March, 1958. Under the heading “ Labour and Defence “ the article stated -
Federal Parliament has presented few more grotesque spectacles than the Labour party’s posing as the champion of an efficient defence organization. A final touch of political impudence was provided during Tuesday’s debate by Mr. Calwell’s criticism of the use made by the Government of Manus Island.
Honorable senators opposite know the sorry story of Manus Island. I will not rub the vinegar in by referring further to that matter. The leading article also stated- -
This is the party which presided in government over the complete dismantling of Australia’s defence structure after the war; which carelessly threw away all the advantages of the war-time organization.
Then it went on -
There was no sorrier chapter in the Labour defence story than Manus Island.
More extracts from that leading article could be read to show that honorable senators opposite are not on very firm ground when they criticize this Government.
It is- just as well for us, after hearing the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, to get the record straight. I heard Senator McKenna criticize the Government in regard to national service training. When that scheme was introduced, it was violently opposed by Labour. Now when the intake is reduced, honorable senators opposite say it is wrong to cut down the scheme. When the change was made I said, and I still say, that it was a pity the scheme had to be reduced. I have been a great supporter of national service training, and I was pleased to learn to-day that, even though the intake has been reduced in recent years, more than 104,000 young Australians, of whom 65,000 are still on the active list, have received national service training. The fact that so many lads have been trained is a great asset to Australia.
There has been a gradual improvement in the Navy and the Air Force. It has not been altogether a question of expansion; expansion is not always necessary or possible. Our defences are organized in conjunction with our neighbours, with those with whom we have treaties, and with other British Commonwealth countries. It is silly to expect a country of 10,000,000 people to be able to provide what we might consider to be completely adequate cover by the Navy of our coasts, or completely adequate air cover to protect Australia in the event of attack from abroad. We must just have what the experts think is necessary in order to work in an integrated way with our friends and those of our neighbours who are friendly to us. Labour’s thinking in regard to defence is astray at times, because members of that party forget that defence in real depth in Australia is governed by the friends we have, their might and geographical situation, and the alliances to which we are a party. Because of Seato and Anzus, our great and growing friendship with America, and our continuing allegiance to the British Commonwealth of Nations, we are a greatly enriched country from the defence viewpoint.
I believe that, when talking about the security of Australia, the people of this country will always agree that Mr. Menzies, Mr. Casey and Sir Arthur Fadden have won a great reputation abroad, that their statements have helped us to win new and powerful friends, and that that has played its part in increasing our security. I am certain that the stronger we can become and the more friends we can make the less likely it is that we will have to use our defence services in war. I trust that the Government will continue along these lines.
I suppose all of us have varying ideas; some of us even pose as experts. But I am not 100 per cent, happy about the running of the services themselves. There has been a great improvement, but -there is still one matter of which I am critical. I refer to recruiting. I have criticized this aspect of defence in this chamber before, and I intend to continue to do so until there is some improvement. However, I do not intend at this stage to weary the Senate by repeating what I have said before; it is recorded “ Hansard “ and has been acknowledged officially. I have had letters from the appropriate Minister on the matter, but I still do not see any improvement in the system of obtaining recruits for the armed services. I have spoken to recruiting officers at various places, and I have noted a fair degree of agreement with my views.
I have criticized the great expenditure that is incurred in press advertising in an effort to obtain recruits. I believe that that approach is completely futile. I do not say that advertisements are inserted in the press every day, but I understand that on every day on which advertisements are inserted in the press throughout Australia the total cost is £1,000. If the Government or the recruiting officers will not try some other method, I challenge them to take a poll of all those persons who seek to enlist, in order to ascertain the reasons for their decision to join the services. I suggest that it will be discovered that they seek to enlist because their fathers or friends have served, or because of some service display that they saw.
I am prepared to wager that only a very small part of one per cent, of the recruits will say that they have been attracted to the services by press advertisements. I believe that a lot of money could be saved and that the system of recruitment could be vastly improved. We must show our men, their equipment, their ships and their aircraft to the people. The public likes it and so do the service personnel. In that way, we would have a chance to encourage young men to enlist.
As far as I can see, there is no cooperation by the services in public displays. Some co-ordination could be of great assistance. I suggest to the Government that the three services should get together and prepare plans for a year to show their personnel and their equipment to the public of Australia in the most advantageous way. I shall not weary the Senate- (Opposition senators interjecting) -
– I know you do not like it. I feel that the Government has done right in asking for a report on our defence organization. It is right that the Government’s decision on that report should be debated in the Parliament. I feel that great good will accrue to the country and the Government if the Government keeps that report and its contents before it.
.- Senator McKenna has directed the attention of the Senate to the state of affairs that existed until 1941; there was chaos everywhere in regard to our defences. The Morshead committee has submitted two recommendations. It has recommended first, that the Department of Defence, the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Army and the Department of Air should be amalgamated and administered by a single Minister for Defence. Anybody who has had any experience at all would accept that recommendation, in principle, without hesitation. Let me describe my experience in such matters. I was appointed Minister for Aircraft Production after the Labour Government assumed office in 1941. Later, when Japan came into the war, a meeting of the Cabinet was held at the central office in Melbourne, and those present were told of the desperate position that had arisen. We were asked to do our best to bring about a more effec tive defence of Australia, and to do what we could to enable Australia to play a more valuable part in the war. The first thing that I discovered, in relation to aircraft, was that there were 600 contractors, most of them small contractors working for major organizations. There was complete chaos in that there was no unionism, no teamwork. Unless there is teamwork in a department, it will never be possible to achieve worth-while results.
A report was submitted to me from the Air Force to the effect that it could not get spare parts for the Wirraways and, particularly, for the Beaufort bombers. Sir Harold Clapp was in charge of the Beaufort division at the time, and we had a long talk. I asked, “ What is to be done? “ He said, “Well, I cannot get these fellows together “. I said, “ What about a conference? “ He answered, “ Oh, you cannot order the departments “. I said, “ I am not prepared to order them, but I shall request a conference, and unless they are prepared to attend, I shall read to the Senate this report about aircraft being held up because of a shortage of spare parts, and I shall expose the manner in which they are working at cross purposes with the object of gaining control “. A conference was held. Representatives who attended included Sir Harold Clapp, Mr. Justice Owen Dixon, of the High Court, the late Sir Harold Darling, the late Sir Colin Fraser, and the late Sir John Storey. Quite a number of other people, in addition to myself, were present. The conference lasted from about 3 o’clock in the afternoon until 5 o’clock, and Sir Harold Darling and I were the two chief speakers. I wanted to know from him and the others present what answer they had to the fact that aircraft were being held up because of lack of spare parts. I could not get a satisfactory answer.
Next, I made a report to the Cabinet, and on my suggestion an aircraft production committee was organized. That committee consisted of representatives of the major contractors, the Government, the Treasury, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and the trade unions. Sir Essington Lewis was the chairman. I was asked to be chairman, but I preferred that Sir Essington Lewis should act in that capacity, since he represented a big contracting interest. The committee met weekly in the early stages, and at each meeting responsible men had to face each other and say why spare parts were not forthcoming, or why the production of aircraft was being held up. Sir Essington Lewis turned out to be a very good chairman. He would say, “ Well, Mr. Soandso “ - who would be the representative of one firm or another - “ we want a report from you next week “. Gradually, we achieved team work. We got the spare parts, and without difficulty. At first, the committee met weekly, then fortnightly, and later, monthly, but by that time we had teamwork in operation, and its activities were most successful in the circumstances.
Let me refer to another obstacle that 1 encountered. We were manufacturing the Beaufort bomber, of English design. After the fall of Dunkirk, the late Sir Stafford Cripps, who was Minister for Aircraft Production in England, wrote and told us that we could no longer depend on supplies from England. The Beaufort bomber was designed to carry an English engine - either the Hercules or the Wright - and we could not get either. Another meeting of the committee was held and it was decided, on the recommendation of the experts, to manufacture the Pratt and Whitney engine, an American engine. The next difficulty we experienced arose from the fact that the American engine had to be manufactured in a different way before it could be fitted to an English aircraft. A leading representative of the Royal Australian Air Force, when requested by me to attend a meeting of the Aircraft Production Committee and state why the machines were being grounded and could not be used, refused to do so. He said that he was not going to appear before the committee. I reported to the Cabinet and we decided to hold an inquiry. When he realized that an inquiry would be held, he and his crew resigned and went to India. After that, the machines were a conspicuous success.
On one occasion, we had a complaint to the effect that the steel that was being supplied was not of the required tensile strength. An inquiry was held, and everybody, except the men who really mattered, was called as a witness. An aircraft we had was ordered to be grounded. I refused to sanction this. I said, “ 1 rely entirely on the advice of the experts “. I heard no more about grounding the aircraft, and they went into action. As I have said, they were a great success. The point 1 am trying to make is the same as that previously made by Senator McKenna: That where there is no highly centralized control, and where the representatives of various departments are working at cross purposes, there will never be any worthwhile results.
I have described the state of affairs that we inherited in 1941. I suggest that honorable senators read this book that I have here, “ The Six Guilty Men “, published in 1940, under the pseudonym “ Cato “. The original “ Cato “ was a Roman statesman of the third century. Here is a complete exposure of the chaos that existed in England. The comment in relation to the fall of Dunkirk shows the position that existed as a result of politicians working at cross purposes. Altogether, there were about 40 editions of the book; I think the copy before me is the thirty-first edition. It shows that incompetent control was not peculiar to Australia; it existed in England at the time. The comments of this gentleman, who was evidently a senior officer in the Public Service, but did not want to give his name, revealed that England was faced with the same troubles as we had here.
I should like to relate another incident connected with aircraft production. As the responsible Minister at the time, I was told that America could manufacture the machines we needed - Mustangs and the like - and that they would come off the line at the rate of about one every twenty minutes. Certain interests wanted to close down the manufacture of aircraft in Australia. I opposed the closing of the Australian aircraft manufacturing industry because I believe that, both in times of peace and of war a country should be as self-contained as possible. While the discussions were proceeding, I received anonymously a copy of a report that was furnished by an American congressional committee, of which Senator Harry Truman, who was to become President of the United States, was the chairman. That report stated, in effect, that the Hell Divers, Aircobras and other aircraft then being manufactured in America were suicide machines. I told certain pressure groups that were advocating the closing down of the Australian aircraft production industry that if they persisted in their efforts I would read the report to the Senate. But that did not become necessary, and Australia continued till the end of the war to manufacture aircraft.
I again assert, with emphasis, that so long as men who occupy highly responsible positions and exercise vital control are concerned more with self-interest and selfpreservation than with the welfare of the nation, the chaotic conditions to which Senator McKenna has referred will continue.
Senator Marriott said that we are engaged in a sham fight. I recollect that something similar was said in 1939. At that time, Sir Percy Spender said that one division of the enemy could capture Australia. When Labour became the government, we found that no preparations whatever had been made by the opponents of Labour to repel an enemy attempting to invade this country.
– They had “ the Brisbane line “.
– Yes . Before we became the government we directed attention to the existence of “ the Brisbane line “, but the then Menzies Government brushed aside our representations, referring to them as “ the Brisbane lie “. As I said, when we gained the reins of office, we found the cupboard bare. We had been given to understand, as this Government is endeavouring to assure us, that everything would be all right. Senator Marriott has stated that Mr. Menzies and Mr. Casey have made strong friends for Australia overseas. I remember that during the second world war we had strong friends, but when the pressure of war came, particularly at the time of the fall of Dunkirk, they could not help us. We were thrown entirely on our own resources and we had to do the best we could.
I have had considerable experience as an organizer. When I was a Minister of the Crown in the Labour government I never hesitated, when matters of major importance had to be dealt with, to call together the responsible men, the team men, the technical experts who had to do the job, and to submit their views to the Cabinet. In not one instance during my period as Minister in charge of aircraft production and as Postmaster-General were such men unable to offer practical advice to the government. But, as Senator McKenna has said, the report of a committee of experts that was appointed in November of last year to go thoroughly into the subject of defence in Australia has been suppressed. In effect, politicians having no practical experience of defence, and who are possibly more concerned about vested interests than with the welfare of the nation, are claiming, by ignoring the recommendations of the committee, that they are super-intellects.
Why have not the report and recommendations of the committee been submitted to the Parliament for discussion? It appears from what the Prime Minister has said that the report attributes the present chaotic state of affairs to a lack of coordination between the various departments concerned with defence. Rather than antagonize the heads of those departments and their friends, the Government has pigeon-holed the report; we know nothing at all about it. We are expected to accept ex cathedra what certain Ministers who were political calamities during the war choose to tell us. Some honorable senators will recall vividly what Sir Arthur Fadden said about the Prime Minister at that time. Others stated that the right honorable gentleman had no creative imagination. As a lawyer, he excelled in the presentation of a case, but he lacked a background of practical experience to enable him to face problems during the war. From 1942 until 1949 the practical work was done by a Labour government, the experts in the various departments working together, and no decision of major importance being arrived at except after consultation with those experts.
Senator Marriott said that it is silly to expect a country with a population of 10,000,000 persons to be able to provide complete defence protection against attack from abroad. If we were organized as we could, and should, be organized in the various branches connected with the defence of this country, then a good deal could be done. But there is no organization. After all is said and done, every undertaking depends for its success on management. The men who are competent to manage are those who have practical experience, men who have grown up in the job, not mere politicians. For example, in the Postmaster-General’s Department, most of the senior officers are those who have grown up in the job. They are the men with the knowledge upon whom we can rely. The same principle applies to every government department.
My object in speaking is to support what Senator McKenna said so convincingly and with such force, that there is chaos now and yet the Morshead report is suppressed. Why could not the report be discussed on its merits side by side with the Government proposal to-day?
In the aircraft production industry I found vested interests competing among themselves for control. The result was that machines were not operating. On one occasion I visited the works of the Clyde Engineering Company Proprietary Limited and saw two Beaufort bombers. When 1 asked why they were there I was told that they were being repaired but that work had been held up due to lack of spare parts To my inquiry as to the source of supply of the spare parts that were required, I was told that supplies had to come from the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited in Melbourne. I was told that the bombers had been in the factory awaiting the spare parts for only a few days, but it was obvious that they had been there for weeks because there was oneeighth of an inch of dust on them.
On another occasion I visited the works at Chullora and inspected the progress reports covering the operations of various machines. The relevant figures showed a decline, and to my inquiry as to the reason I was told that petrol pumps for use in the machines could not be obtained. Then I asked the name of the firm that supplied the petrol pumps and I was informed that it was General Motors-Holdens Limited in South Australia. Almost immediately I boarded a ‘plane to South Australia and, before approaching the board of directors. I inquired from the men actually on the job as to the stock of petrol pumps and was told that a large number was on hand. I asked why they had not been sent to Chullora and the men informed me that they did not know the reason. After my approach the petrol pumps were forthcoming almost immediately. These may seem small items, but machines so vital to the defence of Australia are practically useless without a petrol pump or some other minor part. These big companies were more concerned about their own interests than the interests of the nation and were lacking in appreciation of the desperate position then confronting Australia. They carry on their businesses now just as they would in. peace-time.
Government contracts were let on a cost-plus basis. Under the National Security Act the relevant Minister had the right to order that the books of contractors be examined. The late Mr. William Harris, an officer of the Treasury who represented the Treasury on the Aircraft Production Committee, ordered an investigation of the books of various companies, and from 1 94 1 until 1945 was responsible for recovering about £1,500,000 that would otherwise have been lost to the government.
– That was an amount of money of which Australia would have been robbed.
– Yes . That practice was rampant at the time.
– The people responsible would have been shot if they adopted the same practices in Russia.
– They would have been shot for a good deal less than that. I mention these matters so that I may convey, to the extent I am able, the need for a better understanding of the position. 1 am not prepared to accept the opinion of the Government which is made up to a large extent of men without practical experience. There is an old and true saying, “ Practical experience without theory is blind, but theory without practical experience is futile “. Men with a sound theoretical knowledge but without a background of practical experience cannot be relied on to the same extent as men who have a background of practical experience plus theoretical knowledge. We need men with that background of practical experience in government. There may be one or two such men in the present Government, but I do not know of any. The Government says, “ We want your imprimatur on this plan or this legislation “. The Opposition will not accept legislation and plans prepared and submitted by men without a background of practical experience.
The Morshead report should be presented to the Parliament in order that we may judge the state of affairs for ourselves, and in the light of that judgment and discussion we shall develop a much better understanding of the position than we have at the present time.
– I should like to refer to one or two points made by Senator McKenna, apart from his criticism of the defence organization, about which a little more careful thought is advisable. He insisted that the Morshead report to the Cabinet should be tabled. Why? It was not a report primarily to Parliament. If it had been, it would have been tabled. It is a report, the contents of which ultimately we all shall know. I emphasize the danger that would exist not merely to this Cabinet but to any cabinet if it were taken as a matter of right that any report made to the Cabinet should be tabled automatically.
Senator McKenna pointed out that the chairman of this committee, Sir Leslie Morshead, was not a public servant; but I point out that the other three members of the committee were public servants. One was the Chairman of the Public Service Board, who is responsible for certain aspects of the administration of the whole Public Service. The other two were highly placed officers, one in the Prime Minister’s Department and the other in the Department of Defence.
It would be absurd if, while the implementation of such a report was under consideration, the responsible minister had to face ammunition taken from the words of his own confidential advisers. That, I submit, would be to undermine ministerial responsibility completely, and I am quite sure than when Senator Cameron was a minister he certainly would not have tabled a report that would have enabled his own administration to be shot at immediately from the Opposition benches and, possibly, even from his own side because, as the debate in the House of Representatives has revealed, there was considerable criticism of the Government’s attitude from members on its own side. Possibly there would have been somewhat more criticism if people had the feeling that this debate was being undertaken for the purpose of criticizing our defence policy and attempting to evolve a better one. I am convinced, from the whole tone of the speeches from the Opposition, that the Leader of the Opposition and his followers are not so much concerned with improving our defence system as they are with making out a case against the Prime Minister for election purposes. We all noticed the change in the tone of voice of the Leader of the Opposition and in his whole attitude whenever he happened to refer to the Prime Minister. I suggest that it would be better for debate in this chamber if the Leader of the Opposition would address himself directly to policy and not to the personality of the Prime Minister, which appears to annoy him.
To those who argue that the matters under discussion are a damning indictment of the Government, I point out that the same thing could be said in any other country about the administration of defence, because it is quite patent that defence is going through a period of reconstruction, with very few people anywhere, least of all some of the experts, knowing what to do. I was appalled when I heard Senator Cameron say that when he was a minister he took the word of the experts against that of anybody else. What experts? Expert? in what? It is essential for a democratic country that the civil power should be supreme. It is essential that the last word should be with Parliament. In order that this may be so, it is essential that the Minister should have the last word, even to the point of overruling his experts. It has been necessary on very great and crucial occasions for civilians in office to overrule their military experts. I know from the history of many past wars that there have been cases in which the uninstructed, uninformed civilian was right and the expert was wrong.
– Then training is useless?
– I think the opposite inference must be drawn.
– You are saying you must take the word of the expert.
– I did not say you must take the word of the expert. The honorable senator is putting into my mouth words which I did not use at all.
– Do not get excited!
– I thank the honorable senator for that advice. I am trying to address myself to the subject, and I will not be distracted by personalities. I say it is a known fact from history that on many occasions the uninstructed civilian who was President, Prime Minister or Minister of a country overruled his experts and, further, that he was proved to be right and the experts wrong. Take the history of World War I. as an example. I should say that nearly all the generals of the high command would be wrong, and I would be very much surprised if Senator Hendrickson did not agree with me in connexion with certain of the events, at least, in which he participated. I know of no more ghastly business during the whole of that war than the Passchendaele assault, about which I saw and felt something. Military experts will admit to-day that in connexion with that matter civilian Ministers like Lloyd George and Winston Churchill were far nearer to the right policy than was the British High Command. They had to use all kinds of indirect means to get their results, but they were proved to be right in the long run.
In France, Clemenceau, a politician and a country doctor - I suppose he did his three years’ military training, although I am not sure; I think he was out of the country when he should have participated - had a better knowledge of what was to be done than did any of the generals under him. The plain fact is that under a democratic system the government of the day must assume responsibility and must direct the experts. If the experts are not good enough, the Government must find others who will frame a proper policy.
Our problem to-day is that defence means either preventing the enemy making an assault or, if he makes one, defeating the assault. It cannot be a mere passive defence; it cannot be merely a question of defending one’s own country. If there are forces throughout the world which are about to attack, or which are likely to attack, they must be met by a resistance which will prevent or defeat their attack. How that is to be done to-day, people who have given the greatest attention to the problem simply do not know, but authorities such as those quoted by Senator McKenna this morning believe that we need a new type of military leader. For years, we in Australia relied upon an army and a navy alone, and, in the simple conditions of those days, that defence was enough. The air force has complicated that. The coming of nuclear weapons has complicated it still further, and I think there are very few men who really can work out all the intricacies of the problem of defence.
Take one thing only which, I think, will appeal to any of us, for it is something we can understand. We are all concerned with defence against attack from the air. We all seem to assume that it is from the air that any attack on this country must come, yet there are reports which say that our greatest danger is not from the air, but from submarines. The striking power of the submarines of the Soviet Union - in years to come it may possibly be also of Russia’s satellites - is greater and harder to combat than any other force. It is harder to locate. Who are the experts who understand all the intricacies of these problems?
