23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Government given any instructions to departmental officers that wherever possible air freight be forwarded by Ansett-A.N.A.? If it has not, is it a fact that some government departments, in particular the Commonwealth Department of Health, have recently transferred their custom from TransAustralia Airlines to Ansett-A.N.A.?
– The Government has given no instruction of the nature indicated by the honorable senator. Indeed, the Government and the Parliament have made it quite clear that each of the major trunkline operators shall have equal access to government business; not that they shall get equal shares of government business, but that one shall not be given access to that business to the exclusion of the other. If the honorable senator is trying to delude himself and to persuade the Senate that Ansett-A.N.A. gets a greater share of government business than Trans-Australia Airlines gets, he may be interested to learn that at the time I last looked at the figures Trans-Australia Airlines was securing approximately two-thirds of that business, and its competitor, Ansett-A.N.A., onethird.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen in this morning’s Mel- - bourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ a most scurrilous attack by Senator Kennelly, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, on the Director-General of Civil Aviation, Mr. D. G. Anderson, in his capacity as the co-ordinator of the rationalization committee, because of the decision which was made to allow AnsettA.N.A. access to the Darwin route? As the Director-General acted in conformity with legislation passed by this Parliament some little time ago, will the Minister give the Senate his views on the accusation of bias that Senator Kennelly has made against this officer of the Department of Civil Avia tion who, I think, is held in the highest respect in relation to his position and work in the department?
– About a minute before I entered this chamber I saw the statement attributed to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this place and published in this morning’s issue of the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “. I could hardly believe that he had been accurately reported. Indeed, I hope that he had not. If that is not the case, it is extremely unfortunate that a member of this Parliament should resort to such extreme language to criticize a high and responsible officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, who is doing the duty which is statutorily laid upon him by an enactment of this Parliament. It is more unfortunate, if true, for the reason that the man attacked has no opportunity, or indeed no right, publicly to defend himself. The plain fact is that while the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is reported as having accused Mr. Anderson of bias, every member of this Parliament knows that in the execution of this very difficult duty - which, I repeat, the Parliament has laid upon him - Mr. Anderson has exercised an impartiality and an equity which are above question’. The last proof of that surely resides in the fact that in the first period of operation of the rationalization machinery, some twenty references were made to Mr. Anderson. I remind the honorable senator and the Parliament that an appeal from the determination of the co-ordinator is available to either party, and despite the fact that twenty-odd decisions have been made, neither party has seen fit or considered it appropriate to appeal from a decision to the chairman appointed under the 1952 legislation.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: Is it a fact that, as stated at the recent conference of Australian dentists, there is a shortage of dentists in this country and that the dental health of the community is thereby adversely affected? Is the shortage intensified by regular departures of Australian-trained dentists for Britain, due to the inducements offered by private firms there and the greater rewards available under the national insurance scheme? Is the statement of the New South Wales Minister for Health, Mr. Sheahan, that about 500 Australian dentists are now practising in Britain^ correct? Does the Commonwealth: accept any responsibility for action to remedy the shortage? If so, what are its plans?
– lt is a fact that many Australian trained dentists are operating in Britain and that intensified inducements have been offered to them to go there. I have on my table a plan prepared by the Australian Dental Association for dealing with this problem. I received it only this morning and I have not had a chance to consider it. I shall read it with great interest. Meanwhile, if the honorable senator will place the questions on the notice-paper I shall ask the Minister for Health to consider them and provide answers.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation received from the New South Wales Government an assurance that it will waive claims for royalty payments on sand to be dredged from Botany Bay for the building of the extension to the north-south runway at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport?
– Proposals in relation to extension of the runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport were contained in a letter which passed between the governments on a Prime Minister to Premier basis. In other words, the proposal made by the Commonwealth was contained in a letter from the Prime Minister to the Premier. °I have not seen any reply - and I do not know whether one has yet been received - to the proposals made by the Prime Minister.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. I recall that, from time to time, there have been statements indicating satisfaction with our growing wool trade with Japan since the Japanese Trade Agreement was concluded. Japan has now become the largest buyer of our wool. However, statements have been made recently to the effect that Japan is gearing her manufacturers to a change-over from wool to synthetics within a period, I understand, of from seven to ten years. Can the Minister give the Senate any information on that subject, representing the assessment of the Department of Trade on that trend?
– I have no specific information upon that subject. I have not heard it suggested previously that any deliberate attempt is being made by Japan to change-over from wool to synthetics. I had thought that the trend in this direction in Japan was not more pronounced than, but was similar to, the trend in other countries and that it was not being influenced by any national policy. In view of the importance of the matter, I ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper, so that inquiries can be made and an answer supplied to it.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform me whether it is a fact that Ansett-A.N.A. will now compete with Trans- Australia Airlines on Darwin flights? Is it a fact that talks on this matter between the representatives of the major airlines had broken down? As a result of this, did the Minister suggest to the Director-General of Civil Aviation that he decide in favour of the application submitted by Ansett-A.N.A.? Is this in furtherance of the Government’s policy of strangling Trans-Australia Airlines by allowing Ansett-A.N.A. gradually to take over the flight times plums, as has happened on most other capital city routes?
– Sir, if I may say so with respect, the question asked by the honorable senator indicates a misunderstanding of the procedures which were established under legislation that was passed by this Senate at a time when he was present When matters of mutual concern to the airlines are in dispute, they are discussed by a committee comprising representatives of each of the airlines and the co-ordinator. Frequently, those matters are settled on a mutually satisfactory basis, but when they are not, they are referred to the co-ordinator for decision. I might say that this application by Ansett-A.N.A. in respect of Darwin flights, which involves an extension of its existing routes - on the one hand, from Mount Isa in Queensland,, and on the other hand, from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory - was first lodged some three and a half years ago. The airlines failed to agree and, as a result, an application was submitted by Ansett-A.N.A. to the coordinator. The application was rejected, although the coordinator, three years ago, indicated that Darwin would be regarded - and rightly regarded1 - as being on the trunk route system of Australia. I assure the honorable senator that I made no suggestions to the co-ordinator, who is bound by statute to exercise his own judgment. In view of the fact that he had three applications before him during a. period of three and a half years, I think that even the most biased person will acknowledge that he has had plenty of time to examine, not only the routes, but also the developments which have occurred on those routes since the matter first came before him. Let me assure the honorable senator that it is not the policy of the Government to strangle Trans-Australia Airlines. It is the policy of this Government to maintain a twoairline system, and it has done so very successfully during the entire period of its administration.
– By way of preface to my question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, I refer to the policy of the Government, evident in the Budget, to make payments from Commonwealth funds to improve the efficiency of Australian ports when, by so doing, the prospect of a significant increase in Australian exports would be good. Is the Minister aware that in South Australia there is in prospect the development of a significant export trade in salt, principally to Janan? The salt is won from areas around Port Augusta, at the head of Spencer Gulf. Is he aware that the only practicable way of holding and developing this trade is to export the salt in small overseas freighters from the wharfs at Port Augusta? Will the Minister, in conjunction with the South Australian Government, cause a survey to be made of the possibility of improving harbour and cargo handling facilities at Port Augusta, particularly for salt exports?
– I. think I should say that the statement, in the Budget to which the honorable senator has referred should, not be construed as an open invitation- to all State governments to sub-‘ mit. proposals to the Commonwealth to finance the improvement of port facilities. The Commonwealth Government has; examined certain proposals and has agreed to come into them, but basically the position is the same as it has been in the past.. Port and transport facilities, are matters for the State governments concerned. As Senator Laught knows, the Commonwealth has increased quite appreciably the amount of money which it makes available to the States.
I have heard of this salt project jiff South Australia. Indeed, I was closely in- touch with it a few years ago-. I have not been closely in touch with recent developments, but I still hold the view that the project has quite good possibilities. As to what can be done, I can only say that that is primarily a matter for the South Australian Government to consider. If, after consideration, the South Australian Government feels that there is a case for financial assistance from the- Commonwealth Government,, the application will come from the South Australian Government in the first instance.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a further question in view of the answer he gave to Senator O’Flaherty. He said that applications by Ansett-A.N.A. to operate on the Darwin route had been discussed over a period of years and had been rejected on several occasions. I now ask the Minister to obtain from the Director-General of Civil Aviation his reasons for his change of mind.
– On previous occasions Senator Kennelly has expressed an interest in the work of the rationalization committee and its determinations. As I explained to him when he asked earlier questions about this matter, it is proposed to include the decision in the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation, which will be submitted to the Parliament. I anticipated that Senator Kennelly would show further interest in his earlier questions. So, having been unable to have the report printed and presented to the Parliament as early as 1 had hoped, I have available for him in my office roneoed copies of all the decisions that have been made up to 30th June last. As soon as I have had a chance to talk to the Director-General of Civil Aviation and to read his determination I shall consider the honorable senator’s request to have it made available to him. Senator Kennelly will appreciate that, for obvious reasons, the air operators themselves have a prior right to examine the determination.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health state whether it is a fact that the estimated expenditure on pharmaceutical benefits for 1961-62 is £34,592,000, an increase, of £6,710,778 on the expenditure for the preceding year? Will he furnish to the Senate information showing the number of prescriptions dispensed in 1960-61 under the Commonwealth health scheme, the number of persons for whom prescriptions were dispensed, and the average cost of each prescription?
– It is a fact that the increase in this year’s Budget for this particular item is more than £6,000,000. I believe that the sum mentioned by the honorable senator is correct; I have not the figures before me at the moment. If Senator Wedgwood places her question on the noticepaper, I shall see that the facts and figures she desires are obtained for her from the Minister for Health.
– This morning I mentioned to the Minister for National Development a Pittsburgh report which was published in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ on the 21st of this month under the caption “ Cheap power for millions “. It reads -
A sun-powered electric plant which could bring light, power and irrigation to millions of people in under-developed lands has been developed by an American electrical firm.
The report goes on to describe the unit. I ask the Minister whether he will investigate this very important matter and bring the results of his investigations before the Senate for the information of honorable senators and the people of Australia.
– Yes, if the honorable senator places his question on the notice-paper I shall do so. I shall also ask my department for some views upon it.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation the following questions: - For how long did the Australian National Airlines Commission operate Trans-Australia Airlines under a Labour administration? For how long has the airline operated under the present Government? Can he supply any figures relating to equipment, number of staff employed and miles flown to indicate the extent of the expansion that has been made under this Government?
– Trans-Australia Airlines was established in late 1946. It operated under the administration of a Labour government until that government was banished in 1949. So it operated for three years under the Labour Government. It has operated very succesfully, and on an expanding basis, for twelve years under this Government. It is difficult to state from memory figures regarding equipment. 1 know that I shall be corrected by way of interjection if I am wrong in saying that, in 1949, Trans-Australia Airlines was equipped with a few - I think three - Convair aircraft and a fleet of DC3’s which numbered about 23. Since that time there has been a vast re-equipment programme, financed, in the main, by funds made available by this Government. The present frontline fleet consists of three Electras, 15 Viscounts and, I think, nine Fokker Friendships, with supporting units. I cannot remember the figures relating to miles flown, but I can say that under this Government’s administration the staff of the airline has increased by nearly 1,000 persons.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has stated that decisions on applications to operate services which have been made over a period of years are available, and no doubt I shall have access to them, but that was not the subject of my earlier question. I asked whether he would table in the Senate, or give to me, the reasons that prompted the Director-General of Civil Aviation to change his mind and permit Ansett-A.N.A. to operate on the
Darwin route. The Minister stated that requests for such permission had been rejected on previous occasions. 1 think the people are entitled to know the reasons which caused the Director-General to change the “ No “ that he gave two and a half years ago, or even less than that, to “Yes” now.
– Either Senator Kennelly did not understand the answer I gave him, or 1 failed to make myself clear. In any event, I propose to do better than he has asked me to do. The first two determinations in this matter will be made available to him as soon as I leave the chamber, or as soon as he either comes to my office or sends his secretary. Indeed, I shall give him the first series of determinations - 21 of them. With regard to the last application by Ansett-A.N.A. to operate on the Darwin route, as I said in my previous answer, I have not yet seen the actual determination. It was handed first of all, as it properly should be, to the parties to the dispute. As soon as I have had a look at it I will make it available to the honorable senator. I can do no better than that.
– May I have the reasons for the change?
– A determination is in fact a list of the reasons why a decision is made.
– I understand that mere has been a shortage of Salk vaccine. My recollection is that the Minister for Health made a statement only recently to the effect that the shortage had been overcome, that supplies were available and that production was increasing. I am not sure of the date on which supplies will be fully available to all States, but if the honorable senator places her question on the noticepaper I shall obtain the information for her.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for the Navy. Is it a fact, as reported in the Western Australian press, that Rear-Admiral Harrington, in defining the Royal Australian Navy’s main role in future as commerce protection and antisubmarine defence, stated that if oil supplies were suddenly cut off our stocks would last for only three weeks? Is it not a fact that about 60 per cent, of our crude oil supplies are brought across the Indian Ocean from the Persian Gulf and that most of the remainder comes from Sumatra? Is it a fact that the Royal Australian Navy is in the process of re-organizing to carry out the duties referred to by Rear-Admiral Harrington? Is it a fact that the Navy is too remotely based to afford maximum protection to the vital Indian Ocean routes? Is it a fact that events have proved that Singapore cannot be relied on in times of crisis? Is it not a fact, therefore, that fleet supply and repair facilities are urgently needed on the Western Australian coast7 In those circumstances, will the Minister request the Government to reconsider the proposal that there should be built in Western Australia a naval base with a dock adequate for servicing commercial as well as naval vessels?
