24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. By what methods does the Commonwealth Government inform itself of the needs of the States for money for developmental projects such as railways, roads, water supply and harbours? Is there any person, committee or group available and capable at the present time to move in, inquire and report to the Government on these matters? Has the Government in mind that the proposed committee to inquire into certain aspects of the economy, announced yesterday, will be able to inquire into such needs of the States as may be properly supported from Commonwealth funds?
– The answer to the first question is that the Commonwealth is well informed about such matters at the annual meetings of the Australian Loan Council and at Premiers’ Conferences where detailed representations are made by each of the State governments. The answer to the second question is that the Commonwealth organization does not lack experience and knowledge of such works. If a request is made for a water, road or rail scheme, the Commonwealth departments experienced in the particular activity assemble their expert knowledge. Each application is dealt with against its own special background, and it is Commonwealth procedure to establish an ad hoc committee consisting of officers and Ministers experienced in the matter upon which representations have been made. The answer to the third question is that an inquiry into the developmental projects of the States is not my conception of the work of this proposed committee.
– 1 desire to ask the Minister for Health a number of questions. I do so because of a statement he made during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Health. He said he would obtain any information that T require. I do not think he can answer these questions directly, but he will get an idea of what I am driving at when I ask my last question. Is it possible to procure information concerning the causes of the many diseases and sicknesses now being suffered in society? What percentage of such diseases is due to unhealthy housing or working conditions? What percentage is due to over-indulgence in strong liquor or gaseous soft drinks? What percentage is due to cigarette smoking? What foods are the cause of certain ailments? Do dehydrated and preserved foods have a bad effect on health? Can disease and sickness be reduced by proper attention to diet? Is there any section under the Minister’s control that deals with these questions? If there is no section or department under the control of the Minister for Health that especially deals with these matters, does he think it advisable that such a department be set up, even though its findings might run counter to the economic welfare of certain vested interests?
– Would that I could answer intelligently without notice all the points that have been raised by the honorable senator in his questions. I must admit that is is not possible for me to give answers to many of the points he has raised. They are so widely cast that 1 think the research involved in delving into them would be tremendous and the findings arrived at would be inconclusive. However, I can assure the honorable senator that the National Health and Medical Research Council is the appropriate body to which the Department of Health would direct questions of that sort.
As I said during the debate on the Estimates, that council is a body set up to advise the Commonwealth Minister for Health on all matters pertaining to health. The composition of the council is interesting. It includes the State directors of health, who bring to the council their collective views and information on experiences in their own States. Specialists bring to the council discussions their specialized points of view. All I can say further than that is that I will take some time off to read the honorable senator’s questions in “ Hansard “, and if I can give him any useful information in reply to them I shall do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and
Excise. Mr. T. V. Gilmore, State member of Parliament for the Tablelands in Queensland, has asked me to ascertain the reasons for the ban on the export of crocodile .skins which was imposed recently after many years of unrestricted trade. Mr. Gilmore has made this representation to me at the request of D.P.I. Inter-Colonial Exporters and Importers, of Grove-street, Cairns, a company which is operated by Mr. Harold Drieberg and his business associates. This company has built up a successful enterprise dealing in the exportation to world markets of wet salted raw crocodile skins and is feeling the effects of the prohibition order. Every crocodile skin secured is exported and the proceeds from overseas markets make a useful addition to the credit of our London funds. The industry provides employment for many shooters, skinners and packers while it rids our north Australian rivers of these monster reptiles which menace man and beast. Will the Minister state the reason for the stoppage of such exports? Is he able to offer any prospect of the early lifting of this ban on the export of crocodile skins?
– The honorable senator’s question is based on a misunderstanding. At a recent conference in Hobart, the State authorities charged with the protection of native fauna asked the Department of Customs and Excise to co-operate with them by not permitting the export of any skins or hides, carcass meat or live fauna without a certificate from the State authority concerned to show that the export conformed to the State regulations. That is what we have done. We have told all exporters that in future before they may export any native fauna, hides or skins or anything else of that kind, they must obtain a certificate from the State from which the fauna came to show that the export conforms to the regulations of that State. That is a part of the plan to endeavour to protect as much as possible all species of Australian native fauna, at the request of the State bodies.
I understand that in Queensland at the moment there is no such legislation requiring people who wish to shoot crocodiles, kangaroos or other native animals, to apply to the State authority for a licence. I do not know whether that is also true of other States. I have said to the department, “ Where no legislation is already in existence we can only conclude, until such time as legislation is enacted, that the State concerned supports the killing and exporting of these animals without the need for licences “. If there is a road block in Queensland it should be removed forthwith. If that is done, there will be no worries about exports. Until such time as legislation is passed in Queensland, we ask the authorities in that State to conform to the regulations.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. President. I seek your advice and guidance. In view of the blossoming of lady senators into their full flower of equality by being appointed temporary chairmen of committees in the Senate, and the infinite variety of styles of addressing the Chair, such as Madam Chairman, Madam Chair, Mr. Madam Chairman and Mr. Chairman, would you be prepared to guide honorable senators on the most suitable method of address? Because of the informality of proceedings at the committee stage, would it not be preferable to revert to the former practice of addressing the presiding senator as Senator Wedgwood, Senator Tangney or Senator Hendrickson?
– I have been giving some thought to this matter. I have noticed the variation in the forms of address in committee. In the next few days I propose to write to honorable senators making suggestions about the way in which the temporary chairmen should be addressed.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. I refer to a statement by the Minister dated 7th October, 1962, headed “ Commonwealth Poisons Register “ which stated in part -
The purpose of the register is to permit detailed accurate information relating to poisons to be available to the medical profession and the public. Many household items contain poisonous substances, but their concentration or even their presence in the product is not always shown on the label …
Whilst expressing approval of the decision to compile the register, I ask the Minister whether the statement means that the State governments which have responsibility in this matter are not insisting on the proper labelling of poisons. If that is so, will he take up the matter with the State Ministers for Health at the conference which I understand is to be held on 22nd October?
– Senator Anderson was good enough to give me brief notice of this question. Because of the reference to the responsibilities of State governments, I thought it proper to prepare, as far as possible, a considered reply to his question, and I make the following points: - All States do not have legislation specifically dealing with all the hazardous substances. Even when a toxic substance is named on the label, it is impossible for doctors to be familiar with the nomenclature of all poisons. For example, there are over 3,000 pesticidal formulations registered for use in Australia. While the active ingredient of a pesticide must be declared on the label, all States do not require the declaration of other ingredients, some of which could be harmful.
The register will list in order of toxicity all ingredients in preparations which contain poisonous substances, wherever used. This subject will be discussed on Monday next by the Public Health Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council. Should it prove desirable in the light of these expert discussions, I will take up the matter with the State Ministers for Health at a later date.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Figures issued this week by the Commonwealth Statistician show that fewer houses and fiats were under construction at 30th June last than at any time since 1947-48. At 30th June, 1962, there were 44,108 houses and flats under construction, compared with 47,901 a year earlier and 86,256 at 30th June, 1952. The number of flats and homes completed during 1961-62 was 82,263, which was lower than the number constructed in the two preceding years when 94,465 and 90,021 houses and flats were completed. As these trends could affect, among other things, our immigration policy, can the Minister advise whether these reductions are caused by a tighter policy on housing loans by savings banks?
– I am not able to comment usefully on the variations in the figures that Senator Bishop gives, but I can give a general answer to his question. At the present time, home and flat construction is running at the rate of about 85,000 units a year. That rate of 85,000 units is substantially in excess of the annual demand as evidenced by the formation of new families and by demolitions. So there is an appreciable volume of house construction in excess of immediate current requirements and this leads to improved housing accommodation and standards of living as well as a reduction of what little backlag may be left over from the war years.
The present rate is a healthy one. It has led to the elimination of the forced prices for home building that existed at the time when the demand for construction was running at the rate of about 100,000 a year and when we did not have the resources, the skilled tradesmen or the materials to meet that demand. As I have said, this led to high prices. The present level is a reasonably satisfactory one. It may be capable of being increased somewhat, but it has had the very great advantage of giving us stability in building construction costs over the last eighteen months or so.
– In answering the honorable senator’s question I would like to deal with the publicity that is given generally in the areas to which he referred rather than publicity that is confined purely to Japan. Many government departments are concerned with disseminating information about Australia in the Asian area.
Radio Australia, which is under the control of the Postmaster-General’s Department, broadcasts to this area for 22 hours a day in the Mandarin, Japanese, Indonesian and other languages of the area. From those areas it receives about 200,000 letters of appreciation each year. The broadcasts contain news about Australia and what she is doing, information of the way we live here and items of entertainment. The Department of Trade conducts a publicity campaign about Australia in conjunction with its drive to obtain more markets for Australian goods in this part of the world.
Trade commissioners attached to the various diplomatic posts disseminate information about Australia. The diplomatic posts under the control of the Department of External Affairs have, as one of their main objectives, the dissemination of information about Australia. This is done by members of the diplomatic staff attending functions and making speeches about Australia whenever they are invited to do so. The News and Information Bureau, which is under the control of the Department of the Interior, regularly sends to this part of the world feature articles and films for distribution, as far as possible through local publicity mediums. I would imagine that the students who study in Australia under the Colombo Plan are, on their return to Sarawak, Malaya or other countries, great sources of information about Australia.
I do not know whether the Japanese lecturer’s claim is correct, but I do know that a great deal of work is being done by many departments to disseminate a wide variety of information about Australia - her politics, her culture, the way her people live and the way she looks. This has been but a brief reply to the honorable senator’s question, setting out the channels through which information about Australia at present flows.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. On Tuesday last I asked the Minister a question about the payment of an allowance to age pensioners’ wives in the 50 to 60 years age group. Judging by his reply the Minister misunderstood my question. He apparently drew the inference that I was seeking to have lowered the age at which women should qualify for the age pension. That was not the point of my question at all. I now ask: Will the Government consider granting an allowance to the wives of age pensioners in cases where the wife is over 50 years of age and where there is no family income other than the pension received by the husband and no means of augmenting that pension?
– It seems to me that Senator Tangney draws a distinction without a difference. Apparently I misunderstood the question that she asked earlier this week. I thought that she was seeking to have a pension paid at an earlier age.
– Senator Tangney now suggests that an allowance, as distinct from a pension, should be paid under certain circumstances to the wives of age pensioners. Is that so?
– Yes, but not the same amount.
– The principle is the same, is it not? The honorable senator is seeking to have something paid to the wife of a pensioner before she reaches pensionable age.
– We do that for the wives of invalid pensioners.
– Yes. This question involves such a big matter of policy that I could not attempt to answer it without notice.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade been directed to a warning issued by Mr. A. J. Burgess, the chief executive director of the Textile Council of Australia, in which he expressed grave concern for the economic future of Australia’s £25,000,000 woollen piece goods industry? He stated that it could be destroyed by its loss of emergency tariff protection. Is the Minister aware that Mr. Burgess also expressed grave concern for the economic future of other sections of the textile industry and said that manufacturers now expected and feared a renewed flood of wool cloth imports? Does the Government propose to take any special measures to protect this and other Australian industries which are threatened as a result of the decision of this Government to remove import controls?
– If I have grasped Senator Sandford’s question correctly, the effect of it is that Mr. Burgess is criticizing the result of the finding of the Tariff Board in respect of this industry. I remember that finding. The industry had received temporary protection and the Tariff Board came to the conclusion that that temporary protection was not justified. I believe that we have to hold firm to the principle that protection should be granted on the advice, and recommendation of the independent authority, the Tariff Board. I imagine that every applicant whose case is not confirmed by the board feels aggrieved; but the alternative is pretty difficult to contemplate. The alternative would be for governments to give protection on political decisions without having a proper inquiry into all the circumstances. I do not think either side of the chamber would support such a system. We all know the importance of the woollen piece goods industry, but we have to face the fact that a full inquiry has been held and a recommendation has been made, by the Tariff Board. It would be a very grave departure from all existing governmental procedures for us to put that fact to one side and make an arbitrary decision.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. It was suggested in the New South Wales Parliament yesterday that the Minister had made an offer of £24,000,000 to the New South Wales Government to enable it to get rid of its old power stations. Will the Minister explain what this offer involves?
– The idea of my making an offer of £24,000,000 has all the charm of novelty. There must be some mistake somewhere. This suggestion must relate, to the exchange of pleasantries that I had with Senator Murphy, I think, one day last week about the Blowering dam. In that exchange I made the point that, as New South Wales had been saved the investment of £24,000,000 in the construction of power houses because it is receiving power from the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, it was reasonable to criticize the New South Wales Government for not earmarking portion of that £24,000,000 for the construction of the Blowering dam. Senator Arnold may accept my assurance - I am prepared to give it in writing - that I have never offered any one £24,000,000.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that Newcastle television station Channel 3 has recently protested to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board at the station’s inability, because of monopolistic action, to provide the type of programme that its viewers are entitled to see? Has the station also claimed that the film company concerned, C.B.S. Films Incorporated, is showing special favour to metropolitan television stations in its use of monopoly tactics? Is it a fact that the Liberal member for the South Coast, in the New South Wales Parliament, has complained that the Wollongong television station is hindered in the same way as Newcastle station Channel 3 in the presentation of its programmes? Will the Minister take action to ensure that all country television stations are placed in a similar position to metropolitan television stations and are not prejudiced by the monopolistic action of film companies?
– The Government, right from its first approach to its responsibilities in television, has always laid down that as far as possible television stations shall be operated independently. That would be the desire of the Government if it had any jurisdiction in relation to the programmes referred to by the honorable senator. I question whether the Postmaster-General has any real jurisdiction in this matter.
– It is under litigation.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate has reminded me that the matter is under litigation, so I have nothing to add at this stage. However, I shall bring to the notice of my colleague the honorable senator’s remarks on this matter.
– I direct a question either to you, Mr. President, or to the Leader of the Government, whoever is the appropriate authority. According to statements in this morning’s press, the Government proposes to add a new wing to Parliament House to accommodate ministerial staff. If this is correct, what effect will it have on the building of a new Parliament House in the foreseeable future? If the building of a new Parliament House soon is envisaged, does the Minister consider that extension of the present building is justified?
– There is no proposal to add a new wing to Parliament House. There has been a suggestion that this is something that the Government might do, but there has been no government decision.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. By way of preface, I point out that from time to time the Minister has mentioned that observers from his department and from Trans-Australia Airlines were to congregate at the recent air display at Farnborough so that they would be in a position to advise him as to the type of aircraft with which Australian internal airlines should be equipped in the future. Has the Minister anything to report on this matter, the Farnborough air display having been conducted a month or so ago?
– No, Sir, not yet. The airline operators are now in the process of assessing the relative values of what their representatives saw at Farnborough and at other points throughout the world. They have not yet submitted to me firm proposals in relation to their future requirements. I expect that a statement of what they may want will reach me within the next month or five weeks.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. If the Minister does not feel inclined to answer, I will address the question to the appropriate Minister, who may very well be the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. By way of preface to the question I refer to a most interesting press report some weeks ago of the results of a discovery by a new Australian scientist, Professor Chaikin, of the University of New South Wales, who, the announcement stated, had invented a new processing technique for the treatment of wool tops, thereby greatly reducing the cost of manufacture. 1 should like to ask the Minister whether the Government has any knowledge of this most interesting announcement. If it has, is it a fact that this new treatment will render the processing of wool tops a much cheaper proposition for the manufacturer? Can the Minister also state whether or not this process will be unique to the wool industry, because it will not apply to corresponding processes of man-made fibres, thereby giving the wool industry a considerable advantage over manmade fibres in this respect? Finally, I ask the Minister whether it would be possible for him to make a brief statement to the Senate on this most interesting matter.
– I think the honorable senator is referring to a method of scouring wool tops which has been developed by a university professor in New South Wales.
– Professor Chaikin.
– Yes. He is not, in fact, a member of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, nor was he, or is he, working for the organization. He was working as a researcher at the university in question. The Government and the C.S.I.R.O. have knowledge of the process, which, I think it is true to say, was developed by the professor rather than invented. He took it a step further than had been reached before. The C.S.I.R.O. is looking into the claims of this process. That is the state of the interest of the C.S.I.R.O., and therefore of the Government, in this development at this stage.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Is he aware that in country areas social service recipients are finding very great difficulty in securing dental care for their children and dependants? This trouble is not experienced in the city. Could the Minister, through his department, and if necesary through the State departments of health, investigate this matter with a view to overcoming this problem, which is a great worry to parents in receipt of social service payments?
– I acknowledge the validity of Senator Fitzgerald’s complaint when he suggests that children in country areas have difficulty in receiving adequate dental care because of a dearth of dentists.. My understanding of the position that prevails in the States - this is entirely a State matter, and I comment merely with the limited knowledge I have - is that there is hot so much a shortage of dentists as an irregular distribution of them, if that is the correct way to describe the circumstances. As the honorable senator suggests, the cities and major provincial towns appear to be adequately provided for. For reasons which I shall not go into now, dentists prefer to practise in these areas. However, the State governments, be it said to their credit, are developing mobile units which give a service and I believe that they are to a great extent meeting most of the needs of the rural areas.
– Can the Minister for Health inform the Senate whether there is a representative of any mental health association on the National Health and Medical Research Council? Will the committee of the council include research into mental health in the programmes of medical research and teaching institutions?
– I cannot say specifically whether there is a direct representative of mental health institutions on the National Health and Medical Research Council. I think that was the word the honorable senator used.
– I referred to mental health associations. There is not a direct representative.
– Thank you. That was my impression, too. I was at a loss to know from where such a nomination would emanate. From time to time committees of the National Health and Medical Research Council do direct their energies towards the mental health requirements of the population. I think it is true to say that even at the present time certain members of the council are considering ways and means by which they may promote research into psychiatric needs of members of our community.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– My colleague has supplied the following answers: -
As a general principle, however, it could be said that information requested by one party to a marital dispute as to the whereabouts of the other party and children would be refused. On the other hand, if a child had been unlawfully taken and was being held against the will of the parents, and the department knew where the child was, I find it difficult to imagine that the information would not be supplied.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That Government business takes precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Debate resumed from 16th October (vide page 863), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the following paper: -
The Prime Ministers’ Conference andthe Common Market, Statement by the Prime Minister dated 16th October, 1962 - be printed.
– Under arrangements made by the Government, I was abroad for 32 days, from 30th August to 1st October last, investigating matters connected with the application of the United Kingdom for entry to the European Economic Community. My colleagues, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) preceded me by a week and returned to Australia one day later than I did. My own itinerary covered visits to London, Paris, The Hague, Brussels, Bonn, Rome, New York and Washington. I take this, the first opportunity in public, to thank the very efficient officers of the Prime Minister’s Department who made all the preliminary arrangements for a very intensive tour, arranged interviews and kept open the lines of communication with Australia throughout our trip. I also thank officers of the Department of Trade for the. very efficient briefing they gave us before we left Australia and for their assistance en route. In particular, I thank the ambassadors and their officers of the Department of External Affairs throughout the world for their wonderful help. Often they were available from daylight until after midnight, and they were responsible for, and very successful in, arranging most of the interviews we desired. Our interviews were conducted at the level of governments and government officials, the equivalent of Labour parties throughout the countries we visited and trade unions. In very few cases did we fail to confer with persons in those categories. Finally, in expressing my thanks, I want to acknowledge my indebtedness to Sir Edwin McCarthy, the Australian Ambassador to the European Economic Community. I had the advantage of conferring with him at length in Brussels and London, and I have to thank him in particular for getting for me basic information relating to the views of the Economic Community on the various proposals that are in process of being implemented.
I had the greatest difficulty in getting the relevant documents. It took weeks to obtain them. I was quite unsuccessful in London and finally, with Sir Edwin’s help, I got copies of the documents without which one cannot possibly understand what is taking place in the E.E.C. to-day. The document I have in my hand is a report from the Commission of the Economic Community headed, “ Proposals for the working out and putting into effect of the Common Agricultural Policy in application of Article 43 of the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community “. That is the report of the commission upon which decisions were made by the Council of the European Economic Community on 14th January this year and which preceded the promulgation of regulations 19 to 25 on 4th April this year covering many matters.
All of them are expressed to come into operation on 1st July this year. They cover matters like cereals, in which Australia is vitally interested, pig meat, eggs, poultry meat, fruit and vegetables - some 38 pages of regulations are devoted to that particular matter - vine products and the financing of a common agricultural policy. These are set out in regulations that are effective now. I would suggest that the regulations and their purport and intent cannot be understood unless one makes a study of the report of the commission that preceded their promulgation.
Finally, I had made available to me an information memorandum prepared by the commission. This covered drafts of regulations on beef, dairy produce and rice. Consideration of the documents shows that the mind of the Economic Community is being well exposed, not only on the matters for which regulations have been promulgated but in other matters, two of which are of vital interest to Australia, namely, beef and dairy produce. The only other comment on that head I wish to make is that we found that the undertaking given to us by the Government that our inquiries would be untrammelled at the Government or official level was honoured scrupulously throughout the tour. We had no embarrassment whatever.
After a very quick journey through Europe - I spent the first ten days in London where there were numerous conferences to which I shall advert - I had two outstanding impressions. First, after flying over the area and later walking around the streets of the capital cities of Europe, I found that, although there were physical differences between them and our own cities, as one mixed with the people of Europe, a very strong realization was borne in on me of how completely European we are in Australia. As I walked down the streets of those cities I felt that I might have been in any city in Australia. The people have an outlook similar to ours in many respects and as an Australian, I felt completely at home in the main countries of Europe.
My second impression was the compactness of the whole area. One can fly from London to Paris in an hour, from Amsterdam to London in a little more than an hour, from Brussels to Amsterdam in considerably less than an hour and from Paris to Cologne, the airport for Bonn, in 45 minutes. One gets the impression - this is an exaggeration but I shall put it this way - that they are more like mere suburbs of a vast metropolis than different countries. One sees how incongruous and wrong it is that people so similar in outlook should ever be engaged in rivalry for prestige and trade and advantage one over the other. One could appreciate the virtues of finding that these countries, hitherto so terribly divided in outlook and competition, one way and another, have at last recognized the need for peace among themselves. That is a great advantage.
My belief, after meeting the people I did throughout Europe, is that their zeal and enthusiasm for the European Economic Community is inspired primarily by a desire for peace among themselves. I feel that is the great impelling motive which brought them together in what I have described as the miracle of the Steel and Coal Community which led on to the Treaty of Rome that has now been fuctioning for some years. I shall not develop to-day the theme that could be inspired by the consideration of current developments as the most dramatic and momentous in the history of the world for a very long time. What is before us is the report of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the Prime Ministers’ Conference representative of the countries of the Commonwealth of Nations in London recently.
I take as my starting point that particular conference. It began with the conclusions that were reached at Brussels between 1st and 5th August. The decisions then made are set out in a White Paper of the United Kingdom entitled “ Miscellaneous No. 25 (1962)- The United Kingdom and the European Economic Community. “ It really is a report by Mr. Heath, the Lord Privy Seal and Britain’s chief negotiator with the European Economic Community, and sets out the results of the discussions up to 5th August. I found that throughout Europe the White Paper was applauded as a completely authentic and objective report upon the results achieved at Brussels up to 5th August, presented without argument or comment of any kind. So, one may look at this document with confidence in considering the results achieved by Great Britain in conference with The Six at Brussels.
I do not propose to ask the Senate to bear with me while I read right through the document, but I shall make a few selections from it to indicate the nature of the conclusions reached at Brussels. In paragraph 12 (a) there is a reference to the agreement that on Britain’s entry The Seven would initiate attempts to secure world agreements in commodity foodstuffs and matters of that kind. There is a proposal too, that the enlarged community would seek to initiate comprehensive trade agreements with India, Pakistan and Ceylon, at the latest by the end of 1966. I direct the attention of the Senate to the vagueness of the term “ comprehensive trade agreements “ from the viewpoint of India, and also to the length of time that is to be taken, in the mind of the community, before such agreements are concluded.
India made it very plain in London that it could not afford to wait and that the next two or three years could be critical for it. It derived no joy from an agreement in those vague terms. India, Pakistan and Ceylon need the comprehensive agreements to be pressed on with immediately. They cannot afford to let the community leisurely proceed to reach the agreements by 1966. In relation to tea, agreement was reached on reduction to nil of the existing common external tariff of 18 per cent. Again, those countries say, in effect: “Thank you for nothing. You are abolishing your tariff on tea while, internally, you retain high taxes varying from 12 per cent, in Belgium to as much as 62 per cent, ad valorem in Germany “. The concession made by the community in allowing tea to come in free is of no substantial practical value to countries concerned in the export of tea to the community. Those countries, too, are faced with the fact that during the last four years of the existence of the E.E.C., their exports to the countries of The Six have stood still. They have not improved at all. The urgent need of those countries is to increase their export income by at least 10 per cent, per annum so that they may be able to service the various development loans that they have had in recent years.
– Do you know whether that 62 per cent, came in with the Common Market or whether it was pre-existing?
– I think it has been operative for a considerable period. They have always had a high internal tax on tea and coffee, not so much to exclude imports as a means of producing revenue.
– Those taxes still remain.
– They remain, and they are as high as 62 per cent.
– But they must bc reduced to nil by 1970.
– Oh, no. This is an internal tax. The common external tariff of the E.E.C. was set at 18 per cent. That is the customs duty. It has been abolished in favour of those countries, but they say, Very naturally: “ It is some help, but very little, when you levy internal taxes on tea of as much as 62 per cent, ad valorem “.
– Of what nature?
– It is a type of internal sales tax which varies from country to country. It is 12 per cent, in Belgium, 20 per cent, in France and 62 per cent, ad valorem in Germany.
– But they are so much better off, surely, with the abolition of the tariff.
– One must concede that they are better off, but one can imagine how relatively small the benefit is in comparison with the internal tax of 62 per cent, which they face. The idea is not to exclude tea, but that is the effect. The tax is intended as a revenue producer, just as we have sales tax on tobacco and liquor. It is in that category, but it has the effect of restricting the use of tea in those countries.
The White Paper to which I have referred states, in paragraph 18 -
An explicit statement was also agreed that the policy which the enlarged Community intended to pursue would offer reasonable opportunities in its markets for exports of temperate foodstuffs.
Australia is an exporter of such foodstuffs. How much vagueness there is in the term “ reasonable opportunities “. Who will determine what is reasonable? Will it be the community, either in association with us or by itself? In the event of differences, how are they to be. resolved? I am referring to these matters to indicate in advance the very vagueness of the terms upon which we in particular are asked to rely. Paragraph 19 states -
That would be all seven - further considered the position which would arise if world-wide agreements did not prove practicable. The Community reaffirmed their readiness to conclude agreements for the same purpose with those countries who wished to do so and, in particular, with Commonwealth countries.
In another context, it was agreed that an attempt would be made to have world agreements completed in relation to commodities such as temperate foodstuffs and that if the attempt failed, reasonable opportunities would be given. I have merely to state the terms of the agreement to show how vague and imprecise they are and how little comfort we can draw from them.
In paragraph 20, the following statement appears: -
In the case of cereals, the members of the Community stated their intention to ensure that the operation of the intra-Community preference would not lead to sudden and considerable alterations in trade patterns. If this were to occur, the Community would review the operation of the intra-Community preference in consultation with Commonwealth countries.
Again, there is the mere promise of a review. There is no assurance that a review will be allowed. There is no enunciation of principles which provide any foundation or clarity in relation to the matter.
Turning to other countries, paragraph 21 states -
The Ministers of the Community said that they had been giving special consideration to the position of New Zealand. They recognized the particular difficulties affecting New Zealand because of its high degree of dependence on the United Kingdom market and expressed their readiness to consider special provisions to deal with these difficulties.
New Zealand naturally asks: “ What kind of provisions? What special provisions? “ To those questions, there is no answer. That is the position with which the Prime
Ministers of the Commonwealth were faced when they met in London on 10th September.
Before dealing with that conference, let me refer to the conference of Labour Parties of the Commonwealth which took place in London in the preceding week. Attending the conference were the Prime Ministers of several countries and the Chief Ministers of other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations. India was not represented but sent along its High Commissioner to the United Kingdom who addressed the conference, answered questions and retired. That attitude was taken also at the subsequent conference between the Commonwealth Labour Parties and the Democratic Socialist Parties of Europe, also held in London. Again, India was not represented, but the Indian ambassador to the European Economic Community, Mr. Lal, attended, put a powerful case for India, answered questions and again retired. I think the purpose of that exercise was that Mr. Nehru did not wish to be embarrassed by a personal attendance in view of the Prime Ministers’ Conference which was to follow the next week. Not all Prime Ministers were so inhibited. I just relate that position for the record.
I refer now to the communique that was issued as a result of a meeting of the Commonwealth Labour Parties in London, concluding on 8th September. I think it will be useful to have it recorded in “ Hansard “ for the advantage of those who wish to study the matter inside and outside the Parliament. Therefore, with the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the terms of the communique, as follows: - 8th September, 1962.
At the invitation of Mr. Hugh Gaitskell, leaders of the Commonwealth Labour Parties have been meeting in London during the last three days to exchange views about the Common Market.
There has also been a special meeting of the Socialist International on Friday and Saturday when Common Market questions were discussed between representatives of the European Socialist Parties and the British and overseas Commonwealth Labour leaders.
At the final meeting this afternoon, the following statement was unanimously agreed by the British and overseas Commonwealth labour leaders: -
We believe that the Commonwealth has a role of unique importance in our divided world to-day as a multi-racial community of 700 milion people with influence in every continent. It is the duty of all Commonwealth governments to strengthen and develop its unity.
We fully understand the case advanced for Britain’s entry into the Common Market.
We also recognize that the final decision on this matter is for the British Parliament and the British people alone.
Nevertheless we recall the pledge of the British Prime Minister on the 2nd August, 1961 that he would not ask Parliament to support entry into Europe if it would injure Britain’s relations with, and influence in, the Commonwealth. We believe that the other countries of the Commonwealth have both the right and duty to make plain to Great Britain their views on whether entry into the Common Market by the United Kingdom would or would not have this effect.
Following the discussions among ourselves and with representatives of the European Socialist Parties, we have reached the following conclusions: -
We cannot regard the provisional outline agreements so far reached at Brussels as safeguarding the relation of Britain with the Commonwealth and as adequately fulfilling the Prime Minister’s pledge. On the the contrary, we hold that if Britain were to enter the Common Market on the basis of what has so far been agreed great damage would inevitably be done to many countries in the Commonwealth and therefore to the unity of the Commonwealth itself.