I can quite agree with the conclusion of Senator McKenna’s speech. I think that the opinions he quoted of Mr. Eisenhower, President of the United States, and of Field-Marshal Montgomery, the Marshal in Europe, are perfectly sound. We must bring about a new type of defence organization. This Government, as a careful perusal of the Prime Minister’s statement will disclose, has gone a certain distance towards doing that, and it may be as far as we can go at the moment. I propose to restate some of the things that the Prime Minister proposes - things that are in line with the report of the Morshead committee. Any one who listened - lazily, at any rate - to the speech of Senator McKenna might gain the impression that the Government had rejected the whole of the Morshead report. That is not so. The Government has rejected the specific proposal that there should be one Minister for Defence, responsible for the whole of the defence arrangements, and that the portfolios of army, navy and air should be abolished and replaced by two associate Ministers. These associate Ministers were to be responsible, not for a particular service, but for certain aspects of defence, such as personnel and logistics. How those functions could be divorced from complete responsibility I do not know. The Prime Minister evidently thinks that the suggestion is unworkable and 1 certainly do not intend to urge that it should be adopted merely because it has been put forward by an expert committee.
The Government proposes, first, that there should be complete unity of policy on defence, and that the Minister for Defence should lay down what that policy shall be. To that extent, and with regard to the overall policy of defence, he would be the master of the separate Army, Navy and Air Ministers. Below that level the Chiefs of Staff would meet regularly, under the direction of a new appointee - a chairman. I do not think any one objects to that proposal. I think that it will be universally admitted that it is a step in the direction of unification. The appointee is, in fact, to be a distinguished former Army chief. The Chiefs of Staff are to agree on joint policy and planning, the obtaining of decisions and so on. There is still in existence a Defence Committee, unaffected by these changes. At first sight, that seems to create a dual authority and, without knowing a great deal about it, it would seem to me to be better if the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff became the sole officer responsible to the Minister for policy. He would be an expert, attempting to get agreement with the others. Unfortunately, in practice, agreement among people with a different point of view all too frequently amounts to a compromise - often a compromise which saves face and expresses, to some extent, the point of view of each of the parties, but produces nothing new, creative or better than would have been produced by the parties acting separately. I cannot see how, under the present system of training our service administrators primarily as soldiers, primarily as sailors or primarily as airmen, that kind of thing can be avoided. I think that those who have put their finger on the training of our future staff officers have been nearer to the truth than any one else.
I propose to repeat to some extent - and endeavour to think about - certain suggestions made in the other House by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) and the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), two gentlemen with great service experience. I believe that we must offer a new type of training to all our officers. Our Army officers have very largely come from the Royal Military College at Duntroon, which, from the beginning, has produced officers of a very high calibre who have served this country well in two world wars. We have a good Navy as a result of sound training in this country. I am, of course, referring more especially to the second war, because some of those who served in the first war - I have in mind Glossop of the old Imperial Navy - were not trained in this country. The Air Force is, of course, a comparatively new creation, which attained full growth in the second world war. During the first world war it was in its early stages of development, and was always subsidiary to one of the other two services. Some honorable senators will recall that only towards the end of the first world war did we have a unified air service. I think that occurred in 1917. I remember, the first time I saw a person in the new uniform, wondering whether he was one of our own men or an allied serviceman.
In some respects the Americans do not seem to have advanced as far towards unity as we have done. According to published reports - and also the admissions of President Eisenhower and others - there is extraordinary inter-service jealousy. Apparently both the Army and the Navy wanted to keep the air arm subsidiary to their own service. I believe that they have even had their own tests of nuclear weapons and artificial satellites. All this has not, of course, helped any attempt to use the total strength and wealth of the United States to the best advantage. Therefore, I make the suggestion - which does not originate with me - that our long-range plan should be to train our officers as officers of all three services. I agree with honorable senators opposite who say that we should not be too long in doing something about it. Such officers need not serve in all three services. I suppose that, ultimately, they would have to make their choice just as, now, in the Army, a man decides to become an engineer or an infantryman. However, they should have sufficient knowledge of all three services to be able to co-operate when the need arose. They should be able to appreciate what the people in the other services were doing. As a more immediate step which should be taken now - it may already have been taken to a limited degree, though I have not heard of it - we should have among our topranking staff officers men who undertake a special course of training in the activities of the other services. We would have to co-operate, as we have in the past, with the United Kingdom and the United States - possibly to an increasing degree with the United States because it is their weapons and strategy that we will have to understand. I think, possibly, that the great nation of Canada might be the best meeting ground, because there is a certain feeling that the British Commonwealth prefers to train within its own borders. There is also the undoubted feeling that the United States of America, with its greater wealth, and development of various services, has some secrets that we do not possess. By that, I do not mean information that that country will impart to no one else, but know-how - ways of doing things. If we could have general staff training for the British Commonwealth in Canada it would, I think, enable us to co-operate more closely with the United States of America and thus solve many of our problems.
– As happened in the case of the Empire air training scheme?
– Yes. That is a very good suggestion. In this matter, we should all devote our attention to obtaining a better defence force for this country. Much of the criticism from the Opposition, and from people on our own side, must be considered seriously. Every time a budget comes before us I have the feeling - which I am sure that all honorable senators have - that one must wonder how much of the money that we are voting is actually being used for the effective defence of the country. If any of it is not, we must not attribute that to evil intentions, or mere ambition to exalt a particular service. Co-ordination may be rendered impossible by the sheer inability of a man to see the value of something of which he has no proper knowledge. To the cobbler, there is nothing like leather, and to a man in any trade or profession the thing that he has done all his life appears to him to be most important. I can believe that a man who was trained at Duntroon 40 years ago, and has since served with distinction in the field, will always see the Army as the only effective means of defending his country.
He will always think that the Air Force is merely a subsidiary. He will always think that the Navy is something that is primarily there to protect the Army. The naval man will think of the Army, as British naval men have thought ever since the days of Drake, as an inferior sort of service which really is not necessary for the defence of the country, because, at any rate until the time of Jutland, there was only one form of defence of the old country. The gentlemen who have served in the new Air Force and who have moved with speed, precision and effectiveness will naturally feel that the poor foot-slogger on the ground is not of very much use.
Each service is useful. We must get a man with the training, the capacity and the will to unify the three services for the effective defence of this country. If all of us who have participated in this debate have done no more than urge on the people in the armed services, and on the Cabinet, the necessity for this, I think we have not to-day spoken in vain.
– Let me say at the beginning of my contribution to this debate that I in no way doubt the sincerity of any honorable senator on the Government side in his attitude to defence. I feel that it must be stated that every Government senator feels keenly that this country should be defended in the best possible manner. However, I think that honorable senators opposite will readily concede that the subject of defence always rouses strong feelings, because defence is probably the most vital matter affecting our country. As a consequence, debates on this subject must of necessity be vigorous, and sometimes bitter and acrimonious. There is a tendency on the part of Government senators to resent criticism of any kind whatever, but we of the Opposition have a perfect right, indeed a duty, to criticize. Some of the remarks that I will make during the course of my address this afternoon will be of a highly critical nature, but I have a perfect right to criticize, and that right should not be resented, or indeed resisted, by members on the Government side.
I begin the main portion of my speech by referring to the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in another place. I wish to deal, in the main, with his references to the Morshead report. It is well known that the committee of which Sir Leslie Morshead was the chairman was a committee appointed by the Cabinet of this Government. Its purpose, as far as we can ascertain, was to consider modern means of defence as related to the armed services of this country, and to bring down a report to the Government containing suggestions for the future defence of Australia. That report, in due course, came to the Government, or perhaps I should say to the Cabinet, because I doubt very much whether Government senators, other than those of Cabinet rank, have had access to the Morshead report. It appears from the statement made by the Prime Minister in another place that there were certain recommendations in the report of a far-reaching character. The main recommendation was that the armed forces of Australia should be integrated under a single command, and that the division that exists at the moment between the three major services should disappear. That proposition was rejected.
I have never claimed to be an expert on matters relating to the Army, Navy or Air Force. We all have the viewpoint of amateurs in this regard, but there are some things which should be obvious to all of us if we have a proper degree of perception. 1 think it is recognized that that proposal by this committee, which was headed by a very distinguished soldier, merited greater consideration than it has received from the Government. I am prepared to make the forecast now that at some stage in the future that proposal will be accepted. I feel that it is a practical way to deal with the defence of this country. Indeed, it is a method that has been employed for a considerable time by other more advanced-thinking countries.
I join with the leader of my party and other members who have spoken from this side of the chamber in objecting very strongly to the fact that we were not made aware of the contents of the Morshead report. It has been said by Senator McCallum that the reports of committees are not of necessity made available to honorable senators or to members in another place, but I am very strongly of the opinion that if the Cabinet thought that the subject of defence was important enough to warrant the appointment of a committee for the purpose of making recommendations of the kind which have been made, that report should be made available to every member of the National Parliament. It is futile for members of the Government to say that there are certain matters in the report that might in some way, if published, prejudice the interests of this country. I feel that the interests of Australia from a defence viewpoint have been prejudiced far more by the failure to make the contents of the report available to members of the Parliament than would have been the case otherwise.
It is not only members on this side of the Senate who feel strongly on this matter. It is an open secret that there is a great deal of dissension among Government members in respect of the failure of the Government to provide them with details of the Morshead report, and in respect of the Government’s policy in regard to defence generally. Whilst that will be denied by subsequent Government speakers in this debate, we on this side of the Senate know that there has been considerable dissension - bitter in character - between a certain section of Government members and the Cabinet in regard to the Government’s policy on defence. I notice that nobody from the Government benches has made any outcry in denial of that contention.
If we accept that contention, it brings into even bolder relief the necessity for honorable senators on this side of the chamber to use every means at their disposal to force the Government to realize that defence is not a matter that concerns only the Government, but is one which deeply concerns the Opposition as well. I do not think it will be disputed that our concern is as great as that of honorable members opposite. That being so, we ought to have access to whatever information the Cabinet has in regard to the future defence of this country. I was about to say that the Government should be condemned for its defence policy, but I feel I should not make that statement in general terms, because a large section of Government members holds the same views as I do. I will say that I feel the Cabinet of this Government should be strongly condemned for its failure to take into its confidence, not only members of the Opposition, but also members on the Government side as well.
There is no doubt that at the moment the three armed services are in competition with each other. It is idle for Government senators to claim that the three forces are functioning on a unified basis. It is well known to anybody who has observed the situation, even superficially, that there is competition between the three services. We all know that each of them is seeking a greater amount than the others. We know, too, that for a time the Army was regarded as having priority over the Navy and Air Force in respect of claims to moneys granted by the Parliament and that it was making ever increasing demands in order to extend its influence. Without being unfairly critical, 1 think the reason was that certain people who held high office in that service had a vested interest in the expansion of the Army to the detriment of the other two services. To a lesser degree, the same comments could be applied to the Navy and the Air Force. So I say that the integration suggested by the Morshead committee would do away with that dog-eat-dog attitude, with each force trying to out-do the others, and that it would bring about greater understanding and far better cooperation.
I now come to a matter that has been exercising my mind for some considerable time and in regard to which, the Government must accept the strongest condemnation. I refer to the Government’s sabotage - I use the term advisedly - of the Australian aircraft production industry. The history of that industry is a sorry one indeed. It is well known that when Labour was in office a genuine and serious attempt was made to build up the industry. In fact, in almost every capital city of Australia factories were engaged, if not wholly in the building of aircraft, in the making and assembly of component parts for certain types of aircraft. It will be recalled that thousands of employees were engaged on highly skilled operations for the purpose of producing parts for certain types of British aircraft, including the Lancaster bomber. If the present Government had continued those operations, we would now be in a position to be able to say that Australia was embarking upon a serious attempt to provide herself with her own weapons to defend her own shores.
I appreciate that, as Senator Marriott said earlier, it is not possible for a nation of 10,000,000 people with a coastline as extensive as ours to provide itself with sufficient of the machinery of war to defend itself adequately. I would not be silly enough to make such a suggestion, and 1 do not make it; but I do say that, if Australia’s aircraft production programme had been expanded, we would have travelled part of the way towards the objective which we must attain at some time in the future- - that of being wholly self-contained in our defence against any future invader.
What is the position? Since this Government asumed office, thousands of people throughout Australia who were employed in this extremely valuable industry have been scattered to the four winds. As one who has had some experience in the finer work associated with aircraft production, I know that it takes years to train a man to perform work which requires such extremely fine tolerances. In many instances, it is necessary to work by hand to within thousandths of an inch so that the parts produced satisfy the required safety specifications, which in the Air Force are of a very high order. Within recent years, thousands - and that is not an exaggeration - of highly skilled technicians who were trained over a period of years have taken up other forms of employment because this Government has ceased to do anything in this field. In the capital cities of Australia to-day, the only semblance of activity in aircraft production is almost confined to maintenance work. All the technicians who have been trained have disappeared.
– Of course it is a shame. It is an indictment of this Government. What will be the position in the future when another government which seeks to follow a wiser course than that which is being followed by the present Government decides that the time has arrived for Australia to try to become selfcontained in this and similar directions, and when it seeks out those people who were trained and later told that they were no longer required? What will be the attitude of those people? They will say with every degree of justification, “ The government of the day took us from the wood-working field, from sheet metal operations, from various engineering activities, and from the motor body-building trade, and gave us a job in the aircraft production industry. Then, when we obtained the degree of skill that would enable us to produce aircraft, we were told that we were no longer required. We have found lucrative employment in other fields and we intend to stay in those fields.” That government in the future will be confronted with the need to train men all over again - a terrible and disastrous waste of effort, money and skill. I do not think one Government supporter - there are very few Government supporters in the chamber at the moment - would disagree with my assertions regarding this Government’s record in relation to aircraft production.
Even at this eleventh hour, I plead with the Government to resume activity in this field immediately. In every capital city of Australia there are facilities for an immediate resumption of such activity. Every day the Government delays in taking action to recommence the aircraft production programme means setting the country back still further in its defence preparations. I am not alone in making these assertions. I have spoken with feeling on this subject on earlier occasions in this chamber. I know that members of the Australian Democratic Labour party have made similar representations and that there are supporters of the Government who, even though they remain silent, feel exactly the same way about this matter. Because the Government is following a path of folly, those honorable senators opposite to whom I have just referred feel that they must follow the Government willy-nilly without any consideration of whether the Government’s attitude is right or wrong.
I think it will be agreed that, in the future, air defence will be one of the most vital, if not the most vital, forms of defence for Australia. I know that there are varying contentions and that some people talk about submarines and other forms of naval activity; but I believe - and there is a lot of support for my belief - that air power will be the most important arm of defence. If that assertion is not denied, it highlights the stupidity and utter folly of the Government in destroying Australia’s premier arm of defence. We will not always be able to obtain aircraft from overseas. The present idea is that, if we want more planes, we can buy them from the United States of America, Great Britain or some other country; but there may, and almost certainly will, come a time when world pressures and circumstances will make it impossible for us to obtain aircraft from those sources. We should then reap the tragic harvest of the seed sown by this Government because of its attitude to the aircraft industry of Australia. I appeal to the Government to consider this matter urgently because I believe that it represents the most dangerous trend in the defence field for many years.
I am of the opinion that we are not paying sufficient attention to the need to increase naval activity, by the building of ships and other means. I have admitted earlier in my remarks that it is not possible for the present population of this country adequately to man the Australian coastline without help from some outside power. While that continues to be so, we must participate in pacts with other powers which follow the same line of thought that we do, but again I say that we are not giving enough thought to the future if we accept such protection as a continuing factor. To-day, we are sheltered by American protection in the Pacific, but a twist of global affairs at some time in the future may result in the United States of America being no longer in a position to give us the degree of protection that we desire, from a naval point of view. That, of course, would mean that we should be thrown on our own resources. There is no certainty that that will happen, but bearing the possibility in mind, we should now be planning to build more and more ships, within the capacity of our resources of finance and man-power, in order that we may be prepared for the time when there is no longer the degree of assistance from other powers that we seem to expect to-day, and which we complacently regard as something that will continue for ever.
I want to touch very briefly on some of the statements that were made by Senators Marriott and McCallum. Senator Marriott referred to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, a newspaper which seems to have achieved fame in this country in the last month or so because of certain articles that were contained in it. The honorable senator was rather peevish because the Australian Labour party, to adopt his words, was lauding the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ because it was criticizing the Government. If I remember his words correctly, I think he went on to say that the Labour party now regarded the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ as a great newspaper, whereas previously the party had criticized it. I can assure Senator Marriott that that is completely incorrect, and I think he knows that it is. The Labour party has never been very pleased with any of the great newspapers in this country. We are not silly enough to believe that, just because they criticize the Government on a particular issue, they suddenly have become violently pro-Labour. In fact, I do not think that Senator Marriott, who sometimes exhibits a simplicity of mind that is incredible, would disagree with that contention. We of the Labour party say this about the “ Sydney Morning Herald “: On most occasions it does not give the Labour party a fair go. But we acknowledge the right of the newspaper to publish in its columns what it wants to publish, because that is inherent in the principle of freedom of the press. If the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ wishes to abuse that principle, that is its business. But we cannot be blamed if we refer to articles in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ which criticize the Government’s defence policy, because after all, they merely support opinions that we have held for a considerable time.
In my view, the thing which emerges from this situation with most force is thi fact that the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ has criticized the Government on perhaps two occasions in the last five years, while the number of times on which it has criticized the Labour party is of astronomical proportions. So I suggest to honorable senators opposite that they should not be disheartened because the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ temporarily is on the Government’s back. Sooner or later, it will transfer its attentions to us, and that will enable honorable senators opposite to say that they again support the views of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “.
– But, like the honorable senator, I do not think we ever would say that it was a good newspaper-
– I do not agree with that. I should say that, until about six months ago, the supporters of the Government thought it was an excellent newspaper.
– And they are hoping it will “ come good for the next general election, too.
– I am confident that the serious breach that exists between the Government and the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ will be healed completely before the next general election takes place. If 1 were a betting man - and I know that betting is not permitted in this Parliament, particularly in the Senate - I would be prepared to wager that the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ will be making extremely uncomplimentary references to the party to which I belong in the months preceding the forthcoming election. Honorable senators opposite, therefore, should take heart.
Senator Marriott will be pleased to know that I agree with one of the suggestions he put forward. That was his suggestion that greater publicity should be given to the armed forces, and that some other form of activity should be adopted to popularize them. I agree that the present system, involving newspaper advertisements with which we are becoming all too familiar, is not having the desired effect. It is essential that the armed forces should be built up on the basis of voluntary enlistment. I must say that I disagree strongly with Senator Marriott regarding the usefulness of the national service training scheme. I have spoken on this subject before in the Senate and I do not want to elaborate, but if we accept the fact that national service training is useless we must in some other way, induce the young people of this country to join the armed services. I feel that national service training will never add one useful ingredient to the defence of the country. I am of the opinion that, by bringing young men with ambition and ability into our armed forces, on a permanent basis, and enabling them to continue their training, we should be bringing about the best thing that could happen in regard to the future defence of Australia. There are means- which could be adopted, some of which were mentioned by Senator Marriott.
I believe that films should be made showing the operations and the activities of the armed services. Such films could be made attractively, in colour, and shown at every possible opportunity. Intending recruits, having seen such films, would be able to say, “ I now know something about the procedures and the activities of the particular branch of the forces in which I am interested “. I feel that such films would intensify the desire of a young man to become a member of one of the three services. That is one suggestion that 1 put forward. Another suggestion is that if people with a modern turn of mind were given the job of popularizing the forces, we probably would find that the rate of enlistments increased greatly. Therefore, I agree with Senator Marriott about the need to popularize the services, and I hope that even if the Government will not heed my views, it will pay some regard to his.
I come now to the final point on which I wish to touch, and it is one that I think ought to have intruded into this debate before now. I refer to the question of civil defence. I know that certain activity has been embarked upon in this regard. I am aware that the Government conducts a school at Mount Macedon, in Victoria, where a lot of the problems connected with civil defence have been discussed and in respect of which some conclusions have been reached; but I believe that we are not ear-marking enough of our national expenditure for civil defence purposes. If this country were to be invaded, or at least attacked, by an enemy using the modern nuclear weapons that exist to-day, the destruction and loss of life would be absolutely appalling. I do not think that one constructive idea has been advanced in regard to the construction of shelters and the taking of other measures in capital cities of Australia in order to provide refuge and protection for citizens if disaster suddenly struck from the sky. Not one of us in this chamber this afternoon can say with any degree of certainty that such a thing will not happen next week, next month or next year. What would be the position if an enemy aircraft were to fly over the City of Sydney and drop hydrogen bombs of the vastly destructive types that we know exist in the world to-day? Two or three of them would devastate Sydney. Nobody could convince me that even a beginning has been made to provide adequate civil defence measures for Sydney or any other capital city of Australia to meet such a contingency. We were told, when considering a measure before this chamber, that certain electricity and water reticulation undertakings had been so placed as to be difficult of attack by an enemy. Yet the men, women and children of the crowded cities of Australia would be powerless to protect themselves if there were a sudden attack in the not far distant future. I submit that unless the Government gives most serious consideration to this matter it will be failing in its duty to the Australian people. It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to say that there is no effective protection against atomic warfare. At least, we should try to provide defences, and a start in that direction should be made now.
