24th Parliament · 1st Session
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1962.
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 3) 1962.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill 1962.
– I direct a question to the Minister assisting the Minister for External Affairs. On 11th October, I asked the Minister whether a report in the Melbourne “Age” headed “Chiang urges attack on mainland “ was correct. I also asked whether the Minister would obtain a copy of President Chiang Kai-shek’s statement and inform the Senate of its contents. The Minister replied that he did not know whether the newspaper report was correct. Is the Minister able now to add anything to the reply that he gave me on 11th October?
– Yes, Mr. Acting President, I have obtained copies of the speech made by Chiang Kai-shek, and it seems clear to me from reading it that the report in the Australian press of his words was entirely without justification. I have made copies available to honorable senators. Chiang Kai-shek made an ordinary sort of speech. Speaking from memory, I believe he said that conditions in China were extremely bad, and the time was propitious for the Chinese people themselves to try to better those conditions by throwing off their Communist leadership. There was no indication that I could see anywhere in the speech that Chiang Kai-shek was urging an attack from Taipeh on the Chinese mainland.
– My question to the Minister for Health is related to a question that was directed to the Minister yesterday regarding the decision of the Hos pitals ContributionFund of New South Wales to sever its management from the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited. Has the Minister read in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of to-day’s date a reference to certain aspects of the medical benefits fund? The statement in the newspaper quotes members of the Hospitals Contrbution Fund, who apparently are anonymous. It reads -
In breaking away, our fund will not suffer but will be able to improve its benefits.
The Commonwealth and State Governments were notified in advance by the hospitals contribution fund of its intention to break away from the Medical Benefits Fund.
Neither Government objected.
I ask the Minister whether in fact he or the Commonwealth Government was notified of any proposed severance of the management arrangements of the two funds.
– This report was brought to my notice early this morning. In view of the fact that I have from time to time said publicly that neither the Government nor my department had been advised of this move, I was disturbed to think that this report, although anonymous, was circulated, and I took it upon myself to make some extensive inquiries. I cannot speak for the New South Wales Government, of course, but I can speak for this Government. Just prior to entering the chamber I received, as a result of my inquiries this morning, a telegram from Mr. Turner, who is director of the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales which, as honorable senators know, is the body that has declared its intention to terminate its arrangements with the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited. For the benefit of the Senate, I take the opportunity to read the telegram: It reads -
Ref. Sydney press statement today alleging quote the Commonwealth and State Governments were notified in advance by the Hospital Contribution Fund of its intention to break away from the Medical Benefits Fund unquote stop Advise this statement not made or authorized by the Hospital Contribution Fund of N.S.W.
That was signed “Turner Director Hosfund “. I want to add only that this is a matter of great concern to the people of New South Wales who are contributors to the fund. Their interests are paramount. I suggest to irresponsible people who rush into print with statements that are not factual that they are not considering the interest of the people who subscribe to the fund. The only plea I make is that those who are responsible for the management of the two funds will settle their differences behind closed doors so that the people who make the funds possible will not be disturbed by statements that are not factual.
– I ask the
Leader of the Government in the Senate as a senator representing the State of New South Wales whether his attention has been directed to a circular, addressed to all members of the Parliament, from Mr. W. L. Hume, of Lane Cove, Sydney, headed “ Melbourne’s one-sided cold war on Sydney “. In view of the many obvious truths in this circular, which points out that contracts for large Sydney buildings have been given to Melbourne building firms, that overseas investment is being directed to Melbourne, and that Federal Cabinet is dominated by Melbourne interests, against the best interests of New South Wales and Australia, and in view of many other justifiable complaints, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate have his department look thoroughly into these matters or, alternatively, set up a committee of the Senate, which is a House to protect States’ interests, to investigate the truth or otherwise of these allegations of this Government’s discrimination between Melbourne and Sydney?
– I have a vague recollection of receiving a roneoed circular in terms somewhat like those stated by the honorable senator. I glanced through it but felt it was so irresponsible that I did not make any close examination of it. I did not give it a second thought. Greatly to the ill-content of my Victorian colleagues, the truth is, of course, that there is no comparison between the respective virtues of Sydney and Melbourne. Melbourne is not in any circumstances making the progress that Sydney is making.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he has seen a press report in which it is stated that Dr. Vickery, chief of the Food Preservation Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, has said that Australia’s meat industry in the next few years would be in a perilous position if it did not get more money for research, and that the lack of research into meat will affect our competitive position in our struggle for world markets. In view of the importance of the meat industry as an earner of export income, will the Minister inform the Senate of the total amount of money spent on research in the meat industry each year? Will the Minister say how this money is raised and from what sources? How does expenditure on research of this kind in this country compare with expenditures in other meat exporting countries?
– I have seen the report attributed to Dr. Vickery concerning research into the meat industry. At the outset I would like to say that of course there is a continuing requirement for research info all of our primary industries to-day so that they may hold their place in highly competitive world markets. The beef cattle industry is already paying a levy of 2s. a head in respect of all cattle exceeding 200 lb. weight slaughtered for human consumption. The Commonwealth matches that contribution on a £1 for £1 basis. Speaking from memory, I believe that the contributions made up to October of this year amounted to £355,000. I know also that earlier this year the Minister for Primary Industry approved a research programme involving expenditure of £320,000 odd. Whether this expenditure is adequate to meet the needs of the industry is, I believe, a matter for the industry itself to decide. I am sorry that I cannot give the honorable senator any information regarding a comparison of amounts spent on research in Australia with amounts spent in other countries. However, I will endeavour to obtain the information and pass it on to the honorable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Does the Australian Wheat Board receive orders from Commonwealth Government departments for the supply of flour and other cereal products for use by the Australian armed forces and for distribution to Colombo Plan countries? Does the Australian Wheat Board then farm out such contracts to members of the flour-milling association, the vast majority of whom operate in the large coastal cities? In order to assist in the decentralization of industry throughout the Commonwealth, will the Minister take up with the board the question of issuing such orders only to flour mills that operate in the wheat-growing areas of the various States?
– The questions posed by Senator McClelland involve a matter of policy. I think that the Minister for Primary Industry should be given an opportunity to answer the questions, and I ask the honorable senator to place them on the notice-paper.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, relates to a statement in to-day’s press that the Minister has announced thai some 70 small aircraft will be grounded by 1965, for reasons which were not stated in the press. The aircraft referred to are engaged in crop spraying and other agricultural pursuits. Will the Minister inform the Senate why this large number of aircraft is to be grounded? What is the policy of the Government in relation to aircraft of this type which has provoked the decision to ground them progressively over the next three years?
– The aircraft referred to is the DH82, the old Tiger Moth which is remembered affectionately by all former members of the Air Force, no doubt including Senator Vincent. For a number of years now these aircraft have been engaged in agricultural spraying. As the years have gone by it has become apparent that in this specialized type of flying the accident rate for these aircraft is much higher than that for other aircraft. Having regard to their length of life and their structure, it is now accepted that the time has come when they should be retired from this type of flying. The decision has been reached by the Department of Civil Aviation in consultation with the Australian association of agricultural crop sprayers. The system of gradual phasing out has been worked out in consultation with the association and, by and large, meets with its approval.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Is it a fact that the repatriation artificial limb factory in South Australia makes artificial limbs for civilians? As many artificial limbs are paid for by civilians obtaining loans at high rates of interest, will the Government consider accepting payment for the limbs over an extended period, thus relieving unfortunate civilians who buy artificial limbs of the necessity to pay high rates of interest?
– I know that the repatriation artificial limb factories make limbs for civilians and sell them commercially to civilians. I am not aware of the prices charged, but my general understanding is that the limbs are regarded as being reasonably priced. If the honorable senator will put his question on the noticepaper, I will obtain the details that he seeks and let him have them.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade whether the Tariff Board is a functionary of whose independence the Government is jealous. Am I correct in inferring that the announced resignation of the chairman of the Tariff Board is associated in some way with procedures that have a tendency to undermine the independence of the board? Will the Minister say whether he proposes to make a statement on this subject, and if he proposes to do so, when he will do so? Will the Minister say whether he is willing to table for the information of honorable senators any correspondence or papers that have passed between the chairman of the Tariff Board and the Minister for Trade?
– I should have thought that Senator Wright would need no assurance from me or any other Minister about the Government’s desire to maintain the independence of the Tariff Board. Unless we can look to an independent authority to give us answers to these great questions that come before us, we shall be in difficulties. To my knowledge, there is no substance in the allegations that there has been a difference between the Minister for Trade and the Tariff Board and that there is an attempt to undermine the independence of the board. As I understand the position, the Minister for Trade has said that the person concerned has accepted an overseas appointment, and that statements are to be made at the same time in Australia and overseas. My recollection is that those statements will be made to-night. I would not like to say more than that until I see the Minister’s press statement.
– I address my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise or to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, whichever is the appropriate Minister. In a report submitted recently by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board, the film censor announced that although there was a large increase in the importation of films for cinema purposes, there was a decrease in the number of films imported for television programmes. I ask the Minister concerned whether this means that the number of Australian films produced for television programmes is increasing? If so, are any of these films being exported from Australia? If they are, can the Minister say whether they are a financial success in other countries? I should like to know also whether any duty is imposed on unused film imported into Australia. If so, is this duty refunded when the processed film is reexported?
– There has been a decrease in the number of television films imported in the last three years. About three years ago, the board was examining approximately 10,000 imported films a year, but the figure has now dropped to 8,000. About 84 per cent, of these films are imported from the United States of America and about 15 per cent, from the United Kingdom. In all, 99 per cent, of the imported films come from those two countries. The report of the board, however, gives no indication of the number of films shown in Australia. I do not think that information is on record. Therefore, I can only relate my answer to imported films, of which 99 per cent, come from the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
Dealing with film imported into Australia and then re-exported, my impression is that if the film were re-exported within a reasonable time after its importation, an application would be made for a refund of the import duty. The honorable senator is seeking information in connexion with technical details, and if she will put the question on the notice-paper I shall obtain for her the details that I have not been able to give to-day.
– I should like to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. From time to time there appear in newspaper editorials and magazine articles statements relating to disturbance and dissatisfaction in the mind of the Government of the United States of America with relation to Australia’s defence preparations. Is there any truth in these statements?
– I have no doubt that the Government of the United States of America looks upon Australia, small though we may be in numbers, as a very valuable prospective ally.
– - My question to the Minister for Customs and Excise relates to the report of the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board for the year ended 30th June, 1962. For the purposes of my question, I shall read the fifth paragraph of that report. It is as follows: -
The Board adheres rigidly to the detailed standards laid down by the Broadcasting Control Board for the classification of films appearing on television. Applying these standards to some 8,000 films annually to determine whether they are suitable for children represents a lot of work and at times requires a lot of thought It is unfortunate that the Board’s efforts to help parents in this way are not put to greater use. The lists of programmes advertised in the Press in some instances completely ignore the classifications. This is in marked contrast to the procedure in motion picture theatres where exhibitors are required to include censorship classifications in all advertising.
Does that paragraph mean, as I interpret it to mean, that when television programmes are advertised, the classification which has been accorded them by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board is not included? If that is so, what action can be taken to require advertisers of television programmes to conform to the procedure which has been followed by advertisers of motion pictures?
– As the honorable senator has said, the paragraph invites my attention to the fact that in many advertisements relating to television programmes no classifications are shown. I noted that particular paragraph when I first received the report. Television, of course, comes under the jurisdiction of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the PostmasterGeneral. My department has no authority to require the inclusion of classifications in advertisements for television programmes, but I have asked the Postmaster-General to let me know whether there is anything he can do to ensure that the classifications are stated. I shall let the honorable senator know the details when I receive a reply from the Postmaster-General.
– I ask the
Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he will bring before the Government the statement by the Treasurer of New South Wales that he was hopeful that the Commonwealth Government would see merit in his suggestion for a uniform petrol price throughout Australia. Because of the benefit that would accrue to all Australians from the adoption of this suggestion, will the Minister ask the Government to undertake a comprehensive inquiry with a view to ascertaining a uniform price that could justly be charged for petrol sold throughout the Commonwealth?
– I did not see the statement attributed to Mr. Renshaw, but this matter is, of course, a hardy perennial. It has been looked at on very many occasions. Every one appreciates the desirability of having a uniform price for petrol and also for most other commodities, but no one can suggest a practicable method of arriving at uniform prices in view of the fact that freight costs vary so much from district to district. It would be difficult to justify a uniform price for petrol without also justifying uniform prices for everything else. All commodities are subject to freight charges, and it is necessary for prices to vary because of the differences in those charges.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. By way of preface, I say that it is a matter for regret that the conference on the Chowilla dam which had been called for last week and which was to have been attended by a representative of the Commonwealth and the Premiers of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, did not eventuate. Can the Minister say when the conference will take place, and can he also state the matters to be discussed at it?
– I am not in a position to say when the conference will take place. It is not an easy matter for three Premiers and the Prime Minister all to be available on the same day. Negotiations are proceeding. We are trying to make arrangements to have the conference held as soon as possible. The principal business of the conference will be, of course, to discuss ways and means of getting the Chowilla dam constructed as quickly as possible.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he noted a news paragraph which appeared prominently in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ yesterday, to the effect that an American commentator had stated that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority was totally unnecessary and, I inferred, something of a nuisance’. Has the Government considered that comment? Is it a fact that although the stevedoring industry charge was increased from 2s. 6d. per man-hour to 3s. 4d. per manhour last April, the excess of expenditure over revenue of the authority in the last twelve months was nearly £1,000,000, and that the total cost of the authority to the community last year was £4,500,000?
– I did not notice the paragraph in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, but I would be extremely surprised if the views of the stray visitor, whoever he may be, led to some Government consideration of his point of view. As to the figures mentioned by the honorable senator, I am quite sure that he has quoted them in the belief that they are accurate, but I would not go so far as to say that they are accurate until I have checked the facts. I will then give him an answer.
– I preface a question to the Minister for the Navy by assuring him that I appreciate the acuteness of naval intelligence which comes under his administration. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a statement by the Minister for Defence in another place on 25th October when he said that the Russians were setting up in Ambon a port similar in nomenclature to one that was established in Cuba for the training of fishermen in oceanography? Does the Minister consider this to be a fact? If it is a fact, what is the potential offensive capacity of this marine fishing and oceanographic port in relation to the defence of Australia?
– The question is very similar to one that was directed some time ago to the Minister for Defence. The original question was, I think: Is the Soviet Union building a naval base at Ambon? The Minister for Defence answered that no naval base was being built at Ambon. That was a specific answer to a specific question. The Minister added that a harbour was being constructed by United States of America authorities who were dredging and building wharfs, and that the Soviet Union was conducting an institute of oceanography for the training of Ambonese people by marine engineers and officers and so on. The honorable senator has asked me what is the offensive capacity of the Russian port. The answer is inherent in that given by the Minister for Defence, who said that no naval base was being built at Ambon. As honorable senators on the Opposition side from Western Australia have been told many times, the mere construction of a harbour docs not provide a naval base because there must be heavy industry and equipment to test guns and optical instruments and to take ships to pieces before there is even the beginning of a naval base.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation on the same subject as my previous question con cerning the grounding of aircraft associated with the agricultural industry. I understood from the Minister that these aircraft were being phased out because of their approaching obsolescence. Is it correct that last year this aerial service was able to treat upwards of 6,500,000 acres of agricultural land? Is the area treated increasing from year to year? If so, what is the extent of the increase? In view of the enormous area that is now being covered by this aerial service, and having regard to the decision of the Minister to ground large numbers of the aircraft engaged in this service, does the Minister expect that the industry will be able to cope with the demand for aerial services when the aircraft are grounded?
– I think the honorable senator is correct in stating that last year agricultural aircraft treated 6,500,000 acres of land. The area undergoing this treatment is increasing at the rate of about 1,000,000 acres a year. In reply to the honorable senator’s question whether the industry will be able to cope with the increased demand, I can say that it will be able to do so. That was one of the important points that was discussed by the Department of Civil Aviation and the crop dusters in respect of their plans for the future, since it involves the acquisition of additional aircraft of a newer type.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services inform the Senate whether the recent conference of local government associations has presented to the Commonwealth Government the relevant resolutions passed at the conference? Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a resolution reported in the press to the effect that the unemployment benefit be distributed by the Commonwealth Government through the agency of local government authorities? Has that suggestion been considered by the Government and if so, has the Government any opinion to express on it?
– I can only say that I personally have not seen representations from local government associations on the matters that the honorable senator has mentioned. That being the case, those representations normally would not come before me until I see them in Cabinet. In the circumstances, it would be appropriate to put the question on the notice-paper. I might risk an opinion and say that it would be very difficult administratively to pay unemployment relief benefit through councils, but perhaps I should not go that far.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation by saying that I understand that it is proposed to expend in the immediate future £180,000 on the Bankstown aerodrome. Will the Minister inform the Senate what work is proposed?
– The Department of Civil Aviation has a programme for the improvement of the Bankstown airport involving approximately £180,000. It involves the construction of a paved allweather runway some 4,000 feet long. There will be apron extensions and engineering services for a new hangar area recently constructed privately, and a new apron and taxi-way to serve the hangar constructed by the Royal Aero Club of New South Wales. The programme includes also the development and extension of the airport power facilities and construction of an airport store, fire station, communications and alarm system. I take the opportunity of saying that although the name of the Bankstown airport is not brought to public notice very frequently, it is the centre of the light aircraft industry in New South Wales. It is the main New South Wales airport for charter operators, for the agricultural operators about whom I was talking earlier, for private aircraft and, indeed, for all light aircraft.
– What about the aero club?
– The aero club of New South Wales also has its headquarters there. Bankstown is a busy airport, approximately 100,000 landings and take-offs occurring there each year.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that on application forms for entry to at least one establishment in the Royal Australian Navy applicants are asked to answer the question, “What is your religious persuasion? “ In order to avoid any appearance of religious discrimination in deciding between applicants, will the Minister look into this practice and give instructions that no question as to religious persuasion be put to any applicant for any office or position in the Navy?
– I should think it extremely unlikely that the course proposed by the honorable senator would be at all sensible. I should think - I shall check this - that on every application form for people entering the Navy that question appeared simply for the purpose of providing, as soon as applicants join the Navy, a congregation to which they may go. The Navy provides padres in all religions and it is necessary for the Navy to know to which Church people belong, and to which religious services they will go, and how their next-of-kin are to be notified. That is the sole and simple reason for such questions. If the honorable senator has any suspicions on the matter, I shall be glad for him to look into it in the Navy administration.
– Is there any reason why that cannot be done after people go into the Navy, without the information being put on an application form?
– I do not suppose there is, but I cannot see that it makes any difference.
– It is the same with the other services.
– It is the same with all the services.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs a question which relates to the recent serious threat to world peace deliberately provoked by the Soviet Union by introducing medium and long-range nuclear missiles into Cuba. Is it not correct that the missiles so introduced into Cuba by Khrushchev could have threatened large areas of South America which are situated in the southern hemisphere? In view of that fact, do not the recent action by the Soviet Union and threats to world peace by that nation illustrate the fatal weakness in the policy of a nuclear-free zone in the southern hemisphere, a policy so actively sponsored recently by the Australian Labour Party and the Australian Communist Party?
