24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that in Sydney yesterday another stoppage occurred on the waterfront involving the hold-up of some 35 ships? Also, is it a fact that on the previous day an Australia-wide hold-up, organized without the consent of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, involved more than 100 ships? Do the present provisions of the law which deprive waterside workers of some attendance money if they join in concerted action, become increasingly severe if stoppages recur? If not, will the Minister consider the suggestion that the provisions should be made increasingly severe with a view to deterring waterside workers from taking part in such stoppages?
– I will bring to the notice of the responsible Minister the suggestion of Senator Wright to ascertain whether he believes that any action could, or should, be taken along those lines.
– I would like to ask the Minister for Health a few interesting questions. Has the anti-smoking campaign, which is sweeping England, and to a lesser degree Australia, had any effect by way of reducing the consumption of cigarettes? If smoking to excess is harmful, is not the undue consumption of alcohol more harmful to the nation? Is it not a fact that the consumption of alcoholic beverages causes more trouble, misery, sickness, gaolings and deaths than any other known beverage? Will the Minister for Health consider the institution of an educational campaign against strong liquor in order to stop the colossal waste of money on alcoholic beverages and thereby safeguard the health of our community? Is it a fact that the consumption of beer per capita is decreasing in both the United States of America and Great Britain? Is it a fact, too, that the export of Australian beer to the United States is increasing? Is it a fact that beer for export contains far more deleterious preservatives and chemicals than beer for local consumption?
– It does not.
– Senator Hendrickson has the answer to that question. Is it a fact that the United States is one of our greatest friends in these days of possible nuclear war disaster? If this is so, does the Minister think it fair, right and proper for us to be a party to the poisoning of our American friends by exporting to them our beer?
– I have no statistical knowledge of the effect that the antismoking campaign has had in England, and I regret that I cannot give the honorable senator any information about sales of cigarettes in Australia. The honorable senator’s references to alcohol, while interesting, have no effect on me whatsoever. I do not want to be misunderstood: I merely emphasize that the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol are matters purely and simply for State governments. Those parts of the honorable senator’s question that deal with alcohol fall into that category. His reference to. the possibility that by exporting our beer to the United! States we may be affecting the health of that country’s citizens is interesting. I remind the honorable senator that in the dark days of the 1940’s the American soldiers, sailors and airmen who visited Australia thought that our beer was a lifesaver.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Health, relates to statements which appeared in the press in the last two days, in particular the references to what are described as the dangerous side effect of some modern drugs. Will the Minister indicate whether he agrees that much greater restraint in the use of those drugs is necessary? Does the Minister envisage that some drugs may have to be removed from the list of pharmaceutical benefits under the national health scheme? Can the Minister give details of any plan that he proposes to place before the medical conference that he is calling this week-end?
– I remind Senator Davidson that very strict control is exercised over the quality and composition of drugs that are placed on the free list. I assure him that 1 will at all times be guided by the recommendations of the expert committee set up to advise the Government on these matters. It is true that I will be having talks to-morrow with “some members of the Australian Medical Association. The matters to which the honorable senator refers are not listed for discussion at those talks, but should they be raised I have no doubt that they will receive consideration. I assure the honorable senator that some very distinguished officers of my department will attend with me and that they will be able to make a very worthwhile contribution to the discussion of this subject should it be raised at the talks.
– I ask the
Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether he has read the leading article in this morning’s issue of the Government’s New South Wales propaganda sheet - the “ Daily Telegraph “ - portion of which is as follows -
The Melbourne Herald group (which already had a station in Brisbane and Melbourne) got a licence in Adelaide. (This made three, although the law stipulated two as a maximum.)
Although it is well known that the Prime Minister, and Williams of the Melbourne “ Herald “, are political cronies, will the Minister give an assurance that the Government will not break the law again by granting additional television licences either to the Williams group or to Sir Frank Packer?
– I have not had time to look at the article to which the honorable senator has referred. He couched his question in terms suggesting that the Government has broken, to use his word, a law. 1 think he was referring rather to the Government’s stated policy. I do not concede that the Government has departed from its stated policy on this matter. I will be greatly surprised if the article to which the honorable senator referred .tells the whole story. I undertake to confer with my colleague, the Postmaster-General, to-day and I will inform Senator Kennelly of the accuracy or otherwise of the report.
– I ask a question of the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. On Tuesday last I asked the Minister whether the organization had done any work on certain harmful garden sprays and insecticides which affect users of them. In particular I asked whether employees of the organization who were working on problems relating to those sprays had been severely affected while engaged in that work and whether there had been a prohibition on further research work. The Minister promised to make inquiries. Has he now anything to report to the Senate?
– Yes. The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: - First, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is not, and never has been, engaged in any research into the effects of using these organo-phosphorous sprays. Secondly, one of the organization’s employees in the field was affected at one stage by the use of these sprays and this, with other matters, formed the subject of a study which was carried out by scientists in the University of Melbourne, but which had nothing to do with the C.S.I.R.O. The employee in question was affected not as a result of working on the problems arising from the use of these sprays but merely because the sprays are used in various experiments conducted by the organization. There is no prohibition on the use of these substances by the organization in conducting experiments, apart from the normal safety precautions which are taken by the organization’s scientists when using toxic material from time to time.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is the Minister aware that for some considerable time dissatisfaction has been expressed by people in Western Australia wilh the use of Viscount aircraft on the east-west run? Is he aware that the press now carries a statement to the effect that the rationalization of air services has worked against the interests of Western Australia? Is the Minister prepared to comment on the fact that if rationalization had not interfered with air services to Western Australia pure jet airliners could have been operating by 1959? Further, has he received any representations from Mr. Brand, the Premier of Western Australia, or is it only a suggestion by the “ West Australian “ newspaper that Mr. Brand should make representations to the Commonwealth Government in relation to services which are considered to be poor and damaging to the Western Australian tourist industry and to our business relations with the eastern States, and inflicting other disabilities on Western Australia? If Mr. Brand makes such representations will they have better results than have been achieved when such representa’:-ns r-‘.ve been made in the House of Representatives and the Senate?
– I regret that the necessity should arise to address myself to this subject for the second day in succession. 1 can only think that Senator Cooke was absent from the chamber at question time yesterday when I replied - I thought very comprehensively - to the series of questions which he now puts to me.
I shall not repeat what I said yesterday about the decision taken in 1957 not to purchase pure jet aircraft. However, it seems necessary for me to repeat this statement: Although the “ West Australian “ yesterday commented editorially, not for the first time, upon the use of certain aircraft on the east-west run, surely the honorable senator accepts the fact that the airlines, like any other business organization, including a newspaper, must for their own good organize their business to achieve the optimum result commensurate with efficient public service. That is precisely what has been happening in relation to the air services to Western Australia.
The airlines have an obligation so to employ their funds and equipment that they achieve the best commercial result. It is possibly a matter of some regret to Western Australian members of the Parliament that there are not more Electra services each week to Western Australia, but the fact is that the Electra services which are provided are considered to be appropriate by the operating companies, having regard to the overall result which they must achieve from their equipment. I point out to Senator Cooke something which he well knows. The airlines which operate services to Western Australia have in recent months taken action to stimulate the use of air transport and to attract more passengers to their services. The honorable senator will also know that during the summer months both operators of services to Western Australia in fact increase the Electra services which they provide to that State to the maximum number possible.
The honorable senator has asked me whether Mr. Brand, the Premier of Western Australia, has made representations to me on this matter. I have had conversations about the subject with Mr. Brand, conversations which in the main have been stimulated by newspaper references to it and not, may I add, by any public clamour. Having covered with Mr. Brand the whole gamut of my discussions with the airline companies, I can inform the honorable senator that Mr. Brand has acknowledged that in the circumstances the airlines, by and large, do as much as they can for the Western Australian services.
The Government has taken a decision in respect of re-equipment. Re-equipment will be effected by the domestic airlines by about June of 1964. I have noticed with considerable satisfaction, as a Western Australian, that both airline operators have themselves, as is proper, since this is not a government function, made statements to the effect that when they get their new equipment they will put it in service on the long leg from the east to the west. In all the circumstances, having regard to the difficulties in respect of the operation of air services in Australia, and after a long, and continuing survey, with a particular interest in Western Australia, I can only say to the honorable senator that what is being done in respect of Western Australian air services is the best that can be done. However, if improvement is possible at any time it will be effected.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, refers to the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry that was recently released to the wool industry. Can the Minister tell me whether any of the federal wool-grower organizations, or any of their affiliated bodies, have approached the Minister for Primary Industry with the intention of placing before him their views on the findings of the committee? Can the Minister say whether, if those organizations desired to make such an approach, the Minister for Primary Industry would be prepared to receive a deputation?
-I speak subject to correction when I say that, to the present time, no approach has been made to the Minister for Primary Industry by the wool industry for the purpose of discussing with him the report that has been presented by the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry. There is no qualification in the rest of my answer when I say that the Minister for Primary Industry, and the Government generally, would welcome an approach by representatives of the wool industry, speaking with one voice concerning the proposals of the industry for its future stability.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer read a report by the Commissioner of Taxation, Mr. D. J. O’sullivan, wherein it is suggested that the names of taxpayers charged with attempting or alleged to have attempted to evade the payment of income tax should not be listed in the commissioner’s annual reports? Will the Minister use his undoubted influence with the Treasurer to ensure that the commissioner’s fair and decent views will be made a matter of policy in the future?
– I saw a reference to this matter in a newspaper, but I confess that I have put the report of the Commissioner of Taxation away as weekend reading. I have not yet looked at it. I do not think it will be necessary for me to discuss this matter specifically with the Treasurer. He will read the report, and I have no doubt that this suggested new departure will engage his attention. However, if it becomes necessary to do so, I will not hesitate to put before the Treasurer the view that has been expressed1 by Senator Marriott.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I preface it by saying that I have received a letter from the Avoca branch of the Australian Labour Party, expressing concern that the Government’s decision to relieve members of the Exclusive Plymouth Brethren from an obligation to market wheat through the Australian Wheat Board could establish a precedent that would undermine the whole structure of organized marketing in Australia. I ask the Minister: Are there any other cases of members of this or any other sect being relieved of ari obligation to sell primary produce through the appropriate boards? What is the value of any commodities in respect of which such exemption has been given?