In view of the ever-changing concept of defence consequent upon changing methods of warfare, we have to recast our ideas and our thinking. In Australia, as well as in other countries, the cost of defence measures is draining our financial heart. In the United States of America, the greatest concern is being felt because everincreasing amounts are being ear-marked for defence. Unless there is a lessening of world tension, Australian will be caught up in the vicious circle of trying to evolve new weapons of destruction. This is a matter that should receive the greatest consideration of all of us.
In conclusion, I hope this debate will continue, not on the basis of mutual agreement, not on the basis of supporters of the Government resenting attacks from this side of the chamber, but on the basis of each of us saying fearlessly what he thinks about the subject. Only by an interchange of views and legitimate criticism can we hope to arrive at a stage at which we can claim that we are taking adequate steps to defend Australia.
– I listened with great interest to Senator Toohey’s remarks. I agree most heartily with his contention that the subject of defence is above party politics and that, in order to provide satisfactorily for the defence of Australia, honorable senators on both sides should say what they think about various aspects of the subject. This debate presents an opportunity for us to get off our chests whatever suggestions we can make.
I agree entirely with what the honorable senator said about civil defence. I do not think that the Commonwealth Government is spending enough money on civil defence. It is true that an excellent civil defence school has been established at Mount Macedon. Many members of the
Parliament have had an opportunity to visit the school and see what is being done there. Instructors from the school visit various centres and advise the people in relation to civil defence. The school has not sufficient money with which to carry on its work. In this connexion, there is controversy as to whether money for this purpose should be provided by the Federal Government or by the State governments. Surely to goodness the question of civil defence against atomic bombs, which might come at any time, is far and away above party politics. Money for this purpose must be found. Eventually it will come from the Commonwealth Government, and the sooner the Government realizes that the better. A large sum of money is not necessarily needed for this purpose; a tremendous amount of good can be done with a relatively small amount. The sooner more money is provided for civil defence, in the interests of the welfare of the people of Australia, the better.
I come now to the matter of aircraft production. While I do not go so far as to say that I do not agree with Senator Toohey’s remarks, I point out that there are two distinct schools of thought on the matter. One school favours the production of aircraft in Australia, while the other contends that we should buy aircraft overseas. I understand that this division of thought exists even within the air force itself. The experts themselves cannot agree on the better policy to adopt. While equally good arguments can be advanced for and against the buying of aircraft overseas, I think we should decide our policy in that regard and adhere to it. Of course, it would cost a lot more money to build our aircraft in Australia, but in considering aspects of defence I do not think that cost is the final consideration. I am not advocating that money should be thrown away. I am merely pointing out that although it costs more to manufacture aircraft in Australia than to buy them overseas, it is an advantage for us to have trained personnel available here.
– There is also the question of obsolescence.
– Yes. There are many arguments both for and against. As I have said, there are two schools of thought on the subject; the experts themselves cannot agree about what is thebetter policy. It is an open problem.
I was also interested to hear Senator Toohey advocate the building of more shipsin Australia, and I hoped he would enlarge on that subject. For instance, what sort of ships does he consider should be constructed? Should we construct large or small ships? As we know, the form of naval warfare is changing. These days, the emphasis seems to be on submarines and anti-submarine vessels. The Air Force isconcerned very considerably in the latest developments. As Senator Toohey has said, all these things require money. From timeto time, honorable senators opposite have criticized this Government’s expenditure of about £200,000,000 a year over the last eight years on defence. If we begin to doall the things that are claimed to be necessary for the defence of Australia we shall be lucky indeed to keep the cost within that yearly appropriation. Many, many things are desirable. It is necessary for us tocut our coat according to our cloth.
I listened attentively to the speech of theLeader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) earlier to-day. In the main, the speech constituted an attack on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for nor publishing the report furnished by the Morshead committee. The honorable senator said - and in this he was supported by those who sit behind him - that it is absolutely essential that the report be tabled. I should like to read it; I admit that I have not seen it.
– You are not allowed to see it.
– It is not a matter of that. Although I am acquainted with most - probably all - of the contents of the report, I have not actually seen it. I should just like to say to honorable senators opposite that it might not be in the interests of the nation to publish the report. This Government may have made mistakes and the Morshead report may have pointed out those mistakes to the Government. I cannot believe for one minute that the welfare of the people of Australia will be served by the publication of the report. In time of war - and we are at war, although it may be a cold war - it is not wise to make one’s mistakes known to the enemy. One tries to deceive the enemy into thinking one is far stronger than he actually is.
The refusal to publish the report has a precedent. The Labour party when in office did exactly the same thing. Committees were appointed but their reports were not published. When all is said and done, this committee consisted of only one person who is not a public servant and the report was really a public service report. 1 accept the Prime Minister’s reasons for not publishing it. in view of the changing circumstances and conditions of the present time, the Government is to be commended on the appointment of the committee, and the courage it showed in saying, “We want to know so-and-so. We want your opinion on that matter. Can you give us any advice? Can you help us? “ We admit we are only a typical, average Government such as I am sure the Opposition would be if it were in office. No doubt we have made mistakes, as did the Opposition, but we appointed a committee to tell us where we went wrong. We have received a great deal of criticism from the Opposition but not constructive advice.
– But the Government did not accept the advice of the committee.
– One is not compelled to accept the advice of a committee simply because a committee is appointed.
– Whose advice is the Government accepting now?
– Although we have not adopted all the recommendations of the committee, we have adopted a number of them.
– Honorable senators do not know that.
– The Prime Minister gave us that information in his speech.
– He would tell us anything.
– Quite rightly, as our political opponent, the Opposition casts all sorts of aspersions on the statement of the Prime Minister and criticizes any action taken by the Government, but there is no reason why every recommendaiton in the report should be adopted.
What was the object of the Morshead committee? It was to report on any reform considered necessary in our defence machinery as a whole. That is my opinion of the object of the committee. 1 do not think the committee was in a position to report on anything else. As to the composition of the committee, only one member was a well-known fighting serviceman, Morshead himself, a very distinguished and capable soldier but one who has been on the retired list for some considerable time. With all due respect, 1 feel he is not as up to date at the present time as he might be because when one has retired he cannot be as up to date as a modern serving soldier who has behind him all the figures, facts and intelligence service available.
– But the Prime Minister has never been in the services.
– He has the benefit of the advice of the experts.
– But he will not accept that advice.
– I shall come to that point later. Apart from General Morshead, the committee comprised several civil servants who had really no experience of modern warfare conditions but were men of administrative ability. My understanding is that the committee was required to report on the reform, if necessary, of our defence machinery as a whole. The committee recommended, amongst other things, the abolition of the existing service Ministers and their replacement by two associate Ministers. Does the composition of the committee make it unfit to report on that matter? I submit the Prime Minister and his Cabinet are in a far better position to decide such a matter than are members of a committee who have no parliamentary experience and can report only on broad lines.
A certain amount of doubt seems to exist as to whether it would be constitutional to adopt the recommendations of the committee as to the appointment of associate Ministers. That is a matter of opinion. The Prime Minister in his speech said that he did not think such appointments would be constitutional. On the other hand, Dr. Evatt, the Leader of the Opposition in another place, naturally said he thought they would be constitutional. Why should he not make suggestions and criticisms?
On the face of it, perhaps three service Ministers, plus a Minister for Defence, do not seem to have a full-time job when one considers the size of our forces. To have four Ministers controlling those forces appears excessive to me as a layman, a back-bencher who has never been a member of Cabinet and is never likely to be. I should have thought three Ministers could have carried between them the fourth portfolio instead of the Postmaster-General carrying the additional portfolio of Minister for the Navy.
On the other hand, against my own argument is this very important fact, that one does not know when an emergency may arise. If an emergency does arise, it will do so suddenly without warning at all. If that should happen, it would be a tremendous advantage to have three Ministers fully established and au fait with the position, ready to carry on the job of expanding the three services, which would be extremely necessary in time of war. Perhaps there is more in the position than appears on the surface, especially bearing in mind the present world conditions and the situation of Australia in regard to South-East Asia which, as every one must appreciate, is like a powder keg.
I think the Government has achieved a certain amount and will achieve more in carrying out the recommendations of the committee which, first, defines with greater precision the powers and responsibilities of the Minister for Defence. That in itself is quite an advance. Indeed, a great advance has been made because, according to Senator McKenna, there is nothing but disorder and chaos with no organization at all under the present set-up. That is rather a. broad statement because I do not think the duties of the Minister for Defence at the present time are different, to any degree, from what they were when Senator McKenna was in office.
The second recommendation of the committee that has been carried out is the appointment of a chairman of the Chief of
Staffs Committee. That position exists in Great Britain, Canada and the United States of America, and Australia has fallen into line with those countries. I think that is a most important step.
Senator Toohey said there was undoubtedly great competition and rivalry between the three services, Navy, Army and Air Force, for funds and materials to enable them to carry out their armament programme.
– Such rivalry does no harm.
– It does harm to this extent, that each fights for his own service, very often to the detriment of the other two services. Suppose £X,000,000 to be available. If the Chief-of-Staff of the Army got three-quarters of that, there would be only one-quarter left for the other two services, and it might be in the national interest that the greater proportion should go to the Navy, or to the Air Force. I think it is good that this senior exserviceman has been appointed to the position of chairman. Of course, he will have to forget any leaning he might have towards his former arm of the services, but the knowledge he has gained in that arm of the services will enable him to adjudicate fairly as to what proportion each branch should get.
– But the Morshead report will have covered that.
– I am merely pointing out what the Government has done and what it proposes to do. The next step we take is to combine the Department of Defence Production with the Department of Supply. Both departments are to be the responsibility of the Minister for Defence. In my opinion, this amalgamation is necessary, for the functions of the two departments are so interwoven that they should never be separated. So far, the Morshead report has been responsible for a great deal, and I am confident it will be responsible for achieving much more in the future.
The last matter to which I wish to refer is the integration of the services. I was pleased to hear Senator McKenna say he favoured that because I, too, favour it to a large extent.
– To what extent?
– I shall come to that in a moment. I was pleased to hear Senator McKenna enlarge on that subject, because up to date the Labour party has been full of criticism but bereft of constructive ideas. The Leader of the Opposition did submit something constructive to-day, and that, together with Senator Toohey’s remarks, indicates a change for the better. I hope the Labour party will continue to pursue that policy and that it will not change its attitude after the next election.
I think that integration of the forces in Australia is highly desirable because, judged by world standards, our forces are extremely small. We like to believe that we are doing our bit. We are doing something, but whether we are doing all that we should be doing is a matter of opinion. I should like to see more done in Australia. We are not spending anything like the amounts that are being spent on defence in England and America. Our forces are so small that I feel that in whatever theatre of war they operate overseas, they should be an integrated force. In other words, I suggest that we should not send overseas, say, a brigade without sending the air force equivalent with it. In World Wars I. and II., Australia was very insistent upon having her forces fight as a national force, and if any emergency arises again, I am quite sure that the next commanderinchief will be faced with the same difficulty. Modern warfare calls for integrated forces. During the last war, there was no battle or campaign conducted without integrated forces. In other words, at the present time the Army would not fight without the Air Force. It would if enemy action had resulted in the defeat of the Air Force, but then, of course, it is probable that the Army would be defeated also. I cannot visualize anything but an integrated force leaving Australia’s shores in future. There is not the slightest doubt that many eminent authorities have the same opinion. I was very interested to hear Senator McKenna read certain remarks by Field Marshal Montgomery. I have many extracts from Field Marshal Montgomery’s speech which I intend to read, but, as Senator McKenna has quoted them, I shall mention only one or two to which I do not think he made reference. For instance, Field Marshal Montgomery said -
All the great nations to-day have three services, air, land and sea. This separate existence of the three services results in every nation in waste of money, waste of manpower and waste of time.
We have been accused by the Opposition of wasting all three. According to Field Marshal Montgomery, these things have been wasted ever since we have had an army, a navy and an air force, and I agree that waste has taken place in these three directions irrespective of whether the government be Liberal or Labour. Field Marshal Montgomery went on to say -
The impact of scientific progress makes it essential that we shall be able and ready to adapt ourselves to change, but the present organization of military forces is capable of adaption to changes neither quickly nor economically nor efficiently.
I emphasize the words, “ neither quickly nor economically nor efficiently “.
Senator McKenna urged the Government to make an immediate change. In my humble opinion, it is not possible to do so; it cannot be done quickly, but this Government has taken the initial steps towards preparation for the integration of the services later. It is not possible to change the whole three services overnight. We can readily appreciate the loss of morale that there would be if, to-morrow, we put our three services into the one uniform. Our gains certainly would not outweigh our losses. Field Marshal Montgomery also said -
It seems to me ridiculous to go on in this way. Obviously we cannot to-day go over to one service.
It is interesting to know that he said that. He said -
Obviously we cannot to-day go over to one service, but we might well introduce such a close integration between the three services that the final step could be taken without confusion if it was ever decided it was necessary.
In my humble opinion, that is what we are doing now, and the Government is deserving of every praise for doing it.
What is the general defence position today? I think we are better prepared to-day than we have ever been in our history during peace-time, and that is saying a great deal. I am quite sure of that in my own mind. It is extremely hard for members of the Opposition and for backbenchers on the Government side to criticize the Government’s defence policy constructively because we are no longer up to date, we are not experts.
– You have an expert Minister. That is all you want.
– I am merely pointing out that honorable senators cannot hope to possess up-to-date information on these matters and, therefore, must trust those who possess it. The Government is advised by its own experts and by those of the United Kingdom and other great democracies, such as the United States of America. We may sometimes feel that the Government is acting foolishly, but we are rarely in a position to judge. I admit that 1 sometimes feel that the Government is acting wrongly. On such occasions we all are at liberty to get up and say so, but I am always hesitant about criticizing the Government because one simply does not know the full story. Sometimes such knowledge alters one’s outlook completely. The Government has done a very good job in the defence field, and I feel sure that the changes which have followed the Morshead report will be a first step towards an integrated, more efficient, and economical, defence force for this country.
– At the outset, I should like to say that we are much indebted to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) for his clear demonstration to us, and to anyone who may read “ Hansard “, that the defence of this country is not a party, but a national, matter. We are grateful for a speech obviously preceded by careful study of the defence position of the Commonwealth. I listened intently to Senator McCallum also. He pointed out that though, during the first world war the opinions and strategy of eminent generals had been proved wrong, the opinions of laymen - civilians in peacetime - had been proved very sound indeed.
– I did not refer to strategy.
– I do not know whether that happened or not, because during the first world war I was not in a position to know who was deciding where I was going. Nor do I know who sent our troops, during the early stages of World
War II., to various places. The honorable senator also said that there was some controversy over which kind of invasion was likely to prove most dangerous for this country, and suggested that at the moment it was invasion by air. In future our greatest danger might come from submarines. We ask the Government to tell us whether it has any similar opinions, and what it intends to do to defend Australia against a possible invasion by air, or by submarine, lt has not done that so far.
We may be excused for not readily accepting statements by the Prime Minister that, so far as our defence is concerned, all is well. We remember similar statements in 1939. He told us then that, taking into account our numbers, we were as well prepared to defend ourselves as was any other country. When war broke out we found that the defence cupboard, like Mother Hubbard’s, was bare. We were rebuked for our criticism of the defence’ arrangements in those days, but within twelve months of the outbreak of World War II. were called upon to govern this country.
– Was it not two years after the outbreak of war?
– Some time after the outbreak of World War II. we were called upon to take up the reins of office. The people of Australia had not been told that our defences were at the lowest possible ebb. They know it now.
– They were not.
– One does not have to read the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, listen to the wireless, or see television, to know what happened. We have the evidence of soldiers who have since returned from the various theatres of war. They have told us that they were sent unarmed to the desert to meet the most highly mechanized army that the world has known. The same thing happened in the islands. Senator Mattner cannot deny that.
– It is not true.
– I challenge the Minister to get up in this chamber and deny it. We were all told that Singapore was impregnable - the best defence that this country could have. The Japanese simply walked through Singapore and the rest of the islands, meeting very little opposition indeed. We all know the tragedy of those days. We say, quite frankly, that the defence of this country is not a party political matter, but if a third World War came, the Australian Labour party might well be called upon to carry this nation through, as it did in 1914-18 and 1942-45. This is a “fair weather “ government, which is able to carry on very well while it is enjoying the spoils of peace. However, in a crisis, or when there is real planning to bs done, it is not equal to the task.
Turning now to the defence statement itself, I remind honorable senators that they are the representatives of the people, who will be called upon to find the wherewithal to defend this country in any future crisis. Despite this, the Government has admitted that it appointed a committee, under the chairmanship of one of our most outstanding soldiers, General Morshead, to inquire into the defence set-up in this country. Why did the Government wait until 1957 to disclose that our defences were not as sound as we all had hoped and believed. The Australian Labour party has been called a “ scare “ party simply because it has told the people that unemployment is growing. But let us remember that the Prime Minister of this country told the Parliament and the people in 1951 that we had to prepare for a third world war. He said that within, at the limit, three years, we should be plunged into a world war again. I thank God that on that occasion, as all through his political career, he was wrong. We have not been unfortunate enough to have another war forced upon us yet. I know that the Prime Minister did not believe what he said then and made that statement for political purposes only, to scare the people, but if he did believe what he said, why did he allow the state of affairs existing in regard to defence to go on until 1957? It was not until 1957 that he appointed this committee under the chairmanship of General Morshead, with very competent public servants as members. That committee has made its recommendations. If the Government is not prepared to give heed to the advice it has received from’ the committee, from whom is it going to obtain advice?
Surely it has not obtained advice from Herr Krupp, who has just returned to Germany. Surely it is not he who is responsible for the Government’s refusal to accept General Morshead’s proposals. Surely the Government has not decided to reorganize our defences on German lines. It may be that Petrov has given the Government information about the Russian defence techniques and that we are to adopt them for the defence of this country. We do not know those things, because the Government is not prepared to tell us on whose advice it will reorganize our defences.
The Prime Minister, in his statement, said that the Government was going to form a committee under the chairmanship of another top-line military man. That may be the right or the wrong thing to do, but the fact is that after the Government has been in office for nine years and has spent £1,500,000,000 on defence, the Prime Minister admits that Australia is no more prepared for war than it was in 1939. We have an army without soldiers, a navy without ships and an air force without aircraft. The position is identical with what it was in 1939 when war was declared. The Australian Labour party has never been an alarmist party. We have always believed that everything possible should be done to maintain peace, but, at the same time, we realize that while other nations maintain armaments programmes, Australia must spend a certain amount of money on defence.
In 1937 the late John Curtin, who was then the Leader of the Opposition, made his policy speech from Western Australia. He had written the speech as he sat in his Cottesloe home, overlooking the ocean. In that speech he told the people that, if there were a war, the only way to defend Australia would be by a big air force. The present Prime Minister and a number of his colleagues who support him in this chamber laughed at that statement in the policy speech of John Curtin. They said, “ What does John Curtin know about defence? “ To-day Senator McCallum told us that generals are not the people from whom we should obtain advice on defence strategy. He said that the layman, the civilian, is the man who should tell us how the army could best be used in the defence of the nation. Members of the Liberal and Country parties in the Senate and in another place are telling the Prime Minister and those people who are wasting millions of pounds of the Australian taxpayers’ money that something should be done. Mr. Bostock, the honorable member for Indi, a trained man and an air vice-marshal, has told us that we must have a larger air arm. Similar advice has been given by other experts, but, in the same way as the warning sounded in 1937 by Mr. Curtin was disregarded, their advice to-day is not being heeded.
It would be very nice if the Prime Minister were to tell the people that Australia is in a sound defence position. There is nothing wrong in telling the world what defences you have. There would be nothing wrong in announcing that we had 50 battleships, 500 of the best top-line aircraft and an army second to none, if we had them, but the position to-day, according to a miserable statement made by the Prime Minister and half-read in this chamber, is that, despite the experience and the lessons of the past, we are only now setting about building up the three branches of our armed forces. 1 thank God that it is to be done now, and has not been delayed until 1960. It is a national calamity that the people of Australia, after £1,500,000,000 of their money has been spent on defence, cannot be told truthfully that there is something to show for that huge expenditure.
The Government has tried all sorts of schemes, but who have been its advisers I do not know. It tried the national service training scheme. To a degree, there was nothing wrong with national service training. In many ways it was quite all right, but I think it failed because the trainee had no incentive to do anything. He had, so to speak, to try to be a jockey with no horse to ride. He was prepared to do an important job, but he was taken to a camp where he idled away his time and was taught nothing. The Government has admitted that the national service training scheme has failed completely. If the mothers and fathers of our youths believed that they had some equity in the country, they would urge their sons to go into the army, like their fathers, uncles and grandfathers did. They would tell them that it was their duty to volunteer to defend the way of life that we have enjoyed over the years. Then the strength of the armed forces would very soon be built-up.