– I think it must be self-evident that the missiles to which the honorable senator refers, which were stationed in Cuba, were in fact, having regard to their range, a threat to large areas of South America lying inside the southern hemisphere. That in itself is merely another example of the fact that people in the southern hemisphere cannot contract out of being threatened with atomic missiles, whether these are stationed in the northern hemisphere, as they may well be, or carried under the seas of the southern hemisphere by submarines. The suggestion that you keep safe from attack if you declare a particular area free of atomic weapons is clearly ridiculous. I agree that this is the latest and, I would hope, the most salutary lesson to those who still cling to that outmoded belief.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What are the Government’s estimates of population for the years 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000: (a) in each State of the Commonwealth, (b) in the Northern Territory, (c) in each of the capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Hobart, and (d) in Darwin?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
The Commonwealth Government has not made forecasts of the future population of the Northern Territory or any of the States, or of any of their capital cities. However, among the matters to be covered by the proposed economic inquiry announced by the Prime Minister on 17th October, 1962, are trends in population as a whole and the likely pattern of growth and geographical distribution of industry. While the committee of inquiry may not find it necessary to its task to attempt to make forecasts of the future populations of particular States or cities, its findings on these matters should be of assistance to those who may have reasons for doing so.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has provided the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Snap fasteners and eyelets.
Menthol and thymol.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 25th October (vide page 1170).
Proposed expenditure £2,812,000.
– I refer to Division No. 401 - Administration, and direct attention particularly to the proposed appropriation of £72,000 for expenses in connexion with the Fifth Asian Regional Conference of the International Labour Organization. I am very pleased to see this sum provided in the Estimates. I know that the Australian Council of Trade Unions recommended that the conference be held in Australia, and I commend the Government for taking steps to have the conference held here. Holding the conference in Australia should go a long way towards cementing relations with the people of Asia, and will emphasize the very important work being done by the International Labour Organization in today’s troubled world.
I wish to make some comments on the rumours that often circulate concerning the administration of the State branches of the Department of Labour and National Service. When I was attached to the Trades and Labour Council in South Australia rumours were circulating that it was proposed to limit the work of the department in South Australia because of the growing activities of the State labour organization. Administration of the department in South Australia has been very efficient, and officers of the department have been active in carrying out the work entrusted to them. I have in mind particularly the work done by the deputy regional officer and the inspecting staff. The trade union movement and I would not like to see the work of the department in South Australia limited in any way because of some activity among the States themselves. I think that comment applies to the other States also.
I should like to say something now about apprentices. Over the last twelve months various interests have urged that employers should take on more apprentices. The trade union movement and employer organizations have joined with representatives of the States and the Commonwealth in discussions on apprenticeship training. The Department of Labour and National Service should confer with appropriate organizations in the States with the object of reviewing the existing apprenticeship machinery. I want to refer to the position that exists in South Australia in the light of representations that have been made for improved legislation to control apprenticeships. It is true that in some States measures have been adopted to apply the recommendations of the Commonwealth and State Apprenticeship Inquiry. That inquiry was a very thorough one. It was held in 1954, and the findings of the committee, which consisted of representatives of employer organizations and national labour organizations, have been recorded and used in many instances, but in South Australia the findings have never received effective consideration. At various times, the Trades and Labour Council in South Australia has urged upon the State Government the need to improve the legislation governing apprenticeships. At one stage our representatives on the local apprenticeship committee recommended certain alterations to the legislation, but those recommendations have not been brought before the Parliament. Recently, the Labour Opposition in South Australia introduced a bill which contained some very important provisions relating to apprentices. If that bill becomes law it will do much to absorb young people into skilled occupations, which are more essential to Australia now than ever before.
I want to refer to the findings of the committee of inquiry regarding approved places of work. The Labour Opposition in South Australia recently attempted to implement some of those findings, but its attempts were rejected by the Government. The bill introduced in the South Australian Parliament by the Labour Opposition would have enabled the local apprenticeship board to have a complete record of all places of employment suitable for apprentices. The bill provided that no person should take an apprentice in any trade to which the act applied until the board had approved the place of employment as a suitable place in which to train an apprentice. It is well known that in South Australia and other States employers’ organizations have urged upon the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service the need to train more apprentices. The recommendations of the committee of inquiry relating to approved places of employment should be implemented because we have found that during times of economic quietness young apprentices have had their indentures cancelled after two or three years of practical training. If there were legislation dealing with approved places of work young people who have been partly trained would not be forced to revert to ordinary labouring because no work was available in the particular job in which they commenced their apprenticeship. Perhaps we should say at this stage, as has been decided by the conference between metal trades employers, the State Government and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, that final year apprentices should not be taken into account when deciding quotas, but it is essential to make some move in connexion with approved places of work for apprentices. I ask that the matter be referred again to the Minister and that when he is discussing with the employers’ organizations the problems involved in the training of young people to fill the gaps in the ranks of the skilled tradesmen he should suggest that some attempt be made to arrange conferences with the Stats governments in order to have the various acts dealing with apprenticeship brought into some kind of uniformity. It would be a good thing for industry and for the trade union movement to have a uniform code covering the training of young people.
I wish to say a word or two on the subject of equal pay for equal work, in respect of which the Minister for Labour and National Service recently announced the Government’s policy. In my opinion, the only good feature of the Minister’s decision was the determination, following a request by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and other bodies for the establishment of a women’s bureau, to set up a section of the Department of Labour and National Service to deal with this question. That was a good move, but I am surprised by the devious ways in which the Minister set about rejecting the other requests of the unions. The real issues have again been evaded. The statement made by the Minister dodged the issues that were presented to him.
For instance, he suggested that Australia’s obligations under the International Labour Organization’s recommendations could be met by either lowering or increasing standards. A statement such as that does not answer the question at all. The main failure of the Minister and of the department in this matter is a failure to promote conferences with the States, in conformity with the recommendations, with a view to the States accepting, at any rate to some extent, the principle of equal pay, having in mind the propositions that have been advanced about the basic wage. I do not want to disagree with the statements made in the Minister’s announcement about the needs portion of the basic wage, but I do say that I think the Commonwealth Government should give practical support to the recommendations of the International Labour Organization, of which Australia is a member. I think the Government should say that it will try to persuade the States to confer on the question of applying the principle of equal pay at any rate to State and Commonwealth employees. Although it may be argued that the New South Wales legislation on equal pay has not yet reached the point at which it would be acceptable to the Labour movement and the employers, it does at any rate represent a move towards implementing the principle.
I was rather surprised that the Minister, despite the requests made to him, said that he did not intend to take any action in this matter in his own department. In another place some figures were produced showing what would be involved if this action were taken in Commonwealth Government departments. In May of this year the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) mentioned a much lower figure than that which was quoted during the debate in another place. I suggest that the question of equal pay for work formerly done by males and now being done by females in Commonwealth and State government departments should be reviewed by the various governments. The Commonwealth Government should encourage discussion amongst the States on this important question. If that were done, much of the criticism that has been levelled at the Minister since he made his statement would be neutralized. For myself, I can see no logic in the reasons stated by the Minister. I think he has failed completely to take the action which he should have taken under the act.
– Under what act?
– Under the recommendations of the International Labour Organization. I suggest that the traditional answers to the question about what we can or cannot do in this matter are being used as excuses for not doing anything. The Minister said that the Government did not propose to confer with the States because to do so would interfere with the sovereign powers of the States. It is obvious that in a federation there are some complications, but the Commonwealth Government should call a special conference with the State Premiers to discuss the extent to which the principle of equal pay, as recommended by the International Labour Organization, could bc introduced, if not throughout industry as a whole, then in Commonwealth and State departments.
The figures of cost which have been quoted are rather extraordinary. I do not think they are accurate, but are used merely as an excuse to evade the issue. I think the Commonwealth Government should give a lead by implementing in its own departments the principle of equal pay for females who are performing the work of males. Unless this problem is solved1, it will become more serious year by year. It is not £ od enough to find sophisticated reasons for delaying action until next year. Action should be taken this year.
.- I wish to raise two matters which I suggest are of some significance in the industrial life of the community. The first concerns what I might call the growth and development of trade unionism amongst the whitecollar workers, which has resulted, since the end of the war, in an increase in the number of registered organizations of employees under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and in important steps forward by the salaried and professional classes of employees represented by these unions. Such organization amongst salaried workers has proceeded side by side with organization amongst craft and industrial workers.
The annual report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Sir Richard Kirby, recently tabled in the Senate, shows that the conciliation commissioners have had jurisdiction to deal with groups of employees such as banking officers, insurance clerks, teachers - although teachers do not come under the Commonwealth act - professional officers of various kinds, trustee officers, air pilots and salaried officers in many different categories. These groups of employees have in the last decade, and even before that, recognized an increasing affinity amongst themselves, growing out of a common interest in improved earnings and working conditions. Such issues as margins, annual leave, standard hours and so on have drawn these various groups into a co-operative attitude, one to the other. This has, I think, involved a mutual recognition by white-collar unions and industrial and craft unions of the need to co-operate and to be interdependent in industrial relationships. I believe that there has been an increasing awareness by the white collar workers that they will never get anything done industrially unless they are prepared to work together with the established trade union movement. Consequently, we have seen the banding of individual organizations of white collar workers in larger organizations to press, as far as possible, a common viewpoint on behalf of white collar salaried employees. I do not want to refer particularly to individual organizations, but the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations has been active in the field of amalgamating for particular purposes the efforts of the white collar unions affiliated with it.
Of course, there has been an increasing awareness by industrial workers that the concept of “ the worker “ is expanding. Among those who are in the employee classes are those who belong to the wide variety of white collar occupations. The employee classes are not limited to industrial workers. I mention these matters because during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service in another place within the last week or so, it was suggested that in some way the interests of white collar workers are antagonistic or opposed to the interests of industrial workers. It was suggested that there is only one economic cake; there is only one employees’ slice of the cake; and therefore the white collar workers must compete with the industrial and craft unions for their share of the cake. But in my view the position is not as suggested. The position is that there is no essential antagonism, friction or opposition between employees in the white collar unions and employees in the industrial unions. By seeking to co-operate with each other, they are not fighting each other for a slice of the cake or for a share of a fixed slice of the cake. They are working in cooperation so that together they may enjoy a larger total slice of the cake than they would have enjoyed if they had pursued their separate ways in what we might call the industrial jungle.
– If the cake is larger.
– Of course one wants to see the cake getting larger all the time. What I am suggesting is that the employees’ proportion of the cake is not necessarily fixed or static and that if we view their interests as running side by side, what they get in the end is a larger share of the cake for the employee class viewed as a whole. That is not inconsistent with the suggestion that is implied in the honorable senator’s interjection, namely, that the cake can be larger. The larger the better.
– I am saying that it must be larger.
– I should like to see it larger and I think every other honorable senator wants to see it larger; but, as long as it remains its present size, the employee class is not necessarily confined to a fixed percentage. If the employees can improve their position by organization, so much the better for all of them and so much the better for the community, I suggest.
– You are not drawing a distinction between an increase in the national income and an increase in productivity. I think you should make that distinction clear.
– Of course one wants to see an increase in productivity and one wants to see an increase in the national income. I am suggesting that on either view of the proposition that I am putting the interests of the white collar workers are consistent with the interests of the industrial workers and that attempts to create antagonism or opposition between those two groups of employees are not well directed. Such attempts spring largely from the common interest that employers’ organizations have in defeating industrial claims by employees. That is the proposition that I want to put under this head, Mr. Temporary Chairman.
I believe that there is a fear in the minds of employers’ organizations - and it infects members of the Government political parties which the employers’ organizations support - that by getting together the white collar workers and the industrial unions will obtain a larger share of the cake. The employers’ organizations are attempting to meet that fear by suggesting an essential antagonism between those two groups of employees. For example, it is suggested that the white collar workers are not really interested in annual leave because they already receive three weeks annual leave and therefore they should not be supporting the claims of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the industrial movement for three weeks annual leave. That suggestion is dropped into the pond in order to try to cool the enthusiasm of the white collar workers for active co-operation with the trade union movement. That is the first matter to which I wish to refer.
I wish to deal briefly with some aspects of the matter that was raised by Senator Bishop, namely equal pay for men and women for work of equal value. The statement that was made by the Minister for Labour and National Service Mr. McMahon) on 18th October this year is interesting and repays study. It sets out carefully the Government’s position on this extremely important question. As the Minister’s statement says, earlier in the year the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister met a deputation of representatives of the A.C.T.U., the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations and the High Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organizations. That deputation made two requests to the Government. They were, first, that the Government in respect of its own employees implement the International Labour Organization Convention and Recommendation of 1951 dealing with equal pay for work of equal value; and secondly, that the Government arrange a discussion with the State governments concerning the uniform introduction of legislation to give effect to those instruments.
It is clear from the Minister’s statement that the Government has turned down both those requests. I support the remarks of Senator Bishop on this aspect of the matter. In turning down those requests, it appears to me that the Government has shifted its ground from that which is necessarily involved in the position which it took at the I.L.O. meeting in 1951 when, although it abstained from voting on the convention, it voted in favour of the recommendation. I quote the following extract from the Minister’s statement on what that recommendation involved -
The recommendation provides for appropriate action to be taken to ensure the application of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value to all employees of central government departments or agencies, and to encourage the application of the principle to employees of State, provincial or local government departments or agencies where these have jurisdiction over rates of pay.
What is involved in supporting that recommendation is an obligation on the Govern ment to take appropriate action to encourage and, indeed, ensure the application of the principle among its own employees and among those of State and local government bodies. What the Minister’s statement finally leads us to is this, which appears at the very end -
While the Government does not oppose the principle of equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value, it does not consider that it would be acting responsibly if it were, by its own decision, to apply the principle to its own employees in advance of a definitive determination by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
This is more than a matter of language. To say that one does not oppose is not the same as to say that one supports and encourages. The Government says, “This is not a matter for us to implement on our own motion. It ought to go to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission where a responsible inquiry can be held into whether the principle should be applied generally throughout industry.” The Government says that it would be irresponsible to act alone in the matter. But what would be the Government’s attitude to such a matter if it ever came before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? That is not indicated anywhere in the Minister’s statement. Would the Government say, “Consistent with our view that this recommendation of the International Labour Organization should be adopted, we press the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to adopt the principle of equal pay”? Or would it merely say, “ We do not oppose the unions’ application “ - if it ever came to that - “ but we desire to point out that there are formidable difficulties associated with the matter “? The Minister’s statement is filled with an air of reluctance to meet the obligation that is implied in supporting the recommendation of the International Labour Organization. It contains a scarcely concealed threat that the introduction of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value would mean a reduction in the male rate of pay. I say that is not something that we should contemplate with equanimity. I do not concede that that is the right approach to the matter. Of course it is possible that you could approach the task of implementing the principle of equal pay by saying, “ If you want more for women, you must have less for men “. That is the sort of problem that I was dealing with when Senator Cormack was good enough to draw my attention to another aspect of the matter. I am now dealing with the same principle in connexion with another industrial problem. I do not believe that in order to build somebody up you have to tear somebody else down.
– Order! The honorable
Senator’s time has expired.
– 1 should like to take the opportunity to reply briefly to the points that have been raised by those who have spoken so far. Senator Bishop raised the question of the machinery for the training of apprentices and made various suggestions for action which, in his view, would improve the efficacy of that machinery. I shall see that his suggestions are brought to the attention of the responsible Minister.
I should like to read into the record actually what has happened so far with respect to this branch of the department’s responsibilities. Following the 1954 apprenticeship inquiry, the Commonwealth and the States agreed upon the establishment of an Australian Apprenticeship Advisory Committee, which is a top level body comprising State technical, education and apprenticeship authorities, and which is chaired by the secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service. This committee has kept under review the recommendations of the 1954 inquiry. On some issues, it has encouraged the adoption of the recommendations generally. For example, a great deal of work has been done in connexion with apprenticeship statistics, which the committee pointed out were lacking. On other recommendations, the committee has gone into the issues rather more deeply than the apprenticeship inquiry itself was able to do and has reached conclusions slightly different from those arrived at by the apprenticeship inquiry. The Australian Apprenticeship Advisory Committee is encouraging the States to introduce greater flexibility into apprenticeship arrangements, and these discussions have led to amendments in State apprenticeship legislation. The Australian Apprenticeship Advisory Committee seems the more appropriate medium for continu ing these efforts to adapt apprenticeship law to meet current needs, and that is the course which will be followed.
Both Senator Cohen and Senator Bishop referred at some length to the question of equal pay, but before dealing with that I shall refer to the first matter raised by Senator Cohen. Senator Cohen seemed to be disturbed because some members of white collar workers’ organizations believed, or were told, that the interests of their organizations and the interests of industrial unions might be in conflict. I suppose that is entirely a matter of opinion. Senator Cohen’s opinion, my opinion, and the opinions of the people who run the professional and salaried officers’ organizations are simply opinions. If these people do indeed believe that they may lose their margins for skill, or their margins for the extra responsibilities which they take, that is their opinion. I believe they are sufficiently intelligent to be able to decide for themselves, quite satisfactorily and without advice from us or from Senator Cohen, where their best interests lie, and that in fact they will do so.
A great deal has been said by both Senator Bishop and Senator Cohen on the question of equal pay for equal work. The position appears to me to be fairly simple and fairly straightforward. At the International Labour Organization Convention the question of equal pay for equal work to males and females was brought forward and the Commonwealth Government made it clear, as has been pointed out here, that although it did not oppose that proposition, it did not feel it could adopt that part of the proposition which called upon it, as a government, to legislate in order to bring in equal pay for equal work. The Government made that quite clear at the International Labour Organization Convention. It said, “ The reason why we do not feel that we can undertake, as a government, to legislate to bring this in is that we believe in a system of arbitration for the fixing of wages in Australia. That is the policy we have always followed. We believe that if the principle of equal pay for equal work is to be introduced into Australia, it should be introduced by means of a decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission “. That is the position as it stands at the present time. As the Minister for Labour and National Service has pointed out, excluding basic pay, the Commonwealth Government has made provision for equal pay for equal work. That is to say, it has made that provision in relation to margins and payments over and above the basic pay. On the matter of basic pay, which is vitally important to members of trade unions, both male and female, to members of professional organizations and to the economy as a whole, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is the proper authority to make a determination in Australia. As the Minister has pointed out - this seems to me to be perfectly reasonable - the way in which this can best be done is for the trade unions themselves, or if the members of the Opposition, speaking through Senator Cohen and Senator Bishop, believe what they say, for the Opposition through any organization it might have, to approach the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and ask it to make the requisite determination. The matter would then be in the proper hands, lt would then be in the place to which we have always looked for decisions on industrial matters. As the Minister and the Government have said, the Commonwealth does not oppose the proposition. If there is a desire for this matter to be brought forward, why do not those honorable senators opposite who have been calling out to me endeavour to see that the unions to which some of them belong bring the matter before the Arbitration Court? Then we could see what the proper authority in this country determined.
– Under Division No. 401 - Administrative - I want to revive a matter that has been brought before this chamber from time to time and which, on a previous occasion, I asked the Government to consider. I refer to the breaking down of unemployment statistics. The Minister may remember that from time to time when information has been sought by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber regardirg the employment situation in Australia at any given time, an overall figure has been given. When we have sought information that would give us an idea of the groups embodied in that overall figure, the wells of information have dried up and we have not been able to obtain the figures we required. I think that most honorable senators agree that a scientific appraisal of the classes of people who are unemployed is long overdue. Until such time as scientific observations are made and the unemployed are divided into age groups and into skilled and unskilled workers, I do not think we will be able effectively to grapple with the situation that is causing so much concern and misery in many homes at the present time. It is essential for the Senate to be informed, at any time that an honorable senator desires such information, of the number of people in, say, the age group between sixteen and twenty years who are out of work, or who are in receipt of unemployment benefit or registered as unemployed. It is also essential to know how many of those people are males and how many females, how many are skilled and their particular trades, how many are semi-skilled and how many have no skill of any kind. The time has come for proper consideration to be given to this matter.