The essence of our objection is that while there appears to be a firm commitment to end Commonwealth preferences not later than 1970 and to give European exports a preference in Britain against the Commonwealth, no precise agreements which offer compensating advantages to Commonwealth countries have been reached.
We are particularly disturbed by the following features of the outline agreement: -
We do not believe that Britain should enter the Common Market unless and until the present vague promises and assurances have been converted into precise agreements.
We suggest that the proposed negotiations on World Commodity agreements, on trade between the Asian members of the Commonwealth and the E.E.C. on the special arrangements regarding New Zealand as well as the other matters still to be resolved, should now proceed.
The aims of these negotiations should be to provide expanding markets for the exports of the developing countries and to assure the older members of the Commonwealth, whose market in Britain is threatened, of comparable outlets for their exports in Europe as a whole.
At the same time a special effort should be made to ensure that agricultural surpluses in theless developed countries should be used, on an increasing scale, to relieve hunger and to raise living standards, in other parts of the world.
Until these negotiations have achieved satisfactory results, the present system of Commonwealth preferences should remain unimpaired.
Finally, since the terms for Britain’s entry as at present known are either too vague or too damaging to be acceptable, we urge that no final decision be taken by Britain until a further meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers has been held to consider a more precise and satisfactory proposal.
I shall refer to only a few passages in the communique. I indicate that the three of us who represented the Opposition from this country participated in the formulation of these proposals and subscribed entirely to them. One passage reads -
We cannot regard the provisional outline agreements reached at Brussels as safeguarding the relation of Britain with the Commonwealth and as adequately fulfilling the Prime Minister’s pledge. On the contrary, we hold that if Britain were to enter the Common Market on the basis of what has so far been agreed great damage would inevitably be done to many countries in the Commonwealth and therefore to the unity of the Commonwealth itself.
Another extract reads -
The application to British agricultural imports of the Common European Agricultural Policy as at present envisaged is likely to do grave harm to the interests of the older Commonwealth countries. This is in no way compensated by the vague proposals for international commodity agreements or for possible future bilateral agreements between the Common Market and countries of the Commonwealth. Nor are the assurances that the price policy of the E.E.C. will be “ reasonable “, sufficient to remove the fears of the temperate agricultural producers in the Commonwealth.
A third paragraph reads -
We do not believe that Britain should enter the Common Market unless and until the present vague promises and assurances have been converted into precise agreements.
Another extract reads -
Until these negotiations have achieved satisfactory results, the present system of Commonwealth preferences should remain unimpaired.
The last paragraph reads -
Finally, since the terms for Britain’s entry as at present known are either too vague or too damaging to be acceptable, we urge that no final decision be taken by Britain until a further meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers has been held to consider a more precise and satisfactory proposal.
As we saw it, we in Australia were being asked to make an act of faith in relation to the community. We were being asked, really, to embark in the dark upon entirely uncharted seas and without any kind of raft for support. That, I suggest, was the temper of theCommonwealth Labour representatives at that London conference. I indicated that we also met the Democratic Socialists of Europe. On that occasion we had the advantage of the international telephone system of simultaneous interpretation. We found all of them warm supporters of the concept of the community and of Britain’s entry into it. They expressed the belief that the community would be outward looking, that it would be concerned with the promotion of world trade, and that in particular it would be concerned to promote the trade of Commonwealth countries, especially that of the new and developing countries whose needs were to meet their balance-of-payments position and, by the development of diverse industries in their countries, find employment opportunities for their people.
One of the great troubles in this situation as I see it is the conflict of material interests that necessarily arises at various points between the community and these rising countries of the Commonwealth. They are highly industrialized. For instance, they have vast smelting and refinery capacity for metals, and it is to their interest that the countries of the Commonwealth should be supplying raw materials and they should be concerned with turning ores and concentrates into metals and fabricating them and providing full employment opportunities for their own people. Every one of the new countries needs to develop industries to provide employment for its own people. These countries cannot rely upon primary production alone to maintain their huge populations. If there is to be fair dealing, it involves a high degree of sacrifice of the interests of various sections and industries in the community and in Europe, if reasonable opportunities are to be given. At point after point, one finds a fundamental conflict of interests that will demand a great deal of sympathy on the part of the community and even sacrifice on the part of the countries which constitute it.
In our talks with our European opposites, we put our case. They had no effective answer to the allegations that were made of vagueness and imprecision in the terms that were offered to us. I want to add that at both conferences we were very much impressed by the ability of the representatives from the new and developing Commonwealth countries. Most of them were graduates from Oxford or Cambridge and were able to put their cases clearly and powerfully. What impressed us more, despite the fact that we were looking for motives of pure self-interest, was the strength of the feeling of these representatives - and they spoke for their countries - for the Commonwealth of Nations, backed by some 700,000,000 people. They saw it as an association that was a powerful influence in the world for the causes of democracy, of peace and of justice. That impression was left very strongly with me, and certainly with my colleagues.
Listening to their difficulties, emerging as they are from colonialism into independence, we felt that, whilst primarily being concerned with Australia, we had to be greatly concerned about the difficulties posed for us because, if their difficulties are not met, there will be no world agreement; it will be an unhappy world. I fee] that Australia, as one of the more advanced nations of the Commonwealth, has a particular duty to be concerned not only with its own interests in this matter but to extend a helping hand to those various nations in their aspirations.
– Can you elaborate a little the constitution of those two Labour conferences? If you have the figures in mind, how many countries were represented by Labour parties, in how many of such countries was Labour in government, and in how many of them was it out of government? Can you give me the same information with regard to Europe? I want to try to ascertain what the political balance was. Do not worry about exact figures.
– I have the exact figures but the honorable senator will understand that, with a plentitude of conferences, I do not carry details of all the personnel in my head. I shall have to refer to my notes for them. But there were a number of countries represented in which Labour was in Government. Nigeria was represented by its Prime Minister. The Prime Minister of Singapore attended. St. Kitts was represented by Mr. Paul Southwell, the Chief Minister. Tanganyika, which was later admitted to the Prime Ministers’ Conference, was represented. Tobago was represented. India, whose position I have particularly indicated, was represented. Those countries were represented at the meeting and put their cases, but they were not formally represented beyond that. At the moment that is as far as I can carry this matter.
– You are referring to Europe now?
– I am speaking now of the meeting of the Commonwealth Labour parties. Now we move to the meeting of Social Democrats. At that meeting I think every country in Europe was represented - The Six, the countries of the European Free Trade Association and the Commonwealth Labour parties. I will have something to say about that meeting - about the outlooks and differences of the various countries present - before I conclude my remarks. Representation at the meeting covered a wide field. Discussion of the various matters was interpreted simultaneously. The meeting lasted for some two days. No communique was issued. It was a mere exchange of views. I think all of us were better informed when the meeting concluded than we were before it began.
– I apologize for interrupting you earlier.
– I feel under a duty to the Senate to make available any information that I gained on my trip. I do not mind any questions directed to the subjectmatter of this debate.
I come now to the Prime Ministers’ Conference. Following that conference a very lengthy communique was issued. I regret that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) did not have that communiqué incorporated in “ Hansard “. The communique is a momentous one. It deals with a very important decision in the history of Britain and the rest of the world. With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate it in *’ Hansard “.
During the course of the meeting the Prime Ministers were informed that Uganda, with a population of nearly 7 million, will attain independence in October, 1962; and they agreed that Uganda should then be admitted to membership of the Commonwealth.
They also noted with satisfaction the great progress made towards the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia by August 31, 1963: this would enable the State of Singapore, the territories of North Borneo and Sarawak and, it is hoped, the State of Brunei, with a combined population of about 3 million, to achieve independence as part of the enlarged federation.
They were informed that Tanganyika would adopt a republican form of constitution in December, 1962; and they agreed that Tanganyika should thereafter remain a member of the Commonwealth as a republic.
They took note in particular of the proposals relating to the Congo which were recently put forward by the Acting Secretary-General of tha United Nations, and they expressed the hope that these would prove to be the basis for a speedy and constructive settlement.
They noted that discussions on the cessation of nuclear weapons tests had also been taking place in Geneva, and expressed the hope that these efforts would be successful in bringing into being an effective treaty to eradicate this source of fear and danger to mankind.
The greater part of the meeting has been devoted to the discussion of this complex question. Although this discussion has disclosed many differences of viewpoint and many uncertainties, all the exchanges have been conducted in the frank and friendly atmosphere which characterises Commonwealth meetings.
This has re-affirmed the common determination to strengthen the links between the countries of the Commonwealth.
They recognize the need for the developing countries to have easier access to outside markets for the products of their industries as they become established, and the desirability of this being reflected in the policies of the more developed countries.
They hoped that the general objectives set out above would be shared by the members of the European Economic Community.
They also took note in this connexion that legislation was at present before the United States Congress which could materially assist in this aim.
They explained in detail the position so far reached in the negotiations in Brussels and emphasised the principal points among the many provisional arrangements which had been worked out.
Tn the first place an offer of association on advantageous economic terms was open to Commonwealth countries in Africa, and the Caribbean, and the majority of British dependent territories. Should certain of the countries not become associated, the provisional agreement reached in
Brussels offered further discussion in the course of the negotiations with a view to the possible conclusion of other arrangements.
Secondly, the Community were prepared to negotiate as soon as possible trade agreements with India, Pakistan, and Ceylon, which would have the declared objective of developing mutual trade to maintain and, as much as possible, to increase the level of their foreign currency receipts, and in general facilitate the implementation of their development plans.
Thirdly, as regards temperate products the enlarged Community would make, at the time of British accession, two important declarations. One would express their intention to initiate discussions on international commodity agreements for temperate foodstuffs on a world-wide basis. It would recognize the greatly increased responsibilities of the enlarged Community by reason of its predominant position amongst world importers.
The second declaration would relate to the price policy of the Community. While taking appropriate measures to raise the individual earnings of those engaged in agriculture in the Community, the Community would do its utmost to contribute to a harmonious development of world trade providing for a satisfactory level of trade between the Community and third countries, including Commonwealth countries.
British Ministers considered that the policy which the enlarged Community intended to pursue would offer reasonable opportunities in its markets for exports of temperate agricultural products.
They took note of the considerations which had influenced the British Government in deciding to accede to the European Economic Community if satisfactory terms could be secured.
They recognized that after full and continuing consultation with the other countries of the Commonwealth and in the light of the further negotiations to be held with the members of the Community the responsibility for the final decision would rest with the British Government.
They expressed their hope that the members of the European Economic Community will wish to preserve and encourage a strong and growing Commonwealth in furtherance of their own ideals of an expanding and peaceful world order.
They drew attention to the difficulties to which these developments could give rise in relation to their trade both with Britain and with other countries. They explained the economic points of special concern to their respective countries and the extent to which their interests had not so far been met in the Brussels negotiations.
In the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago will be willing to accept association, and Jamaica will wish to consider its attitude further. The Prime Ministers were informed that the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland is willing to accept association; and they were also informed that after appropriate consultations it seemed likely that the majority of the British dependent territories eligible for association would wish to accept it.
The representatives of India, Pakistan, and Ceylon urged that if Britain entered the community the trade agreements which the enlarged community had offered to negotiate with their governments should be concluded as soon as possible and that meanwhile no change should be made in their existing trade arrangements with Britain. They expressed their apprehension that if the treatment of their products in the United Kingdom was altered before wider trading arrangements had been worked out for the enlarged community, their foreign exchange earnings and investment in export industries would be adversely affected at a critical stage in the implementation of their development plans.
Importance was attached to the need for securing adequate safeguards to protect the essential interests of Commonwealth producers of temperate foodstuffs and other agricultural products including tropical products as well as certain raw materials for which zero tariffs had been requested. The importance for some Commonwealth countries ot trade in a broad range of manufactured and processed goods was also emphasized.
The Prime Ministers took note that the negotiations in Brussels were incomplete and that a number of important questions had still to be negotiated. Only when the full terms were known would it be possible to form a final judgment.
I will not attempt to take the Senate through that communiqué. The conference lasted for one and a half weeks. 1 followed the proceedings as closely as one could, having regard to the fact that they were supposed to be secret. The communique acknowledges that the discussion disclosed-
It is about the one point upon which there was agreement. The communiqué carefully refrained from particularizing what those differences of viewpoint were or what the uncertainties were. It concedes -
Only when the full terms were known would it be possible to form a final judgment.
The communique is really a document that sets out the separate views of the United Kingdom in relation to this matter and then, almost country by country, the viewpoints of the various countries represented - expressed with very great temperance and, I note, drawing no particular attention to the assurances that had been given by the United Kingdom Government to the countries of the Commonwealth last year and in the intervening period. There is no reference whatever to them. It is a very mild document. I agree with the Prime Minister that it is not surprising that agree- ment was not reached. What is surprising is that the Prime Ministers issued a communique at all. The communique certainly did not carry the position any distance. For instance, it contains no undertaking by the British Government to convene a further meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers when the full terms surrounding Britain’s entry into the Common Market become known. That is serious. That undertaking was demanded at the meeting in London of the Commonwealth Labour parties preceding the holding of the Prime Ministers’ Conference. So the claim was well before the minds of the Prime Ministers, yet the communiqué does not refer to any such request.
– I think it was and it was a mistake that the matter was not pressed and that at least Australia’s viewpoint, supporting the request, was not included in the various matters dealt with in the communique, lt is all very well for the United Kingdom, with these imprecise terms placed before the Commonwealth countries, to say that it will consult each of them in relation to the matters in respect of which each is affected. But there is a duty on us and, I think, on all of the older Commonwealth countries, to have regard to the plight of the new and developing members of the Commonwealth. We must be just as concerned, or nearly as concerned, about their plight as we are about our own. Apparently no Prime Minister demanded a further meeting of Prime Ministers. The communique states -
The British Government undertook to continue to arrange for the closest consultation with other Commonwealth Governments during the remainder of their negotiations with the European Economic Community.
We of the Opposition say that is not good enough. I direct attention to the fact that there is no declaration similar to that of the Commonwealth Labour parties’ conference to the effect that the terms already negotiated at Brussels are too vague or too damaging to be acceptable. Nor is there a demand that agreements made at Brussels should be re-opened. Those vague terms have apparently been accepted without protest so far as the communique goes. The communique leaves the British Government free to proceed untrammelled by any decision - I emphasize the word “ decision “ - of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, merely keeping in mind the views expressed in private by other Commonwealth Governments.
– Surely we must acknowledge that Britain is a sovereign country and may unilaterally deal with her own sovereignty.
– Yes, but here is a communique which in the end analysis dissolves into a statement of British views and then a statement of the views of Commonwealth countries, expressed almost one by one. One would have expected that what was said by Prime Ministers and their representatives at the conference of Commonwealth Labour parties would at least be said when the Prime Ministers themselves and only the Prime Ministers met.
One would expect a request that in view of the already vague impression left, the agreements achieved at Brussels should be re-opened. There was no demand that agreements made at Brussels should be re-opened. At least Australia might have had recorded in the communique such a request or demand. Apparently it was open to each of the Commonwealth countries to express its own opinion. I direct attention to the fact that Australia did not express any opinion. The British Government was left free to proceed without any decision at all having been reached - only an expression of viewpoint. It is not surprising that on 26th September Mr. Heath, when in Bonn, told the German Government first that the United Kingdom Government had not entered into any fresh commitments to Commonwealth countries and, secondly, that it would not be necessary to re-open matters already agreed to at Brussels. So I say to Senator Cormack that that obviously was the interpretation placed upon the communique by the British Government. Mr. Heath clearly told the German Government that it was not necessary to re-open matters already agreed to at Brussels.’ Yet these matters comprise the very terms which Commonwealth Labour parties have declared are too vague or too damaging to be acceptable. Mr. Heath’s statement that it was not necessary to re-open the agreements reached at Brussels v/as qualified on Sunday, 7th October, by Mr. Macmillan in the pamphlet that he issued. He said -
We are putting forward new proposals to deal with the points raised at the Commonwealth conference.
The two statements taken together seem to indicate that, whilst the general principles settled at Brussels will not be disturbed and will stand, The Six will be asked to detail the methods to be employed in implementing the principles. But, quite frankly, my colleagues and I who were abroad do not expect that The Six will allow the United Kingdom to defer a decision upon entry until the element of precision desired by the United Kingdom’s partners in the Commonwealth has been imported into the present terms of entry.
I will give a few examples to show why that will not happen. The undertaking of
The Six to initiate discussions on international commodity agreements for temperate zone foodstuffs on a world basis and, in default of such agreements, to conclude separate arrangements with Commonwealth countries will take a great deal of time to carry out. That cannot be done in a matter of a few months. Having regard to the differences between the six countries of the present community in their agricultural production - differences in farm efficiency and in cost of production levels - obviously it will take a long time to reconcile those differences and to strike a price level that at once will contain production in those countries and not stimulate it and will leave an opening for exporters from other countries to bring their temperate foodstuffs into the community area.
We have been promised reasonable opportunities; but in respect of wheat we find a vast divergence between the efficiency of production as well as the cost of production in France and Germany. Germany, of course, wants to retain a high price. If a high price is retained, France, which already produces a surplus for export, will be encouraged to embark upon more and more wheat production and certainly would then be in a position to supply the whole of the wheat requirements of the community, to our great disadvantage. The determination of that price level will take a great deal of time. There are highly conflicting interests among The Six in the determination of the price level. The conclusion of general trade agreements with India, Pakistan and Ceylon and of special arrangements with New Zealand will all take time.
Our view, if I might sum it up, after speaking to The Six, with the exception of Luxembourg which generally follows the lead of Denmark, was that although there was a recognition of the difficulties that Great Britain’s entry would pose for its Commonwealth partners and of the need for the community to support and increase the economic strength of the Commonwealth - I found that there - their readiness to help was always conditioned by one qualification - they would help subject to preserving the basic principles of the Treaty of Rome. That was the qualification I encountered on five occasions. 1 think they have a good understanding of the plight of countries such as Australia. We filled in some of the gaps in their understanding. We explained that we were involved in every range of products, extending from tropical products right down almost to sub-Antarctic products through the temperate zone. We took care to explain the difficulties of our balanceofpayments position, our deficits year by year, and the variable factor of capital inflow and borrowings that alone enable us to maintain our balance-of-payments position.
France, of course, is not enthusiastic about Britain’s entry. We were told quite bluntly in France that, whilst that country was not going out of its way to make it difficult for Britain to enter the community, it certainly did not intend to make Britain’s entry easy. One learns from the press in the last few days that Germany’s position has eased considerably. The Germans are a little more disposed to allow Great Britain in now that they have run into difficulties about some degree of political fusion. I quote the following report from the “ Daily Mirror “ of 10th October:-
The West German Chancellor, Dr. Adenauer, indicated to-day that he had relaxed his stand on British membership of the Common Market.
This was in the face of lack of political unity among the original six Market members. . . .
Dr. Adenauer said political union among The Six unfortunately had not come to life.
Efforts to make progress had failed.
I hope to come back to the question of political unity before I conclude.
The position of Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg plainly is that they want Great Britain in the community to strengthen its democratic nature and its institutions. When I was in Holland and Belgium I was told at the highest governmental level that, despite talks then proceeding between General de Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer in Germany on the subject of some degree of political fusion, there would be no discussions at all on that matter until Great Britain was in. I was told that Holland and Belgium would prevent any discussion of that very important matter until Great Britain had entered the community. So they - and I would include Italy with them - are keen to have Great Britain in.
May I refer now for a moment to the attitude of the political parties in Europe to the United Kingdom’s entry. From talks with the British Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, Mr. Heath and Mr. Sandys and from statements, pamphlets and reports of utterances by the Prime Minister, we are completely convinced that the United Kingdom will press on with its application for entry to the community and will be prepared to take the best terms it can get, whatever they are. Any doubt that the Government would be supported in the Parliament was removed at the Conservative Party conference at Llandudno the other day when, by an overwhelming majority, the conference supported the attitude of the Macmillan Government. Of course, that is also supported by the belief expressed by our Prime Minister in the course of his statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday evening. In confirmation of that, I should like to refer to a few of the statements he made. He said -
Mr. Macmillan, in opening the conference, made a speech of great lucidity, a speech which expressed views which clearly he held very strongly.
– The conference referred to there is the Prime Minister’s Conference, is it not?
– This is the Prime Minister’s statement made on Tuesday evening.
– He was referring to Mr. Macmillan’s speech at the Prime Minister’s Conference.
– Yes, that is so. Mr. Menzies continued -
I thought that he made it quite clear that the Government of the United Kingdom had come to the conclusion that entry into the European Economic Community was of essential importance to Great Britain for both political and economic reasons.
The Prime Minister also said -
For the truth is that any argument of principle, any exposition of the hard practical realities of the federal system, any traditional feelings we have, must yield the ground when it appears, as it does, that with all these considerations before it, the Government of the United Kingdom has decided the political issue in favour of going into Europe.
Later he said -
Her government has considered all these matters, and has made a decision, at least in principle.
I agree entirely with the point of view that the government of the United Kingdom has made up its mind to go in and, frankly, I do not see anything to stop it.
– That is regardless of the undertaking that Commonwealth interests would be safeguarded. That will be ignored, you think?
– I had hoped to deal particularly with that undertaking at a later stage. I undertake to come back to that. I think that the position on that aspect is put very well by Sir John Crawford, as reported in to-day’s press. He said that the assurances had got weaker and weaker with the passage of time until we found them not expressed at all to-day. I hope to deal particularly with the undertakings that were given by the United Kingdom to the Commonwealth of Nations and to the countries of the European Free Trade Association. It is for the United Kingdom to determine in the end whether or not in its view our vital interests are safeguarded. There may be a difference of opinion about that. I think that the United Kingdom Government is salving its conscience. I think that it is genuine in the belief that its entry will be good, not only for the United Kingdom, not only for Europe, but also for the nations of the Commonwealth and the world ultimately. That view may be right. It is one of the things that nobody can say. We cannot look into the future. I think it is genuinely animated by that thought, and we find less and less emphasis placed upon the question of safeguards. In fact, in the Prime Minister’s speech here on Tuesday night, we do not find expressed the terms of the safeguards in favour of Commonwealth countries. There are two very, very fleeting references in the whole document to the safeguards that have been promised, but they are not particularized, even in our own Prime Minister’s speech. It is perfectly clear that Mr. Menzies - and I am certain that he is right - regards the entry of the United Kingdom as completely inevitable and that it is of no use to throw safeguards and assurances in the face of the United Kingdom in the light of that decision.
– I put to you a point of view upon which I should like you to comment, if you are agreeable. Since the initial statements were made, there has been a change in the policy of the United States of America towards this matter, and that may be a conditioning factor.
– I agree. Time permitting, I hope to deal with the attitude of the United States. In my mind, I have reserved a heading for it. It is a big factor, particularly in view of the passing of the Trade Expansion Act. It is a conditioning factor. I merely repeat, in reply primarily to Senator Lillico, that there is obviously a weakening of everybody in relation to safeguards and assurances, the United Kingdom in expressing them and the Commonwealth countries in holding the United Kingdom to them. That appears quite plainly.
When we were diverted, I was dealing with the attitude of political parties in the United Kingdom. The conference of the Liberal Party was wholeheartedly for the United Kingdom’s entry to the European Economic Community, at both the political level and the economic level. The conference of the British Labour Party, held quite recently this month, also by an overwhelming majority affirmed what in effect the Commonwealth Labour parties had said in a 5,000-word declaration that I have available. They gave, I thought, a magnificently thoughtful exposition on the whole question and appreciated the great difficulties involved.
Mr. Gaitskell, in putting that to the conference of the British Labour Party at Brighton the other day said -
We do not close the door. We must reject the terms so far negotiated. No final decisions can be taken until we know the final terms.
On the political issue, I should like to say this for what it is worth: I conducted the most rigorous Gallup poll that was possible, having regard to how heavily committed I was in London. I talked to everybody I encountered - taxi drivers, waiters, hairdressers, people I met all over the place. I did not find one person, outside parliamentary and official circles, in favour of the United Kingdom going into the E.E.C. - not one. When I reported that fact to men like Harold Wilson of the Labour Party and others, all of whom attended our conference, I was told, “ Come up to my electorate and you will not find one person there either”. In the limited survey that I was able to make, I got the answer that food was going to be dearer. That is one outstanding fact that the people have appreciated. Secondly, they do not like the ero sion in any particular of United Kingdom sovereignty. They are a very proud people. They have a great deal to be proud of. Their pride is not the misdirected one that we have seen in other centres of Europe. But they also, as far as I could gauge, have a very real feeling for the Commonwealth. They appreciate how countries like our own came to their aid in two world wars. They do not forget. I know the dangers of taking a small Gallup poll like that, but I was assured by those to whom I spoke that they frequented the pubs and heard the talk. They retailed to me that amongst their friends and acquaintances they did not find anybody keen on the United Kingdom’s entry.
There is tremendous press publicity in favour of entering. I think only the Beaverbrook press in the United Kingdom is opposed. The one viewpoint, the Conservative Government’s viewpoint, is being pressed very heavily at all points, but I am not sure that the public of the United Kingdom is impressed. I am not prepared to say that Mr. Macmillan is wrong to take his country into Europe and that it might not have good results, but I do not think that he will convince the people of the United Kingdom to that effect until it is proved to them that this course has the advantages that he believes it will have.
I undertook to say something about the countries of the European Free Trade Association. The United Kingdom gave an assurance that it would not enter the European Economic Community without regard to the plight of its associates in the European Free Trade Association. The terms of that undertaking are set out in the 5,000-word document of the British Labour Party, in the course of which is stated -
Before applying for entry to the Common Market the U.K. Government made a solemn pledge to its E.F.T.A. partners that it would maintain the association ‘until satisfactory arrangements have been worked out … to meet the various legitimate interests of all members of E.F.T.A., and thus enable them all to participate from the same date in an integrated European Market ‘.
That was a very firm, strong pledge. We had representatives of the countries of the European Free Trade Association at the con- ference of Democratic Socialist Parties iri London. It is interesting to note that of The Seven, the United Kingdom, Denmark and.
Norway have since made application to join the European Economic Community. The three neutrals, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria want some kind of institutional links with the E.E.C. They want some kind of association, even to the point of institutional links, but they need the right to terminate their association with the E.E.C. in time of war, to contract out of any arrangements with the E.E.C. if their position as neutrals is endangered, and to conclude trade treaties with third countries. Austria, in particular, was forced into neutrality. The price of neutrality was to get rid of Russia’s occupation troops. They vacated only on the strict condition that Australia remain neutral, so one might say that neutrality is the very price of her continued existence.
Having regard to the exceedingly firm adherence of The Six to the terms of the Treaty of Rome, I frankly fail to see how that viewpoint of the neutrals can be acceptable within the terms of the treaty. The other factor is that it is not likely to be known - it is certainly not known yet - how these affected countries will fare and how the applications of Denmark and Norway will fall. There were discussions with them in July, which are scheduled to be renewed this month. It may well be that the problem of the neutrals will not be solved before final terms are presented to the United Kingdom. I must comment at this stage that the Treaty of Rome looks like being just as rigid and as immutable as our own Constitution. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to worship and to keep on worshipping at the shrine of constitutions. One sees evidence of a great deal of rigidity in that regard in the community.
Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) from completing his speech without limitation of time.
– There being present an absolute majority of the whole number of senators, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
– I thank the Leader of the Government and the Senate for this courtesy. I regret that I am taking so long, but I think I was diverted a little by interjections during the course of my talk. I now propose to confine myself to four matters only, namely, the question of the political implications of Britain’s entry, the Trade Expansion Act of the United States of America, the future of the Commonwealth of Nations, as I see it, and Labour’s statement of its attitude at this stage.
Before I embark on that I should like to refer again to the statement of policy by the British Labour Party. I have already referred to it. The document is comprehensive, most thoughtful and beautifully expressed. I think that I should put before the Senate the complete document. With the concurrence of honorable senators I shall have the document - the British Labour Party’s policy approved at its recent conference - incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– I thought you did so this morning.
– I meant to do so, but I overlooked the matter. It will complete the record. The document reads as follows: -
LABOUR AND THE COMMON MARKET.
Statement by (he National Executive Committee.
PART I.: LABOUR’S APPROACH.
The Labour Party regards the European Community as a great and imaginative conception. It believes that the coming together of the six nations which have in the past so often been torn by war and economic rivalry is, in the context of Western Europe, a step of great significance. It is aware that the influence of this new Community on the world will grow and that it will be able to play - for good or for ill - a far larger part in the shaping of events in the 1960’s and the 1970’s than its individual member states could hope to play alone.
It is these considerations, together with the influence that Britain as a member could exercise upon it - and not the uncertain balance of economic advantage - that constitute the real case for Britain’s entry.
The Labour Party, however, is also aware that membership of the Common Market would involve commitments to the nations of the Six which, in their scope and depth, go far beyond our relationships with any other group of nations. For the central purpose of the Common Market is not just the removal of trade barriers between its member states, but the conscious merging of their separate national economies into a single unit. Within this single Community the power of national governments over commercial, industrial, financial, agricultural, fiscal and social policies will progressively wither away. In their place, common policies, arrived at by majority decisions, will emerge.
Moreover the Rome Treaty is itself only one expression of the will of the Six to closer political unity. The aim is to build on the foundations of the Common Market a single political Community, with a Common Parliament and eventually, a Common Government. Powerful and ardent voices have indeed long urged the creation of a West European federal state.
For Britain, such wide commitments present special and serious difficulties. Full membership of the Common Market is limited to European states. Although there is provision for associated status for some territories, many important members of the Commonwealth will be totally excluded. Moreover our situation is not the same as that of the other countries of the Community. While our histories have certainly over-lapped, they have also diverged, and this has shaped our separate institutions and policies. Our connections and interests both political and economic, lie as much outside Europe as within it.
Membership of the Common Market could, therefore, decisively change our political and economic relations with the rest of the world. Unlike the Six, Britain is the centre and founder member of a much larger and still more important group, the Commonwealth. As such we have access to the largest single trading area in the world; and political influence within a world-wide, multi-racial association of 700 million people.