I suppose the most important thing for defence is to have a contented nation. We have spent £1,500,000,000 on defence in the last nine years, but thousands of soldiers who fought to defend this country still cannot get a home. That is not their fault; it is due to mismanagement by this Government. The Labour party has been criticized for not building enough homes when it was in power from 1945 to 1949. It built as many homes as it was practically possible to build. In the depression years many brick kiln workers, timber workers, iron workers and tradesmen in other industries had no jobs to do. At the cessation of hostilities it was not just a matter of putting a man back into the job he left when he went into the armed forces; it was a matter of re-organizing the industries of Australia.
In 1942, John Curtin said that as sure as night followed day, peace must follow World War II. Therefore, he added, we must work 100 per cent, for the prosecution of the war and also set up a planning committee to ensure that the country gave full employment and decent conditions to those people who were defending it without having enjoyed such conditions before. He also said that anything that was physically possible should definitely be financially possible. And that was proved to be so during the war years.
Let me get back to the point that I wanted to make. If this Government had accepted the advice of Opposition senators and had used for the purpose of building homes for the diggers who fought for this country some of the money that it has squandered on its alleged defence programme, those men and their wives would not now be forced to live in single rooms and have no hope of raising a family. Let us recall the words of those who waved their flags and said to these men, “ Good boys. Go and fight for this country and we will give you some equity when you return!” Those men still have not homes in which to live, but this Government squanders money and pays to the rich armaments manufacturers millions of pounds that might just as well be thrown into the sea. The Government should have proceeded with a real building programme and should have adopted the policy that was laid down by John Curtin and also by John Cain of Victoria.
This Government has neglected our roads, which are of great importance to the defence of this country. It has no money for roads, because money has to be squandered on the people who make millions of pounds out of the manufacture of armaments. Moreover, our waterways are silting up. It is argued that these are State matters. But defence matters are Commonwealth matters. Our rivers are a national and not a State responsibility, and there should be no limit to the moneys that should be made available to ensure that the siltation of our rivers is stopped immediately. This country is blessed with natural waterways which other countries have to build. I say categorically that the best line of defence that any country can have is constituted by giving the people decent homes and a realization that they have an equity in the country.
I now refer to the subjects of shipbuilding and aircraft production. Australia needs millions more migrants, but it is necessary to plan in order to bring migrants here. We say that it is necessary to build more ships and more aircraft and to sei our essential industries on a proper footing. That can be done only by increasing our population. But we cannot increase our population sufficiently by following this Government’s immigration programme. I was at Brooklyn recently and was asked to address a meeting of immigrants in the holding camp; but I was told, under instructions from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), that I was not allowed to enter the camp. He knew, of course, the conditions that existed there, and he did not want any one to see them. It should be part of our defence programme to bring tradesmen to this country and to place them in essential industries such as the shipbuilding, aircraft production and primary industries.
Honorable senators opposite have said that Australia, with a population of 10,000,000 people, cannot be expected to have a defence organization that is capable of defending its vast coastline. We all know that, and we all realize what the Americans did during the last war to help us .to defend Australia; but we are obliged to do our share if we are to look to them to help us in the future as they did in the past. We must do something practical to show them that at least we are sincere in trying to defend this country.
The nation’s defence arrangements should not be kept secret. What is wrong with the world knowing that we have a certain number of ships, a certain number of up-to-date aircraft, a well-trained and contented army, and people living in homes that belong to them?
I refer now to Manus Island. At last, this Government, as it does on all such matters, agrees with the policy that was adopted by the Chifley Government - that Manus Island should be staffed with only a token defence force. In this nuclear age, Manus Island is useless as a defence base, and this Government has allowed the size of the garrison there to run down. The Navy detachment on the island consists of 155 personnel, including 72 natives. There are 127 Army personnel on the island, including 120 natives, and the size of the Air Force contingent is 67 personnel. This Government now realizes that Labour’s policy was correct. Labour believed that the interests of the people of Australia as a whole, and not the interests of one section, were of paramount importance. If the government of the day had thought that Manus Island should have been used for some other purpose, I venture to suggest that it would have done the same as it did in regard to the other arms of defence between 1941 and 1945.
The Senate cannot be reminded too often - indeed, it must be reminded more often than the number of times this Government trots out the old red horse - that in 1940 the people of Australia gave to the present Prime Minister and the present Treasurer a majority in both Houses of Parliament at Canberra but that Menzies and Fadden were traitors to the people of Australia and let Australia down in the greatest crisis that the Commonwealth has ever faced. A similar situation could arise again. We do not trust the Prime Minister. Nobody trusts the Prime Minister. We say that, if he is trying to pull the political wool over our eyes on the question of defence as he pulled the wool over the eyes of the people in 1939, he should be exposed. The Labour party will do everything possible in its power to expose the present situation in regard to our defence forces after the extravagant expenditure of £1,500,000,000 over a period of nine years.
– This debate gives to the Senate an opportunity to discuss matters of defence which are vital to every person in Australia. I am afraid that I have been provoked by the usual untruthful remarks of Senator Hendrickson. His attack on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) in his closing remarks, when he called them traitors, was the most dastardly thing that I have ever known in public life. When a man makes statements such as that, he should substantiate them. I throw the lie back into his teeth and challenge him to name one thing that either the Right Honorable Robert Gordon Menzies or Sir Arthur Fadden has done to warrant such a slur and charge. I thought that this debate would proceed along conventional lines and that every speaker would be well aware of the importance of the subject matter and would endeavour to contribute something to the improvement of our defence organization. I did not expect to have to listen to untruthful remarks, such as those made by Senator Hendrickson.
Let us consider the question of defence in 1939. Surely Senator Hendrickson knows that Australia had trained divisions in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. Surely he knows that the presence of those divisions preserved the Suez Canal for the Allies. Does he not know about the gallant exploits of the Australian forces in Egypt, or has he forgotten them? We have heard a cowardly attack from a man who once said, “ Let no man go out of this country to defend it “.
– Who told the honorable senator that?
– That is what his party said. The Labour party said, “We will send no man out of Australia to defend it “. Let me remind the honorable senator of something else. He has spoken about sending people away from Australia unarmed. Did not the government of which he was a supporter send the Militia to New Guinea, in January, 1942, unarmed? Did not it send 7,000 militia boys - infantrymen -with only 5,000 rifles?
– Three months after we had taken office!
– This was in 1942. The troops to whom I am referring landed in New Guinea on 1st January, 1942. Did not his party send artillerymen equipped with twelve antiquated 1 8-pounders and four 4.5 howitzers to defend this country? Did not the Labour Government, when it was challenged on the matter and it was stated in this House that the guns were unsuitable, nine months afterwards call for a report and then attempt to prove that the guns had been calibrated and the errors corrected? Senator Hendrickson did not say a word about the sending of old, dilapidated guns to New Guinea. I am not blaming honorable senators opposite for that. These are the facts that I am giving. The equipment that was sent with the militia boys to New Guinea at that time was absolutely unsuitable.
– Which government was responsible for that?
– Your government was. You were in power. Do not forget that you came to office in October, 1941. (Senator Hendrickson interjecting) -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood). - Order!
– The honorable senator cannot take it. He should not forget that the greatest disasters that ever befell Australian troops occurred while the Government that he supported was in power. He cannot have it both ways. If he wants the credit for some things, he must also accept the blame for others. I ask the honorable senator opposite to stay in the chamber. If he does, I will give him a few more truths. However, the fact is that he runs away from the truth, as he ran away from it in 1939 and afterwards.
The Prime Minister of this country comes from a family that gave sons to the war effort, and for an honorable senator in this place to accuse him of being a traitor to Australia is the lowest thing I have heard in my life. Let me remind Senator Hendrickson that the Right Honorable Robert Gordon Menzies and his Government established every defence production factory in this country. They made all the plans. When the Labour government came to office in 1941, it acquired all the factories that had been established by the previous government. I have challenged the Opposition repeatedly to tell me of one defence production factory that the Labour government built, or that was not already on the stocks when it came to office. Of course, honorable senators opposite have not been able to do so, because they know very well that Labour did nothing in this respect.
On the question of defence as it affects Australia, I think there are at least four headings under which we should deal with this subject. First, I think that our defence position is conditioned by the attitude of the United Nations. I believe that all of us in this chamber agree that the United Nations is, and will continue to be, our greatest defence against aggression. In my opinion, the United Nations is the best means of preserving peace and eliminating war that we have in the world to-day. The second point with which I want to deal concerns Great Britain and America and, to a large extent, the attitude of the Russians and Chinese to world affairs, both at the present time and in the future. It is true that, from September to December of last year, the United Nations discussed at great length the question of disarmament. However, all hope of reaching a successful conclusion vanished. I ask: Was that because Russia had launched two successful earth satellites in October and November? The launching of those satellites was one of the greatest achievements that the world has ever seen. My mind could not conceive of the possibility of such a thing, yet the Russians have achieved it.
– So have the Americans.
– I shall deal with that aspect in a moment or two.
The United Nations discussed the question of disarmament under four or five headings. The first concerned the immediate suspension of all nuclear tests, under effective international control. I think we all agree that that would be desirable, if it were possible. The second was concerned with the cessation of production of fissionable material for weapons purposes; the third, the reduction, under international supervision, of nuclear weapons; and the fourth, the reduction of conventional armed forces and armaments. It was said that there should be ground and aerial inspection to guard against surprise attack. Lastly, the United Nations discussed disarmament in relation to the joint study of an inspection system of objects travelling through outer space. No doubt all honorable senators will agree that those headings represented excellent starting points from which to deal with the subject of disarmament.
As honorable senators are aware, some peculiar situations exist in the world to-day. For instance, the British territory of Gibraltar has been claimed by Spain. Aden has been claimed by the Yemen. The Falkland Islands have been claimed by the Argentine, Chile and Guatemala respectively. Indonesia has claimed West New Guinea. Morocco has claimed the French territory of Mauretania, Ifni and the Spanish Sahara. Algeria, as honorable senators know, has been the subject of anxious discussion, as has Tunisia. In fact, the Tunisia question has caused the fall of the most recent French Government. 1 ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - It will be recalled that I stated in this chamber on 19th March that the Literature Censorship Board was reviewing the present list of works treated as prohibited imports and thai the revised list would be published in the Commonwealth “ Gazette “ for public information. The review has now been completed and I have approved the board’s recommendation as to the books which should be retained on the list. The number of books on the revised list is 178. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the list in “ Hansard “. The works set out in the list are works which, having been considered by the Literature Censorship Board, are treated by the Department of Customs and Excise as prohibited imports under item 7 in the firs* schedule to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. Tt should be noted that the list does not include all the works treated as prohibited imports under the item mentioned. Moreover, the list is not an authoritative determination of the works that are, or are not, prohibited imports under Item 7, and is subject to any decision of a court whether a particular work is or is not a prohibited import. The list is as follows: -
Adult’s story, An: by Robert Desmond.
Alcoholic woman, The: case studies in the psychodynamics of alcoholism: by Benjamin Karpman.
Alcoves princieres et episcopales; ou, Les faiblesses d’une jolie femme: by Marie-Louise Laurent-Tailhade.
AllmachteWeib: erotische Typologie der Frau.
Series of 5 vols. comprising Das Uppige Weib; Das grausame Weib; Das Weib als Sklavin; Das lusterne Weib; Das Feile Weib.
Almanach de seduction.
Amorous adventures of a gentleman of quality, The: by Fernand Kolney.
Amorous adventures of a lady of quality, The: by Marie-Louise Laurent-Tailhade.
Amorous exploits of a young rakehell: by Guillaume Apollinaire.
Ananga-Ranga: See Hindu art of love.
Andrews’ harvest: by John Evans.
Art d’amour, L’: by Dr. Verdier. See Ecole de l’amour.
Art des caresses, L’: by Francois-Charles.
Au poiss’d’or Hotel Meuble: by Alec Scouffi.
Autobiography of a flea, The: [anon.].
Bagatelles de la porte, Les: by Baronne d’Orehamps.
Bedroom companion, The; or, A cold night’s entertainment.
Black spring: by Henry Miller.
Butterfield 8: by John O’Hara.
Caresses; ou, Les memoires intimes de Jacqueline de R.
Casanova: ed. by Hermann Kesten.
Casanova. Funf Episoden: 10 Originallithographien: by Joseph Verheyen.
Casonova, Les plus belles nuits d’amour: selected by Fernand Kolney.
Castle of the whip, The: by Don Brennus Alera.
Chairs ardentes: by Flora [pseud.].
Chinese room, The: by Vivian Connell.
City and the pillar, The: by Gore Vidal.
City of women: by Nancy Morgan.
Clotilde et quelques autres: by Jean Claqueret.
Confessions de J.-J. Bouchard, Les.
Courtesans, princesses lesbians: collected by Marie-Louise Laurent-Tailhade.
Crossways of sex: by Dr. Jacobus X . .
Damned lover, The: by Roswell Williams.
Debacle con mis primos, La: [anon.].
Decameron. See Ten tales from the Decameron.
Dialogues of Luisa Sigea . . . literally tr. from the Latin of Nicholas Chorier.
Dialogues of . . . Pietro Aretino. See Ragionamenti.
Diana: by Diana Fredericks.
Divided path, The: by Nial Kent.
Dresseuses d’hommes: dialogues intimes: by Florence Fulbert.
Eastern love: . . English versions of the Kuttanimatam of Damoclaragupta and Samayamatrika of Kshmendra by E. Powys Mathers.
Ecole de l’amour, L’; L’art d’amour; L’art de seduireles femmes: by Dr. Verdier.
Edmonde Suduite: by P. de la Batut.
Enthullte Geheimnisse der Liebe und Erotik: by Rolf Verthen.
Erotikens historia i Europa: by Paul Englisch.
Erotische Liebesperlen: by Amar Amarus.
Esclava de la Lujuria: [anon.].
Ethik der Nackheit: by Fernand Douger.
Etreintres perverses: by Flora, [pseud.].
Ex husband; [anon.].
Faits et gestes du Vicomte de Nantel, Les: by Crebillon Le Fils.
Fallen angels: by Hendrik de Leeuw.
Fascinating tyrant, A; by Jean Saddler.
Feil Weib, Das. See Allmacht Weib.
Felicien Rops:l’art et la vie: pref. de Pierre Mac Or lan: essai critique de Jean Dubray.
Fiebre de lujuria: [anon.].
Frigging countess, The: by E.A.R.
Future Mister Dolan, The: by Charles Gorham.
Gay year, The: by Michael de Forrest.
Genussleben des modernen Menschen, Das. See
Kultur und Sittengeschichte. Geschichte der erotischen Kunst: by Edward Fuchs.
Geschichte der Kunst: by Edward Fuchs.
Geschlechtsleben und Erotik in der Gesellschaft der Gagenwart. See Kultur und Sittengeschichte.
Ginger man, The: by J. P. Donleavy.
Give us this night: by Ruth Lyons.
Gloria: by George Sylvester Viereck.
Golden lotus, The: a tr. from the Chinese original, of the novel Chin P’ing Mei, by Clement Egerton.
Good-bye, hell! by Eve Ellin.
Grain of sand, A: by John Cromwell.
Grausame Weib, Das. See Allmacht Weib.
Guignol’s band: by Louis Ferdinand Celine.
Guy from Coney Island, The: by Jack Hanley.
Helen and desire: by Frances Lengel.
Here’s to crime: by Courtney Ryley Cooper.
Hindu art of love, The: by Edward Windsor.
Hindu art of love, The … or, AnangaRanga: tr. from the Sanskrit of Kalyana Malla and annotated by A.F.F. & B.F.R.
Hotel wife: by Ruth Lyons.
I peccati di Peyton Place: by Grace Metalious. (Italian tr. of Peyton Place, American ed.)
I will spit in gour graues [!]: [anon.].
Ile de la misere, L’; by Jean de la Beuque.
Impostura religiosa, L’: by Sebastien Faure.
In den Tiefen von Paris: by Maryse Choisy. (German tr. of Un moise, chez les filles).
Interne, The: by Wallace Thurman and A. L. Furman.
Invisible glass, The: by Loren Wahl.
Invitation to the dance ed., adapted and tr. by Walter J. Meusal.
It’s first practice told by a set of joyous students: [anon.]. Cover-title The secret stories.
Jardin parfume, Le: du Cheiph Nefzaoui: manuel d’erotologie Arabe. See also Perfumed garden.
Justine: or, The misfortunes of virtue: by Marquis de Sade.
Kaeufliche Liebe bei den Kulturvoelkern, Die. See Kultur und Sittengeschichte.
Kama-Sutra of Vatsyayana: the Hindu art of love.
Kamasutram: das indische Lehrbuch der Liebe: ed: by Dr. Willy Feyerabend.
Kultur und Sittengeschichte: der Neuesten Zeit: by Curt Moreck. Series comprises the following volumes: Geschlechtsleben und Erotik in der Gesellschaft der Gegenwart. - Die kaeufliche Lieb bei den Kulturvoelkern. - Das Genussleben des modernen Menschen.
Kunst erotischer Lustvollendung, Die: by Dr. Eugen Seiler.
Lady Chatterley’s lover: by D. H. Lawrence. (Excluding the expurgated editions of this publication published by the following: Martin Seeker, Ltd., London, William Heinemann Ltd. London, Penguin Books, Inc., N.Y., Ward Hill Books, N.Y.)
Lady - don’t turn over: by Darcy Glinto.
Limerick, The: 1700 examples with notes, variants, and index.
Lives of fair and gallant ladies: by Seigneur de Brantome.
Loins of Amon, The: by Marcus Van Heller.
Love and safety: [anon.].
Love orchid, The: by Eric Wenleyside.
Lulu: by Felicien Champsaur.
Lusterne Weib, Das: by Dr. Erik Hoyer. See Allmachte Weib.
Luxures: by Maurice Dekobra.
Manatee, The: by Nancy Bruff.
Mariage charnel, Le: les proies de Venus: by Nicolas Segur.
Mariage en pyjama: by Pierre Zenda.
Marquis de Sade: the man and his age: by Dr. Ivan Bloch.
Mary Magdalen Smith: by Henry Rosendahl.
Max and the white phagocytes: by Henry Miller.
Maybe - tomorrow: by Jay Little.
Memoires d’une demi-vierge, Les: by MarieLouise Laurent-Tailhade.
Memoires of a woman of pleasure: by John Cleland.
Memoirs of Cardinal Dubois: (the merry tales and amorous adventures of Dubois): tr. by Ernest Dowson.
Memoirs of Fanny Hill: by John Cleland.
Messaline: by Nonce Casonova.
Mint, The: by T. E. Lawrence. (Unexpurgated limited ed.)
Miss: souvenirs d’un pensionnat de correction: by Sadie Blackeyes, [pseud.].
Modern slaves: by Claire Willows.
My life: by Frank Harris.
My life and loves: by Frank Harris.
My life is my own: by Jules-Jean Morac.
Naughty Hilda: by JamesCanewell, [pseud.].
New immorality, The: by Isaac Goldberg.
Oevre des conteurs anglais, L’: 1 pte, Le Venus indienne: by Captain Devereux.
Old man young again, The: . literally tr. from the Arabic by an English “ Bohemian “. (Half title: The return of the old man.) 120 days of Sodom, The: by D. A. F. de Sade.
Orgie latine, L’: by Felicien Champsaur.
Passionate nights, The: by B. A. De M . . . Perfumed garden, The: tr. from the Arabic of the Shaykh Nafzawi. See also Jardin Parfume.
Peyton Place: by Grace Metalious. (Excluding the English ed. published by Frederick Muller, Ltd., London.) See also I peccati di Peyton Place.
Pleasure thieves, The: by Harriett Daimler and Henry Crannach.
Pleasures and follies of a good-natured libertine: by Restif de La Bretonne.
Plus belles nuits d’amour de Casanova, Les. See Casanova.
Poetica erotica: ed. by T. R. Smith.
Porte de l’ane, La: lithographies originates: [anon.].
Poupee japonaise: by Felicien Champsaur.
Pour lire au lit: [anon.].
Presented in leather: by Claire Willows.
Princess courtisanes (lesbiennes): by MarieLouise Laurent-Tailhade.
Prison nurse: by Louis Berg.
Return of the old man to the condition of the strenght of youthtide . . . See Old man young again.
Road floozie: by Darcy Glinto.
Roman orgy: by Marcus van Heller.
Rosy crucifixion, The: by Henry Miller.
Satan conduit le Bal … by GeorgesAnquetil.
Satyre sotadique de Luisa Sigea: by Nicolas Chorier.
Scented garden, The: anthropology of the sex life in the Levant: by Bernhard Stern.
School life in Paris: [anon.].
Secret diaries of Eva Braun: [anon.].
Secret stories, The. See It’s first practice . . .
Secret’s d’alcove: by Marie-Louise LaurentTailhade.
Semeur d’amour, Le; by Felicien Champsaur.
Serail, Le: by Louis-Charles Royer.
Sexual life of Robinson Crusoe, The: by Humphrey Richardson.
She done him wrong (Diamond Lil): by Mae West.
Silken sin: by CountessHelene Magriska.
Simple tale of Suzan Aked: [anon.].
Sitte und Sunde: eine Sittengeschichte im Querschnitt: by Ernst Schertel.
Sittengeschichte des I timsten, ed. by Leo Schidrowitz.
Sittengeschichte des Weltkrieges; by Magnus Hirschfeld.
Spanking diary of Rose Evans The: [anon.].
Sports mistress, The: by P. Manpierre.