I come now to a particular group of people in the community whom I refer to as the over-fifties. Many people in this age group are unemployed, and so far as my memory serves me, that position has existed for the last eighteen months. They are the forgotten legion so far as work opportunities are concerned. A person who is over 50 years of age and who has no particular skill, but who wants to find a job, virtually has an impossible task to-day. I think that all honorable senators know that that is so. I am not suggesting that the various branches of the Department of Labour and National Service in the capital cities are not doing everything possible to place in employment people in this age group who are not able to obtain employment through their own efforts. I must confess, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that I have met with nothing but unfailing courtesy from the local branch officers of the department in the representations that I have made on behalf of people who have been unemployed in the city of Adelaide. Let there be no misunderstanding on that point; but I feel that those people are handicapped, as we are, in that they do not know the full facts and, as a consequence, are not able to correct the position.
Another significant matter on which information should be available to honorable senators almost at the batting of an eyelid is the impact that immigration is likely to have on the labour market. We need to know the extent to which the arrival in this country of migrants with skills in various trades will affect the labour market and the position .of those who already cannot find jobs. I make a special plea for the over-fifties who are desperate because they cannot find employment of any kind. Frankly, if I had the opportunity, I should be happy to employ many of the men in that age group who come to my office to ask whether I can help them to find work. They are of good appearance and give the impression that they would be able to do a first-class job. The only thing that is lacking is the opportunity to find employment with an organization of some kind or other. I point out that in some more enlightened countries scientific research in this field is undertaken. As a consequence, the authorities in those countries are better equipped to find suitable employment for people who might be regarded as more difficult to employ than others.
It is time that we in Australia did something along those lines. It is past the time when we should have had from the department, through the Minister, a break-down into various categories of the people who arc suffering the grave disability of unemployment. If we had that information we would be better equipped to suggest what should be done to relieve the position. There should be a greater degree of co-operation between the Government, the trade unions and industry in regard to placing in employment people in the difficult employment categories that I have mentioned. I am not suggesting that something in that direction has not already b:en done, but I do suggest that not sufficient is being done, and I should like to hear the Minister’s comments on the proposals I have made. The other matter that I wish to raise relates to the expenses of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. I should like some information on the present activities and future role of this body.
– I rise to correct a misapprehension which, I think, exists in the mind of Senator Bishop. The honorable senator referred to the Minister’s intention to establish a women’s bureau. If I understood him cor rectly, he claimed that it was the Australian Council of Trade Unions which had submitted the idea to the Minister. The records of the Senate show that on 16th March, 1960, I made a speech on this subject. I pointed out the dramatic changes that had taken place in the employment of women over the years. I also outlined the difficulties associated with a survey of any kind and made a recommendation to the Minister that some sort of bureau or council, following the practice of Canada, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, should be set up. That fact is acknowledged in the book, “ Women in Australia “, by Norman MacKenzie, which has recently been published.
– Then you agree with the A.C.T.U.?
– You took the credit for the A.C.T.U. I am saying that the A.C.T.U. had never referred to the matter. I do not recall any other speech being made either in the Senate or in another place in which it was suggested that there should be a women’s bureau. I congratulate the Minister on accepting the suggestion. At the same time, I point out to Senator Bishop that the suggestion came from this side of the Parliament. If we can teach the A.C.T.U. anything, our time has not been wasted.
– I wish to make a submission to the Government on behalf of children leaving school and seeking employment. I refer particularly to children who left school last year and the previous year with educational qualifications to fit them for employment in an average commercial job, but who were unable to find work. Under the direction of the various State governments, and encouraged to some degree by the Commonwealth Government, many of those children returned to school. Many such children in Western Australia are the offspring of parents who are not in the highincome bracket. The parents made sacrifices to educate their children at considerable expense, and then found that the children had to return to school because they could riot find employment.
I know that additional education is valuable, but I believe that the Government has been shabby in neglecting to increase child endowment, and in its treatment generally of working class parents who have difficulty in educating their children. The Government must realize, as does the Opposition, that education is most important. At the same time, when families have done their best to educate their children to take their place in modern society, it is incumbent on the Government to see that a child who has to return to school because of lack of employment opportunities, is given an extended allowance in some form. Alternatively, instead of indulging in an ungodly, last-minute rush to accommodate these children, the Government should set up a committee to direct its attention to this vital matter.
A child who is ready to leave school, and who is seeking employment in a compatible position, becomes disillusioned if employment cannot be found. Families on wages have’ to make considerable sacrifices, particularly when a child has to return to school and continue his or her education in the hope that a job will be found later. A child educated to the point of entering a trade or calling may be prejudiced because of his age if he cannot get employment immediately. If he returns to school, he is in difficulty again when seeking employment a year later. He is not educated to the point where he can qualify for a professional position or go on to a university, and he may be too old to enter a trade.
This is one of the gravest problems facing Australia. I ask the Government to organize an appropriate programme to absorb children leaving school with an adequate education or, alternatively, to offer something to the family man whose children cannot find work because of the economic policies of the Government and its shabby neglect of children from working-class homes when they leave school. I hope that the Government will act in this matter, and that we shall not be faced again with the experience we had at the end of the last school year.
I suggest also that the Department of Labour and National Service should extend its field of operations beyond factory and dead-end jobs for boys and girls leaving school with an education that qualifies them for a reasonable position in the community. I know that officers of the department conduct vocational and intelligence tests. The department does its best with the staff that is available, but the staff is quite inadequate. I plead with the Government to make better arrangements for young Australians who will become the backbone of the community in the future. We do not want to see them disillusioned.
– Senator Toohey asked for an explanation of the provision of £1,000 for the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. Senator Toohey will recall certain happenings of several years ago, and the continuing existence of matters that were set in operation by the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council when it was fully operative. This vote is to meet the costs of productivity groups which were set up in various industries by the advisory council when it was active. It is also to meet the cost of reprinting various publications which were put out by the groups at that time.
Senator Toohey also referred to the figures showing the number of persons registered for employment. I emphasize that these are different from statistics of unemployment, although there is general confusion about these statistics. Senator Toohey suggested that when statistics relating to persons registered for employment were tabulated, there should be additional categories to show the skills, age groups, sex and other details of those who are registered. Undoubtedly that would be of assistance in evaluating the overall problem but I am not sure whether this would compensate for the great deal of extra effort involved.
The figures showing the numbers registered for employment are by-products, as it were, of the endeavours of the Commonwealth Employment Service to place people in employment. In the activities of the Commonwealth Employment Service, emphasis is placed on finding openings for applicants and on getting them employment. If these figures were to be broken down further as the honorable senator has suggested - and that course appeals to me - it would involve a very great increase in the resources and man-power of the department. I shall bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon).
Senator Cooke referred to school leavers who could not find employment and who had to return to school. He asked that attention should be given to the problems of these people. This problem has already attracted the attention of the Government, and of the metal and electrical trades conference, which has sought to overcome the difficulty in one field by paying attention to apprenticeship and by seeking - I think successfully - agreement between employees and employers’ organizations for more flexibility in the employment of apprentices and for greater employment opportunities for them. I understand that the conference will resume to-morrow under the chairmanship of the Minister’s deputy, the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service. It will be concerning itself with placing in employment in country areas, where the problems that Senator Cooke mentioned tend to be more noticeable, country lads, not apprentices, for whom jobs can be found.
.- I should like to raise a matter in relation to the staffing of the Department of Labour and National Service in Tasmania, which is causing concern. There is only one permanent industrial inspector to cover Commonwealth awards. It is impossible for him to police the whole State because of the wide field in which Commonwealth industrial awards operate. Trade union organizers in Tasmania desire that the department review the situation and appoint more inspectors for this important work. At the present time cases referred to the inspector are subject to a lag of two or three months. I understand that one of the main offenders is the liquor trade. Employees who are waiting for their cases to be investigated leave their occupations because of injustices in relation to the pay and other provisions of the award. The appointment of a permanent inspector for the northern part of Tasmania, stationed in Launceston, would relieve the situation greatly. There should be no excuse for a shortage of industrial inspectors, because the trade union movement has paid out, under what it considers to be unjust legislation, over £500,000 in fines. This form of revenue collection is imposing very heavy penalties on a section of the community that is standing by the closely guarded right of human beings to decide where and on what terms and conditions they will sell their labour. The right to strike is a very delicate subject, but if these heavy penalties are imposed on employees, the Government should see that the employers come up to scratch in relation to their responsibilities. That cannot be done without the appointment of sufficient inspectors.
I should like to know the Government’s attitude towards retraining employees displaced as a result of the evergrowing trend towards automation and mechanization in industry. No one can gainsay the fact that modern science and inventiveness will continue to develop labour-saving devices. Any nation that neglects this most important problem must be a heavy loser in the long run. Many people who devoted the early periods of their lives to achieving certain skills find, upon displacement, great difficulty in obtaining other positions without some form of retraining. Although technical colleges are available to many for night studies, there does not seem to be any concerted effort by the Commonwealth to approach this problem with the vigour that is necessary to give these people the hope and belief that there is a niche in the world for them. Their services are required by the nation and their abilities and talents should be directed not only in their own personal interests but also in the interests of the nation we are building. The problem must be faced on a national scale. The waste and human anxiety involved should stir any government with a sense of responsibility to work out not only an immediate plan but also a long-range plan for the retraining of people who have been and will be displaced. This problem is very similar to the one raised by Senator Cooke in relation to school-leavers. The latter are entering industry for the first time. They must learn skills to take their places in the industrial community. The same principle applies to those persons who are displaced by mechanization of industry. I hope that the Minister will be able to give the Senate an indication that the problem is being investigated thoroughly. It is one of great national importance. We shall pay in the future if we do not do something about it soon.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [5.4]. - I refer to Division No. 401, sub-division 2, item 11, Fifth Asian Regional Conference of the International Labour Organization - Expenses. Is this the conference that is, I understand, to open in Melbourne at an early date? It seems that such conferences are held each year in a different country. I should like to know when this conference was last held in Australia.
Referring to Division No. 685, I note that last year £156,800 was appropriated for technical training, but that this year the Government is seeking to appropriate only £1 10,000 for this purpose. What is the reason for the reduction in the amount sought this year? In view of the difficulty in providing employment for people during the last twelve months it would seem that a greater amount should be provided this year than was provided last year in order to train people who wish to change their vocations.
– Under Division No. 401 I refer to the proposed appropriation of £1,000 as expenses in connexion with the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. In reply to Senator Toohey, Senator Gorton said that the amount spent for this purpose last year represented a carry-over from the time when the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council was meeting. I think there must be some other explanation than that, because during the time that I have been here the council has not met in the way that it met originally. In 1958-59, the appropriation for this purpose was £17,000. The amount spent was £3,690. In 1959-60, the appropriation was £12,400, of which only £1,374 was spent. In 1960-61, the appropriation was £11,000 and £4,349 was spent. Last year, the appropriation was £2,000, and the amount spent was £1,397. This year, the Government seeks to appropriate £1,000. 1 can recall that on other occasions when this matter was referred to, the Minister replying stated that the appropriation was sought in the expectation that there would be a change of heart by the trade union movement, and that it would agree to meet in this council.
In view of the increase from an expenditure of £1,374 in 1959-60 to an expenditure of £4,349 in the following year, and having regard to the fact that £1,000 is to be appropriated this year, I should like to know whether the amounts relate to the same kind of carry-over work that was involved in decisions made when the council was meeting. I should like to know also whether the Government has given up all idea of putting the council on a basis satisfactory to the trade union movement, thus encouraging it to sit on the council again.
Senator Toohey raised the matter of unemployment statistics. I do not think it would be difficult to provide statistics showing the length of time during which persons registered for employment are actually out of work. Statistics showing that so many thousands of people are out of work in a particular year do not have the same significance as statistics showing that some of those people may have been out of work for eleven months, and may have obtained employment only in the twelfth month. When I have raised this matter on other occasions I have been told that it is impossible to give information regarding the average period of time during which people are out of work. I do not believe it would be difficult to provide that information. If it were provided we could make good use of it.
– Replying to Senator O’Byrne, I understand that only one industrial inspector of the Department of Labour and National Service is engaged inspecting Commonwealth awards in Tasmania, but it is hoped to be able to make arrangements, as they have already been made in New South Wales and Western Australia, for State inspectors to inspect both Commonwealth and State awards. I understand that at the present moment a proposal to that effect is being discussed.
With regard to the retraining of displaced employees, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has already stated that at the moment he would prefer to concentrate his efforts on the training of young people, but that he will keep constantly under review the matter of retraining displaced employees in case it becomes a problem. I do not think that at the moment this matter could be said to present a problem, although it may do so in the future.
asked why ?72,000 was set aside for the holding of the Fifth Asian Regional Conference of the International Labour Organization. This is the first occasion on which a conference of this kind has been held in Australia. That is why no provision was made in former years.
Senator Sir Walter Cooper also asked, why the appropriation sought this year under Division No. 685 for training and rehabilitation was less than was appropriated last year. The answer is that this money provides for the training and rehabilitation of persons who served in Malaya and Korea. With the passing of time most of the people who were eligible, and who wished to be trained, have been trained. That is why the amount sought this year is less than was spent last year.
Senator Ridley dealt with the proposed appropriation of ?1,000 as expenses in connexion with the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. I can only repeat that this amount has been sought for costs of productivity groups during the current year, and for the reprinting of pamphlets. The amount sought is slightly less than was spent last year. The Government has not given up all hope that representatives of the trade union movement will return and sit on the council, to their benefit and the benefit of Australia generally. However, the amount sought to be appropriated this year does indicate that the Government has doubts whether the trade union movement is likely to return to the council this year. We have sufficient faith in the ultimate good sense of the trade unions to believe that, with a little alteration made by them of their controlling councils, some day they will return to this co-operative effort.
– I refer to the proposed appropriation of ?72,000 under Division No. 401 as expenses in connexion with the Fifth Asian Regional Conference of the International Labour Organization. Earlier to-day, an honorable senator asked why Melbourne was given preference over Sydney in relation to certain matters. The question provoked laughter on the other side of the chamber. 1 should like to know what actuated the Government in deciding that this conference should be held in Melbourne, particularly when we know that Sydney is the greatest industrial city of Australia. I would think, too, that it is the city that counts most in the minds of Asian people. I should like to know what actuated the Government in selecting Melbourne as the site for this conference.
Only a month ago another extraordinarily large conference was held in Melbourne, I refer to the World Power Conference. I do not think that honorable senators will have to use their ingenuity too much to realize that this Government is influenced a great deal by Melbourne. At any rate, it does not seem to go out of its way to take things away from Melbourne. I should like to know why the Government chose Melbourne as the site for the International Labour Conference when such a conference is being held in Australia for the first time. I have just been reminded that a Colombo Plan conference is to be held in Melbourne next week. Everything happens in Melbourne.
I note that ?2,000 is to be appropriated to make a payment in lieu of furlough to the Public Service Arbitrator on retirement. I should like an explanation of that. It is Division No. 402, item 03. I should like the Minister to answer the two queries I have raised. I am particularly interested to know why the Government has such a preference for Melbourne.
.- A sum of ?2,000 is provided in the estimates for a payment in lieu of furlough to ex-Senior Commissioner Galvin. On the other point raised by the honorable senator, about the holding of international conferences in Melbourne, all I can say is that it is likely that they will continue to be held in Melbourne, rather than in any of the other provincial cities, until such time as they are held in the National Capital of Australia. The reason why such conferences are being held in Melbourne is, I suppose, that the accommodation and the arrangements for such conferences are better in Melbourne at the moment than they are in Sydney. That might also be the reason why the Country
Women’s Association of the World, a completely non-governmental organization, decided to hold a conference in Melbourne. That is something over which the Government had no control.
I have no doubt that the reason for holding the Asian Regional Conference of the International Labour Organization in Melbourne is that the amenities for such conferences are of a higher standard in Melbourne. The Australian Council of Trade Unions - which perhaps the honorable senator should take to task - has had its head-quarters in Melbourne for a long time. The employers’ organization also has its head-quarters in Melbourne. I do not know why the A.C.T.U., the employers’ federation or the Country Women’s Association chose Melbourne rather than Sydney, unless it was that they arrived at the completely impartial decision that that was the best place in which they could hold conferences, until they could come to the National Capital, which I hope will be soon.
As far as the Colombo Plan conference is concerned, it was decided to hold that in Melbourne for the same reasons. It is possible that if in the town of Sydney the hotel which is not yet completed had been completed to a stage where conferences could be held, some of these conferences would have been held there. I can say that the decisions to hold these conferences in Melbourne were not made because of any malice on the part of the Government or of any organization. I suggest that the honorable senator approach his State government, suggest that it pull its socks up, so to speak, and get on with the development of Sydney. If the State Government provided the proper amenities, it would attract these conferences to New South Wales. If the honorable senator does not consider it to be his task to do that, let him see that the present Opposition in New South Wales becomes the government and his dreams will come true.
– I wish to speak on the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service, and I shall direct my initial remarks to Division No. 401 - Administrative. I direct the attention of the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) to the Sixth Annual Report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I refer to page 17, on which it is stated -
This is the sixth annual report in which I have found it necessary to refer to the poor accommodation provided for the Commission and its members in Sydney. At the present time the accommodation is almost as poor as it has been over the whole of the existence of the Commission. It is only the fact that members of the Commission have reason to believe, it is hoped rightly, that new premises will be provided within a short period which has prevented me from being more vocal in complaining on their behalf than I have been.
In amplifying the remarks that have been made by my colleague, Senator Ormonde, may I say that some two or three years ago a large arbitration building was erected in the city of Melbourne. Although decent and adequate accommodation has been provided by the Government in that city for the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, I agree with the president of the commission that the standard of accommodation in Sydney for the important work that is carried on is, to say the least, very poor indeed.
Not only have I worked there as an officer of the Public Service, but also I have had the honour of appearing on behalf of my trade union, the Australian Journalists Association. Speaking from my own personal experience, I endorse the remarks of the president of the commission. Three court rooms are provided in the area. There are four conference rooms and what is referred to as a small conference room on the sixth floor of the T.A.A. building at 119 Phillip-street.
Not only is this accommodation inadequate in terms of space but it is also inadequate from the point of view of health and general physical comfort. The building is badly lit. It has poor ventilation. In the conference and court rooms large fans are provided for ventilation purposes, but during the time the commission is sitting - be it the president of the commission, the deputy president or the commissioners - these fans have to be turned off so that the proceedings can be heard. The acoustics are shocking. No witnesses’ rooms are provided, and at times of grave industrial troubles I have seen hundreds of people crammed in the corridors. The atmosphere has been stifling. They have been standing in the corridors, hoping at some time to get a seat in one of the courts and to listen to the proceedings. I suggest that the standard of accommodation that is provided by the Government for the commission in Sydney does not induce an attitude of conciliation in the parties who might be brought before the commission under section 28 of the act. I should like to know what plans the Government has to provide reasonable, decent and adequate accommodation for the members of the commission in the performance of their work in Sydney. 1 wish to refer now to pages 9 to 13 of the annual report of the president of the commission. I direct the attention of the Minister for the Navy to the matters listed there under the various commissioners and the large number of industries with which the commissioners deal. I say quite frankly that too many industries are allotted to each of the commissioners to permit them to give adequate and effective coverage to each industry. I conscientiously suggest to the Government that the time is ripe for the appointment of more commissioners. I notice that there are nine commissioners, including the senior commissioner, Mr. Taylor. There is no doubt that in the eyes of the trade union movement and the employers’ organizations these men play an important and responsible role in the arbitration sphere. I believe it is fair to say that the vast majority of them are considered to be efficient by the people who appear before them.