– I did notice some time ago that Rear-Admiral Harrington was reported - indeed, misreported, as he has indicated to me since - as having said that in the event of war the Navy’s supplies of oil would be sufficient for three weeks. RearAdmiral Harrington did in fact make to newspapers some statement which he intended to apply to Australia’s oil supplies and not to the Navy’s oil supplies, reserves of which are higher than they have ever been arid would last considerably longer than the period mentioned by the honorable senator. Rear-Admiral Harrington did state his opinion of how long Australia’s civil oil supplies would last in the event of war and the statement he made on that, aspect was inaccurate.
Australia’s oil supplies that are dependent wholly on naval protection when coming in to Australia, would be, in the event of war, capable of being convoyed and protected by the Royal Australian Navy from its present bases. The building in
Western Australia of another base to help in the performance of that task would, as I have stated in the Senate previously, involve the expenditure of millions of pounds extra in the naval defence vote. 1 point out to Senator Tangney that a leading Labour Party figure from her State - Mr. Chamberlain - has gone on record in Queensland as saying that he would like to see that vote cut by millions of pounds. If that were done the effect would be precisely the reverse of that sought by Senator Tangney.
– In view of the importance of the lead and zinc mining industries to Australia’s economy, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate what may be the effect on those industries of Common Market tariffs?
– I have prepared some notes on this matter as I think it important to the lead and zinc mining industries that I give the answer accurately. At present not only our lead and zinc metals but also their ores and concentrates enter the United Kingdom duty free. The same metals, ores and concentrates coming into the United Kingdom from outside the Commonwealth attract a duty of 7s. 6d. sterling a ton in respect of lead and 30s. sterling a ton in respect of zinc. Ores and concentrates from outside the Commonwealth go in duty free. The European Common Market has determined its common tariff which places a duty of £4 16s. sterling a ton on the metals, lead and zinc, and allows the ores and concentrates in free of duty.
– What are the prices of those materials?
– I would not like to answer that question offhand. The duty is a substantial addition to the price. So, if the United Kingdom accepted the common tariff, our lead would be £5 3s. 6d. sterling a ton worse off competitively, and our zinc would be £6 6s. sterling a ton worse off competitively.
The matter goes further than that because the Common Market common tariff scheme still provides duty free entry for ores and concentrates. Of course, our objective is to sell metals overseas because we have smelting capacity, we want to provide employment and we want to earn as much export income as we can. We would be prejudiced in selling metals overseas because there is an incentive for the members of the Common Market to import the ores and concentrates duty free and do the smelting inside the Common Market area, with that disadvantageous duty on the metals against us. This is an important matter. Our exports of lead to the United Kingdom are at the rate of £12,000,000 worth a year. Our exports of zinc to the United Kingdom are at the rate of £2,500,000 a year. A substantial trade is involved.
We notice that the same position applies to bauxite. There is a common tariff of 10 per cent, on alumina and 11 per cent, on aluminium. That makes it more difficult for us to sell the finished product than to sell the raw material.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation call together the rationalization committee to examine the practice of Trans-Australia Airlines and AnsettA.N.A. aircraft arriving at and departing from Tasmanian airports at about the same time, when staggered arrivals and departures obviously would give better service to the travelling public and permit a smoother traffic flow which would assist the airport control officers and relieve congestion generally? Will the committee, when called together, also look into the possibility of at least one airline providing a service to Tasmania on Sunday mornings? At the present time there is no service whatever for passengers or the transport of mainland Sunday newspapers until 4 o’clock on Sunday afternoons. I believe that if a morning flight could be restored a very valuable service would be rendered to the Tasmanian people.
– This is not the first time that Senator O’Byrne has raised the subject of airline time-tables. Other honorable senators have also raised it. The matter has been discussed at great length with both operators. In actual operations it is important that aircraft should be so positioned at the appropriate time as to be able to lift the greatest available traffic. In other words, it is important to get the greatest use. from units, consistent with public convenience. In view of what the- honorable senator has said about Tasmanian services, I will ask. again that the matter be examined. I am quite sure, that if any improvement can be made both operators will co-operate in making it because they are keen to provide a good service to the public and to make the best use of their aircraft.
The same position applies to the Sunday flights. I can only assume that any reduction in services has occurred because the operators have found flights to be uneconomic, particularly during the winter months. 1 will have a look at both questions asked by the honorable senator.
– The present capital of the Australian National Airlines Commission is £7,500,000. My recollection is that when the present Government took over from the Labour Government the capital provided for Trans-Australia Airlines was just over £4,000,000. I recall that £1,000,000 was made available in the last year of the Labour Party’s administration, although there was no apparent desire or requirement for it. No doubt that was to ensure that the commission would have plenty of capital if a1 succeeding government wished to chase the airline out of business. That, of course, has not proved to be the case.
– That is an assumption.
– It is a pretty intelligent one.
– That is only another assumption.
– I can recall quite well the dividend history in recent years. Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan asked for information about the dividends paid over the last ten years. The first dividend was 3i per cent. I speak subject to correction, but I think it was paid in 1949-50. A bond rate dividend of 3i per cent, was paid the following year. Then Trans-Australia Airlines, went off the dividend list for three or four years. It came back on to the list in 1955 when it paid a dividend of 3 per cent. In 1956, it paid a dividend of 4 per cent. In the years since then it has paid a steady 5 per cent, dividend.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Health recollect that in March this year I asked him a question in relation to Salk vaccine and a serum for immunization against virus influenza? Does he also recollect that I followed up that question on 19th April when I asked him whether the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories were able to cope with the position and whether vaccine would be available to the States in sufficient quantities when wanted? Does he further recollect that I asked that the matter be treated as one of urgency to ensure that any assistance which was required by the laboratories was given immediately or as early as possible? I ask him whether he remembers that part of his answer was - i am confident that he-
That is, the Minister for Health- has the problem well in hand, and that he will take steps to ensure that we are not short of vaccine.
I now ask the Minister whether he has observed reports in the press that of nineteen cases of poliomyelitis reported in New South Wales more than two-thirds had failed to be immunized, and that there have been some deaths, as a result of virus influenza, of juveniles who had not been immunized-. Are statistics in relation to poliomyelitis - such as the number of cases reported and how many persons so stricken had been immunized - available to the Department of Health? Can similar statistics in relation to virus influenza be made available? I should like him, if he would be so good, to inform me of the number of cases reported to the Department of Health, the number given immunization and treatment, and- the number of deaths. Will- he say also whether a State at any time has asked the Commonwealth Government for vaccine?
– I do not recall the details of Senator Cooke’s questions, but I well remember his great interest in this matter and the fact that from time to time he asked me a series of questions to which 1 have supplied answers. I understood him to say that there had been some deaths because of failure to immunize. I read the press report of the matter and I do not recall that failure to immunize was due to lack of vaccine. One must bear in mind that there are still members of some sections of the public who fail to have their children immunized, which is more the pity, I think. If the honorable senator will put his questions on the notice-paper I shall endeavour to obtain from the Minister for Health the long list of statistics that he seeks.
– I direct to the Minister for National Development a question which is supplementary to the question asked by Senator Laught in relation to Commonwealth assistance to States for the purpose of improving ports. Has the State of Western Australia recently submitted to the Commonwealth Government a case for assistance with respect to any Western Australian port? If so, which ports have been the subject of such submissions, and will the Minister outline the nature and purpose of the assistance required?
– No application, to my knowledge, has been made by Western Australia for this purpose, unless the railway standardization proposals indirectly affect port construction.
– I direct to the Minister for the Navy a question in relation to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Australian Navy. My information is that celebrations have already been held in Canberra, Sydney. Darwin and Brisbane. Having regard to the fact that Melbourne is virtually the cradle of the Navy, in that Williamstown was, I think, the first naval training establishment, that Osborne House, Geelong, was the home of the first naval college, and that Flinders Naval Base, 40 miles from Melbourne, has been very prominent in the growth of the Navy, are any celebrations proposed for Melbourne? If so, when? If not, why not?
-] am almost led to the belief that Senator Sandford stays as far away from Melbourne as some other senators stay away from their home States. The facts are that the first function of the year in relation to this occasion was held in Melbourne on board H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “, and was attended by the Administrator of the Commonwealth, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, and leading citizens. Following that, two open days were held at Flinders Naval Base, which was referred to by Senator Sandford, to which thousands of people came, when there was a fly-past and other exhibitions, which were well publicized in the press.
– My information is wrong?
– Definitely so.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister, for Shipping and Transport. Is he aware - I think that as a former Minister for Shipping and Transport he is - that the Commonwealth 3ft. 6in. line running from Quorn to Port Augusta is still in commission but that for practical purposes it is used only for the conveyance of locomotives and rolling stock being sent from the Peterborough-Quorn section for repairs at Port Augusta? Does he know that a considerable quantity of wheat, about 45,000 to 50,000 bags annually, is grown at Quorn, and that instead of being conveyed the 25 miles or so between Quorn and Port Augusta by rail the wheat is taken over the Quorn-Peterborough-Gladstone section of the South Australian railways for shipment at Port Pirie, which involves a journey of between 100 and 150 miles? Have investigations been made as to the feasibility of economically using the Commonwealth section of the railway line to which I have referred for the transport of wheat to Port Augusta, where facilities for shipping exist?
– I* am aware that, as indicated by the honorable senator. use of the line from Quorn to Port Augusta is restricted to movement of locomotives and rolling stock for servicing purposes. If my memory is correct, this position originated a few years ago after a most intensive survey of the traffic potentialities of the line. It is my recollection that the uplift of wheat as described, finishing at Gladstone, was then assessed as being more economical than maintaining in service locomotives and rolling stock on the Quorn to Port Augusta section. Because of the involved matters of operation, I shall refer the question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and ask that he have it examined by his department.
– The Minister representing the Postmaster-General will, I am sure, remember that over the last couple of years I have been trying to persuade the Postmaster-General to delete section 16 of the Post and Telegraph Act, which confines him to entering into mail contracts only with people who have white skins. To date the answer has been that the Minister was reviewing the act. Although over the last two years he has made some amendments to it, he has not got around to this section. Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral in this chamber again bring this question of section 16 to the notice of the Postmaster-General? If he feels that the section upholds a concept which is no longer acceptable in Australia or, indeed, throughout the world, and if he has not yet had an opportunity of examining the whole of the Post and Telegraph Act, will he bring down a simple amendment to achieve what I think would be a desirable result?
– I make no claims to being a prophet, but I have a very strong feeling that the honorable senator will see the results of the Minister’s examination of his suggestions very soon.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In consequence of the determination of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on the basic wage recently, have adjustments been made to the salaries of public servants? If so, what was the aggregate amount involved? Has any assessment been made of the cost of that increase, inclusive of capital expenditure, in salaries and wages in respect of the whole of the Public Service?
– I understand that the relevant adjustments have been made in payments of salaries and wages. I do not know the amount involved. I shall inquire of the Treasurer and let the honorable senator know.
– I understand that Senator Wade has an answer to a question that I asked yesterday regarding government contracts.
– Yesterday, Senator Willesee reminded me that he had not yet received an answer to a question he had asked regarding the letting of government contracts. My colleague, the Minister for Works, has furnished information in the following terms: -
Senator Willesee has sought some information about the circumstances in which the Department of Works invites contractors to register for particular jobs.
With certain large or complicated contracts, or where time is likely to be an important element, the department may publicly invite prospective tenderers to register. This is done some four to eight weeks prior to the actual drawings becoming available. During this period the department is able to check on the building and financial capacity of each contractor, and his ability to complete the job within the time specified. As soon as the department’s documents are ready, they are supplied to all those who have registered, to enable them to submit their tender prices.
In addition to saving a good deal of time,’ this system can also save some contractors unnecessary expense. The preparation of a tender for a big job can be a costly procedure, and if a contractor clearly does not have the capacity for the job, he is given the opportunity of withdrawing. Having once registered, however, he still has the right to put in a tender.
From this it will be seen that there is no difference between calling tenders and asking contractors to register with the department before submitting their tenders. Both are done publicly, but in some cases the second method can result in considerable savings for all concerned.
– I direct the following questions to the Minister representing the Treasurer: - Is it the policy of any section of the Commonwealth banking system, under the very able leadership of Dr. Coombs, to conduct schools or seminars to consider, amongst other matters, the more advanced questions of banking and foreign exchange? In addition to Australian banking personnel, have banker guests from South-East Asia and the Colombo Plan nations attended such schools or seminars in the past? For future schools and seminars, could invitations be extended to bankers from countries with which trade relations are being sought, particularly the South American countries? Could those attending from overseas be invited as well to examine Australia’s agriculture and industrial potential during the course of their visits?