Finally, although the unification of Western Europe is in itself a great historic objective, it has to be considered in the light of the effect it has on the two transcendent issues of our times; the cold war, with its immense threat of global destruction, and the ever increasing division of the world into the affluent nations of Europe and North America and the poverty-stricken nations elsewhere.
If by joining the Common Market we could mobilise the economic resources of Europe to help the underdeveloped nations of the world and to promote the cause of world peace by ensuring more creative and liberal policies in Europe, then the case would indeed be strong.
If on the other hand our membership were to weaken the Commonwealth and the trade of the underdeveloped nations, lessen the chances of East-West agreement and reduce the influence that Britain could exert in world affairs, then the case against entry would be decisive.
The Labour Party has always looked upon the question of Britain’s entry into the Common Market as a matter of balance to be judged in the light of the long term interests of the British people.
We could not take the view that whatever the circumstances, whatever the conditions, we should enter. Nor could we take the view that whatever the conditions, we should stay out.
It was for these reasons that the National Executive Committee at the 1961 Annual Con ference of the Labour Party refused to pass judgment on the abstract question of whether Britain should join the Common Market. Instead, it insisted that judgment should be deferred until the actual terms of entry were reasonably clear.
For it is the terms that really matter. At the 1961 Annual Conference, following a long debate, the Committee accepted a resolution in these terms:
This Conference does not approve Britain’s entry into the Common Market, unless guarantees protecting the position of British Agriculture and Horticulture, the E.F.T.A. countries and the Commonwealth are obtained, and Britain retains the power of using public economic ownership and planning as measures to ensure social progress within the United Kingdom.’
At the same time, the National Executive Committee made it clear that we would support Britain’s entry if these terms were met. As Hugh Gaitskell put it in his broadcast of May 8th, 1962:
To go in on good terms would, I believe, be the best solution to this difficult problem. And let’s hope we can get them. Not to go in would be a pity, but it would not be a catastrophe. To go in on bad terms, which really meant the end of the Commonwealth would be a step which I think we would regret all our lives, and for which history would not forgive us.’
While deliberately refraining from hobbling the Brussels negotiations by laying down in advance a series of rigid and detailed terms, the Labour Party clearly stated the five broad conditions that would be required:
The acceptance of these five conditions - the arguments for which we outline below - by the Six would mean a conscious decision to liberalise their commercial policy and to become an outward looking rather than an inward looking community - one that recognises, in deeds as well as words, that it has obligations not only to the 170 million people within the Common Market, but to the hundreds of millions outside.
The Commonwealth countries still export twice as much to Britain as they do to the whole of the Six put together. Britain in turn still exports to the Commonwealth more than twice as much as it does to the Common Market.
This pattern of trade, which accounts for roughly 40 per cent. of our exports and imports, has been encouraged during the past 30 years by the system of Commonwealth Preference. Under these arrangements, Britain’s tariffs do not apply to Commonwealth goods, which consequently enter Britain duty-free or on advantageous terms compared with the goods of other countries. British goods enjoy similar privileges in Commonwealth markets. While the size of these preferences has been reduced over the years, they are still substantial.
If Britain joins the Common Market as at present operated, we would abandon the whole system of Commonwealth preference, and in its place impose on Commonwealth goods the Common External Tariff of the Six. Thus, Commonwealth countries exporting to Britain would not only lose their preferential entry into the British market, but would be actively discriminated against - while German, Italian, French and other European exports would enter the British market duty free.
On Commonwealth foodstuffs, a special and crippling version of the Common External Tariff - the so-called Import Levies - is to be imposed. Whatever the efficiency of Commonwealth food producers the imposition of this system will ensure that they cannot effectively compete against European food producers inside the Community.
We cannot accept that such injurious arrangements should be inflicted on Commonwealth countries. Nor can we forget that whereas living standards in Europe are, measured by world standards, high, those of many of our Commonwealth partners in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean are desperately low.
With these points in mind the Labour Party has insisted that firm arrangements should be made to safeguard trade between Britain and the Commonwealth. Failure to do this could bring grave damage to such countries as India, Pakistan and New Zealand, the severance of the economic ties that to-day bind the Commonwealth, and a drastic weakening of its political cohesion.
In economic and social policies the Rome Treaty already allows for a substantial amount of supranational decision-making through the instrument of the Commission and the machinery of qualified majority voting.
Wc should be unwise to disregard the very real likelihood that in the attempt to achieve ‘ closer political union ‘ this system will be extended to foreign policy and defence.
No socialist will cling to national sovereignty for its own sake. But Britain has special relations with many countries outside Europe - particularly in the Commonwealth. These relations would be imperilled if we were to accept majority decisions taken within the European Community in this field. Moreover, on such crucial questions as Berlin, disengagement and support for the U.N., an independent British voice is essential. For these reasons we believe that it is right to insist that Britain must retain full freedom of action in foreign policy.
Three years ago when the negotiations for a wider European trade association broke down, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Portu gal and Austria joined Britain in forming the European Free Trade Area.
Before applying for entry to the Common Market the United Kingdom Government made a solemn pledge to its E.F.T.A. partners that it would maintain the Association ‘ until satisfactory arrangements have been worked out … to meet the various legitimate interests of all members of E.F.T.A., and thus enable them all to participate from the same date in an integrated European Market ‘.
This pledge must be honoured. In particular we cannot accept that Sweden, Switzerland and Austria should be denied associate membership on account of their neutrality. Indeed we regard the membership of the E.F.T.A. countries as a vital British interest.
The prosperity of Britain rests far more on our ability to make intelligent use of our economic resources than it does on securing tariff free access to the Six.
Some features of economic planning cannot be easily combined with membership of the Common Market. This is due in part to the laissez-faire assumptions underlying the Rome Treaty, in part to its basic aim of creating a single and competitive market.
Under the Rome Treaty, limitations are placed upon the powers of Government to intervene in their economies wherever such interventions are thought to distort competition or interfere with the free flow of trade, capital and labour.
While these limitations are not necessarily disadvantageous, they could in certain cases have dangerous consequences for Britain. Our balance of payments is weaker, our reserves smaller, the weight of our overseas debts vastly greater than is the case with many of the present members of the Community. Complete free trade with the Six and the free movement of capital out of Britain could well - and in the short run almost certainly will - intensify our balance of payments difficulties. If the power of the British government to take corrective measures is limited, this could have grave consequences for full employment, for the strength of the currency and for our future prosperity. We must be sure, as the T.U.C. have urged, that we can pursue policies necessary to secure full employment and the maintenance and improvement of our social services.
These are major considerations affecting the livelihood of millions of our fellow citizens. It is therefore only simple prudence to secure now either freedom of action for the British Government to tackle these problems or binding agreements with the Six on corrective action by the Community as a whole. For the same reason, the voting arrangements finally agreed on in the enlarged Community should be such as to ensure that in economic and social questions British interests cannot be overridden. This would be facilitated by the entry of the E.F.T.A. nations.
Since the war the interests of British farmers, of Commonwealth producers and of consumers have been largely reconciled, though a great deal less effectively in recent years, by allowing the market price to be determined by low cost imports and by safeguarding farm incomes through a system of agricultural planning, production grants and deficiency payments.
The food and agriculture policy of the Six is, however, very different. The aim of their policies in the past has been, and it is likely to continue to be, to make the area as a whole broadly selfsufficient. To this end, as we have already seen, Common Market farmers are to be protected from world exporters by a system of import levies, while consumers will continue to pay prices based on high cost European production.
British farmers will lose the security of the existing system of protection and will be compelled to take, in return, a much less certain system whose operations will be determined not by the Ministry of Agriculture in London but by the Commission in Brussels.
We must insist that the negotiations should secure such modifications in the common agricultural policy as are necessary to give adequate security to British agriculture and horticulture.
The Labour Party believes that these broad conditions constitute reasonable terms of entry. Only if such terms could be secured would it be right for Britain to enter the Common Market. But we emphasise that it would be the acceptance of these conditions which would tilt the balance in favour. There is no question of Britain being forced to go in. In particular we reject the widespread but false view that the economic advantages of membership are so great and the economic consequences of non-membership so disastrous that Britain has no choice but to accept whatever terms the Six may offer.
In our opinion the economic arguments for and against are evenly balanced.
The main arguments in favour are these. First, that as a member of the Community, Britain would share in a home market of over 200 million consumers. A market of such a size would greatly stimulate production of low cost mass-produced goods. Firms would be able to achieve all the economies of scale.
Second, in such a market it would be possible to have both very large firms and competition between them. As a result, a fresh wind would blow through British industry, bringing new ideas, accelerating change, encouraging a more competitive and enterprising economy.
Third, trade between the members of the Common Market has grown very rapidly - more rapidly than in most other trade areas. If this continues in the years ahead, Britain as a member would greatly benefit.
Fourthly, if we do not go in we shall find it not only more difficult to compete with the Six in their own market, but would face stronger competition from them in world markets generally.
On the other hand, the counter arguments are no less strong.
First, less than a fifth of our exports go to the Common Market. Any benefit we get from tariff free access to the Six much be weighed against the losses of trade preferences that we now possess in Commonwealth and EFTA markets which absorb more than half of our exports.
Second, keener competition may well lead to the further concentration of industry, to monopoly and cartel agreements.
Third, there is no evidence that a home market of SO million consumers, and a vast export market besides is incapable of providing our industries with all the advantages of large-scale manufacture.
Fourthly, it is wholly wrong to suggest that membership of the Common Market would transform Britain from a stagnant to a dynamic economy. The recent economic expansion of the Six owes little to the establishment of the Market.
Finally, our balance of payments will be adversely affected by higher food prices, by more foreign competition in the British market and by unrestricted capital movements.
Entry into the Common Market will not offer, in itself, . an easy escape from our economic difficulties. The truth is that the growth of our economy and of our trade will owe far more to our own exertions, to the sensible planning of our economy, to reasonable restraint on incomes based on a fairer division of wealth, to our ability to put investment and exports before home consumption, than to any consequence of our entry or non-entry into the Common Market.
In August 1961 the Prime Minister first announced the Government’s decision to make formal application for membership of the Common Market. Presenting his case to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister emphasised that the decision to apply was not a decision to join but rather, as the Government’s Motion put it, to see if satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the U.K., of the Commonwealth and of the E.F.T.A.’ Further, he pledged himself not to make a firm agreement until it had been approved by the House after full consultation with other Commonwealth countries ‘.
These sentiments have been reiterated on a number of occasions and every senior Minister, from the Prime Minister downwards, has pledged himself not to support arrangements that would injure the Commonwealth. Only three months ago Mr. Duncan Sandys repeated in the House of Commons the solemn assurance that he had delivered at the 1961 Conservative Annual Conference: ‘We have promised our partners in the Commonwealth that we shall not join the European Economic Community unless we can make arrangements to safeguard their vital trading interests. We made that promise, we stand by that promise, it remains as it was, unqualified and unaltered ‘.
Against these statements the proposals in the August White Paper, issued shortly after Parliament had recessed, have come as a profound disappointment. The contrast between the Government’s solemn pledges and its proposals in the White Paper caused the explosion at the
Commonwealth Conference. No Prime Minister of any major Commonwealth country was prepared to agree that the White Paper provided the necessary safeguards.
Although a number of important issues are still left open, the White Paper’s main proposals arc clear enough. First, the Government has agreed to end the system of Commonwealth Preference. Second, the Government has agreed to impose on the manufactured goods of all the Commonwealth countries - and this is most serious for India, Pakistan and other developing countries - the Common External Tariff of the Six. Thirdly, the free entry into Britain of temperate foodstuffs from Australia, Canada and New Zealand is, apparently, to be replaced by the Common Market system of Import Levies. Fourthly, the Government has agreed to accept the Common Market’s agricultural system under which revenues derived from Import Levies will be paid to the Commission to finance the agricultural expansion of the Community.
These changes are to be introduced in stages, beginning at the point of entry and reaching completion in 1970. Thus, by that year, if no new proposals are agreed, our present system of Commonwealth Preference and agricultural protection will have been abolished and Britain will have accepted the policies of the Six instead.
In return for these major, precise and most damaging British concessions the Government has gained only two specific concessions and a number of vague promises. The concessions are (1) the limited offer of Overseas Association to the African and Caribbean Commonwealth countries, and (2) the abolition of a few tariffs, of which the most important is tea. While this will help preserve the U.K. market for Indian tea exporters, it will have little effect on their trading opportunities in the Six, where tea consumption is discouraged by high Excise Duties.
Apart from these, there are only the vague promises to take account of New Zealand’s particular difficulties and to negotiate, but only after Britain has joined, ‘ comprehensive trade agreements’ with India, Pakistan, and Ceylon, world-wide or more limited agreements on the major temperate foodstuffs and to pursue a reasonable ‘ price policy towards their own agricultural producers.
These proposals are wholly inadequate.
The promise of a ‘ reasonable ‘ price policy for the agriculture of the Six gives no guarantee that Commonwealth farmers will be able to continue any substantial volume of exports to Britain or the Community.
There is no certainty that India and Pakistan will secure, under the ‘comprehensive trade agreements’ easier access to the Common Market to compensate them for the certain disadvantages that they will suffer.
Again, as the Commonwealth Conference made clear, many, if not all of the African states will reject the offer of Overseas Association on the grounds that the political disadvantages of linking with the Six and the consequential division of
Africa into Associated and non-Associated states would outweigh any economic benefits that they might gain.
The failure to obtain anything more than these totally inadequate terms, suggests three conclusions. First, in pursuing its present course - with no mandate from the British people - the Government has succeeded in causing a major crisis in Commonwealth affairs. If this is allowed to continue, it may well damage Commonwealth relations beyond repair. Second, the Government’s readiness to surrender on the Commonwealth issue must make clear to the Six its desperate anxiety to join and that they, for their part, need make no further serious concessions to bring Britain in. Thirdly, the apparent unwillingness of the Six themselves to pay due regard to the economic problems of the hundreds of millions of desperately poor people in the Asian and African Commonwealth countries, raises most seriously the question of whether they are basically an inward looking or an outward looking Community.
There can be no doubt where the Government’s duty lies. Ministers ought now to return to Brussels and present those terms which alone are consistent with their own pledges and with the interests of Britain and the Commonwealth.
The basic changes required have already been outlined both by the Commonwealth Labour Leaders and by the Prime Ministers meeting in London.
Our major proposal is that the negotiations for world commodity agreements, the proposed special arrangements for New Zealand and the comprehensive trade agreements with India, Pakistan and Ceylon, as well as new proposals to safeguard the trade of African and Caribbean Commonwealth countries, should be held not after Britain has joined but should commence now. Until these negotiations have achieved satisfactory results the present system of Commonwealth Preference should remain unimpaired.
These agreements should then be submitted, if desired by the other member states, to a further Commonwealth Conference.
Apart from the delay that would be involved, there can be no serious objection to such a step. If both the Government and the Six mean what they say about these agreements, they could still be brought to a successful conclusion.
At the same time the Government must show, in relation to the other major issues that have still to be negotiated, that it has no intention of deserting its partners in E.F.T.A.; that it will really insist on firm guarantees for British agriculture; that it will retain the right to pursue an independent British foreign policy, and that it means to retain for the British Government effective powers for safeguarding full employment and the balance of payments.
If these demands are met by the Six - as we still hope - then Britain should join the Common Market
But should they be rejected, then Britain should not enter and the present negotiations should be brought to a halt.
We do not doubt, however, that the future will bring, and bring soon, new opportunities for increasing our trade with the Six. Nor do we rule out the possibility of a Labour Government conducting new and successful negotiations at a later stage.
In the event of breakdown, however, it will not be enough for the Government to leave things as they are. Britain must join the United States in their efforts to negotiate downwards the Common Market’s external tariff - and we must be ready to cut our own tariffs in return. Already this year a substantial (20%) cut had been agreed between Britain, the Common Market and the United States. Now that President Kennedy has won Congressional support for his policy, further and sweeping tariff reductions - which will certainly include Britain - are at last in sight.
But more than this is needed. The challenge to traditional assumptions that has been made in the course of this past year of negotiations has released creative as well as destructive forces. The Commonwealth trade system is in need of reform and the new atmosphere that has been engendered should make it much easier for new and radical proposals to bc agreed. Across the Atlantic too the major re-examination of tariff policy to which we have just referred include not only trade relations with other industrialised nations, but, still more important, trade with the underdeveloped countries. It can be expected too that the Brussels negotiations will have brought home to the Six, more clearly than before, the need for them to pursue a more liberal trade policy with other continents.
As a first step therefore we should propose a conference of Commonwealth and E.F.T.A. countries to consider measures to promote their trade and economic development. This should then be widened to cover the major problems of world trade.
A great effort must be made to ensure that agricultural surpluses in the developed countries should be used, on an increasing scale, to relieve hunger and to raise living standards, in other parts of the world. The truth is that whether we join the Common Market or not it is imperative to move forward to a new system of international trade, payments, economic aid and world commodity agreements.
If we look to the future, we can get our priorities right. The real dangers that confront us are not the old rivalries of France, Germany and other West European powers but those that arise from the continuing hostilities of the Communist and non-Communist worlds and from the terrible inequalities that separate the developed and the underdeveloped nations, the white and the coloured races.
Britain by herself cannot, of course, solve these problems; but more than any other advanced country of the West, we have the greatest opportunity and the greatest incentive to tackle them. For the 700 million people of the Commonwealth, with whom history has linked us, form a truly international society, cutting across the deep and dangerous divisions of the modern world. By its very nature the Commonwealth must think of global not regional problems; of the interest of all races, not just of _ one; of the problems of age-old poverty as well as those of new-found affluence; of non-commitment as well as of cold war.
If we are ever to win peace and prospertiy for mankind, then the world community that must emerge will be comprised of precisely such diverse elements as exist in the Commonwealth to-day - pledged, as we are, to friendship and mutual aid. This is our vision of Britain’s future and of the world’s future - and it must not be allowed to fade. 29th September, 1962.
Earlier to-day I indicated to Senator Lillico that I would refer to the safeguards implicit in Britain’s assurance to the Commonwealth and to the European Free Trade Association. I think I allowed myself to cover that subject fairly thoroughly at the time, and unless Senator Lillico wants some further information, I do not propose to return to it. I shall deal now with the political implications of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community.
I have heard it argued that the economic objectives of the Treaty of Rome could have been achieved quite easily without the tough cohesion required from the participants in the Treaty of Rome, and that it might have been effected by multi-lateral treaties and arrangements of that type. The answer to that argument, I think, is that the basic idea in the minds of those who founded the community was the ultimate political fusion of the nations which constitute the community, and that the economic cohesion sought under the Treaty of Rome was merely a first step which, by forming the habit of working together, would lead the constituent nations to an ever-increasing degree of political cohesion.
Everywhere I went in Europe I found that idea firmly planted in the minds of governments, government officials, social parties and trade union organizations right throughout the whole of these countries. In fact the only element that I encountered in Europe that opposed the community ideal, both economically and politically, was the Communist Party. It was opposed throughout, but all sections, apart from that body, were in favour of the policy of the European Economic Community.
I indicate, too, in referring to the Treaty of Rome itself, that words in the very first clause in the preamble rather foreshadowed that ultimate political fusion is the ideal.
Those words which relate to the member countries, are -
Determined to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples,
It is quite obvious that they regard the Treaty of Rome dealing solely with commercial aspects as the mere foundation for an evergrowing, closer collaboration in some form of political union. That is approved at all levels. I found everywhere most keen and general enthusiasm for it, with the exception of the Communist Party.
On the last occasion when I spoke on this subject in the Senate I dealt at considerable length with the argument that the community as constituted does not amount to any kind of political federation. I adopt what I said then and I will not go into that now, but I do acknowledge that the mere constitution of the community, in which I term the commercial field, does involve the yielding of a very considerable part of the sovereignty of constituent states to the new community - this very novel and extraordinary concept that is the European Economic Community.
One has only to consider the utmost harmonization of policies in all kinds of fields - a common commercial policy, the elimination of customs duties between various states, a common external tariff, common agricultural policies, common transport policy, regulation of competition, the harmonizing of economic policy, the approximation of municipal laws - that would be state laws - and now the parties are working upon the production of a common power policy covering the distribution of fuel and power. Some elements of a common taxation policy are involved, and of course, there is the legal field. If in the courts of the constituent states - and it will include the courts of last resort in the United Kingdom if Great Britain does enter - when any matter involving the interpretation of the treaty arises, these courts must suspend hearing, refer the matter to the European court, accept that court’s interpretation and apply it before proceeding with the case. That is a necessary requirement because it would be impracticable to face the possibility of six different interpretations, or if Great Britain enters, seven different interpretations of the treaty. To prevent that possibility that requirement is proposed.
So one must acknowledge that there is a degree of political fusion and ultimately the loss of sovereignty in the technical sense, even under this treaty, but it is confined to the matters dealt with in the treaty. The important thing to remember, I think, is that the member states - The Six or The Seven, as it may be - are predominant in the council of the E.E.C. The council does not in fact dominate the member states. That seems to me to be the salient point. Accordingly, if there is to be any degree of political fusion in the future it must be brought about with the full and free consent of each and every member state.
Discussions were initiated in 1961 resulting in the Fouché plan. Fouché was a Frenchman representing France and he presided over the meeting that evolved the first plan for some degree of political fusion. When there was no agreement upon that plan it was succeeded by a plan put forward by President de Gaulle. Both plans were completely deadlocked. I have already indicated that Holland and Belgium said they would have no discussion on the question of political fusion until after the entry of Great Britain. As I indicated to the Senate Dr. Adenauer on 10th October also acknowledged the deadlocking of these talks, claiming that the question of political fusion was dead, so making it easier for him to facilitate the entry of Great Britain.
– I would agree with what the Prime Minister of Australia said on that matter - that the mere habit of working together to implement even the matters in the treaty will lead progressively to it. I agree entirely with the case put by the Prime Minister, and that either the European Economic Community will progress in that way or it will fall apart. I feel that is a proper comment and it is one with which I agree.
As to the situation to-day, 1 found that there is no political fusion. It is in the minds of all, but in varying degrees. I suppose it is safe to say that political fusion is not the only ultimate objective. One might say it is agreed in principle but certainly not in form. All that yet remains to be negotiated. Fortunately, we are able to look into the minds of those who will be deciding this matter. We know the minds of Holland, Belgium and Germany. The Lord Privy Seal, Mr. Heath, on 10th April stated the British view when he said that close political co-operation would grow best out of the habit of working together. Great Britain might be expected not to readily surrender its substantial sovereignty.
The matter was brought up again by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, on 7th October last, when he wrote -
The form which the political unity of the Community should take was now under active discussion in Europe where opinions on it were strongly divided.
I myself believe that the bulk of public opinion in this country, and certainly any Conservative Government, is firmly against the extinction of separate national identities, and would choose a Europe which preserved and harmonised an that is best in our different national traditions. . . .
We would, I think, favour a more gradual approach worked out by experience instead of a leap in the dark, and this is a view shared by many leaders of opinion in Europe.
So I say that the matter of political integration does not arise at this stage in connexion with United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community. In view of the differences between the member states as to an acceptable form of political fusion, it would seem that a federation of European states, if it occurs, is a matter for the distant future, following a long experience of fruitful co-operation in the economic sphere. I was very much impressed on that point by a leading article that appeared in the London “ Sunday Times “ of 9th September last, the day before the Prime Ministers met. With the concurrence of the honorable senators, 1 incorporate in “ Hansard “ this passage from it -
Economic union in Europe is openly intended as the prelude to closer political unity. The flag of political integration was flying high last week during General De Gaulle’s historic visit to Bonn. A Federal Europe is the determined aim not only of Dr. Adenauer but also of many of those most deeply connected with the Common Market.
Pursuing the prospect far over the horizon, we can see that a European federation in which the British Government was only in effect a provincial administration would be incompatible with Britain’s remaining the centre of a Commonwealth of sovereign States.
But we need not frighten ourselves with bogeys. A federal Europe, if it ever emerges, is a very long way off. For all his fervour for FrancoGerman, rapprochment, General De Gaulle no more wants to merge France’s national status in a Europe super-State than we wish to merge Britain’s. Dr. Adenauer cannot even command the parties that keep him in office. The smaller countries of the Six, even insofar as they want a constitutional union, do not want it without Britain. Entry into the Common Market commits us to closer political association in principle, but not to its form. One of the strongest political arguments for our entry now is that we can then influence that form, whereas if we stay out we will one day have to take a far more difficult decision about our relationship with a political Europe constructed without us.
A political association short of federal union would, in the opinion of the “ Sunday Times “, not only be consistent with the continuance of the Commonwealth but would add to its strength and value. For a Britain thus associated would be a far more influential partner in the Commonwealth circle than one stranded as a second-class Power between two great units on either side of the Atlantic. Independence without the capacity to use it is meaningless.
I quote only a brief portion of the editorial and emphasize the statement by the “ Sunday Times “ that we need not frighten ourselves with bogys. That portion of the extract brings out the point that I made to Senator Vincent.. I agree with the statements in the extract I have been allowed to incorporate in “ Hansard “. I do not subscribe to the argument that Great Britain’s entry into the Economic Community means a deliberate heating-up of the cold war; that it will lead to the strengthening economically and financially of the European Economic Community; and that it will lead to more armaments and to more men under arms throughout Europe, with significant repercussions in the Communist bloc starting off the arms race.
– You do not believe that?
– No, I do not subscribe to that view at all. There are two very good reasons why I do not do so. In the first place that may happen entirely without Great Britain’s entry into the Economic Community. It could happen as the result of the operations of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization and other organizations. I do not think there is any doubt about that. Britain’s entry into the community for economic purposes, I think, would have no impact on that particular matter at all. I think the desire to integrate Europe is primarily concerned with that factor.
I frankly think that what I said earlier is true - that the fusion is animated by a desire to eliminate war, particularly among the member countries, and that applies to a war of any type. Their countries have been ravaged, and they have a complete realization of what war means. I firmly believe that the elimination of war is the dominating thought in the minds of those who founded the European Economic Community. When that is the thought at the government level, the opposition level and the trade union level right throughout Europe, one can be firmly convinced that it is the basic idea.
It is quite obviously not possible to have any rapid political fusion. Unanimity is required and I have already indicated enough to show that there is no coming together of minds in the matter. It is quite certain that the United Kingdom, as head of the Commonwealth of Nations, with its own sovereignty, would not be ready to enter into a liaison of that type until it came about, as Mr. Macmillan said, by the gradual working together and the gradual progression of events. So for the two reasons I have stated, and because of my belief in the principles upon which the community is founded, I do not subscribe to that outlook.
Allied with that question is the matter of the future of the Commonwealth of Nations. I repeat that I was most impressed with the feeling for the Commonwealth shown by the new nations. I think that is genuine. I think that feeling is a feeling of the spirit, and does not rest on material considerations. They are important but they are not an undue part of it.
I do not agree with our Prime Minister when he said that if Great Britain were to enter into a political federation in Europe, her independence would be gone. She could no longer be the head of the Commonwealth of Nations as a gathering of completely independent nations. I think that is quite true. We do not face that position and I do not see any reason why the Commonwealth of Nations as we know it could not continue, with Great Britain in Europe under the present Treaty of Rome dealing with a very wide range of commercial matters. It might well be that Great Britain’s entry into the Common Market could give to the Commonwealth a vastly improved voice in Europe. I think one can be sure that Commonwealth interests would be more readily represented with Britain in than with Britain out. My view is that the Commonwealth might get a shaking if Britain entered under the present conditions and without political fusion, but that it would survive the blow and might even, through having a friend at court, derive advantages from it.
I should like to refer to the Trade Expansion Act of the United States of America. I have read every word of the act. I thought it a fascinating study and a wonderful conception. Senator Spooner, in reply to a question asked in the Senate in the last few days, gave an accurate and concise summary of the operation of the act. It authorizes the President of the United States to reduce any duty by 50 per cent, or any amount up to 50 per cent. In certain exceptional cases he may go further. In any case in which the European Economic Community, as it may be constituted, in conjunction with the United States controls 80 per cent, of world trade in a commodity, he may reduce or completely eliminate at will the duty in the course of negotiations with the E.E.C. where, of course, there would have to be mutuality. It is a very wide exception to the limitation of the 50 per cent, reduction.
The President may do that in any case in which he thinks that the effect will be to extend United States trade. He also has freedom over agricultural produce to reduce or limit. In the case of tropical agriculture and forestry he may reduce or eliminate altogether. In any case in which the duty at the moment is 5 per cent, he is not limited to a 50 per cent, reduction; he may abolish it completely. But he is not authorized to make any reduction or elimination for Communist-controlled countries. His power will run for five years, that being the period granted by
Congress. He has power to stagger and stage the implemenation of the reductions over a period of years. In anticipation of harm that may flow to United States industries from his action, a fund has been set up to assist distressed industries in many ways and to provide technical and financial help to displaced workers and to industries. The most comprehensive forms of assistance are provided for.
The aim of the act is to initiate reciprocal agreements for the lowering or elimination of tariffs in the interests of freeing world trade. We saw men such as Mr. Forrestal, the Aide to the President, and Mr. George Ball, the Under-Secretary of State, who made it very clear that they were looking forward to seeing the effect of the act on the importation of goods from Commonwealth countries. Of course, whatever reductions they negotiate with the E.E.C. will be available to all countries, so that the act does hold out real hope for our own country and other Commonwealth countries. It is designed in the interests of freer world trade. If it is administered according to the concept on which it has been framed, I have no doubt that it will go a long way towards cushioning the blow to countries like our own.
We must realistically face the fact that there will be interests in America, having the advantage of protection, which will resist elimination or reduction of tariffs that affect their own industries. They will not look forward to enjoying the benefits that are available by way of assistance. Undoubtedly, the President will not have an easy task in his own country in seeing that the desired effect is achieved. I shall watch what happens with enormous interest. I look with hope to the President’s approach to the matter, having read the speech that he made on 4th July. On that day - Independence Day - he departed from the theme of independence, after paying due tribute to it, and developed the theme, new to America, of inter-dependence of the nations. He looked forward to the blending of Europe and America in the interests of world peace and the freeing of world trade. We can only hope that that concept will be brought to fruition in actual administrative practice as the years go by.