In suggesting that the time is ripe for the Government to consider the appointment of more commissioners, I express the hope that the Government will consider making appointments from the ranks of the trade union movement. It is some time since an appointment was made to the commission from the trade union movement. I do not think any one would dare suggest anything against the veracity and impartiality of men such as Mr. Commissioner Austin, Mr. Commissioner Donovan, Mr. Commissioner Findlay and Mr. Commissioner Horan. Each of those men com menced his industrial training in the trade union movement. They have all served industry generally in an impartial and effective manner. Their views are respected by employers and employees alike. I suggest to the Government that in the near future additional appointments to the commission should be made and that some of the appointees should come from the ranks of the trade union movement.
I also direct the attention of the Minister to page 3 of the report of the president of the commission. I ask him to comment on this matter later. I note that notifications under section 28 of the act increased in the last year from 589 to 660. That section of the act has a compulsive effect in bringing before the arbitration authorities parties engaged in an industrial dispute or engaged in a disturbance that is likely to lead to an industrial dispute. I raise this matter for the direct purpose of suggesting that the Government might consider providing to the parties involved in such proceedings at least one copy of the transcript of the proceedings free of charge. These proceedings are important and the cost runs into considerable sums of money. The section has a compulsive effect on employers and employees alike. They appear before the commission and put their points of view in the hope that an effective settlement will be achieved. I earnestly put my suggestion to the Government and the Department of Labour and National Service in the hope that they will consider it, at least in respect of section 28 proceedings.
In Division No. 402, subdivision 2, item 02, there is an appropriation of £5,000 to the Public Service Arbitrator’s Office for payment for services of the Court Reporting Branch. Quite frankly, it seems to me to be stupid and absurd that an official engaged in determining Public Service arbitration matters should have to bear the cost of the services of the Court Reporting Branch in providing a transcript of the proceedings that he will have to consider in making his determination.
While speaking about the Public Service Arbitrator’s Office, I wish to direct the attention of the Minister to a statement on page 26 of the report of the Commonwealth Public Service Board which says that during the last financial year 92 determinations were issued by the Public Service Arbitrator and that the relatively low number of contested cases is explained by the arbitrator’s presence on the bench hearing the professional engineer’s case and the preoccupation of the assistant to the arbitrator with an unusually lengthy case affecting the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. We all know that a determination has now been made in the professional engineers’ case and that recently a determination has been made by the Public Service Arbitrator in respect of Commonwealth legal officers. As a result of speaking to Public Service union officials, it is fair for me to say that a spate of applications to the Public Service Arbitrator is likely to follow those determinations. That is likely to lead to a banking up of applications. I earnestly suggest to the Government that it should consider the appointment of an acting assistant to the arbitrator while the Public Service Arbitrator is engaged on a hearing by the full bench of the commission or while the assistant to the arbitrator is engaged in determining a case such as that which is now proceeding before him in respect of employees of the A.B.C. That would help to overcome this back lag in Public Service award matters. That is all I wish to say at this stage about the Public Service Arbitrator’s Office.
The question of equal pay for work of equal value has been adverted to by my colleagues Senators Cohen and Bishop. I am glad to know that the Government does not oppose the principle of equal pay; but my colleagues and I would like to hear the Government say that it supports the principle and that it will implement it in the Public Service. The argument that because a person is a female she is not entitled to receive the same rate of pay as a male receives seems to me to give support to a policy of cheap labour. Only last Saturday in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ an advertisement was inserted by the Department of Labour and National Service for positions of planning and research officer, grade 2. The male salary was listed as ?1,651-?1,871, and the female salary was listed as ?l,463-? 1,678. In other words, because a person is a female she will be paid ?193 per annum less than a male employee. The advertisement stated that each applicant should have an appropriate university degree and the ability to conduct research. To me it is fantastic that in this modern age people who have the same educational standards, the same ability and the same capacity to perform the work should receive salaries that differ to the extent of ?193 per annum.
– And the same responsibilities?
– Yes, exactly the same responsibilities, according to the advertisement. There was no differentiation at all in the qualifications. Why should that be? Since the 1951 International Labour Organization Convention adopted the principle of equal pay in recommendation No. 100, 38 countries have incorporated provision for equal pay, 43 have provided equal pay for public servants and 77 have provided equal pay for teachers. It is true, as Senator Cohen said, that Australia abstained from voting on this recommendation, but Australia did vote for recommendation No. 90 of the same convention, which reads -
Appropriate action should be taken after consultation with the workers organizations concerned, or, where such organizations do not exist, with the workers concerned -
to ensure the application of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value to all employees of central Government departments or agencies; and
to encourage the application of the principle to employees of State, provincial or local government departments or agencies, where these have jurisdiction over rates of remuneration.
-(Senator Drake Brockman). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I rise for the purpose of allowing Senator McClelland to continue his speech.
– I thank Senator Cohen for enabling me to complete my remarks, and I can assure the committee that what I have left to say will be very brief indeed. In furtherance of what I have said on the question of equal pay, I point out that eleven years have elapsed since the Government sent its representatives to the International Labour Organization Convention in 1951 to vote for recommendation No. 90 of that convention, but Australian female public servants are still employed at what might be said to be cheap labour rates. The public servants rallied en masse to the policy of the Labour movement in the Lowe electorate - the electorate held by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) - at the last federal election, and I conscientiously believe that if the Government continues to adopt what might be termed a policy of quiescent acquiescence to the principle of equal pay and does not do anything positive to bring it about, or to implement it, it will feel a greater weight of numbers against it at future elections so far as female public servants and also male public servants are concerned.
There is one final thing I wish to say, and I go back to the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department for this purpose. I notice from page 40 of the Estimates that the Industrial Registrar’s Branch comes under the jurisdiction of the Attorney-General’s Department. I am wondering why the Industrial Registrar’s Branch should not come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labour and National Service. Perhaps the Minister can explain that to me for my edification.
– I merely want to ask a brief question arising out of the remarks made by members of the Opposition, particularly Senator McClelland, with reference to equal pay for equal work. Senator McClelland says that the Government has not done anything positive to implement this principle. I should like to ask him one question. Have the trade unions taken the positive step of approaching the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and putting a case before that body for the introduction of equal pay for men and women workers for work of equal value?
– I should like to reply to the various points raised by Senator McClelland. First, he complained about the accommodation provided for the Common wealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission at Phillip-street, Sydney. The construction of accommodation for the commission is in fact the responsibility of the Attorney-General’s Department. Therefore, there is naturally no provision for that in the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service. However, the matter is under discussion between the Department of Labour and National Service and the Attorney-General’s Department, which has already provided good accommodation in Melbourne.
Senator McClelland suggested that more commissioners be appointed. The Government’s policy in this matter is to rely on the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to say whether he wants more commissioners to be appointed to assist him. We are sure that he will make recommendations if he wants more commissioners to be1 appointed.
On the question of the persons who are appointed as commissioners, I can only say that the Government seeks to appoint the most suitable persons, or the persons whom it believes to be most suitable, to fill the positions, no matter where they come from: Indeed, the list of trade union representatives quoted by Senator McClelland indicates that the commissioners are not selected from any particular limited source. The question of making transcripts available will be looked at by the Government.
On the question of equal pay for work of equal value, I can only repeat what I said when this matter was raised by other honorable senators. The position of the Government is that it is not opposed to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value, but it is opposed, and always has been opposed, to the principle of trying to fix wages in this country by legislation instead of by a determination of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I believe that the impassioned invective that was addressed by Senator McClelland to us on this side of the chamber should rather have been adddressed to the union to which he belongs or the political movement to which he belongs. He should try to persuade the trade unions to take action. After all, ten years have elapsed since the trade unions bothered to approach the commission and ask it to rule on the question of equal pay for work of equal value. I do not know why they have not made another approach. It may be that the male members of the trade unions are not too keen on the application of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
– They are having two bob each way on this.
– It may well be that. Again, it may be that the female members of trade unions, particularly those employed in the industries mentioned by the Minister, fear that the industries in which they are employed would suffer a crippling blow if their wages were raised rather than the wages of the men being lowered. It is a matter for the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to decide. It crosses my mind that that may be the reason why the party to which the honorable senator belongs, and the trade unions which back it, have not taken the opportunity open to them to go to the proper authority in this country and ask it to make a ruling on the matter.
– I wish to refer to some of the remarks made by Senator Gorton in connexion with the question of equal pay for work of equal value, and particularly to his suggestion that the Government does not oppose the principle. I remind him that it is not so many years ago since the Government took a firm stand and said that it would not oppose a fair basic wage, yet, within the past two years, the Government has appeared before the commission and opposed an application by the unions for a fair basic wage. I have no doubt that a Liberal government would adopt the same stand in connexion with an application for equal pay for work of equal value. It is a fact that in the professions males and females are paid the same fees. For instance, a female barrister receives the same fees as a male barrister. Similarly, a female doctor is paid the same fees as a male doctor. The policy on which the Australian Labour Party stands is that equal pay should be paid for work of equal value. It is true that the commission is open to receive applications. But it is also true that this Government has power to give a lead in connexion with equal pay. It has power to apply the principle of equal pay for work of equal value to the Public Service. It has power also to do that in its business undertakings if it really wishes to give some lead on this very important question. I emphasize, too, that while the Government is not prepared to give a lead on this matter, it is prepared to give a lead in other places in holding back the progress of the people in preference to pushing them further ahead. I agree with Senator Cohen that in order to build some one up you do not have to pull some one else down. The policy of the Australian Labour Party always has been to build up and not to pull down. We shall continue our advocacy of equal pay for equal work while the present Government is in power; and when a Labour government comes to office, which will not be long delayed, despite the gerrymandering that the Government is trying to put over, we will legislate for equal pay.
Under Division No. 401 - Administration - I wish to raise a matter concerning Commonwealth Hostels Limited. As I look through the Estimates, I find that there are amounts allocated for Commonwealth Hostels Limited in the proposed expenditure of various departments. Nevertheless, the administration of the organization comes under the Department of Labour and National Service. I wish to refer particularly to the Graylands migrant centre in Western Australia. Some years ago, the centre was conducted by the Commonwealth, but when Commonwealth Hostels Limited was established, administration passed to that organization. Until recently, the Graylands migrant centre was the only migrant centre in Western Australia. Several complaints have been made about it being overcrowded. In fact, it is required to cater for approximately twice the number of people for which it was originally designed. Although the number of people to be accommodated in the hostel has increased so greatly, there has been no provision for additional facilities. The lavatories and bathrooms are overcrowded at all times. The people there are continually complaining about them, but nothing is being done to improve the conditions. The diningroom is not big enough to cater for the number of people who have to use it, with the result that it is necessary to have second and third sittings. This leads to staff difficulties. After the first sitting it is not possible to find a clean table at which to sit.
Because of the rush that occurs, the staff members are not able to clean up and re-set the tables. These matters are of considerable concern to the people there.
Complaints have been made about the lighting and heating facilities in the huts in which the migrants are housed. This may not be a Commonwealth responsibility. In case the Minister has not seen the buildings, I point out that they are huts of the Nissen type, divided for convenience. When I say that they are of the Nissen type, I am not being critical of them. It may be that the Commonwealth Government is not responsible for the inefficient lighting and heating facilities in the huts. That may be a State responsibility, but nevertheless there is inefficiency. If it is a Commonwealth responsibility, the Commonwealth Government should take up with the State Government the need to install more efficient services. I should be pleased if the Minister would say whether he has received complaints about the conditions at the hostel. I certainly have received them, and I have here correspondence on that score. If the Government has received complaints, is it prepared to do something about them?
– I shall bring the matter to the attention of the Minister.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
Proposed expenditures - Department of Labour and National Service, Capital Works and Services, £97,000; Post Discharge Re-settlement Training, £1,000 - noted.
Proposed expenditure, £110,000.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) recently made a statement about the extension of technical training. I should like the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) to enlarge on that statement and inform the committee what part the Royal Australian Navy will play in the extension of the apprenticeship system.
Senator GORTON (Victoria- Minister has to do with the technical training of ex-servicemen who have returned from the Korean or Malayan theatres of war. The Department of Labour and National Service has decided to train eligible men for a particular trade. This matter was raised by Senator Sir Walter Cooper, and I explained that because of the lapse of time since the campaigns in Malaya and Korea, the number of ex-servicemen eligible for training was decreasing each year. Therefore, this appropriation has been decreased also.
The Royal Australian Navy is training in apprenticeship schools about 100 apprentices a year. That means that we take about 100 a year, so that in a period of four years, there are 400 apprentices in training at any given time. We propose to raise the number to 160 a year next year so that at the end of four years there will be about 560 apprentices in training.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure, £2,771,000.
– I refer to Division No. 451 - Administrative, and I propose to discuss defence as it applies to Western Australia. That State is almost entirely cut off from our defences. The Royal Australian Navy has only one establishment in Western Australia, and that is a junior recruit training centre at Fremantle. There are some officers there to instruct and train the youths, but that is the only naval establishment we have in Western Australia. If we examine the disposition of the Royal Australian Navy, we find that it is confined principally to the Pacific Ocean and northern waters. It is only occasionally that any naval vessels are seen in the Indian Ocean. The Army has one Citizen Military Force battle group in Western Australia attached to the Third Pentropic Division, and there is a special air service company attached to the First Pentropic Division. That is the extent of the Army’s operations in that third of the continent of Australia. When we look at the operations of the Royal Australian Air Force, we find that there is an air force base at Pearce with between 500 and 1,000 air force personnel without one aircraft.
– That is not true.
– There is not one aircraft stationed in Western Australia. Occasionally, aircraft go there on training exercises and they might stay for a short period. Western Australia, with its long coastline and extensive area, should have some better defence than is provided at present.
That raises the question whether the Commonwealth Government is prepared to place defence projects in Western Australia or whether it is prepared to allow other people to provide our defences in that State. Yesterday, 1 asked a question about the intrusion of the United States of America into the defences of Australia, and particularly into Western Australian defences. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) denied any knowledge of such proposals, but there is an interesting pattern of events in Western Australia. We find that the Americans propose to put a communications base at North West Cape. That communications base will include a very low frequency transmitting station for the purpose, it is stated, of controlling atomic submarines while they are under the water. Five miles south of this base there will be a conventional high frequency transmitting station, and 40 miles south there will be a high frequency receiving station. The pattern continues with a tracking station, which it is proposed to put at Carnarvon. There is at present a tracking station at Watheroo, about 150 miles north of Perth.
At the Pearce R.A.A.F. base, the Americans have a radio station. About 12 miles from Perth, at Gnangarra, the Americans have another radio station. Surveys have been proceeding, and may have been completed, for another communications station just outside Albany. The station that is expected to be put there is the type of station that is used to control ballistic missiles. That seems to be the pattern of communications in the course of development now in Western Australia. The story is confirmed somewhat by a statement in the “ Daily Mirror “ yesterday that an atomic submarine tender ship will be based on Western Australia. The information in Western Australia is that it will be based at Albany. The information from Canberra is that it will be based at Learmonth, at North West Cape.
During the life of the previous Parliament, legislation was passed to make the
Antarctic a nuclear-free zone. With an article published in the “ Weekend News “ in Western Australia appeared a diagram showing the relationship with the Russian Antarctic base at Mirny. The article stated that these bases in the Antarctic could be controlled only from submarines, that is, from moving bases. Yet we are party to an agreement to keep that part of the world free from nuclear arms. One passage from the article read -
About 2,400 miles from Albany is the Russian base of Mirny, which is a 3,300-mile rocket flight from Australia’s industrial underbelly. It is seven minutes to Sydney - less to Perth. Author Richard Pate, in Antarctica in 1959 for Operation Deep Freeze, said that there was a tremendous military operation taking place there. “ Five American and four Russian bases are watching each other like cat and mouse “, he said. And only Polariscarrying submarines, a moving target, could be relied on to neutralize these bases, it seems.
Are we preparing to try to control the Antarctic from the southern tip of Australia when we have already agreed that this area at least is to be a nuclear-free zone? The story that the Western Australian coast will be used as a base by the Americans for nuclear arms seems to be too firm to be just wiped off by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) with the statement that he knows nothing about it.
– Do you not think he would know something about it?
– I think he does.
– Do you mean to say that he is not telling the truth?
– I do not deny the knowledge of the Minister for the Navy. I think he does know something about it, but he has not given the information to this Parliament.
– You mean that he is not telling the truth?
– I do not say that he is not telling the truth. You can say that, if you want to.
– What else are you saying?
– He just does not say anything.
– You say that you do not believe him?
– I think that he is informed. In view of the American activity at Albany, and the amount of survey work that has gone on, surely no one on the Government side can plead ignorance of what is going on. It is known that these surveys have been proceeding.
– What is the allegation in relation to American activity?
– 1 shall come to that in a few minutes. I propose to quote from an article in a publication that is not a Labour publication, which in many respects agrees with my views as to whether these things should be going on in Australia.
– Do you support a naval base in Western Australia?
– I support a naval base there, but unfortunately the Government has sold or proposes to sell the most logical place for the establishment of a naval base, namely, Garden Island. The article to which I have referred was published in “ Australian Coal, Shipping, Steel and the Harbour “. The Minister would have knowledge of this publication. It does not generally publish views that are similar to those that are held by the Australian Labour Party. The article reads -
Shortly after the war, there was a great outcry because the Labour Government of the day refused to let the United States military authorities remain in control of Manus Island. Subsequent events have shown that this refusal had its merits. Had the scheme then been carried out, New Guinea would, in effect, have become an American and not an Australian, trust territory, or perhaps permanent U.S. territory, which is what the Carolines and Marshalls and Okinawa seem to have become. All the considerations that make British colonialism so obnoxious (ostensibly) to Washington are being, and more are being applied in the old Japanese mandated territory and nil the rights of local peoples under the United Nations Charter seem to have been forgotten. Not that one objects to this so much as the delusiveness with which it is carried through. It is vital to defence that the U.S. should have bases wherever they are needed, but there should not be an implication that where bases are established, U.S. nationality is established and that anybody who feels that the territory on which Uncle Sam has been allowed to site defence installations has become part of the Kennedy empire, or that anybody who later asks for the land back can go and chase himself, because he is not strong enough to do anything about it. It is certain that if every inhabitant of the former Japanese mandate and possessions in the North Pacific were to vote for self-determination and the removal of U.S. bombing sites and personnel, that is what would happen. For all practical purposes these places have been annexed.
That is the problem that we have to face when we allow defences of this type to go in. As the Minister said to-day, the Americans have been granted a rather long lease of an area at North-West Cape, and four square miles of it - admittedly only a small portion of Australia - will be, in fact, a closed area. I do not know just exactly when that area will be closed or whether, during the period of construction, unions in Western Australia will be allowed entry to police conditions, rates of pay, &c. I suppose there will be some secret installations. The Australian Administration may be locked out of that part. The Government should be able to inform the nation about these things that are going on - this American intrusion - and whether America is to be allowed to come into Australia and, as the article states, annex part of Australia. Some time or other we must stand up and say that we are prepared to protect the whole of Australia and not merely portions of it. I should be pleased if the Minister could assure me that the Australian Government is prepared to station sufficient defence forces in Western Australia to ensure the defence of that part of the country, instead of leaving it to a foreign power.