– Let me emphasize at the outset that all Australian wheat grown for sale must be delivered to the Australian Wheat Board. This obligation applies to members of the sect known as the Plymouth Brethren. However, they have, within the existing .legislation, an arrangement to sell their wheat direct to the board instead of pooling it voluntarily, as is done usually. The brethren have no financial advantage over other wheat-growers- and the Wheat Board suffers no financial loss because of the arrangement. As far as 1 know, no other sect or individual has sought to make a similar arrangement because of religious beliefs.
– Prior to our entering the Senate this morning, Senator Sir Walter Cooper sought some information from me on these matters. Because I believe that they are of great interest to honorable senators generally, I have conferred with the Postmaster-General, and I am now in a position to inform the Senate that a recent survey shows that 70 per cent, of the new requests for services are being met within a few weeks of the lodgment of the applications. The remaining 30 per cent, are held up because of a shortage of line plant and equipment. The delay varies from exchange to exchange, depending on the extent of the engineering projects which must be undertaken to provide the necessary facilities. At present 39,813 applications are deferred because plant is not available. Orders have been issued for installations to commence in 26,542 instances. The Postmaster-General’s Department is at present in communication with a further 16,002 applicants.
– Does the Minister for National Development consider that the words of Mr. Hiley, the Queensland Liberal Treasurer, as reported in the “ CourierMail “, that .he was supremely certain that there would be legislative compulsion in the production of oil to ensure its use in Australia, could have an adverse effect on the funds available for oil exploration and production in Australia?
– I have not seen Mr. Hiley’s press statement. This is the first that I have heard of it. I am sorry, but I do not understand the statement quoted by Senator Dittmer. I would like to see the full statement. Legislation to ensure the use in Australia of oil produced in Australia would not be needed because the Government, if it so desired, could make whatever arrangements it deemed necessary under its import-export powers. So, I do not see the need for any such legislation. I mention, as a matter of general interest, that in the discussions I have had with representatives of the oil industry - not in relation to this matter, but generally - they completely accept the situation that when oil is found in Australia it will be treated in Australian refineries. They accept that as one of the facts of life. Whatever oil is found in Australia will be refined in Australia and the industry will make its arrangements accordingly.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to some remarkable statements made recently by Mr. Calwell, the leader of the Australian Labour Party, in opposition to the granting of additional television licences? Is it not a fact that the granting of additional television licences will provide more employment for Australian actors, actresses, technicians and other workers? Is not this a remarkable attitude for a so-called Labour leader to adopt, and does it not rather smack of a secret deal with capitalist interests? Will the Minister use his best endeavours with Mr. Calwell to see that these unfair attacks upon the livelihood of members of my union cease forthwith?
– I have noticed that some rather wild-eyed charges have been made by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Calwell, without any substantiating facts being adduced. I have regarded them purely as an unfortunate example of a leader of an opposition descending to vilifying his opponents without bothering with the formality of producing facts to justify his’ charges. I think the appropriate reply to Senator Hannan’s question is that this rather excitable individual has rushed into this course without thinking of any of the implications which naturally occur to Senator Hannan, as somebody who works in this business. I agree that employment would be affected. I am afraid that my endeavours - well-meant or otherwise - would have little result if they were directed to a person in the state of excitement in which the Leader of the Opposition appears to be perpetually these days.
– I ask the
Leader of the Government: Is there any truth in the statement that leaders of major exporting primary industries may go to Europe in a group for negotiations with the European Common Market, that formation of the delegation is being sought by the Government, and that composition of the group was to be discussed in Melbourne this week? As nearly every Minister in the Cabinet has been in London during the last year or so, and as Ministers have said, in reply to my questions, that an army of Australian government officials is already in Europe examining the problem and is involved in delicate negotiations, what value is there in this new proposal? Would it not be better to adopt the suggestion that I have made on many occasions, namely, that the Government convene a full-scale conference in Canberra so that not only the farm industry group but also the secondary industry group and the trade unions, all of which are vitally concerned, could discuss the many problems with the Deputy Prime Minister when he returns from Europe shortly?
– As everybody in the Senate would expect, I start by replying to the allegation that nearly every Minister has been in London during the last year or so.
– I shall make it two years.
– You may make it two years. The making of exaggerated, unsubstantiated and foolish statements, which is the new policy of the Leader of the Opposition in another place, is apparently contagious and has spread to Senator Hendrickson. I am surprised that Senator Hendrickson should ask this question, because he has been constantly urging consultation with industry, and I have been constantly telling him in reply that consultation has been going on continuously. These negotiations will soon reach a critical point. It is now public property that arrangements have been made for Australia’s case to be put at first hand to The Six by an Australian representative, and it is most desirable indeed that advice from the industries concerned should be available so that there may be effective consultation.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service: Have the measures introduced by the Government in February had the desired effect of reducing unemployment in the industries that were examined, particularly the manufacturing industries, and especially the motor vehicle industry?
– The latest published figures that I saw indicated either that the measures that the Government introduced, or the ripples stemming from them, were reducing unemployment and that we were approaching the desired result.
– I ask the
Minister for National Development: Are some men being employed on the Snowy Mountains scheme for a fortnight and then being dismissed? Must these men then wait for a week before applying for unemployment benefit? If so, is the practice being followed in an effort to disguise unemployment figures and create a false impression?
– The answer to the last question is, “ No “. I do not think I should debate this matter. I have not heard anything about men on the Snowy Mountains scheme being employed for a fortnight and then being put off.
– If the allegation is true, then it is a very serious thing.
– I do not think for one moment that it is true. As a contract develops there are seasonal changes. As winter weather approaches a substantial amount of outdoor work has to be discontinued because of climatic conditions. However, I just give a simple answer. I say quite definitely that there is no policy of putting men on for a short period and then putting them off.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Can he inform me how many written complaints the Department of Civil Aviation has received since the Western Australian press launched its campaign against the department in respect of aircraft used on the Perth service? If the department has received complaints, are they from overseas or Australian travellers? If the complaints are from Australian travellers, are they people who regularly travel by air? Is it a fact that regular travellers on this route prefer the DC6B to other types of aircraft?
– Looking back over a long period I can recall only two personal letters to me that have commented on the east-west service.. Indeed, one of them was hardly a complaint. One came from a gentleman resident in. the United States, and the other from a gentleman resident in Perth. The latter did, in fact, complain about the service. I wrote to him and subsequently, by chance, met him. I think it is fair to say that when I talked the matter over with him he was completely convinced that in the circumstances the quality of the service was comparable, with any similar service in the world. Indeed it may be, despite what may be said by way of criticism. I do not like to generalize about people’s preferences for aircraft, but 1 do think that regular travellers, as opposed to casual travellers, have some preference for the DC6B on the longer Australian passenger routes.
– 1 should like to ask a question without notice of the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has he seen an opinion attributed to a member of another place, Mr. Minogue, that people who wish to import what they consider a national emblem, to wit the shamrock, had been frustrated in their endeavours by the Department of Customs and Excise? Will the Minister give an assurance that people who wish to import a shamrock, thistle, rose, daffodil, lily, maple leaf, or anything else that they regard as a national emblem, will be allowed to do so?
– The matter does not come within the province of the Department of Customs and Excise except with respect to the administration of quarantine regulations. If I read Mr. Minogue’s question correctly, the objection taken was to the importation of seed. That matter comes Under the quarantine regulations. Again, if I’ “read his question correctly, the department said that the shamrock was a noxious weed. I may not have read his question correctly. However, the Department of Customs and Excise is concerned only to the extent that it administers the quarantine laws on behalf of the Department of Health.
– By way of preface to a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, I point out that last month I asked a question relating to the expenditure of £1,000,000 on the purchase, &c, of motor cars. This matter is of considerable interest to the automotive industry, in which there has been, and still is, considerable unemployment. In reply to my question I have received a memorandum which does not supply a comprehensive answer. Will the Prime Minister be good enough to obtain information from all Commonwealth Government departments which have representatives abroad, such as Immigration, Trade, Primary Industry, Defence Services, Civil Aviation, Supply, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Prime Minister, External Affairs, &c, and their allied instrumentalities, showing the total amount spent on the purchase, maintenance and running expenses of motor cars used outside Australia during the past three years? Which Australian instrumentalities abroad use exclusively Australian-made motor cars?
– I gather the impression that Senator Hendrickson put a question on the notice-paper and is not satisfied with the reply that he received, and now wants additional information.
– That is right.
– I can only ask him to put the question on the notice-paper again. I offer the opinion that be is asking for so much information that it will take some time to collect it. I know that the Government will last its three-year term. We will be able to give him the information he seeks before the end of that period.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer: -
Yes, I have seen the article in question. However, as the matter to which the honorable senator refers is subject to action for an appeal to the High Court of Australia, it is only proper that it should be treated as sub judice. I prefer therefore to make no comment at this stage.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer: -
As the matter to which the honorable senator refers is to be the subject of an appeal to the High Court of Australia, it is only proper that it should be treated as sub judice. I prefer therefore to make no further comment at this stage.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
What was the intake of migrants into Western Australia during 1961?
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2. The number of long-term and permanent arrivals in 1961 who gave Western Australia as the State of disembarkation was 8,497. Of these 68.7 per cent, were British, and 31.3 per cent. non-British.
asked the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– I now supply the following answers: -
asked the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Relative to the statement by George W. Ball, Under-Secretary of the Department of State of the United States of America, copies of which have been circulated by the Australian Wheat Board and in which there is a most provoking presentation of the attitude of the United States to the development of the European Economic Community, viz.: - “We believe that one of the responsibilities of the European Economic Market is to ensure that common agricultural policy does not indeed impinge upon the legitimate interests of third countries which have traditionally supplied the European Economic Market with agricultural products.” will the Acting Minister advise- -(a) What are the particular interests of the Australian Wheat Board in this statement? (b) Whether this statement represents the official view of the United States Government? (c) Whether the meaning of that statement is that the United States is joining with Australia, on maintaining access - not necessarily on preferential terms of Australian agricultural products - to the European Common Market?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
As the law stands to-day would it be possible for Russia, China or any other Communist country to establish and completely control a company in any Australian industry if it so desired?