Stays and gloves: by Lord Kidrodstock [pseud.].
Strange death of Adolf Hitler, The: [anon.].
Strap returns, The: new notes on flagellation: [anon.].
Surprises des sens, Les; by Gaston Picard.
Tale of satisfied desire, A: by Pierre Angeligue.
Ten tales from the Decameron: by Boccaccio: illus. by Edmonds Lucchesi.
Themidor: by Godard d’Aucourt.
Three passionate lovers: by Rene Roques.
Titanen der Erotik: ed. by Max Bauer.
To beg I am ashamed: by Sheila Cousens.
Too near the sun: by Gordon Forbes.
Tropic of Cancer; by Henry Miller.
Tropic of Capricorn: by Henry Miller.
Tu seras courtisane: by Maurice Dekobra.
Twelve Chinks and a woman: by James Hadley Chase. 23 Women: by Robert Neumann.
Twilight men: by Andre Tellier.
Twisted clay: by Frank Walford.
Un-licensed nurse: by Carl Sturdy.
Un nois ches les filles: by Maryse Choisy.
Uppige Weib, Das: by Dr. F. L. Wanger and O. F. Scheuer. See Allmachte Weib.
Venus indienne: by Captain Devereux. See Oeuvre des conteurs anglais.
Vertige: by Georges Anquetil.
Watcher and the watched: by Thomas Peachum.
Weib als Sklavin, Das; by Dr. Joachim Welzl. See Allmachte Weib.
Whip angels, The: [anon.].
White thighs: by Frances Lengel.
Woman’s doctor, The: [anon.].
Women and monks: by Josef Kallinikov.
The list will be published in the “ Gazette “ as soon as possible. Any future additions to or deletions from the list will also be notified in the “ Gazette “. I wish to emphasize that the list covers only those publications which are deemed by the Literature Censorship Board to be of a literary character and therefore of special public interest.
– Yes. There are, of course, many other publications which are considered to come within the scope of the existing prohibitions on objectionable literature. These include the purely pornographic literature, the so-called photo art publications of nude or semi-nude male and female figures, magazines, periodicals and literaure of the “ pulp “ variety, in which the emphasis is on sex, crime, horror or brutality. Publications of the types mentioned have not been reviewed by the Literature Censorship Board, the view of the board being that it should be asked to deal only with books of literary merit. 1 mention this to make it quite clear that the list being released for public information must not be regarded as embracing all publications treated as prohibited imports.
There are certain other publications which over the years have been treated as prohibited imports. However, copies of these publications, of which there are more than 100, are not now available. As regards these publications, I have directed that in the event of importation taking place, they will be submitted for review as to whether they should be still treated as prohibited imports. I have also agreed to a recommendation made by the Literature Censorship Board that the list should be reviewed at intervals not longer than every five years.
At this timeI should like to express my appreciation of the fine public service rendered by the board in its carrying out of the current review. Honorable senators will realize the magnitude of such a task. To enable its early completion, some members of the board gave up a large part of their long university vacation. In conclusion, J point out that whilst in the administration of the law the publications included in the list are treated as prohibited imports, the final determination as to whether any particular work is or is not a prohibited import, is one for a court.
Silting suspended from 5.34 to 8 p.m.
– I move-
It is now some six months since I first placed this motion on the notice-paper. In that time I am very pleased to say there has been a tremendous amountof activity in tourism. Hardly a week goes by that we do not read in the press of some quite spectacular advancement of people from overseas making suggestions as to what can be done here on similar lines to what has been done in other countries. Not very long ago the various States announced quite elaborate plans for the development of tourism. In Victoria the Minister for Transport, who is in charge of tourist activities, is about to set up a tourist development advisory committee. In Queensland £250,000 will be spent encouraging tourism. The Minister in charge of tourist activities in New South Wales on his recent return from abroad voiced the opinion that a great deal more money must be spent abroad on advertising Australia. I emphasize that he used the word “ Australia “ and not “ New South Wales “.
I have taken particular care in my efforts to work out the fields of inquiry that could be explored by a select committee. Perhaps the committee could persuade the Commonwealth Government to take a more active part to augment the efforts of the States to the advantage of us all. It is not my intention to interfere in any way with the work that the States are doing in this matter. It is more than gratifying to find that they are taking an active part, and I hope they will recognize that any action of the Commonwealth Government will be of advantage to the States and the individuals of Australia.
If we in the Senate are required to debate whether a certain amount of money should be allotted for tourism in direct or indirect ways when the Budget is presented each year, then we should be informed of where, and how, the money is to be spent. For several years past this subject has been debated in this chamber, but I am sure most of us have no knowledge of how the money is being spent. Honorable senators should inform themselves on this matter and be in a position to take an active part in debates concerning it.
An inter-departmental committee has been making inquiries into this subject of tourism and I believe a report was recently submitted to the Government. I do not know whether the report is in the hands of the Cabinet, but I hope that it will be treated as a matter pf urgency and that any any suggestion of the committee to advance tourism in Australia will be adopted. In suggesting that a Senate committee should be set up, it is not my intention that the committee should necessarily investigate the same matters as the inter-departmental committee investigated, although the Senate committee may come to the conclusion that still more money should be allotted by the Commonwealth to the tourist industry. If the Commonwealth saw fit to appoint an inter-departmental committee to investigate the industry, surely it is appropriate for the Senate to inform itself on what the industry can mean to Australia.
Undoubtedly, tourism is a flourishing industry in many countries throughout the world. When it is realized that £848,000,000 was spent abroad by tourists from the United States of America, not very much imagination is needed to see the potential of this enormous industry and what a great advantage it would be to any country to attract tourists to its shores. The figure I have quoted indicates that tourism is big business, not a frivolous or marginal industry. I understand that in the United States of America tourism is the third largest industry in the nation.
– And it is the second largest industry in Great Britain.
– I do not doubt that at all. I believe that in some other countries it may even be the largest industry. Tourism in Australia must be built up to a greater extent. There is an increasing leisure market which the Americans have set out to capture. That market is their primary target. Americans, as well as Australians, have increasing leisure in which to indulge in tourism. Honorable senators may wonder why I say that. The reason is that the prime age group for travel in both countries is increasing; there is a greater disposable income, a great deal more leisure time, longer vacations, long-service leave, earlier retirements and, above all, increasing passenger accommodation on means of travel.
I shall enlarge on the matter of travel accommodation because it is of vital interest to Australia. By 1960 passenger ship accommodation in the Pacific area will have increased at least 70 per cent, on the figure in 1 956. The number of berths available will have increased from 1,000 to 1,700. Of ten new ships scheduled for the Pacific liner trade, two will be able to accommodate 365 passengers and one will have a capacity of 1,950 passengers. Liners of 45,000 tons on the United Kingdom and United States of America runs will carry more passengers than the “ Queen Mary “ does to-day. Modern air transport has reduced, and will continue to reduce the time taken to span the Pacific. Six of the principal trans-Pacific airline companies have increased the number of their regular air flights from 126 a week in 1956 to 160 this year, and jet airliners in 1959 will Stil further reduce by 50 per cent, the time taken to travel to Australia. San Francisco will be fifteen hours’ flying time from Sydney, and propeller-driven airliners carrying a maximum load of 70 passengers will be replaced with jet airliners with a capacity of up to 144 passengers. Higher speeds will mean faster turn-rounds and an increased number of trips per airliner. The introduction of third-class international air travel will open up Australian skies to a new type of traveller.
All this points to a travel boom. We should be ready to receive the increased number of visitors when they are ready to come. The fact that we can accommodate a greater number of tourists was evidenced by the way in which we handled visitors to the Olympic Games. Australia would suffer a tremendous disappointment if it lost the advantage obtained at that time.
The European Travel Commission has been actively promoting tourism for the last ten years in all parts of the world, and in 1955 tourists from the United States of America alone added 487,000,000 dollars to the European economy, and an amount of 320,000,000 dollars was paid to the carrier companies. Those are the last available figures I could obtain. The European Travel Commission has been given credit for nearly doubling the off-season tourist traffic in the last seven years. If others can do it, so can we.
Last year, 1,500,000 American tourists spent 1,900,000,000 dollars, or £848,000,000, outside America. It is rather disappointing to find that only 17 per cent, of that amount was spent in the Pacific area, and two-thirds of that 17 per cent, was spent in Hawaii simply because that country is very conscious of the advantages associated with tourism. It is also significant that last year £22,000,000 was spent by Australians touring the world while only £6,000,000 was brought into the country by visitors. Tourists bring overseas money to this country, which assists our overseas balance of payments position. That is a matter of vital importance to Australia. Tourists also bring economic gain to many national industries, and to governments. It is essential that governments, business communities and the general public recognize the significance of tourism in respect of helping our overseas balance of payments position and benefiting business activity.
It has been estimated in the United Kingdom that for every £1 spent by an overseas visitor the average distribution rate is 9s. 6d. to hotels, catering and restaurants, 4s. to inland transport, 4s. to shopping and 2s. 6d. to entertainment and miscellaneous expenditure. In addition, the considerable purchases of supplies and equipment by the tourists range from farm products to the greater use of public utilities.
Further, governments gain handsomely from the tourist traffic. It is estimated that in 1955 the revenue gained in the United Kingdom from taxes paid by tourists on such items as cigarettes, tobacco, drinks, entertainment, petrol and so on exceeded £5,000,000, and I believe that the figure is even higher now. The total amount spent by tourists in the United Kingdom in 1955 was £156,000,000. Last year I believe it was £180,000,000. I submit that those figures should be sufficient to convince us that tourism is of great importance and that its promotion can do a great deal to assist the national economy. This industry offers a big challenge to Australia now: lt is urgent. The age of jet airliners and the new, faster and more luxurious passenger ships is almost at our doorstep. Not only must we actively campaign on our own behalf, but we should even more actively and enthusiastically join with the Pacific Air Travel Association to promote the entire Pacific area as Australia’s holiday area. This work has been started already. Last year we joined with the New Zealand Government in launching a campaign entitled, “ Come to the Pacific “. The Australian Government donated 7,500 dollars to the Australian National Travel Association to assist in that campaign. That is not such a great deal to contribute towards the promotion of such an enormous area, and I urge .the Government to see whether it is possible to recommend further payments.
The Pacific area is undoubtedly an area of contrast, of overwhelming variety, of incredibly rich and diverse cultures, customs and art forms. It is a world which can delight the eye and the mind with its treasure islands and coral seas, and where nature provides ideal weather for 52 weeks of the year. By joining with other Pacific countries in a campaign to advertise this area, Australia must gain.
As I said before, it is extremely gratifying to find that, the States are moving in this direction, but I still say that the Commonwealth has a great responsibility to help the States. We must sell Australia abroad as Australia. It is all very well for the individual States to endeavour to sell the attractions they have. It is all very well for them to endeavour to sell Queensland, or Victoria, or New South Wales. But one has only to go abroad to realize that the people overseas do not understand where these States are. They certainly do know that Australia exists. If we could all pull together, if the National Parliament would take the responsibility of selling Australia overseas, this country would benefit greatly, because there can be no doubt that every visitor we attract to this country will eventually move into one or other of the States. The States can then take over and gain will come to them. It is confusing to people overseas to hear of all the States. T plead with honorable senators to help me and others who are so keen to see Australia move forward in this field. I plead with them to help us in persuading the State authorities that, far from trying to override them, we are trying to augment their efforts.
I mentioned the Australian National Travel Association. That is an association to which the Commonwealth Government is contributing £75.000 this year. I believe that we shall have to increase that amount considerably, perhaps even to £1,000,000.
– How much is it this year?
– The last Budget provided for £50,000, plus an extra £25,000 for advertising by the Australian National Travel Association of the Pacific area.
If we are to begin to move into this field, it is obvious that we must contact the directors of Commonwealth departments, a great many of whom have a direct interest in tourism. We must also co-operate with the directors of the various State tourist bureaux. We need also to hear from the board of the Australian National Travel Association the views of that association about, this field. We need to find out just what hotel, motel and other accommodation providers can suggest the Commonwealth should do to assist them. Although I realize that the hotel business is a function of the States, I do suggest that in this direction we have a field in which the
Commonwealth can do much. I shall enlarge upon that directly. We need to see what can be done to increase the production of films and television shorts for sending abroad to advertise the country. We may need to interview such organizations as the d’rive-yourself companies, the managers of air, sea and transport companies, tourist agents and, above all, we need to be able to correspond with foreign governments to find out what they are doing to attract tourists to their countries.
I have tried to bring the case for the establishment of this investigation committee under five main headings. The first is an investigation of the activities of the Australian National Travel Association. We must make it a national body; we must give it authority to speak abroad with a national voice. If the Commonwealth Government is to increase its grant to that association, we must know how the money is spent. Perhaps we can help in persuading the Government to increase the grant. We may even be able to recommend that there should be a representative of the Senate on the Australian National Travel Association. Personally, I think that would be of great advantage.
The second field of inquiry would be to examine tourism in other countries, through research arid correspondence, in order to find out what is being done there. Thirdly, we should interview hotel owners and managers, not from any desire to interfere with the functions of the States but in order to obtain suggestions from them as to what the Commonwealth should do to increase the incentive to overseas people to invest money in the building of hotels. We should seek suggestions as to what the Commonwealth should do by way of granting tax concessions or providing depreciation allowances on buildings and in other ways to encourage people to invest in hotels and to keep them up to date and attractive.
The fourth field of investigation should be means of facilitating entry and exit formalities. I shall enlarge upon those in a moment. The fifth effort should be in the direction of promoting tourism in our own territories. When moving the motion, I suggested that there should be seven senators on this committee. I suggest that number with a view to having on the committee at least one senator from each State so that the committee may at all times cooperate with the State authorities, having in mind the fact that the States are moving so actively in this field.
I mentioned the Australian National Travel Association, lt may be of interest to honorable senators to know just what this association is, so I propose to give a brief outline of what it is and what it is endeavouring to do. The association was established in 1929 with the support of the Commonwealth Government. It has always had an honorary board. Originally, it was a board of six. This year, it has been increased to a board of twenty which includes representatives of five of the six State tourist organizations. Unfortunately, the tourist organization of New South Wales has not yet agreed to join that board. To me, that is a tragedy because the association will not be truly national until it contains a representative from every State. Until last year it received £15,000 from the Government. This was augmented by whatever amount the members of the association were prepared to pay. In 1955-56, the contribution from the travel trade was £11,000. Profits from the association’s publications totalled £7,000. The contribution of the Commonwealth Government has now risen to £50,000 and, as I have indicated, has been increased in other ways to £75,000. The association contains representatives from almost every State government as well as from banking interests, chambers of commerce and manufacture, the Australian Automobile Association, road tourist services, shipping interests, railways, pastoralists, Qantas Empire Airways Limited and hotel mangement. An attempt has been made to obtain a wide representation of all interests in the tourist trade.
It would be of advantage if the association could accept bookings abroad. Let me take the example of America - a country from which we hope to attract most of our tourists. Such bookings could be channelled to the States. That is why it is important that each State should send a representative to the association. I repeat, it would merely augment State activities. If all these things are to be done, a larger staff and more offices must be provided. At present the association has only one office - that in San Francisco. Before the war it had offices in San Francisco, Bombay,
London and Wellington, maintaining them on a Commonwealth Government grant of £20,000. Despite the tremendous fall in the value of money the grant remained at £15,000. It is obvious that a larger grant is necessary if more offices are to be opened and tourism promoted. It might also be advisable to provide more imposing offices in New South Wales and Victoria. I found them most unimposing and difficult for tourists to find. For that reason, they cannot do the job that they are trying to do.
In the course of investigating the activities of the Australian National Travel Association we could look at the methods of publicizing this country, including those employed at Australia House. We would need to see whether the News and Information Bureau was duplicating work done by the association. At present the association is producing an Australian handbook. It is an excellent publication but its photographic reproductions are not in colour. I believe that if we are to attract tourists we must show them attractive coloured photography which will display, more realistically, the beauty of this country. The association also produces, each month, a magazine called “ Walkabout “. Given sufficient funds, this excellent publication could be sent abroad. It would do spendid work in helping to advertise Australia. Recently, the association has begun producing the “ Australian Travel News “, a 4-page pamphlet which is very good indeed. Already it is being circulated in 35 countries.
Another matter that I should like investigated is the identification of historic landmarks. This may not be altogether practicable, but one cannot help noticing in other countries that any village one passes through contains obvious directions to landmarks; one never has difficulty in finding them. In Australia, one could pass through villages and cities and never come upon the few significant and historical landmarks that do exist. I should like to see our landmarks identified much more clearly.
– What about those at Canberra?
– This is a territory of the Commonwealth, and we could very well start here. The States may feel that, by inquiring into the matter, we were infringing their rights, but we could certainly show the way by better identifying historic landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory.
I repeat, films and television are very important advertising media. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the films that we have sent overseas have not stressed sufficiently our scenic and other attractions. We are inclined to send abroad films portraying aborigines, deserts and kangaroos. People always seem to know that they are to be found in Australia, but do people overseas also see evidence of the magnificent scenery that can be found in Australia; our game and river fishing; our fascinating and unusual animals; our sporting facilities, which are second to none; or our snowfields, which are bigger than those in Switzerland? We do not advertise these things sufficiently. In Australia one may surf all the year round. I have been told by surfers - I am not a surfer myself - that our beaches are superior to those of Honolulu. Every one in the world knows what Honolulu has to offer, but few people know what Australia has to offer. One frequently reads in the press articles on Australia by American and other visitors. I should like to read a statement by an American who was here recently. It is as follows: -
A tourist is a person who has heard about the people, the place, the thing. He wishes to see them himself.
But before he can have the wish he must have heard. Not once, not twice: but over and over, again and again.
From end to end, from top to bottom of magnificent Australia, there are enough phases of Australian life to stir the most phlegmatic imagination, to capture and convert the most antagonistic interest.
It follows that Australia’s “ tourist problem “ - if it is a problem - has a simple solution. To get tourists here, step up the telling of Australia’s story. If it’s U.S. tourists you want, tell it big, tall, loud - and keep at it.
Last year the Pacific Area Travel Association held a conference, which I attended, in Canberra. Representatives of every country bordering the Pacific were present. It was a most impressive conference, and from it flowed a recommendation that Australia should join in this Pacific area advertising campaign. It is very gratifying to see that that has now begun to happen. We are advertising in American magazines and are sending posters abroad. This is already having very satisfactory results. The Australian National Travel Association has produced its first booklet on Australian hotels. It is a step in the right direction, and something for which I would certainly commend the association. However, the hotels mentioned are not graded. There are one or two indications that hotels are first-class, and that is all.
– Are the tariffs given?
– That would be a type of grading.
– To a certain extent, that is true. However, the British Travel and Holiday Association produces a booklet which gives a grading, tariffs and information on what to see in the various places where the hotels are to be found. There is tremendous effort on the part of hotel keepers in England to retain a fourstar, or top, grading. A similar incentive is needed in this country.
I should like very briefly to mention some of the work that is being done in other countries. The British Travel and Holiday Association is almost the exact counterpart of the Australian National Travel Association. It is being subsidized by the British Government to the tune of £1,000,000 per annum. Only the other day I read an article by its director stating that last year, in return for that expenditure, the Government had earned £180,000,000 from the tourist trade. The figures I have for New Zealand are little more than a year old. The New Zealand Government subsidizes the travel industry directly to the tune of £300,000 and, in addition, has guaranteed to subsidize, to the extent of £2,000,000 over five years, the extension of hotel accommodation. In South Africa, the Government subsidizes the industry to the tune of £256,000. Little Hawaii subsidizes its tourist industry to the extent of £166,000. lt is impossible at this stage to give a comprehensive description of what is being done in tourist countries abroad, but I will mention two examples from which we can well learn. In Jamaica, where the tourist attractions are confined to a strip between 80 and 90 miles long, the hotels are tax free for the first five years and can import American equipment duty free. In 1956, over a period of eight weeks the Jamaican hotels reaped a benefit of £5,000,000 from tourism. Japan is moving very actively in this field, lt has set up a ministry of tourism and has undertaken to improve roads and accommodation. It has also simplified entry and exit procedures and has granted discounts on group fares. It grants tax exemptions to certain governmentregulated hotels and also grants a commodity tax exemption on certain goods and souvenirs which are bought in the country.
Hotel accommodation is my next point. It is interesting to note that to-day travellers are spending between two and three times longer m hotels than they did pre-war. For example, during a pre-war sea cruise which occupied 120 days, 90 days were spent on board ship and only 30 days in hotels. To-day, during an 80-day cruise by air round the world a traveller spends 26 days in hotels. It is quite obvious that we have to look at hotel accommodation and find out how we can encourage people to do more to improve the present accommodation and build more up-to-date hotels. I am not suggesting that Australia is not doing this. The developments in the hotel industry are most exciting. Very rapidly, I shall give a few instances of how this industry is going ahead. On the Queensland gold coast, of course, the development is quite fabulous. Many new luxury hotels, motels, swimming pools, restaurants and shops nave been built in this area.
– And unemployment created too.
– The tourist industry is creating a great deal of employment there. If people wish to take their holidays on the gold coast of Queensland and spend money there, that is of great advantage to Queensland. The people there are to be commended for the way in which they have developed the area. The Lennons organization has built a magnificent hotel on the gold coast, has improved its hotel in Brisbane and has started to build another one at Toowoomba.