– My word, John Curtin would like to hear you say this.
– John Curtin might like to hear a lot of things.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– It is no duty of mine to reply on behalf of the Government in relation to the matters raised by Senator Cant, but I feel that some senator on this side should take up some of the slack, as it were, and give the Ministers a rest. I have followed Senator Cant’s stepping from one stone to another, jumping into the pond, climbing up on the bank, and getting on to another stone. It has been very difficult to follow him. I think most senators will agree with that. But I should like, if I may with the committee’s permission, to take his last statement first. In some segments of the Australian Labour Party, the curious attitude that the Americans are people with whom we should have nothing whatsoever to do seems to be developing. As Senator Vincent pointed out by way of interjection, the late
Mr. Curtin was the man who, by asking the United States of America in 1942 whether she would be willing to redress the balance of power that had until then existed in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, changed the situation in those areas for the next 200 years. The constant preoccupation of the great mass of the Australian people is whether the United States will continue to redress the balance in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Speaking as an ex-serviceman and as a senator, I say that I am extremely grateful to the Americans for displaying such an interest in Australia, and for recognizing her strategic value in the defence structure of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. I am extremely grateful that the Americans are willing to entrust their defence structures, such as that referred to by Senator Cant, to us in this country.
Senator Cant falls into the error that so many people fall into when dealing with the defence of this country. Australia is a sparsely populated continent. Our problem is not one of linear defence. Australia cannot be defended at every point on her coastline. She cannot be defended along a line. She can be defended if we observe certain requirements. We must be able to move troops and weapons as quickly as possible from point A to point B. I am not now speaking in terms of strategic objectives, which the Senate will have an opportunity to discuss during the debate on the statement made by the Minister for Defence. What I am dealing with now is the internal defence of Australia, which is the matter to which Senator Cant was referring. Australia may be defended only on the basis that we have a series of strategic reserves capable of being moved from place to place. It is important for naval defence in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean that we should co-operate with the United States of America.
– In the use of our own forces.
– Yes, together with the units that we can dispose in support of the American effort. Communications are important to the use of atomic submarines, which will be one of the strategic weapons employed in the defence of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and thus in the defence of Australia. Senator Cant has referred to the United States communications installation on the north-west coast of Western Australia. I am sure that all honorable senators on this side of the chamber are extremely grateful to the United States for its willingness to entrust this most precious installation to the custody of the Australian people.
Our responsibility is to see that our strategic reserves are as mobile as we can make them, so that we may be able to use them quickly in the defence of installations such as the one with which I have dealt. We shall not do that by establishing a division in Western Australia. I was involved in planning in 1941 and 1942, and I fully appreciate the problem as far as Western Australia is concerned. The best that we could do in 1941 and 1942 was to put a covering force into Western Australia by moving a division from Victoria. It took something like two and one-half months to get a division to Western Australia, but to-day, with airlifts, it is possible to get strategic reserves to Western Australia in 48 hours. So it is not necessary to have covering forces in Western Australia, as was claimed by Senator Cant.
– How would you get the forces there?
– By airlift. If the honorable senator peruses the Estimates, and reads the statement on defence by the Minister for Defence, he may learn something.
I now want to refer to Senator Cant’s bitter attack on the American occupation of the previously Japanese-occupied Caroline Islands and Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa. Senator Cant obviously represents a point of view within the Australian Labour Party. Those islands as American bases at present are a strategic defence bastion for Australia. Our line of defence reaches as far north as the Ryukyus and the Carolines. I emphasize that the first requirement of the defence of Australia is United States occupation of those islands. I do not know whether Senator Cant will suggest that those islands should be handed over to red China, or that they should be abandoned to the first power able to develop sufficient naval capacity in the north Pacific and the south Pacific. I think this Parliament tends to forget - I am sure that the Australian people tend to forget - that already there is in the north Pacific a first-class naval power. I refer to Russia. In addition, Russian ships and land-based weapons in the hands of the Indonesia Republic are not very far from Australia at the moment.
I reject in toto what I consider is a contemptible attack on the United States of America and a contemptible attack on Australia’s military preparations, which are as intensive as we can expect having regard to our resources. If the temperature internationally rises it is probable that we shall have to dispose of more resources by taxing ourselves further.
I do not propose to say more at this stage. I reserve some of my ammunition for the debate which I hope will take place on the statement delivered by the Minister for Defence. If during that debate any honorable senator opposite wishes to tangle with me, I shall be happy to meet him.
– It is refreshing to note the reversal of form of some Government supporters with regard to the action taken by the late Prime Minister Curtin in seeking aid from America. At that time, those who held the same political views as are held by Government supporters to-day suggested that the Labour Party had let Britain and the Empire down by going to the United States for help. But John Curtin was realistic, and we must be realistic to-day. Mr. Curtin sought help from America, and the very much maligned former Leader of the Labour Party, Dr. Evatt, sought American assistance for Australia in the days before America herself entered the war. I mention those facts because we of the Labour Party do not for one moment wish to belittle the part played by America in the past defence of Australia and in her present defence, but we say that Australia tends to depend too much on the United States protection. Australia is not accepting sufficient responsibility for her own defence.
What Senator Cant has said about Western Australia is true. I had a good deal to say about this matter during the debate on the estimates for the Department of the Navy. In my opinion, the Navy is the Cinderella of the services. Western Australia’s coastline is one-third of the total coastline of this continent. At present we depend too heavily for the defence of that coastline on the mobility of troops from the eastern States. Western Australia, which covers one-third of the area of the Commonwealth, is closer than any other State to the world’s trouble spots. As Senator Cormack has said, Australia is close to the regions from which trouble may come. In the north Pacific we have the might of the Indonesian Navy and the Russian Navy. From the point of view of naval defence, Western Australia is particularly defenceless. I have mentioned previously the naval establishments in Western Australia. Senator Cant spoke about the naval establishment at Leeuwin. That is doing an excellent job in its own particular line. There are 26 officers and 430 ratings there. They are doing an excellent job. These young lads are a credit to the Navy and to those in charge of them. But when you move from Leeuwin, what else have you? As far as ships are concerned, the only naval ship based at Fremantle is “ Diamentina “, which is being used exclusively for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization oceanographic survey work. According to the Navy, it has one four-inch gun, a displacement of 1,420 tons, a top speed of 19 knots and a complement of 140 men. “ Diamentina “ is one of two Royal Australian Navy ships engaged in survey work in Australia.
There are over 300 recruits in training at Leeuwin and they are all equipped with 303 rifles. There is an ammunition depot for the Navy at Byford, which is on the other side of Perth. It contains ammunition to supply visiting Royal Navy ships and ships of allied countries. There are about 35 men working there. On the whole, we have very little in the way of Navy installations in Western Australia.
I am not going to say again, because the Minister already is sick and tired of hearing me say it, that we must have a naval base in Western Australia. However, until a naval base, or at least a dockyard, has been established on the west coast our naval preparations will definitely be lacking in a fundamental sphere.
– I take it that as a Western Australian you are in favour of this American base being established?
– I am in favour of the Australian Government undertaking its responsibility for defence by establishing a naval base.
As far as the Army is concerned, here again we find ourselves deficient in both men and equipment. There are 800 Regular Army officers and men in Western Australia and 3,250 men in the Citizen Military Force. Those in the Permanent Army are stationed mainly in four centres - Fremantle, Swanbourne, Karrakatta and Midland, all in the metropolitan area. In recent months the Army and the Navy have co-operated in training exercises. I do not think that the Army in Western Australia is as deficient in equipment as is the Navy, but at the same time a great deal more could be done.
Coming to the Air Force, we have a very excellent Air Force station at Pearce. There are 700 permanent airmen and members of the W.A.A.F. stationed at Pearce, with 25 aircraft - 24 Vampires and one Dakota. The range of the Vampires is 850 miles and they have a speed of 500 miles an hour. The runways and other facilities there are such that jet aircraft from England, America and any other country could be accommodated. However, Pearce has no radar for long-range detection of aircraft. It has radar for aircraft let-down procedures but no radar for long-range detection.
– It is a good job the Americans are establishing a station where radar will be installed.
– It is perhaps just as well for us that the United States is doing that, but why is not Australia doing it? I do not want do decry the part that the United States is playing in the defence of Australia, but why is not the Australian Government making better use of the defence vote? If the vote is not sufficient, not one member of the Labour Party will query an increased vote, as long as money is spent wisely and for the purpose for which it is needed. The Labour Party’s main criticism of the defence of Australia as far as Western Australia is concerned is that we are depending far too much on the mobility of troops and equipment stationed in the eastern States. We all know what happened during the last war. We know the bottle-necks that occurred when we attempted to move troops from the east to the west.
Senator Cormack said that we could move men over to the west in 48 hours. I should like to ask Senator Cormack whether our naval vessels could reach the west coast within 48 hours. Does he realize that our north-western coast between Wyndham and North-West Cape is much closer to the trouble spots of Asia than it is to Sydney or Melbourne, or even the southern ports of Western Australia. I should like more members of the Senate to visit the western State to see the extent of it, and to see for themselves its defence needs. I am not one to decry the work that is being carried out by the United States, but I do think that the Government should let this Parliament know what proportion of the defence of this country, for which it is responsible, is allotted to the United States. For instance, at Pearce at the present time United States personnel are working in the communications branch, but the majority of Australians do not know this. Perhaps it is not wise for them to know it; I do not know. However, at least this Parliament should know whether any research work is being carried out in Australia. We should know where in Australia United States personnel are stationed, what proportion of our defence responsibility is being borne by the United States and what proportion is being borne by Australia.
I can remember only too vividly the great relief that swept through Australia in 1941 with the arrival of American defence personnel, but that really did not do any credit to Australia. It showed that at the outbreak of the war we were not sufficiently prepared for the emergency. We do not want that to happen again. America could very easily have its own troubles and not be able to come to our assistance. We do not have the same ties with America as we have with Great Britain. No matter how much Great Britain might wish to help us, she could very well be tied up in Europe, as was the case during World War II. With all the goodwill in the world, it might be physically impossible for Great Britain to come to the assistance of Australia.
The Labour Party’s quarrel with the Government is that not enough is being done in those parts of Australia where defence is most necessary. No matter how much money is being spent on defence, we query the wisdom of that expenditure. We say that even if increased expenditure is necessary, as long as the money is wisely spent and we have confidence in the defences of this Commonwealth, not a penny too much would be spent.
– I wish to make a few comments about the speeches of Senator Cant and Senator Tangney. First of all, I want to say something about a remark by Senator Tangney to the effect that the Liberal and Country Parties objected during World War II. to the assistance that was forthcoming from the American nation. That is com- pletely incorrect. Senator Tangney knows as well as anybody in this country that the first person to seek assistance from the Americans in the Pacific war was the Prime Minister of the day, R. G. Menzies. Senator Tangney knows as well as I do that she misrepresented the truth in implying that John Curtin was the first man to make an arrangement with the Americans and that members of the present Government parties objected. Nothing could be further from the truth; and Senator Tangney knows that. The initial planning for American forces in the South Pacific area was made by R. G. Menzies. Let Senator Tangney deny that.
– That is news to me.
– It is terrible to see the spectacle of a member of this Parliament standing up and basing a speech on a known misrepresentation.
I want to refer to this matter of American “ intrusion “. That was the word used by Senator Cant. He referred to the intrusion of the United States of America into Australia. He was supported by Senator Tangney because she was given an opportunity, by way of interjection, to deny the implication of the word “ intrusion “ and she would not deny it. So now she is lined up with Senator Cant who supports the red line on American interference in Australia. That is what it amounts to. Both Senator Tangney and Senator Cant are chanting the red song to-night.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I demand that those remarks be withdrawn. I object to those remarks.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! What are the words to which you object?
– Senator Tangney objected to the statement that she was following the red line.
– I rule that that remark is out of order.
– Then I will say that both Senator Cant and Senator Tangney have been saying exactly what the Communist Party has been saying about this matter.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! You must withdraw the remark, Senator Vincent.
– I will withdraw it unreservedly and say that the remarks of Senator Cant and Senator Tangney are identical with those of the Communist Party in Australia. I am entitled to say that.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I rise to order. I wish to ask what item in the Estimates’ Senator Vincent is discussing.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– What is the item?
Order! You may not canvass my ruling. This debate has ranged fairly widely on defence.
– I should think that at this time in history any Australian who regarded the assistance that the United States of America has given to us in the defence of our country as an intrusion would blush with shame. The fact that a member of the Parliament should say that it is an intrusion is a matter of deep shame to me. I expect that Senator Cant for the same reason would regard the so-called intrusion of the Americans into the Caribbean as wrong. It is logical for one to draw the inference that Senator Cant regards President Kennedy’s recent socalled intrusion into the Caribbean as similar to the so-called intrusion of the Americans into Australia. - It is well known that for years now our policy in regard to the defence of this country has been one of collaboration with our great neighbours, the Americans. It is extraordinary that at this time of world crisis - a week ago we were on the verge of a horrible world war - some one should stand up in this chamber and object to the very policies that are preserving world peace and world democracy. I do not know whether it is a coincidence that Senator Cant should select this time in the history of this country and the world to reject utterly these policies of the United States of America and all the other democracies for the maintenance of the freedom of the world. It is terrible to think that an Australian should select this point of time to do that. Senator Cant knows perfectly well the policies in regard to the defence of this country. He knows or should know, as any schoolboy knows, that this great area of land with 20,000- odd miles of coastline cannot be defended by Australia against the world. If he does not know that, it is time he did. His resentment of the so-called intrusion of the only nation in the world that can adequately defend our shores in collaboration with us is remarkable.
I wish to refer to one other matter in regard to defence. Senator Tangney and Senator Cant asked why there are not greater defence forces in Western Australia. Australia has 10,000,000 people. We have 20,000-odd miles of coastline and an area about the size of the United States of America or almost the size of Europe to protect. Any schoolboy or any cadet in the cadet corps would know that it would take 5,000,000 trained troops, about 250 squadrons of aircraft and a navy about the size of the United States navy to defend this great continent adequately so that every point in it could be regarded as secure. That is the strategic factor involved. To insist that at one point in Australia, in Western Australia, there should be a large force of men which would be immobilized is silly.
Only a few months ago the Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Valston Hancock, was in Perth. This question of having more aeroplanes in Western Australia is always good for press publicity in that State. Incidentally, Senator Cant was quite wrong when he said that there were not any aeroplanes in Western Australia. The Chief of the Air Staff said that the defence planning for the western part of the State was in good order and condition and that the mobility of the whole of the Royal Australian Air Force was such that it could be assembled for defence purposes at any point in Australia at the shortest possible notice. So, any argument about having a given force at a given geographical point at any one time is rather silly. It might hit the headlines and it might sound sensible to some ill-informed people; but surely we in this chamber should be growing out of that argument.
This Government and the Opposition, too, know perfectly well that the Chiefs of Staff and their advisers are well versed in operational planning for defence and mobility. On their advice - the advice of men well skilled in these matters - the Government and the defence services deploy their troops in the manner in which they are deployed. The inference that one has to draw if one accepts the propostion advanced by Senator Tangney and Senator Cant is that the Chiefs of Staff either do not know their job or are deliberately withholding defence services from the western half of this continent. Both those inferences are silly. They are the only two inferences that one can draw. I suggest that it is time we grew up and stopped talking a lot of silly nonsense about putting people where it is perfectly obvious they cannot be put. I did not want to enter this debate, but I was alarmed and disturbed at the course it was taking. I regret very much that at this time any one should be talking along the lines that we have heard to-night. I hope that we have heard the last of such talk.
– This debate has got off to a very good start. Before I begin my speech let me make it clear that any statements that I make are opinions and not assertions. We have heard enough honorable senators on the Government side to-night stating quite clearly their qualifications in regard to defence. For instance, we heard Senator Cormack offer to take over from the
Minister. The Minister obviously thinks that Senator Cormack is quite well equipped to do the job, too.
– Mis speech sounded as though he could do it.
– It might have sounded all right to your ears, but it sounded different over here. There is one point I want to make. It is relevant to what was said earlier. When Senator Vincent said it was time we grew up, he might have given some consideration to his own remarks. If you disagree with the Government on the question of defence, it is immediately said that you are a Communist or have some Communist leanings, or that you are advocating something with which the Communists agree. I suggest, with all due respect to Senator Vincent, that when he is talking about doing things in an adult manner he should give some consideration to the view that it might be possible to disagree with the Government on defence policy and still not be a Communist. I think it was unfair to suggest that Senator Tangney, who is a respected member of the Australian Labour Party, was peddling the red line.
– Order! Senator Vincent withdrew that remark unconditionally and I do not think we can debate it now.
– Then I shall leave that point. I do not want to encroach where I should not, but I do want to cast some doubt on Senator Vincent’s unequivocal statement that the chiefs of staff know what they are doing. I would say that, generally speaking, they do, but there have been occasions in history, as I know, and as Senator Vincent and other honorable senators know, when chiefs of staff have not known what they were doing.
– He was talking about now.
– Time may not necessarily prove them to be right.
– Do you say they do not know?
– I was interrupted when I was trying to make my point. I am not arguing about what is happening now. I am saying that there have been occasions in the past when it has been proved that chiefs of staff have not known what they were doing, and it is quite possible for that to happen again. We would be foolhardy if we ignored the possibility that anyone can make a mistake, no matter how good he is. For instance, even Senator Paltridge, who looks slightly incredulous, is capable of making a mistake at any time in the future.
There are one or two matters on which I would like some enlightenment. I suppose there is very good reason for what is being done, but, as I said before, no data is given in connexion with these things to give us some understanding of why they occur. I refer to Division No. 452, sub-division 2, item 05, relating to incidental and other expenditure. There we find that the appropriation for 1961-62 was £25,600 and that the expenditure was £23,135. This year, the amount to be appropriated is only £3,790. No doubt there is a very good reason for that, but I should like to know what it is.
I come now to Division No. 457, relating to plant and equipment. The appropriation under this heading in 1961-62 was £109,000 while expenditure in that year was £87,845, For the forthcoming year, it is proposed to appropriate £1,047,000. Again there is probably a good reason for that, but I want to know what it is. These matters are1 important, although, for some reason or other, Senator Paltridge seems to think them funny.
– I did not suggest they were. I have not even smiled up to this point.
– Then I withdraw the remark. The Minister probably approves of what I am saying.
– I can assure you that I do not.
– You do not think I have a right to ask these questions?
– Of course I do. I would not deny you that right for one moment, but I can retain my opinion of what you say.
– That is very good. I refer now to Division No. 467, which deals with matters under the control of the Department of Works. Here we find an amount of £54,000 was appropriated in 1961-62 for buildings, works, fittings and furniture, while the expenditure in that year was £50,124. The amount proposed to be appropriated this year is only £24,000. There are some very wide discrepancies in these figures. As I have said, no doubt there are very good reasons for them, but 1 would like to know what they are.