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer: -
I assume that the honorable senator does not expect me to give, by way of answer to a question, anything in the nature of a legal opinion, particularly on a question that seems to be quite hypothetical. Company law in Australia, as the honorable senator knows, is a matter for the several States and Territories. I think it is broadly true that the companies acts do not discriminate on grounds of nationality between persons wishing to establish companies or to purchase shares in existing companies. Of course, if foreign interests in the countries indicated by the honorable senator, or in any other countries, wished to send their own nationals to Australia for the purpose of establishing or controlling a company, or wished to transfer overseas the profits of a company, they would have to comply with the requirements of such Commonwealth laws as the Migration Act and the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations.
– On 7th March, Senator Anderson asked me a question without notice on certain recent announcements regarding additional export finance facilities being made available in Great Britain, and suggested that similar arrangements might be made in Australia. In reply, I promised to refer the matter to the Treasurer for whatever comment he might consider appropriate.
The Treasurer has now informed me that, as foreshadowed in the Prime Minister’s statement on 7th February on the national economy, the problem of longer term lending for certain classes of export sales has been receiving special attention in discussions between the Government, the Reserve Bank and the trading banks about various important matters which affect the trading banks’ operations. These discussions, which involve some complex issues, are proceeding with all possible speed.
I may add that in a statement which, with the concurrence of honorable senators, I shall make a little later to-day there will be considerably more information in answer to Senator Anderson’s question.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 1st May, at 3 p.m.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for a borrowing of 100,000,000 dollars (£44,700,000) by the Commonwealth from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The proceeds of this loan will be used by the Commonwealth to assist in financing the section of the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme which is now under construction and which will result in the diversion of the Snowy River through the Great Dividing Range to the Murray River catchment and the use of the diverted waters for the generation of electricity. The bill, when enacted, will also appropriate the Consolidated Revenue Fund to permit repayment of the loan and payment of interest and other charges associated with the loan.
The project to which the loan is to be applied is the Murray 1 power station, together with the headworks that are necessary to bring the power station into operation. The works to be undertaken include the construction of three dams, two long tunnels, a pressure tunnel and twin steel pressure pipelines to carry water to the power station. The Murray 1 power station will have a capacity of 760,000 kilowatts, by far the largest capacity of any individual power station in the entire Snowy Mountains scheme. It is expected to commence production before the winer of 1966 and to achieve a capacity of 760,000 kilowatts before the winter of 1967. When a capacity of 760,000 kilowatts is achieved, it is estimated that 440,000 acre feet of water per annum will be diverted from the Snowy to the Murray for irrigation use along the Murray. When the Murray 2 power station and the Jindabyne, storage are built later, the total average increase in the water available for irrigation as a result of the diversion will be approximately 800,000 acre feet a year.
The proceeds of the International Bank loan will be applied towards expenditure on the Murray 1 project from 1st July, 1961, onwards, and will be drawn in instalments as the work proceeds. The total estimated cost of these works is about £92,000,000, which includes the Snowy Mountains Authority’s expenditure of a general nature after 1st July, 1961, but does not include expenditure of almost £7,000,000 prior to 1st July, 1961. This expenditure will not, of course, constitute the whole of expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme between 1st July, 1961, and the date of completion of the Murray 1 power station. During that period there will be large expenditure on other Snowy projects, particularly the commencement of the Murray 2 power station and of the Jindabyne storage.
It may help to put the amount of the International Bank loan into perspective in relation to the financing of the Snowy Mountains scheme if I say that the loan of £44,700,000 compares with expenditure of £181,200,000 on the Snowy Mountains scheme up to 30th June, 1961, and with a preliminary estimate of £400,000,000 as the complete cost of the entire Snowy Mountains scheme.
The drawing of the International Bank loan will not affect the arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales and Victoria about payments by the two States for Snowy electricity. In other words, the amounts so payable will be precisely the same as if the Commonwealth itself had continued to finance the whole of expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme, and will continue to be determined in accordance with the agreement relating to the Snowy Mountains scheme which was signed in 1957 by the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria.
This is the seventh loan made by the International Bank to Australia. The bank, as is well known, is a discriminating lender and, before it decided to make the loan to the Commonwealth, had examined the economics of the project in considerable detail, lt concluded that the project was sound.
The loan of 100,000,000 dollars which the International Bank has approved is the largest loan ever made by the bank for a hydro-electric project, and it is one of the largest loans made by the bank in recent years for any purpose.
The terms on which the International Bank has agreed to make the loan available are similar to those on which other bank loans are currently being made. The loan will be for a period of 25 years, and interest on the outstanding amount of the loan is payable half-yearly at 51 per cent., which includes the 1 per cent, commission which is added by the bank to its capital reserves. Although this loan carries interest at the bank’s current lending rate, which in its turn reflects the cost of borrowing by a favoured borrower in the main capital markets of the world, it might be mentioned that the average rate of interest paid on all Australia’s loans from the International Bank is 4.8 per cent., which is less than the current internal long-term bond rate in Australia. A favorable “grace period “ has been allowed by the bank, under which repayments do not commence until September, 1966. They are then due to be made half-yearly on an annuity basis until the loan is finally repaid by 15th March, 1987. Other procedural arrangements are similar to those made on the occasion of earlier Australian loans from the International Bank, particularly the 1956 loan to finance the purchase of aircraft for Qantas.
Drawings of the loan will be made by the Commonwealth from time to time on the basis that the bank will advance amounts equivalent initially to one-half of the expenditure incurred on the project since 1st July, 1961. Only a comparatively small proportion of the loan will be received this financial year, but drawings will increase as the project gets fully under way, and the loan is expected to be fully drawn by the end of 1965-66. While most of the expenditure on the project will be in Australian currency, the loan will be drawn in such foreign currencies as are agreed between the Commonwealth and the bank - section 2.03 of the Loan Agreement.
The borrowing is one that comes within the Commonwealth’s 1961-62 loan programme, and therefore required the approval of the Loan Council to its terms and conditions. The amount of the loan has been added to the increased Commonwealth borrowing programme of £50,400,000 which the Loan Council approved at its last meeting for the purpose of financing housing advances to the State governments.
The loan will, of course, make an important contribution to the development of the economic potential of Australia. It will help the Commonwealth Government to press ahead with the largest single developmental project ever undertaken in this country and will add substantially to the funds available for developmental works planned or in progress throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
– by leave - This statement has been prepared by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and the first person pronoun, wherever used, refers to him. The statement reads as follows: -
During recent weeks I have, on behalf of the Government, engaged in discussions with the Reserve Bank of Australia and representatives of the major trading banks on a number of matters affecting the Australian trading banks. These consultations began when, on 30th January last, the Economic Policy Committee of Cabinet met representatives of the trading banks and talked with them on the general economic problems of Australia - as it had talked, in a series of other meetings about that time, with leading people from other branches of finance and trade and industry and the trade unions.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his statement of 7th February on the national economy, referred to the further discussions I was to hold with the banks and he emphasized, in particular, that the Government wanted the banks to be able to play an increasingly important role in our progress. I think I may very well cite that as having been, on both sides, the ruling purpose of the discussions we have had together and as the hallmark of the new arrangements agreed between us, which I shall now describe.
The banks put to us at our first meeting their belief that they both could and should play a wider and more constructive part in the growth of our country and the expansion of its trade abroad. At the same time they said frankly that they felt they were being denied a chance to develop their facilities as they wished by certain features of the arrangements currently in force to control interest rates, the volume of credit and the investment of their funds. In saying this, they did not in any way dispute the need for an overall control of banking operations in pursuance of national monetary policy.
The Government welcomed the expressed desire of the trading banks to extend their activities and, in particular, to embark upon some new forms of lending to various branches of industry and trade. We have been aware for some time of a growing need for a new type of bank lending to meet developmental requirements, especially of rural industry. Such lending would have to be for moderately long terms and also for fixed terms, and neither of these requirements is adequately served by the overdraft system which has hitherto been the typical and predominant form of bank finance in Australia.
The Government has also recognized the need for some wider facilities in export finance. More and more, as our business people pursue their efforts to sell manufactured products in new markets overseas, they find themselves up against the competition of sellers from other countries who are in a position to offer credit terms - in some cases quite long credit terms. From a national stand-point there are objections to building up a large body of long-term import credits. It amounts, in effect, to a capital outflow from Australia for the period of the credit, whereas our needs are rather for an increasing capital inflow. Yet the fact has to be faced. If we are to build up overseas markets for our manufactures then we must be in a position to offer the potential buyers some reasonable facilities for credit.
Export finance is necessarily and properly the business of the trading banks. They have long been engaged in financing exports, though hitherto mainly on a short-term basis. They have the expert knowledge and the world-wide connexions required for carrying it on. However, the banks told us that, if they were to carry longer fixedterm finance in either the domestic or the export field, they would need to be assured of having the necessary liquid resources for doing so. It would be a different class of business from their ordinary overdraft lending where their funds can be turned over within relatively short periods.
This view of theirs is, without doubt, wellfounded and, if our industries are to have access to the kind of finance experience is showing them to require, the position of the banks in this matter has to be met. At the same time, the Government has to be sure that whatever arrangements are made do not impair seriously its power to control the general credit situation. With these two major considerations in view it has been possible to work out, by agreement between the Government, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the major trading banks, a set of arrangements which I believe will meet the position.
By way of providing a body of resources on which the trading banks can operate in these new fields a special term lending fund is to be established with the Reserve Bank. It will comprise accounts held with the Reserve Bank by tha trading banks. These will amount to 3 per cent of each bank’s deposits. Of this,. 1 per cent. will be provided from the existing liquid assets and government securities of the banks and 2 per cent. will be transferred from their statutory reserve deposit accounts. These new accounts will represent revolving funds for term lending purposes, and the total of the accounts will be approximately £55,000,000. The purpose of establishing this fund is to permit the new lending facilities to be developed steadily over the next few years, in accordance with current credit policy. The unused part of each bank’s account will earn interest initially at a rate of3¼ per cent. 1 may mention here that concurrently the Reserve Bank has agreed with the trading banks that the convention regarding the minimum ratio of liquid assets and Government securities of each bank to its deposits, which has been in force for some years, will be raised from 16 per cent. to 18 per cent.