Having looked at this situation on the spot, my colleagues and I prepared a report in the course of which we made a number of findings which I shall not repeat at this stage because they led to the determination by the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party of its attitude at that stage to Britain’s entry to the E.E.C. I should like to read that determination to the Senate because, with one exception, it will conclude what I have to say. It is as follows: -
We are concerned not only with the difficulties those terms may pose for Australia but also with the problems by which the new and developing Commonwealth countries may be faced.
No Commonwealth country should be isolated in determining its attitude to the terms available for Great Britain’s entry to the E.E.C.
We accuse the Commonwealth Government of having made no real preparation within Australia to offset the very serious impact that Britain’s entry into the E.E.C. would have upon so many very important items of Australian production.
In conclusion, I say that we may as well face the fact that Britain is going into the European Economic Community. I think that is certain, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) obviously agrees that Britain will do so. If that is so, the impact can be quite serious to Australia. But the full impact will not be felt at once; the effect will be gradual over the period from the time of entry until 1970. There is some time to prepare, but not much. We have to accept the new situation as a challenge to Australia. We should not quail before it but should face up to it and be prepared to think about what we will do to help those industries which may be really in distress.
At this stage, I shall not discuss all that we of the Labour Party think should be done. Twice when I have spoken on this matter I have enunciated twelve or thirteen steps that ought to be taken. I refer the Senate to those, and I repeat the theme that I have discussed at some length on each occasion I have spoken upon this matter. It is that if we stand up to the challenge, if we approach it with imagination and vigour, if we attend to making this country more self-sufficient, if we exploit our own employment opportunities instead of exporting them, all that happens to us, hard as it may be for the time being, may not be of great consequence, and may just spur us on to the kind of nationhood that we all desire.
.- I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) upon the comprehensive survey that he has made of this subject, appropriately, of course, at the conclusion of a visit overseas. I feel that it is to the credit of this Parliament that it afforded him that privilege. I am conscious of the disadvantage at which I find myself through not having had that privilege, and I do not intend to attempt to match him either in comprehension of the subject or in the material. But I regard it as a great privilege to take part in a discussion such as this, because we in the national Parliament of one of the significant British dominions are debating a decision of the British Government which has been described by our own Prime Minister as historic, if not revolutionary. The feeling of privilege I disguise not at all.
I approach the subject fully conscious of the fact that this is the third occasion on which I have addressed the Senate on it in the course of twelve months. The only regret I have is that I understand that I am to be the last speaker to-day. I had looked forward to contributions from those who would qualify or expose deficiencies in my own thinking on such an important subject.
Be that as it may, I do want to express to the Senate a thought that I have already expressed twice in a tentative and very formative fashion. Even on this occasion I do not express the thought as my final view. I want to put forward the idea that this great proposal for economic and ultimate political unity in Europe is one in which the ultimate objective is European peace. That means that the ultimate objective is world peace. In my view, that demands a study of the proposal on a basis that transcends commercial considerations. Commercial considerations are very important, but in my view the economic prospect of the European Common Market should not dismay Australia’s traders as against the alternative of the dwindling and outmoded system of British preferences. There are also in my view quite important constitutional difficulties in the Treaty of Rome in respect of which we have to try to submit effective amendments. Over the next three, four or six months, our work should be concentrated on that aspect as a positive contribution to reconciling the British safeguards of parliamentary government, the rule of law and independent courts with the constitution of the European Economic Community.
We have lived in a decade that has produced in Europe resourceful and far-seeing men. Those who study the international institutions that have been evolved in Europe over the last decade see that as soon as the weakness in the United Nations, where the veto was preventing its effectiveness for world peace, was disclosed, Europe turned with purpose to the establishment of a series of institutions which were not merely of a contemplative nature. They were not prepared to rely exclusively on the old ideas of national sovereignty. They were prepared to commit a degree of that sovereignty to a common government for particular purposes. There are some people who always see in the words and deeds of practising politicians grounds for scepticism, but I have looked at Dr. Robinson’s book “ The Council of Europe “ and I direct the attention of the Senate to a few of the pronouncements therein of the greatest European that we have known - Sir Winston Churchill - who, as early as October, 1942, wrote this to his war cabinet -
It would be a measureless disaster if Russian barbarism overlaid the culture and independence of the ancient States of Europe. Hard as it is to say now I trust that the European family may act unitedly as one under a Council of Europe. I look forward to a United States of Europe in which the barriers between the nations will be greatly minimized and unrestricted travel will be possible. I hope to see the economy of Europe studied as a whole. I hope to see a Council of perhaps ten units, including the former great powers.
Six months later, in a broadcast to the nation, he said this -
One can imagine that under a world institution embodying or representing the United Nations there should come into being a Council of Europe. We must try to make this Council of Europe into a really effective league, with all the strongest forces woven into its texture, with a High Court to adjust disputes, and with armed forces, national or international or both, held ready to enforce these decisions and to prevent renewed aggression and the preparation of future wars. This Council, when created, must eventually embrace the whole of Europe, and all the main branches of the European family must some day be partners in it.
As we know, he was given the seat of honour at the Congress of Europe in The Hague in May, 1948. That congress proclaimed -
We desire a united Europe, throughout whose area the free movement of persons, ideas and goods is restored; we desire a Charter of Human Rights guaranteeing liberty of thought, assembly and expression as well as a right to form a political opposition; we desire a Court of Justice with adequate sanctions for the implementation of the Charter; we desire a European Assembly where the live forces of all our nations shall be’ represented;
The congress summarized its resolutions and I will ask the Senate to listen to all seven of them in order to see the completeness of the concept of this great cause that was then evolved under the chairmanship of Winston Churchill. I hold the view that the most important duty of every Australian, particularly every member of the National Parliament, is to understand the nature of this cause and then, according to his understanding of his duty, act towards its promotion or its impairment. This is a cause that merits our attention. The congress resolved -
So, there was no shirking of the problem of qualifying the idea of national sovereignty and merging it in a properly constituted central parliamentary government which had for its main purpose the establishment of the essential rights of people. If we get that principle secured into the Treaty of Rome, some disquiet at present felt obviously will disappear.
Referring to this decision that faced Great Britain, Mr. Menzies has said that it was one of historic and almost revolutionary importance. He has also said that entry into the European Economic Community was, in the opinion of the British Government, of essential importance to Great Britain for political as well as economic reasons. Those points of view have been confirmed by the assessment of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in his speech to-day. Britain’s decision is an historic and revolutionary one. Entry into the European Economic Community is considered imperative by the British Government for both economic and political reasons.
I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to three aspects of this matter, based upon three public statements that have been made since I last addressed the Senate. The first is a most illuminating statement by the Lord Chancellor of Britain, delivered in the House of Lords on 2nd August this year. That statement is all too brief and is yet to be discussed. The second statement was made by the British Prime Minister. It is published verbatim in the “ Sunday Times “ of 7th October. The statement contains Mr. Macmillan’s personal declaration of opinion on behalf of his Government as to the course that should be taken. The third statement is the one that is the subject of this discussion - the statement made by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives on 16th October.
Having considered those statements I make these submissions: Commercial considerations are important. I do not pause to discuss them here because there has been ample and most forceful discussion of them in Australia over the last twelve months, notably by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen).. But let me make one point. I submit that we should not take too seriously that part of the speech of Senator McKenna in which he deplored the resolutions at Brussels on this subject because of their imprecision. International arrangements of this character are not couched in the terms of our local legal contracts. When a gathering, such as that of Brussels, assures treaty members of reasonable opportunities for Commonwealth trade, there will be very effective processes to ensure that those opportunities are given and not niggardly denied. Those processes will not be the processes of a court of law.
I was heartened to hear Senator McKenna, towards the end of his speech, refer to the United States legislation that was recently passed. No doubt it was no accident that that legislation was passed through Congress concurrent with the effective prosecution of the British negotiations to enter the European Economic Community - with the blessing of the United States. The view of the United States is that British preferences, which have been unpopular since 1933, not merely in America but in all great trading countries-, can no longer sustain the strain that is demanded by to-day’s trading conditions. I cannot deny myself the conviction that conditions within the European Economic Community will promote enhanced opportunities for our trade, quite apart from the prospects referred to by Mr. Menzies. When you consider the alternatives of Britain on the one hand being purely a trader isolated and aloof from the European Economic Community, and, on the other hand, a participant in it and our spokesman in it, the advantages for Commonwealth trade if Britain enters the Common Market cannot be denied, although I concede that they cannot be guaranteed.
Finally, in answer to the commercial considerations that have been advanced by Senator McKenna for political purposes as well as the purposes of the nation, I believe it could never be said that the Commonwealth of Nations has formed anything like an economic unity. It was the diversity of interests that prevented the last Commonwealth Prime Minister’s Conference from being able to arrive at a common point of view in the face of the British proposal to enter the Common Market. One has only to consider the diversity of their trade interests to agree with Mr. Macmillan’s statement of 7th October that this group of nations could never form an economic unity. 1 feel more favour for Mr. Macmillan’s attitude than for Mr. Gaitskell’s attitude. Mr. Macmillan says that in the opinion of the British Government the prospects of advantage outweigh the risks of running into a trade disaster.
However, the overriding consideration in this proposition is not trade; it is peace - peace built on a basis appropriate to modern world conditions which have produced all the space research, the nuclear energy, the international travel and the modern industrial developments that have made this postwar world a contracted and entirely different planet from what it was in 1939 when Mr. Attlee said, “ Europe must federate or perish “. To-day I shall not seek to use language of my own because the language used by the Prime Minister of Great Britain on 7th October is very forceful. He said -
We have to consider the state of the world as it is to-day and will be to-morrow, and not in outdated terms of a vanished past. There remain only two national units which can claim to be world Powers in their own right, namely the United States and Soviet Russia. To these may soon be added what Napoleon once called the “ sleeping giant “ of China, whose combination of rapidly multiplying population and great natural resources must increasingly be reckoned as a potent force in world affairs.
A divided Europe would stand no chance of competing with these great concentrations of power. But in this new European Community, bringing together the man-power, the material resources and the inventive skills of some of the most advanced countries in the world, a new organization is rapidly developing with the ability to stand on an equal footing with the great power groupings of the world.
By joining this vigorous and expanding community and becoming one of its leading members, as I am convinced we would, this country would not only gain a new stature in Europe, but also increase its standing and influence in the councils of the world. We would bring to the inward preoccupations of a continental land mass the outward-looking vision of a great trading nation whose political and economic horizons span the globe.
Britain would be the chief spokesman of the Commonwealth in Europe and the interpreter of Europe to the Commonwealth, reconciling the interests of these very different systems and acting as a bridge between them.
On the other hand, for Britain to stay out and isolate herself from the mainstream of European strength would, I believe, have very damaging results both for ourselves and for the whole of the Commonwealth. There might be no imme diate disaster, but we could not hope to go on exerting the same political influence.
I ask honorable senators to make a close comparison between the next paragraph and what the Australian Prime Minister said two nights ago. Mr. Macmillan continued -
Take, for example, our present very close and fruitful relations with the United States. If we remain outside the European Community, it seems to me inevitable that the realities of power would compel our American friends to attach increasing weight to the views and interests of the Six in Europe, with others who may join them, and to pay less attention to our own. We would find the United States and the Community concerting policy together on main issues, with much less incentive than now to secure our agreement or even consult our opinion. To lose influence both in Europe and Washington, as this must mean, would seriously undermine our international position and hence, one must add, our usefulness to the Commonwealth.
I trust I will be forgiven if I read yet another paragraph because I am stimulated a little by finding in it a reference to a matter that I mentioned last May, Mr. Macmillan continued -
To take another vital aspect, the European Community as it stands at present is acutely concerned with Communist pressure at its most emotional flashpoint, namely on the borders of Germany and Berlin. This is natural enough, since Federal Germany is itself an important member of the Community. But it would be a very dangerous thing if the Europe of the future allowed the problems of its Eastern frontiers to become a dominant obsession.
Obviously, it is a matter of great importance to all Europe, including Great Britain, to ensure that the Berlin situation and relations between Germany and Russia are moulded in such a manner as not again to threaten the world with destruction.
It is said that some people in Great Britain still deny that it will be entering a federation. Senator McKenna has adopted the British Prime Minister’s viewpoint that under the Treaty of Rome a federal situation has not been reached by The Six. In all humility I say that I am in need of elucidation if I am to accept that proposition. The word “federation” is not a very precise term. For practical purposes, for the great problem of economic activity within the area there are all the institutions of a supra-national government to which the Parliaments of the member states are subordinate and the essential division of power. As I understand it, this community is very close to a federation.
Let me call attention to what the United Kingdom Prime Minister said, as recently as 7th October, on this subject -
It is sometimes alleged that we would lose all our national identity by joining the European Community and become what Mr. Gaitskell contemptuously described the other day as a mere “ province “ of Europe. It is true, of course, that that political unity is the central aim of these European countries and we would naturally accept that ultimate goal. But the effects on our position of joining Europe have been much exaggerated by the critics.
He said that the United Kingdom would naturally accept the goal of political unity. Then we must bring to our minds particularly what has been said by Senator McKenna about the attitude of the Lowlands. They feel the need of the support of Anglo-Saxon genius for parliamentary institutions before they will even engage in discussions to evolve a political unity with France, West Germany and Italy. With this great purpose right before us, when two draft constitutions for political unity have already been made and rejected in twelve months, with this prospect still firing the minds of the great European statesmen, would not the United Kingdom, joining now, even though belatedly, have an excellent opportunity to get to the council table with this political unity is being evolved and be able to make a contribution in a sphere in which the AngloSaxon has displayed such a special genius as to be the pride of the world and the disseminator of parliamentary and democratic institutions throughout the world? She would go into Europe, to the council table, at the opportune time, when political federation or political unity was being framed on a constitutional basis, and give of her great experience. I put forward the view that we have only three, four or six months before the final decision is made, in which time the National Parliament of Australia may, if it wishes, make its opinion felt in addition to what the Prime Minister in his unexampled way, with his special brilliance, experience and standing in the Prime Minister’s Conference, was able to do last month.
These matters have to be persevered with. Public opinion has to be moulded, and those who have conviction must express it. We must have regard to the transcending purpose of world peace. When we contemplate the fact that the only two powers in the world to-day worth mentioning are Russia and the United States of America, with China looming up as a potential world force inimical to us, the greatest service that we can render in the next six months is to do everything that we can to prosper the cause of unification of Europe, with all of its resources to which I have referred. Then, along with the United States of America it can make its contribution. Dismembered and divided, it can be destroyed even by internecine feuds, with nations plucked off one by one by Communist aggression, with no centralized control of nuclear power, divided and weakened. I believe that not merely mercenary motives have persuaded the United States of America to influence Great Britain to advance its resolution. The House of Commons in 1956 gave a qualified approval for this very course. It wanted to exclude agriculture and go into the European Economic Community on the basis of secondary industry alone. I believe that the United States of America has exerted great influence in this great purpose.
That brings up for consideration in a practical way the third consideration to which I referred as my theme, that is, the constitutional defects of the Treaty of Rome itself. I want all energy to be devoted, during the next three or six months, to obtaining an amendment of the Treaty of Rome in relation to matters on which, I believe, persuasion would be much more effective than it would be on commerce. We know how difficult it is to get commercial bargains except on a quid pro quo basis. Constitutional considerations are valued by very few, but there is unanimity among those people whose minds are brought to bear upon the idea of a constitution designed to preserve the fundamental freedom expressed in the declaration of the congress of The Hague in 1948. The great pity is that such expressions are absent from the Treaty of Rome. It should be our jealous concern to get into it provisions for parliamentary institutions, a law-making process based upon the rule of law, and independent courts. It may be, of course, that if the Treaty of Rome is superseded within a decade by a treaty for political union those things will be attended to in the intervening period, but there is a tendency, once there is an integration of powers even on such a basts as the Treaty of Rome, to stop there. We have seen how difficult it is to amend our own Australian constitution. We should be jealous of the three principles that lie at the very threshold of British conceptions of liberty, for which the whole of this edifice is being erected - the promotion of individual liberty, democracy and peace.
I ask the Senate to consider just one or two things. These come to me with more confidence now that we have what I would call an exposition of constitutional defects by Lord Dilhorne, Lord Chancellor of England, in his speech of 2nd August. I get some satisfaction from having some of one’s apprehensions of May last confirmed, although Lord Dilhorne - I say with great respect and without any justification in either his qualifications or general experience - treats them rather optimistically. He says that he thinks certain things will never happen. I doubt whether he has had the experience of witnessing the growth of federal central power such as we in Australia have experienced in the last 60 years. Nevertheless these things are recited in this report. I will not discuss such a technical matter with the Senate.
In the first place the Lord Chancellor assures us that this matter will not impair the authority and position of the Crown. In the second place it is quite obvious that the European Economic Community Commission will have a very wide authority - as wide, indeed, as the expression “ the economy of Europe “ itself. Just think of the legislation that could be passed by a commission with authority to make regulations for the economy of the area. Then, Mr. President, it is conceded by the Lord Chancellor that within the ambit of that matter, regulations made by the European Economic Community will have supremacy over existing statutes and the common law of Great Britain, and will have supremacy over future statutes as long as Great Britain is a party to the treaty.
The next point is that these regulations emanate from an appointed official commission and not an elected parliament. This official commission is composed of a group of bureaucrats, and I use the word in no unpleasant sense. Regulations can be passed which will have supremacy over the statutes of Great Britain and they are not based upon the ideas of an elected parliament. I am sure that people jealous of English history feel that there is need for a provision to meet that difficulty. Coupled with that is the fact that the Prime Minister directed attention to on Tuesday night. He said that this organization, out of its customs revenue, will collect hundreds of millions of pounds, and will aggregate power not merely of a political character but also of a financial character. In view of this, the need for a proper basis for the constitutional aspects becomes more imperative.
Then the Lord Chancellor directs attention to the fact that the treaty is for an indefinite period. No provision is made for its termination, and our own Prime Minister has expressed a thought which of itself warrants a careful study of the speech he delivered in the House the other night. He directed attention to the fact that the American Civil War arose out of a contest involving the authority of states and the central government. The Lord Chancellor went on to say that the act of Parliament that applied the Treaty of Rome to Great Britain could always be repealed by the British Parliament, but he quickly hastened to say that he was not implying that in any circumstances that would be proper. It is only a dry, technical, legal proposition to say that that is possible because in the world of men and affairs it is completely impossible.
Then the Lord Chancellor directed attention to the fact that in the interpretation of the treaty and the regulations, the European court is given exclusive jurisdiction. Once matters which have been before British subordinate courts reach the courts of final appeal they will be automatically transferred to the European court. This means that the doctrines of the European court will be supreme in the interpretation of this treaty. When I consider how interpretations, in the process of time, extend the effective operation of the treaty, I am impelled to say to, and to plead with, those in authority who will do me the goodness to listen, that while we still have time we should devote our efforts to repairing all these constitutional defects.
Why do I say that it is possible that economic consideration will be denied us? These things are understood by a few and they are cherished by the few who understand them. Therefore, we do not find much opposition put forward. That is illustrated by the experience we had of the framing of the judicial provisions of our Constitution between 1890 and 1900. The whole judicial section of the Constitution was penned by Sir Samuel Griffith, Mr. Inglis Clarke and, I think, Sir Edmund Barton when they went away for about a fortnight on the “ Lucinda “ on the Brisbane River. What they said went. My attitude may reveal my provincial outlook but it does not conceal my earnestness. If there is any value whatever in this contribution that I have made, we have a brief and fleeting opportunity to do something about this important matter.
I say, therefore, that no commercial consideration should retard progress in the great cause of European unity. Great Britain possesses genius and resource. Let us hope that constitutional difficulties can be met because the Treaty of Rome may be more permanent than we hope. It could be superseded by an instrument arising out of political unity, and we would not wish to be disadvantaged by the absence of a parliamentary system, the rule of law and independent courts.
Debate (on motion by SenatorO”Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the 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 impose income tax and social services contribution for the financial year 1962-63. The rates of tax proposed in this bill are the same as those imposed for the financial year 1961-62 and provision is made in the bill for the continuance of the 5 per cent. rebate of tax payable by persons other than companies.
The provisions of the bill do not vary in any material way from the provisions of the act imposing income tax and social services contribution for the financial year 1961-62 and I do not think there is any need for me to deal with the various clauses in detail. As stated by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold’ Holt), in his Budget speech, the cost to revenue in 1962-63 of the continuation of the stimulatory tax measures adopted during 1961-62 is expected to be approximately £75,000,000. Almost £30,000,000 of this amount refers to the cost of continuing the 5 per cent. rebate as provided in this bill.
Tax instalments deducted from salaries and wages since 1st July, 1962, have reflected the continuance of the 5 per cent. rebate. The rebate will also be reflected in provisional tax payable during the current financial year. I submit the bill for the consideration of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 17th October (vide page 936).
Proposed expenditure - Department of Works, Capital Works and Services, £1,235,000- noted.
Proposed expenditure, £4,150,000.
– I refer to Division No. 368 - Administrative - and wish to direct my remarks to the Commonwealth Railways and the policy of ordering rolling-stock and plant for the railways. I suggest to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and to the Government that special consideration should be given to a programme of works at Port Augusta. From the point of view of Port Augusta itself, there is a need for work to provide employment for young persons and as a contribution to decentralization. There is also an urgent need to maintain first-class manufacturing and repair workshops for the Commonwealth Railways.
Reference was made to plant and rollingstock in the report of the Commissioner of Commonwealth Railways and I made some personal observations at a recent ceremony at Port Augusta. It is evident that the staff of the Commonwealth Railways has been reduced, that equipment and machinery are out of date and the housing of the plant has deteriorated. At one time, the workshops at Port Augusta were very important and could match the Islington workshops, but now they need modernizing. We require new machinery, new buildings to house the equipment, and a new policy. The present policy of ordering rolling-stock and machinery applies not only to the Commonwealth Railways but also to other railway systems. In the old days, the Commonwealth Railways manufactured its own rolling-stock and locomotives. Now less and less work is being done by the railways.
At page 5 of his interim report, the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Railways reports that orders have been completed for seven 72-ft. standard gauge cattle vans. At page 6 there is a reference to tenders being called for four second-class passenger sleeping cars, one dining car, one or alternatively two first-class lounge cars, four coach cars and ten brake vans. While we were at Port Augusta, we travelled in German and Japanese sleeping cars and found that some new sleeping vans for workmen were being constructed by private firms. This is a very serious matter in a national railway. I am not blaming the administration or the local management. I think it has been considered that because tradesmen are in short supply, important programmes of railway construction cannot be started, but I put it to the Government that the effects of this policy will become increasingly worse.
Related to this matter is the community problem of Port Augusta. Young people cannot find avenues for training. The railways formed one of the important avenues for training young men to become fitters, boilermakers, electricians and engineers, and apprentices had an opportunity to get scholarships. The Mayor of Port Augusta, Mr. Ritchie, has often told me of his concern about the lack of avenues of employment for young people. It seems that equipment for the Commonwealth Railways is being supplied from outside the service. Originally the railways built its own equipment but now the workshops are mainly a repair and maintenance unit.
It is shocking that any government should let an important railway system get into such a state. I have noticed that the situation is similar in all the Australian railway systems, and I think it is wrong. This is purely a matter of expediency. The management considers that it might have to wait two years for equipment built in its own workshops. It thinks about the difficulty of getting skilled tradesmen whereas outside manufacturers can supply the equipment in six months. The weakness of the argument is that such a policy means that ultimately the railways will not have the equipment or the skilled men to do a job because they are not taking work and training men and boys to do it. The Government should give urgent consideration to this matter. It would be a fine thing for Port Augusta generally and for the youth of the town, as well as for the progress of the railways, if the present policy were reviewed.
Instead of sending engineers to Japan or Germany to watch specifications of construction, the railways over which the Commonwealth has positive control should engage in a policy of manufacture. I know that the Minister appreciates the importance of this point. If our railway workers were given the time to equip their workshops, I think they could do the work as efficiently and perhaps more cheaply than the workers of other countries. I hope the Minister will consider this matter and not just brush it aside.
– I notice that there is an increase of almost £36,000 in the items in sub-division 1 of Division No. 368 - Administrative. I should like an explanation of the increase, particularly in view of the fact that when I look through the expenditures for this department I find that there are increases all along the line, t also wish to refer to the item relating to the subsidy for the shipping service to Papua and New Guinea. The subsidy is to increase this year by £37,500. I should like the Minister to tell me who conducts this shipping service. Are additional ships being provided? What is the reason for the increase in the subsidy?
In Division No. 372 - Marine Services Division - there is an increase of about £34,000 on last year’s expenditure on salaries and payments in the nature of salary. In Division No. 373, which relates to assistance to the shipbuilding industry, I note that provision is being made for an appropriation of £11,200,000 for the purchase of ships, material and equipment. The next item is “ Less amount recoverable from sales, £9,400,400 “. Can the Minister give me some information regarding the sales from which the recoveries are to be made? Does the Government intend to sell more ships of the Australian National Line? If so, the line will just about disappear. Instead of disposing of ships, the Government should be increasing the size of the Australian National Line, and bigger ships should be constructed in the future. 1 notice, on the last page of the notes presented by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), that it is intended to build more ships. In the third paragraph of the notes, the Minister states -
An order has been placed with an Australian shipyard for a 9,850 tons gross passenger/vehicular vessel to bc used primarily for the Sydney-Hobart service. In addition the Commission is to purchase the first of two 21,400-ton bulk carriers now under construction at the Whyalla shipyards of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited.
I should like to see the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission enter the bulk carrying field, particularly with a view to establishing an overseas shipping line, because the amount that is paid out in freight and other charges by the Australian people is rather exorbitant. Because we have no national overseas shipping line we are being held to ransom by the conference lines.
It is very nice for the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to state that Australia had an overseas balance of payments surplus of £180,000,000 for the year 1961-62, but if we examine the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure for that year we find, at page 18, that we had an unfavorable trade balance of £8,000,000. But that does not complete the story. If we look at the schedule on that page we see that over the years from 1953-54 to 1961-62, we had an adverse trade balance of £1,266,000,000. Quite a large proportion of that amount was accounted for by what are known as invisible payments. In fact, the invisible payments in connexion with exports during the past year amounted to £229,000,000. That is not shown. I am speaking of the current account and not straight-out trading matters of exports and imports. It is some years since we had a surplus.
In 1953-54, we had a surplus of £1,000,000. In 1954-55, there was an adverse balance of £236,000,000; in 1955-56, an adverse balance of £212,000,000; in 1956-57, a surplus of £115,000,000; in 1957-58, an adverse balance of £152,000,000; in 1958-59 an adverse balance of £181,000,000; in 1959-60, an adverse balance of £224,000,000; and in 1960-61, an adverse balance of £369,000,000. As I have mentioned, in 1961-62, we had an adverse balance of £8,000,000. Much of that money could be saved if the Government were to take note of the position in which we place ourselves when we claim to be one of the ten major trading nations of the world. As such, we are the only large trading nation that has not a national shipping line to transport its goods overseas.
I am not satisfied with the answer we are1 given to explain why we have no overseas national shipping line. We are told that the rates of pay and conditions for Australian seamen are responsible. I have had quite close contact with the shipping line that operates in Western Australia. It is true that the State Shipping Service of Western Australia expects this year to lose about £1,000,000 on the operations of six ships. It must be remembered that this service is provided to serve a very sparsely populated area in Western Australia and whilst there is quite a considerable amount of loading out of Fremantle, there is very little backloading. In fact, most of the backloading is made up of the return of empties, which are carried at a very great loss. A line such as that cannot be quoted as a reason for arguing that an Australian shipping line would not be profitable because wages and conditions are so costly. The Australian National Line has shown a profit this year after paying the wages and providing the conditions awarded by Australian arbitration authorities. I therefore do not accept the suggestion that an Australian-owned overseas shipping line could not be operated efficiently and profitably.
– If such a line got rid of the ships and got rid of the seamen, it could do so.
– I am quite aware of what you would do, just as I know how you got rid of the Country Party in Victoria! We are very proud of the efficiency of our Australian seamen and we do not accept the claim by Ampol Petroleum Limited that “ P. J. Adams “ could not be operated efficiently if Australian seamen were employed on it. This is an urgent matter because farm incomes and the price of wool are falling all the time. As a matter of fact, in terms of money value, farm incomes are now about half what they were in 1949. How much longer we can allow shipping lines to hold us to ransom because they have no competition, I do not know. It is true; that we have a commission that decides whether or not freight rates should be increased but, if that commission decides that freights shall be increased, what alternative have we? We cannot turn to other shipping lines to transport our produce.
This year, we hope to have a record cereal crop. It will require shipping. The proposed two bulk carriers mentioned by the Minister in the notes that he has circulated will not be able to cope with it. I suggest that as the Government is considering the disposal of £9,000,000 worth of ships the time is appropriate for giving thought to the establishment of our own shipping line. A start must be made somewhere. In his explanatory notes, the Minister tells us that the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission now owns 44 vessels aggregating 267,102 tons. This represents an average of about 6,000 tons for each vessel. The ships would be very small craft for the overseas trade, and we should be looking to the construction of much larger vessels for the establishment of an Australian overseas shipping line. I do not know how many ships are to be disposed of for the £9,000,000, but, if the prices that are received are anything like those obtained for ships in the past, a good many will be disposed of for this figure. That £9,000,000 should be used for the construction of new ships of larger tonnages to replace the old ships being sold.
As I said earlier, it is true that the Government proposes to build two bulk carriers, but the Australian shipyards are not busy at the moment and I suggest that the Government has an opportunity to re-employ shipyard workers on the construction of ships for a national shipping line. The desirability of undertaking this work is emphasized when we remember that there are still something like 76,000 workers unemployed in Australia.
– Senator Bishop referred to the position at the Port Augusta workshops. He made specific mention of the fact that some rolling-stock used on Commonwealth railways was built in Japan and that some was built in Germany. That is true; but it is interesting to have a look at the position that obtained at the time when this rollingstock was ordered. If we are to see the matter in proper perspective, we must do that.
I point out that the German-built rollingstock was acquired in the immediate postwar era when it was quite impossible to have railway rolling-stock made in Australia. All our factories were working at high pressure to overtake war-caused shortages in all forms of production. At that time, too, under the impetus of an expansion policy sponsored and encouraged by the United States of America, the West German factories were looking for overseas orders and submitted a quote which was considered at that time to be quite remarkably low. The placing of that order with the German factory had little or no effect on the Australian industry because at that time the Australian industry was not in a position to fill the order in the time required by the Commonwealth Railways.