Before resuming my seat, I feel that I must bring up a matter that I have raised in the Senate from time to time. It relates to the building of aircraft in Australia. I have before me the Auditor-General’s report for the year ended 30th June, 1962. On pages 87 and 88 of that report reference is made to the purchase of aircraft, equipment and stores. An amount of something like £50,000,000 is involved in these items. I feel that many of the aircraft covered by the expenditure are now either obsolescent or obsolete. Indeed, in our attempts to secure aircraft which will be of some use in a modern war, we seem to be like a dog chasing its tail. Aircraft which to-day are the latest thing in modern requirements are to-morrow in the limbo of forgotten things. That opens up the question of just how long this country can continue to go overseas, spending huge amounts of money on buying aircraft, without giving some consideration to training our own men and seeing whether we can provide at least some of our own requirements.
I am not suggesting that at any point of time within perhaps the next five years we could build sufficient aircraft in this country to meet even the meagre defence obligations we have with our Seato partners and our other defence commitments, but I do think that we are not giving enough consideration to training Australian workmen to meet some undeniable need in the future.
– If you read the Auditor-General’s supplementary report, you will see that a considerable proportion of an aircraft now being arranged for is being manufactured in Australia.
– I thank Senator Wright for drawing my attention to that, but I still do not think that covers what we ought to be doing at this particular point of time. I can recall that some four or five years ago we had in this country in the vicinity of, I think, from 1,500 to 2,000 men who were highly skilled in certain operational work on aircraft. I am not saying these men had the skill to build in this country aircraft comparable with the latest overseas fighter and bomber models, but I do say they were acquiring that skill. There was a breakdown of the programme of work I know that in my own State of South Australia, Chrysler Australia Limited had an annexe at Finsbury and was doing valuable work in training many men in this highly specialized type of work. Make no mistake, Sir, it is highly specialized work because you are working with very fine tolerances indeed when you are dealing with the repair or construction of any part of an aircraft. That annexe has gone, and some hundreds of skilled tradesmen who were working in the factory have been scattered to the four winds. Whether they could ever be gathered together again is a matter for conjecture. The difficulty is, of course, that they would have to re-acquire those skills because they would have lost them in doing work of other kinds.
I think it was in one of the Sydney newspapers that I saw recently a centrepage spread deploring the fact that we had in this country so few men who were skilled in the fine types of work required in the building, maintenance and general repair of aircraft. Despite the assurance given in the section of the Auditor-General’s report to which Senator Wright referred, I still think that the Government is only scratching the surface so far as aircraft are concerned. We should be embarking on a full scale programme to train men, particularly young men, in the highly skilled processes that are involved in modern aircraft construction. I think that the argument I have advanced merits consideration by the Government, and I hope that the necessary steps will be taken urgently.
– Senator Toohey referred to incidental and other expenses, and to buildings, works, fittings and furniture, two items in which there has been a substantial fall in expenditure this year in comparison with that of last year. The explanation is a simple one. The honorable senator will be aware that the Department of Defence is being moved from Melbourne to Canberra.
In respect of each of the two items mentioned by him there was substantial expenditure last year. The move having been completed, those are noD-recurring items. The sum of £1,047,000, to which he referred, relates to the electronic data processing machine that has been purchased for the Department of Defence. That is a major purchase of a great machine for electronic recording.
In regard to the purchase of aircraft overseas, I remind Senator Toohey that for all practical purposes our Air Force requirements are manufactured as far as possible within Australia. That was the position with the last aircraft to be purchased, and that arrangement is continuing with the purchase of the Mirage aircraft, 30 of which have already been ordered. The purchase of another 30 is included in the forthcoming three-year programme. I am sorry that I have not the actual figures for which he asked. I can speak only in generalities, since I merely represent the Minister for Defence. I repeat that in respect of both purchases of aircraft, as much of the work as possible will be done within Australia.
– I realize that in a debate of this nature it is not an easy matter to cover the whole field of defence. I shall not attempt to do so. Like Senator Cormack, I propose to reserve my general criticism of the Government’s activity, or lack of activity, in defence matters for a more appropriate occasion before this session of the Parliament ends.
– We shall look forward to it.
– I hope so. I might add that I will not be denied the opportunity, even by the Government. This is an opportune time to make one or two comments and to ask one or two questions of the Minister who is now dealing with the defence of Australia, involving the whole concept of defence strategy. First, will the Minister tell me whether the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on 17th May last, regarding the establishment of z naval communications station at North-West Cape, has been brought to fruition. The Prime Minister made two promises in that statement. The first was that a formal agreement would be executed between Australia and the United States of America, incorporating the terms upon which the base was to be established. He said that the terms would be announced in due course. Has that formal agreement yet been concluded and, if so, when will its terms be made available to the Parliament and to the nation?
Secondly, because the Prime Minister recognized the need for clarity in this matter, he undertook that there would be an agreement to determine the status of American personnel in and about the site on Australian soil. I think the Minister will recognize that it is important for that matter to be determined. Has the agreement that was referred to some five or six months ago yet been concluded? If it has, what are its terms? I remind the Minister that nobody from the Opposition has criticized the establishment of the communications station at North-West Cape. There has been no criticism from the Opposition on that point.
– Senator Cant criticized it inferentially.
– No. Senator Cant referred to newspaper reports the accuracy of which, I take it, the Minister for the Navy completely denied the other day in the Senate.
– That is right.
– Senator Cant said he did not believe the Minister, in reply to an interjection.
– I do not think it is fair to say that that is a proper interpretation of what Senator Cant said.
– I asked him whether he disbelieved the Minister and he said that he did.
– I merely indicate that I have no information other than the speculation that appeared in the press, and I am certainly not going to act on that without better information.
I intepret the Minister’s statement that he has no knowledge of any such proposal to establish a base there - and as Minister for the Navy he would know about it - as a denial that any such thing is mooted, to the Government’s knowledge.
– That is, a base to carry atomic weapons?
– That is right.
– I understand the matter was put to the Minister in those terms?
– That is correct.
– In those circumstances, there is nothing to discuss. If that proposition does come up, it can be considered when it arises. I am certainly not going to embark upon hypothetical cases at the moment.
Let us look at strategy broadly. Seeing that the United Kingdom is withdrawing rapidly from Asia and that its strength in the area will grow less and less rather than more and more, and that we shall be increasingly dependent on the United States as an ally, will the Minister indicate the reaction of the Government, from the viewpoint of its defence strategy and defence significance, of the powerful arming of Indonesia, to our near north? Indonesia’s naval, land and air forces have been enormously strengthened. I think the Government would have full knowledge of the extent to which they have been strengthened. I ask whether any part of the defence thinking of the Australian Government has been conditioned by that very great strengthening of those forces. Has the Government had. to make any reappraisal of Australia’s role. Does it see in that situation a need for greater strengthening of our Air Force with a modern fighter - one that we were promised in 1957 by the Government when we were told that we would manufacture it ourselves in Australia? After five years, we are now faced with the prospect that we shall be getting modern fighters - the new French Mirage - in 1964 or 1965. It is a record of shameful delay.
As to bombers, again and again it has been emphasized, not merely by the Opposition but also by Government spokesmen - including the former Minister for Air, Mr. Osborne, in 1960 - that the greatest problem facing us is the acquisition of a modern bomber. To-day, we have exactly the same old bombers and, according to the defence statement before us, there is no prospect of replacement.
We find oUr Navy without an aircraft carrier, although in the concept that has been put to us by people who claim to be experts, that is of the essence of a striking force. We have to carry our aircraft on a mobile base to points of attack where they can destroy enemy installations, perhaps on their home ground. Can the Government justify the fact that whereas it began its term of office with two aircraft carriers commissioned by a Labour government, to-day we have none.
– That is not true. We have one aircraft carrier carrying fixed wing aircraft to-day.
– How many aircraft?
– Twenty, which is its full complement.
– Does the Minister for the Navy regard that as an adequate attacking force to defend Australia in the present situation? Surely, the Government realizes that in a world that is in turmoil, and is likely to burst into flames at any minute on the indications in recent months, we are likely to be confronted with a situation in which we have to stand on our own feet as far as possible. We have to envisage the day when we shall have to fight by ourselves, maybe for an extended period. That is the situation with which we are confronted. It is our inability to do that in the present situation that really scares the Opposition. We could not stand on our own feet.
– We could not do it with our own population alone.
– We could do better with our own population and resources than we have done. We are still waiting for modern fighter aircraft. After six or seven years of promises, we are still waiting for a modern bomber. We are still waiting for submarines of our own. We have to face the fact that, in a world conflagration, our great allies - the United States of America and Great Britain - may be fully occupied. We had an example quite recently when both our allies, in an area close to us, declined to intervene against aggression. That was in an area in which we had a particular interest. It might well suit our allies, upon which we are entitled to rely, to discard us because of greater problems and greater stresses facing them some time in the future.
Any one who looks at recent events must see the need to have adequate defences of our own, if only to hold the fort for a limited period until our allies are disengaged and join us, if they have the will to do so. We have to face the situation that we cannot rely at all times and in all conditions on our allies to fight with us.
I do not want to take the matter any further than that. I think I have said enough. We in the Opposition recognize fully the great part that the United States of America played in coming to our aid in the Second World War. We in the Australian Labour Party successfully invoked that aid, and we will be eternally thankful that the United States came to our rescue. I carry the point further, and say that if we are to survive in this part of the world under present indications, we must continue to look to that great ally in the Pacific. Our strategy must be planned with that consideration in mind. We should never cease to be thankful to the United States of America for what it did, and we hope that the United States will extend the sheltering umbrella over us at all times. It is the thought that she may not be able to do so that activates our thoughts when we consider the defences of this country.
– I take great comfort from the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I throw my mind back to the policy speech of the Australian Labour Party in 1954 - and that is comparatively only yesterday - when the Labour Party stated, “ We will cut defence expenditure and increase social services “. So we have a Daniel come to judgment to-night. My mind goes back to the fact that comparatively only yesterday, the Australian Labour Party solemnly announced as its policy the withdrawal of our forces from Malaya - our first line of defence. I remember that at this time last year and the year before, a spokesman for the Australian Labour Party in another place said - I speak subject to correction but I believe it to be true - “ We are not the ones who say we must defend ourselves against the surging hordes from the north; in fact, we say those hordes will never come “.
To-night, the Leader of the Opposition has turned over a new leaf. As an Australian, I was glad to hear him, and I congratulate him on saying what he has said on behalf of the Labour Party. All I regret is that it has come only in 1962. I regret that similar sentiments were not expressed in earlier years. We face difficult circumstances, but we face them with stronger defence forces in Australia than we have ever had previously in peace-time. That is a simple statement of fact.
Our defence forces are not based on the advice of amateurs, but on the advice of professional men who have studied the circumstances that may arise, and who have given them careful consideration. Senator Toohey need not be proud of his rather cheap comment that generals or professional advisers sometimes can be wrong. In a democracy in peace-time, there is no more difficult and unrewarding profession than the profession of arms. We in Australia are extraordinarily well-served by the men of our defence forces who make arms their profession, and devote their lives to arms as a career. The more I see of our defence forces, the more thankful I am for the fact that we have been able to attract men of the calibre we have in those professions. This programme that we have evolved comes from the best thinking of the services and it deploys in the best directions that proportion of our resources which, in the Government’s opinion, can be diverted to defence. There is no future in the profession of arms in a democracy. The other régime creates its defence forces which democracies do not match. I think that history shows that always in the early stages of world wars democratic nations are behind because they are not prepared to devote to defence the resources that totalitarian countries will devote.
I speak as a member of the Government who has given a lot of thought, within the limits of his knowledge, to this problem. I take a great deal of satisfaction in the forces that we have evolved. It is idle for Senator McKenna to talk about this promise not being fulfilled or that objective not being achieved. There is no virtue in that sort of criticism. In the defence effort, one looks at the whole, not particular incidents. Always, in changing world conditions, with changing technical problems there must be changes in a defence programme. If my recollection serves me aright, that was the note on which the Minister for Defence ended his statement. In the world in which we live this defence programme is not static; it will need to be reviewed in circumstances that may change.
Let us look for a minute or two at the defence forces that we have. Let us contrast the situation - in the broad, not in detail - with the situation when the Australian Labour Party was in office. Let us look at the Army. We have not only a well-trained and effective Regular Army, but also alongside it the Citizen Military Forces, which will serve overseas and alongside the Regular Army wherever the call of duty may lead. That is a different situation from that of Citizen Military Forces raised only for service within Australia. Our Citizen Military Forces are integrated and work in conjunction with our Regular Army, getting a share of the modern equipment that is purchased for the Regular Army. If my recollection serves me correctly, this programme provides for an appropriation of £30,000,000 for equipment for the Regular Army, superimposed upon which is £3,000,000 specifically for equipment of the Citizen Military Forces, to be used in conjunction with the Regular Army. The Citizen Military Forces train alongside the Regular Army and have the use of Regular Army equipment.
asked about Indonesia. Indonesia has always been friendly with Australia and we look forward to a continuance of friendly relations with Indonesia. It ill behoves the Leader of any Opposition to try to put a Minister of the Crown in a situation in which he will say anything different from that. All of these things are taken into account. Our whole strategic appreciation relates to conditions that are likely to, or may possibly, occur during the three-years period. There is a good deal of satisfaction in the fact that the appreciation made three years ago, in effect, took into account events that have happened during the past three years. Looking back upon that appreciation and upon the events of the past three years, one sees evidence of a good deal of accurate forecasting and correct thinking on the part of our external affairs officers and defence officers. I have sufficient confidence in them to believe that their forecast of what might happen in the next three years will turn out to be as accurate as their forecast has been in the past.
We cannot do all that every one would like to see done unless we retard the development of Australia. That is the choice that every democratic country has to face. It is a particularly difficult choice for us, because of the great need to populate and develop Australia. It is difficult to draw the line of demarcation between what should be appropriated for development and what should be appropriated for defence. We believe that with the quite appreciable increase in the Budget for the current three years over the Budget for the past three years, we shall certainly get value for the money that we invest in defence. We are certainly getting balance and mobility in our defence forces, which I am very confident is much more appreciated by our American and other allies than it is, apparently by the Australian Labour Party.
.- I have no desire whatever to make party political capital out of the defence Estimates. Defence should be beyond party political disputation, but always on both sides there is a tendency - I suppose because we are all politicians - to try to take a rise out of the other fellow or to defeat him in argument. That was developed to an intense degree and in an infantile manner by Senator Vincent. Senator Spooner, of course, is more astute. He is on old campaigner. I have a great admiration for him, not as a member of the Liberal-Country Party Government, but because he is an adept-
– I fear the Greeks when they bear gifts.
– Senator Spooner is an adept at putting the case for his party. In Brisbane recently he spoke to a conference of the Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Imperial League’ of Australia, and his remarks were similar to those that he made to-night. The ordinary common or garden variety of proletarian listening to Senator Spooner would be to some extent carried away by the force of his argument. He tells us that his Government has built up in Australia a defence force far superior to any that we have had previously. Unfortunately for Senator Spooner, members of his party in another place have shown fearlessly that having regard to the fall in the value of the £1, the increase in our population and the build-up of military forces close to our shores, the Government is doing less in the way of defence than has ever been done before. This is unfortunate for our people and for Australia. We are spending less per capita on defence than we spent in years gone by. In Brisbane recently Mr. Lee, the national president of the R.S.L., said that Australia’s defence spending in the third* year of the programme would be only £19.29 per head of population - a figure out of all proportion to the expenditure borne by our allies.
It is not a question of politics. It is not a question of communism or of reds or of Labour. It is a question of mathematics. I ask you: Is what Mr. Lee said true or not? Mr. Lee claims that less than £20 per head of population is being spent on defence. All the political sophistry and casuistry cannot get over figures. I know that it is said that figures cannot lie, but statisticians can. In the cool and calm atmosphere of this legislative hall we usually talk to one another, but to-night I understand that we are talking also to those persons in the community who may be listening to the broadcast of these proceedings. Quite apart from the jesting of our friend from South Australia, we are able to talk about these matters-
– Why are you looking at me?
– Because you are good looking. In Brisbane Mr. Lee also made the point that there was still insufficient provision for a fully mobile, hard-hitting Army formation. That is a statement by a man who took part in the Second World War - a man who has made a study of military strategy. He knows, as everybody knows, that Australia’s defence powers are weak indeed. It is of no use putting political balm on the sore. The fact is that our defences are weak, and they are weaker relatively than they ever have been because of events that have happened in the last two years. Mr. Lee said also that the provisions for maintaining a flow of reserves to the regular forces were far below requirements. That is not a statement by the Labour Party. It is not my statement. It is a statement by the national president of the R.S.L. He suggests that the restriction of 40,000 on cadet numbers should have been abolished, and that all suitable schools should be permitted to establish cadet units. I am not a military man. I know very little about military matters. But I have a good deal of common sense and understanding.
I have been in this chamber for 30 years, and at times I have been rather sick of the infantile political disputation that takes place. I have a keen desire to see things dealt with in a factual manner. Are our defences in a satisfactory state? Are we, as a nation, supplying the funds, or are we prepared to supply the funds, to increase and improve our defence powers? Is it a fact that the United States feels that Australia is not playing its part with regard to defence? We know that to the north of Australia a very powerful army and navy have been developed, which could overcome Australia because of the greater firepower that they could bring to bear. Those forces, like Cuba, are being supported by Russia. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) and the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) are well aware that every month Russia pours aid into Indonesia. That aid takes the form of ships, aircraft and all manner of military equipment. In view of the development of that power in an area contiguous to Australian New Guinea, we should rouse the people to do more than is being done at present. I admit that to-day our Army and Navy, as Senator Spooner has claimed, are greater in power than they have ever been in time of peace, but that is not the point. Is the power of our Army and that of our Navy sufficient in the present state of world affairs, and particularly in view of developments in our near north?
Denis Warner has referred to what is happening in Indonesia. He, like Senator
Spooner and all of us, sees Indonesia as a friendly nation. We should try to cultivate to the nth degree friendship with the Indonesians. But all thinking men and women know that the forces of communism are becoming more and more powerful in Asia. To-day, the Communist Party is the strongest party in Indonesia. Although we are doing our best, and will continue to do our best, through the Colombo Plan, to cultivate friendship with Indonesia, we must take cognizance of the help that has been given to Indonesia by Russia. We must take cognizance also of the growth in Indonesia of the Communist Party.
Having taken cognizance of these facts we turn to the estimates for the Army and Navy. How can we say that we are doing more than we have ever done and that it is sufficient when we look to the north of us and see the great forces that are there? We see a nation with an army of 300,000 men, most of whom have had experience in active combat. We see a nation that has twenty submarines; and it has nineteen polaris missiles when we have not one. Indonesia is training its youth under a national training scheme. Some of its spokesman said over government radio stations that they would win West Irian; and they have done so. Having done that, they will turn their attention to New Guinea, and later their eyes will be turned southward to Australia.
When we realize all these things, is it not time we did more in education and propaganda to turn the attention of our people away from developing a huge system of onearmed bandits; and away from establishing betting centres, as have been established in Queensland, through which the State Government expects to make a million or two out of the gambling instincts of the people? I understand that last year £81,000,000 was gambled on our racecourses. We should realize the tremendous amount of money that is being wasted. I am not against gambling; I am not a wowser. But I do say that if our nation can afford these one-armed bandits and these totalisator agencies to attract people to centres where they can gamble, surely we can afford to do something about defence. Companies like Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited are making huge profits. General
Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited makes £15,000,000 annually for its American owners. We have a powerful economic system that produces this wealth for the people who have invested their money. If we can invest millions of pounds in gambling why should it not be possible for this nation to buy a submarine and equip it with the polaris missile?