– That hotel has been completed.
– The Chevron hotel group is building an enormous new hotel on the Gold Coast, which will cost £1,000,000. On the Barrier Reef there is to be a new hotel on one of the islands on the Whitsunday group. Fifteen new hotels are to be built in New South Wales in the very near future. The motels which have been built are most comfortable and are a tremendous help to the industry. In many cases, I would prefer to stay in a motel. It is interesting to find that the first water motel, containing 48 bedrooms, is to be built at the Eildon Weir.
It is important that we should pay a little more attention to bathroom or shower accommodation attached to bedrooms. That is one of the things which the American tourist requires. He does not ask for a luxury hotel, but he does ask for that luxury at any rate. Adelaide has taken one step forward in this regard. The Grosvenor Hotel has recently extended its accommodation by the provision of 170 rooms which have either bathrooms or showers. It has frequently been said that South Australia is backward as far as the tourist industry is concerned, but it is improving. Some smaller suburban hotels in South Australia have also provided attached bathroom accommodation. A luxury hotel is mooted for North Adelaide. It is interesting to hear that the Hilton group is proposing to come to Australia. Some people *nay ask why it is necessary to bring that organization here to manage our hotels, but it will bring in approximately 40 trained people to commence the management of its hotels and at the same time will train our own people to take over from those who are brought in. The coming of the Hilton group would, I think, be of great advantage to Australia, and we should encourage it to establish itself in Australia. A new hotel is mooted for Essendon and another for Mount Buller. A new alpine hotel at Mount Kosciusko will make provision for 300 guests.
– Have you mentioned a new £5,000,000 hotel for Melbourne?
– I have that down on my list. A tremendous lot is being done but it is still not enough to encourage the number of tourists that we need to bring to Australia. There are far too many hotels in existence to-day which do not provide the bathroom accommodation of which I am speaking. It is not luxury accommodation that is required, but reasonable comfort.
A recent survey disclosed that of 1,686 available rooms in first-class hotels in Sydney, only 410 had bathrooms attached. In Melbourne, of 2,037 available rooms only 485 had bathrooms. In Brisbane, 765 rooms were available but only 236 had bathrooms attached. I am afraid the figures for Adelaide are not very good. Of 515 available rooms, only 98 had bathrooms attached. Fortunately the position has improved since the survey was taken. In Perth, 292 rooms were found to be available, but only 141 had bathrooms. In Tasmania, 261 rooms were available, 92 of which had bathrooms attached .
Another field which I think should be given some attention is the provision of youth hostels. Abroad, they provide magnificent accommodation for young people or others who cannot afford to stay in firstclass or even second-class hotels. They can stay at youth hostels, where they are extremely well housed. I should like to see some development on these lines here in Australia. I do not know whether this committee could do much about it, but it might be able to.
I stress that hotels should be listed as well as graded. We would need to create an Australian standard if we graded our hotels. New South Wales has done something along these lines recently. It has graded its hotels, and is to be commended for that. But if we are to continue with grading hotels, we shall need one grading authority to watch hotels and see that standards are constantly maintained.
– Who is responsible for grading the hotels in the States at present?
– The Minister has me tricked; I do not know. Before leaving this subject, let me say that luxury is not necessary, but that attached bathrooms, reasonable comfort and service are, I stress the need for service, becauseI think that is another field in which the Commonwealth could take an interest, by way of a publicity campaign to educate our people to demand better service in their hotels. I refuse to believe that the waiters or other people serving in hotels are not willing to give the best service if it is asked for, but if we do not ask for it we will not get it. It is interesting to read a report that was made on 40 country hotels, which provide, perhaps, the worst examples of this lack of service. The report states -
If you are young or old, male or female, weak or strong, it is the same. You have to stagger up the stairs with your impedimenta. Nobody offers to help.
I have stayed at 40 of these hotels in the last twelve months. Some were much better than others, but the absence of service to guests was a constant factor.
In only three of them, so far as I know, a porter was available to show guests to their rooms.
In discussing these hotels, the word “ good “ is used relatively, and the word “ bad “ with heartfelt conviction.
Bearing this in mind, I would describe nine of the 40 hotels I stayed at as “ good “, 11 as “ fair “, and the remaining 20 as “ bad “.
To start from the bottom, this is what you are likely to find in the bedroom of a “ bad “ hotel: -
Thin bed-sheets of doubtful cleanliness.
Torn linoleum on the floor, supplemented by a shabby mat.
Grubby, spotted kalsomined walls and possibly a stained ceiling as well.
Furniture comprising wardrobecumdressingtable of the cheapest kind, with the varnish rubbed off in patches, a rickety chair, and a bed either too hard or too soft.
Awash-basinwedged in a corner between the dressing table and a wall, so tightly that shaving becomes a feat of contortion.
A solitary electric globe of feeble power, with a small, white glass shade, hanging disconsolately from the middle of the ceiling.
Your hotel’s other amenities are made to match. The guests’ lounge, if there is one, is furnished in horrifying taste, a feature being the funeral lighting which makes it almost impossible either to read or write.
Bad lighting, in fact, is one of the most solemn hardships of hotel life.
I have visited a good many country hotels, and I am afraid that that statement presents an accurate picture of what exists.
In addition, in many hotels our splendid Australian wines are served at the wrong temperature or in the wrong glasses. I have discovered, when I have taken the interest to say, “ I would like this wine served colder, Would you take it back and make it cooler “, that new Australian waiters, at any rate, are delighted that one takes such interest and will give the service. But it is necessary for us to ask for that service. Again I say that we must educate our own people to ask for it if we are to attract people who take such service for granted. If Americans come here, they expect to have iced water available. But frequently in first-class hotels 1 have seen Americans experience the greatest difficulty in getting a mere glass of iced water.
One might ask, “ How can the Commonwealth do much to raise these standards? “ There is one field in which perhaps the Commonwealth could take an active interest, and that is by encouraging Trans-Australia Airlines to acquire hotels in some of the less populous places. Qantas Empire Airways Limited owns some, so I see no reason why T.A.A. should not be encouraged to open hotels in areas where perhaps private enterprise does not find it convenient to do so.
The fourth item I mentioned was government facilitation of entry and exit permits. 1 do not know whether many honorable senators have tried to leave this country and return to it, but those who have will join me in saying that they have experienced the utmost exasperation in filling in forms. It is interesting to note that recently 21 European countries have done away with all visitors’ vises. If they can do so, I do not see why we cannot make the completion of such forms easier. I realize that Australia is receiving immigrants and that we must take greater precautions than otherwise would be the case, but surely we could do away with some of these irritations. I believe that recently France agreed to admit all Australians without vises, but we are not granting the same facilities to people who come here from Europe.
Let me indicate very quickly to the Senate some of the forms that one is required to fill in before he either leaves or enters this country. It is necessary to comply with vise requirements, including extra photographs, to complete exchange control forms, a declaration of money carried and baggage declaration, to get a taxation clearance and a police clearance, a disembarkation card, proof of transportation, an address in Australia card, alien registration, health certificate, and information for the statistician. They are some of the forms that it is necessary to complete, and I daresay there are others. But repeatedly those forms seek the same information. To write out that information over and over again is, to say the least, exasperating. In addition, the system is very costly. A director of
Pan-American Airways told me that to maintain the passenger manifesto organization alone cost that company £600,000 a year. That expenditure doubtless is passed on in the form of fares to the tourist, so if we could reduce some of these requirements we would reduce not only the exasperation experienced but also fares to this country.
The fifth item to which 1 referred was the promotion of tourism in the Territories. I recently visited Darwin, and I have never experienced worse hotel conditions than exist in that place. Conditions were appalling. The building to which I refer was a beautiful building which could have had the facilities desired, but apparently no one was demanding a better standard and certainly there was nothing better offering. There is a great deal of room for improvement, not only in hotels but also in many other forms of tourist attraction in the Northern Territory. I see no reason why we could not establish a chain of stations where the people would be willing to accommodate tourists so that they might see some of our outback country. I feel sure that many tourists from overseas would like to be able to go to the cattle country of Australia.
The Territory of Papua and New Guinea constitutes another vast field for the promotion of tourism. Norfolk Island is another. I have been told by people who have been there that it is a delightful place at which to spend a holiday but that facilities are very poor. I recently read in the press a statement made in Buenos Aires to the effect that tourists who are tired of visiting the same old places can now take a trip to Antarctica. I believe that Australia has some territory there; let us ascertain whether we should extend tourist facilities to that area.
It seems that we could promote the sale of souvenirs of Australia at the airports of those territories. We should investigate the possibility of obtaining a better form of souvenir, because the souvenirs of Australia that I have seen are very second rate. I should also like to see at these airports restaurants that could serve the international tourist with typical Australian meals, including perhaps Australian oysters and crayfish.
– And scallops.
– Yes, scallops, and even roast lamb, which many people do not appreciate. The American has no idea of how palatable roast lamb is.
– What about kangaroo tails?
– And kangaroo tails, if you like! There are plenty of different Australian meals that could be served in such restaurants. May I also say, having visited certain tropical parts, that it is almost impossible to buy tropical fruit in those areas. There, too, is a way in which to advertise our own products.
The tourist industry stimulates trade, attracts migrants and promotes overseas investment. Moreover, it fosters international goodwill and understanding and 13 a potent diplomatic weapon as well as an economic one. I am confident that, if we can bring people here, we can send some of them away filled with enthusiasm for this country. Recently, Sir Norman Anderson, who is a director of the Orient company. Was in Australia. Some of his comments are worth quoting. He said -
What a wonderful chap the tourist is. Unlike so many important commodities, he pays his own freight, gets himself ashore as fast as the various formalities will allow. Having arrived, he proceeds to consume the products of both primary and secondary industries and thereby enables the country to avoid paying freight in order to have them exported to overseas markets. Why he is not always welcomed with flowers instead of interrogatory forms, and with beauty choruses doing their dances instead of stern officials doing their duty I cannot understand. Certainly the tourist increases our foreign exchange by purchasing our local goods and services.
The bulk of his consumption is intangible - scenery and services, the production of which depletes neither natural resources nor foreign exchange reserves. He brings himself to the industry and, having been sold the products, he leaves them with us to sell again and again.
I hope I have presented a picture which shows that this is a field in which the Commonwealth should be interested. I appeal to all honorable senators to vote on a non-party basis according to their feelings. If they feel that this is a field which the Commonwealth should enter, they might try to persuade the State authorities that we are suggesting that we should do everything in our power to augment their efforts. I am sure that the illustrations I have given would not give any one the feeling that we were interfering with the work of the States. I have great pleasure in commending this motion to honorable senators.
– I second the motion and reserve the right to speak to it at a later stage.
– I am about to have two very rare experiences. I am sure that Government supporters will enjoy sharing the first one with me even more than I shall enjoy it myself. That is, I am going to make a very brief speech. The second rare experience is that, at last, I have found something emanating from the Government side that I can support in this chamber. The pleasure of the occasion is increased by the fact that it should have emanated from one of the lady senators on the Government side. I was sorry to hear Senator Buttfield say that she hoped that this would be made a non-party matter, because I have summoned the whole of the forces of the Opposition in support of her motion, on a complete party basis. So I indicate to Senator Buttfield that the Opposition will be very pleased to support her motion.
My attention was directed to the problem that the honorable senator so eloquently expounded when I noted in a white paper some years ago the fact that we were attracting only £3,000,000 per annum from outside Australia by means of the tourist trade, and that we were expending some £26,000,000 per annum. That is a trend that it is desirable to reverse. Senator Buttfield’s motion, if adopted, will enable a very necessary overall survey of the whole field to be undertaken. I am sure that some good will come from it. I am glad that the honorable senator adverted to the Territories, in which we have a primary interest. She has made out so complete a case that I find myself speechless and can add nothing of consequence to support her. I confess to a moment of admiration, however, for the man whom she described as visiting 40 hotels and staggering up the steps of the last one. I thought that thai was really a noble performance. It seemed to me wonderful that he was able to stand and stagger after visiting 40 hotels.
– He would not be worrying about thin sheets.
– I should think not. Seriously, I think that the motion is a worthy one and that the proposals contained in it, if adopted, could serve a very useful purpose. For that reason, we have pleasure in supporting the honorable senator’s motion.
.- I dislike very much having to break a lance with such a charming colleague as Senator Buttfield, but nevertheless, I must express opposition to the motion which she has submitted, for reasons which I hope briefly to outline to the Senate. I must say, too, that I admire the enthusiasm and the earnestness of Senator Buttfield in this matter of the promotion of the tourist industry throughout Australia, with a view to attracting tourists from overseas countries. That is a most desirable thing, without doubt, and I am wholly behind the objective. But I think that the approach is not the correct one.
I think that no honorable senator will disagree when I say that the tourist trade is a special prerogative of the States. Control of that trade is a domestic power which has been exercised by the States since the beginning of responsible government in this country. It is a State function.
– Is the wool industry sacred to the States?
– I am not dealing with wool. I am dealing with the tourist trade of this country. I say that control of that trade is a domestic matter which has been operated by the States, and to my mind it is definitely out of bounds to any investigating Senate select committee.
– The honorable senator is not being State-rightist, is he?
– I am a State-rightist myself. I uphold the rights of the States. Moreover, Mr. President, this Senate is a House established under the Commonwealth Constitution for the protection of the States, to uphold legitimate State rights, and to resist any attempt by the Commonwealth authority to whittle down any of the powers which are reserved to the States.
– But does not the honorable senator agree that the more tourists we can bring into the States the more we will be helping them?
– I am all in favour of bringing the tourists in, but I think that the States are capable of discharging that function equally as well as is the Commonwealth. I do not see why we should be called upon to overlap the power of the States in this matter, or to deprive the States of their special powers in that connexion. I say that we are here as the guardians of the States. That is our special mission. That is the function of the Senate in terms of the Constitution, and I contend that to try to deprive the States of a special power which they exercise to-day would be to betray our proper function, and I do not propose to be a party to such an attempt.
The motion refers to the appointment of a select committee “ to inquire into and report upon tourist activities and facilities “. I suggest that a select committee of the Senate would require terrific nerve to enter a State for the express purpose of investigating and reporting on the work of a State department, under the control and direction of a State Minister of the Crown. I doubt whether any State Premier would appreciate the action of the Senate in sending a select committee to investigate work being discharged by officers appointed and paid by the government of the State concerned.
– It is not suggested that we should do that. The Australian National Travel Association would do it.
– The motion contains the words that I have stated, indicating that this proposed select committee of the Senate would be called upon to inquire into and report upon tourist activities and facilities. If the intention is to rely on the Australian National Travel Association, why appoint a select committee? Surely such a committee would be redundant. As I have said, this motion means that we should meddle with functions that reside in the States, and for that reason I oppose the motion.
I do not think that any of the State Premiers would welcome a select committee of the Senate coming in and, in effect, taking over and trying to investigate a State activity, work that had for years been undertaken by the various tourist bureaux and departments in the States. Since this motion was first placed on the business sheet of the Senate, I have been asked, by people in Queensland, particularly those interested in the tourist traffic, whether it represents the thin end of the wedge and will lead to a recommendation by such a committee to the Commonwealth Government regarding the appointment of an expensive commission for the purpose of centralizing the tourist industry and directing it from Canberra. Senator Buttfield said that she stood for selling Australia abroad. Who is going to do the selling? The States are doing it now. Who is going to take over from the States?
– I said that it should be done through the Australian National Travel Association.
– Then let the travel association be up and doing! Let it carry on its legitimate function. Why should we send an expensive select committee around the country - probably offending the State authorities - to discharge a job which Senator Buttfield says can properly be done by the Australian National Travel Association? I uphold that association. I believe it is doing a good job of work and that it should be encouraged and aided to the limit. I stand for that. I do not think a select committee of the Senate is needed to tell the association what to do or to make recommendations to it. The association knows the shot quite well. Leave the matter to it. The association can carry out its work in a good, orderly way without cost to the taxpayers of Australia.
This motion, no matter how well meant, involves a challenge to the States. It contains an implication that the States are not doing enough, or that what they are doing is being done badly. That is the plain effect of the motion. I shall show how my own State, Queensland, is tackling the job seriously. Excellent work is being done by the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau. A big task lies ahead of the bureau, but it is tackling the job. Queensland has much more than Honolulu and the Hawaiian islands to offer to the tourist.
– Then why are not Queensland’s tourist resorts more widely publicized?
– For the information of Senator Willesee I want to say that every time I go to Melbourne I am amazed at the number of tourist agencies all over the city displaying magnificent placards depicting the beauties of Queensland. These placards advertise not only Surfers Paradise and the gold coast generally, but also other resorts on the Queensland seaboard as. far north as Cairns and, in fact, the whole of the scenic region of Queensland. All the big tourist agencies in Melbourne - there are many in that city - have these splendid advertising placards boosting Queensland.
Furthermore, the branches of the Queensland Tourist Bureau in Sydney and elsewhere in Australia are doing good work in advertising the attractions of Queensland. As a result, there is a constant stream of tourists to north Queensland from all over Australia. The Queensland tourist industry is being developed to a greater extent than many people realize. During the tourist seasons I have met visitors from all the other States, who have travelled to Queensland to see the beauties of that State. Caravaners come to Queensland in hundreds, and the planes are full of tourists. At those periods of the year the hotel accommodation at tourist resorts is taxed to the utmost. The Queensland tourist industry is booming.
Recently, the Queensland Government sent a delegation, called the Queensland Overseas Promotion Delegation, to Honolulu and the United States of America. I think that it is at present in the United Kingdom. The leader of the delegation, the Hon. K. J. Morris, is the Deputy Premier of Queensland. The delegation visited Hawaii recently. According to an article by Mr. Leon Trout which appeared in the “ Sunday Mail “ recently, the tourist industry is worth £41,000,000 per annum to Hawaii. It is now the second largest industry in the Hawaiian Islands. That is a good lot of money flowing into such a small territory.
As Senator Buttfield has mentioned, within the next twelve months it is expected that jet aircraft will be able to carry American tourists from Honolulu to Australia in six hours’ flying time. American tourists who can afford to fly to Honolulu from the United States could easily afford to continue their flight to Australia. If our advertisements reflect pep and drive we can expect large numbers of Americans to come via Honolulu to visit our beauty spots. The Queensland Government has sent the delegation that I mentioned to investigate tourist possibilities, to make contacts, and to interview representative bodies overseas. It is now discharging that responsibility. I have no doubt that organizations will be established by the Queensland Government in the countries the delegation visits in order to further its work. At the moment, the delegation) is blazing the trail and opening up the furrow amongst people in those countries. In the article in the “ Sunday Mail “ of 1 3th April, to which I have referred, Mr. Trout stated -
Mr. Morris, the Deputy Premier of Queensland, has impressed his listeners wherever he has been with his unbounded enthusiasm and energy. He has spoken to hundreds of business men on the many attractions which Queensland can offer to tourists and investors.
Honorable senators will see that Queensland is alive to the importance of attracting tourists and investors alike from other States and other countries. That work is being done at the present time. This delegation is busy now bringing the tourist attractions of Queensland to the notice of a wide public in the United States and the United Kingdom. It will be seen, therefore, that we in Queensland are really alert to the opportunity available to exploit this great tide of tourists from many countries. By propaganda, correct advertising and special drives, overseas tourists can be induced to come to Australia.
I have in my hand a brochure issued by the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau, which shows that Queensland is a land of opportunity and sunshine and that it offers unlimited scope for industry and investment. The brochure is presented in colour and half-tones. It is a beautiful publication, which is being widely circulated in Australia and in the countries that the delegation is visiting. This brochure shows that the Queensland Government is alive to the tourist possibilities and that it is doing the best it can to cope with that situation. It is doing that as effectively as any centralized commission here in Canberra functioning on behalf of all the Australian States could do.
Queenslanders are tourist-conscious. A vast improvement has taken place in the Queensland tourist industry during the last few years. There has been a tremendous improvement in accommodation, not only in what are termed luxury hotels, but also in motels and accommodation nouses to suit the pocket of every person who comes to see our lovely State. Most of the hotels being erected on what is now officially called the gold coast, the south coast of Queensland, covering Surfer’s Paradise, Coolangatta and the intermediate seaside resorts, are most modern and in the highest world class. World travellers whom I have met who have stayed at some of those hotels - I shall not advertise any of them because they are run by different interests - have told me that any visitor to the south coast of Queensland will have a choice of some really beautiful hotels, modern, new and catering for the most discriminating tourists or world travellers. In addition, the middle-class hotels there have mostly been renovated, refurnished and given a new look generally. The result is that the south coast of Queensland is in a position to attract and cater for large numbers of tourists.
However, this improvement is also proceeding in all the scenic regions to the north of Brisbane. My colleague, Senator Wood, who is a great advocate of tourism in Queensland, can verify my statements. The traveller of the immediate future, therefore, will have a choice of very comfortable hotels in the various areas of Queensland, although such hotels are not stipulated as luxury establishments.
– Do the hotel rooms have private bathrooms?
– Yes, the hotels have suites and everything that the American businessman, to whom Senator Buttfield referred, requires. Queensland is progressing and hotels are being built. The accommodation is there and all that is required is the flow of tourists to fill those hotels. I am satisfied that the new Queensland Government, by the way it is tackling the job, will obtain those tourists.