As to the scope of term lending, it is envisaged thatloans will not be made for consumption expenditure but for capital expenditure for production, broadly defined, in the rural and secondary industries, for the financing of exports and, to a lesser extent, in commercial fields.
As examples of typical purposes for term loans, I may say that, in rural industry, it is contemplated that loans will be made for the purchase of land for development, for heavy equipment, for buildings and fencing, for land clearing, pasture development and herd improvement. In secondary industry, factory extensions, plant and machinery, special reserve stocks, and the financing of contracts illustrate the sort of purposes in view. As to export finance, loans will be generally for capital goods and, in some cases, for activities associated with the supply of capital goods, such as installation costs. In the area of commerce, as I have said, it is not intended to finance consumption expenditure. However, it is possible that appropriate cases for term lending will be found in service industries.
Usually loans will be made for fixed periods and will be amortized by regular instalments. Some departures from this practice may perhaps be found necessary as, for example, in the case of rural loans which do not produce income in the early stages. As a general rule, loans will be for not less than three years and the range will be generally from three to eight years, or possibly a little longer.
No fixed ceiling will be set on the size of individual loans. Some loans for export finance may have to be substantial in amount, but, so that the needs of small business may be given full support, it is not considered that other classes of loans will be for very large amounts. With regard to interest rates on these loans, it is intended that the broad pattern will be consistent with overall interest rate policy as determined from time to time, and the trading banks will keep the Reserve Bank informed about rates being charged. The Reserve Bank will of course be able to follow the course of movements in interest rates from the detailed statistics regularly supplied to it by the trading banks.
These, then, are the main elements in the termlending arrangements. It will be seen at once that they make very substantial resources available for this necessary class of finance, and they will do this without subtracting from the capacity of the banks to carry on their other forms of lending. I am confident that they will satisfactorily meet requirements in the new context of development in Australia and of our trading relations with the world abroad. 1 may turn now to the subject of bank interest rates generally. The trading banks maintained that current arrangements for the control of their lending rates were much too rigid. In particular, they considered that the requirement for each bank to observe maximum average overdraft rates was hampering necessary adjustments of rates as between individual borrowers and between classes of borrowers. It was also imposing upon them great administrative inconvenience and considerable cost. We had sufficient evidence to convince us that there was great force in these contentions on the part of the banks. At the same time, it was our desire to ensure that any alternative arrangements should provide an effective mechanism for the control of bank lending rates in the general interest of the economy.
After discussion with the banks on various alternative procedures, we have reached agreement with them on the following lines: -
The requirement for a prescribed maximum average overdraft rate will be abolished.
However, the present ceiling of 7 per cent. on overdraft rates will continue to be observed except in cases where an exemption is agreed on to meet certain special requirements.
There will not be any general change in present levels of overdraft rates.
Where various classes of rural and other borrowers now receive preferred treatment from the trading banks in the matter of interest rates, this preferred treatment will be continued. I emphasise that this preferred treatment not only will continue in respect of current borrowers but is to apply to future borrowers in the same classes.
Perhaps I may elaborate a little on the procedure by which bank lending rates will in future be regulated. Within the maximum or ceiling established for overdraft rates, the banks normally will be free to adjust rates for individual borrowers and classes of borrowers. They will, however, keep the Reserve Bank informed by means of periodic statistical returns as to the rates charged on various classes of borrowings and will consult from time to time with the Reserve Bank as to the trend of these rates. If, on occasion, it is desired to bring about a more or less general change in bank lending rates, the declared maximum rate will be moved upwards or downwards and the majority of existing rates currently payable will move with it. However, they might not all move to exactly the same extent, and some might not move at all.
Adjustments to deposit rates paid by the banks have in the past usually been the subject of consultations between the Reserve Bank and the trading banks, and this procedure will be continued. There will be an immediate reduction of¼ per cent. in the rates of interest on fixed deposits. That is to say, rates on twelve-month deposits will be reduced from 4¼ per cent. to 4 per cent., and rates on deposits for shorter periods down to three months will be reduced from 4 per cent. to 3¾ per cent. There will not be any change in the rates currently paid on savings bank deposits.
We also had discussions with the trading banks on the facilities available to them for the investment of their liquid funds. They have been informed that the Government has in view the issue, on a continuous basis throughout the year, of a new form of short-term security to be called treasury-notes. These will be three-month securities, like the present seasonal treasury-notes, and they will carry market rates of interest. As and when they are issued, the trading banks will have the same access to them as the general public. However, certain aspects of this innovation, especially those relating to the terms on which treasury-notes will be issued, are receiving the attention of the Loan Council.
As our economy grows and the activities within it take on new and more varied forms, the financial mechanism which serves it must likewise grow in range, diversity and specialization. Recent years have seen numerous innovations in Australian financial practice, and the arrangements I have just describedare a further step in that direction. The Government believes that these arrangements, especially those relating to term lending facilities, break new and important ground in the development of techniques for the financing of national growth. It will now be possible for the trading banks to extend the scope of their facilities and services in new and valuable ways, and to have greater flexibility in the conduct of their business. At the same time their operations will remain subject to the overall responsibility of the Government and the Reserve Bank to control the credit situation and the terms on which credit is made available to the economy.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Trading Bank Facilities and Arrangements - Statement by the Treasurer, dated 12th April, 1962.
– I move-
That the paper be printed.
I reserve my comments on the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 1 1th April (vide page 948).
Clause 15 -
After section eighteen of the Principal Act the following Part and heading are inserted: - “ Part V. - Inquiries and Reports by the Special Advisory Authorities. “18b.- (1) ….
” (2.) An authority undertaking an inquiry under this section in relation to any goods shall conduct the inquiry in such manner as he thinks fit. “18f.- (1.) Where-
Upon which Senator Wright had moved by way of amendment -
In sub-section (1) of proposed new section 18f, leave out “take action for the purpose of the restriction of the importation of those goods “, insert “by regulation provide for the restriction of the importation of those goods -
.- When the committee debate was interrupted last night we were considering the third amendment that I had proposed to clause 15. I am conscious of the defects of the amendment, and I am indebted to the Acting Minister for Trade (Senator Henty) for emphasizing them. Nevertheless, I ask him to consider that the merit of the amendment, if it were accepted, is that a quantitative restriction, as an individual instrument, would come before the Parliamentin some way on notice. The device previously employed was a secret document issued by the staff of the Department of Trade. That is the first pointI want to. make.
Secondly, I do not think there is very much in the suggestion that the Parliament, if it had the power to disallow quantitative restrictions in toto or individual licences, would be likely to interfere with a consignment of goods, already ordered and on board a ship, after a licence had been granted. There is no more ground for suggesting that the Parliament would act in an arbitrary way in that respect than for suggesting that the Minister would do so. It should be remembered that under the import licensing system the Minister had power to vary or cancel licences, or to impose new conditions, at any time. It is my view that under the system I propose quantitative restrictions would receive much more objective thought than they received under the 1952 legislation.
The third matter that I want to mention is the Minister’s suggestion that there may be other means of regulating the restriction of imports than by the issue of import licences. 1 should be obliged if he would state what the alternative is.
Finally, I point out that Senator McKenna, in the closing stages of the debate last night, referred the Minister to the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. I confess that I have not studied the provisions of that agreement closely, but in order to bring to the attention of the committee, for responsible clarification, the position of this country in relation to its commitments under that agreement, 1 cannot do better than refer to a statement that was made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in the House of Representatives on 14th March, 1961. It is reported in “ Hansard “, volume 30, at page 189. The Treasurer said -
Now, Sir, we do have the obligation under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade not to maintain import restrictions except for balanceofpayments purposes. It is clearly contemplated under that arrangement that any such restrictions shall be of a temporary order only. Indeed, we have to consult with the Gatt organization annually while such restrictions last. We are constantly under supervision to see that we are taking the necessary corrective measures. These obligations cannot be lightly brushed aside.
I am a novice in regard to implications in international trade and the importance of strict compliance with provisions such as those of Gatt. It is only right that I should rely upon the text of the Treasurer’s statement that 1 have read. If there have been subsequent interpretations that alter the position, I would be obliged if the Minister would inform me precisely of those interpretations and, if possible, give us the text of them. I had been left under the impression that the Treasurer’s statement represented one of the factors govern ing what I conceived to be this Government’s policy on import licensing until the debate on this legislation began.
.- I wish to reply briefly to the points that Senator Wright has made. I do not think the honorable senator can predict what the Parliament will do. I do not think the Senate can accept the position that it can predict what the Parliament will or will not do in respect of the disallowance of a regulation. The suggestion contained in this amendment is that the licensing would be subject to a regulation which could be disallowed by the Parliament.
If Senator Wright dislikes the example that I have given, let me put to him another example which I think is even more appropriate than the first. I do not believe that any businessman would be prepared to order goods on a licence that was subject to a regulation that could be disallowed by the Parliament.
– He is already subject to tariffs which the Government brings down overnight and which penalize him.
– That position is quite different from this. The licence disappears altogether if the regulation is disallowed.
– It is unfair in both cases.
– It is not unfair in both cases. In one case the importer is protected because if the rate of duty is increased he can pass on the increase in the rate of duty. Under this suggestion, he would not be able to bring the goods into Australia, although he had them on the water, because his licence would be cancelled by the disallowance of the regulation.
The third ground upon which I disagree with the regulation system is making an individual businessman’s just entitlement public to his competitors by setting out his quota on a public document such as a regulation. I believe that most businessmen would have a great objection to their confidential business being disclosed to their competitors in a regulation. That would provide a very valid ground of disagreement with this suggestion. I make those three points in answer to Senator Wright.