If there is going to be a war - and every one thinks that sooner or later we shall be fighting - then let us give a Roland for an Oliver. If an attempt is to be made to destroy our nation, at least let us try to the best of our ability to defend Australia. As Senator Tangney pointed out the Australian Labour Party is not against defence. We feel that our people should do more and do it in the right way, whether it be in Western Australia or anywhere else. If as a nation we believe in Australia we should fight for Australia. Instead of being dependent on America or anybody else we should do more for ourselves. That was the burden of Senator Tangney’s speech.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I should like briefly to refer to some of the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), because I feel that as this debate on the defence estimates continues we are getting confused in our terms. I hope that the Senate will forgive me if I take a minute or two to define two terms that have been bandied about in the Senate to-night. They have two different relationships to two different sets of events. We use the word strategic in this Parliament in relation to the defence of Australia. The strategic defence of Australia is incorporated in the wider defence structure which we have set up in a series of treaties - Seato and Anzus. The strategy involved in these two treaties commits Australia to a tactical role inside the wider strategy that Seato and Anzus implies. In other words, inside that wider strategy of Seato and Anzus the Australian defence forces are committed to a tactical role. It should be quite clear that the material and trained men we deploy will be deployed in a tactical role within the wider strategy.
When we turn to the physical defence of the continent of Australia under conditions mentioned by Senator McKenna we have to consider a situation where we are not able to call for the time being on the help of others. Then the defence of Australia assumes a strategic quality of its own. Therefore it is pertinent to examine whether the defences which can be tactically committed in the wider strategy have a strategic relation to the defence of continental Australia. It is my personal belief, and it seems to be the Government’s belief, that within the resources available to Australia at the present moment - the material and men we have, and what is planned for the next three years - we can create a strategic capacity in Australia by what I referred to earlier, namely the mobility with which we can commit the strategic reserves within Australia.
Basically the defence of this community revolves around a tactical role and a strategic role which is allied to the policy within the wider strategic role and the policy affecting the continental defence of Australia. We have these two defence problems and we have to try to do the best we can with the available resources at our disposal to fulfil these two roles. I think we are facing up to the situation by deciding whether it is likely in the future that we will have to commit further resources of the Australian people towards the problem of defence. The question that we have to decide is: Can we at this moment commit more of our resources when the true strategic defence of Australia involves the building up of population and the material resources and capacity necessary to sustain ourselves in the unfortunate event that Senator McKenna considers might occur. The Leader of the Government has mentioned that on the best advice the Government can get at the moment this is a situation that is not likely to occur in the near future. I agree with that.
I turn now to Senator Brown’s remarks. It is unfortunate that he has left the chamber. I should like to reply in the most pleasant terms I can to some of the remarks that he made. I agree with Senator Brown that it is the duty of the Parliament to approach the problem of defence in a bipartisan manner. I think it is to the credit of the Senate that it has done so to-night. However, perhaps as a Government backbencher I can make some observations as a private senator not charged with the responsibility of a Minister. I appreciate the problem that is obviously worrying Senator Brown and the Australian Labour Party. Let us be blunt about this. The problem obviously must be worrying Government supporters as well and a large number of people throughout Australia. What is the significance of the armed build-up in Indonesia? I think we have to look at Indonesia in a cold-blooded, detached sort of way through Russian eyes or through Communist eyes, whether it be Chinese or Russians acting in concert, or in separation as they appear to be doing at the present moment. If they succeed in establishing the Communist Party in authority in Indonesia, they will at one stroke outflank Seato. That must be perfectly clear. In other words, they will have succeeded in establishing what they nearly succeeded in establishing in Cuba. Senator Brown points out quite truthfully that there is a large Communist party in Indonesia under the control of a man named Aidit. The Russians and Chinese devoutly hope that he will be capable of taking over Indonesia in the future, but I do not think that he will be able to. I hope that he will not be able to.
What are the forces that are available in Indonesia at present? Senator Brown mentioned that twenty submarines have been delivered by the Russians. I think that that is fairly true. He said that there was a Sverdlov class cruiser of 19,000 tons that had been delivered, and another one was to be delivered. The Indonesians have a couple of Beaver bombers. I suppose that it is on the cards that they will get some intermediate range ballistic missiles. This is the important point: They have 130 battalions of infantry. My information is that they are well equipped and very well trained. That is a pretty substantial force if it is committed offensively.
But at this stage one is required to ask whether it is capable of being disposed offensively. It is all very well to have 130 battalions of troops in Indonesia in such places as Sumatra, the Celebes and Amboina; but can those troops be disposed to given points at a given time in a strategic or tactical sense? In my opinion, on the best information that I can obtain, the answer to that question is quite clearly that the Indonesians can have no mobile capacity in relation to the disposition of their army inside three to five years. I know nothing of the facts on which the Government bases its defence appreciation. I am quoting only information that I have, and stating the deductions that I have been able to make. During some of the best years of my life my mind was trained to think along the lines of deductive processes. By a process of reasoning I am convinced that Indonesia can have no offensive capacity in relation to the deployment of its existing forces under five years, and certainly not under three years, and I do not believe that it has any offensive capacity provided the existing quality of its government is retained.
In other words, in the final analysis, we get down to what might be described as a calculated risk. As the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) mentioned to-night, a democracy is always involved in this problem of taking a calculated risk, because the problem that faces a democracy in relation to its defence is implicit or implied in the very word “ defence “. The posture of the armed forces of an English-speaking democracy - of the Australian democracy, anyway - is a defensive one. It is not an offensive posture. In taking up a defensive posture, we have to take a calculated risk in relation to how we may be able to use our armed forces defensively. We cannot commit the whole of our resources, economic or otherwise, to the worst situation that is capable of being imagined. Indonesia is one illustration of the nations that do that. About 70 per cent, of Indonesia’s budgetary resources are being committed to defence measures. The result of that, of course, is that there is wild inflation in that country, and the standard of living of the people is dropping all the time. The Indonesians are prepared to accept that. Pakistan is another nation that spends far too much money on defence, in my opinion. The people of those countries are not prepared to take calculated risks.
We have to take calculated risks, and if we are wrong we have to pay the penalty. I do not think there is any one in this chamber who would be prepared to reduce the standard of living of the Australian people. I believe that both sides of Austra lian politics are attempting to raise the standard of living to the highest level that we can attain. It may well be that in the next two or three years the situation in the Seato area or the Anzus area, which includes Indonesia, will have deteriorated and we shall be required to find more money for defence purposes. If that happens and I am sitting in this Parliament, I will recollect with the greatest of pleasure that in this chamber at least there existed a substantial recognition of the problem that faces Australia in relation to its defence.
I wish to conclude by referring to one matter that I should have mentioned earlier. Senator Brown said that Australia was spending only £19.28 per head of population on defence. In my opinion, this is a perfect illustration of how people can be carried away by figures. The United States of America is involved in an enormous strategic responsibility all over the world. It has to evolve and build strategic weapons such as aircraft that are capable of flying right round the world, and inter-continental ballistic missiles that are capable of being fired right round the world. That is pretty expensive hardware. The result is that the amount of money per head that is being spent on defence by the United States is < astronomical.
As I have said, we in Australia have a tactical role to play rather than a wider strategic role. The amount of money that we allot for that role, which does not involve these very expensive weapons that we cannot afford, brings our defence expenditure per head down to the figure mentioned by Senator Brown. It is fair to point out to the committee that we must not fall into the trap of trying to assess our defence capacity in terms of expenditure per head. Our defence capacity consists in our ability to establish a defensive posture and to move quickly to the places where we are required when we are required.
– I shall be very brief. I asked the Minister a question about the station at North West Cape in Western Australia. I asked whether an agreement had been concluded on the two points. If the Minister is in a position to answer that question, I would be glad to hear the answer. I should like to refer to two matters that he raised in his speech. He claimed that our defence forces are stronger to-day than at any other stage in peace-time. When I pick up the defence statistics circulated by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), in statement No. 1, I see the strength of our armed forces. I find that the total permanent forces have been reduced in this Government’s term of office from 57,010 in 1953 to 48,541 at 30th June last. Over the same period the Citizen Military Forces have fallen from 80,889 to 38,175. The fall is almost uniform throughout the three services.
– You are counting national service trainees in those figures, are you not?
– I realize that. Whoever is included in the figures, the Government put them in, did it not? Let us stay on the permanent forces. They fell from 57,000 to 48,000.
– Thirty-four thousand.
– No, 48,000.
– What page are you looking at?
– I am looking at the third last column on page 1. I will take the committee through all the sections of the permanent forces. The strength of the Navy has fallen from 14,273 in 1953 to 11,103 at 30th June last. The strength of the Army’s permanent forces has fallen from 27,180 in 1953 to 21,623 at 30th June last. The strength of the Air Force has increased slightly from 15,557 to 15,815. I repeat that the overall total has fallen from 57,010 to 48,541. And that despite the fact that throughout the whole period ?200,000,000, almost to the ?1, has been available to the Government each year. That, too, despite the fact that the population has grown enormously in that period, despite the fact that the national income has grown and, above all, despite the fact that the financial resources of this Government have increased year by year. At least we must make that qualification upon what the Minister claimed. We have fewer members in our forces and a promise that the numbers are to be increased during the next three years.
In reply to what the Minister said about the Labour Party’s outlook on defence, let me refer the Minister to a passage from the policy speech delivered on behalf of the Labour Party in December last. In that speech, every word of which is true, Mr. Calwell said -
We have never voted against the provision of any funds this Government has ever asked for in the name of defence, though we have criticized it for its inability to decide what fighter aircraft it wanted, what sort of Navy it wanted and why it wasted the sum of ?200,000,000 it appropriated each year.
Mr. Calwell continued ;
As a government we will appropriate this sum for defence annually but we will have something to show for it, we will have a stronger Navy, Army and Air Force.
With those few comments, I reserve what I have to say for the other occasion, as I promised the committee when I spoke earlier this evening.
– When speaking of defence, it is unfortunate that some people in this chamber believe that the Government is the only one which has ever at any time defended this country. During the discussion some extremely wild and woolly statements have been made. I refer in particular to the statements made by one Senator Vincent, who said on more than one occasion that it was Mr. Menzies who asked for American aid for this country in the last war. To me, it is remarkable how the imagination of some people can run riot. Or do they make these wild assertions in an attempt to bolster a weak case? Let me give the facts relating to the last war. I do not say that Senator Vincent made a false statement in the sense that he rose deliberately to tell an untruth; but he did make one of those wrong statements which could go unanswered if people are not able to obtain access to the records quickly. With your kind permission, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I should like to educate your colleague from Western Australia by giving him some of the facts. The Curtin Labour Government assumed office on 7th October, 1941. Japan bombed Pearl Harbour on 7th December, 1941. Australia declared war on Japan on 8th December, 1941. Is the honorable senator satisfied now, or does he want me to read from the “ Digest of Decisions and Speeches of the Late Right Hon. John Curtin”? On 14th March. 1942, the late Right Honorable John Curtin said this -
It was, therefore, but natural that, within 20 days after Japan’s first treacherous blow I said on behalf of the Australian Government that we looked to America as the paramount factor on the democracies’ side of the Pacific.
Further on in his speech he said -
Therefore, we propose sending to you our Minister for Externa] Affairs (Dr. H. V. Evatt), who is no stranger to your country, so that we may benefit from his discussions with your authorities.
Surely Senator Vincent would be the first to admit that if Mr. Menzies went out of office on 6th October and Japan didn’t bomb Pearl Harbour until 7th December-
– We had been at war for over twelve months.
– You can get up later. The facts show that what you said was just a wild assertion.
– You are talking about Japan.
– The argument arose when Senator Vincent adopted the old line of argument in connexion with defence and wrongly asserted that people on this side of the Senate were taking the red line, if I may be pardoned for using the expression, and implying that honorable senators on the Government side were the white lillies who were taking the perfect line. The honorable senator had his facts wrong. He cannot prove that what he said was right, and if he can prove that what I am saying is wrong, I shall be the first to admit it. In all common sense, I ask the honorable senator what need any country would have on 6th October to appeal for help in the Pacific when there was no war in the Pacific at the time?
– What nonsense. The war had been on for two years.
– But the fact is that there was no war in the Pacific at that time.
– Of course there was.
– I have given the correct dates and stated the facts. If the honorable senator cares to ascertain the facts, as I had to do, I am certain that he will agree with me.
– War broke out in September, 1939, and as far as we were concerned, we were at war in 1939.
– Grow up, for once, will you. You annoy me when you make these wild assertions.
– You are making wild assertions.
– I am not. I have given the dates. The whole question arising out of this argument is which government made the approach for American help for Australia in World War II. I ask the honorable senator to look up the facts.
– We know the facts.
– Your Government made such a mess of things that two people crossed the floor from your side. They were more concerned about the safety of this nation-
– They were concerned about looking after themselves. See where they went to.
– All right. Where did Mr. Coles go? Tell me that, if you know. It is stupid to suggest that a man of Mr. Coles’ wealth was looking after himself. Such a suggestion is both stupid and childish. I am very grateful to know that later there will be a debate on defence.
– What is this - a practice run?
– It is just as much a practice run as you, friend, had. Actions speak louder than words. Reference was made to Senator Cant. All he did was to read an extract from the journal, “ Australian Coal and Steel and Shipping and the Harbour “. He argued that this could not be termed a Labour journal by any stretch of imagination. Any one who reads the leader of that journal would soon know that. Senator Cant asked if there was any foundation for the statement in that journal that the United States of America was to have a base in Western Australia.
– He also said he objected to American intrusion in Australia.
– I cannot agree with that. Again, I do not agree that he did so. He asked a question in the Senate, yesterday I think, of the Minister for the Navy. He wanted to know whether there was any truth in the press statement, and the Minister for the Navy, in his very courteous way, explained that if there was any substance in the statement he, as Minister for the Navy, would have known of it.
– This is right.
– Yes. I believe you would have known.
– And I do not believe there is any substance in the statement.
– Very well. I was shocked to think that the statement should appear in this publication. I have read it myself.
As the argument proceeded, a person who is not in the Senate at the moment reached his usual level and said, “ Traitorous! “ Is it not about time that we grew up? When we are dealing with the defence of Australia, or with the amount of money that is spent on the defence forces, let us do so in a manner that will help, as far as any of us can, in the spending of the money. As Senator McKenna and other honorable senators on this side of the chamber have said, never once have we moved that the vote be reduced. But we have been critical of the amount of money that has been spent on defence over the years, when we have thought of the little we have received for it or of the little that we could see for it. I admit that the average person does not like to see so much expenditure on defence in peace-time, but everyone is anxious to see a great deal of expenditure when trouble occurs. I hope that in future debates on defence we shall be factual in the statements that we make. If we are factual, there will be no occasion for honorable senators to upset others. 1 advise Government supporters to keep the subject of communism until election time. That is the Government’s only stockintrade. The Government parties would not be able to wage an election campaign unless they brought out the red bogy; but do not let us have it brought out eighteen months before an election.
.- I find myself stirred into agreement with Senator Kennelly in his request to keep this debate on a factual level, although I thought he rather left the factual level in the flight of fancy, in which he indulged during the last few words he spoke. However, I will pass that by. There are one or two questions of fact which are in dispute and on which I should like to try to reach agreement with members of the Opposition. As they are matters of fact, it should be possible to reach agreement.
Senator Kennelly commenced his remarks by taking to task Senator Vincent. He objected, on factual grounds so he said, and so he believes, I am sure, to Senator Vincent saying that it was the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) who first asked the United States of America for assistance during the last war. In order to indicate that that was not so, Senator Kennelly read out a great list of dates, many of which I think were accurate.
– There is no need to think. They are accurate.
– Let me amend my statement for the benefit of Senator Kennelly’s fine semantic sense. The honorable senator read out a list of events, all of which are facts. He gave the dates when bombs were dropped on Pearl Harbour, when Mr. Curtin sent Dr. Evatt to the United Nations, and so on. That makes no difference whatever to the truth of what Senator Vincent said, because long before that time Mr. Menzies had sent a Minister of his Cabinet, at that time Mr. R. G. Casey, now Lord Casey, to the United States as an emissary of this Government to seek what assistance could be had from the United States in the war effort. That is simply a matter of fact.
– Do not tell us that.
– Do you deny that that is the fact? I am merely trying to follow your plea that this debate should be conducted on a factual basis. I am asserting that the present Prime Minister, who was also the Prime Minister at that time, sent Mr. R. G. Casey, a Minister of his Cabinet, to the United States as the emissary of the Government to seek the assistance of that country, as far as it could be made available to Australia, in the war which was then raging. That is no denigration at all of what Mr. Curtin did later. It is merely an assertion that what Senator Vincent said was factually correct. I agree that these debates should be kept on a factual basis.
One other point I want to make concerns the statement made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) a short time ago, to the effect that the defence forces are stronger at the present moment than ever before in time of peace. He was taken to task by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), who took defence statistics and pointed out that in 1952 and 1953 there were more men in the Navy and in the Army than there are now. But I believe it is a fact that in 1952 and 1953 the Korean war was in progress, so that was not a time of peace. 1 believe that what Senator Spooner, who represents the Minister for Defence, said, was perfectly accurate. Having followed the path of sweet reason and the lead given by Senator Kennelly, and having persuaded him, I hope, that what he said was factually true and also that what Senator Vincent said was factually true - -
– Maybe I have not persuaded Senator Kennelly that what he himself said was factually true, but perhaps I have persuaded him that what Senator Vincent and Senator Spooner said was true. I hope that we can now get back to a proper debate of these defence estimates.
– I have been waiting for the opportunity to register my strongest objection to the smear of the Minister that I had directed a cheap jibe at the service chiefs of this country. I think honorable senators will remember that all I did was to acknowledge the possibility that even service chiefs could be wrong. I also acknowledged the fact that members of Parliament, including Senator Spooner, could be wrong, and that leading members of the Public Service could make mistakes. I do not want to be misunderstood or to have Senator Spooner twist the words I used. I was not questioning the probity of the service chiefs, nor was I questioning their ability or their qualifications, but I did say - and I think it is a reasonable observation to make, and one which is supported by history - that there have been occasions when service chiefs have been wrong.
There is no need for me to go further than to say that when mechanized warfare first became a feature of warlike activity there were people who, in good faith and while holding the soundest possible qualifications, argued that fixed positions were the best means of defence. Obviously, they were wrong. Do not let us question the motives of people who have the right to make observations. What I said before and what I repeat now is that even people who have the decisions to make in regard to the most serious questions of defence are not infallible.
– Are they wrong at the moment?
– I have never said that they are wrong at this moment. I was saying that there was a possibility that people could be wrong. I was not saying they could be wrong in any specific situation. I do not want the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) or any other supporter of the Government misquoting me when I make what I consider to be a reasonable contribution to this debate. I did not want to make inflammatory statements. I sought information regarding certain items in the proposed expenditure. I raised matters that I believed had validity concerning aircraft production in Australia. I based my reference on the fact that even people who occupy leading positions are not infallible. That is a reasonable observation for me or anybody else to make, and I do not want it twisted by the Minister.
When I referred to the provision of aircraft training facilities as one of the best contributions we could make to defence, I regret that I overlooked a potent argument I could have used, one that is contained in the Auditor-General’s report. Referring to aircraft and other equipment, the AuditorGeneral stated -
The major factor in the increase of £429,158 was the return of Hercules aircraft to the United States of America for essential repairs.