– I do not think that anything on the grand scale suggested by the honorable senator has been undertaken by the central bank or by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. In the past, banks have engaged in what I regard as being at least a useful practice of distributing, on a scale which I have never bothered to ascertain, literature in connexion with currency, banking and like matters. I have been informed by school teachers that this practice has proved quite valuable. As I have said, it is not within my knowledge that banks have gone beyond that point, but I shall be pleased to refer the suggestion to the Governor of the Reserve Bank.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, relates to the provisions of the Treaty of Rome in regard to central banking. The Minister will recall that the treaty provides for a central bank to be established for the purpose of controlling exchange as between members of the European Economic Community. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether that means that the individual central banks of the member nations will cease to exist and that a banking structure superimposed upon the nations’ banks and controlled by one central bank will replace them, or whether each nation will retain its own central bank? If the member nations do retain their own central banks, can the Minister say how that will fit into the financial structure of the Common Market, and whether a central bank will be superimposed upon the central banks of the units?
– I believe that it is not the immediate intention of the members of the European Economic Community to bring to a halt the activities of their central banks, but it would seem to be a reasonable conclusion that over a period of time banks would, in fact, merge into one central bank, particularly if progress along trade and political lines was accomplished reasonably speedily. This is, of course, one of the questions, apart from the trade aspect of the European Economic Community, that has been engaging the attention of the Government. The honorable senator will appreciate that wrapped up with this question is the very important question of the location where Australia’s overseas funds will be held. All that I am able to tell Senator Vincent is that important possible developments in relation to the European Economic Community are under very active consideration.
Debate resumed from 16th August (vide page 46), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- » The purpose of the bill before the Senate is to amend the War Service Homes Act 1918-1956 with respect to two separate and distinct aspects of the administration of the war service homes scheme. The first amendment, to which the Opposition has no objection, relates to section 29 of the principal act and is designed to place beyond legal doubt the practice under which purchasers or borrowers under the war service homes scheme may use the amounts accumulated to their credit to meet expenditure directly related to their property. This will now be established as a principle under the act. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) stated in his second reading speech -
Advice has now been received from the Attorney-General’s Department that while section 29 of the act remains in its present form, deposits by purchasers or borrowers may not be used for any other purpose than the payment of instalments or arrears of instalments.
For many years ex-servicemen acquiring a war service home have been encouraged to make excess payments and it has been the custom to advise them that -they may withdraw amounts from , their accumulated credits to meet costs and charges directly related to the properly.
Paragraph (a) of proposed new subsection (3a.) reads -
a purchaser or borrower with respect to land or land and a dwelling-house requests the Director to make available out of deposits and interest accumulated to the credit of the purchaser or borrower under this section an amount specified in the request for the discharge of the whole or a part of a liability incurred or to be incurred by the purchaser or borrower for or in connexion with -
This provision will give legal authority for loans to be made to eligible applicants for the purposes that are outlined. The War Service Homes Division has, in the past, made a practice of allowing eligible exservicemen to apply for advances so that they could keep their homes in a good state of repair. It is essential to the success of the scheme that maintenance be kept up, but one of the difficulties facing the scheme is the ever-increasing cost of maintenance, repairs and extensions. It is appalling that over the years this magnificent scheme has deteriorated because of the ever-present inflationary process. I do not suppose that the effects of inflation are anywhere more noticeable than in the figures relating to the War Service Homes Division. I understand that more than 1,000,000 exservicemen from the first and second world wars and the Korean and Malayan campaigns were eligible for war service homes. Due to various factors, the number now is considerably smaller than that, but during the last few years there has been a steady decline in the number of applicants for war service homes loans.
That there is inflation in this country is evident from the figures relating to the cost of construction of homes. In 1949, the maximum loan available under the scheme was £2,000. That was the year in which the present Government promised to put value back into the £1 and made all kinds of other promises. Many of those promises remain unfulfilled. We never see the press directing attention to the promises that were made by the Government parties in 1949, although those promises remain unfulfilled. However, when the Labour Party announces a policy, the newspapers come out with screaming headlines to the effect that it is impossible to carry out that policy. The figures I am about to give will show the effect of the Government’s economic policy over the years. By 1952 the cost of building a home hadincreased so muchthat the Government found it necessary to increase the maximum loan under the war service homes scheme to £2,750. That has been the figure ever since.
I should like to tell the Senate of the increases in the average cost of dwelling houses and land since this Government came into office. In 1949, when the maximum loan was £2,000, it cost £1,939 to build a house in New South Wales, £1,793 in Queensland, £1,819 in South Australia, £1,864 in Western Australia, £1,771 in Tasmania, £2,127 in Victoria - that is £127 more than the loan - and £2,099 in the Australian Capital Territory, or £99 more than the loan. In 1952 the loan was increased to £2,750, but the cost of a house has increased to £2,942 in New South Wales, £2,973 in Victoria, £2,705 in Queensland, £2,940 in South Australia, £2,969 in Western Australia, £2,654 in Tasmania and £3,687 in the Australian Capital Territory. Those figures show that in a most important sector of our economy this wicked inflationary process was continuing. The war service homes scheme was established in 1918, after the First World War, on the principle that men who were prepared to go overseas and risk life and limb in the cause of their country should, on their return, be given an opportunity to have a stake in the country they had helped to defend. I think that was the principle underlying the scheme, and it has been accepted down the years by whatever government
Although the maximum loan was raised in 1952 to £2,750, the fact that the average cost of homes has risen by over £200 more than the increase in the loan in that year should have demonstrated to the Government very forcibly that inflation had galloped. When all is said and done, the Government has some control over war service homes, even though in most other fields it has relinquished its responsibility or has passed the buck to the States. In the States the public debt per head of the population has been rising steadily, but the Commonwealth debt per head of the population has been declining because of this Government’s policy of passing its responsibility to the States. As I have indicated, in the war service homes field the Commonwealth Government has had full responsibility and it cannot blame anybody else for the trend that has occurred.
The amount of money that is allocated annually in the Estimates for the war service homes budget allocation remains much the same. The maximum loan still stands at £2,750. Even though in 1959-60 the maximum loan was £2,750, the average cost of building a house in New South Wales was £3,949; in Victoria, £4,109; in Queensland, £3,453; in South Australia, £4,190; in Western Australia, £3,792; in Tasmania, £3,595; and in the Australian Capital Territory, £5,638. The same trend is evident in the cost of land. That is because of the activities of land sharks and all the other people who are given encouragement in
War Service Homes Bill.
I have referred to the land sharks and the greedy members of the community. There is no doubt about the fact that greed, if encouraged, quickly becomes a basic element of people’s nature. Early in the history of the world the survival of the fittest was the governing law of human nature. If that law had been followed to its logical conclusion, the only people who would now be surviving would be the giants - those who were 6 ft. 6 in. high. But the law of the survival of the fittest has been replaced by the law of live and let live. In the economic sphere, however, neither of those rules applies; the governing principle is the survival of the slickest or of the most cunning. In the realm of economies, the law of the jungle, the law of the savage, the law of the animal is the law that prevails.
What I have just said is reflected in the land boom. By some stroke of fortune or by some other method people have been able to acquire land on the perimeter of cities and later allowed to charge exorbitant prices for it. That is because, through no effort of their own but through community effort, roads have been constructed, kerbs and guttering have been supplied, electricity has been made available, and other facilities such as tram or bus services have been provided.
It is the policy of the Commonwealth Government to bring to this country approximately 100,000 migrants a year. The natural increase of our own population and the migrant intake adds to the pressing demand for land. But at land sales it is just an open go. All the great principles underlying a scheme such as the war service homes scheme are being undermined by that element in the community which has no sense of public responsibility or no desire to see honoured the promise that
was”: made to make war service homes available to those who become eligible for them. These members of the community - the land sharks and others who are encouraging inflation - through their own selfishness make it increasingly difficult for people to obtain their own homes.
– Would not those principles be further undermined by Labour’s proposal to budget for a deficit of something like £100,000,000?
– If Senator Robertson will cast her mind back-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator must not develop the theme of inflation any further. He has gone well outside the scope of the bill already.
– I am foreshadowing an amendment.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! That amendment is not contained in the bill. The honorable senator may not deal with anything that is not contained in the measure before us.
– But earlier to-day I gave notice of my intention to submit an amendment.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! The time to deal with the amendment will be after it has been moved. I have given the honorable senator quite a deal of latitude. He must not develop any further the theme with which he has been dealing.
– All I wish to say, Mr. Deputy President, is that the men who have fought in two wars and who are eligible for war service homes are entitled to wonder whether the cost of those homes will ever be met. It is quite easy for countries like Australia, England, Japan and the United States of America to find the money that is necessary to run a war. But now, in a period of so-called peace, we are haggling about whether we should allow people to get a second loan if they move from one State to another and about whether land sharks should be entitled to benefit from the acquisition of such homes. That is what the amendments in the bill deal with. I am trying to point out that the policy of this Government has brought about all the anomalies that have made the amending legislation necessary.
There is a premium on dishonesty in the community to-day. The smartest and the most dishonest people can make the most money. Even the War Service Homes Division is finding out that, when we get right down to tin tacks, the making available of homes to ex-servicemen is becoming a racket. I do not think that the interest rate in question is extremely low, particularly when we consider that the money made available is the taxpayers’ money which has been collected without interest and is being made available to the War Service Homes Division for distribution. An interest rate of 3$ per cent, is a considerable rate of interest to cover the cost of distribution. The fact that the rate of interest payable on war service homes is lower than the rate applicable to finance obtained from other sources encourages the greed that is abroad in the community. That is exemplified by the fact that eligible ex-servicemen are encouraged to avail themselves of loans that may be obtained from the War Service Homes Division and then to sell the homes constructed with that finance to ineligible people at a higher rate of interest. One of the amendments that will be considered by honorable senators is designed to deal with that situation.
Embodied in the act is a principle which is intended to prevent the transfer of a war service home while the property is still subject to a security under the act. The Minister for National Development said, in his second-reading speech, that the war service homes legislation had contained such a provision ever since it was first enacted in 1918. The Minister stated - . . practices have developed which to a certain extent circumvent the provisions of the act. These practices enable ineligible persons to acquire a war service home on the beneficial terms intended only to be enjoyed by eligible exservicemen and their dependants.
The Minister said later in his speech, in relation to the transfer of war service homes -
Briefly, where the proposed transferee is an eligible person approved by the director, the transfer may be approved on such conditions as the director determines. Where the proposed transferee is not an eligible person approved by the director, the director must be satisfied that the transfer is in the interests of the transferor and that the director is not aware of any other eligible person approved by him who is willing to become the transferee, and such other conditions as the director determines.
A great deal has been said from time to time, Mr. Deputy President, about the problems of eligible ex-servicemen who have acquired homes under the War Service Homes Act, are obliged to transfer from one State or one city to another, and seek a second loan from the division. This matter has been discussed many times in the Senate and in another place, and it also has been widely discussed by ex-servicemen’s organizations. In many such cases, second loans are warranted.
Repayments to the division go into the National Debt Sinking Fund, and that is the last that the division sees or hears of them. It has been strongly contended that such money should be placed in a fund and be available to the Director of War Service Homes, so that he might make second loans at his discretion, having examined applications and the reasons why ex-servicemen had been obliged to sell their original homes, or to transfer from one place to another, and to seek a second loan. If that system were adopted, there would be no question of ex-servicemen, who had been waiting a considerable period for loans, being deprived of their share of the annual allocation.
The amounts allocated for war service homes have not substantially altered over the years. In 1957-58, the allocation was £35,182,000. In 1958-59, it was £35,158,000; in 1969-60, it was £35,067,000; in 1960-61, it was approximately £35,000,000, and there has been no alteration of that amount in the current year. The Budget papers make no reference to any proposed increase in the allocation for war service homes purposes. As we know, the cost of home building is increasing each year. In New South Wales, it has risen during the last ten years from £2,080 to £3,900. In many instances, home-building costs have increased by nearly 100 per cent. The number of exservicemen applying for advances from the division is decreasing each year. Repayments are increasing by approximately £20,000,000 a year. Interest payments on mortgages also are increasing annually.
Since repayments amount to approximately £20,000,000 a year, the actual amount which the Government finds for war service homes is only about £15,000,000 a year. If the actual expendi ture were to be increased to £35,000,000 a year, loans could be increased and people might be able to borrow sufficient from the division either to build or purchase a home at current prices. As most people who have had dealings with the division know, difficulty is experienced by eligible ex-servicemen in obtaining additional finance from outside sources. At various times the Minister has cited figures relating to surveys that have been made of the rates of interest being paid on such finance. The fact that in many cases only half of the amount required to build or buy a home is available from the division is a grave reflection on the war service homes scheme. If ex-servicemen are obliged to pay rates of interest varying between 10 per cent, and 12 per cent, on additional finance, it means that they are in fact paying 6i or 7 per cent., on an average, on the money needed to build or buy a home. Therefore, although many ex-servicemen obtain loans from the division at 3i per cent, or 4 per cent, interest, they are in fact paying current rates of interest overall. The advantage that ex-servicemen should enjoy in being able to borrow money at a reasonably low rate of interest is therefore cancelled by the necessity to pay high rates of interest for the additional finance that they must obtain.