The Japanese order was placed a couple of years ago. It was lodged at a time of boom in Australia. That boom was forcing Australian prices up to a height which made the purchase of Australian-manufactured equipment impossible. Conversely, at that same time, the Japanese tender was extremely low. Senator Bishop’s point was that this rolling-stock may well have been built at Port Augusta. I should like to explain to him that Port Augusta has not a workshop suited to the construction of passenger rolling-stock. Passenger rollingstock has been made in Australia, but at places other than Port Augusta. It is obvious that before a workshop is tooled for the manufacture of this type of equipment, there must be some reasonable expectation of continuity of orders to ensure that manufacturing costs will be reasonably low. The supply of rollingstock exclusively for the Commonwealth Railways is not of such a volume that would do that. So it has been the policy of the Commonwealth Railways, not for ideological reasons, to place its orders with private enterprise when building in Australia.
Senator Bishop said that much of the plant at the Port Augusta workshops is out of date. He said that there was a decline in the work force there. My information is that 100 additional men will be employed at the workshops this year as compared with last year. My further information is that in the diesel locomotive maintenance section of the works, in which the most important work at Port Augusta is undertaken, the plant is equal to the best in the world. Senator Bishop may be interested to know that these workshops do undertake the construction of rolling-stock of a special type. I cite as examples the special long wagons used for the cartage of motor cars and the under-frames for petrol tankers.
Senator Cant referred to shipbuilding and assumed from the presentation of the accounts that the Australian Shipbulding Board would sell ships to the value of £9,000,000. This presentation of accounts is made necessary by the nature of the bookkeeping. Shipbuilding is subsidized but the terms of the Constitution impose a condition that a subsidy paid in any one part of the Commonwealth shall be at the same rate as is paid in any other part of the Commonwealth. Now, in shipbuilding you cannot meet without difficulty that requirement of the Constitution. What is done is that the Australian Shipbuilding Board actually purchases the materials and constructs the ships to private order. It then sells the ships. When Senator Cant refers to the £9,000,000 for the sale of ships, that amount represents ships that have been built by the Australian Shipbuilding Board to private order and which are now completed. They have been sold to their owners and are being or have been put into commission.
Senator Cant wanted to know the reason for the increase in the shipping subsidy for the New Guinea service. That increase was made necessary by increased shipping costs incurred since the signing of the last contract. The subsidy has been increased from £100,000 to £150,000. Payments are made quarterly and the variation in the two figures is thus accounted for. The very fact that we must subsidize our New Guinea service subtracts, if I may put it that way, from the argument that Senator Cant subsequently pursued in connexion with the possibility of running profitably an overseas shipping line.
– Oh no!
– Yes, it does, as I will shortly show, because Senator Cant went on to say that the Australian National Line operates on the coast at a profit. That being the case it followed, according to Senator Cant, that if the Australian National Line went into overseas shipping it could operate there also at a profit. The point that Senator Cant overlooks is the circumstance that makes it necessary for us to subsidize our Papuan service. Our costs on the Papuan service are so high that it must be protected by subsidy. Our costs on the coast are so high that they must be protected by the Navigation Act. I know full well that if you want to get into the charter business you may seize opportunities of chance and make a good profit out of Australian shipping. At the time of the Suez crisis I was Minister for Shipping and Transport and I saw our coastal shipping take up some available overseas charters and make handsome profits on the deals. But that situation occurred only because there was such a demand during the Suez Canal crisis for overseas shipping of the tramp type. We, with our high-priced shipping, seized the opportunity of using up what spare tonnage we had for the handling pf some cargoes. But when one comes to a straight-out case of trading, we just cannot take our ships off the coast and put them into competition with ships in the overseas trade.
– They are not suitable.
– Well, some types are suitable, as I have just indicated in respect of the charters that were undertaken. Consider our bulk ore carriers, which are as good technically as anything else in the world. You cannot put them into competition with overseas lines and get away with it for the simple reason that you cannot meet the competition of overseas costs. This is a matter which frankly I am surprised to find pursued by the Labour Party. If you want an Australian overseas line because of some political ideology - because as socialists you want to engage in this class of trade - that is one thing, but if you support your claim on the basis that such a line would be an economic proposition, you must argue against the results of simple arithmetic. A simple arithmetical calculation will not support your case. I know that from there you proceed with the proposition that such a line should be subsidized. All I can say to the Labour Party is that in that direction lies danger because if you are to put an overseas shipping service into trade for the purpose of supporting Australian primary producers, deluding yourselves that it will pay, and having got it into service you find that it will return instead a loss, in order to maintain your shipping service overseas you have to tax the very people whom you set out to support.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), being a wise politician, has more or less anticipated what the Opposition proposed to raise and he has almost answered my queries in advance. I congratulate the Minister on the informative document that he has placed before us relating to the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport. If we had had a similar document before us when discussing the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation we might not have got into so much trouble. I do not suggest that what happened then caused the Minister to prepare this document because this information has obviously been prepared for some time.
I propose to refer to Division No. 368 and in particular to the proposed appropriation of £150,000 to subsidize the shipping service to Papua and New Guinea. Senator Cant has already raised this matter of subsidies and in a fashion the Minister has replied to him. I am interested in the principle that governs the Government’s thinking on these matters. The Estimates show that a subsidy of £150,000 is to be paid this year to Burns Philp and Company Limited in respect of its service to Papua and New Guinea. The Government also subsidizes the ships that are now trading between Australia and South America. The Government’s object is to encourage shipping companies to help to build up our trade. That is essential. The Government pays the subsidies because the companies say that they cannot pay Australian award rates and compete with overseas companies. Apparently the Government is prepared to forget its principles in respect to subsidies and is prepared to subsidize wealthy shipping companies in order to receive the benefit of the services that they provide. I have given two instances in which subsidies are paid.
The general argument, other than in the case of the ships trading between Australia and South America, is that Australian wages and conditions are higher and better than overseas wages and conditions and these subsidies are paid in order to make up for the higher wage rates that have to be paid on ships trading within Australia. I support that. I believe that it is a very good idea. We have to maintain our wage standards. We should not allow shipping companies to lower standards. Some shipping companies employ coolie labour and even then they do not show a profit. All over the world the taxpayers pay for transport industries. Transport industries do not pay their way even in the United States of America. Land transport is subsidized out of the pockets of the taxpayers almost everywhere. Shipping and the airways come into that category too. I am not talking about the airways under the control of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). They seem to be doing all right. One of them receives subsidies. The major airline companies in the world are subsidized. Even the great English companies are subsidized out of the pockets of the taxpayers.
The point I want to make is the application of this principle to the ship “ P. J. Adams “. I know thai there were technicalities about getting that ship built in
Australia when it could have been built somewhere else. The Government had to face the situation that that ship could not trade in Australia unless it had the right to use Chinese labour. Why did not the Government think of subsidizing it so that it could use Australian labour? I want to know, if the Minister can tell me, where the split in principle occurs on these two issues. The Government is prepared to subsidize Burns Philp and Company Limited, but it is not prepared to subsidize Ampol Petroleum Limited. I do not know whether a subsidy would have satisfied the Ampol company. It probably would have, because the company trades a good deal on its Australian reputation and it cannot have a good Australian reputation if it does not pay Australian wages and provide Australian conditions. After all, decent wages and conditions form the basis of our economy. I hope that the Minister will give me his views on that matter.
Another question that I should like answered is why the Government did not do something to maintain the coastal passenger shipping services. I have in mind the “ Manunda “, the “ Manoora “ and all the other ships that have gone off the Australian coast allegedly because they could not pay their way and could not get the right type of freight. I know that there are all sorts of arguments like that. The effect is that the people of Australia have been denied the right to take coastal trips around Australia. I went on the last trip of the “ Manoora “ up through the Whitsunday Passage. It was a beautiful trip. There were about 400 passengers on board. Most of them were workers having a trip during their long service leave. Now the opportunity for them to have such a trip has gone. These ships have disappeared from the Australian coast over the last few years. According to the Minister, we cannot compete overseas and we cannot compete locally either.
The “ Wanganella “ is another example. It went off the Australia to New Zealand run. It was bought by a firm in Hong Kong and is now back on the Australian coast with a Chinese crew.
– There is your answer.
– All right, but the fact is that the ship was manned by Australians. Then the Chinese bought it and put a Chinese crew on it and now Chinese seamen are doing the trips Australian seamen used to do. Not only Australian seamen were involved in this change-over. There are also engineers and all sort of first-class tradesmen. I am not saying that seamen are not first-class workmen. Those Australian workmen have lost their jobs to Chinese workers. The owner of the “Wanganella” already is advertising to take a load of tourists to the Commonwealth Games. I think that is a scandal.
The Minister also might be able to tell me how many ships of the Australian National Line are tied up in Australian ports. The difficulty of freight charges is one that all governments, whatever their political colour, have to face because of the distances from Australia to the central markets of the world. Those difficulties were overcome in the case of coal. We were able to develop the coal trade despite the fact that it cost up to £7 a ton to transport coal from Australia to Japan. If a country needs a product it will pay the freight on it. The coal export trade may be dropping off a little now, but we had marked success in it.
If the Government is disposed to pay subsidies, it could consider refitting some of the ships that are lying idle in Australian harbours. I know that there are some in Sydney Harbour. It would be better to turn these ships into bulk coal carriers. The report of a recent trade mission to South America stated that if ships were available we might be able to develop our coal trade with South America as its steel industry develops. Some of the ships might be quite capable of being used to carry coal. They would certainly be better carrying coal than rusting away in Sydney and other Australian harbours. I ask the Minister especially to give me his views on that conflict in connexion with subsidies. The Government is not prepared to subsidize the Ampol tanker, but it is prepared to subsidize the shipping service of the Burns Philp company and other companies that trade to New Guinea and the adjacent islands.
– When the Minister replied to me he drew an analogy between my suggestion and the subsidy that is paid to Burns Philp and Company Limited on the Papua and New Guinea run. I think I disposed of that argument when I talked about the Western Australian State Shipping Service. It is not fair to try to compare a shipping line operating to a place with small development and a small population with an overseas line. We just cannot expect to get loading both ways on the first type of charter. It is quite wrong to say that as we have to subsidize the New Guinea run, so we would have to subsidize some other run if we put Australian ships on it. It seems that we shall this year, as we did last year, sell a sizable portion of our cereal crops to China. Snipping will be involved. I have noticed in the press a statement about the sale of Commonwealth vessels. In the past few months the ships that have been converted from general to bulk cargo carriers have been laid up as a result of lack of demand. These are the river class vessels that the Australian National Line proposes to sell. The life of a tramp steamer is approximately twenty to twenty-five years. The ships were built during the war. They are not yet twenty years old and there is still quite a bit of life in them. They could be used, despite their smallness. A vessel of 8,500 tons is not large, or even of a size convenient for bulk cargoes. They may not be suitable for charter to South America, about which Senator Ormonde spoke, because they do not shift a big enough load. However, they could profitably be used to transport wheat to China, which is a much shorter run. I doubt whether, at this point of time, they have outlived their usefulness.
The Minister rather anticipated me when he said that the subsidy for a shipping line would have to come from taxation receipts, which would mean that we would have to tax the people whom we were trying to benefit. I put it to him that money has to be found somewhere to meet the invisibles on our current account, in respect of which we go down the drain to the extent of £200,000,000. No government has any money other than that which it takes from the people. It may take it from only some of them or, in the form of taxation, from the whole community. When we have an adverse balance of payments, the Government has to find sufficient money to meet the deficiency. It is all very well to say that at present we get it from overseas investment. That source of revenue is quickly running out, because almost as much is going out, in profits and otherwise, as is coming in these days. Only the people can make good the deficiency. There is little difference in taxing the people to subsidize the running of a line. It is not a sufficient answer to say that a subsidy cannot be paid because in order to pay it we should have to increase taxation.
The Minister probably overlooked replying to my questions in relation to Divisions Nos. 368 and 372.
– Senator Cant referred, as did Senator Ormonde, to the tonnage owned by the Australian National Line which was laid up. He asked why it could not be used for the uplift of wheat sold to China. The Chinese are also aware that Australian shipping is more expensive than their own shipping, and they pick up the wheat that they buy in their own bottoms, in order to save the cost of transporting wheat in Australian ships. Five of these vessels are laid up, four of them for disposal. This is not an uncommon practice. A vessel having reached a point at which it is due for disposal, it is not unusual for it to be laid up for that purpose. The market has not been in any way attractive in recent times, and the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, like any other commercial concern, is awaiting the best market.
Senator Cant raised another point which obviously I did not explain fully enough when I was last on my feet. He poses now this question: If our overseas trade involves a loss, in invisibles, of £X,000,000, what would be the difference between having that amount carried against us in our overseas accounts and meeting the charge domestically by taking it from the taxpayer? I suggest that there would be some merit in the argument if the two amounts involved were equal, but the whole point is this: Unpalatable as the carriage of an invisible in our overseas accounts - it would be much better if we could get rid of it - there is no virtue in raising a domestic tax, which would necessarily be greatly in excess of the amount charged in invisibles, because of the greater cost incurred in Australian shipping, for reasons that I have explained before. We would not be swapping two things of similar magnitude. We would certainly be doing away with the invisible debit, but in doing so we would be socking the Australian taxpayer to a much greater extent to meet the greater cost involved.
asked why the passenger service went out of existence. As my colleague, Senator Henty, said, Senator Ormonde gave the answer to his own question when he referred to “ Wanganella “ which was not on the coast but on the Australia to New Zealand run, operating, as 1 remember it, under the Australia flag and conditions, lt reached a stage when higher charges accruing because of obsolescence, and greater wage costs and the like combined to make it a completely uneconomic proposition. Therefore, the company sold it to foreign owners who placed it under the flag of their own country. As they were able to reduce its running costs because of reduced charges for crewing, it is now back in service.
It is an unfortunate fact that the same sort of thing occurred in respect of coastal passenger vessels. This was a sad story, made sadder still because for years before they were taken out of commission it was known that they would have to go. They were built to conduct regular, scheduled shipping services, and any Tasmanian in the chamber, and certainly all Western Australian senators remember what a regular shipping service meant in years gone by. These vessels pulled in, almost with the regularity of a train. There were cargoes in the sheds and on the wharfs ready to be put into their holds. They unloaded and loaded, and away they steamed. I think the time taken in Western Australia when I was younger was two and a half days for the complete operation.
– From Thursday to Saturday.
– That is correct. The ships were designed to lift economically a certain number of tons of cargo and a specified number of passengers. The passenger trade was fairly satisfactory, although it did decline in the latter years. Passengers were available to occupy the accommodation. The ships to which Senator Ormonde referred failed economically because, although they were conducting a cargo-passenger service, under the new conditions of labour on the wharfs, they could not remain long enough to pick up a payable cargo, and they went out of business for that reason.
– Did not passenger competition from the airways help to put them out of business?
– It did have an effect, but it was not the critical or decisive factor. As I said, and as you know, there were always sufficient passengers to support the passenger-carrying aspect of their operations. It was the cargo side of the business which was critical.
Senator Ormonde referred to what he described as a conflict of principle in the Government’s handling of subsidization. He instanced three cases. One was the South American service, with which I shall deal first. The subsidization of that service is not a subsidization of shipping in the ordinary sense at all. There was no regular shipping service between Australian ports and South America. If an Australian consignor had cargo for South America a most involved and complex procedure was necessary to get the goods lifted at an Australian port and delivered to the country of consignment. It was in the context of establishing trade that the Government paid this subsidy. It was for the purpose not of subsidizing shipping, but of increasing trade in the general sense, and the subsidy is being paid for a limited time, I think, two years or three years at the most. The Government subsidizes cargoes - not ships - which are bound for South America ex Australian ports. There is no conflict of principle there.
The second case had reference to New Guinea. New Guinea is a special case involving the supply and servicing of the Trust territory. The Government undertook that subsidy, again not for the purpose of subsidizing snipping as such, but simply as one of the obligations a country undertakes in respect of the trustee service. ,
The last matter to which Senator Ormonde referred was the Tasmanian shipping service. The very much reduced amount of subsidy provided this year represents the final wash-up of an episode which I hope no Australian government of the future will experience. This was the subsidization of the old “ Taroona “, on the Bass Strait service. The ship was subsidized for years, with an increasing subsidy during the latter period. The situation was met, if I may say so, by quite a new approach to the problem as a result of the exercise of initiative and imagination in the provision of the right type of ship to do this particular job. It was undertaken by this Government.
I think Senator Cant’s query was in respect of the increase in salaries and allowances of departmental officers under Division No. 368. The approved establishment of the central administration is now 97 permanent positions, following changes and increases in the departmental activities, including the creation of a new division for rail standardization, and also the creation of a number of new positions to provide for the staffing of the Port Wilson explosives establishment. The honorable senator will recognize that both activities are additional to the work which has been undertaken by the department in preceding years. Provision has also been made under this item for 79 of these positions to be occupied by permanent officers, the remainder being provided for under item 02 of this sub-division, which covers temporary, casual and exempt employees.
The other query was, I think, in respect of salaries in the Marine Services Division. The marine service of the Department of Shipping and Transport is concerned principally with the administration of the Navigation Act, the Lighthouses Act and the regulations under these acts. Functions peculiar to the division are the control and maintenance of coastal lights and other aids to navigation on the sea routes along the coastline of Australia and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea; the collection of light dues; the survey and certification of ships; the examination of ships’ personnel for certification as masters, mates and engineers and the issuing of certificates for competency therein; the safe loading of ships; crew accommodation standards; manning and establishment of ships; engagement and discharge of ships’ crews; wrecks and salvage; courts of marine inquiry; and payment of compensation. The 1962-63 estimate, compared with the 1961-62 expenditure, provides for an increase of £33,849 in expenditure for salaries and wages, and an increase of £9,406 in administrative expenses.
The approved staff establishment of the Marine Services Division includes 485 permanent positions, of which 149 are administrative, 51 technical and 195 maintenance and inspection, while 90 positions are provided for the operation of lighthouse steamers. Estimates for 1962-63 are framed on the basis of 373 of those positions being filled by permanent employees. Additional funds of £16,000 are required under this item in 1962-63, due mainly to the occupation of a greater number of permanent positions by permanent officers in lieu of temporary staff, the normal incremental advancement of officers and higher salary awards to engineers as a result of the engineers’ award.
– I refer to the subdivision Administrative Expenses under Division No. 368. I wonder whether the Minister could enlighten me with regard to item 04 Rail Standardization - Miscellaneous expenses. I make the comment that the appropriation and the expenditure last year were exactly the same. That seems to be unusual under a heading such as miscellaneous expenses, unless there was a transfer from one vote to another. I notice that the proposed vote for this item this year is £17,000. I am merely interested in the heading of the item. The amount involved does seem to be getting high. I would have thought that the accounting section would account for a little more diversion than that.
The next item, 05, has to do with incidental and other expenditure. The appropriation last year was £5,660. This year’s proposed vote, £10,100, is almost double that. I notice that the expenditure last year, £9,542, was almost the same as the appropriation for this year. I am concerned mainly with the name of the item. It is one of those general items which find a place here instead of under a better heading. I am wondering whether the Minister is satisfied with this accounting procedure and whether he can give the committee the reasons for it.
– Senator Willesee has referred to Division No. 368. - Administrative - and the item “ Railway standardization - Miscellaneous expenses, £17,000 “. This is a reimbursement to the Commonwealth Railways for expenditure incurred in supervising projects for the conversion of railway lines to standard gauge. The Commonwealth Railways is responsible for supervising certain aspects of railway-subsidized projects on behalf of the Commonwealth, and this vote is to reimburse the railways - a business undertaking - for that expenditure. The increased provision this year is considered necessary to cover the cost associated with the greater activity in the field of rail standardization. The increase amounts to £1,370.
– I wondered about the inclusion of this item as miscellaneous expenses.
– As I have said, it is reimbursement to the Commonwealth Railways by the Commonwealth for supervisory services. These cover a diversity of activities. In the circumstances and having regard to the much greater activity, an increase of £1,370 is not unreasonable.
– I was merely querying the heading. I thought “ miscellaneous “ would have been better in the recipient’s books, and this ought to be called a disbursement account.
– I cannot say why the item is shown in that way. It may well be one of those things that occur in any organization, including government departments, where changes are not made in conformity with new developments. “ Miscellaneous “ was originally quite the correct and unchallengeable title for the item. I shall direct the attention of the department to it.
Senator Willesee also referred to the item, “ Incidental and other expenditure, £10,100”. This item covers miscellaneous expenditure not included in other administrative expenses. It includes provision for Port Wilson in its first year of operation, for two meetings of the Australian Transport
Advisory Council compared with the customary one meeting, and an additional component, new subscriptions to publications covering transportation, economics and technical data regarding railways, roads, shipping and ports. The estimated costs of these components are: Port Wilson, £5,300; two meetings of the Australian Transport Advisory Council, £1,000 and subscriptions to technical journals, £850.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation to Division No. 368 and the item “Promotion of road safety practices, £150,000”. Some time ago, a committee was set up by the Senate to inquire into road safety and to recommend any steps necessary to alleviate the terrible toll of the road. Apart from the serious loss of life, the road toll is extremely costly to the nation. The report of the select committee on road safety was presented to the Senate on 21st September, 1960, when the appropriation was the same as the proposed vote this year - £150,000. Does the Minister consider that this amount is adequate? Since the functions of the road safety councils in each State have been adjusted, I believe - I may be wrong - that advertising has not been as effective as it was before the change-over.
In 1957-58, accidents on the roads were estimated to cost the nation about £70,000,000. The cost is probably much higher now as the road toll has been increasing year by year, but the provision for the promotion of road safety practices remains unchanged. The Senate committee on road safety recommended that a road safety research organization should be set up on a governmental level. Has anything been done to implement that recommendation? Evidence was given before the committee in every State that it was essential to have an organization to inquire into road accidents and their causes. I direct the attention of the Minister to the select committee’s recommendations at page 12 of its report, paragraph 23 -
Has anything been done by the Government to set up this research organization?
– I propose to comment on arguments that have been developed by Senator Cant on an Australian shipping line to engage in our overseas trade. The honorable senator’s statements on the cost of various organizations was very interesting. So far as I know, all statements from the Opposition on this matter have been expressed in generalities. Nobody can be really informed by or be interested in generalities. Having an orderly mind, I like to get the facts.
If we turn to a statement made in April, 1960, by Captain J. P. Williams, the chairman of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, we see that he referred to facts which the Senate would do well to bear in mind. Captain Williams gave comparative figures for the manning of an 8,000-ton oil-burner under the Australian register and under the British register. Under the Australian register, a crew of 46 is required, and under the British register, a crew of 28. Nobody can convince me that we could compete successfully on that basis. Captain Williams went on to give the costs per day, in Australian currency, of operating a 10,000 ton motor ship under the British register and under the Australian register. Under the British register, the gross wages per day amount to £104, and under the Australian register, to £241. The cost of provisions under the British register is £19 per day, and under the Australian register, £26.
– Do they eat kippers all the lime?
– I do not know what they eat. That is not my business. I am merely stating the facts to indicate the competition that we would have to face. I suggest that we cannot get away from the facts. Honorable senators opposite indulge in airy generalities and refuse to acknowledge the facts.
The cost of stores under the British register is £22 a day, and under the Australian register, £29. The cost of insurance under the British register is £36, and it is also £36 under the Australian register.
– You cannot blame the workers for that.
– The cost is the same in both instances. That is rather an interesting interjection. At the only point where the costs are the same, the honorable senator says, “ You cannot blame the workers for that “. I accept the interjection and hope it will be recorded in “ Hansard “. The cost of service and maintenance is £72 per day under the British register and £138 under the Australian register. Sundries amount to £3 a day under the British register and to £15 under the Australian register. The total under the British register is £256 a day. Under the Australian register it is £485, or a difference of £229 a day.
Senator Cant advanced another interesting argument. He spoke of the Western Australian State Shipping Service and said that there was no back freight in that instance. That is a reasonable argument, but he used the argument as one that would not apply to an overseas shipping line. He said that we should use Australian ships lying in Sydney Harbour to take wheat to China. I ask: What would we bring back? Let us consider the facts of our trade with China. In 1961-62, our exports to China were valued at £65,900,000, while China’s exports to Australia were valued at £3,800,000.
– What do the ships bring back now?
– Ships on the international register, which do not trade only to China, are used. They trade to Japan and to other countries. When we consider our trade with Japan, we find that Australian exports were valued at £187,000,000 while Japan sold us goods worth £49,300,000. So, if we engaged in trade in wheat, the ships would come back empty from China eight times out of ten, as they do on the coast of Western Australia.
According to figures compiled by the Australian National Line, the freight on canned fruits consigned from Brisbane to Fremantle on ships of the Australian National Line is 341s. per 50 cubic feet. The cost of transporting canned fruit from Australia to the Continent, under the contract which we have with the conference lines, is 277s. 6d. per 50 cubic feet. The freight on jams is 308s. per 50 cubic feet, as against 277s. 6d. The freight on steel sheets is 264s. per 20 cwt. when transported on the Australian coast by ships of the Australian National Line, and 181s. per 20 cwt. for lengths up to 20 feet and 218s. per 20 cwt. for lengths over 20 feet, from Australia to the United Kingdom and the Continent. These are facts which honorable senators opposite run away from when they make out a case based on generalities. lt is only by considering the facts that wc can assess the amount of subsidy that would be needed. Honorable senators opposite speak of making up by way of subsidy the difference between the international charter rates and the rates that apply to the ships which operate on our coast. It has been estimated that it would take 500 ships of 10,000 tons to carry Australia’s export and import trade. If we work on the basis of an additional cost of £229 a day, as I have mentioned, the extra costs would amount to some £114,500 a day. These are figures which are well worth recording and thinking about. I agree with the Minister that if it is possible to avoid the invisible costs we should by all means find an economical way of doing so, but it is not economically sound to argue that we could do so by operating Australian ships under Australian register conditions. If honorable senators opposite are prepared to say that we could get down to international trade costs and compete, a subsidy of reasonable proportions which would overcome the invisibles might be the answer. But the position cannot be met by failing to face up to the real core of the problem, which is the difference between costs in the Australian coastal trade and those for ships under the British register, as stated by the chairman of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission.
I think it is worth while to recall our association with the conference lines over many years. We have in Australia a body called the Australian Overseas Transport Association whereby producers and exporters negotiate with the shipowners to determine the freight rates on the products we send to the United Kingdom and the Continent. The first conference was called by the Bruce-Page Government, and the necessary legislation was passed during the term of office of the Scullin Government, as the best deal for Australia.
– That set up the conference.
– Yes, for the purpose of negotiating freight rates. The Australian Overseas Transport Association, on which producers and exporters are represented, negotiates with the shipowners. This arrangement has been left unchanged by successive governments since that time.
– There has been no change of circumstances.
– There have been changes in circumstances. On two occasions - in 1953 and 1955 - the exporters and the shipowners reached a deadlock; they could not agree, and, at the request of both sides, the Government intervened as a fact-finding mediator. Since 1960, the Government has provided the Federal Exporters Overseas Transport Committee with an annual grant to enable it to undertake research into all elements of freight rates in order to equip members with the facts necessary for negotiations with shipowners. It is good, when we are debating these matters, to have on record not airyfairy generalities but the facts of life, the problems we are up against, such as what it will cost us by way of subsidy payments to run ships on an Australian-owned overseas line. What I have said represents only portion of the case against the establishment of such a shipping line. I hope to give the Senate much more information as a result of the investigations which 1 have been making.
– The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) has gone to a good deal of trouble in an attempt to prove that an Australian-owned overseas shipping line could not operate economically. What he has said has been so much rubbish. For instance, he talks about a manning of 46 under the Australian register as against a manning of 28 under the British register. But it does not necessarily follow that if Australia did set up an overseas shipping line the manning required on the overseas line would be the same as that set down for the coastal line.
– It would probably be more.
– It might be more, and it might be less. That matter would have to be determined. My point is that this Government will not go into the overseas trade to find out the weakness of establishing an Australian-owned overseas line. It is content merely to compare the coastal trade with the overseas trade. But that is not the matter that I wanted to talk about on this occasion.
I wish to refer to two matters which are inter-related. They are concession rates on railways and coastal shipping freight rates. As the Minister is aware, following a recommendation made by the Tariff Board in connexion with the importation of timber, the exportation of timber from Western Australia fell off very sharply. The recent imposition of import controls on timber has not relieved the position because, for the first twelve months from the date of imposition of these controls, the amount of timber which may be imported into Australia will be equal to that which was being imported prior to last July. As a result, there has been a large falling off in the production of timber in Western Australia. There has also been a decline in the number of workers employed in the timber industry.
As the Senate will be well aware, some lines of communication in Australia are very long. Because of this, representations were made to the Western Australian Government, the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government seeking freight concessions for the carriage of timber by rail to South Australia. I do not know whether the request was met in full, but three governments certainly did grant freight concessions on the carriage of timber from Western Australia and that reduced rate is comparable with the shipping freight charged for the transport of timber from Fremantle to Adelaide. For instance, the shipping freight rate from Fremantle to Adelaide is £10 6s. lid. a ton,. compared with £10 7s. 6d. a ton for the transport of timber by rail. The same representations were made to the Victorian and New South Wales Governments, but the request was rejected. Very little timber goes from Western Australia to eastern Australia by ship, because, as honorable senators will appreciate, the ships that call in at Western Australia carry mixed cargoes and you just cannot put timber on top of potatoes or other perishable goods awaiting transport.
It was suggested to me that the Commonwealth Government should periodically make available the ship “ South Esk “, which is now operating in Tasmanian waters, and which I understand is not fully employed all the time in this service. It was suggested to me that if this ship were occasionally put on the run from Fremantle to Melbourne or from Fremantle to Sydney it would greatly assist the exportation of Western Australian timbers to eastern Australia. Although “South Esk” is a small ship,’ it is felt that the amount of timber she could carry would be enough to fill the requirements of Western Australian timber merchants if she ran to a certain schedule.