Queensland provides the loveliest scenery in the Commonwealth, including that unique tourist attraction, the Great Barrier Reef; something that is famous all over the world. It is fitting, therefore, that the Queensland Government, blessed by nature with all that scenic beauty, should want to attract tourists from all over the world. The tourists, of course, will not remain in Queensland all the time. If they visit that State first they are bound to visit the southern regions. The task facing Queensland in tackling this problem is to induce tourists to come to Australia so that they might see something of it, and, at the same time, bring with them a fair measure of ready spending money. That is one of the main objects in the development of tourist agencies throughout the world to-day.
We do not need a select committee of the Senate to tell us how the tourist industry in Queensland should be developed. The Queensland Government, metaphorically speaking, has rolled up its sleeves and is tackling the job right now. I support, generally, everything that Senator Buttfield said favouring the expansion and development of the tourist industry, and assure her that Queensland is acting and not talking.
However, what we do need - and this applies to all States - is a substantially increased allocation of money from Commonwealth sources to help the tourist industry. The whole question revolves around money, hard cash to back up the States that are prepared to make an effort to attract tourists. If the Commonwealth possessed centralized control over the tourist business, it could not do the job any better than the Queensland Government. The States rely on the Commonwealth for tax reimbursements, and, naturally, they must look to the Commonwealth Government for an additional allocation of money to aid the tourist industry. If that assistance is forthcoming, it can be used in advertising and expanding our efforts throughout the world in an endeavour to encourage tourists to come to Queensland or any other part of Australia.
I congratulate Senator Buttfield on her very informative and interesting speech, but I must oppose the motion on the main principle that it involves interference by the Senate, the guardian of the States, ironically enough, in the domestic affairs of the States.
.- I congratulate Senator Buttfield, first, on having brought forward this matter of tourism, and secondly, upon the very effective and informative way in which she presented her case. With the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) I support the motion she has proposed. It is obvious that the unity evident on this side of the chamber is in marked contrast to the split which has developed in the ranks of the Government.
While tourism has been very strongly developed by other countries in the world, it is still comparatively undeveloped in Australia. We have six States competing against each other in an endeavour to induce people to visit their particular State. 1 should like to see - and 1 feel this is what the motion envisages to some extent - a proposal put forward by which people from overseas will be asked to visit Australia, and not individual States. The efforts of the six States in this regard are meeting with varying degrees of success. Senator Maher admitted that the States are facing one very serious difficulty - they do not possess sufficient money to develop the industry adequately. Obviously, the money must come from federal sources which will have to be convinced that the money can, and will be used to effect. What better method can be devised of presenting the case for the States than by means of an inquiry by a committee of this Senate?
Senator Maher suggested that the Senate would be usurping the rights of the States, but he has to admit that the Senate, in a strong sense, is a States house and it would be most appropriate that any inquiry into the responsibility of the Commonwealth in this matter should be instituted by a States house.
Education is a State matter and universities have been in State hands over the years. Yet when the question arose of providing additional money and endeavouring to plan a scheme which would afford more adequate university education, no objection was raised to the proposal that there should be an inquiry on the federal level. An indication of the fact that the tourist industry transcends State boundaries is to be seen in the large amount of money from Victoria which has been invested in the development of the gold coast of Queensland. In those circumstances honorable senators can see that tourism already is crossing State boundaries. That being the case, it is most appropriate that the subject should be dealt with at the federal level. There are three main avenues in which the tourist industry should be developed. First, we must advertise and attract people. Secondly, accommodation must be provided. Thirdly, transport must be provided to enable the tourists to get about the country to see all those attractions about which they have heard so much.
Other countries have been well aware for many years of the advantages to be derived from skilful advertising. Despite everything that has been said about the amount of advertising being done by voluntary bodies, there is no doubt that we are left well behind in advertising Australia as an area suitable for tourists to visit. You can visit other countries and see any number of highly decorative posters advertising the tourist attractions of places all over the world.
The amount of advertising that Australia has been able to do to date is as a drop in the ocean compared with what other countries are doing. While we should be particularly attractive to people in the northern hemisphere because we can present something entirely new to them, the fact remains that we are not receiving our fair proportion of the tourist traffic of the world to-day simply because our advertising is not as good as it should be.
Other countries which have gone into the question of advertising and seeking tourists in the proper way have profited considerably. I mention Great Britain as an illustration. In one ‘year within the present decade, she expected to welcome 560,000 visitors from overseas. The most numerous and most valued visitors were 130,000 Americans who, it was expected, would spend between 60,000,000 and 70,000,000 dollars. The amount of money that was being brought in by the American tourists alone was nearly .twice the 36,000,000 dollars which the British textile exporters to the United States would earn in -that one year. Tt is because of the obvious profit to be gained that other countries have gone into the tourist industry in a big way. They have gone into the questions of transport, accommodation, and .advertising, and have even gone so far as .to set up schools which include all phases of hotel administration in their curriculum, because they realize that to attract people they must be sure that those who come are .properly looked after. The result is that they have profited greatly.
This does not happen Only in the Old World. It is happening in the ‘New World because, by the skilful development of the tourist industry, %the great United States of
America, one of ‘the most highly industrialized countries, if not the most highly industrialized country in the World, has as its third biggest industry the tourist industry. That is a remarkable position. I wonder what relative rank it would occupy in the list of industries in this country?
In those circumstances, more must be done to present the attractions of this country to people overseas, and I say that it must be done on an Australia-wide basis. We have surely passed the stage where we can be satisfied with six different State authorities, all with insufficient money, competing to attract people to their .particular State rather than uniting in an effort to bring people to this country on the ground that it is Australia and not a collection of States.
– Could not that position be reached through the Australian National Travel Association?
– $ do not know whether that body could be developed to that stage, but, obviously, if it is an Australian National Travel Association, it is on a federal basis. <By suggesting that we should develop that particular body - and .that would be possible if the proposed -committee considered it a suitable body - then, to a big extent, Senator Maher defeats his own argument. If we are adequately to present the attractions of ‘this country in the face of the tremendous competition from other countries which are highly .organized -for the tourist trade, the need has obviously arisen for us to do something on a .federal basis.
I have dealt with the question of how we are to attract people. The next thing to consider is whether we are able to accommodate them satisfactorily, and -it is upon that point that I -have to -express some doubt. I do not believe that our standards .of accommodation for overseas visitors are high enough to attract them in face of the competition from other countries which have deliberately set themselves out to provide accommodation of the highest standards. I realize, as we all do, that there are in this country hotels which -would bear comparison with hotels anywhere in the world, but I also realize, as I am sure we all do, -that ;they are too few in number. In those circumstances, there is urgent need for inquiry into methods by which we can ensure that there will be hotels of world standard in this country.
The second matter we have to look at is training because, even if we have the hotels, we need staffs who will attend to people and provide for them the standards that they get overseas. There is all the difference in the world between the hotel attendant who has been trained in a properly set up school of hotel management and the man or woman who has just had to pick it up. Training improves every kind of worker, and we in Australia have given far too little attention to training in hotel management. Therefore, one thing we have to do is look at methods by which governments and even municipal bodies can assist in the provision of sufficient hotels of world standard. The second thing we have to look at is the training of staffs and the necessity to set up schools of hotel administration to provide the standards of service that would be expected by overseas visitors- ‘So there is a fruitful field for inquiry in the provision of hotels and the training of staff.
One question we ought to look at on an interstate basis relates to our liquor laws. Overseas visitors find great difficulty in appreciating the variation in liquor laws as between the States. That, at times, has a very irritating effect upon them. If we want to encourage tourists, we must send them away contented, and one thing that ought to be looked at is the possibility of co-ordinating those laws and making them reasonable in the eyes of people who come here from overseas.
We have a fruitful field for inquiry in the matter of accommodation. When speaking of accommodation I refer not only to hotels but to all other forms of accommodation. For instance, I think the spread of motels in this country is a good thing. I also approve very strongly of the reference by Senator Buttfield to youth hostels. Young people who have been abroad are able to appreciate the encouragement that is .given to tourism by youth hostels, which provide accommodation for young people getting about. The accommodation is of a reasonable standard and the rates are in keeping with their purses.
The third thing that we have to look at is the transportation of visitors from overseas. There are three main methods of transportation - the airways, the railways and the roads. The airways are more than satisfactory, but -the railways and the roads are unsatisfactory. How are we to improve our railways, which are considerably run down in most States as a result of shortage of funds. The position can be remedied only by going to the federal body, but that body must have something to look at in coming to a decision. It could be provided by an inquiry such as is suggested.
By overseas standards, our roads would seem most unattractive to any visitor. Indeed, those who brought their own cars to this country would be horrified at the conditions that they experienced off the main interstate highways. As honorable senators know, even some of these highways are in an unsatisfactory condition. I have no doubt that a committee, after looking at all those problems, could produce valuable recommendations based, -not upon the interests of a single State, but upon the -interests of Australia as a whole.
I realize that there are already in existence bodies which are endeavouring to encourage tourist traffic. To a great extent, they are operating upon a voluntary basis. They are hampered by lack of money and by the fact that they have not the organization that they need to do this big job on -the scale adopted overseas. The Australian Automobile Association comprises seven motoring bodies, which are affiliated with overseas touring organizations. It has a proud record of service. Last year, its members handled half a million tourist inquiries, issued 6,000,000 strip maps to people touring throughout Australia, and did a great deal .to help ship vehicles to and from this country. In addition, it made thousands of hotel bookings. To a very great extent, that work is carried out on a voluntary basis. It is not co-ordinated as it should be. I feel that such co-ordination is necessary if we are really to make this a big industry.
I should like to conclude by paying a tribute to a body which has done magnificent work for our tourist trade - and that with very limited resources. I refer to the organization mentionel by Senator Maher, the Australian National Travel Association. lt was established in 1929, with a grant from the Commonwealth of only £1,000. That grant operated until 1939, and I am pleased to say that, as from 1952, the Commonwealth revived the practice - discontinued during the war years - of making grants to this association. Its work must have been appreciated because the grant has risen year by year. In 1952-53 it was £2,000; in 1953-54, £10,000; in 1954-55, £15,000; in 1955-56, £16,000; and in 1956-57, £50,000. This year, I understand from Senator Buttfield, a further £25,000 has been allocated. The association is a non-profit making organization and legally constituted. It has done magnificent work. We all know the magazine “ Walkabout “, which it produces. Over the years that publication has made a profit of £60,000, and it has all been devoted to the job of selling Australia abroad. Some assistance in this work has been given by private enterprise, but I regret to say that the assistance has not been as great as it might have been. Thirty thousand pounds a year has come from shipping companies, travel agencies and banks. According to the latest information available, most of the shipping companies give £8,000 per annum, the travel agencies £40 each, and the banks £100 each.
The work of the association is not confined to this country. It is spending approximately £15,000 upon publicity in North America. That will encourage visits by American tourists, who will provide us with the dollar exchange that we need. An office has been opened in San Francisco, and it was intended that offices should also be opened in Europe. However, the association’s activities are limited by its inadequate finance - inadequate when put beside the immense amount of work that the association is doing. Each year it sends publicity material to 4,500 travel agencies in 34 countries. Before the Olympic Games the association had a comparatively small board, but its size has now been increased, and more people have become interested in the fine work that the association is doing for the whole of Australia on such an inadequate budget. The scope of its work throughout the world could be greatly increased if it were given more money.
I do not wish to detract from the work that has been done by State tourist agencies in recent years, but that work is undertaken in an unco-ordinated way, and in a spirit of rivalry which can at times be either helpful or unhelpful. State bodies largely devote their activities to encouraging interstate travel, rather than tourist traffic from overseas. We appear to have outlived the system under which the encouragement of tourist traffic can be left to the individual States. More and more it is becoming a matter for action on a higher level. For that reason, I support Senator Buttfield’s suggestion for the appointment of a select committee. I believe that it would produce valuable evidence which would be a strong incentive to the Commonwealth Government to provide more money for the promotion of the tourist industry. Given proper encouragement, the industry can become very important indeed to Australia. It is the third most important in the highly industrialized United States of America. It is apparent that it has immense possibilities here if we go about developing it in the proper way. The committee Senator Buttfield has suggested would provide the information which we need if we are to attempt that task.
– I rise to oppose the motion to appoint a select committee of the Senate. That does not mean that I oppose any arguments that can be advanced in support of the need to bring to Australia as many tourists as we possibly can. I am sure that all honorable senators are fully aware of the very great benefits that would accrue to Australia if we were able to develop our tourist industry. Mention has been made of the fact that although only £6,000,000 is spent annually in Australia annually by tourists from other countries, Australian travellers spend £22,000,000 overseas. I agree that there is every necessity to redress that imbalance. I am not so sure that the method suggested in this resolution would bring about the best results.
I should like to congratulate Senator Buttfield on her enthusiasm for the development of the tourist industry. It is an enthusiasm that is shared by every Government senator and, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has said, by every Opposition senator. The only matter of dispute, I feel, is about the way the desired results are to be achieved. I am inclined to the same opinion as Senator Maher, who said that such a committee would definitely encroach upon the rights of the States. 1 do not for one moment believe that the States want the field to themselves, because they have been cooperating wilh the Australian National Travel Association. In my own State of Victoria, the Government representative on that association is Sir John Jungwirth, the secretary to the Premier’s Department. On no occasion, as far as Victoria is concerned, has there been anything but the greatest of co-operation and liaison between the State Government and the National Travel Association. Whether the suggestion that the National Travel Association should be the overriding authority is a wise one, I am not prepared to say at the moment, but I rather think it is not.
I also doubt the wisdom of setting up a Senate committee when the interdepartmental committee about which Senator Buttfield has spoken has not yet had time to produce a report.
– After more than two years!
– The Government set up that committee. If there is any value in a departmental report, I think we might at least have a look at the report before we decide to set up a special committee.
I do not intend to take up very much time, but I should like to deal with two or three of the points that have been raised. I think Senator Buttfield referred to them as “ fields of inquiry “. The first was an investigation of the activities of the National Travel Association. I agree with Senator Maher that we do not need a special committee of the Senate to determine the way in which that association is doing its work.
Senator McManus drew attention to the fact that the Government had increased its grant to this association. I admit that £75,000 probably is far less than the amount that the association could use effectively and, in fact, that it should have. Senator McManus also made another point. He said that the National Travel Association was a co-ordinating organization. I think that the same point was made, although perhaps not in those words, by
Senator Buttfield. That brings me to the point that this organization is already an Australian organization, recognized as such. It speaks for Australia. We have been told to-night that its board has been increased to twenty members, taken from various sections of the community, and representing many bodies that have a special interest in the tourist industry. As I mentioned previously, the Victorian Government has a representative on that association. I feel, therefore, that there is co-ordination on a Commonwealth and State level.
If we suggest that the association should receive more money and be given greater powers, 1 do not think we need a committee of the Senate, moving from State to State, to determine the amount of work being done by the association or, indeed, to determine what recommendations could be made to the Government for an increase in its grant. It seems to me to be a rather unusual procedure to set up a special Senate committee to inquire into the activities of an association which receives a grant from us. Senator Buttfield said that we have a responsibility to know how the money we pass over is spent. There would be a lot of turmoil in the Senate if we were to appoint special committees to inquire into the activities of every association which receives a Commonwealth grant.
– That would be only a part of its inquiry.
– That is what the honorable senator said. We would have a series of Senate committees travelling all over Australia, investigating the operations of associations and the methods by which they spent money allocated to them for specific purposes. I suggest that the National Travel Association should have complete autonomy to decide its own activities.
We have heard a lot about hotels. To my mind, one of the weaknesses in the argument put forward in support of the appointment of a committee was the recital of the development of the hotel business throughout the Commonwealth. If hotels are being built and equipped to the extent that was described by the mover of the motion, it is only fair to assume that the hotel trade is aware of the need for more and better types of hotels in Australia. By interjection I mentioned that a new £5,000,000 hotel is to be built in Victoria. I do not think we can have, it both- ways. We cannot argue that hotel service- and accommodation in Australia are at such a low level that we need a special committee- to investigate the position, and then try to support that argument by referring to the large building programmes of many hotel companies throughout Australia.
Another point on which I join issue is the suggestion that the National Travel Association should control bookings in this country.
– Not in this country - overseas.
– Bookings for overseas tourists coming to Australia. If one thing has been proven, it is that private travel agencies have promoted tourism the whole world over. I do not like the word “ tourism “; I think it is an ugly word. I prefer to say “ the tourist industry “. Therefore, I say that the tourist industry throughout Europe and America has been developed through the activities of private travel agencies.
– The suggestion was that those activties should be augmented, not that they should be controlled.
– I have recorded the arguments as they have been advanced. Another point raised was that the committee in question should be in a position to interview hotel owners and managements to ascertain the degree to which they could be assisted through taxation concessions and depreciation allowances. That point was added to by Senator McManus, who also suggested that we should build still bigger and brighter hotels in Australia. That is all very well, but is there an honorable senator in this chamber who is prepared to go out and tell the general public of Australia that the housing lag has been overcome and that there is plenty of material for hospitals and all the charitable institutions that we need? I do not believe there is one person who is prepared to say that we have satisfied our social needs to the extent that we can concentrate on the building of hotels.
– Senator O’sullivan will.
– I do not believe it; to my mind it just would not ring true.
Another suggestion was that the Commonwealth should grade the hotels. I think I heard my colleague Senator Paltridge ask how that would be done. I should be interested to know how the Commonwealth could go into the States, as it were, and grade the hotels. That is just a little beyond my power of comprehension.
I must admit to having sufficient blue blood in my veins to shiver at the thought that Trans-Australia Airlines should be encouraged to enter the hotel business. I do not believe, and I think there are very few others who believe, that an organization such as T.A.A. is equipped to enter the hotel business. It just does not make sense to me. I still believe that this is a field of activity that should be reserved to private enterprise.
Having appeared to disagree violently with my colleague- Senator Buttfield, let me get back to the position of the States. An awful lot of nonsense has been spoken tonight, by way of interjection, about one State as against another. We cannot sell Victoria or Queensland without selling Australia as a whole. However, I do propose to say something about the situation in Victoria. Senator Buttfield said that the State governments were doing a great deal to develop the tourist industry. The Victorian Government has introduced legislation to establish a tourist advisory committee. It is intended that that committee shall have the closest liaison between the Victorian Tourist Development Committee, the Victorian Promotion Committee, which, as Senator Kennelly knows, has been in existence for some time, and the Government Tourist Bureau. Moreover, the Victorian Government is represented on the Australian National Travel Association. 1 say without fear of contradiction that a campaign launched by the Premier of Victoria, the Honorable H. E. Bolte, in Great Britain and the United States of America to sell Australia overseas has borne fruit. Already numbers of people have arrived from overseas, particularly America, and there has been a great inflow of capital to Victoria. Those facts prove that the States are capable of launching a campaign to attract tourists and capital, not only to the States, but to Australia as a whole.
I return to the opinion that I expressed in my opening remarks - that, although the object of the motion is very laudable,I do not believe that the means of securing the best results lie in a motion such as this. No matter how far he has travelled verbally, every honorable senator who has spoken has returned to the same spot and that spot has been marked by a shortage of money. I think that is , the answer to the whole question. But where do we go from there? Where should the money go? Surely that is not hard to determine. One argument is that the Australian National Travel Association could require £1,000,000 to do the job successfully. Senator Maher has suggested that more money placed in the hands of the States might be the answer to the problem. In a few months the Budget will be presented in this place and every member of the Parliament will have the right to discuss any matter about which he feels strongly. Having regard to the opportunities that are presented to Government supporters, through access to the Cabinet, and to Opposition supporters through discussion in the Parliament, indeed, through the strength of a combined recommendation to the Government, I fail to see why we should not be able to determine where the extra money should be spent, without sending seven people galloping around the States, interfering in matters that do not concern them and putting the Senate in such a position that it would, or could, harm the case instead of helping it.
It is with those thoughts that I again regret I am unable to support the motion of my colleague. But may I leave this last thought with the Senate: In view of the spectacular results that have been achieved by Victoria through its own tourist activities, perhaps the Commonwealth Government, in its wisdom, will see that Victoria gets a fairer allocation of the money that is available to the States, so that Victoria will be able to do even better in the future. I oppose the motion.
– I support the motion that has been presented by Senator Buttfield. The honorable senator no doubt has derived comfort from the assurance given her by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), that she has the undivided support of honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Therefore, all that she has to worry about are the malcontents inher own ranks. Having listened with a great deal of interest to some of the remarks that have been made during the course of this debate,I feel that some speakers have carried parochialism to fantastic lengths.I did not take an accurate count of the number of times that Senator Maher used the word “ Queensland “ during his speech, but it seemed to me to have occurred a thousand times. I go further and say that had this debate been broadcast to-night, Queensland would have been advertised adequately for the next ten years by the Homeric effort of the honorable senator. He attained a height of parochialism which should be an all-time record.
– Could it beat the effort of the South Australians?