There is another very important matter which I think should be raised while we are debating this subject. I refer to the exclusion of single men from eligibility for advances from the War Service Homes Division. Under the act, before an exserviceman becomes eligible he must be supporting his parents, or one of them, or be married or about to marry. I have reached the conclusion at this late stage of my life that there is a reason for everything under the sun except a bachelor. There is no such thine as a permanent bachelor. I admit that it took me a long time to reach that conclusion. Some day, every bachelor will marry.
– How do you know?
– The honorable senator will meet his Waterloo one of these days, and he will be twice as rich then as he is now. If single ex-servicemen were eligible for advances from the division they would have an opportunity, at a time when their commitments were not so great as they might be later on, to pay off a home and invest money in a very important field.
– Is not a single man who is supporting his mother eligible for a loan?
– Yes. He also is eligible if he can supply the name of the woman he intends to marry but such information is not always reliable because he may be playing the field at that’ time. I think’ consideration should be given to providing loans for single men generally.
– You can no longer speak for single men.
– I am speaking for them because very few members of Parliament are prepared to speak for them. I think that I can state the case for single men without appearing to act selfishly. I should like to hear Senator Wood develop this theme.
I would like to see the principles of the war service homes scheme extended to other than ex-servicemen. The scheme at present applies exclusively to ex-servicemen. Over the years the War Service Homes Division has done a wonderful job in providing homes for ex-servicemen who otherwise would not have been able to acquire them. The scheme has been described at times as a great concept of national effort. If the scheme were properly co-ordinated and if it received a greater measure of Government assistance, more people would be able to obtain suitable homes. The officers responsible for administering the scheme are acting under strict instructions and their activities are governed by a very tight budget. They are the victims of a force beyond their control - the inflationary process with which this country is afflicted. A great many applications are made annually for assistance under the scheme and those applications must be investigated. The Government should evolve another scheme similar to the war service homes scheme to enable any person to obtain a home at a reasonable cost and with provision for re-payment of the advance spread over a long period of time. At one time we had great hopes that the housing problem would be solved by the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, but owing to the interference of Government policy in the carrying out of the agreement, the housing problem has not been solved. We see the funds provided for housing purposes being needlessly dissipated. We have too many co-operative movements. The idea of the co-operative building society is a good one, but too many mushroom co-operatives have sprung up. Each of these co-operatives must employ office staff and a large amount of money that would otherwise be available for home building is being paid in wages to such staffs. That is a negative trend. It is a pity that the funds that should be mads available for home building are being dissipated in that way.
The amendments to the act proposed by this bill do close gaps that have developed over the years because of the factors that I outlined- earlier in my remarks. It is a pity that we have abroad in the community people who will exploit every possible loophole. That such loopholes have to be closed as soon as they are revealed is a reflection on the moral standards of our people.
The Opposition supports the bill but at a later stage we will use the forms of the Senate to move an amendment to the bill.
– in reply - I have listened with a good deal of interest to what Senator O’Byrne has said. The bill has two purposes only. The first is to regulate the procedure that has been in operation for very many years enabling ex-servicemen to leave money to the credit of their account and to draw it for specific purposes. That custom has been well established. It is a custom that is very well regarded by those who occupy war service homes. The second purpose of the bill is to ensure that war service homes finance is used in the way in which it is intended to be used.
Senator O’Byrne ranged far and wide in his speech. He dealt with a number of other general principles relating to war service homes finance. I assure the honorable senator that I have a very powerful reply to> all of the arguments that he advanced. However, as we have a bill before us that deals with two matters only I do not propose to embark on a general debate on the other matters raised by Senator O’Byrne. I content myself with thanking the Opposition for giving its support to the two principles that are embodied in the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) - by leave - I move -
That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole on the War Service Homes Bill 1961 to consider an amendment to section twenty-one, sub-section (1.), of the Principal Act in the following terms: -
Leave out the words “Two thousand seven hundred and fifty pounds “, insert “ Three thousand five hundred pounds “.
The Opposition considers that events are moving very rapidly, not only in regard to the War Service Homes Division and allocations for homes made under the act, but also throughout the community generally. I should like to refer to an article in this morning’s Melbourne “ Age “ which directs attention to the fact that the trend of home building generally throughout Australia was sharply reversed last month. The article reads, in part -
The July figures issued to-night -
That was last night -
The article also said that approvals granted for new houses and flats fell by 7,152 compared with the corresponding period of 1960.
In my second-reading speech I pointed out that applications received for the building of homes under the act have declined and the loans granted have declined correspondingly. We have to look for the cause of that decline. My firm belief is that the situation exists because insufficient money is being made available to enable ex-servicemen to avail themselves of the provisions of the act. As I pointed out previously, the maximum loan of £2,750 is insufficient. The conditions under which eligible applicants may borrow money from other financial institutions are prohibitive in many cases. We believe that an amendment of the act to provide for a maximum loan of £3,500 would bring the loan within a reasonable distance of the present cost of building a home. In previous years it was possible to borrow enough money to build or buy a home under the terms of the act; but those days have gone. The carrying of this amendment to the act would improve the position, although it would not overcome the problem completely.
This amendment should be in conformity with government policy because the Government claims that it wants to stimulate building and wants to inject into the community an opportunity for people to purchase homes. This, in turn, would give a stimulus to the timber industry. If more applications for loans to build homes were granted, the downward trend would stop. More plasterers, bricklayers, cabinet-makers, painters, furniture manufacturers and other people connected with home building and furnishing would have opportunities for work if this stimulus were given. This is a very opportune time for the Government to show its good faith in its claim that if wants to stimulate the economy. There is no better way and no way which is more justified than allowing ex-servicemen to get the rights which were promised to them and have been granted readily to them under the act over the years. However, at the present time ex-servicemen are being deprived of those rights because of the inflationary processes which have been outside their control. Therefore, on behalf of the Opposition I submit this motion.
– I regret to inform Senator O’Byrne and the Opposition that the Government is not prepared to agree to this instruction being given to the Committee of the Whole. I will state the reasons briefly. This is a short bill designed to amend two deficiencies in the existing act. The bill does not deal with major matters of policy in relation to war service homes. If such major matters of policy were to be dealt with, they would be dealt with in the Budget. If there is criticism of or dissatisfaction with the Budget proposals in relation to war service homes, the appropriate time to argue the matter is in the debate on the Estimates and the Budget Papers and during the consideration of the Estimates. I cannot acquiesce in the suggestion that this is an appropriate time to deal with the matter.
If this proposal were adopted it could have a major effect upon the Budget. Of course, honorable senators opposite may well say that the answer to my statement is that the same amount of money could be used with a different formula, but there would be different arrangements generally. I know that what I am about to say is not quite correct, but I do submit that Senator O’Byrne’s submission comes close to the sort of proposal which should not originate in the Senate because its acceptance would increase the appropriation. I know that is not quite right, because this proposal does not affect the overall amount budgeted for, but such a material change in war service homes arrangements would be made that Senator O’Byrne’s submission comes close to it. 1 wish to give some figures in order to show the effect of the proposal. Under the existing arrangements, from the present allocation of £35,000,000 the Government is giving assistance to 14,150 applicants annually. If the maximum loan were increased to £3,500, the servicing of the same number of applicants in a comparable manner would require an increase of expenditure from £35,000,000 to £47,000,000. If the allocation were retained at £35,0,00,000, the maximum loan were increased to £3,500 and each applicant took the maximum loan, then the number of applicants who could be assisted would be reduced to 10,700. Under the present formula we assist 14,150 each year, but if the formula were changed, as suggested by Senator O’Byrne, the number of applicants assisted would fall to 10,700. In the circumstances now existing, the proposal is not warranted because, . on the average, the present maximum loan of £2,750 is not being utilized. In the last three years, the average loan for new houses was £2,691, £2,684 and £2,701 respectively. The figures are similar in regard to other categories of advances. They, too, show that on the average the maximum amount of loan is not being utilized.
This is a very big matter. The allocation of £35,000,000 for war service homes is a very big item in the Budget and one to which we all give a lot of thought. I gave a lot of thought to it in regard to the reduction of applicants. As Senator O’Byrne said, the number of applicants has dropped to quite a material extent. The decision as to what was the best thing to do in the interests of ex-servicemen was really a first-class problem. I am sure that what we did was right. I am sure that it was right to eliminate the waiting time rather than to increase the advance. There is no waiting time for 60 per cent, of applicants for war service homes. By eliminating waiting time we eliminated not only the higher interest rates paid for temporary finance but also the duplication of legal costs. The net result, according to the computations that we made, was that the elimination of the waiting time meant a saving of some £200 to each of those applicants who was able to avoid the waiting time. A saving of £200 is in the nature of an increase in the maximum advance.
– How long has that applied?
– Some three months or so. It was applied tentatively and it still applies, being subject to a review if the total amount of advances sought exceeds £35,000,000. I have retained the provision as a precaution. The trend of applications makes it increasingly clear that the number is falling. I have very great hopes that we shall be able to retain the provision permanently within the limits of the total vote of £35,000,000. I think that the elimination of the waiting time was faT better, in the interests of ex-servicemen, than increasing the advance. We are able to deal with a greater number of applicants. On the average, they do not take the maximum advance available. The amount of £2,750 is higher than the average amount made available by the Commonwealth Savings Bank and other savings banks. There is a low interest rate and there is ready access to the money. Nowhere else can anyone wanting to purchase a new home get money without waiting. One has- to wait his turn with savings banks, insurance companies, and other organizations, and he does not receive any more than £2,750. Advances for war service homes are made at a very advantageous rate of interest and applicants are supported by a first-class organization in the division.
I am not quite certain, Mr. President, whether what I have said is appropriate to the motion, but this is a very important matter to which I have given a lot of thought, and out of courtesy to the Senate I wished to make the explanation as well as formally replying.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 222) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23rd August (vide page 206), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the following paper -
Australia and the Common Market - Statement by the Prime Minister dated 16th August, 1961- be printed.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert “the Senate, while declaring that the United Kingdom’s move to join the Common Market requires the strongest action to protect Australia’s interests, expresses no confidence in this Government’s ability to provide it because of its lack of foresight and frankness in this matter, its dilatoriness now, and its continuing failure, as demonstrated by the Prime Minister’s speech, to appreciate the real issues which are involved “.
– Mr. President and honorable senators, I rise to support the motion for the printing of the ministerial paper and to reject the amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I think it is to be regretted that, having prepared a speech which bore evidence of very wide research on his part, he moved such a feeble amendment in connexion with such a very important matter.. The amendment is neither more nor less than a censure on this coalition Government, and it is based on very poor foundations. This assertion is proved by the quotations that the honorable senator made during his speech. His quotations from speeches that had been delivered by former Governors-General, in 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960 and yet again in the early part of this year all bore evidence of the fact that the entry of Britain into the European Economic Market was being kept under very close observation by Australia and relevant events were being reviewed. Therefore, I submit that the amendment, which is really a motion of censure against this Government, is quite undeserved. If any political party has been to blame for our being unprepared for this issue, I think it is the Australian Labour Party and its co-party in Great Britain. Indeed, the London “Observer” has made the most trenchant criticism of the British Labour Party for that reason. On 9th August, 1961, when the matter of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community was what might be called very hot, this is what the London “ Observer “ had to say about the Labour Party in Great Britain -
The most depressing feature of the debate was the Labour Party’s apparent unawareness of this change. It is alarming -
I want honorable senators to note this particularly, because I think it is alarming for Australia, too - to have a prospective Chancellor of the Exchequer who supposes that we alone can remain banker and provider for the Commonwealth, and who sees the case for entering the community merely as “ the problematic and marginal advantage of selling washing-machines in Dusseldorf”.
I think that is very severe criticism. It would appear from the speeches of most of the members of the Opposition that they, too, are in that state of unpreparedness and do not know what will be the outcome - if any one of us could know that - of Britain entering the Common Market.
Having directed attention to that very severe criticism, I say that this unawareness is very evident in ihe amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I realize, of course, that some members of the Opposition have made passing reference to the growth of the idea that Britain should become a part of the European Common Market. Senator Cooke, for instance, quoted from his recent speeches passages which showed that he had a partial awareness of what was happening. Senator Hendrickson, too, when discussing a government White Paper on 14th July, reviewing the economic activity of Australia, directed attention to the fact that Australia’s trade with Britain was changing and that this could cause grave concern for Australia’s customers for wheat, butter, sugar and dairy products. I should like to quote what Senator Hendrickson said regarding the Common Market because I think it has a very great bearing on our thought to-day on this subject. On 4th July, he stated -
To me the Common Market makes common sense - for Europe. It will create a solid basis for federation. But we are Australian and we put Australia first. Australia has everything to lose but how best to cut the “ apron strings “ is -the problem.