I should like the Minister to give some serious consideration to that suggestion. If he is not able to make a statement about it now, I ask him to submit it to his colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), with a view to ascertaining whether something along these lines could be done. I understand that the shippers in Western Australia had applied for “ South Esk “ to be put on this run but had received no reply at the time the matter was submitted to me. I do not know whether they have received a reply since then. If the suggestion could be adopted, it would mean not only the building up of the timber industry in Western Australia, but also the employment of more workers in that industry.
We must foster the timber industry. Western Australia has very good hardwoods which are much sought after by the building industry, yet, day by day, the number of employees engaged in the timber industry is being reduced. These employees live in the small towns that have been established around the timber-mills and when they lose their employment in the timber industry they are forced to move out of the area in search of jobs. This, of course, leads -to centralization rather than decentralization, and we want to avoid that. Perhaps if “South Esk” could be put on the run, as suggested by me, some good would result. Even if it were put on some trial runs, it might be found that the suggestion I have offered could be put into effect with success.
– Do you want to pinch her off the Tasmanian trade?
– That is right. The little island does not matter! I understand that the vessel is not fully employed on the Tasmanian coast and could conveniently be put on the run I have suggested for certain periods.
– I join issue with the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) regarding the establishment of an overseas shipping line. Australia is an island nation and it is important for us to maintain a mercantile service that will serve us not only in peacetime but also in time of war. The figures quoted by the Minister did little to prove his case. The Minister said, in effect, that the manning standard of Australian ships was too high, as were the wages and working conditions of Australian seamen. This is a matter that we might well discuss because, in my opinion, the people who man the ships around our coast - I would hope that they would man them around the world - deserve the best standards that we can afford. We have tried to foster a shipbuilding industry in Australia. To do that we have been prepared to pay substantial subsidies. It is not much good building ships in Australia unless we have men capable of running them and of serving this nation. If the Minister were honest he would concede that every maritime nation subsidizes its shipping. Britain has done so for years as, in many ways, has the United States of
America. The United States has subsidized shipping to the extent of up to 70 per cent, of the cost of operations in order to maintain a strong mercantile marine. Being so many thousands of miles away from other large nations, Australia’s first consideration should be how to build a strong mercantile marine which, in time of war, could prove immensely valuable to us. We must have the capacity to take our goods around the world.
If the Minister were honest he would admit that representation on the Australian Overseas Transport Association is very limited. If I remember correctly only one or two of the many bodies interested are represented on the association. We have known for years that when the association wants an increase of freight rates, it simply lets the fact be known and invariably the increase is granted and we can do nothing to prevent it. It is quite fallacious to say that the Australian exporter is protected by reason of the fact that he is represented on the board of the organization and can negotiate with shipowners in order to arrive at a mutual agreement. The present arrangement is of no value to Australian exporters who, over the years, have paid very high charges for the carriage of their goods to the world’s markets. The transport of our exports overseas is costing us dearly in terms of foreign currency. We must pay insurance and freight in overseas currency. We must pay whatever the shipping lines want to charge because we have no alternative means of transport. In the interests of this nation the Government should be doing something about establishing an Australian overseas shipping line. Soon we will be exporting our goods to members of the Common Market. Those goods will be carried by ships other than Australian ships and we will have little say in the charges that are imposed. It is monstrous that something has not been done before now to establish an Australian overseas shipping line. Such a line existed many years ago, but a government supported by the parties that support the present Government sold the ships that comprised that line.
– You mean it gave the ships away.
– As my friend says, the government of the day gave the ships away. In so doing it rendered Australia impotent to compete with overseas shipping interests. If the Government wants Australia to be strong - if it wants to protect this island nation, which is so dependent on ships for its trade - it should devise means whereby we ourselves can transport our goods around the world and thus protect our exporters. If the Government does not do that, it will be falling down on the job.
I entered into the debate at this point because I felt that the Minister was not making out a fair case by stating that Britain can operate an overseas shipping service because British ships are manned with fewer men and because the wages paid are lower than is the case with Australian ships. If we take that argument a step further, we should look for ships with Chinese, Kanakas or other people with an even lower standard of living and a more inferior technical knowledge. I discard that argument because it has been proved that in order to maintain a maritime service throughout the world a nation must be prepared to pay subsidies. We in this country must accept the fact that we cannot compete, as far as an overseas shipping line is concerned, with the people who, with their vast resources, have for many years mulcted the Australian exporters in heavy charges. They are experienced at operating an overseas shipping line. They have contacts throughout the world. Australia should be prepared to pay substantial subsidies in order to operate an overseas shipping line which would give our exporters an opportunity of overcoming what is perhaps one of their greatest problems - the high cost of shipping their goods to overseas markets.
– I had not intended to enter into this debate until the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) cited what he claimed were factual figures relating on the one hand to ships operating on the British register and on the other hand to ships operating on the Australian register. I understood the Minister to imply - so, too, did my friend Senator Arnold - that because of the cost structure in the Australian community it was more economical and more profitable for Australian industries and for the Government to rely on overseas ships to export Australian products and to bring to this country the imports that we need. If that is what the Minister was implying it suffices for me to say that Australian seamen working on Australian ships are enjoying wages and working conditions that have been prescribed in an award handed down by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The seamen’s award is dealt with by His Honour Mr. Justice Foster - a man with wide experience in the field of industrial arbitration in this country.
The Minister also referred to British shipping. I ask the Minister, as did Senator Arnold, what will be the position if Great Britain joins the European Economic Community. Earlier to-day we heard a long and interesting speech by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in which he dealt with the likely effects of Britain’s joining the European Economic Community. Senator McKenna stated that in his opinion Britain inevitably will become a member of the Common Market. What will be the position then with regard to freights, wages and working conditions in respect of British ships? We know that the European Economic Community has embarked on a policy of common trade barriers, common freights and an uplifting in wages and working conditions. I believe that the’ policy that will be adopted by Great Britain, in the event of it joining the European Economic Community, will be designed to protect the interests of Great Britain and its people, in line with the policy of the Common Market generally, and certainly will not be a policy in the interests of Australia and Australia’s trading position.
Senator Henty made some comment about freights on canned fruits. For the benefit of the committee, I shall read portion of the thirty-fifth annual report of the Australian Canned Fruits Board for the year 1960-61. At page 25 that report states -
It was indicated in our last Annual Report that marine freight rates for the carriage of canned fruits from Australia to the United Kingdom had been increased by S per cent., operative as from 1st October, 1960. Since 1951, the rates have advanced by 58 per cent., .and as canned fruits traditionally are offered for sale to the United Kingdom on a c.i.f. basis, the freight charges are carried by the Australian exporter. It is a situation which cannot be viewed with equanimity within the fruit-canning industry, especially as certain major competitor countries substantially interested in the United Kingdom market appear to be more leniently treated in respect of marine freight rate adjustments.
So much for the canned fruits industry and the freight rates on the carriage of canned fruits.
Australia to-day is one of the ten largest trading nations in the world. It is perhaps the only one of those countries that does not enjoy the privilege of having its own shipping line. Countries such as Czechoslovakia and Switzerland, which do not border the sea, have shipping lines of their own. Norway, a country with a population of about 3,000,000, has a large shipping line of its own. Our neighbour and sister dominion, New Zealand, a country of about 2,000,000 people, has about 25 ships engaged in overseas trade.
– They belong to the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Limited.
– The fact remains that Australia is one of the ten largest trading nations in the world and it has not an overseas shipping line of its own.
I give now a comparison of freight charges on steel exported from the Australian port of Newcastle to Asia and steel exported from the United Kingdom to Asia. The freight on steel exported from Australia to Singapore is 170s. a ton. The freight from the United Kingdom to Singapore is 120s. a ton. The freight from Australia to Hong Kong is 179s. a ton and the freight from the United Kingdom to Hong Kong is 144s. a ton. The freight from Australia to Indonesia, our closest neighbour, is 175s. a ton and the freight from the United Kingdom to Indonesia is 163s. a ton. Of course, big money is involved in shipping. Let us face the fact that this Government is interested in big business and not in the Australian workers, the Australian manufacturers or the Australian primary producers.
The Commonwealth shipping line, which did an excellent job for Australia after the First World War, had about 60 vessels, including refrigerated vessels of about 12,000 tons. They were built in Australia. That line paid almost £4,500,000 into the Treasury and made profits amounting to about £1,500,000. Of course, it was sold by the Bruce-Page Government at well below its value. I understand that last year the Australian National Line made a profit of £1,400,000. Apparently it is not allowed to compete with the Conference Line.
I refer now to an article that appeared last month in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “. The article was headed “ Shipping Rate Cut Menaces Steel Exports to New Zealand “ and stated -
Shipping lines have struck a blow at Australia’s steel exports to New Zealand by slashing freight rates on steel from Japan by 50 per cent. Most of New Zealand’s iron and steel exports at present come from Australia. Last year they totalled about £25,000,000 in New Zealand currency.
The article went on to say that the Australian and New Zealand Eastern Shipping Line has undercut the Conference Shipping Line and that the price of Japanese steel in New Zealand is about £10 below that of Australian steel selling in New Zealand. Those are some of the facts that I have been able to elicit in the short time that was available to me. I submit that, on the evidence that has been presented not only by me but also by my colleagues, Australia should have an overseas shipping line of its own and it is about time this Government did something to implement that policy.
– I have listened to a number of speeches made by Senator McClelland since he entered this chamber. I have always listened to him with a good deal of interest. However, I must say to him with complete candour that on this occasion I think his enthusiasm for the cause rather outran his knowledge of the subject to which he was addressing himself. For his information, I point out that New Zealand does not own its own shipping line, either for the coastal trade, except for a vehicular ferry that runs between the two main islands, or for the overseas trade. One of the three things, which arouses a good deal of attention in New Zealand, is that the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Limited has a monopoly of both the coastal trade and the overseas trade. If the honorable senator takes the first available opportunity to discuss this question with any Labour member of the New Zealand Parliament, I am sure that he will find the discussion most interesting.
The honorable senator missed the point when he referred to the fact that seamen are paid award rates fixed by an Australian court. Of course they are. Of course we have no objection at all to that. We put it to the Opposition earlier this afternoon - possibly in the absence of Senator McClelland - that if members of the Opposition want to stand up, hold their hands to their hearts and say, “ For a number of reasons we believe that Australia should have an overseas shipping line, one of the reasons being that we are socialists “, that is o.k. with us. But do not try to delude us and do not try to delude yourselves by thinking that you can conduct overseas trade more cheaply than we are doing it now, by operating a government-owned overseas shipping line.
– Of course you can.
– My friend, Senator Sandford, always tries to run away from realism and from arithmetic. If he would have a look at the costs he would realize that, from whatever point of view this question is regarded and whatever advantages he might see in Australia having an overseas shipping line, one of those advantages would not be cheaper costs. How could it be? Senator Henty, earlier this afternoon, cited comparative daily maintenance and running costs of vessels on the Australian register and the British register.
– We do not take any notice of him.
– I do, because this comes from a most reliable source, which even Senator Sandford would not challenge, namely Captain J. P. Williams, chairman of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. I should like to shake the hand of any man in Australia who knows more about shipping than he does. The figures show that the cost of a ship under the Australian flag is £485 a day, as against £256 in the case of a ship under the British flag. Senator McClelland complained about the effect of freights on canned fruits.
– I did not complain; the canned fruits industry did.
– The canned fruits board commented on the increase that had taken place. Senator McClelland rushes straight to the conclusion that if we had our own line we would get a better deal. We would not. That is the whole point. The figures that I have cited show beyond dispute that the costs of Australian ships will always be higher than the costs of ships of other countries. This brings me to the points raised by Senator Arnold. As I have said before, when Senator Arnold talks about ships I listen to him with great respect, not only because he understands and knows shipping but also because I always have the feeling when he speaks that he has a great attachment for ships and for men who go down to the sea. When he says that because we are an island continent it is essential that we have our own overseas fleet, he does not complete the argument. The essential point about an island continent is to have the cheapest and most efficient means of conducting overseas trade. If an Australian line met that condition, I would agree with Senator Arnold, but the figures cited this afternoon show beyond dispute that that is not so.
– You know that most countries subsidize their shipping. If we did that, we would still have shipping.
– I was coming to that point. We in Australia undertake subsidization of ship building, as do many other countries. Senator Arnold now puts the proposition that by subsidy we should underwrite shipping costs, that is, the cost of operating vessels. Earlier, Senator Cant and I exchanged a few remarks about this proposal. He put the proposition that we lose in invisible charges and that if we had our own fleet we could take up the deficiency in subsidy, by taxing the Australian taxpayer. What I said to Senator Cant has application to Senator Arnold’s argument. If the two amounts were equal, there would be some merit in the argument, but if we wiped out the invisibles charged against overseas balances by conducting our own fleet, there would not be an equal charge to be met by increasing taxation. The costs of Australian shipping are so much greater than the costs of other shipping that we would have to raise a proportionately greater amount by domestic taxation than the amount of the present invisible charges. It gets back all the time to arithmetic. It is inescapable that to conduct our own shipping services would be more costly than to use the overseas lines. For that reason the Labour Party’s argument as to costs makes no impression at all on me. I should understand completely if honorable senators opposite said, “ Its our policy to have an overseas shipping line “. If they said, “ In the national interest it is better to have a Commonwealth overseas line “, while I would not agree, I should understand. But the argument that it is cheaper and more efficient to have our own overseas line just will not hold water.
Senator Arnold said that many countries subsidize shipping. That is true. He mentioned the United States of America, which is the worst example that he could have chosen. The United States not only subsidizes shipbuilding but also, at times, has subsidized shipping operations. The great weakness in the American economy for years has been that there is scarcely a ship under the American flag on the Atlantic. This point was alluded to frequently during the recent debate in the American Congress on the trade expansion bill. So subsidization does not necessarily bring in its wake the benefits suggested by honorable senators opposite. I believe that in the American instance subsidization helped to price American shipping out of the overseas trade.
– You agree that America subsidized its shipping.
– I have never disputed it. American shipping has been subsidized so much as to be priced out of the Atlantic.
– America’s position is much different from ours.
– It does not alter my case on subsidization.
– I am sure that if the honorable senator looks at the position closely, he will see that it does. Senator Cant raised the possibility of employing “South Esk” in the Western Australian trade. I shall certainly ask my colleague, Mr. Opperman, to examine this suggestion, but I think that I should make two com ments. First, this vessel was specially built for specialized trade with certain Tasmanian ports. I do not say that that necessarily would exclude it from participation in Western Australian trade.
– It takes timber from Tasmania to New South Wales.
– That is true. I am thinking more of the voyaging aspect than of the port facilities aspect. That should be looked at. Secondly, I have quite considerable doubt as to whether it would be available, even on an occasional basis. The Australian National Line, in my experience, is a pretty wide-awake organization. If it had a ship for which it could fix a particular cargo it would not need any prompting.
– It is a socialist undertaking.
– I know something about it, as I established it. I shall bring this matter to the attention of the Minister.
Senator Drury referred to finance for road safety purposes. I shall bring his remarks also to the notice of the Minister. He referred particularly to the advertising campaign. I confess that I am not familiar with the advertising done through the central authority here. Therefore, I am not in the position to comment, even in a personal way, upon its quality. I do see that there would be some saving in cost in a centrally conducted nation-wide campaign, whether in newspapers or by some other medium. There does appear to me to be some positive advantage in operating from one centre rather than from seven centres.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditures - Department of Shipping and Transport - Capital Works and Services, £6,857,000; Construction of Jetty for Handling of Explosives, £37,000 - noted.
Sitting suspended from 5.47 to 8 p.m.
Proposed expenditures - Department of Trade, £4,265,000; Department qf Trade - Capital Works and Services, £86,000; Department of Primary Industry, £16,889,000; Department of Primary Industry - Capital
Works and Services, £8,000; War and Repatriation Services - Establishment of Exservicemen in Agricultural Occupations, £1,600,000; Department of Territories, £514,000; Department of Territories - Capital Works and Services, £17,000- noted.
Proposed expenditure, £9,239,200.
– I wish to refer to the remonstrance which was delivered to the President of the Senate as coming from the President of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. This matter was alluded to earlier in this sessional period. It occurs to me that the Government is guilty of a serious omission when it was not taking some steps to see that this remonstrance is properly ventilated in this Parliament, some investigation instituted into the matters which were raised, and some satisfaction given to the citizens of the Northern Territory in respect of the grievances they claim to be suffering from in the remonstrance.
When I raised this matter on an earlier occasion it was suggested that if I thought these complaints were justified I should take some action about them. It seems to me that that cannot be the correct procedure. The onus should not devolve upon any individual member of the Senate to take a stand because he considers that these complaints are justified. It is not for me to bring evidence on any complaint. The remonstrance includes serious complaints of neglect, maladministration and denial of political rights. Such complaints ought to be investigated. It does appear to me that the Government is guilty of serious neglect in failing to deal with this matter.
– I do not wish to interrupt, but I would like you, Sir, to ask the honorable senator to direct my attention to the number of the division to which he is addressing his remarks.
– I was dealing with Administration, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I have finished my remarks.
Proposed expenditure noted..
Proposed expenditure - Northern Territory - Capital Works and Services, £7,452,000- noted.
Proposed expenditure, £5,675,400.
– This proposed vote gives the committee the opportunity to consider the tremendous development that is going on at the present time in the Australian Capital Territory. It also gives us the opportunity to consider some of the great problems with which the National Capital Development Commission is faced in the alining of buildings and the provision of parking space for the ever-growing number of car owners in this city. As a result of the transfer of officers from other cities to Canberra it is expected that by 1968-69 the population of the Territory will have reached 100,000. It appears that great difficulty will be experienced in providing parking space for the number of cars that will be in use.
During the last few days I have noticed that at buildings like the defence block on the other side of Kings Avenue Bridge, the new Electronic Data Processing building and the older administration block the areas taken up by car parks seem to be greater than the areas occupied by the buildings themselves. There will come a time when these parking areas will certainly encroach on the open breathing spaces that this city was designed to have as parkland for recreation and aesthetic purposes, and also on land that should be kept relatively open for the sheer convenience of the citizens.
I do not know how this problem will have to be solved. There may have to be different methods of internal transport in the government triangle or the heart of the city, or restrictions may have to be imposed in the future on the use of motor cars, by persons employed in government departments.’ I do not know whether the present allocation of large and expensive areas for car parking can continue as the population increases, but I believe that the Parliament and the National Capital Development Commission will have to apply their collective minds to this great problem.
As the general plan of Canberra is developed, it has given great pleasure to hundreds of thousands of people from different parts of Australia. The eyes of the Australian people and of people from overseas are on Canberra as we move towards the fulfilment of the Burley Griffin plan and the construction of the lakes. At the same time, attention must be paid to the relatively new problem of car parking in a city where persons on the average salary range have one and even two cars to a family. The degree to which the privilege of car parking encroaches on the rights of those who like to see parks and gardens rather than vast areas filled with motor cars must be considered. Has the Minister any comment to make on this matter? We should welcome suggestions from any source which will help to solve this growing problem.
.- 1 refer to Division No. 766 - Australian Capital Territories Services - and the item “ Social Welfare, £55,000 “. Last year the appropriation was £51,650 and actual expenditure was £49,615. This appears to me to be a new item. I am not quibbling about the allocation, but I would welcome from the Minister for Health a statement of what it covers.
– I commend Senator O’Byrne for his thoughtful contribution in relation to the parking problem which is becoming more acute in this rapidly expanding City of Canberra. With his experience on the Public Works Committee, Senator O’Byrne is competent to speak on matters relating to fast developing cities. Obviously, it is wise to make provision for the future needs of Canberra. The authorities in all capital cities have to pay exorbitant prices to remove buildings and replace them with multi-story car parks which are uneconomic both for the local government authorities and those who use the facilities. I must confess that I have not the answer to this problem. I imagine that the matter is being considered by those who are responsible for such amenities and I shall refer the matter to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth).
I have before me the fifth annual report of the National Capital Development Commission, and referring to traffic design, it states -
Assembly of traffic data such as volume counts, parking survey and accident studies was continued. This routine collection was supplemented during the year by an extensive origin-destination traffic survey which has provided the basic material for a major transportation study.
Commission consultants have continued to study the transportation requirements of the city developed in stages to 250,000 people. When the information from the survey has been fully processed specific advice on plans for express ways, major streets and public transport will be submitted to the Commission.
These studies also have value over a much shorter term in defining present traffic patterns and indicating the points where stresses will develop. In all matters the Commission was greatly assisted by the advice and co-operation of the Traffic Co-ordination Committee.
While the report does not indicate that the commission has a solution to the problem, it indicates that the commission realizes that the issue must be faced, and it is collecting data with a view to evolving a satisfactory solution of the problem.
asked for details of the social welfare appropriation of £55,000. Provision is made under an agreement with the New South Wales Government for the maintenance of citizens of the Australian Capital Territory who are in New South Wales mental hospitals and institutions under the control of the New South Wales Child Welfare Department. The proposed vote includes the expenses of three child welfare officers stationed in Canberra. Details of the payments are: New South Wales Child Welfare Department, £7,000; upkeep of juvenile offenders, £11,000; upkeep of mental patients, £29,000; total, £47,000. Provision is also made for social welfare payments in the A.C.T. as follows: - Social welfare scheme in line with the N.S.W. scheme, £4,000; care of children under section 21 of the Child Welfare Ordinance, £1,300; and salaries of social workers, hire of vehicles from transport section and incidentals, £2,700. The honorable senator will realize that Canberra is not equipped to handle the kind of illness to which I have referred, and accordingly we have an arrangement with New South Wales to provide the necessary facilities.
– There are many features of Canberra which are deserving of commendation and which make it the envy of other Australian cities. I refer particularly to the education system, which is the best in
Australia, so far as school equipment, preschool centres and so on are concerned. The expenditure on education covered by Division No. 766 is very well justified. I should like to know from the Minister whether it is contemplated that Canberra is to have its own teachers training college in the near future. The training colleges in New South Wales are overcrowded. There are excellent university facilities available in Canberra, and the time is coming when the Federal Government, which is responsible for education in the Northern Territory, as well as in the Australian Capital Territory, will be obliged to establish a teachers training college as a part of the education system.
Under sub-division 5 - Education - I note that item 03 refers to the city omnibus service and to the provision of £54,500 by way of subsidy for the conveyance of school children. Should that item be considered in conjunction with item 17, in subdivision 4 - General Services - which also relates to the city omnibus service? Under that item, provision is made for expenditure of £64,000 to meet loss on operations. If the subsidy that is paid in respect of the conveyance of school children were not taken into account, would the loss on operations really be £118,000?
There is a feature of the administration of Canberra which I think calls for the fullest inquiry. I refer to the high cost of home building. Those of us who come from other parts of the Commonwealth are amazed by the cost of housing, as indicated in the press when houses are being sold. We very seldom see a house for sale for less than £4,000 or £5,000, and those prices apply only to the poorer types of dwellings. The average price for the ordinary threebedroom brick and tile house seems to be about £7,000. I have raised this matter previously in the Senate. On one occasion, some two years ago, I received a reply from the Department of the Interior to the effect that the standard of housing in Canberra was much superior to that in the capital cities of the States and that that accounted for the difference, but I do not agree. I think that in most of the capital cities, particularly Perth, where there is an excellent housing programme, houses of the type that are being built in Canberra and which cost at least £5,000 could be built for £3,000.
– It would be the other way round in Queensland. Houses are much cheaper there.
– Yes, the position is the same in Queensland. When we discussed the estimates for the War Service Homes Division we noted that the average value of houses erected with the assistance of war service homes finance was in the vicinity of £7,000 in Canberra, although ex-servicemen here are entitled only to the same advance from the division as are exservicemen anywhere else. The average cost of war service homes in the States in some cases was only half that amount.
I ask the Minister: What factors besides design account for this huge difference in cost between houses in the Australian Capital Territory and houses in the States? I do not know how the ordinary working man ever could hope to have a home of his own in Canberra. He could not possibly save the money from his wages. I know there is a difference in regard to ground rent and so on. I have not yet got the hang of the leasehold and land auction system, but, irrespective of those factors, I think that the actual home-building costs are exorbitant. The difference is not due to the cost of transporting materials to Canberra, because many of the materials are available in close proximity to the city.
Let me refer to living costs in the Australian Capital Territory. Although Canberra is less than 200 miles from Sydney, disproportionate amounts, on account of freight, are added to the cost of items. Even at the chain stores one finds that, on simple articles, such as lipsticks, which cost a few shillings, there is a difference of 3d. or 6d., which is said to be due to freight. Nobody can convince me that it costs as much as that for freight. In my view, the addition to costs on account of freight is bound up with the need for the Commonwealth to subsidize so heavily the housing and other services that are provided in the Territory.
I should also like some information regarding Division No. 775. Item 01 refers to repairs and maintenance of rental dwellings. It is stated that repayments by tenants may be credited to this item. Could the Minister inform me of the amount that is repaid by tenants each year? I come now to health services. Here again, I think that Canberra is very well served. I have a great deal of personal knowledge of the value of the Canberra Community Hospital. Thank goodness, that knowledge has not been gained in recent years. I notice that the hospital is being extended considerably. I think that a hospital can become too large. There is room for a hospital on the southern side of the city. Canberra is growing, and as it grows the necessity for more hospital accommodation will become more acute. When I first came to Canberra there was a private hospital on the south side of the city. Eventually it was closed. The whole of Canberra’s hospital services are now situated on the north side of the river. We have the absurdity of the hospital being on one side of the city and the ambulance service on the other. 1 know that when the bridges have been completed and the lakes scheme is finished, and when Canberra becomes the Utopia we are told it is to become and we hope it will become, all these difficulties may be ironed out; but I have seen the time in this city when the bridges were flooded and it was impossible to get the ambulance from one side of the city to the other without going round by Bungendore or some other place. There should be some kind of first-aid post on the south side of the river to obviate the need to travel unreasonable distances. If there were an out-patients department or a casualty clearing centre on the south side of the river, a better health service could be provided. As it is, all the medical services are concentrated at the one place, so that doctors have to see patients there, and so on. While I admit that the Canberra Community Hospital is performing an excellent service, I should hate to see it grow so big that it became an impersonal institution.
I refer now to Division No. 774, and to the legal set-up in the Australian Capital Territory. Unfortunately, at the moment, controversy is raging with regard to capital punishment. There is at present a citizen of the Territory awaiting the result of an apepal which will decide whether he is to be executed or not. There does seem to me to be an anomaly in Australia in that, depending upon geography-
Order! I think the honorable senator’s remarks are outside the scope of these estimates.
– I am relating them to Division No. 774, which deals with legal services. I want to know what facilities exist by way of legal services for the carrying out of decisions made by Canberra courts. I want to know whether fees are paid to the States for services they perform for the Commonwealth in this respect. What happens in connexion with these matters?
Those questions are in order, but I do not think there is any need to refer to certain matters which are before the court now.
– I was just quoting that as an example.
– Are you referring to item 03 of subdivision 2, Administrative Expenses?
– I am referring to Division No. 774.
– So long as you relate your remarks to that, you will be in order.
– It is proposed to expend £93,400 on the Courts and Titles Office. I am wondering whether the legal service within the Australian Capital Territory is self-sufficient. What aspect of the legal life of Canberra cannot be carried out within the confines of the Territory? That is all I want to know. 1 do not want to be controversial about the matter.
I refer now to Division No. 772, which relates to the National Capital Development Commission. For this division we are merely given one fiat-bang statement that the proposed expenditure for this year is £362,000. lust like that! No details whatever are given. Those of us who are interested in Canberra, , and those of us who have served on the committee that was concerned with the development of Canberra, as I did at the beginning, would like to know whether the committee can be given any details about the manner in which it is proposed to spend this money. The proposed vote has increased by almost £100,000, from £285,000 last year to £362,000 for this year and I do think that the committee is entitled to know the reason for the increase and just what the National Capital Development Commission is actually doing. The Estimates merely tell us that the £362,000 is for expenditure - and that is that!
I am glad to see that the provision under Division No. 766, subdivision 4, General Services is being increased, and I make particular reference to item 27, which relates to the provision of £3,500 for the maintenance of the children’s shelter. I take it that this is a shelter for children who are committed from the Children’s Court as children who are awaiting decisions from the Child Welfare Department and so on. But I do not know. Perhaps the Minister could tell us just what this covers and how children got on before this children’s shelter was established.
The provision for street lighting is being increased. I should like to know the hours during which streets are lighted. There have been some complaints that the street lighting in Canberra in the early hours of the morning and late at night has not been adequate. I should like to know whether there has been an extension of the hours of street lighting over the past twelve months which warrants the increase in the provision for that item this year.
– I have two queries. The first relates to Division No. 776. I should like to know from the Minister when it is proposed to extend the right to vote to the citizens of Canberra. I do not think we can expect to get real service from the public servants of Canberra unless we are prepared to recognize them by extending the franchise to them. They do now have a limited franchise, but it seems to me wrong that 60,000 people alleged to be the most intelligent people of Australia should be without a vote.
– What grounds have you for saying that they are the most intelligent people in Australia?
– I said “ alleged “. I do think it is strange that these brilliant people in Canberra, who set the trim of the economy, who almost decide what expenditure the Government shall undertake and who sit in on all major conferences that take place to determine everything important that arises in Australia, are not allowed the right to vote.
Order! Electoral matters should be dealt with under-
– The extension of services.
No, they should have been discussed when dealing with estimates of the Department of the Interior.
– I was not dealing with an electoral matter. I was speaking for the citizens of Canberra.
– You can get it in under item 10 - Local government administration.
– Yes. I am referring to item 10.
Item 10 does not cover such electoral matters as the right to vote. The extension of the franchise to the citizens of Canberra is a matter for the Department of the Interior.
– Then I should like to ask a question. Now that the department has decided to extend the right to vote to aborigines, are we to take that to mean that it will soon be extending the same right to the people of Canberra?
– Senator Tangney asked me whether the establishment of a teachers training college in Canberra in the near future was contemplated. The only information I can give the honorable senator on that is that this matter has been and still is exercising the attention of the Government. lt is true to say that the material development that we see is placing a great strain on government finances in meeting the requirements of a rapidly growing city. All these things are being considered, but I cannot given any commitment on the teachers training college. Suffice it to say that it is one of the matters that are under consideration.