I shall now answer a question that Senator McKenna asked last night about Article XIX. of Gatt. I undertook to obtain an answer to his question. The first thing that we should understand clearly is that Gatt becomes involved only if the action taken affects in some way an obligation that we have accepted in the agreement. That does not mean that every time we apply a temporary duty we are affecting a Gatt obligation. That occurs only if we have bound the particular rate of duty to another contracting party.
For example, we have applied temporary duties in 29 cases under the 1960 legislation. Twenty-eight of those cases had nothing whatever to do with our Gatt obligations. In one case only action under Article XIX. was involved because the rate of duty had been bound. If we applied import restrictions, that would be a departure from our Gatt obligations; but that is permitted in the terms of Article XIX. We would be required to give notice to the contracting parties and, on request, to consult with any interested party.
I come back to the main point of the question. Article XIX. lays down that notice should be given and consultation should take place before any move is made to depart from the Gatt obligation, but goes on to say - . . In critical circumstances, where delay would cause damage which it would be difficult to repair, action under paragraph 1 of this Article may be taken provisionally … on the condition that consultation shall be effected immediately after taking such action.
The circumstances in which we would use the machinery for temporary protection provided in this bill are, of course, the sort of critical circumstances envisaged in that article of Gatt. So, where the circumstances call for urgent action and some Gatt commitment is involved, it is open to us to take whatever action is necessary, give notice to the contracting parties, and later consult with them where required.
– As I mentioned last night, I believe that the weakness in the submission made by Senator Wright lies in the fact that it imposes upon the Parliament the onus of determining whether the regulations should or should not be disallowed. It follows that the Parliament would be in the nature of a court to determine the merits of the applicant’s claim, or in the nature of an appeal court sitting in judgment upon the decision of the special authority. But the -Parliament has not the resources available to any court, judicial body or special authority. It has not before it the evidence that the special authority had before him in making his determination. All that the Parliament would have would be the regulation, which had been laid on the table of each House, setting out the bald facts of a decision on a temporary import licence. How could we, as a deliberative body, on that flimsy evidence, make any proper determination on the merits of the case? Honestly, I cannot see how that system would work. As I have said, we would not have the evidence before us.
Under proposed new section 18c, an authority conducting an inquiry will, for the purposes of the inquiry, have the use of the services of officers of the Tariff Board and also access to any evidence, including evidence of a confidential nature, taken by the board, being evidence that is relevant to the inquiry. None of that vast body of evidence is available to members of the Senate sitting in the Parliament. This proposal is like asking a court to make a determination in respect of an offence without hearing any evidence. I believe that that is a grave weakness in Senator Wright’s submission.
I wish to add only one other point. The Minister can correct me if I am wrong in this statement. At a later stage - I do not know how much later; it would depend upon the circumstances - all the facts are available to the people who are interested in the matter. I take it that when the Minister decides to refer a question to the board for what may be regarded as a review of the statutory authority’s temporary decision all the facts will be available to any person or section of industry that is interested in questioning the decision or is in any way concerned with the determination of the board, made after a public hearing. At no very late stage in the evolution of an application by a section of the industry will facts be available to other sections of industry, which will then have access, I presume, to information about what is being done by the special authority. The people most concerned” with a determination by the board would be other elements in the industry, which may want a little of the kudos or crumbs that fall from the board’s decision. They would be rightfully entitled to the information and, as the Parliament will never have it, there is a great weakness in Senator Wright’s argument.
– The Minister did not reply to Senator Wright’s request for an elaboration of the statement that there are ways of dealing with this matter other than by licensing. Having gone so far, the Minister should not leave us in a state of suspense. I would be indebted if he would indicate in general terms any of the alternatives.
– I simply said that we had no right to predict what Parliament would do.
– It is not sought that you do that, but I should be exceedingly indebted to learn in general terms what alternatives th,ere are to licensing. The Minister’s statement indicated that there was more than one. I find it hard to envisage a system that will not involve some form of licensing. I ask the Minister not to announce policy but to say in general terms what form of control, other than licensing, might be used. I should like him to deal with the possible alternatives without committing the Government to any of them.
I am indebted to the Minister for his comments on the operation of Article XIX. of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but they really do not satisfy the point I raised yesterday in the course of the committee proceedings. The Minister’s answer was that of the 29 alterations that were made previously only one had to be referred to the contracting parties, but we are embarking on a new phase of control. We are entering the field of quantitative restrictions. It is not a matter of imposition of duties. I remind the Minister that Article XII. contains a complete prohibition or restriction upon the imposition by any of the parties of other duties, taxes or charges. That is an obligation into which we have entered with every nation that is a contracting party. The moment we enter the field of quantitative restrictions we offend every nation that is affected in that way, because we say, “ We shall allow you to import into our country a smaller quantity than you have been in the habit of importing “. Surely that brings into full play all the provisions of Article XIX. involving consultation and long notice, which are factors that would militate against the speedy action that the legislation is designed to achieve.
It seems to me that the Government would have been much safer to rest upon the claim that our balance of payments position needed protection in the years ahead. With the threat being posed by the entry of the United Kingdom to the Common Market, we are justified in building our reserves to unprecedented levels. That would be a normal precaution for us to take in the circumstances that we face. It would justify a measure of this sort to protect our balance of payments position.
– How high do you think they should go?
– It is difficult to say. I should say that they should be at least double their present level. That would take them to more than £1,000,000,000. I do not think that that would be an unduly high level. A proper consideration of the needs of the country, seeing the difficulty of disposing of nearly £200,000,000 worth of our products, would pre-dispose us to making sure that we had available funds, if we could not get them from export earnings, to keep our industries going and maintain our level of employment. It seems to me to be an elementary precaution. There is a strong argument to be developed from that angle. We must rely upon import licensing or upon quantitative restrictions to protect our balance of payments position, if not for the immediate year, having regard to the fluctuating factors I mentioned yesterday, then to the longterm trends of our balance of payments position.
– Why do you fix upon £1,000,000,000?
– Because it is twice what we have now. I think the latest figure is £526,000,000. I do not regard that as a very safe level, having regard to the violent fluctuations that take place.
– When we have funds abroad, we do not have them In Australia.
– I know.
– When we do not have them in Australia-
– We have the Australian equivalent.
– We run the risk of unemployment, do we not?
– If we do not have adequate funds.
– This is a matter of fine judgment.
– I think that this much is quite clear: If our export earnings fall substantially in any year, we must rely upon our reserves. They might be forced well down over a number of years. Therefore, knowing that we expect to face Common Market difficulties, it is surely good business to commence now to build those reserves to unprecedented levels. That would mean going beyond what we have regarded as a safe margin in normal years. We are facing abnormal years.
– To put the contrary point of view, it is always good business to build your reserves.
– But you can go too far. You can have your resources outside the country, not working adequately.
– I do not think that that difficulty should arise.
– It is an academic exercise.
– It is only a book entry. The Commonwealth Bank will hold our sterling balances and it will certainly make available in Australia, in Australian currency, funds against those reserves. It will hold in London the balances of sterling, gold and so on. I argue that we should build those up.
– We do not agree with that, but we do not want to argue it.
– Answering the point that Senator McKenna has made about temporary duties, I think we would be protecting ourselves before the event happened if we acted in the way he suggested. I do not think we would be entitled to do so. I do not think we are entitled to assume that an event might happen and protect ourselves in case it does.
– My point was that under the agreement restrictions can be imposed to safeguard the balance of payments position or to forestall an imminent threat to, or stop a serious decline in, our monetary reserves. The agreement provides that threats can be dealt with as well as actual happenings.
– I do not think we should protect ourselves before the event occurs. I am advised that the let-out under Article XIX. of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in respect of temporary duties is similar. We could act beforehand and consult afterwards. I do not think it is without relevance to have a look at what has happened in other countries that operate under Gatt and take notice of the time they take to consult.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 19 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 12.48 to 2.15 p.m.
Consideration resumed from 10th April (vide page 867),. on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 10th April (vide page 867), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 5th April (vide page 835), on motion by Senator Wade -
That the following paper: -
Netherlands-Indonesian Dispute - Statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated 15th March, 1962- be printed.
– A great responsibility rests on any honorable senator who speaks in this debate on the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) on 15th March last because the issues involved contain so many difficult problems. The solving or otherwise of problems will have a tremendous impact on world affairs. What happens in Dutch New Guinea will not affect only the Indonesians and the Dutch. It will have a tremendous impact upon Australia as well. I think most Australians now realize the onerous responsibilities that were carried and discharged by the late Mr. Chamberlain at Munich in 1938.
In trying to solve this problem of Dutch New Guinea we must be guided by history and experience. The matter in dispute between the Dutch and the Indonesians is the future sovereignty of that territory that we call Dutch New Guinea. I think the average Australian is well aware that a change in the control of Dutch New Guinea would affect the rights and interests of the indigenous people of the territory and would affect also Australia’s future defence. The dispute between the Dutch and the Indonesians arises over the question of who should have sovereignty over Dutch New Guinea. The Dutch are prepared to have the issue resolved by the international body - the United Nations. Many people in Australia believe that the Dutch have a right to claim sovereignty over West New Guinea. We could claim that the indigenous people of West New Guinea have a far better claim to that territory than the Dutch or the Indonesians. Australia contends that the Dutch have done and will do more for the people of West New Guinea than the Indonesians are presently able to do.
Although the Dutch claim sovereignty over West New Guinea, we must face the fact that Indonesia also claims sovereignty. For the moment I do not propose to deal with the basis of Indonesia’s claim. Here we have a clash of opinions between the Dutch and the Indonesians. This dispute first arose in 1949. During 1949 and 1950 intense diplomatic attempts were made, not only by the two parties to the dispute but also by other nations, to resolve the matter of sovereignty. When negotiations broke down in 1950, the Dutch incorporated West New Guinea as an integral part of Holland. The Indonesians in 1954 took the matter to the United Nations because they believed that no good purpose could be served by further negotiations with the Dutch. Expressing the position in lay language, the matter was shelved at the United Nations. Australia supported the Dutch claim that the dispute was an internal or domestic matter between the Dutch and the Indonesians. In 1955 the Indonesians again submitted the matter to the United Nations. The debate that subsequently took place was initiated not by Indonesia but because fifteen Afro-Asian states had placed the subject on the agenda. The dispute, however, did not reach the United Nations Security Council. Even requests for a resumption of negotiations were refused. Again, in 1956, attempts at bi-lateral negotiations broke down. On the fourth occasion the dispute came before the General Assembly of the United Nations and an endeavour was made to find a solution of it. On each of the four occasions that this matter has been before the United Nations very little progress towards the settlement of the dispute was made.