Australia’s trade with Britain is changing. There :is a movement away from the Commonwealth and from the United Kingdom in particular.
During the past few years Australia’s exports Ho foreign countries have exceeded its trade with members of the Commonwealth. Asian and African members of the Commonwealth have made it clear that they intend to go their own way in economic affairs.
He then went on to say - and this I think was the pungent part of his remarks -
Australia’s economic survival is bound up with Asia. In 30 years’ time Asia’s population will be -more than 3,000,000,000. Across the Pacific Ocean -there is the large and valuable market of South America and there are many other untapped sources It is clear that already Asia is unable ito feed its rapidly growing population. 1 thoroughly agree with what Senator Hendrickson said at that time, and I think we would do well to develop our Asian and South African markets in that field. From a geographical point .of view, that is plain common sense. The honorable senator’s suggestion shows that at least one member of the Opposition agrees with the present Government, which has done everything within its power to expand our trade with those countries. There is no need for me to quote the figures for Japan which has become, of course, one of our very best customers. It will be recalled that the Labour Opposition did not agree, at the time, with the Governments proposal to conclude a trade agreement with Japan.
Sena. or ‘Hendrickson is nol alone id thinking that that is the trend for Australia. On this subject, John Eddy, who is a well-known economist, had this to say -
If we are going to live in an Asian trading world to some extent, instead of an English one, when Britain joins the European Common Market - and it looks a foregone conclusion - we can maintain our standard of living only by becoming more self-sufficient and more efficient and by -buttressing our Pacific ties with the United States of America and Canada.
We shall be on our own to sink or swim if we lose preferences .for some of our primary products in the British market, which is the probable price the European countries will demand for taking Britain into partnership.
All the signs are that our new marketing future lies with the fast-growing countries of Asia. Japan has already supplanted Britain as far and away our biggest wool buyer. As her standard oi living rises, and it is growing fast, she is beginning to take our sugar and wheat and is pressing for more of our pig iron and coal.
He continued -
If it should so happen that Britain is able to obtain the consent of her new European partners to continue some of her preferences to us - and this is not a possibly to bank on - any new markets we can find for ourselves will be all to the good.
Wool, of course, is not directly affected, but it does play some part.
Then we have the testimony of Sir John Winnifred the secretary to the British Minister for Agriculture. When he was in Australia recently he also pressed the point that Australia should find in Asia a promising sphere for trade in the future. He was pleased that Australia had developed already some markets in that area and hoped that it would continue to do so. I think that the rising standards of living in the countries of Asia - helped immeasurably by the Colombo Plan - will give us a unique opportunity to expand our trade. Our problem could be made less difficult by a reduction of taxation. If sales tax were removed completely from many of our foodstuffs, which are important items in family life, I am sure that the Australian consumption of these products, including butter, would rise considerably.
Wool promotion is something that we might attend to within our own borders. We do not use a great deal of wool in Australia. During the debate on the Wool Tax Assessment Bill it was interesting to note how many honorable senators condemned wool as an article of clothing, suggesting that it was not suitable for hot climates. I have spoken to a number of workers - miners and people who work in the tropics - and they have all told me that they wear woollen garments because the absorptive properties of wool are so good. They have told me that they have found wool to be much more satisfactory than cotton. During the Pan Pacific Conference which was held in Australia in January there was a great run on our woollen goods by women from the Pacific islands and tropical countries. If we could manage to produce very fine woollen garments suitable for the tropics, I feel sure that we would have no difficulty in selling more wool than we are able to produce at present.
I had the opportunity recently to visit the Sydney Trade Fair. I was very impressed by many of the conversations I heard when I stood in front of the various exhibits for the purpose of finding out what people thought about Australian goods. The interest in our goods was widespread. I should like to pay a tribute to the organizers of the fair and to each of the countries that brought their goods here for us to see. Particularly, I should like to praise my own State of Western Australia, which, I think, did a magnificent job. The Western Australian pavilion proved to be one of the brightest and most visited of the pavilions at the fair.
It was interesting to note the difference between our machinery and machinery from overseas, especially from Russia. In beauty of line and texture the Russian machinery, to my mind, did not compare with the machinery which we make in
Australia. I was very pleased to see that many people made that comparison. I think that Australia should take every opportunity to be represented at trade fairs, wherever they are held. I notice that there is to be an Afro-Asian trade fair in December. According to the “West Australian “ -
Leading businessmen of 38 African and Asian countries-
I ask the Senate to note the number -
II to IS to. discuss the impact of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community on their foreign trade.
The writer goes on to say -
Australian participation would be welcome, a spokesman from one of India’s main trading organizations told me. But the initiative for attending the talks must come from Australia.
I hope that we will be represented at that fair, which will give us an excellent opportunity to display the goods of which we are so proud and the sale of which will help the workers of Australia.
Senator McKenna, in a very informative speech, reminded us of the historical background to the development of the European Common Market. He reminded us of the wonderful words of Mr. Winston Churchill, later Sir Winston Churchill, when he pleaded for a united Europe. He wanted a Europe united politically, economically and socially. I remind honorable senators that even before that historic occasion there had been a movement for a federated Europe, embracing substantially what the European Common Market is now trying to establish. Many people, after the devastating experiences of war, thought that there should be some way to bring about a federated Europe so that war could be outlawed.
I have with me a book which no doubt some honorable senators have read. It was written by W. Ivor Jennings, a barristeratlaw of Grey’s Inn and a law reader at the University of London. He drew up a prospective constitution for a federated Europe. He said that it should not be regarded as a finished article, but should be treated only as a suggestion for bringing together the countries of Europe so that they might put up a common front. One of the chief objectives was a union for defined purposes, which could be brought under the headings of colonies, foreign affairs, defence and economic relations. One of the stipulations that* he made in suggesting a constitution was that, in other respects, the independence and organization of the federated states would remain untouched. He did not want that to be interfered with. Referring to Britain, for instance, he said -
Nothing would affect the position of the King, for instance, in relation to the United Kingdom, the Dominions, India or the British Empire. He would still be “ of Great Britain, Ireland, and the Dominions beyond the Sea, King, Emperor of India “.
Things have changed now, but the idea at that time was the same as the idea that is actuating the people who are trying to bring Europe together under a constitution that will make for peace in the world. Mr. Jennings continued -
The relations between the King, the Cabinet, Parliament and the people would remain unaltered.
I should like to quote a further passage, in which he says that such a federation would be of the greatest use for the preservation and maintenance of democracy. He wrote -
This is significant - . . to establish a dictatorial State within a free federation than it is for a Sovereign State to pass under the fist of a dictator. It is at once seen that this problem is a problem of maintaining certain fundamental rights which are essential to a democratic system - free elections, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom to form political parties, freedom to establish broadcasting systems or, alternatively, impartial control - and the like.
So some of the ideas that he had away back in 1939 and 1940 have come to fruition in the Treaty of Rome that we are considering to-day.
One of the striking statements he made was that if there could be established a confederation of Europe, which would lead to a world federation - of course, that is just what he was working towards - it might provide a solution for the immediate postwar problems in Europe and replace international anarchy by international government. I am quite sure all of us believe that the attainment of such an objective would be very desirable. His proposition, how ever, was an even broader concept than that of the European Common Market, lt was an endeavour to plan world government by federation. That would embrace foreign affairs, defence, economic relations and the development of democracy by international understanding - certainly a desirable objective.
Jennings pointed out that Europe was the cauldron in which most wars were brewed and that the banding together of the democracies of Europe could help to solve the problems of trade, defence and political and commercial advancement that we have mentioned. Now we have the ideas which have been simmering since 1940 more or less combined in the present situation. It is expedient that Britain should join the European Common Market and be one of the countries that perhaps will help to control the thinking of the world. Geographically, Great Britain is part and parcel of Europe just as Australia is part and parcel of the Pacific and Asian set-up. Britain’s greatest difficulty, however, will be to join the Common Market, with all that that implies, and at the same time safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth of Nations. I believe that her greatest opponent in her attempt to join this organization on the terms she would like will be de Gaulle. De Gaulle has made no secret of the fact that if Britain enters the Common Market she must do so without any conditions. I quote the following report of what he has said -
French President de Gaulle has stated publicly that Britain must come to the Common Market, but without putting conditions.
If Britain can use her influence and have Commonwealth trade protected as the price of her entry to the organization, she will again have shown herself to be one of the leading countries of the world.
I should like to close on this note: Great Britain has an exceedingly important decision to make. When all is said and done, it is Great Britain’s decision. Nothing that we can say will affect the situation one way or the other, except perhaps by bolstering the thought that she must try to protect her dominions. If Britain does join and if the European Common Market is the success that many of us think it has the chance of becoming, it could be the means of drawing the nations of the world into closer and more friendly relations and make this a better world for us to live in. Let me quote the closing words of Mr. Macmillan’s historic statement to the House of Commons. He said -
The underlying issues, European unity, the future of the Commonwealth, the strength of the Free World-
I emphasize that - are all of capital importance and it is because we firmly believe that the United Kingdom has a positive part to play in their development - for they are all related - that we ask the House of Commons to approve what we are doing.
I support the motion for the printing of the paper and reject the amendment.
– In rising at this late stage of the debate I find it very difficult to introduce any fresh material. There have been some 40 speakers on this subject in another place and some sixteen here. Those 56 people have done a lot of research and have produced a lot of very interesting material. They have left very little for the concluding speakers to add. Bearing that in mind, I should like to touch upon what I consider to be the most important factors in Britain’s entry to the European Common Market and the effect it would have on Australia. I think it is generally accepted that Britain’s entry to the Common Market is a matter that will have to be decided by Britain herself. We in Australia have no status that will enable us to object or to do anything else about the matter. We can only exchange ideas and do whatever else we can to protect Australia’s interests.
If Great Britain joins the Common Market on the same conditions as did the six original members, her entry undoubtedly will have a very great effect on Australia’s exports. The Government, during its discussions with Mr. Duncan Sandys, pointed out to him very forcefully that Australia would be vitally affected and that naturally she would want to be very closely consulted in any negotiations that Great Britain might undertake. I also direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that the communique that was issued following those discussions stated that Australian export industries obviously would be involved and that Australia should be in a position to negotiate directly on her own behalf when arrangements affecting her trade were being discussed. That, too, was pointed out to
Mr. Sandys. In other words, the Government was saying that the case for our export and primary industries could, not be put as well by anybody else as it could be put by Australia herself, because we are far more familiar with our own problems. Australia pointed out that it just would not be good enough if she were to be consulted at a distance. I think the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) used the expression that “ Australia should be in the room and should take a hand in the discussions “ when our export trade was being discussed.
I am quite sure that the United Kingdom would be quite happy to give us such a guarantee; but she is not in a position to do so. If any one of the other nations concerned raised an objection and said that no other country would be in on the negotiations, no doubt Australia would be excluded. But I have enough confidence in Great Britain to believe that she will do her level best to ensure our presence and participation when these matters are under discussion. Whether she succeeds only time will tell. I should think that she would put up a strong case because, when all is said and done, 40 per cent, of Britain’s exports go to Commonwealth countries. She sees very good reason, apart from the ties that she has with the Commonwealth countries, to press that case most forcefully.
At this point of time, all that Australiacan do is to see to it that every measure that we can take to protect our legitimate interests, should Britain decide to enter the Common Market, is taken. There are in Australia some people, perhaps not a great many, who think that the European Common Market is concerned only with trade. They do not realize that it has much wider implications. I was surprised at the weekend,, when I was in Western Australia, to find that, on the other hand, there are many people who are quite well informed on this, subject. The public has perhaps taken a greater interest in it than it has in many others that have been discussed in this. Parliament over the years. I do not consider the trade aspect of the Common Market to be its most important aspect. Ultimately, the political aspect will be farmore important.
I appreciate, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that much of what I have to say hasalready been said by other honorable.- senators who have spoken. Nevertheless, I should still like to have it recorded in “ Hansard “ under my name. The European Common Market came into being on 1st January, 1958, on the basis of a treaty signed in Rome in March, 1957. The European Economic Community includes the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Atomic Energy Commission, known as Euratom. The overall objective of the community is the total integration of the economies of the six members and of other countries which may join it. The two main features of that integration are the abolition of all customs and other barriers between member countries, and the evolution of a consistent system of tariffs, quotas and other controls over the entire community, to cover all imports from outside.
The day-to-day administration of the community is in the hands of a nine-member commission based in Brussels. Major decisions on policy are taken by a council of ministers appointed from member countries. The other major bodies in the system are a European parliament, consisting of members of parliament from member countries, and a court of justice, with seven judges, to adjudicate on major disputes. Those people who believe that the community is concerned purely with trade arrangements will see, therefore, that the concept is a much wider one. Member countries, of course, retain full control over their own defence and foreign affairs. The community, however, is to have a common policy covering the movement of labour, on which I shall enlarge in a few moments, the movement of capital, control of restrictive practices, transport systems and social services, as well as economic questions involving tariffs, commercial practices, quotas, subsidies, levies and the prevention of dumping.