The honorable senator also asked whether the subsidy paid for the transport of school children by bus was included in the original amount we quoted for subsidy to buses. It is not. A sum of £54,500 is paid to the bus service to meet the lower charges paid by school children. In actual fact, school children are charged a flat rate of 3d. per trip even though they may travel from one side of the city to the other. That is less than half the average rate for an adult. But I do not think any one would quarrel with a government policy that made provision for a reasonably cheap rate of transport for the children travelling to school in Canberra.
The honorable senator also had something to say about the increased cost of housing in Canberra. I am of the opinion that the’ figures she quoted were somewhat inflated.
– Of course they are. That is what I am complaining about.
– The figures which the honorable senator quoted are inflated and do not represent the actual cost of building in Canberra.
– For war service homes they do.
– If you will just bear with me for a moment, I shall read an extract from the report of the National Capital Development Commission, and you can come back to the attack later if you wish. The report states -
The average individual value of Government houses completed in 1961-62 was £4,117.
– That is their value. What is their cost?
– That is the cost. The report gives the average individual value of private houses as £6,230, and continues -
Government costs have been reduced in many ways, not necessarily reflected in the size of houses, materials or finishes. Standardization of fitments, furniture, jointer and detail, simplification and standardization of specification, and reduction in number of plan types has helped, as has emphasis on long-term contracts and bulk purchase of T.B.S. items.
It is true that homes in the higher price bracket- £8,000 to £10,000 - are in tremendous demand because so many embassies and other interested parties are competing for them. That demand creates a state of affairs with which the private prospective home owner must contend. Let me quote a simple analogy. If you lived in a rich farming district in a rural area you would probably find that the cost of housing in the town was out of all proportion even to metropolitan values for the very simple reason that retired farmers and graziers come into the town to live. They see a home that they like and that is the one that they buy. Price does not matter very much to them. They set a standard with which we poor lesser mortals must compete if we want a home in the area. That kind of thing is going on in Canberra. Whilst the situation may be criticized, it is a fact of life that competition for a certain type of home puts it in the higher price bracket.
– Do you say that exservicemen want homes in the higher price bracket?
– I am not talking about homes for ex-servicemen. I am talking about housing in Canberra generally. The matter of homes for ex-servicemen is dealt with under the War Service Homes Division, which is the responsibility of the Minister for National Development.
I was asked a question about street lighting in Canberra. At this point I am not sure that I can give full information on the subject. I was asked whether the hours during which street lights are illuminated have been extended. No, there has not been an extension of the hours. I presume that there has not been a reduction.
I was also asked a question about the Children’s Shelter. This year an amount of £3,500 is sought to be appropriated for maintenance of the Children’s Shetler. Provision under this new item is for a period of six months only and is made up as follows: -
It is expected that the Children’s Shelter will be handed over by the National Capital Development Commission in January, 1963.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [8.43].- I would like to ask the Minister a question which I think Senator Tangney forgot to ask. I refer to the proposed subsidy of £32,000 for the Canberra Mothercraft Society. This item is dealt with under Division No. 776. Last year the subsidy was £16,800. The proposed subsidy this year is almost double that figure. Will the Minister give me some information regarding the amount?
.- 1 wish to refer to the proposed expenditure of £6,700 on publicity under Division No. 766. I would like to know what that expenditure covers. I do not know whether the publicity has for its purpose the attraction of visitors to this national capital. 1 remember first arriving by train at the Canberra railway station about 30 years ago. 1 do not think the station has changed much in those 30 years. I popped my head out of the carriage window and wondered to what outlandish place I had come. When 1 asked somebody where I was I was told that I was in Canberra. At the time I wished that I had never come here, but, looking back on my 30 years here, I am pleased that I did. For some time Canberra was the butt of jokes by music-hall comedians. Canberra was looked upon as the greatest illuminated cemetery in the world. All manner of evil things were said about this place. It was almost bush 30 years ago but it has grown into a fine city and in years to come it will be even better than it is to-day.
The proposed expenditure on publicity this year is £2,700 more than was appropriated for the purpose last year. Is this expenditure designed to publicise Canberra throughout Australia and the rest of the world in order to attract visitors here? Canberra certainly is an attraction. Many things are to be seen here. I am sure that anybody could’ spend a week or two in Canberra with benefit and pleasure. If the expenditure is designed to attract more visitors to Canberra - more and more are coming here every month - I wonder whether we can provide them with necessary accommodation. Some years ago I know that many people came to Canberra but could not find accommodation here. If the expenditure proposed under this item has for its purpose the attraction of visitors to Canberra, can they be accommodated in better style than they have been accommodated in the past?
Senator TANGNEY (Western Australia)
Clinic, which is listed under Division No. 766. Last year the sum of £1,000 was appropriated for this purpose, but nothing was spent. This year no appropriation is proposed for a speech therapy clinic. I would like to know whether any speech therapy work is carried out in Canberra or is the speech of Canberra’s citizens, adults and children alike, so good that therapy is not needed?
– I think that is the case.
– I should like to refer also to the subject of building costs. For the moment let us disregard people in the high income bracket - the wealthy graziers who wish to retire to Canberra. As a matter of fact, I have not seen too many wealthy graziers rushing to Canberra to retire. I propose to cite as an illustration of the high cost of building in Canberra figures appearing in the report of the War Service Homes Division. The report discloses that the average cost of dwelling houses in the various States is as follows: -
Those figures do not take into account the cost of land. I repeat that the cost of building in Canberra is more than double the cost of building in some States. I make a plea for the average worker - the average public servant. I am not concerned with people in the high income bracket. I am concerned with the average worker in Canberra. How in the world can he ever expect to own a home with costs so inflated, to use the Minister’s own words? I admit that many of the homes being built in Canberra are excellent, but others are nothing more than dog boxes. In some of the newer suburbs, particularly in Campbell, there was an opportunity to build houses on blocks of a decent size, with houses occupying a greater proportion of the land than is the case in some other capital cities with houses of comparable value.
I should like to know to what that tremendous disparity in building costs can be attributed. Tt is not only the higher wages or the better working conditions. Are there any figures showing the profits of the building companies? Why is it that so many building companies in Canberra have folded up over the years? We know that that has happened. I am not criticizing the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), or the Minister for Health who represents him in this chamber. I ani merely seeking information. I believe that the people of Canberra are penalized in two respects. They have a number of advantages in living in this city, but they are penalized, first, in the high prices they are forced to pay for houses and, secondly, because they have no effective voice in ‘the government of their country.
I refer to Division No. 766, subdivision 4, item 12 - “ Advisory Council - Allowances and expenses, £2,000 “. Why is that appropriation so much lower than it was last year? The appropriation last year was £2,700, of which £2,685 was expended. That was pretty good budgeting. This year that very small appropriation is being reduced by almost one-third. For a city the size of Canberra to get its local government for £2,000 a year is to get something at bargain prices. I know that because there is no full local government responsibility in this city the Government has to assume financial responsibility, as shown in the Estimates, for many activities that are carried out by the local government authorities in other capital cities. Even Snake Gully has a higher civic dignity than Canberra. Snake Gully has a town hall, but Canberra has not. Snake Gully also has a mayor, but when overseas visitors come to Canberra no civic receptions are held. The Minister for the Interior has to concern himself with every-day affairs of the citizens of Canberra and matters that normally are the function of the mayor and the civic authorities.
I do not know whether the citizens of Canberra would be better off financially - they might be worse off - if they had to shoulder the responsibilities that go with full local government. However, I think that step should be taken. This is a city of about 60,000 people. Surely they should be able to have the responsibilities and rights that every citizen of every other municipality in Australia has. It is no good saying that people living in Canberra have many extra facilities and that they are on a good wicket. They may be; but there are certain aspects of Canberra life that are very distressing to me. I refer to the high cost of living, the high cost of freight, the high .cost of housing and the fact that the citizens of Canberra have no civic independence.
– Senator Sir Walter Cooper asked for some information . about the subsidy paid to the Canberra Mothercraft Society. He asked the reason for the increase of about £15,000 in the appropriation for the current year. This item provides a subsidy towards the cost of maintaining the infant welfare centres at various places. The estimate for this year also provides a subsidy of £16,000 to meet the net operating cost of the Queen Elizabeth the Second Coronation Home for Mothers and Babies. That home is not yet opened. It is about to be opened. The reason for the increased subsidy is to make accommodation and facilities available for that home and to cover running expenses.
asked for information about publicity. He linked his question with the suggestion that in the past it has been very difficult to get accommodation in Canberra. He asked for some information on that matter.
– What is the publicity for?
– If the honorable senator will be a little patient, I will be very happy to give him the details at some length. The appropriation for publicity is allocated in this way: £800 for the reprint of “ Your Guide to Canberra “; £250 for the annual report; £800 for the reprint of “ Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory”; £1,300 for the Canberra map; £650 for the Canberra poster; £800 for “ Points of Interest “; £1,000 for the Canberra folder; and an amount for the purchase of 100 copies of Cheshire’s “ History of the Australian Capital Territory “.
– Where do these publications go?
– They are designed to publicize the attractions of Canberra in general terms. That is the answer that has been provided to me. ‘
I suggest that Senator Brown might know more about the progress that has been made in the provision of accommodation in Canberra than I do. He has been here for much longer than I have. I believe he would be the first person to concede that the additions that have been provided in the last three or four years are remarkable. A chain of motels is springing up. Some very substantial additions have been made to the hotels. A very worthwhile effort is being made to provide accommodation for the people who come to see the natural beauties and points of interest in Canberra.
asked why there is no appropriation for speech therapy. The answer is very simple. It has been impossible to obtain the services of a speech therapist. On three occasions applications have been invited from people capable of filling this position, but no one has shown any interest in it.
– Do you expect to pay a speech therapist and all the incidental expenses out of £1,000?
– Not necessarily. That is only an estimate. All of us are inclined to be dogmatic about estimates. The departmental officers have a very difficult job in trying to draw their estimates, bearing in mind that the Public Accounts Committee very rightly frowns upon overestimation. When an estimate is reduced there is a very good reason for it. Senator Tangney knows and I know that there are provisions under which extra appropriations can be made, should the need for them arise. The fact that the estimate is not large does not indicate that there is no interest in this matter.
– But it has been abolished.
– I listened to you very nicely. Now give me an opportunity to reply to some of your questions. I join issue with Senator Tangney on the housing question. She returned to the attack again and used, as I said in the first instance, inflated figures to make a comparison. The figure that she cited was £7,000. I quote again from the report of the National Capital Developmental Commission for the year 1961-62. It says categorically that the average individual value of government houses completed in that year was £4,117. The honorable senator went on, quite properly, to make comparisons with Victoria, New South Wales and other States. She indicated that the average cost in those States is lower than the Canberra figure. Surely she is not suggesting to me and to the committee that that is the whole story. If she can find houses in any State that cost £4,117 and are equivalent to Canberra houses, I should like to see them. The honorable senator suggests that in Victoria and South Australia the figure is much lower. With great respect to the contributions that housing commissions make towards the provision of homes, I do not think that she would suggest that those homes are comparable with Canberra homes. She may say that the area of the houses is the same, but that is not the whole story. As well as the size of the house, we have to consider the type of structure, the quality of the workmanship, the finish, fittings and location. As my friend, Senator Kendall, reminds me, land is cheaper here. Senator Tangney suggested that the average young couple would find, great difficulty in setting up home here. They find great difficulty in any State, in view of the prices that they have to pay for house, land and furniture, but they are doing it, and they will succeed just as the honorable senator and I did when we set up home in our young days.
– We did not set up home!
– On about 50s. a week. We had great difficulties to contend with. The honorable senator also asked why the appropriation for the advisory council allowances and expenses is lower this year than it was last year. The answer is very simple. Extra provision was made in 1961-62 for an election of members.
– I do not want to let this opportunity pass without making some reference to a subject that has been discussed in the past in the Senate. It relates to Division No. 766 - Australian Capital Territory Services. I do not want to single out any particular item. I refer to the whole division, which covers the local government of Canberra. We all have a very great interest in local government activity. At this stage in Canberra itis very different from local government as we know it.
The functions carried out by the Department of the Interior in Canberra are generally of the type carried out by local government authorities in other cities and towns. I appreciate that at this stage of Canberra’s development it is not easy to bring into operation a system of local government under which householders have the franchise and choose their own representatives to discharge these functions on a voluntary basis, as they are discharged so efficiently in other cities and towns. But I still think that we should not abdicate on this question. Sooner or later the time must come when Canberra will have some kind of local government which will be parallel with the form of local government that we enjoy in other parts of Australia.
I do not make any complaint about the items of expenditure under this heading, because as far as I know the Advisory Council does a very good job of work for Canberra and its citizens. I cannot remember exactly how it is chosen, but I think that something better and more democratic is required for this city. I have been associated with local government for a long period - since long before I came into the Senate. I know that it takes a great deal of time and demands a great sacrifice from those who participate in it. It is a form of government that we should encourage, and I am not without hope - in spite of the fact that I have been a senator for thirteen years and in that time we have not made very much progress - that at some time in the future some form of local government will operate in Canberra. The fact that this is the national capital makes local government much more difficult to operate than is the case in other cities, even other capital cities.
– I cannot exactly pinpoint my reasons for saying that, but I think that they are good and sufficient. At that same time, I believe that these difficulties are not insurmountable-. I appeal to the Government and to those bodies which have these matters under consideration, to give further thought to the establishment of local government in Canberra. It would be a great step forward. Local government is democratic and conducted on a voluntary basis by people who are chosen by the ratepayers. The form of rates would be more appropriate, I should think, than the present levy upon householders towards the maintenance of the city. There would have to be some contribution from the Government, because it has a responsibility towards the national capital that it should accept.
There are others in the Senate who subscribe to these views and who believe in this principle. I appeal to the Government not to let this proposal recede into the limbo. Some form of local government in Canberra would be of advantage to the Government, and the citizens would be better served than they are by a body acting through the Department of the Interior.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - Australian Capital Territory, Capital Works and Services, £16,236,000- noted.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I will not take up much of the time of the Senate but I wish to refer to an important matter this evening. On other occasions I have directed attention to the persecution of Catholic and Protestant churches in central and eastern Europe by international communism. I wish to refer this evening to another minority which is being fiercely persecuted by communism for the mere adherence to the beliefs which their ancestors have held literally for thousands of years.
As the United Nations session courses along in New York I wish to add my voice to those raised in another place by both Government and Opposition members in relation to the barbarous persecution of Russian Jewry which is at present taking place within the Soviet Union. I want to ask the Minister assisting the Minister for External Affairs (Senator Gorton) whether the Government will take such action as may be open to it in order to have this important matter debated and remedied by the United Nations.
It is clear that the Soviet Union is attempting to exterminate the “ Jewishness “ of its 2,500,000 to 3,000,000 Jews. Whilst violence and murder play their part, the overall methods being used by communism at the moment are not those of the blood bath, but an attempt is being made to break down the morale of the people and to produce a slow strangulation of their religion and culture by vague charges of personal corruption against leaders. As I said the blood bath is not the method being used at the moment. Secret trials with lengthy imprisonment of Jewish laymen have begun on a large scale. In 1956 a gentleman, by the name of Rechersky, was arrested in Leningrad along with two associates, and at’ a secret trial charged with spying. He was demoted and imprisoned for twelve years.
Leaders in Minsk, Vilnyus, Taskent, Kiev and Riga have been deposed by a Soviet body which quaintly enough is called the Council of Religious Cults. Synagogues have been locked up in a dozen to two dozen cities in spite of the fact that Article 129 of the Russian Constitution guarantees religious freedom. The three charges that have been made against the Jews are regarded as serious in Russia, although they would not be regarded very seriously here in Australia.
The first charge is that the Jews are a vestige of the old bourgeois society and therefore are not good Communists. Nobody would worry about that charge in Australia, but in Russia it tends to bring these people into, hatred and contempt. The second charge is that Russian Jews are traitors to their country and are loyal only to Israel. This is pointed out in the Russian press, in the radio and on television. There is not a tittle of evidence to support the suggestion that Soviet Jews are disloyal to their country and have given their allegiance to a foreign country - Israel.
The third and perhaps the most sinister approach is the attempt to discredit the Jewish religion by the suggestion that the rabbis and priests are shot through with graft and corruption. This was the favourite method of Hitler’s secret police when his Nazi methods were being opposed by giants like the Lutheran, Bishop Ludas, and the Catholic, Cardinal Faulhaber. An attempt was made to discredit those two men by introducing well-known local prostitutes to the clergymen and having a photographer with a flash bulb present to photograph them. In this manner attempts were made to discredit these men of impeccable character by suggesting that they were leading a double life and were not true to the religion which they preached. Similar methods have been used against Jews in Russia, and in addition to that charges have been made that moneys received by the rabbis are being used for their own personal benefit. This is something which strikes at the very root of their religion.
It strikes me as strange that a country which can shoot sputniks into space, girdle the globe with cosmonauts and perform prodigious feats in rocketry, is unable to allow its citizens to live in religious . freedom and security. Because Russian society is organized on a godless, materialistic basis, although Russians perform prodigious feats in limited scientific fields, they are forced to go back to the neanderthal jungle in order to deal with their native Jews. In Russia, Jews are a nationality and they must put this on their internal passports. All other nationalities are given by the constitution their own press, schools, theatres and cultural institutions. At present, in Russia, these things are denied to the Jews. In 1948, at the time of the founding of Israel, all cultural manifestations were suppressed - schools, theatres, press, books and periodicals.
After the war, Stalin set up a quaint organization called “ Biro-Bizan “ as a form of propaganda throughout the world, but this was disbanded and Stalin then set up a body called the “ Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee “, which was used again as a Communist propaganda body. Oddly enough, on Stalin’s own personal orders, the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee was disbanded. We know, too, about Stalin’s doctors plOt, which Khrushchev himself exposed.
The Jews are expressly forbidden to have any national body governing their religion. They cannot build new synagogues and they cannot repair old ones. They cannot manufacture religious articles, even prayer shawls. No Hebrew bible has been printed since 1917, and the teaching of the Hebrew language is banned. In 1957, as a gesture, Khrushchev permitted the opening of a single yeshiva, or seminary, for the training of rabbis in Moscow, but last year he fired the director and replaced him with a more tractable type.
To serve nearly 3,000,000 Jews there are only twelve student rabbis, and this year the number was reduced to one. Traditionally the Jew makes his living in commerce. Jews are book-keepers, clerks, accountants and the like. - Because of the low standard of - living of the workers the widespread practice has developed in some factories of diverting materials to private use. This practice has been developed by the foremen and overseers in charge and some one is compelled to juggle the books. It so often happens that the accountant is a Jew and no one will believe his word against the foreman, with the result that he is often coerced into improper activities.
Recently, the Soviet announced increased penalties for economic crimes such as the the failure to reach norms and the like. These are matters which would not even rate a prosecution in this country. I wonder what some members of our Waterside Workers Federation would think of it. A little while ago, 40 Soviet citizens were tried for economic crimes. Thirty-one were shot for these breaches or alleged breaches. Twenty-eight of the 31 executed were Jews and their race and religion were highlighted in the Soviet press. Of those who were convicted, not one Jew’s life was spared. The Soviet is very tender on charges of anti-Semitism. Why does not the Soviet permit the emigration of these people it says it does not want to Israel or some country that is willing to accept them?
– Tell us about Senator McCarthy.
– That is. not a very intelligent remark. I repeat, why does not the Soviet allow these people to emigrate?
– I rise to order. Is the honorable senator in order in reading his speech?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Tell us about Senator McCarthy.
– Order! If Senator Sandford persists in interjecting, I shall deal with him.
– The Soviet Union is tender on this matter because it fears to annoy the Arabs. However, they do not like the charge to get around outside because they still rely largely on Jewish influence in America and the free world. There is another reason why they cannot allow these people to leave. It would be an admission that the workers’ paradise is a failure and would also deprive the Russian Administration of a scapegoat, just as Hitler used the Jews when he wanted a scapegoat on whom he could let loose the blame for the failure of his Administration.
– Now, what about Franco?
– I will talk about Franco some other time, but not now. I do not approve of his system of government either. Even Western Communist parties have raised their voices in protest against this persecution - not the Australian Communists, of course, because they were supine enough and evil enough to support even the Soviet atrocities in Hungary. I ask the Government to investigate these matters, and if they are as I set them out, I ask the Minister to do something practical to bring the matter before the United Nations for remedy.
Of course, the matter is one which is treated with some flippancy by honorable senators in Opposition. I cannot understand why the persecution and murder of fellow human beings in any part of the world should be the subject of levity. I commend the facts to the Minister for his earnest consideration.
.- Senator Hannan has delivered himself of an extraordinary series of allegations, some of which I believe have some substance. But some of them are so outlandish, absurd and exaggerated that no sensible body of responsible people could pay any attention to them. I am very interested and pleased to find the subject of discrimination against the Jews raised in this Parliament. I know that honorable senators will give me leave to speak frankly and proudly as a Jew, as a citizen of Australia and as a member of a great political party that has always stood four-square against discrimination on the grounds of race, religion or creed in this or any other country.
I myself have had, I suppose, as much experience as have most people of my age, at any rate, of fighting against the menace of anti-semitism and discrimination on the grounds of race, religion or creed wherever it raises its ugly head, and in the many forms that such discrimination takes. I want to say this without any equivocation: I am opposed to racial or religious discrimination in any form and in any country. I am opposed to it whether it is directed at Jews or against any other form of minority or racial or religious group. I am as much opposed to apartheid in South Africa or race prejudice in the United States of America as I am against anti-Jewish discrimination, whether it is in Australia, the countries of the West or the Soviet Union. That is a matter of principle.
Senator Hannan has made himself the vehicle in this chamber for a spiteful campaign levelled largely against me. It has been raised also by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in another place. It is very significant that Senator -Hannan has been fingering that file on his desk for the past fortnight and has put it away every night on the adjournment while the honorable member for Mackellar has been coming in. and out tick-tacking him as to whether it was convenient to “ let this thing go “. When we talk about antiJewish discrimination, let us get to the root of the evil. Modern anti-Semitism started with Hitler. It started with a political system that produced 6,000,000 Jewish dead in the course of the 1930’s and the Second World War.
– Which Senator Hannan supports.
– Mr. President, that remark is offensive and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Order! Senator Hendrickson will withdraw that remark.
– No, he supported it. I will leave the chamber.
– Order! Senator Hendrickson will withdraw that remark.
– I will not withdraw it. He supported it.
– Order! I name Senator Hendrickson. (Senator Hendrickson having left the chamber) -
– Usher of the Black Rod: You will bring Senator Hendrickson back to the chamber. (Senator Hendrickson having returned to the chamber) -
– Under Standing Order No. 440, I call upon Senator Hendrickson to rise in his place and either make an explanation or apologize.
– Might I ask you to rule, Mr. President, on the standing order which provides that Senator Hendrickson’s conduct was improper? When I look . at Standing Order No. 438, I find there set out a series of events pursuant to which the President may report to the Senate that a senator has committed an offence. As I understand the position, there has been no report by you, Sir, to the Senate of the occurrence of any one of the offences mentioned in the standing . order. Those offences relate to any senator who persistently and wilfully obstructs the business of the Senate; or is guilty of disorderly conduct; or uses objectionable words and refuses to withdraw such words; or persistently and wilfully refuses to conform to the Standing Orders, or any one or more of them; or persistently and wilfully disregards the authority of the Chair. The only one of those which could possibly be operative in this case, I suggest, is that the honorable senator used objectionable words and refused to withdraw such words.
It has to be established that Senator Hendrickson has used objectionable words. The only words I heard him utter in the chamber this evening were, “ And Senator -Hannan supports that”. What is objectionable about any one of those words? It is not a matter of ideas. The words themselves have to be objectionable, I submit. What could be objectionable about the words, “And Senator Hannan supports that “?
– State the words that were used earlier.
– It may well be that, arising out of the words, there is an idea that is objectionable to Senator Hannan, but the words themselves have to be objectionable. That is the offence, particularized in the standing order, which gives the President the right to report the conduct to the Senate.
I submit that Senator Hannan, in rising at all at that stage, was not in order. There was nothing objectionable in the words. The correct procedure was, at an opportune time when no senator was on his feet, to rise by way of personal explanation. I suggest, Mr. President, that the whole of the proceedings in relation to this matter are out of order and that an offence such as those contemplated by Standing Order No. 438 has not occurred. I also suggest that Senator Hannan’s objection was wrongly taken when he interrupted Senator Cohen, and that the words used by Senator Hendrickson are obviously, on the face of them, not objectionable. The purpose of the standing order is to prevent objectionable words from being used. A senator has to be prepared to listen to words that controvert his own ideas or ideas to which he does not subscribe. His course is to rise, as provided in the Standing Orders and object at the proper moment. So, I suggest that the whole question has arisen out of an objection which was raised at an improper time by Senator Hannan and that that precipitated the present state of affairs. In those circumstances, Sir, I invite you to reconsider the situation and to allow the matter to develop in a normal way.
– I am not sure whether the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) submitted a point of order for your consideration, Mr. President-
– I did.
– Or whether he simply asked a question, but on the assump tion that he raised a point of order, I wish to speak to it. The Leader of the Opposition has sought to give to the Standing Orders a completely unreal interpretation and meaning. The particular section of the Standing Orders to which he adverted refers to circumstances in which a senator uses objectionable words and refuses to withdraw them. I remind you, Mr. President, of the incidents that led to Senator Hendrickson’s remark. Senator Cohen was referring to Nazi Hitlerism. Senator Hannan, at that point, had not spoken and obviously did not intend to speak. Senator Hendrickson interjected at that point and said, “ And he supports that”, referring to Senator Hannan. I suggest that the context of the cross-fire that had occurred was distinctly objectionable to Senator Hannan, the clear meaning of the interjection being that Senator Hannan supported the Nazi Hitlerism which Senator Cohen had mentioned. I remind you also, Sir, that you gave Senator Hendrickson an opportunity to withdraw the objectionable words after exception had been taken to them. Indeed, I think you did so at least twice and possibly three times. The honorable senator refused to withdraw, saying that he would leave the chamber. In all the circumstances, I suggest that there was a case for the naming of the honorable senator.
– The point of order raised by Senator McKenna is not upheld.
– Then, Sir, under Standing Order No. 440 I call upon Senator Hendrickson to rise in his place and explain his conduct or apologize.
– Mr. President, this is a very controversial subject that we have been dealing with this evening. I believe that when I interjected after Senator Hannan’s interjection, which you did not observe, I was entitled to do so. I say now, after due consideration of your ruling, that I apologize to you, Sir, and I hope that you will consider the apology as it is given to you now.
– What about withdrawing your remark?
– I will not do that.
– I point out, Mr. President, that this issue arose because Senator Hannan took exception to the reflection cast on him. It should be withdrawn. I ask that Senator Hendrickson withdraw the reflection that he cast on Senator Hannan.
– With due deference to the Minister in charge of the Senate, I want to say to you, Sir, as the President, that I am not prepared to withdraw my interjection after Senator Hannan’s interjection, because the Minister did not bother about that. I will leave it with you, Sir.
– Then I have only one course to take. I move -
That Senator Hendrickson be suspended from the service of the Senate.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative. (Senator Henrickson thereupon withdrew from the chamber.)
When one comes to consider the problem of the persecution of Jews, which I abhor, in any part of the world, one finds it necessary to test the sincerity of allegations such as those that are made by Senator Hannan to-night, because my interest, Mr. President and honorable senators, is in the welfare of Russian Jewry just the same as it is in the welfare of Australian Jewry. But I will not be a party to making a political football out of human suffering.
In this country, there are fascist groups. There is Eric Butler. That is a name that honorable senators on the Government side should remember. Eric Butler is the editor of the “ New Times “, and the leader of the Social Credit Movement. He is one of the most ardent anti-Semites we have ever known in our country. He has the great distinction of being the editor of a version of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Senator Hannan ought to know about the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.
Senator O’Byrne. - I rise to order. Does Senator Hannan have to continue interjecting? He is not running this place.
I would like to see something full-blooded by way of condemnation from Senator Hannan and those who are wanting to be vocal with him on this particular part of a very great problem. That is all I want to say about that because I do question whether this is brought forward out of a real desire to help Jewry in Russia or whether it is brought forward out of a desire to embarrass somebody like myself, and to embarrass members of the Australian Labour Party who are opposed to racial and religious discrimination all over the world. Before 1 come to the particular point with which Senator Hannan has been dealing, I want to say something further with regard to the activities of fascist forces. I am holding in my hand issues of a journal titled “ Combat “, which is the official organ of the British National Party, the leader of which is Colin Jordan. He has just been sentenced under British law to a term of imprisonment for being leader of a Nazi group in Britain. His material has been coming into this country over a period of time. In it is the claim that the Jews are responsible for all of the world’s troubles. That is anti-Semitism operating at its lowest level. The people who write for “ Combat “ are members of the group that is in touch with other fascist-minded anti-Semitic groups in Australia. I would like to see a little full-blooded condemnation also of that kind of persecution and anti-Semitism.
Let me turn to the issue that has been raised - the treatment of Jewry in Russia. This is a very complicated matter. I think there is a great many controverted areas of fact. I am fully in support of any condemnation of such discrimination as may exist against Jewry in Russia. I want to try to put the matter in perspective, because again it arises out of a question of whether you want to play politics with this matter or whether you are interested in the welfare of Russian Jewry. I have been a party to protests of one -form or another against various aspects of what has been going on in Russia. I think it is fair to say that in the Czarist days Jews had to live in certain confined areas called the pales of settlement. You could not go just anywhere if you were a Jew. You had to live in certain areas and follow certain occupations. Senator Hannan made a remark about this matter that I was not quite sure I followed. He said something about the occupations that Jews had to follow. I do not know whether 1 appreciated the implication of that remark but if I understood it correctly I resented it.
It is fair to say that the Russians make a strong case as to the equality which Jewish citizens enjoy in civic matters. Within recent months five very distinguished Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union - a writer, a professor of law, a member of the Medical Academy of Science, a journalist and an artist - published a letter in a world-wide way protesting against accusations of the kind made to-night by Senator Hannan. They directed attention to the fact that in Russia to-day there are some 2,500,000 Jews and that in the professions of law, medicine and journalism and in the arts and sciences a very high percentage of Jewish citizens will be found. Indeed, they say that in 1961 more than 7,000 Jews were elected as deputies to various Russian Chambers of Deputies. The recently appointed Deputy Premier of Russia - Benjamin Dimyitz - is a Jew. It is also true that a number of Jews have received Lenin prizes. The Lenin prize is Russia’s highest award. This does not, of course, foreclose the matter. It does not disprove some of the allegations that Senator Hannan has made.