What has been Australia’s attitude to this dispute? Not being a party to the dispute, we desired the matter to be resolved between the two parties concerned on condition that the interests of the local inhabitants were preserved. I think we should emphasize that fact. Our great concern is for the interests of the indigenous people of the territory. Our attitude is based fundamentally on the preservation of their rights and interests. I say that because the question of colonialism arises. The Indonesians have claimed that they suffered under Dutch colonialism. In my opinion, if Indonesia goes into West New Guinea it will inflict its own colonialism on the inhabitants of that country.
Because Indonesia gave Australia an assurance that it would not use force to achieve its aims, Australia must accept that assurance and expect the pledge to be honoured. We feverently hope that that solemn pledge will be honoured. Honouring it will make friends for Indonesia, but breaking it will mean that Indonesia will lose the friendship of the Australian people, something which is vital and real to both nations. In passing let me mention one fact to indicate the extent of our friendship with Indonesia. The medical school of the Adelaide University is overcowded and the university was able this year to accommodate only 120 students; but ten places were set aside for Indonesians who wished to study there. This is typical of what is happening at all our universities and other educational institutions, not only in the medical field but in other branches of learning as well.
If Indonesia breaks its pledge that it will not use force to gain West New Guinea, the Dutch can appeal to the Security Council of the United Nations. Article 24 of the United Nations Charter gives the Security Council the responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. This responsibility was conferred on the Security Council by members of the United Nations Organization so that the Security Council could act on their behalf and take prompt and effective measures to maintain peace and security. In other words, the United Nations accepts full responsibility for what is done on its behalf by the Security Council.
In the event of hostile action occurring, no doubt the Netherlands would ask for a cease-fire and withdrawal of Indonesian forces. We must ask ourselves whether Indonesia would agree to this. If it would not, we would then be confronted with the most critical and explosive situation in our history, right on our door-step. Suppose Indonesia would not obey the Security Council or that we in Australia prematurely entered this dispute in any way - I hope not by force of arms - might not other nations be equally prepared to go to the aid of Indonesia? Could the resultant situation be contained? Would a third world war begin? These are very pertinent questions that we must ask ourselves. Suppose the United Nations or the Security Council did riot agree to demand a cease-fire. This position could be reached due to the peculiar situation which exists to-day in the grouping of the nations of the world. Indonesia might claim that she had used force only to liberate the indigenous people of West New Guinea from colonialism. As I have said, Indonesia claimed that Dutch colonialism was wrong. If that be the case, then Indonesian colonialism is also wrong. If Indonesia ignores the United Nations, what faces the world? If we look back to 1956, Hungary affords us an example of a situation in which nothing was done to uphold the freedom of the individual.
Surely this world organization which we support, and will continue to support, will negotiate and settle this dispute which could well threaten international peace and security. If we ponder over the rights of the indigenous people of West New Guinea, we must come to the conclusion that the nations of the world have a duty to try to improve the economic and living standards of those people. If the Indonesians assume sovereignty over West New Guinea can they perform the task of raising the standards of the indigenous people? If that is not Indonesia’s aim, is colonialism its aim? In other words, will Dutch New Guinea become an integral part cf Indonesia?
West New Guinea would not offer Indonesia any defence protection. Occupation of that land would not add to the strength of Indonesia’s economy but rather would be a drain on its resources. The outside world believes that even now the economy of Indonesia is strained. Its overseas balances have fallen and it faces a deficit of nearly 100,000,000,000 rupiras - there are approximately 100 rupiras to the Australian fi. Exports of rubber and tobacco have decreased, not only in quantity but also in quality. Replanting of rubber has not been undertaken vigorously and, moreover, the nationalization of Dutch assets and properties has not assisted the economy because the taking over meant the loss of the trained executives who had the ability to manage the business of the country. Let us pause for a moment and remember that 48 per cent, of Indonesia’s national income is spent on defence. Outside nations including Great Britain and America, have assisted in what I might call Indonesia’s internal defence to ensure that internal security was maintained, but aid from other sources apparently has been for offensive action.
Indonesia’s desire to take over Dutch New Guinea is regarded by the average Australian citizen as unique. For years he has been asked to assist the Indonesians in building up their standard of living, not only by providing money, which is so important, but by giving them the best help possible in the form of trained men and women who have the necessary know-how, if I may call it that, to assist them. In the field of education, too, the Australian citizen is making sacrifices for his neighbour. As 1 said earlier, in the present difficult position confronting our universities and other educational establishments, which has meant a restriction on the number of Australian students enrolled, a generous quota has been given to Indonesia so that its students may obtain higher education. I believe that the average Australian is keenly aware of the situation which faces him as a result of the West New Guinea dispute. He realizes the implications. His first desire is that the rights of the indigenous people of Dutch New Guinea should be protected. He wants the dispute settled by negotiation, preferably by using the machinery now existing under the control of the United Nations. If West New Guinea were to be placed under United Nations trusteeship, the average Australian would gladly and willingly accept any responsibility that was placed on his shoulders thereby. He would endeavour to carry out the wishes of the United Nations, if he thought that he could prevent war and live in peace. Australia would discharge its responsibilities in that respect in the same excellent way that it is discharging its responsibilities in the portion of New Guinea that it administers. I believe that we are doing a splendid job in New Guinea and that we may be justly proud of it. We are prepared to allow any one who wishes to do so to investigate the work that we are doing there. In fact, the more investigation there is, the more Australia’s prestige will be enhanced.
The Indonesians claim that the Dutch have failed and are continuing to fail, to supply the basic essential needs of the people of West New Guinea. It is claimed, too, that the Dutch have done little for the progressive development of the area, and that, owing to Dutch policy in Indonesia before World War II., Indonesia was left to face heavy arrears in education, health, communications and many other fields. The Indonesians have said that in 1954 only 7 per cent, of the people were literate. That statement forms the basis of my belief that Indonesia is not yet strong enough economically to assist West New Guinea.
– What is the percentage of literates in Indonesia now?
– I tried to obtain that information, but it was not available. I should think, however, that the percentage would not be a great deal higher now. I give the Indonesians full credit for trying to improve the standard of literacy of the people, but as honorable senators know, it takes a long time to do that, particularly when there is a shortage of teachers.
We should ask ourselves whether Indonesia would agree to West New Guinea becoming a trust territory like Australian New Guinea. The answer that the Indonesians gave to that question in 1954, and which they have repeated since, was that Indonesia could not agree to continuation of the Dutch administration of the area for reasons already made clear. Indonesia believes that it can establish sovereignty over the area - that is the basis of its whole argument - and that it has administrators who are at least equal in capacity and ability to those now employed by the Dutch. In my opinion, the Indonesians have avoided the question of trusteeship. The Indonesians also have stated: “ We believe wholeheartedly in the Charter of the United Nations. We have nothing to hide. We can only gain by the full disclosure and investigation of the facts.” If that is the belief of the Indonesians, the Australian people may be pardoned for being puzzled to know why Indonesia would not agree to a trusteeship for West New Guinea similar to that which applies to East New Guinea.
Indonesia claims that the Dutch occupation of West New Guinea threatens Indonesian security. It realizes, of course, that the futures of Australia and New Zealand are interwoven because of the geographical proximity of the two countries. Events in Australia and New Zealand are vitally important to Indonesia, and the future of Indonesia may well determine the fate of Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, it is feasible that, while Indonesia regards the Dutch occupation of West New Guinea as a serious threat to its security, Australia in turn should hold the view that the occupation of West New Guinea by the Indonesians could threaten Australia’s future. The reconciliation of those views is a task towards which we must work in a peaceful manner.
Emphasis has been given to the time factor in the granting of full sovereignty to the people of West New Guinea. The time factor must be determined by the rate of educational and cultural development of the indigenous people. A pertinent thought is that if Indonesia takes possession of West New Guinea, it will require many years to raise the standards of the indigenous people, not because of a lack of desire to do so but because of Indonesia’s limited economic resources. If that is so, Australia probably will be given far more time to raise the standards of the people of New Guinea over whom it exercises certain rights under the trusteeship arrangements. I repeat that the Australian people and our administrators in New Guinea are doing a wonderful job for that Territory. If we are given sufficient time and are not hurried too much by outside bodies, the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea will be able to grow up, as it were, while great changes are taking place in the area. They will benefit from that fact and will not be likely to regress later on.
The average European has no exact knowledge of the vastness of the problem that we have to overcome in New Guinea, nor has he much knowledge of the magnitude of the problem that the Papuan faces in this period when his way of life is changing to the European way of life. For that reason, Sir, I believe that we must not proceed at too great a speed in giving the people of the Territory full sovereign rights. I have no doubt that a peaceful settlement of the West New Guinea dispute, with honour to all parties, could be achieved around the conference table, particularly if time, the greatest of all healers of international disputes, were given. A period of ten or twenty years of United Nations trusteeship for the Territory would be but a sleep and a forgetting in world history. A period of trusteeship sponsored by the United Nations would be of benefit to the world, and I believe that it would be the best means of ensuring peace, which we all desire, in this area.
– I rise to support the motion for the printing of the statement that was presented to us. One of the problems facing us is that to the north of Australia there is a territory that is the subject of a dispute. When the Dutch handed over to the Indonesians what were called the Dutch East Indies, there was no mention of the handing over of West New Guinea. We thought that the issues between the Dutch and the Indonesians had been determined, but during the last few years there have been claims by the Indonesians, growing in intensity, for the control of West New Guinea. A little over eighteen months ago General Nasution visited Australia and assured the Australian Government that under no circumstances would Indonesia seek to take control of West New Guinea by force, but during the last few months Dr. Soekarno and other leading people in Indonesia have said that if the Dutch do not hand it over peacefully, it will be taken by force. That is very disturbing to us in Australia, because if the Indonesians took over West New Guinea we should have them as our neighbours in that part of the world.