The policy relating to the interchangeability of labour raises rather an interesting question. If Great Britain were to enter the Common Market, workers from the other six member countries could move into Great Britain and enjoy all the rights of British subjects except the right to vote. I imagine that if Britain joined the Common Marker, Australians who visited that country and wished also to visit other member countries of the Common Market would still have to obtain visas. Citizens of the member countries, however, will be ‘free to move from one country to another.
Although difficulties have been experienced in the working of the Common Market, it has nevertheless worked remarkably well. So well has it functioned, apparently, that Great Britain has been startled into deciding that she must have another look at her previous decision not to join it. Four years ago she rejected the idea of entering the Common Market. 1 think that perhaps her decision to reconsider the matter was influenced by the fact that, in terms of primary production, the six-member countries are already more than 80 per cent, self-sufficient. Since 1953, industrial output in The Six has increased by 80 per cent., compared with 30 per cent, in Great Britain. Those facts must have caused Great Britain to stop and consider her economic position. The danger for Britain is that if she does not join the Common Market her economy may stagnate.
The word “ political “ is as important to me, Sir, as is the word “ economic “. Dr. Adenauer and President de Gaulle have made no secret of their ambitions. I think that de Gaulle would like to be the top boy in the community, even if Great Britain should join.
– Why does the honorable senator say that?
– France is in a very strong position within The Six. The French attitude has a background of many hundreds of years. I believe that France would love to be stronger than Great Britain. In my view, de Gaulle will be the greatest stumbling block in the way of the Commonwealth, in the negotiation of terms in which Great Britain will engage. De Gaulle has said that Britain must join the Common Market simply as Britain, that she cannot, be half in, with the Commonwealth still operating in the wings. The future of the Commonwealth is probably one of the most difficult problems of all for Britain to resolve.
The political implications of European economic integration are very great. The countries concerned will no doubt achieve more and more political unity. I do not mean that they will necessarily become one nation, or a federation in the sense that we understand it, but that there will be a closer political association, with common policies. That could be a very good thing and might result in the emergence of an immensely powerful third force in the world. I should think that that is probably why America is so greatly interested in Britain’s decision to join the Common Market. The emergence of a third world force opposed to communism could be a very potent factor for the free world, but of course a very grave problem for the Commonwealth countries would thereby be created. In the past, the Prime Minister of Australia has been able to go to Great Britain, present his case and obtain an answer from the Prime Minister of that country. But if Great Britain joins the Common Market, the Prime Minister of that country will have to say to the Prime Minister of Australia, “ I am sorry. I cannot give you an answer until I have consulted my six other partners.”
If the United Kingdom becomes a signatory to the Treaty of Rome on the original conditions, she will lose to a large extent the sovereignty that she has had in the past. That is not a very happy thought. I find myself in complete disagreement with Mr. Duncan Sandys, who said that Britain’s entry into the Common Market would not have any effect on her relationships with the Commonwealth. I think that Britain’s entry must have an effect on those relationships. On the surface at least, entry into the Common Market appears to be a very attractive proposition for Britain, because it means virtually enlarging her home market by about 250,000,000 people.
– It will also expose her industries to competition from Common Market countries.
-Senator Wright has anticipated my very next remark. 1 was about to say that although at first glance Britain’s entry into the Common Market appears to be a’ very attractive proposition from her point of view, some of her industries will be subjected to intense competition from industries in Europe. I immediately think of the iron and steel industry. West Germany’s iron and steel industry, which was severely damaged when the Ruhr was practically destroyed during the last war, has been modernized and is to-day probably one of the most modern in the world. On the other hand, however. Britain’s iron and steel industry, which also suffered heavily during the war, has not been replaced with the modern equipment installed in West Germany against which it will have to compete. That is one danger, as Senator Wright pointed out, that Britain must face. Britain will face intense competition when the trade barriers are removed.
The decision is one that Britain herself must make. I am glad that I am not responsible for having to make such a decision. If Britain joins the European Common Market unconditionally, a tremendous blow will be dealt to Australia’s export trade. However, I am perfectly satisfied that Britain will not decide to enter the Common Market unconditionally until she has consulted with the other Commonwealth countries. There are some very cogent reasons to support that contention. After all, 40 per cent, of Britain’s exports each year go to Commonwealth countries. If Britain does enter the Common Market unconditionally, which I very much doubt, Australia will have to place far greater importance on trade with Asia. Up to the present Australia has enjoyed certain protection in her trade with Great Britain. Our goods have received the benefit of preferences in the United Kingdom market. Some of Australia’s preferences in the United Kingdom market have diminished in value over the years, but there are still many of great importance. For instance, the margin of preference for Australia on butter is 15s. a cwt; on cheese, 15 per cent.; on flour and barley, 10 per cent. There are other substantial margins of preference on eggs, oats, honey, apples, pears, dried vine fruits, sugar, canned fruits, canned meat, wine and other commodities. The importance of these preferences is emphasized by the fact that agricultural products account for roughly half of the value of our exports to the United Kingdom.
It is interesting to note the tariffs envisaged by the European Common Market countries. Some of the common external tariffs of the European Economic Community to become operative at the end of the transitional period are -
I ask the Senate to note particularly the tariffs envisaged in respect of beef and veal. Other envisaged tariffs include -
– Have you any information as to when those rates were determined?
– No, I have not. Those rates are said to be some of the external tariffs that will become operative at the end of the transitional period. I gather that some of them will operate as from the beginning of next year.
– The rates are average rates.
– I was about to cover that point. Depending on the final outcome of the Common Market agricultural proposals, some of those tariffs may later be replaced or supplemented by import levies or other charges. Some items may even be subject to import licensing restrictions. Nevertheless, the rates as they stand now show clearly the magnitude of the problem that would confront Australia and New Zealand if the United Kingdom were forced to move towards those levels of tariff instead of maintaining duty-free entry as at present.
Senator Hannaford reminded me how these tariff figures are determined. The tariffs that each of the six member nations were charging have been added together and divided by six. Let us assume that Great Britain enters the Common Market under certain conditions. If Britain had a tariff of 20 per cent, on a commodity, that figure would be divided by seven, which would reduce the tariff rate by 3 per cent. If Australia loses her preferences on the United Kingdom market and is faced instead with a barrier, the only remaining countries with which we had preferences would be New Zealand and Canada. If Britain enters the Common Market unconditionally, New Zealand will be hit as badly as we will be and we could not look to New Zealand for any assistance. But I think opportunities exist for an exchange of commodities be tween Australia and Canada. I believe that our trading position with Canada can be improved.
Let me turn now to the brighter side of the picture. It should be remembered that Japan has already supplanted Britain as by far the biggest buyer of our wool.
– Whose fault is that?
– The Opposition cannot claim the credit for that situation, because it opposed tooth and nail the trade agreement between Australia and Japan.
– The agreement helped to close factories in England and open them in Japan.
– The Labour Party opposed the signing of an agreement that has been of great advantage to Australia. I venture to suggest that as Japan’s standard of living continues to improve-
– I remember the treatment that some of my mates received at the hands of the Japanese.
– 1 was a prisoner of war of the Japanese, but I am old enough to know that you cannot hate a people for ever. Your hate withers and dies. I had four years with the Japanese, but I do not bear a grudge to the extent that I would penalize Australia because of my experiences.
As Japan’s standard of living continues to rise, she will take more of our sugar, wheat, pig iron and coal. Japan is not the only country of Asia to which we are selling large quantities of foodstuffs. The Federation of Malaya, Indonesia, Ceylon, Singapore and the Arab States are taking a considerable quantity of our flour. In the past year Hong Kong has taken almost £2,000,000 worth of our sugar and almost £2,000,000 worth of our wheat. Last year Iraq took Australian wheat to the value of £7,000,000, India £3,000,000, Pakistan £3,000,000, Persia £1,500,000 and North Korea £1,500,000. Almost one-third of Australia’s exports in the past year went to countries of Asia, including India, and to islands of the Pacific, excluding New Zealand. Those markets should be further examined and exploited.
Since this debate began Mr. Macmillan has received a lot of publicity in this
Parliament. I would still like to. repeat this statement that he made in. the House of Commons on Monday, 31st July., of this year -
This is a political as well as; an economic issue. Although the Treaty of Rome is concerned with economic matters it has an important political objective, namely to promote the unity and stability in Europe which is so essential a factor in the struggle for freedom and progress throughout the world.
I agree entirely with those sentiments. The European Economic Community is a third world force which could mean the salvation of the free world as we know it. With America and this strong force on the Western side, we could have a buffer against the advances of communism. Mr. Macmillan went on to say -
At the same time, if a closer relationship between the United Kingdom and the countries cf the European Economic Community were to disrupt the long standing and historic ties between the United Kingdom and the other nations of the Commonwealth the loss would be greater than the gain.
He is seised of that factor. He recognizes that the Commonwealth is a great source of stability and strength both to Western Europe and the world as a whole. He also said-
I am sure that its value is fully appreciated by the member governments of the European Economic Community.
They are not unaware of what a strong Commonwealth of Nations means.. Mr. Macmillan continued -
I do not think that Britain’s contribution to the Commonwealth will be reduced if Europe unites. On the contrary I think its value will be enhanced.
I take some comfort from this statement of his -
No British Government could join the European Economic Community without prior negotiations with a view to meeting the needs of the Commonwealth countries, of our European Free Trade Association partners and of British agriculture.
The British Government is well seised of the fact that deep consideration must be given to those three groups. Mr. Macmillan also said -
When any negotiations are brought to a conclusion then it will be the duty of the Government to recommend to the House what course we should pursue. No agreement will be entered into until it has been approved by the House after full consultation with other Commonwealth countries.
– Who made those statements?
– Mr. Macmillan made this statement to the House of Commons on 31st July, 1961. I also lake some comfort from that statement.
I started my speech by saying that most of the ground had been covered. However, 1 do not think this statement by our Prime Minister has been referred to -
In the history of British foreign policy this will be the most historic event for at least a century and a half. It may be that it is right. 1 would give a lot, myself, to see a united Europe, strong and cohesive, in the present state of the world. But when I put to you the political implications you will at once see how right it is for me to say, and for. other people to say that the decision that, will ultimately be taken on this matter will be the most important decision ever taken by any British country, except in time of war:
I agree entirely with those sentiments.
This is probably a turning point in history. If Great Britain jobs the Common Market unconditionally, I see a great weakening of the Commonwealth of Nations and a loss of sovereignty by Great Britain. If that happens, it will have a terrific effect on Australia, the Commonwealth of Nations and the world, lt will also have a great effect on the power politics of the world. We could lose on the first basis I suggested - namely, if the United Kingdom joins unconditionally. However, we can take some comfort from the fact that we would gain because we would have this third very powerful world force to stem the advance of communism. I am in complete agreement with the paper and I support the motion for the printing of it; but I oppose the amendment.
– I, like Senator Branson, believe that this debate, which has been taking place in the Senate for the past few days, has been very interesting indeed. If the debate has done nothing else, it has given us an opportunity to focus our attention on this matter. We have been able to educate ourselves on the details of a matter that could have very far-reaching effects not only on Australia but on the whole world. I wish to compliment all honorable senators who have taken part in the debate.. All the speeches I have heard have been very much to the point. They have shown that the honorable senators who made them have done a great deal of research into the matter.
I cannot subscribe to the sentiments of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). In my opinion we can dismiss it because many honorable senators who spoke in support of it had their tongues in their cheeks. They really did not believe what they said about some of the points raised in the amendment, and when they tried to substantiate those points they failed very badly. The amendment claims that the Government has displayed lack of foresight and frankness in this matter. One would have to be clairvoyant to say accurate! that he could forecast what would occur in relation to the European Economic Community. Most of us are fully familiar with the present situation because in carrying out our public duties we keep ourselves abreast of the position as well as we can. We have followed with interest the developments that have taken place in Europe in the post-war years. The assertion that the Government should have had complete foresight in respect of what transpired, or will transpire, indicates to me that the charge of lack of foresight is completely unreal.
I believe the same can be said of the charge in relation to the frankness of the Government, in this matter. The Government has been perfectly frank with the Parliament. It has made no secret of the fact that the situation is very delicate, that events in Europe are in a state of flux and that they could have very far-reaching effects on the community at large and on Australia’s association in trade matters with the rest of the world, and particularly with the United Kingdom. In my opinion the charge against the Government of lack of frankness is also inaccurate.
The amendment accuses the Government of dilatoriness. I do not think that that charge is justified. This matter has come to a head with Britain’s approach to the European Common Market, and here we are in the National Parliament discussing the matter from all sides and various angles. The matter at present is largely conjectural, but we are not dilatory in our approach, nor does the Government fail to realize its responsibility. I am sure that the Government and the Department of Trade are fully aware of the implications of the matter to Australia and are, at this very moment, engaged in the closest scrutiny of the effect upon our trade and our association with other Commonwealth countries.