It is necessary to see this matter in perspective. One finds it somewhat difficult to put alongside the statistics of civic equality, to which I have referred, the allegations that are made by Senator Hannan. That is all I wanted to say about the matter. I do not find it necessary to defend the Russian system. That system apparently suits the Russian people, and the Jewish community of Russia must work out its own destiny in that system. It does no service whatever to the cause of humanity - to the cause of world Jewry - to speak in the exaggerated way that Senator Hannan spoke to-night, with little regard for balance or decency.
I am concerned about bridging the gap between Soviet Jewry and Jewry of the Western world. The way to do that is not by blood-curdling resolutions. It is not by overstating a case that contains a great deal of human tragedy. The way to do it is by seeking opportunity for rapprochement between Soviet Jewry and Western Jewry. I commend the attitude of the President of the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Goldman, who again and again has stated that it is no service to the Jewish community to speak of an official policy on anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union; rather it is important that by patience and by statesmanship the differences that divide the communities shall be resolved in the end.
I understand the difficulties involved in getting out and going to Israel. Israel is a Jewish State. It is a State to which every Jew wherever he lives, should be free to go, if he wants to. That, of course, goes for Russia, too. In those circumstances I appeal to honorable senators not to be stampeded by the kind of. insincere approach that was made by Senator Hannan, but to look for an opportunity to break down the barriers between nations. That is what we want. I am confident that in the fulness of time - it may take a long time, but it will come - there will be international understanding on a broad scale which will have as a by-product - I fervently hope they will - the making of excellent relations and the renewal of fruitful association between Russian Jewry and Jewry of the western world.
– I am disturbed by the tenor of this debate. We are talking about some 2,500,000 souls, and to turn the debate into a party political one distresses me. I have had quite a lot-
– Do you have to come into it?
– Yes, I have to because, as you know well enough, I was a prisoner of war for three and a half years and 1 saw what men can do to their fellowmen.
– You did not see what was done to the Jews in Germany as I did.
– I know what is happening to them to-day. To make this debate a party political one is despicable. We are talking about the fate of 2,500,000 people in Russia to-day. I will substantiate what I say by quoting my authorities for it.
This subject was raised by the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) in another place. He was supported by Mr. Einfeld, one of the leading Jews in Australia to-day. It is beyond question that Mr. Einfeld speaks for the Jewish people in Australia. Let me say, first of all, that I am not a member of the Jewish faith and I do not necessarily hold a brief for Jews in Australia or anywhere else in the world. I will stand up-
– What do you-
– Shut up, will you!
– Order! If this debate is- to continue, order must be maintained. Senator Branson has the call. I ask honorable senators to restrain themselves and not to put me in the embarrassing situation of having to name some one.
– As long as I have breath in my body, I will stand up in my place in this chamber and defend the rights of minorities. Where there is a minority, particularly a race of people who have been persecuted through the ages, I reserve the right to stand up and have my say about what is happening in Russia to-day. I will substantiate what I say. I know that Senator Cohen will recognize some of the references that I make.
This matter was raised in another place on the basis of what Senator Hannan said. In fairness, I think I should now ask Senator Cohen whether he supports the idea that Australia should bring this matter before the United Nations. This is something that is contrary to the whole concept of human rights and involves the treatment of a minority of people. All we have asked is for Australia to bring this matter before the United Nations. I believe that that should be done. All I ask Senator Cohen is: Does he support that? Mr. Einfeld supports it.
Mr. Haworth, when he raised this matter, asked the Minister for External Affairs and AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) whether there is any way in which th’.s matter may effectively be brought before the United Nations or before one of its organs in the hope that a solution may be found to put an end to this inhuman, uncivilized and, indeed, barbaric treatment of human beings because of their religious faith. Mr. Haworth continued -
Such an a.tion by the Government would be a clear indication that Australia at least recognizes the historic right of Jewish communities to defend their culture.
Mr. Einfeld, in probably one of the best speeches that he will ever make in the other place said some things that aTe well worth repeating. He said -
I am very grateful to the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) for having mentioned this very urgent and important matter in the House. I welcome the opportunity to make a contribution to the debate.
He went on to say, in respect of the persecution of these people -
They live as a minority because the Soviet Union refuses to regard them generally as citizens of the Soviet.
In other words, although they live in the Soviet Union, they are not citizens. For internal movement they have to have their passports stamped “ Jew “ not “ Russian “. Mr. Einfeld continued -
People have been denied the right to practice their religion or observe the ritual of their faith.
These are not my words; they are the words of Mr. Einfeld, the man who to-day is the Australian president of the Jewish Board of Deputies. That is probably the top Jewish position in Australia. This is what he says -
For instance, they have been denied the right at passover to eat the special dietary bread that Jews throughout the world eat, and they are not allowed to act as Jews everywhere else act. In other non-Jewish communities Jews are allowed the right to practise their faith and to participate in Jewish festivals and Jewish ritual.
I believe that what Mr. Einfeld has said there is right. I accept him as an authority on this matter. He also said -
Because of the situation in which these people find themselves they are not permitted to follow the traditions of the faith that has held them together despite many difficulties, the fires of persecution and many attacks over the centuries in various civilizations.
This persecution has been going on for many years. Are we to condone it in Russia to-day and not raise our voice in the one place where we can do so - the United Nations? Of course, we must do that. Senator Cavanagh is interjecting. I am quoting Mr. Einfeld’s words. Does Senator Cavanagh disagree with him?
– Well, I do not because he is the leader of the Jewish community in Australia to-day. Mr. Einfeld went on to say something that Senator Hannan said and with which Senator Cohen disagreed. He said -
For example, of 40 persons arrested for certain economic offences, 28 were Jews. These 28 were sentenced to death for what would be considered a crime of not very serious moment in Western countries.
I was interested to see the following article in the “Daily News” on 15th October: - “ World Anti-Semitism had increased and was taking a different direction “, Journalist Ernest Platz, General-Secretary of the Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism, said this at Perth airport early to-day. He was returning to Australia after a three months trip to Russia and Europe.
He must have seen something there that he was not very pleased with. It is also interesting to look at the other group representing the Jewish community in Victoria; that is the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies. At its full meeting on 15th
March, 1962, it passed certain resolutions. It would probably be of interest to the people of Australia to know how perturbed it is about what is going on. These are some of the resolutions that were passed -
This Board notes with grave concern the resurgence of Anti-Semitism apparently sponsored by the Soviet Government through the medium of the Soviet Press and Radio.
Notes the fact that Jews alleged to have committed civil offences carrying the death penalty in the U.S.S.R. in contrast to other Soviet Nationals involved in misdemeanours have had their Jewish origins and Jewish affiliations highlighted in the Government controlled Press and Radio.
Considers the whole tone of Soviet Jewish propaganda ominously reminiscent of the early stages of Nazi Anti-Semitism and significantly similar to the 1948 “ Cosmopolitan “ phase in the Soviet Union when Stalin was alleged to have been personally responsible for the campaign culminating in the brutal persecutions and deaths of numerous Soviet Jewish citizens.
The meeting passed the following request to the executive of the board: -
Making representations to the Australian Government with a view to having these matters raised by Australia at the appropriate Agencies of the United Nations.
If Senator Hannan has done nothing else, he has brought before the Senate the desirability of bringing this matter to the notice of the United Nations, sponsored by a group of people who at least feel the same as I do and the same as Mr. Einfeld does. Senator Cohen said that he did not believe that these statements by Senator Hannan were true, that they were rash statements, with nothing to back them up. I wish to make some statements that I shall back up. Senator Cohen may disagree with me if he wishes. In the Soviet Union there are some 2,500,000 or more Jews, but they are in a country where all minorities are persecuted. I think that they are probably the most persecuted of all the minorities.
– Where did you get the facts?
– I shall come to the facts. Just contain yourself. It is always very interesting to find from where tha interjections come on the other side.
– Give us your authority.
– They have been the victims of a policy that can only be described as a physical and cultural genocide of destruction. In Russia to-day they are without political representation. They are without community organizations, and to a great extent they are almost without religious and cultural rights.
– Do you read “ News Weekly “?
– No, I do not read “ News Weekly “; I could not care less about it. I am completely serious about this. I only wish that you would approach this problem in the same serious way. I am talking about human individuals, not politicians. Summing up the plight of the Soviet Jews, the Anti-defamation League said in 1958 -
The prospects for Soviet Jewry are dire and gloomy, at best the extinction of a once-flourishing and rich cultural tradition and life; at worst the completion by the Communists of the heinous work begun by the Nam - the liquidation by forcible assimilation of this community of some 2,500,000 Jews.
Between the brutality of Soviet antiSemitism and the brutality of nazi antiSemitism there, is not very much to choose. About all that is lacking in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to-day is something that was referred to earlier - the gas chamber. But the Russians have done very well, thank you. For this deficiency the Communists have made up, at least in part, by employing Siberia and the firing squads as substitute instruments of death. What perturbs me is the free world’s reaction to the persecution of these people. I think that the free world closes its eyes to it.
asked what we were doing about anti-Semitism in this country. At least we are not shooting people. At least we are not going to the extreme of denying them the right to worship or to have representation in the Federal Parliament, in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. I will not be side-tracked by the question as to what we are doing in Australia. I am talking about what is happening in Russia. I say that we are, to a great extent, closing our eyes to it. Instead of protests and indignation, we witness demands for increased trade with the Soviet bloc, for stepped-up cultural exchange programmes - for instance, the Bolshoi ballet - and for state visits by the Soviet terrorist-in-chief, Khrushchev, for example, to America. That is what we are doing.
I do not think there should be any secret about Soviet anti-Semitism, because the terrible ordeal of the Jewish people under the Kremlin’s rule, which has been going on for some time, has been set forth painstakingly and documented in a whole series of studies by scholarly authorities. In addition to several full-length books on the subject, there have been studies by the American Jewish Committee, the AntiDefamation League, the Jewish Labour Committee, the authoritative Jewish magazine “ Commentary “, the internationally respected weekly, “ The New Leader “, the Select Committee on Communist Aggression of the American Eighty-third Congress, and by the United States Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security. Those are just a few of the authorities for what I am saying.
Scattered over a period of two decades were some dozens of carefully researched articles in newspapers such as the “ New York Times” and “New York HeraldTribune”, and in magazines such as “Life”. But, for some strange reason, the terrifying story of the persecution of the Jews under communism has not penetrated the public consciousness of the free world. It is going on to-day, and sublimely we let it go on. Perhaps these scholarly studies were too esoteric, or too limited in their distribution. Perhaps the newspaper and magazine articles were too scattered and infrequent to be effective. The position did not get across to the public. Perhaps the Jewish communities in the Western countries did not speak up loudly enough, lest they might do damage to their coreligionists behind the iron curtain. I may be harming them to-night, but at least I am genuine in saying that we must do something about this matter, and the least that we can do is to take it before the United Nations.
I wonder whether our minds are conditioned far more than we are prepared to admit by the most powerful and most subtle propaganda that the world has ever known. The myth that all men are equal under communism, as the Communists would like us to believe, remains to this day one of the greatest and chief weapons that the Communist propoganda machine can use, because it makes an appeal particularly to negro, Jewish and other racial minorities. But all men are not equal in the Soviet Union. The fact is that it is a gigantic prison house of nations - let anybody stand and refute this - where minorities have been persecuted and exploited and where genocide has been a common instrument of the state police. It is an imperialist empire which, for cold-blooded ruthlessness, has no equal in history.
– What are you readfrom now?
– I am not reading from anything. If I did read it, I wrote it, and I should be quite happy to let you have a copy if it would do you any good. During the period of Soviet occupation, at least 40,000 Jews were deported to Siberia from Hungary alone and many thousands more were deported from Rumania. In 1948 - I am very interested to come to this point, because Senator Cohen raised this matter - with one sweeping administrative decree, Stalin and his cultural commissar, Andrei Zhdanov, completely eliminated what remained of Jewish cultural and communal life in the Soviet Union. At one stroke, all Jewish schools were closed. Jewish newspapers were shut down. The Yiddish publishing house, Ernes, was also closed. The Jewish anti-fascist committee in Moscow was dissolved and its leaders were arrested. More than 450 Jewish writers, artists and intellectuals - the cream of the Jewish intelligentsia in the Soviet Union - were executed. They were not just sent to a prison camp.
Mention was made of the czars. Russia under the czars, despite the restraints - they were there - and despite the persecution - that was there - had been the world centre of Yiddish culture. In the early period of cultural tolerance, the Soviet Union had the largest number of Yiddish schools in the world. It had the largest number of Jewish pedagogical institutions, the only Jewish institution of high learning in Yiddish, and Yiddish departments in many universities. I think this is important. There were four Yiddish state publishing houses and fourteen state theatres, and there were 35 periodicals and newspapers, four of them being dailies.
Some of these institutions and publications had ceased to exist during the antiSemitic purges of 1936-38. Others had ceased to exist during the war, but with the
Zhdanov decree, everything ceased. Where there had once been a flourishing Jewish culture, there was a desert. I will not refer, as I intended, to the Jewish doctors’ case, because I think every one knows about it. Sufficient to say that nine doctors were arrested, six of them being Jews. They were charged with murdering two Politburo members. That was, I think, in January, 1953. Stalin died some two months later, and the whole thing was shown up as a plot.
– I thought you were not going to refer to it.
– I am making only passing reference to it, but I will give the honorable senator all the details if he wants them. He must remember that this caused a lot of red faces in Australia amongst those who were contending that Stalin was right over the doctors’ plot. He was not right and it is proved that it was purely a plot to incriminate the Jews in Russia. I could give honorable senators chapter and verse for this if they want it.
The persecution still continues. In the city of Kharkov, where there are 70,000 Jews, there is not a single synagogue to serve their religious needs. The Jews are deprived of their synagogues and they have attempted to pursue their worship in private prayer meetings. In the major cities - I could give the Senate the names of at least seven of them - these meetings have been dispersed, and in Vitebsk the Jews were threatened with ten years in prison if they resumed their private prayer meetings. They are not allowed to meet as a group to practise their faith.
For the Jewish population of almost 3,000,000 - Senator Cohen said there are 2,500,000 but I am informed that there are almost 3,000,000 - there are only 60 rabbis in the whole of the Soviet Union. Their average age is well over 70. In the case of the orthodox religion in Russia there is one priest for every 5,000 of the faithful. That is bad enough. But in the case of the Jewish religion there is only one rabbi for every 50,000 Jews. With virtually no replacements in sight, the situation is bound to become worse over the coming years.
I have endeavoured to keep party politics out of this matter because I think it far transcends party politics. I think I could do no better than close on this note.
– Before you do so, do not forget to tell us what your Government is doing about your complaint.
– Along with Senator Hannan, Mr. Haworth and Mr. Wentworth I have suggested that the Australian representative at the United Nations bring this matter before that organization. Can I be any more emphatic than that, Mr. President?
– Do it within your own party ranks.
– I am doing it in the Senate, and you as a member of the Senate must accept your responsibility. I close by quoting what Mr. Einfeld said in another place -
I believe that Australia and all the other members of the United Nations should raise their voices and say to Russia, “ If you are not willing to give these people freedom of worship without discrimination then open your doors and let them go to countries of freedom, peace and liberty “.
Do honorable senators opposite disagree with that? I am glad they are in agreement with it. Finally I say that I hope that Australia will raise its voice in the United Nations on this matter, and on any other matter that concerns the happiness and peace of citizens anywhere in the world.
– I, like others in this chamber, am shocked to think that minorities are being persecuted in any country, but I ask myself: Was this matter brought into this chamber in an honest way? Was the thought behind its introduction honest, or is this only another political bang bang? What are the facts? This matter was raised in another place on 3rd October. To-day is 18th October. We have been waiting for five nights for this matter to be raised. We have known it would come here.
– What harm is it doing to anybody?
– –iI has been raised in the same manner as another matter which was introduced in my absence by the honorable person. I must keep to the forms of the Senate; but let me say that if these people who have brought this matter into this chamber were honest in their intention they could have asked what this Government has done in view of the request made by Mr. Haworth in another place on 3rd October. In his speech Mr. Haworth said -
I believe also that a reference to a United Nations body is a logical step. An inquiry of this nature is futile when it is based on a narrow vision. I suggest that there should be a search for truth in this affair. It should be placed in respected hands and I believe it should be placed in the hands of the United Nations. The findings would then be respected. But if the United Nations Organization is not willing to make a search for truth its pronouncements concerning self-determination cannot be taken seriously.
– Do you support Mr. Haworth?
– I said at the beginning of my speech that I believe that any brutality practised on any people, however small in number they may be, is wrong. All I say now is: This matter was brought into the Senate by a person whose practice in this Senate is muckraking.
– Mr. President, I rise to order. Under Standing Order No. 418 I direct attention to the fact that the honorable senator is imputing improper motives to me, and I ask for a withdrawal.
– Order! Senator Kennelly, you will withdraw those words.
– If I have transgressed the forms of the Senate, Mr. President, I withdraw.
– That is not a satisfactory withdrawal.
– I accept Senator Kennelly’s withdrawal.
– I have reason to believe what I said prior to my withdrawal. The same honorable senator misconstrued
– I rise to a further point of order. I refer again to Standing Order No. 418, and I suggest that the honorable senator is still imputing ‘ improper motives to me by referring to the manner in which I brought this matter before the Senate. Mr. President, he is deliberately putting your ruling into contempt by canvassing the matter.
– Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– Before the interruption, I was saying that unfortunately I was absent from the Senate for health reasons and the same honorable senator tried to impute motives to me. He implied that there was some allegiance between me-
– You deliberately said it.
– I said you imputed motives to me and implied affiliation between me and the Communist Party.
– That is not true.
– Knowing the actions of the Senate on that occasion, it astounds me that one could think that the sentiments the honorable senator has expressed here to-night were his original thoughts because, as 1 said, we have been waiting for this debate to take place for four or five weeks. We knew it was coming. We were told it was coming. We were told who was the prodding force.
– You do not object to persecution at all?
– I have already said that I do object. If one thought for a moment that this was an honest endeavour to clean up a matter that is detestable to all of us-
– What worries you about it?
– I am not a bit worried. I want to say this in my own way, but I must be careful that I do not transgress. I say that if a person was honest in referring to the atrocities that are happening, not only in one country, but in others also - and I deplore them greatly - one would expect him to act differently from the way Senator Hannan acted tonight. On 3rd October in another place, an honorable member asked the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) to do what he could to have the matter ventilated in a place where we would hope it would receive the support of the whole of the Western bloc of which we are a part. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), who has been quoted at length by my colleague from Western Australia, agreed whole-heartedly that anything that could be done to stop these persecutions had his whole-hearted support. I believe that Senator Cohen deserves the same praise as the honorable member for Phillip. To be quite candid, I feel there is too much politics altogether in this matter.
– Who made it political?
– I believe it was introduced here for political purposes. I may be wrong-
– You usually are.
– I do not know about that. Knowing you as I do, I can only say that certain people are on tenterhooks at the moment. I would like to be able to say what I really thought, but I do not want to follow my colleague from Victoria out of the chamber.
– That applies to many people.
– I am glad that even the Minister for Customs and Excise implies that he would like to be able to say what he thinks about the honorable senator. No doubt that would be most interesting. If this were an honest endeavour to achieve something, questions would have been raised in this chamber by the honorable senator. He would have asked the Government he supports what it proposed to do.
– That is exactly what Senator Hannan has done.
– Did Senator Hannan ask the Minister for the Navy what he proposed to do? If he did that, no doubt the Minister will be more capable of answering him than was the AttorneyGeneral, who is also Minister for External Affairs, when he was asked a question on the subject by the honorable member for Isaacs in another place.
– The Minister answered the honorable member for Isaacs the next day. His reply is recorded in “ Hansard “.
– He said nothing. He did not say whether he or the Government would instruct Australia’s representative to the United Nations to bring up this matter. He did not say that at all.
– Does not that make it reasonable for Senator Hannan to ask for action?
– But there are proper times for the asking of questions in the Senate. If every honorable senator said what he thought about this episode, I do not think the honorable senator who raised this matter would appear in a very good light. Let us cut out the politics if we can. Let us consider what we, as practical persons, should do. I believe this matter was brought here in an endeavour to place another honorable senator in an invidious position. If the majority of honorable senators spoke the truth as I do, they would agree with me. If Senator Hannan had wanted to further the cause he has espoused, he could have done so with more force by asking a direct question. Every person in this Senate would have agreed with him. Is it any wonder that we take exception, not because an attempt is made to help the unfortunate people who are suffering at the hands of the Russians, but because a person deliberately raises a matter in an endeavour to place an honorable senator in a wrong light.
– How can his action do that?
– You are not a novice at this game. You know that a lot of Dorothy Dix-ers are given out by you. If you wanted to be honest and truthful, you would, say that this debate had been brought on in order to put Senator Cohen in the wrong.
– You are not a child. You know how that could be done. There are people in this chamber who believe that the matter was not brought here with the intention of helping those whom it purports to help.
As I have said, we were told that the matter was to be raised. We saw the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who was the third speaker on this subject when it was discussed in another place, over here on practically every night when the Senate was about to adjourn on the last four or five sitting days. Let us be honest about it. I do not deny that the people in Russia have been - wronged. I must be honest and say that I have read only press reports about the matter. I believe that where there is smoke there is fire - up to a point. But when the sufferings of unfortunate people are discussed in this place in order to attempt to place a person in an invidious position, I merely ask, “ How low can people get? “
– The Australian Labour Party is opposed to racial prejudice wherever it may exist. We shall condemn it whenever it arises. Anti-Semitism takes many forms. It is evil work. It is anti-Semitism of the worst type to endeavour to foment trouble in the Jewish community in Australia. There are now two members of the Jewish faith in this Parliament of the Commonwealth. They are Mr. Einfeld, who is the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, and our own Senator Cohen. The introduction of this matter into the Senate was forecast in the newspapers at least as early as the 10th of this month. In the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of that date, on page 37, there is a headline, “ Federal Labor in two sectarian disputes”. There is a reference, first, to a question of State aid. The article continues -
While the denominational trouble-
That is, the question of State aid - is simmering in the Labour Party the Jewish trouble is reaching the boil.
The two chief figures in the Jewish trouble are Mr. Syd Einfeld . . . and Senator Sam Cohen.
Then, after a reference to Senator Cohen, the article continues -
Mr. Einfeld made a powerful and moving appeal to the Australian Government last week to support a request to Russia to allow Jews to leave the Soviet.
After some further references to what Mr. Einfeld had said, the article went on -
Certain elements in the Liberal Party are now planning to carry the debate on this issue into the Senate to find out precisely how far Senator Cohen is prepared to go as an apologist for Russian anti-Semitism.
If Senator Cohen comes out in defence of the Soviet there will be a Jewish as well as a denominational split in Labour’s ranks.
On earlier occasions there have been attempts by the Liberal Party to foment trouble in the Jewish community, centred on Mr. Einfield and Mr. Cohen, and to stir up division on a sectarian basis.
There are two objects of those attempts, Mr. President. One is to stir up division and. to show in some way that Mr. Einfield and Senator Cohen are at odds in this matter concerning the Jewish community, and the other is to show, if it can be done, that Senator Cohen has not the confidence of the Jewish community. I have been authorized by Mr. Einfield, who is sitting in the gallery of the Senate to-night, to say that he has the utmost confidence in Senator Cohen, that Senator Cohen is held in the highest regard by the Jewish community, that there is no division between Mr. Einfeld and Senator Cohen, and that it is shameful that persons should endeavour to stir up trouble between these two Jewish members of our Parliament.
On the second matter, because this is an attack on Senator Cohen, I wish to say that Senator Cohen is held in the highest regard in the Jewish community. Apart from what Mr. Einfeld has authorized me to say, I wish to inform the Senate that Senator Cohen is patron of the United Israel Appeal. He is patron of the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society. Apart from the two chief patrons of that society, one of whom is Mr. Einfeld, there is a long and distinguished list of patrons, including, I understand, most of the eminent members of the Jewish community in Australia. At the head of that list, in the order of precedance, is Senator Cohen, Q.C.
In addition, Senator Cohen is an officer of many other Jewish societies and bodies. He was specially honoured at a Parliamentary Sabbath by the St. Kilda Hebrew congregation. The Jewish community has indicated in many ways its faith and confidence in Senator Cohen, as well as in Mr. Einfeld. We who are not members of the Jewish community are pleased to see that such distinguished members of it have found their way into this Parliament. It is a great thing that the Australian Labour Party can claim two such distinguished members. As far as we can, we will see to it that there is no anti-Semitism in this country. The Australian Labour Party is of the opinion that there has been a shameful episode on the part of the Liberal Party in endeavouring to-night to introduce anti-Semitism into the Senate and into this country.
.- I think we can now come back to the original question asked by Senator Hannan when he made his original speech - a speech that I must say he is fully entitled to make in this Senate on a matter which, if he feels deeply enough about it, he should raise in the Senate before raising it anywhere else. I should like to traverse the matter very briefly and very quickly, because there have been a lot of most unsubstantiated and, as I hope to be able to show, ridiculous accusations thrown about by some members of the Opposition, including Senator Murphy.
This whole matter was raised originally on some date which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) remembers. It was raised in the House of Representatives by a member of the Liberal Party, Mr. Haworth, who, as all Victorians will know, represents an electorate which has in it probably the largest concentration of people of the Jewish faith in Victoria. And he clearly raised it at the request of his constituents, who were disturbed at the persecution of people of the Jewish faith which was going on in Russia. That, presumably, is Mr. Haworth’s right and his duty. He was supported on that occasion by a member of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Einfeld. How this business can be supposed to be an attack on the Labour Party is beyond me.
– No one suggested that.
– Some people did. In fact, another member of the Opposition is just saying so. Mr. Haworth was supported, and ably supported, by Mr. Einfeld, who agreed with the points, I think, that Senator Hannan raised to-night - people being denied the right to practise their faith, people having their synagogues closed down, people being denied the right to leave the country, and all the other matters of persecution which are objected to.
It was then going to be raised in this place. Of course it was! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition makes a great play of this. Mr. Haworth was to have this matter raised in this place.
– He was not.
– All I can say is that I spoke to Mr. Haworth at the time and he wanted this matter to be raised in this place. He wanted it to be raised in both Houses of the Parliament. This again, presumably, is his right and his duty. And it has been raised here. Why it causes such fire, fury and consternation in this place when it met with such agreement from all sides in another place I do not know. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition nearly told us, but he stopped just before he did. I think he stopped because be does not know any more than I do.
It was claimed that this was an attack on the Labour Party. Clearly it was not. It was then claimed that it was an attack on Senator Cohen. We have just heard from Senator Murphy that Senator Cohen is held in very high repute in the Jewish community, and Senator Murphy quotes Mr. Einfeld, too, as holding him in the highest esteem. In that case, how can the matter of the persecution of the Jews in Russia be an attack on him? Tell me that.
– It was intended to be but it misfired.
– Perhaps you can explain it at a later date or reply in writing. Tell me how raising the question of the persecution of the Jews in Russia makes or becomes an attack on a member of the Jewish faith in the Senate who, we are told, is held in such high repute by Australian Jewry. I do not see how it does. There is some mystery here which is hidden deep in the hearts of members of the Opposition.
Having traversed the matter, all I wish to say is that I will thoroughly support the right of honorable senators to raise in this place matters which they feel they should raise and I can only answer the argument now in the way in which the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) answered a question asked in another place. He pointed out the difficulty of raising these matters in the United Nations because of the provision relating to jurisdiction over internal matters. It is feared that an attempt to raise the question of allowing the persecuted Jewish minority to leave Russia would lead the Russians to claim that it was a matter of internal jurisdiction.
The Minister has said that he will look at the matter and see whether he can, in some way, get round this provision, and bring the question before the United Nations, if he can. If he gets the support pf those people .who have said they will give it and even if only a few of these persecuted people leave the country, I believe that the people who raised this matter here to-night and those who raised it in another place will both have done good work for humanity.
– It is a long while since I have heard in this Senate so much cant and hypocrisy on any issue as I have heard to-night. It has been perfectly clear for a number of weeks now that this matter was to be brought before the Senate in order to embarrass one of our senators. Even the press was forewarned about it. To-night we saw Senator Hannan rise in his place and we heard him say, with more hypocrisy than I have ever heard from any honorable senator in this chamber, that he was trying to do something for Jewry in Russia. I say to you, Mr. President, that every honorable senator in this chamber was perfectly well aware that there has been some difference of opinion between two distinguished members of the Jewry in this Parliament, and that, because of that difference, it was raised in another place in order to embarrass a member of the Senate. I am only expressing what has been known and what has been stated in the press in this country over the last few months.
It is true, as the Minister assisting the Minister for External Affairs (Senator Gorton) says, that any honorable senator is entitled to raise an objection if he wants to do so. He is entitled to raise any matter that he wants to raise; but I do suggest to you, Mr. President, that honorable senators would increase their status and would receive much greater approbation from the Senate if they did not express in the Senate from time to time what are clearly jaundiced views and views that were never intended to help the people for whom they claim to be putting forward a case.
I heard the whole of the debate to-night and I feel that Jewry in Russia will receive no benefit at all from it. In fact, I see no way in which it was suggested that the Jewry of Russia might be aided by protests that might be lodged in this Senate. Two senators on the Government side, with their tongues in their cheeks, set out to express views that they hoped would make Senator Cohen feel discomfited because he has from time to time expressed in Australia the view that there are some things in Russia that are not as bad as we make them out to be. Because he said that, He is singled out as one of the people who might have some regard for the Communists. He is singled out because he has expressed a view contrary to the common view of a great number of people in this country, particularly bigoted people, the people who have closed minds, such as some people In this Senate who from time to time will not consider the views of people who are more generous than they are and accept them as genuine views.
So I feel that the whole debate to-night has not done one thing to help Jewry throughout the world. It was not designed to do that. It was not put forward for that purpose. It has been a most regrettable debate. I consider that those honorable senators on the Government side who took the opportunity to try to embarrass Senator Cohen did not raise their own status, nor did they help the cause which they put forward with such hypocrisy. I hope that this sort of thing will not be placed before the Senate on any future occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 October 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19621018_senate_24_s22/>.