This Government has no desire to involve Australia in a fight over West New Guinea. We in Australia want to be on friendly terms with both Indonesia and the Netherlands, and we have done our best to persuade those two nations to settle this dispute by peaceful means. On at least three occasions, the matter has been brought before the United Nations. Unfortunately, however, the Indonesians are adamant and say that they must have this territory. I believe that the nations of the world will have to judge how the inhabitants of West New Guinea would be treated, first, if they remained under the control of the
Dutch, and secondly, if their country were handed over to Indonesia under an agreement between the Dutch and the Indonesians.
The Dutch have said that they have no desire to remain in control of West New Guinea indefinitely. Indeed, they have guaranteed to give the indigenous people there the right of self-determination by 1970, and they have been spending considerable sums of money each year in an endeavour to bring those people to the standard necessary to enable them to govern themselves. Australia is doing much the same in its portion of New Guinea. Our Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has told the world that it is not the intention of Australia to hold its territories in New Guinea for ever, and that when the inhabitants have reached the stage of development at which they can decide for themselves, they will be given the right to choose their system of government. The Indonesians have said that they want West New Guinea to be handed over to them forthwith, and negotiations are proceeding at present, sponsored by the United States of America, for a peaceful settlement of the dispute. One wonders just how quickly the Indonesians, if they obtained control of this territory, would develop it and raise the educational standard of the inhabitants to the level at which they could govern the country themselves. The Indonesians have not said that they would do this, but the nations of the world must surely wish to find out how far the Indonesians would go along the lines that all nations would desire.
Therefore, it is proper that we should examine briefly the conditions now existing in Indonesia, to the best of our knowledge. Twelve months ago, Indonesia bad sizeable credit balances overseas. It was a trading nation with a good reputation, and still is. Let us take 19S3 as a base year and say that the cost index in Indonesia then stood at 100. By September of last year the index figure had risen to 700, and at present it is 1,400 or 1,500. Previously Indonesia had external balances amounting to over £300,000,000 sterling. In January of this year the central bank in Indonesia ceased to publish details of those balances, and no one knows what they are now, but prior to that they had run down to a great degree.
– Are there any suggestions about the cause of that running down?
– From the brief study that I have made of the matter, the only reason I can give for the running down of Indonesia’s external balances is that the Indonesian Government is spending approximately 48 per cent, of its total income on armaments.
– There was also a drop in production.
– The rate of production there is falling. Dr. Soekarno is the President of the Indonesian Republic. As the President, he has supreme powers. He had a Cabinet of 39 Ministers, recently increased to 42. Only two of them are Communists. He has an inner cabinet of ten members - one First Minister and nine others.
I do not think for one moment that we could say that Indonesia is turning to the Communist way of life. In my opinion, the President believes that he can control the Communists within Indonesia. I believe it can be said safely that, although the Communists have not much power in the cabinet at the moment, about 20 or 30 per cent, of the Indonesian people are Communists. However, the Communist Party is far from being the largest party in the country. Indonesia has received foreign aid for military development and expansion from both Russia and the United States of America. The value of the aid from each of those countries is about the same amount of money. The United States has given aid mostly in the form of small arms and small naval vessels, whilst Russia has given aid in the form of fighter aircraft and submarines.
I believe that the Australian Government has to take a very keen interest in this dispute. If we follow it through, we must endeavour, for humanity’s sake, to ensure that a peaceful settlement is reached - always understanding, of course, that any nation that takes over West New Guinea should be made responsible for looking after the indigenous people and that as soon as possible that nation will educate the Papuans in the territory to a stage where they can look after themselves and exercise self-determination. The territory has not been able to get to that stage yet. Indonesia has stated that at the moment it is not prepared to grant the indigenous people of West New Guinea selfdetermination. It intends to take over the territory as one of its colonies.
I believe that Indonesia will find it increasingly difficult to look after its own population even without taking over increased numbers of people. The population of Indonesia, including all its islands, is roughly 90,000,000. The population of West New Guinea is in the vicinity of 700,000 or 800,000. In the last couple of days we have read in the newspapers that famine is threatening the Indonesians. They are not getting enough to eat. The price of rice, which was 7 rupiahs for 2 lb., has increased to 70 rupiahs for 2 lb. in the last six months and the rice crops are not expected to be harvested for another three or four months. Costs in Indonesia are increasing rapidly.
The Indonesians have had arguments with the oil companies operating in their country. The Indonesians want to come to terms whereby they can earn foreign currency by taking over 60 per cent, of the oil that is produced and leaving the American companies - the Caltex and Vacuum oil companies - about 40 per cent, of the production. Up to now no agreement has been reached. The production of rubber has declined and the quality has deteriorated. At the moment Indonesia receives no foreign funds except what are given to it. Whilst up to this stage the Indonesians have not repudiated any overseas commitments and I have no reason to assume that they will do so, I believe thta they will find it increasingly difficult to meet their overseas commitments as time goes by. When asked about this matter they have said to the United Nations: “Our first problem is to take over West New Guinea. When we have done that we can reduce our military requirements and live on a more realistic budget.” I understand that the amount of the Indonesian budget for 1961 was in the vicinity of 97,000,000,000 rupiahs.
– What does that mean in Australian currency?
– I understand that the rate of exchange is 100 rupiahs to £1. In that year Indonesia budgeted for a deficit of 39,000,000 rupiahs. Forty-eight per cent, of the total budget of 97,000,000,000 rupiahs was used for military purposes. That is the problem that the Indonesians are facing now. Whether they can go ahead and develop another nation, such as West New Guinea, is very problematical. That does not debar them from taking over that territory provided a peaceful settlement can be reached between the Netherlands Government and the Indonesian Government.
I believe that, if West New Guinea is handed over to the Indonesians, the United Nations should set a period of time for the future development, educationally and otherwise, of the territory so that the indigenous people can be given, as quickly as possible, the right to determine their own type of government. But I am afraid that Indonesia will not have the finance to enable it to carry out such development.
– Is it a proven fact that the Indonesians are receiving large amounts of money from Russia?
– My information is that they have received from Russia aid amounting to about 400,000,000 dollars. I believe that nearly all of that aid has been given in the form of military equipment, including aircraft and naval vessels. To the best of my knowledge, no actual money has been given by Russia to Indonesia.
– The Indonesians still have not paid any money for property they confiscated.
– I know that the Indonesians are in a bad way financially. When they are asked about it they will admit their plight. They say that the most important problem facing them is getting West New Guinea and that as soon as they get that territory everything will be all right. I am trying to point out to the Senate that once they get West New Guinea they will have further responsibilities to make provision in their budget to look after the indigenous people. I am not denying their right to the territory if they can come to an agreement with the Netherlands Government to take it over. I am saying that, if the Territory is given t© Indonesia, the
United Nations should see that the indigenous people are looked after. When I use the expression “ looked after “, I do not mean that the Indonesian Government should find sufficient capital to develop West New Guinea to the stage where it is ready for self-determination. If a standard is to be set by the United Nations, then it should be the responsibility of that organization to see that sufficient finance is made available to those countries that are seeking to develop trust territories to the stage where self-determination can be achieved. This applies not only to the people of West New Guinea but also to those of the trust territory for which Australia is responsible. Australia is endeavouring, as quickly as possible, to make the indigenous people of New Guinea ready for self-determination. I do not believe for a moment that that will be done within a period of ten years. Our Minister for Territories has said that we will give these people the right of selfdetermination as soon as possible. In order to do so Australian taxpayers are providing about £16,000,000 or £17,000,000 a year.
Two days ago 1 read a statement in the press by Sir Hugh Foote to the effect that as the English-speaking races had given over the control of territories in Africa to the indigenous peoples, attention is now being focussed on the remaining trust territories in the world. Those territories are West New Guinea and our own territory of New Guinea. Sir Hugh has expressed the opinion that despite all that Australia is doing, it will not meet with the approval of the United Nations. I do not believe that Australia can be expected to do any more than it is doing. If the United Nations expects Australia to do more to develop the people of Papua and New Guinea, it should be the responsibility of that organization to find some of the extra finance needed for that development. I understand from a statement made recently by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) that things are going along as quickly as possible. We have as many trained teachers in New Guinea as we can get.
– They are semi-trained, but we are also training others on the spot. I think it can be said that we started from scratch and that we are building up as we go along. We cannot reach the peak of efficiency in the first two or three years. The Minister has said that it may take ten years or longer to achieve that result.
We as a nation will decide when we will give the right of self-determination to the people of those areas. The Minister has stated that the people are not anxious . to accept that responsibility too early. Statements have been made by prominent people in these areas to the effect that the people themselves do not think they will be able to govern themselves for years. They look, therefore, to Australia to continue the administration of these areas until such time as they can look after their own affairs.
– The honorable senator said that the United Nations should step in and help financially. He is giving the United Nations an almost impossible job. Apparently Russia is pouring money into Indonesia, but she is not putting her share into the United Nations. The organization has tremendous financial difficulties.
– That is right. However, the United Nations has a membership of more than 100 nations, of which Soviet Russia is only one. There are other powerful and wealthy nations that have criticized the administration of these areas. If they are prepared to criticize, I think they should be asked to contribute to the cost of the further development of the areas. The Australians and the Dutch are in a similar position. At this moment they are pouring their own taxpayers’ money into these territories for their development. The Australian taxpayers are contributing £16,000,000 to £1 7,000,000 a year and the Dutch are spending an equal amount. Yet all we get is criticism from a few members of the United Nations. I take it that the United Nations believes that the people of these territories should continue to be entrusted to us but that we are not moving quickly enough to make them ready for selfdetermination. If the United Nations wants to speed up the development of these areas and shorten the time within which the areas can be granted self-determination, the organization should be willing to contribute to the cost of bringing about this state of affairs.