The amendment then refers to the Government’s “ continuing failure, as demonstrated by the Prime Minister’s speech, to appreciate the real issues which are involved “. I think that that charge caps the lot. The Prime Minister’s speech on the subject was extremely good. I have read it with great care, as also I have read the speeches made by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The charge that the Government, and the Prime Minister in particular, failed to appreciate the real issues, involved is completely false. I am sure that the Government appreciates - the Prime Minister most of all - what is implied in the action contemplated by the United Kingdom Government in endeavouring to negotiate for entry to the European Economic Community and the Common Market. Like Senator Branson, I believe that most of the aspects of this subject have been covered by speakers both in this chamber and in another place, but there are perhaps a few matters of interest that 1 can mention from my thoughts on the subject.
We must look at the matter- in a way which may be described as narrow in its limits. I do not want to be charged with insularity in my approach to these matters, but we in this Parliament are charged with the welfare and development of Australia and we must look at these proposals as they affect us directly. The two questions that come to my mind are: How will this move affect Australia, and what are we in Australia going to do about it? I thank my friend, Senator Wood, who is now in the chair as Mr. Acting Deputy President, for his guidance on those two matters in our discussions together. It struck me that while the subject is confined to narrow limits, those are the points to which we in the National Parliament must direct our minds in discussing the matter.
I have read a great deal about developments towards the establishment of the European Economic Community and I have read literature that has been placed in my hands in regard to the establishment of various groups within Europe in the postwar years. We are not unmindful of the travail and difficulty of Europe in those years, the great amount of American aid that went into the devastated countries, and the manner in which, with the assistance that was so provided, they gradually rebuilt their economies until the stage has now been reached at which we have a strong Inner Six or European Economic Community, which is having a profound effect on world trade, as well as a profound political effect.
The United Kingdom decided to stay outside The Six for reasons best known to herself, which undoubtedly were associated with her relations with Commonwealth countries. We have also seen the difficulties that the Old Country herself surmounted in the post-war years, more or less successfully but not entirely so. We know that the United Kingdom has gone through periods in which she has had greater economic difficulties in her external trade, when she has taken fiscal steps to right the situation, with another crisis developing within the space of a few years. Even at the present time we see the United Kingdom at a stage where she is finding more difficulty in meeting her economic problems. By way of contrast, we have also noted that the countries of The Six, or the European Economic Community, have made a fantastically successful recovery in the years since the formation of the Common Market as we know it now. The productivity of those countries has risen in startling contrast to the productivity of the United Kingdom. In fact, they have formed themselves into an extremely powerful bloc. That, in itself, has had a considerable bearing on the economy of the United Kingdom.
We know that, to meet the situation, the United Kingdom joined with six other countries called The Outer Seven. I shall not enumerate them because all honorable senators are familiar with them. While they have been successful to a degree, the contrast between the two blocs has been most marked. Comparison favours the closely integrated bloc of nations that we term The Inner Six. The United Kingdom has been forced to the conclusion that she cannot continue in the position in which she now finds herself. Therefore, after due deliberation and consideration, she has decided to negotiate for entry into the European Economic Community, not de serting her neighbours or friends in The Outer Seven, but hopeful that they will see fit also to go into this European Economic Community, which would then be an extremely powerful bloc. It remains to be seen how these deliberations and the negotiations will work out. We know that there is not a great deal of room for negotiation. The rules are laid down in the Treaty of Rome. We may rest assured that the United Kingdom herself will explore every possible aspect in those negotiations to see that the Commonwealth countries, with which she has been so closely associated in world trade, will not be severely affected or, at any rate, adversely affected to a degree which might cripple their trade with the outside world.
Mr. Duncan Sandys has visited Australia and explained the British Government’s attitude in this matter to the Australian Government. We have seen in the press and elsewhere reports of the reaction of the Australian Government and the governments of other Commonwealth countries to the proposal that Mr. Sandys has been at pains to explain to them.
I feel a little bit alarmed at the situation that may develop for Australia. Here, I may be introducing a new note to this debate. I am not altogether favorably disposed towards the formation of blocs throughout the world, whether they be trade blocs, defence blocs or any other sort of bloc. I think that they are fraught with a good deal of danger. They may contain advantages, but they also present disadvantages. The trend in the world to-day indicates that there is a likelihood that further trade blocs or economic blocs will be developed. A suggestion has been made during this debate - I think it was made by Senator Toohey - that a South American or Latin American common market could be formed. I can say from my own experience that such a proposal was given a good deal of attention by the United Nations General Assembly in 1959, which I attended. On that occasion, I happened to be a member of the economic committee which had the responsibility of discussing economic and developmental fields in certain parts of the world, particularly in the under-developed countries. At that time, it was plainly noticeable that the number of trade blocs and economic blocs in the world was likely to increase in the future. It is quite possible that the bloc that is now developing in Europe will be followed by economic blocs in other parts of the world. It is quite likely that a similar bloc will be formed in Africa or in Asia. It is quite likely, too, that, in the course of time, an Asian bloc will be formed. This trend is not necessarily confined to the areas and the countries I have mentioned.
I have some doubt whether these blocs will assist the free flow of trade throughout the world. After the war, there were consultations between the great men of the various nations and solemn assurances were given, one to the other, that there would be a freer flow of trade throughout the communities of the world. 1 subscribed heartily to that intention at the time, and I still do, because I think it is essential for the welfare of mankind that there be a free flow of trade throughout the world. But if those economic blocs are formed, will there not be a tendency on the part of the same groups of people to try to make themselves self-sufficient? The objective of the group of nations that we are now discussing is to establish free trade within their boundaries, but there is every likelihood that they will erect barriers against the goods from other countries. Does that appear likely to bring about a state of affairs in which freer trade - which was the desirable objective of the people, who discussed these matters subsequent to the war - will flow throughout the world? Sir, I think that is very debatable. While we cannot be profound about it, we must talk about it a good deal and use our influence to ensure that these blocs of nations shall not have a restricting rather than a beneficial influence on international trade, which is so much to be desired if peace is to be maintained. This is an aspect that I do not think has been touched on by other speakers and I think that at least it is worthy of consideration.
A good deal of reference has been made to the fact that we see in Europe the development of a group of nations which are of paramount importance in world affairs. They have banded together to protect themselves against the influence of another group of nations which have a completely different ideology. I refer to nations of the Communist world. This bloc is additional to those that I have already mentioned and it has a completely different system and ideology. The method of trading within the group, while appearing superficially to be the same as that adopted by the blocs of the free world, is completely different in nature. At the present time, there are political and economic conflicts between the paramount groups in the Communist world and those of the free world. It has been suggested that the formation of the European Economic Community - some people hope that it will include the United Kingdom herself - will provide a barrier against the extension of the Communist world which some people believe would be a menace to world peace and freedom. I do not want to deal with that aspect at great length, although I think it is extremely important. We know America’s attitude to the European Common Market. In spite of the fact that the market will militate against her trade, she desires to see this strong group of nations on the European mainland because it will assist her to combat the expansion of communism throughout the world. That expansion, as we know, has had an important impact on world affairs.
To a large extent, the effects of the formation of the European Economic Community are still in the realm of conjecture. Whether the formation of the community will be beneficial to the world at large or only to the community itself remains to be seen. The Australian Government is fully alive to the situation. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) have said in public statements that they are seriously concerned about the possible effects on Australia’s overseas trade. If the operations of the European Common Market do have an adverse effect on our trade, our standard of living will be affected. I hope sincerely that, whatever may be the result of the negotiations that are due to take place between the United Kingdom and the Common Market countries, some way will be found by which Australia, which is an integral part of the Commonwealth, will not be adversely affected by the entry of the United Kingdom into a group of nations having the objective of free trade among themselves and a common barrier against external trade.
Senator Branson has already mentioned some of the points upon which I wanted to touch. One is the effect that the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market would have on our commodity prices. It could alter the whole structure of our external trade. I do not think that can be denied. From the time of our birth as a nation we have been dependent to a large extent on selling our goods to the United Kingdom. That has been our greatest single market, and in that market we have received remunerative prices for our products. If the United Kingdom joins the European Economic Community she will have to subscribe to the tariff barriers that apply to the rest of the community, and in the future we will not receive preferential treatment in the sale of our goods there. We will have to surmount a trade barrier in order to sell our goods to either the United Kingdom or the other countries of the Common Market. The European countries have been importers of a considerable proportion of Australian goods, although we have had to surmount their trade barriers. Some of the European countries have allowed a free flow of commodities such as wool, and we have taken full advantage of that. One or two of our most important commodities enter the United Kingdom free of duty, but if the United Kingdom joins the Common Market a different set of circumstances will prevail.
What effect will Britain’s entry have on Australian trade? A market comprising 200,000,000 people is vital to our prosperity. If the Common Market countries achieve any degree of self-sufficiency, there is a danger that some of the great primaryproducing countries of the world will be adversely affected. I wish to touch on the terms “ agricultural protectionism “ that has been used over the years. In Europe - and this applies also to Great Britain - certain commodities have been produced mainly because of the fear of external aggression. It has been necessary to produce these commodities regardless of cost. France, for instance, has produced wheat uneconomically. This process has had a serious effect on some of the great primaryproducing countries of the world and has militated against the progress of under-developed nations. The countries best able to supply primary products find it difficult to dispose of their products because of the policy of agricultural protectionism followed by other countries, particularly European countries. Agricultural goods produced uneconomically come into competition with goods from primary-producing countries such as Australia that depend upon the export of primary products for their livelihood.
I think that Great Britain, if only to protect her own agricultural industries, will do her utmost to modify the system of agricultural protectionism - a system which militates against the free flow of products from some of the backward or underdeveloped countries of the world, thus preventing them from making progress and raising their standards of living. We are doing our best to combat the situation that has arisen. In spite of what has been said by the Opposition in support of the amendment, we are fully alive to the situation, and over the years have been alive to the possibility of its arising. 1 have not heard too many honorable senators opposite speak about this subject in the past. 1 know that Senator Hendrickson has risen frequently and has addressed to the appropriate Minister questions about the European Common Market. I do not know whether they have been supplied to him. 1 have always had some doubt about whether they were the products of his own mind. But 1 think he alone on the other side of the chamber has asked questions or has spoken about the European Common Market. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has been quite frank in his replies and, to the best of his ability, has stated Australia’s attitude. The Opposition’s charges are quite unfounded because, although one or two Labour members in another place may have touched upon this matter, references to it by the Opposition in this place have been confined to Senator Hendrickson.
Senator Hendrickson^ speech earlier in the debate consisted almost entirely of the quotation of questions that he has addressed to the Minister for National Development. I am glad that he has now come into the chamber. 1 do not wish to deny him a little bit of credit for having addressed his mind to the subject; but I point out that whenever he has asked questions about the European Common Market he has been answered by the Minister concerned.
– I believe that on every occasion on which the honorable senator has asked questions about this matter he has been courteously answered aud has been given all the information at the disposal of the Government. Let Senator Hendrickson acknowledge that fact.
The subject that we are discussing to-day is not one on which we can be dogmatic. No government, and particularly the Australian Government, knew that Great Britain intended to apply for entry into the Common Market. In 1957 or 1956-1 forget which year it was - the Prime Minister of Great Britain said that the United Kingdom, because of her commitments io iiic Commonwealth, would not enter the European Economic Community.
– Why has she changed her mind?
– I do not intend to reply to Senator Hendrickson. He may address his question to the Minister. The questions that have been asked by the honorable senator comprise the sum total of the Opposition’s comments on the European Common Market. The terms in which the amendment has been couched indicate to me that the Opposition is quite ignorant on this subject. The charge contained in the amendment could be redirected to the Opposition, because it has not shown the slightest interest in this subject. What have we done in regard to this situation?
– I shall refute what Senator Hendrickson has just said by way of interjection. Whilst we on this side of the chamber recognize that this is a subject of great complexity, we have done all that we could reasonably be expected to. do as a government to meet the situation. Last night Senator Arnold compared the export figures for 1950-51 with those for 1959-60. He said there had not been any increase in our export figures.
– There has been a reduction.
– That may well be so. The honorable senator did not take into consideration the volume of trade. He referred merely to figures and did not acknowledge that commodity prices are quite different now from what they were in 1951. He did not remind the Senate that Australia’s return from the sale of wool overseas in 1950-51 was £636,000,000 whereas last year it was only half that sum. Almost without exception, the volume of our exports of individual agricultural commodities has been doubled. There has been a vast increase in the volume of wool that has been exported, but for our last wool chp we received only approximately half of what we received in the record year of 1950-51.
– Blame the Prime Minister; do not blame us.
– I am not blaming anybody. Prices have a very important effect on our export trade.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to have the honorable senator’s acknowledgement of that fact. For an honorable senator opposite to rise and compare expert? in 1950-51 with those in 1959-60 without taking into account commodity prices is quite unfair. We are doing what we can to meet the situation. We cannot foretell what the result of Great Britain’s negotiations will be. We cannot say whether, in the final analysis, the United Kingdom will join the European Economic Community. It is her desire to do so, and I think she has been encouraged by the United States of America to join.
– But your leader is against it.