– I have not come to South Australia yet. I am prepared to allow the honorable senator to judge whether Senator Maher and I have anything in common in regard to references to the States from which we come. Perhaps it will be entertaining for Senator Maher if I quote some lines written by that great Australian poet, Henry Lawson, entitled “ Queensland, Beautiful Queensland “. I am indebted to Senator Willesee for making this quotation available to me. In some ways, these lines conflict with Senator Maher’s praise of the northern State. They are as follows: -
The stockman tramping cross the plain,
Good Lord there’s nothing sadder,
Except the dog that slopes behind,
His master like a shadder;
Theturkey-tail to scare the flies,
The waterbag and billy,
The nosebag getting cruel light,
The tourists going silly.
There we have the other side of the picture in Queensland, as described by a great Australian poet.
Leaving the lighter side of things and getting down to the essence of this discussion which, I feel, has somewhat enlivened the proceedings of the Senate, perhaps Senator Buttfield will reconsider that portion of the motion which refers to the time limit within which the proposed select committee should report to the Senate. The honorable senator first tabled her motion a considerable time ago. Had it been dealt with and approved within a reasonable time after its submission, there would have been sufficient time for a full report to have been given to the Senate. sideration of all these matters the question But, of course, the position now is that it would be difficult for such a committee, if appointed, to meet all the requirements and to present a comprehensive report by October next. For that reason, 1 suggest that the honorable senator might reconsider that aspect.
In common with other honorable senators, 1 believe that Australia possesses spectacular scenery which will compare with any in the world. Without dwelling on the attractions of my own State, unlike some other honorable senators during this debate, I propose to refer to certain scenic attractions in all States which I believe compare favorably with scenery overseas. Senator Maher has already referred to the attractions of Queensland, including the gold coast. Surfers Paradise and the Great Barrier Reef. Undoubtedly, those are great scenic attractions to which many people in other lands would be delighted to travel thousands of miles. In New South Wales, there are magnificent harbours and rivers. There are also the famous Blue Mountains and other places which, I believe, would hold their own with scenic attractions anywhere. In Tasmania, there is beautiful mountain scenery, and there are apple orchards and other attractive sights. In Victoria, there are the Dandenong Ranges and the Yarra River. In South Australia, there is the beautiful Barossa Valley. At vintage time, people go there and bask in the sunlight. They may drink in, not only the sunlight and the scenery, but also other commodities which are produced in the valley and which are the equal of any of their kind in the world.
– The Torrens River is attractive, too, when there is water in it.
– Yes. Although the Torrens lacks water at times, it is nevertheless a beautiful sight. Then we have the south coast area, including Victor Harbour and other fine places, which would draw tourists from other countries like a magnet if some publicity were to be given to them. I think we can say with certainty that Australia has scenic attractions to compete with those of any other country.
I come now to what I consider are the basic problems associated with the bringing of tourists to Australia. These problems were outlined by both Senator Buttfield and
Senator McManus and they involve, first, the need to provide effective, swift and comfortable transport, so that the people from overseas who come here may be transported to the scenic attractions by the best possible means. The second, and most important, aspect is that of accommodation. I believe that the honorable senators who referred to Australian hotels during this debate were inclined to be somewhat kind in their descriptions of some of the hotels. Let me say at once that I am not attacking the hotel-keeping business in general. I travel extensively by road and visit not only the capital cities, but also the country districts of Australia. I have been able to secure accommodation in some very fine hotels, both in country towns and in the cities, but I regret to say that in some places where there is scenery that would attract tourists and hold their interest, the hotel accommodation is not only bad but appalling. I think that some consideration must be given to this aspect of the tourist trade.
In our capital cities there are certain hotels which could be labelled as “ firstclass “. But we have to remember that these hotels with excellent facilities are sometimes outside the reach of the ordinary tourist who has to look elsewhere for accommodation suitable to his pocket. Then he finds himself in a hotel where he may be charged second-rate prices for fifth or tenth rate accommodation. This situation must be seriously looked at in the near future.
Senator Buttfield spoke with pride about the Grosvenor Hotel in Adelaide which, she said, had recently installed some 89 new bedrooms with bathrooms attached. I think the credit, in South Australia at least, for the pioneering of this great improvement in hotel accommodation goes to two hotelkeepers named Pearce and Matthews who, in the country town of Whyalla were the first persons to establish a hotel with bedrooms and attached bathrooms. It is a rather significant fact that some of the bigger hotels are only now following their lead. I remember enjoying this facility when I travelled to Whyalla ten years or fifteen years ago. It is somewhat remarkable that one has to travel anything up to 200 miles outside a capital city in order to find what may be considered first-class accommodation. I believe that in any con- of hotel accommodation throughout the length and breadth of this country must be seriously examined. Although, in the main, hotelkeepers are prosperous, quite a number of them are just struggling along. All sorts of factors, such as high rentals for leaseholds, bring about a situation whereby they are not able to supply the facilities that the average traveller needs. Consideration has to be given to that aspect of the matter as well, because we shall never be able to attract people to this country in large numbers unless we are able to say that in every capital city and in every major country town, at or near a beauty spot, there are hotels providing the facilities visitors are entitled to expect. It is futile to tackle the problem from the viewpoint of advertising to bring them here unless there are first created the facilities to house them. So I strongly suggest that if this committee is appointed it give serious consideration to that aspect of the matter.
We come now to the matter that has been repeatedly raised in this debate by Senator Maher and Senator Wedgwood, namely, that the appointment of such a committee would be an infringement of State powers and State rights. It has been stated - not suggested - that if this committee is appointed it will immediately come into conflict with the activities of the State tourist agencies throughout Australia. I do not think that Senator Buttfield intended to imply that in the motion, and I can see nothing in the motion that suggests that the committee would have overriding powers of intrusion in relation to existing State rights concerning tourist facilities. I do not think that can even be read into the motion, and I disagree with Senators Maher and Wedgwood in that connexion.
What is the position to-day in the States in regard to tourist facilities? In South Australia, we have an organization, a State government instrumentality, known as the tourist bureau. It does some particularly fine work in publicizing the scenic attractions of South Australia. However, the State’s activities in this matter are limited by the amount of money it can spend on that type of publicity. The tourist bureau makes magnificent colour films of the scenic spots of our State and circulates them as widely as possible so that it will be known we have these attractions.
Broadly, the activities of tourist bureaux throughout Australia are the same. I feel that the chief function they perform at the moment does not give effect to what Senator Buttfield wants to produce by the motion she has submitted to the Senate, that is, to attract overseas tourists. 1 believe that the tourist bureaux cater mainly for the movement of travellers between the States. They do not, except in the wider sense, induce people to come from overseas. So I say that when Senator Maher and Senator Wedgwood claim that the existing tourist facilities in one or more of the States cover all the requirements that are outlined in the motion, they are not looking at the matter in the proper way. Speaking for my own State in particular, I think that most of the activity of the tourist agency is devoted to attracting people from other States to South Australia in order that they can absorb our scenic views. That, broadly, is the function of the State bureaux.
The virtue I see in this motion is that it will enable the committee to go into means of inducing tourists to come to this country. If we can accept the fact that we have attractions here to draw them, the question remains as to how we can advise the rest of the world that these beauties exist and are worth seeing. That should not be done on a basis that permits State jealousies and State parochialism to manifest themselves. Let us have a wider view of the publicity. We should adopt a national outlook in respect of this matter. If we did so, this committee would be able to bring to the Senate a report on the various tourist activities in Australia. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cooper) read a first time.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland)VicePresident of the Executive Council and Attorney-General). - by leave - The Prime Minister has announced that he has asked the Minister for Supply and. Minister for Defence Production to represent the Government at the inauguration of the Federal Parliament of the West Indies by Her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret. Mr. Townley is leaving Australia to-day. He will be abroad quite briefly. During his absence the Minister for Air will act as Minister for Supply and Minister for Defence Production, and will represent the Minister for National Development and the Minister for Shipping and Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation in the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 29th April, at 3 p.m., unless sooner called together by the President by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to refer to a matter of very grave importance to the people of South Australia. I have received a copy of a telegram sent by the Premier of South Australia to the Prime Minister, which reads -
In view of failure to satisfy South Australia’s requests concerning River Murray water and introduction of bill to ratify Snowy Mountains Agreement we are reluctantly compelled to issue writ to protect this State’s interests.
I have expressed concern in the Senate for some considerable time about this extremely important matter. I have not been alone in my attitude to the matter which merits attention by senators on both sides of the House. The situation has reached such a stage that the people of South Australia are entitled to have a full and unequivocal statement as to the position affecting that State. The Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, is claiming, and has claimed repeatedly over a period of many months, that he has not received from the Commonwealth Government the full terms of the Snowy Mountains Agreement. On the other hand, a statement has been made in the Senate by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) that South Australia has been completely and fully informed on this; matter. Who is telling the truth? The people of South Australia view with grave disquiet the fact that nobody seems to be able to give a truthful answer to their question.
We have the position of the Premier of South Australia taking the extreme step of initiating action - I do not think this action has as yet become effective - to issue an injunction against the Commonwealth and the other’ contracting parties to the scheme. He claims, rightly or wrongly, that theinterests of South Australia are not being properly preserved in the terms of the agreement, or alternatively, that he has not sufficient knowledge of the agreement as it applies to that State.
Senators on the Government side cannot deny that reports have been printed in the press to the effect that the Premier has visited Canberra seeking a guarantee that the interests of his State will be properly preserved, but on each occasion he has returned to South Australia claiming, on the one hand, that he has not received sufficient information, and, on the other hand, that he has not received any assurance from the Commonwealth Government that the interests of South Australia will not be impaired in any way.
– Would the honorable senator kindly repeat the wording of the telegram?
– The telegram is addressed to me by the Chief Secretary of South Australia, and reads -
In view of failure to satisfy South Australia’s requests concerning River Murray water and introduction of bill to ratify Snowy Mountains Agreement we are reluctantly compelled’ to issue writ to protect this State’s interests..
The position has now become almost, farcical. We have reached the stage where a member of one of the parties that supports this Government, the Premier of South Australia, himself the leader of a Liberal government, in effect charges the- Commonwealth with not telling the truth as it applies to the Snowy Mountains scheme.
– I rise to order. Surely, having regard to the motion proposed by the Minister for National Development relating to a bill to deal with this subject’, the honorable senator is transgressing the lawof anticipation in seeking to discuss it on the motion for the adjournment.
The PRESIDENT (Sen. the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - In view of the fact that legislation is before the Senate, and in view of Senator Toohey’s statement that a writ has been issued,I would advise the honorable senator not to canvass either of those matters. I do not want the case before the court to be prejudiced in any way by statements made in this place, nor will I permit the- bill to be canvassed. The complaint of the honorable senator regarding lack of information is not out of order.
– I thank you, Mr. President, and I shall endeavour to conform with the requirements of your ruling. I am not dealing specifically with the matters referred to by Senator Anderson. I have touched on them only to the extent that they have relation to the major matter receiving my attention this evening, which is a report sent direct to me of action instituted in South Australia against the Commonwealth and contracting parties to a scheme.
It is incredible that we should reach a stage where the State I represent in this Senate - a State which is governed by a party of the same political colour as the Commonwealth Government - should find itself in the position that it must initiate action against the Commonwealth in order that it may be properly informed on matters which vitally affect that State.
On more than one occasion I have asked questions of the Minister for National Development seeking information as to whether the claims of the Premier of South Australia were correct, and on each occasion the Minister has replied that the interests of that State were adequately protected. We in South Australia do not want the Premier, on the one hand, stating that our interests are threatened and feeling so strongly about it that he proposes, on a government level, to initiate action against the Commonwealth Government and, on the other hand, the Minister for National Development denying that the interests of South Australia are threatened in any way.
The situation between the State and the Commonwealth has reached a stalemate.
The Minister should place all the cards on the table and state in clear and unequivocal terms the position of South Australia in this extremely important matter.
– I have just been handed a press release made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to-day. The statement reads -
The following telegrams were exchanged to-day, between the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, and the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies: -
Telegram from Sir Thomas Playford - In view of failure to satisfy South Australia’s requests concerning river Murray water and introduction of bill to ratify Snowy Mountains Agreement we are reluctantly compelled to issue writ to protect this State’s interests.
Reply by Mr. Menzies - Your telegram received Stop You have made two principal points one regarding South Australia’s share of water in a period of restriction the other the Tooma diversion Stop Concerning the first you of course realize that your rights under River Murray Agreement cannot be limited by Snowy Mountains Agreement to which you are not a party Stop I will say no more on this since as I have repeatedly told you I entirely understand the vital importance of the Murray waters to South Australia Stop Regarding Tooma diversion I proposed that an amendment to clause 45 should be made to make it clear that diversion by the Snowy Mountains Authority should be on same footing as diversions by a State Stop The Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria agreed that such an amendment was necessary but as I informed you by letter suggested that as some other changes also appeared to be necessary the question of amendment should be referred to the River Murray Commission for inquiry and report Stop On February 13th you advised me that you had no objection to this course as a first step in examining the issues that had been raised Stop The matter has gone to the Commission which has not yet reached finality or made a report but will I hope do so as soon as possible Stop Under these circumstances I find it hard to understand why you should by legal proceedings put the parties at arms length and impair the prospects of agreement in the River Murray Commission Stop But that is a matter for your own judgment Stop Believing as we do that the Snowy Mountains legislation does not affect your legal rights but is urgently needed to support the validity of a great scheme on which we are spending large sums of money we propose to proceed with the bill now before Parliament.
– -Now who is telling the truth?
– The Prime Minister, of course.
– I wish to raise a matter relating to the present taxation laws. It follows a question I addressed this morning to Senator Spooner as the representative of the Treasurer in the Senate. I refer to the publicity which has been given to a report, which proves to be false, that when doctors form themselves into companies it is possible that their patients will be denied the right to deduct from their incomes for taxation purposes fees paid to those doctors. I wish to point out that this is only symbolic of much of the legal tax-dodging that is going on in the community to-day. I emphasize the word “ legal “, but I feel that the Minister should do something about the matter I propose to mention. In my opinion, it is an attempt to transfer the burden of taxation from the shoulders of those who this Parliament said should bear it.
I feci that the Minister missed the point of my question because he said, in effect. “ Do not worry. We have already decided that the patients will be able to claim the fees as deductions for taxation purposes “. That was the least of my worries. I do not think Senator Spooner deliberately evaded the issue; I am certain he misunderstood the question as I put it. I do wish to point out certain things, however, because I feel they are symbolic of what is going on.
The important question that one must ask is: Why do doctors form themselves into a company? I also feel that the answer must be, “ Merely for the purpose of avoiding taxation “. If I am wrong, I should like some honorable senator to correct me.
There are provisions in our taxation laws designed to encourage the formation of companies. I understand quite clearly that if an engineering company or a developmental company reaches the stage at which it has to obtain fresh capital and the most expeditious way of getting it is to seek it from outside, taxation concessions are allowed. That has been of great help to Australian industries in the past. I do not quarrel with that legitimate form of tax deduction, but I do question the actions of professional men such as doctors who form themselves into companies. Why do they form these companies? I quite agree with their forming partnerships. The forming of partnerships over the last few years has been a great improvement in my opinion, for, by so doing, the doctors ensure that they are not overworked, and have a day of rest and so on, but at the same time they give service to their patients for 24 hours a day. It is good to see these partnerships being formed all over Australia, but I point out that I am speaking of partnerships as distinct from companies. I submit that the formation of companies is symbolic of the type of tax-dodging that is going on.
I suggested in my question this morning that the formation of these companies presented the Treasurer with an opportunity to examine our taxation laws and these practices with a view to ascertaining just how far we have drifted from the original intention of this Parliament when provision for the deductions was included in the act. Further, 1 do not think I am wrong when I say that travelling allowances, entertainment allowances and other allowances are being completely but legally misused to-day. There is no doubt that people are travelling overseas and interstate, doing all sorts of things, and offering the lame excuse that what they are doing is in connexion with their businesses. This tax evasion by such people can mean only one thing. It can mean only that the burden of taxation which they avoid has to be borne by another section of the community.
When Parliament lays it down that those in the higher income brackets should bear p certain burden while those in the lower income groups should bear a lesser burden, the law should not be evaded by the misuse of allowable deductions. How often do we see shares, particularly mining shares, issued and taxation laws flouted? We know that one-third of the call money paid on mining shares is an allowable deduction. We also know that there is no allowance made for the payment of deposits. That concession to investors in mining shares was made in order to encourage people to invest in the risky mining ventures. It was good to know that as a mine developed and calls on shareholders were made, the investors were allowed to deduct from their incomes for taxation purposes one-third of the money they had paid by way of calls on mining shares. To-day, however, shares are issued at 5s. each, the 5 per cent, being paid immediately, but only 6d. or ls. of the 5s. being looked upon as deposit while the balance is treated as payment of calls in advance. That is a complete contravention of the law. When the 5s. is paid down in cash, it is in fact a deposit, not a call, lt is by this type of legal manoeuvring that our taxation laws are evaded in a way not envisaged by this Parliament.
We have been pleading here for special tax deductions for certain sections of Australia. I refer in particular to our request for tax concessions for persons in the northwest of Western Australia. So far the Government has not acceded to these requests. I frankly admit that if the Government did, it would be the first time any one anywhere in the world granted such concessions, except those applying to the residents in A and B zones- I sympathize with the Government when it baulks at granting such a request because if it did accede to the request the Government would be establishing a new principle, to say the least. It might even be violating a principle which has been established for a long time.
We also hear miserable arguments over the allowance as tax deductions of the cost of a school uniform for a child going to one school while refusing the same concession in respect of a child going to another school. The main point about it all is that whenever the burden of taxation is shifted, the move invariably is from the shoulders of those in the higher income bracket to those of the people in the lower income bracket. The burden is invariably shifted to the shoulders of the people who ride in trams to work every morning and whose tax payments are taken out of their pay envelopes every Friday. Those people have no opportunities whatever of avoiding any taxation.
Because I feel that there was a complete misunderstanding of parliamentary responsibility and the responsibility of Ministers to this Parliament twice this morning, once by Senator Spooner and once by Senator Cooper, I make these points to-night. Both Ministers have taken the stand that we have no need to worry because the Taxation Branch has these matters continually under review. The duty of the Taxation Branch is to carry out the orders of this Parliament and of the responsible Minister. Its duty is not to keep matters continually under review; nor is it to criticize the legislation passed by this Parliament. The public servants of Australia loyally carry out their duties, irrespective of the political colour of the government of the day, but it is not their job to criticize the legislation we pass. I think Senator Spooner was completely off the beam when he said that we should not worry about these things, because the Taxation Branch will look after them. What I requested this morning - and I repeat my request now - was that the matter be examined. No one would deny that there has been a legal misuse of the concessional deduction provisions, and that Parliament’s original intention has been departed from in no small degree. It is high time that the position was examined. If necessary, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) should bring down suitable amending legislation to end the present practice, which merely transfers the burden of taxation from people in higher income brackets to those who are in the lower brackets.
– In regard to the Snowy Mountains matter, Senator Toohey asked who was telling the truth.
– Order! I have already advised Senator Toohey that that matter is not open for discussion.
– All I wish to say is that where there is a conflict of opinion the question of truth or falsity does not necessarily arise.
Turning now to the matter raised by Senator Willesee, I do not think that Senator Spooner did mis-state the position.
– I said that he misunderstood the question.
– I do not think that he misunderstood it. I have been present when this matter has been discussed. There were certain newspaper reports that moneys paid for medical service to a company which comprised medical practitioners were not deductible for taxation because a company was not a medical practitioner. Senator Spooner hastened to give the assurance that this concessional deduction was created for the benefit of the taxpayer, and that he would continue to enjoy it whether or not medical practitioners were individuals or members of a company. That was, I think, the point that was in his mind, and which he probably thought was in the honorable senator’s mind.
As for the propriety or otherwise of professional men forming themselves into limited liability companies, the Commonwealth has no Companies Act. The matter is controlled by the relevant company or medical legislation in the respective States. For instance, in the State of Queensland, as I understand the position, chemists cannot form themselves into limited liability companies, nor can doctors or lawyers. That is laid down in specific State legislation.
Even if the Commonwealth had the legal power - and I am not expressing a view as to whether it has or not, except to say that we have no Companies Act - Where could be draw the line? It is quite competent for engineers, traders, and persons pursuing many and varied avocations to form themselves into limited liability companies for their own purposes - to limit their liability, lighten the burden of taxation and so on - provided always that it is done in conformity with the law as it stands. We have it on the authority of such an august body as the Privy Council that there is nothing reprehensible in a lawyer advising his client to take advantage of the law as it stands.
– My suggestion is thai we should change the law. I conceded that such a practice was legal.
– The Commonwealth has no company legislation. We have it on the authority of the High Court that we cannot legislate regarding the formation of a company. Our company and corporate powers are very limited indeed.
I think it would be very difficult to obtain general support for a taxation law which discriminated against a particular section of the community. If we are going to talk about the propriety of doctors forming themselves into limited liability companies, are we to prevent engineers or merchants from doing likewise? In the scheme of things, both the public company and the private company are here to stay. In the broad, they make a tremendous contribution to the economy of the country.
Some confusion has been caused by statements in the press concerning the question whether expenditure on school uniforms qualifies a taxpayer for a concessional deduction. I commend to the honorable senator to-day’s “ Hansard “ report of proceedings in the House of Representatives. It will contain a very complete statement on the subject by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.46 pan.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 April 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1958/19580417_senate_22_s12/>.