I repeat that at the moment it is costing the taxpayers of Australia £16,000,000 or ?17,000,000 a year to develop its trust territory. When the area is granted selfdetermination it will be of no further use to Australia, particularly for defence purposes. We may be able to trade with the area, but the territory will have the right to trade with whom it likes, once it has been granted selfdetermination. It may not want to trade with Australia. Assuming that selfdetermination is given to these people in fifteen years’ time, the people of Australia would have contributed a couple of hundred million pounds for the development of those areas. Once the areas attain the position where they can enjoy self-determination and govern themselves they can trade with whom they like. That is a matter that should be brought to the notice of the United Nations.
Honorable members in another place have severely criticized the Government - I notice that honorable senators in this chamber are particularly quiet this afternoon - for not taking a firmer stand alongside the Dutch. On 7th February last, I read a statement that was reported to have been made by Mr. Calwell. He said -
If Indonesia seeks to use force to create a potential threat to Australian security, then I say, with all due regard to the gravity of the situation, that that threat must be faced
Mr. Ward is reported as having said ;
If this Government said to Indonesia, “ We will assist in protecting the people of West New Guinea “, there would be no aggression.
Those were two fairly aggressive statements. This Government has repeatedly said that it would like to see a peaceful settlement of the dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands over West New Guinea. The Government has said also that it would do everything in its power to assist the two nations concerned to arrive at a peaceful settlement. Let us consider our position if war did break out between Indonesia and the Netherlands over West New Guinea. Skirmishes have already taken place in West New Guinea. Perhaps it may be contended that West New Guinea has already been attacked by Indonesia. President Soekarno has said that by the end of this year West New Guinea must be in the hands of Indonesia, even if it means war. If war broke out and Australia, following the line adopted by Mr. Calwell and Mr. Ward, went to the assistance of the Dutch, the Communist countries might go to the aid of Indonesia, leaving Australia the only nation supporting the Dutch. I agree that if a strong stand had been taken earlier in the dispute by the larger nations, the present situation may not have arisen. It would be silly for Australia to go to the aid of the Dutch in the event of war because we could easily find ourselves opposed by hundreds of millions of people of Communist countries. Strong as our defences are, they would not be able to cope with a situation such as that. That is why the Government has always sought a peaceful settlement of this dispute. At this moment all is not lost. I do not think war will break out over West New Guinea. The Senate has every reason to believe that a peaceful settlement of the dispue may be reached in the next week or two.
Australia has taken every opportunity to encourage a peaceful settlement of this dispute. In the attainment of such an objective we are extremely hopeful that every regard will be had for the interests of the indigenous people of West New Guinea. I have suggested ways in which the indigenous people may be cared for irrespective of who may govern the territory. We must not leave those people to fend for themselves. When a peaceful solution to the dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands is reached, the Government may feel inclined to bring before the United Nations the suggestions that I have put forward to-day for the preservation of the rights of the indigenous people of West New Guinea.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - Mr. President, in another place to-day the Minister for Supply, Mr. Fairhall, is making a statement on the establishment of the European Launcher Development Organization in the following terms: -
For some time past negotiations have been going on amongst a number of European countries towards the development of what has been referred to as the European space club, although its objectives are much more specific than the name might imply. Late in 1961 an Australian delegation joined the negotiations, which resulted
In the production of a draft convention for the establishment of a body to be known as the European Organisation for the Development of Space Vehicle Launchers. The High Commissioner foi Australia in the United Kingdom has been authorized to sign this convention to-day, and thus Australia will have indicated its intention to become a foundation member of the European Launcher Development Organisation, henceforth to be known by its short title, Eldo. Ratification of this intention will be necessary at a later date.
Additional founder members of the organization will be Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Denmark, which participated in inaugural discussions, has indicated that she wishes to join at a later date, and it will be open for any other European country to join, subject to the unanimous agreement by the existing members and acceptance by the nation concerned of the terms of membership, including the financial basis of participation.
Eldo is being formed to develop rockets capable of launching satellites or other space vehicles into orbit for peaceful purposes, such as communications, international television transmission, weather forecasting and so on. The first project to be undertaken by Eldo is the development of a three-stage rocket based primarily on the British Blue Streak rocket, with a French rocket known as “ Veronique “ as the second stage and using a third-stage rocket which is to bc developed substantially by Germany. Australia’s responsibility in the first programme will be the organizing and conduct of the test firings at the Woomera rocket range of at least the first-stage rocket and the completed three-stage rocket. Other phases of the work, such as test satellite development, will be undertaken under the leadership of different member nations, but co-operatively, so that any member slate may nominate a limited number of its nationals to take a direct part in the work on any phase.
Australia now finds itself in a very advantageous position by virtue of its capital investment in the Woomera rocket range, the facilities available at Woomera for this type of work, and the sound scientific and technical complex, both private and governmental, which backs the Woomera range. The European members of Eldo, with a full appreciation of the considerable experience which Australia has gained in the field of rocket testing, and mindful of the facilities to which I have referred, have offered Australia membership without, further financial contribution in the first programme to be undertaken by Eldo, the consideraton being the use of the range for testing Eldo rockets. The first programme referred to is estimated to occupy, five years and to cost an approximate £70,000,000 sterling.
Eldo will not be called upon to meet the capital cost already incurred in establishing facilities which existed at the Woomera range prior to 1st November, 1960. Eldo, however, will meet the cost of completing, modifying or adding to the facilities at that date, such improvements as are required for the Eldo programme.
Australia will carry out work on behalf of Eldo under ‘a contract, in which the precise terms of payment by the organization will be stated, and which will ensure to Australia, in accordance with normal policy,, complete authority in such matters as range administration and safety. It is anticipated that the first test firings of an Eldo rocket, which will be in a westerly direction, will be carried out towards the end of 1963.
The Government’s decision to join Eldo will permit Australia not only to maintain the association with the United Kingdom at Woomera which has been developed over the past decade, but will “bring us closer to the other European nations which have, during discussions extending over several months, expressed considerable interest in Australia’s achievements and capabilities at Woomera.
The ultimate development of the three-stage Eldo launcher will call for firings in a north-easterly direction. This in turn will demand the establishment of a station for the guidance of each rocket to ensure that, following its separation from the launcher vehicle, the satellite will settle into the correct predetermined orbit. Although some technical studies are still to be conducted, it is expected that such a station will be required in the vicinity of Cape York.
There are clearly substantial advantages to Australia in our membership of Eldo. In the first place, we are foundation members of the organization, wilh right to full participation in the first programme without financial contribution, and with the probability that subsequent programmes, if based on Woomera, will admit us to continued participation on the same terms. On the other band, no obligation rests upon us to participate in any programme beyond the first.
Our membership of Eldo carries with it the right of any member state to elect to participate on agreed terms in any commercial application of an Eldo-developed launcher, into which any other member state decides to enter. Thus, for example, Australia would have the right of election to join with all or any of the other European members of Eldo, including the United Kingdom, in the commercial use of an Eldo launcher for the purpose of launching telecommunications satellites.
I believe that there is benefit to be derived by Australian industry through the acquisition of advanced technical knowledge which will be available to Australia as a result of membership of the organization, since the work will primarily be development in a field in which rapid advances are being made, particularly in respect of metallurgy, chemistry, propulsion, electronics and general engineering.
By virtue of our participation in these fields of advanced technology, Australia will offer muchneeded oportunities for coming scientists who might otherwise be persuaded to seek outlet for their talents abroad. As it is, they will be offered the opportunity to work close to leading international scientists and engineers by participating in Eldo developmental work in other countries. With all this, I am hopeful of establishing a formula under which Australian industry will participate in the work which we are now doing and which is further contemplated at Woomera.
The Government’s decision to accept the offer of partnership with European nations in a field which is currently of world-wide interest and of such potential importance will, I am sure, further enhance the standing of this country in the eyes of the world. I welcome also this opportunity for Australia to become a partner with European nations in this endeavour, and trust that the efforts of Eldo, in which Australia will play no small part, will meet with success.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
European Launcher Development Organization - Statement by the Minister for Supply, dated 12th April, 1962- and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Answers to Questions on Notice.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
. -I should like to address the Senate briefly on the matter of questions appearing on the notice-paper. I am not, as it were, following literally the remarks made by Senator Kennelly yesterday in relation to unanswered questions, but I fully support his view. There are 49 questions on the notice-paper, one dating from 21st February. Answers to all those questions should have been given, if possible, before the Senate rose for the Easter recess.
Those of us who ask questions in the Senate are asking them on behalf of electors or to inform ourselves on certain matters. A question on the notice-paper standing in my name refers to accommodation in Canberra. I could answer the question myself, but I want the Minister concerned to state in formal and authoritative terms what I know to be the facts. When he does this I will be able to take the matter further, but until he replies I can do nothing. The question relates to hostel accommodation for young men and women who are brought to Canberra by the Commonwealth Government in the course of their duties.
Now I want to refer briefly to the replies that we do receive to our questions and, through you, Mr. President, I ask the Leader of the Government (Senator
Spooner) to heed my words and to pass them on to the respective Ministers. Some weeks ago I asked a question concerning television stations in Canberra because I had been informed on good authority that very few people in the National Capital knew on which channels the local television stations would operate. Some people were buying television sets which those in the know thought would not be capable of receiving local telecasts. Knowing how the Government is developing televison services in Australia, I thought that errors which were made in the early days of television would not be repeated in Canberra.
I asked the Minister whether the PostmasterGeneral would ensure that when future television stations were being established ample publicity would be given to the channels on which those stations would operate. I received a reply to the effect that in relation to Canberra this information had appeared in an advertisement in the local press on a particular day. In addition, according to the Minister, further publicity had been given to the matter because it had been referred to on page so and so, paragraph such and such, of the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
Candidly, I do not think that is the way to give information to the general public. I do not suppose that more than half a dozen people in Canberra would read the annual reports of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I got the impression that the Minister had found that my statements about a lack of publicity were right, but, looking for an excuse, he mentioned the annual report of the board.
I ask Ministers to treat senators on both sides of the chamber with respect and to give them factual replies, even if on some occasions they have to say: “We learned something from your question. We did not do the right thing last time, but thank you for pointing out to us where we went wrong. We will do the right thing in the future.” We ask questions only to help the electors and to gain information for ourselves. I do not think we deserve to be hoodwinked by Ministers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 April 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620412_senate_24_s21/>.