– We are not opposed to the United Kingdom joining the European Economic Community. Such a charge cannot be substantiated. However, as a Commonwealth country we need certain assurances to the effect that we shall not be so adversely affected that our economy will be crippled or that it will be so seriously damaged that our rate of progress will be retarded.
It is important for us to realize the possibility that Great Britain will join the European Economic Community and that other countries which have been associated with her in The Outer Seven will do likewise. But we intend to do our best to ameliorate the conditions upon which they join. The Government will appoint some of its top men to attend the consultations that will be held. They will be able to point out to the United Kingdom Government the way in which the steps that that Government proposes to take will affect our country. Pressure will be kept on the United Kingdom in the interests of Australia’s trade. I know that our Department of Trade is fully alive to the situation. We can protect ourselves to the best of our ability, and we can go even further than that and try to expand our trade. Senator Laught referred last night to the way in which our trade services have been extended. I am very proud of the fact that we have done a great deal to promote Australia’s overseas trade. We have entered into trade treaties with various countries, and that indicates that we have realized that sooner or later we shall have to stand on our own feet to a large extent.
We have entered into trade negotiations with countries of South-East Asia. Senator Laught mentioned the ship “ Straat Banka “ which recently carried out a completely successful trade mission to South-East Asia. One of our representatives on that ship to whom I spoke told me of the outstanding success of the mission. We have had fantastic results from our trade treaty with Japan. We have seen Japan emerge as the biggest buyer of our greasy wool.
– Who is the biggest buyer of our wheat?
– We have seen red China, as Senator Hendrickson invites me to say, come into the field and buy our wheat on satisfactory trade terms.
– Has it paid for the wheat yet?
– Let me assure the honorable senator, through you, Sir, that the wheat will be paid for.
– Thank you. The Wheat Board and the Australian farmers will be glad to know that.
– The Australian farmers have confidence in the Australian Wheat Board, which entered into that deal. The unfortunate people of China, are human beings after all. They had been starving and they required our wheat. The Australian farmer has full confidence, as I have said, in this arrangement with the government of red China to purchase our wheat. I believe that it is essential for us to have a free flow of trade throughout the world. Do not we trade with Russia?
– Of course we do.
– Then why should we not trade with red China, if we can come to satisfactory terms in a commercial sense? I see no objection to that whatever. I think that we on this side of the chamber fully support the action of the Wheat Board in disposing of a surplus quantity of wheat which could have been a very serious embarrassment to us. Perhaps Senator Hendrickson, who conies from a wheat-growing State, would not know about that.
I believe that this matter of the European Common Market is of great interest to all of us. We must recognize that it has important implications for the United Kingdom. That is an angle on which few honorable senators have touched so far during the debate. Australia is a very important customer of the United Kingdom and I suppose it will continue to be so.
– What percentage of her exports do we take?
– I could not tell the honorable, senator that. The percentage may not be very great, but the value is considerable.
– Is it £214,000,000 a year?
– Whatever it is, it is a very important consideration for the United Kingdom. We know that that country has enjoyed preferential treatment in her trade relations with Australia. We have ordinary rates of tariff and mostfavourednation rates. Then there is the British preferential tariff which, of course, applies to imports from the Mother Country. If we export goods to Great Britain as a member nation of the Common Market and we have directed against us a substantial tariff, are we as a nation to continue our preferential treatment of British exports to Australia? That is one of the questions that has to be resolved. We in this chamber cannot determine how it should be resolved, but it is one of the matters that come within the scope of a discussion of this subject.
I look upon the decision of Great Britain to join the European Common Market as one of the greatest events in world affairs for a long time. History may regard it as one of the greatest developments in world affairs. No one can tell whether the European Common Market will continue to be successful and whether other trade blocs will be developed throughout the world. I have an idea that they will be.
– The Common Market has been successful so far.
– It has been fantastically successful, but that does not necessarily mean that it will continue to be so. We have seen in the past the formation of blocs and groups which have dissolved into nothingness, and that could happen to the European economic integration that we are witnessing at the present time. Many of the matters that we are discussing are of a purely conjectural nature.
We can meet the situation as it develops. I think I have indicated during my speech that I am deeply interested in this subject. As a primary producer, I feel that perhaps primary industry has most at stake, but overall, Great Britain’s decision has implications for the whole Australian community. Our great exporting industries may be adversely affected and we may receive less for the goods that we sell. Not only do we need to develop our trade with other countries and to seek every possible means of expanding it, but we have to face the fact that we shall probably lose our most important market, which could have a serious effect on our standard of living and militate against the progress that we have been making since the advent of the Menzies Administration.
J do not think I need to say any more, Sir. We have had a very worth-while debate on a subject of great importance to all of us. I think that in the future we will come to realize that matters such as this develop in an evolutionary way. They do not develop overnight. They take a long time to reach concrete form. I hope that the European Common Market will prove beneficial for the world as a whole. I think there is some justification for the view that, in the long term, Australia may benefit from the Common Market, but I concede that in the short term things will be a bit difficult and that we must meet the situation by developing alternative markets. We must stand on our own feet. The Government has realized fully the need for Australia to stand on her own feet. Come what may we will do our utmost to protect our economy. We will use whatever influence we can exert to see that our economy is not adversely affected and that world trade is maintained. That, after all, is the greatest hope for peace. A free flow of trade throughout the world is one factor that will help to preserve peace. We talk of wars being commenced because of antipathies between nations. We know that the bases of most of the great conflicts that have taken place- have been economic. If anything can be done to minimize those influences by maintaining a free flow of trade in the world, something will have been achieved.
.- I support the motion for the printing of the paper and I oppose the amendment moved by Senator McKenna. At this stage of the debate it is more than ever a truism to state that the matter being discussed here is one of the most momentous ever to come before this chamber. I think we may dismiss the amendment as simply a little exercise in Opposition tactics. The contingencies raised by the possible entry of Great Britain into the European Common Market are of such a nature that it would not be possible to guard against all of them in advance. I remind the Opposition that as recently as early 1961 the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were saying that Britain would not join the Common Market. In those circumstances I believe that the Government has kept a cautious weather eye on the possibility that Britain may join the Common Market, without issuing any panic statements or panic directives that would upset the local economy.
Out of common decency I must acknowledge the interest that has been taken over the years in this great economic problem by Senator Hendrickson. On many occasions he. has put forward profound views in the form of questions and has referred to profound problems. He has given every indication of having completely and absolutely mastered the economic complexities and ramifications associated with
Great Britain’s possible entry into the Common Market. I give him credit for that. However, it is a pity that, by his speech last week and by interjections this afternoon, he rather spoilt the impression of economic sagacity that he had given us. His recent remarks indicate that really he is barren of ideas on the matter. For example, when he said, by way of interjection a few moments ago, that Mr. Menzies and Mr. Khrushchev were opposed to Great Britain’s entry into the Common Market, the honorable senator, I feel, was tempted to suggest that those gentlemen had formed a fairly clumsy unity ticket. I would have thought that Senator Hendrickson coming from Victoria, would have had enough of unity tickets without trying to fabricate them in this chamber. All I can say is that he is a glutton for punishment when he leads with his chin in the way that I have described.
While dealing with the remarks of previous speakers I want to chide gently Senator Hannaford for his bland and naive acceptance of the possibility that Australia may trade with Communist countries on a normal basis. I will deal with that aspect a little later in my remarks if Senator Hannaford is still in the chamber. I cannot possibly accept his proposition, not because Communist gold is not as good as anybody else’s gold, but because of the very definition of trade in the Communist lexicon. The Communists define trade as a political weapon, to be used not for the purpose of developing friendship and goodwill-
– There is also something of a political weapon about the Common Market.
– Possibly. I will come to that matter in a moment.
– The United Kingdom trades with Communist China.
– I did not say that we should not trade with Communist China. All I say is that trade with red countries would be a false and rotten reed on which to rely to increase our economic independence.
– Trade with Communist countries is only a segment of our trade.
– One must have reliable markets. When you are dealing with a country such as red China you find that more things than mere money enter into your arrangements. The Senate should remember that red China two years ago attempted to dictate what government another country would elect on pain of cancelling contracts with that country if red China’s wishes were not met. However, I did not intend to spend all of the time at my disposal in dealing with red China. Perhaps I may have time later to advert to this matter.
Reverting to the immediate problem before the Senate, we have a simple statement of fact that, by the Treaty of Rome of 1957, Germany, France, Italy and the three Benelux countries - Belgium, the Netherlands and little Luxembourg - formed the first customs union or common market of any real significance for about 130 years. The impact of that economic and political association will be felt throughout the world - not only in the free world but also behind the iron curtain. The customs union is an idea that sprang in modern times from the old German conception of zollverein which was an arrangement whereby countries joined together for economic purposes removed trade barriers between one another and set up mutually observed barriers against the rest of the world. Of course, the arrangement that was entered into in 1957 was not the first one of that type and it was not the first successful one that the world had seen. The city states of ancient Greece, about the year 800 B.C., were faced with economic and political problems, and found a certain economic interdependence upon one another. In those days there were no roads and there was virtually no overland transport, so most of the trade between the Greek city states went around the seaboard. One of the problems that the states encountered, apart from their ordinary economic difficulties, was that the difficulty of communication was considerably heightened by the prevalence of pirates. So the six states got together in a form of customs union and a form of common government. The six states set up their own mutual defences against piracy. In modern times we might substitute the word “ communism “ for the word “ piracy “. That union lasted economically and politically for about 200 years and it was substantially successful.
My friend, Senator Wright, reminds me that there was a more recent form of customs union under the early Roman Empire. The colonies, or rather the subjugated countries had a form of interdependence in regard to their own internal matters, but there was complete economic freedom, as far as trade was concerned, between the outlying colonies of Rome and Rome itself. Coming to more modern times-
– Come forward a couple of thousand years.
– Please bear with me for a moment, senator. Coming to more modern times, we find that the classic instance of a customs union is the setting up of modern Germany. In March, 1833, the state of Prussia decided to get together with Hessen, Wurttemberg, Kassel and one or two other German states. They formed a customs union almost identical, in principle or rough outline, with the 1957 Common Market that we are discussing io-day. It was from the federation of those five states in a customs union in 1833 that the modern state of Germany was created. It grew rapidly and in 1870 it was able to subjugate France. I do not intend to argue that the European Economic Community will grow into such a completely powerful military and economic machine that it will want to subjugate anybody. I simply refer to that as an indication of the success in the nineteenth century of a practical form of customs union. If we may put militarism to one side, I think that the success of that operation 130 years ago may augur well for the customs union that was formed in 1957.
There were further customs unions. One was between France and the state of Monaco in 1865, one was between Italy and San Marino about the same time, and another was between Portuguese India and British India in 1878. About 1889 the Cape Colony, the Orange Free State and a group of states in South Africa formed first a customs union and ultimately a political union which became known as the Union of South Africa.
– But all those states did not come into the political union, did they?
– Not originally, no.
– Nor eventually.
– But there was a growth. I think, speaking from memory, that British Bechuanaland was omitted from: it, but I cannot be dogmatic on that point. The reason why I have referred to those matters is to indicate that the idea of a customs union is not new. Customs unions, have been tried on a number of occasions and history has shown that they have been successful indeed.
– There were a fewunity tickets there.
– I would havethought that the honorable senator would have fled fi om unity tickets as from the plague, because if there is anything that will keep him and his colleagues sitting on that side of the chamber indefinitely, or for as long as any customs union can ever last, it is unity tickets. I had no intention of undertaking a diversionary expedition of this nature; but when I have the authority of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this place (Senator Kennelly) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Whitlam), I am sure that even that authority will appeal to Senator O’Byrne.
– You have no authority to say anything at all for them.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! I ask Senator Hannan to come back to the Common Market.
– With some reluctance, I will return to the Common Market.
– And to 1961.
– All right, I will come back to 1961 and the Common Market. It is worth while re-stating that in 1957, shortly prior to the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the Government of Great Britain had extensive conversations and negotiations with the countries which ultimately formed The Six, and for good or ill - I make no criticism of the decision made at the time - the British Government decided to remain out of the Common Market. But Great Britain was not idle. It organized an opposition outfit - The Seven - which was composed of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia, Portugal and Great Britain. With the exception of Great Britain, they are countries which do not carry the same economic tonnage as do the big three that help to make up The Six. But many of them were nations with highly developed manufactures. They were the nations with which Great Britain attempted to form an effective free trade area. The effect of Great Britain entering The Seven has been to increase considerably trade between Britain, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland in precision scientific equipment and the like. The impact of that agreement, although small, was felt immediately. Even to-day, the prices in Great Britain of scientific equipment which comes from those countries are substantially reduced.
I come now to the precise purpose of the Common Market. I believe it is fair to say that the countries forming the market aim to become one country economically over s period of about twelve years and ultimately to become one country politically. The first aim is the setting up of internal free trade to be followed by a common policy in respect of agriculture. That is to be fol-0£ lowed by common policies on social matters. Conceivably, the process will lead to the welding of several nations into one nation,
Mr. President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn ti . Wednesday next at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 4.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 August 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610824_senate_23_s20/>.