That brings into sharp relief the point I was making that not only are we saddled with the burden of purchasing expensive equipment overseas, but we are saddled also with the additional and rather stupid burden of having to send the equipment back for overhaul and repair. The reason is that we have not the trained men or the technical facilities to do this work. I hope that these references will direct the thoughts of the Government towards an expansion of training facilities in the field of aircraft production.
– I want to reply to some of the statements that have been made by Senator Vincent, because he has been using the fact that the proceedings are being broadcast to make the charge that some of us are following the Communist line. The honorable senator knows that the proceedings are being broadcast and he thinks that he can put over these insinuations, but he does not get them over always. I have the transcript of what I said when Senator Cormack asked me what was the allegation in relation to American activity. I said -
I shall come to that in a few minutes. I propose to quote from an article in a publication that is not a Labour publication which in many respects agrees with my views as to whether these things should be going on in Australia.
This is the official organ of the shipowners with which I agreed.
– Are they Communists?
– Senator Vincent says that they are, and because one is following their line, he is following the Communist line.
– Read us all you said. Do not stop at what you have quoted.
– I read all that was pertinent to the matter.
– Read us what you said later.
– Then I quoted what the article had to say, and added -
The Government . . . should be able to inform the nation about these things that are going on, this American intrusion, and whether America is to be allowed to come into Australia and as the article states, annexe part of Australia.
They are the only references I made to America coming into Australia. All I did was to point out the number of bases that -the Americans have in Australia, and particularly in Western Australia, at present. I asked the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) for information about them, and I did not get any. When people come into this place and use the medium of public information provided by the Parliament to brand other people as following the Communist line, I have to look at the line they are following, and I have accused Senator Vincent on several occasions of adopting a line similar to the line followed by the fascists.
– I had not intended to intrude further into this debate. I wanted to speak quietly and without excitement on the plane that Senator Kennelly suggested. However, I want to remind Senator Cant that when he spoke he objected to what he called the “ intrusion “ of the Americans into Australia. He objected to that intrusion.
– That is the operative word.
– That is what the article stated. ‘ HI
– Senator Cant said that was what the article stated, and that is what he agreed with. He said that he objected to the intrusion of the Americans into Australia. Then he went further and suggested that we should publish in “ Hansard “ the details of the deployment and the strategic work that is going on in Australia. Would the honorable senator like us to post a few copies of “ Hansard “ with all these details to our opponents in other parts of the world? That is what he was suggesting, in effect.
Any one who would rise in this chamber and voice an objection to the intrusion, as he called it, of the United States of America into Australia completely overlooks the fact that a great part of our defence is dovetailed in with the plans of our associates under various defence agreements. Much of it is dovetailed in with those who would be the bastion of our defences, no matter what we did with our 10,000,000 people and limited resources and an enormous country to defend. No one can say that we shall not have to call upon the assistance of those who are allied with us in the defence of the Pacific. Of course, all our plans are dovetailed in with this intrusion, as Senator Cant wants to call it. That is the sort of intruder I like and welcome.
The honorable senator may wish to have another type of intruder. I do not know. He may. That is for him to say, but for myself, I settle for this one because this is our proven friend in two wars. This is the proven friend who has fought on the side of the democracies, and would fight with them again. As Senator Vincent has pointed out quite rightly, the firm action of the United States has recently saved the world from a probable conflagration. For the honorable senator to raise such an issue at this time shows that he has very little knowledge or appreciation of the overall defence strategy of Australia.
I was interested to hear Senator Kennelly. He asked us to remember that the general elections are at least eighteen months away. I .thought that was an interesting admission. He asked us not to make this a party political matter at this stage, but to discuss it on the hustings. In that connexion, it is interesting to note that at the last general elections, the Australian Labour Party was trying to sell the line of oodles of social services and a reduction in defence expenditure. Now, of course, the Labour Party is adopting another line altogether, and it is a welcome line. I agree with my leader.
My leader said that .it was very welcome to see the great tumbler-pigeon act of the Australian Labour Party in coming down on the side of increased defence. That is the greatest tumbler-pigeon act of a political party since Opposition senators came into this chamber and said that they were not going to vote against the anti-Communist legislation. They came into the chamber and said that at the direction of twelve outsiders who, Opposition senators admitted, told them what to do. I remember, as well as if it happened, to-day, Senator McKenna walking in and saying in effect, “At the direction of twelve outside men with no responsibility to the people, who were not elected by the people, we will vote for this legislation. Now we will not oppose it, after talking in opposition to it for almost twelve or eighteen months.” After filibustering and talking against the legislation for so long, they walked into the Senate and calmly and quietly said that they had been directed by twelve outside men to vote for the legislation. I thought that that was the biggest tumbler-pigeon act ever. Now they are using the other wing and turning round in the same way in regard to defence.
– You said that you were going to be quiet.
– 1 was going to be quiet. I would really take to you if it were not for the fact that yesterday you became a father for the first time. I had1 to rise in my place to remind Senator Cant of his use of the word “ intrusion “ and what it means. I had to ask him to be sensible, to grow up and to realize that we are greatly dependent upon that great nation, the United States of America, which at this stage of history has a reputation second to none as a defender of the peace of the world.
– May I make a very brief contribution in reply to what Senator Gorton said? I join him in a plea for the facts. He said that I had quoted figures that were developed in war-time. Let me take him to the figures that do not relate to war-time. He may select any year -1954, 1955, or 1956. Let us look at the total number in the permanent forces. Whereas in 1956 we had 51,889, at 30th June last we had 48,541. In the Citizen. Military Forces, which I think Senator Gorton claimed included national service trainees about that time, there were 94,687 in 1956 and 38,175 at 30th June last. So, on this head I flatly controvert the proposition put by the Minister at the table and by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton).
One matter arises in my thoughts from a reference to the national service scheme. The Government let it run for six years. It is one scheme upon which we base allegations of waste. At the end of six years, the Government declared that the national service scheme had no military value, and the Government scrapped the whole thing. It took the Government six years and many millions of pounds of the taxpayers’ money to find the error that it had made in that respect. I merely put the facts before the committee to answer what Senator Gorton said on that point. It induced me to remember the debacle in relation to national service training under this Government.
T,hat was one more sin, one more selfconfessed failure toy the Government, such as occurred in respect of service after service. The Ministers .of the very ! govern.ment that introduced the scheme acknowledged that it had no military value and scrapped it. That is one of the counts Upon which we allege waste in defence expenditure on the part of the Government.
Senator SPOONER .(New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) t’10.3’5]. - 1 feel impelled to take part again in flu’s factual, non-political discussion. I <“!d riot withdraw -one iota of my criticism of ‘Senator Toohey. It is all very well to him to stand and say that he meant no harm when he said that the defence chiefs could be wrong. If he meant no harm or no criticism, why did he say it? Of course, he meant to .criticize them. It is the old story. He was not game to stand and say, “I criticize them”.. He said it indirectly. I would have more regard .for him if he had come out in the open and said what he thought instead of coming at it fey a .devious route. In my opinion, when he made that statement he had no thought in his mind other than to decry ‘the chiefs of the Australian staffs. But he Stands .now and pretends that foe did not know that -the gun -was loaded. Of course, he -.did; and he hoped that he would get away ‘with it. But he does not get away with criticism of that sort when I have a Chance to say something .about it.
The statement I made about the strength of our forces was made with knowledge of the figures. The view that I advance is that our forces are now stronger than they have ever been previously in peace-time. Because I hold that view and because I knew that the Returned Servicemen’s League held a contrary view, I addressed myself to the point when I attended the annual conference of the league in Brisbane. I wanted the opportunity to put my point of view, in relation to the comparative strength of our forces, that great difficulty confronts any government in making allocations between defence and development. Above all else I did not want the impression to be created among members of the league that a Minister attending their convention was not prepared to explain government policy and give information to the league. One of the .greatest dangers we can face is ‘any under-estimation by the Australian .people of the strength .and virility of the forces that we have. Of course, many people would like to :see us have .more, but as a government we have a responsibility to draw a line of -demarcation. We have to decide to what extent we shall put our resources into defence. J. felt that I had to put .that .point of view to the .league. I was received in a reasonable way. The members listened to what I ‘had to ‘say. From the published result of ‘the proceedings, 1 ha-ve .to admit that I did not persuade them; but I know that they appreciated my talking to them .frankly and that they gave a good deal of attention to the point of view that I put.
May I reply to Senator McKenna, in amplification of the view that I put. I shall do it in staccato form by making a number of points. I shall not try to amplify each one. I ask him to look, for instance, at the strength of our standing Army, at the experience that it has had in Australia and overseas, and at the great development that has taken place in our militia forces “by reason of the fact that men entering those forces accept the responsibility of going overseas if the necessity arises. I ask the honorable senator to have regard to the fact that those militia forces .are integrated with the regular Army and that they have opportunities to train with the .regular Army. I point out to honorable -senators that no fewer than 8,000 Australian troops were engaged in the recent Operation Nutcracker. That was a pretty large-scale operation for peace-time in Australia. i emphasize that the foundation of our defence effort is, in the circumstances that we face, motility. We have the aircraft carriers, the troopships and the aircraft needed to transport troops to wherever they are required in the circumstances that may arise. We have the air strips throughout Australia positioned to meet the circumstances that are envisaged. Behind our defence forces we have good specialized industrial development. We have a substantial shadow industrial support effort planned should there be need for it. We have two complete battle groups with combat logistic support and first reinforcements. We have an Army provided with modern equipment to an extent greater than we have had previously.
– We hope so.
– I hope that I make a statement of fact. That is the advice that we have. We have spent £30,000,000 for this purpose in the last three-year programme, and we propose to spend an additional £30,000,000 in the new three-year programme.
We have already placed an order for 30 Mirage jet fighters, and we will place another order for a further 30 Mirage fighters. We are continually providing the forces with new and modern equipment. It is not good for people to speak overdogmatically on a big matter such as this. I readily concede that many people will say that our defence force could be bigger than it is, but I stand fast on my claim that we have forces well trained, well armed, mobile, well equipped and experienced within Australia and outside Australia. Those forces constitute the strongest peace-time forces that Australia has ever had.
Lest I forget, I will answer now the query raised .about the agreement in relation to the United States installation on the north-west coast of Western Australia. I know that the agreement has not yet been completed, because I had to sit in on some discussions about some matters that are still the subject of negotiation.
– I did not intend to enter into this debate, although on one occasion I was challenged to do so on the question of the Cuban situation. I do not think this debate is the appropriate time to discuss the Cuban situation, although that situation may have many lessons for Australia so far as our defence is concerned.
Senator Spooner’s statement, with which I do not disagree, that Australia is spending as much as she can on defence without stopping other developmental works, is by no means proof that Australia is adequately defended. It could well be that more could be spent on defence, but at the risk of stopping some developmental work in this country. I think we must accept the fact that whatever is spent on defence is so much less for developmental works in
Australia. 1 think we may also infer from the Minister’s statement that Australia is not adequately defended. Coolly and calmly we should ask ourselves: Is Australia in a position to spend all of its national income on defence if war threatens? If we are not convinced that we can do that, should we not re-orient our thinking on defence?
Senator Cant referred to what has been termed America’s intrusion into Australia. On 17th October I placed on the noticepaper the following question: -
It would appear that the Government does not have full knowledge of the bases that America has in Australia, that it does not know for what purpose those bases are in Australia or that it does not know what personnel are employed at those bases, because to date I have not received a reply to that question. It may be that we should inquire why those American bases are in Australia. It is not that we do not welcome American bases here if they are for the defence of Australia, but is Australia becoming such a strategic portion of the American defence system that she will be a target for bombs if war breaks out between America and other countries? That is the question that we must ask ourselves when considering our relationship in this scheme.
– Is America our ally?
– Senator Henty has said that America is Australia’s main bastion of defence. We should increase the forces necessary to defend Australia, but we should not take sides in a war between Russia and America, which appears inevitable unless something is done to stop it. We should do all in our power to see that international disputes are settled by the United Nations.
– Are you now enunciating Labour policy?
– I am enunciating Labour policy. When President Kennedy made his momentous speech about the Cuban situation our Prime Minister, without consulting the British Government, immediately made a statement fully supporting President Kennedy. Mr. Calwell, on behalf of the Labour Party, made a statement appealing for the intervention of the United Nations. No such appeal was made to the United Nations. The Government immediately took sides on the question. It said, in effect, “ If there is going to be a blow-up between Russia and America, we want it to be known that we are going to be on the side of America “. The Government invited itself into the conflict without any thought of attempting to settle the conflict.
The machinery is in existence for dealing with matters like this. We send delegates to the United Nations for the purpose of settling disputes. We say that if one government takes action against another we shall decide at the United Nations which side we are on. However, in this case the Government took action without waiting to see what the United Nations would decide on the question, lt has become apparent, and it was stressed when we debated atomic warfare and civil defence, that defence against modern methods and missiles is hopeless. The only way to defend a country against modern missiles and bombs is to ensure that those missiles and bombs do not leave their place of origin. If we, as a nation, are to do anything we must have an international parliament to govern these problems as they arise. We must adopt an entirely different attitude in our approach to international affairs.
Whether we like it or not, communism reigns over a large portion of the globe. At the present time, communism has ambitions. It is not getting on too well with what we call the western democracies, but whether we like it or not it is an established part of the world system to-day and we must learn to live with it or perish. That is the position that faces every one of us. It is a position that the Government, as custodians of the safety of the Australian people, have to face.
– We have not to give in to it, have we?
– I am not suggesting for one moment we have to give in to it, but I am suggesting to Senator Gorton, as one of the biggest offenders, that rather than create hostility with something that is permanently established we have got to learn to live with it. Continual criticism and suspicion of Russia over everything it does will not help the international situation at all.
– Do you think that Russia should not be criticized?
– There are occasions in the activities of every country when criticism is necessary; but on international questions, and in relation to matters that could lead to war, we should do everything to get around the table at international conferences to see if there is a way out. I say that we should have done what U Thant did in the Cuban crisis, and what Mr. Calwell suggested we should have done. Instead of that we went in holus bolus. We said that we wanted it known that, if conflict came, we were lining up with one particular side, without making an examination of the position. On the same day that President Kennedy made his announcement, without an examination of the position, Australia was committed. We said, in effect that we wanted it known that we were on America’s side, that we have certain bases and certain forces to contribute, and we indicated to Russia that if it attacked America, Australia was one of the places it must attack.
The Minister has said that in the matter of defence we have done all we can possibly afford. I agree that that is so. We all know that Australia cannot defend itself. It is no good saying that some one is following a Communist line, a party line or any other line. Let us approach this question from a realistic position. Whether we like it or not, we have two systems of government in the world and we must find some method whereby we can live with those systems. If conflict occurs over the right to territory, we must have an organization to settle the dispute before actual warfare occurs. If we spent more on international co-operation with all countries of the world we would do more to defend Australia than by purchasing extra armaments and munitions. I suggest to honorable senators that they should get rid of party political bias and a hatred of certain nations and get down to the basis of mutual co-operation. They will find that the defence of Australia and the protection of the lives of our people are bigger questions than whether the Liberal Party or the Country Party gets into power at any time. The Labour Party will cooperate in any move for the purpose of preserving peace.
– I desire to say a few words on this matter. 1 have listened to the debate this evening, and it was rather amazing to hear Government supporters putting forth propaganda to the effect that it was the Menzies Government that negotiated with the American Government for assistance in 1941, or even in 1939. I am sorry that Senator Sir Walter Cooper is not in the chamber at the moment, because I think that he is about the only senator on the Government side who would have been a member of this chamber when Mr. Curtin appealed for assistance from America. Mr. Curtin was criticized by the then Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Foll from Queensland, and also the late Senator McLeay. They said that the Labour Party had cut the painter with England, that it was deserting England and going to America - it was becoming Americanized. For the benefit of honorable senators who do not believe that that is true, I am prepared to go through “ Hansard “ and search the debates. Government supporters to-day were on this side of the chamber at that time, and they criticized Mr. Curtin for appealing to America for aid.
That appeal for aid was not made until 1942, irrespective of what Senator Henty or Senator or Senator Vincent has said to-night. In 1940 the present Lord Casey was sent to America, but he was not sent to solicit aid for the Commonwealth for its war activities. It was not until 1942 that it was necessary to do that. Senator Henty said also that we on this side of the chamber were directed by twelve individuals to support the anti-Communist bill. I should like to remind the chamber that those twelve men are elected democratically by the rank and file of the Australian Labour Party.
– Which line?
– I do not understand what the Minister is talking about. I say that those twelve men are the most democratically elected people in the Commonwealth of Australia.
– Should we close up the Parliament and hand over to them?
– I venture to say that if your party had a more democratic way of selecting its candidates and deciding its policy we would have a better government of Australia to-day.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– Those twelve men met and1 decided that our party would support the bill brought down by the Menzies Government in 1951. I remind the committee that the legislation was brought down and passed, but the people of Australia refused to endorse it. The 1951 referendum proposal was defeated by quite a large majority.
This evening I listened to the speech of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I was rather surprised at the vicious way in which he attacked Senator Toohey. It is possible for chiefs of staff to be wrong. We must not forget Singapore. We were told that Singapore was impregnable. No honorable senator can deny that. But with the new methods of warfare in 1941 the guns were facing the wrong way, and the chiefs of staff were proved wrong. It has been admitted in many circles that the Gallipoli campaign was wrong; that the wrong tactics were adopted.
– That has been admitted in the official history.
– That is true. Some of the chiefs of staff criticised the late John Curtin when he decided to bring the troops back from the Middle East to defend this country in the islands. I say to the Leader of the Government that Senator Toohey had no thought of condemning any or all of the chiefs of staff.
– Nor do I do so.
– No. At times the chiefs of staff can be wrong. None of us is infallible. They do the best they can. When the late John Curtin made the decision in 1942 to bring our troops home from: the Middle East, he was criticized by members of the present Government parties because his decision was against the advice of some of the chiefs of staff. Had those troops not been brought home we probably would not have needed- the American aid that we received. It was Mr. Curtin who solicited from the United States of America the aid that was forthcoming.
We should also remember that wars bring together strange bed-fellows. In this chamber I have heard quite a lot about communism. In 1939, the Communists were enemies of the Allies.
– They still are.
– Just a moment. I know that you will always come in hook, line and sinker. But in 1943 Russia was an ally of the allied forces. Honorable senators should not forget that I, as secretary to a Minister, went into many homes of very high officials of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force in which there was a photograph of Stalin. At that time we were appealing for sheep skins for Russia.
– Now I have heard everything.
– My dear friend, I believe that had it not been for the tactics of the Russians in coming into the war on the side of the Allies-
– What do you mean by “coming in”? They were attacked’.
– All right, but we accepted them. We sent them armaments and we sent them aeroplanes. And you would do that again to-morrow. I do not disagree with that. But we have to be very careful about whom we ally ourselves with. We should not, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) did last week, make a statement giving ourselves body and soul to the United’ States, whatever action it likes to take in any part of the world. The stater ment made by my leader was a wellconsidered statement. He said that the Cuba issue should be referred to where it belongs, namely, the United Nations. I believe that the United Nations will deal successfully with the dispute between the United’ States, Cuba and Russia.
Senator Henty said that we on this side of the. chamber suggested, a reduction, in the defence vote. He knows quite. weE that at no time have we, as an Opposition, ever suggested that the defence vote should be reduced.
– I have heard- Senator Kennelly say it four times- in this chamber.
– I have never heard him say it.
– It was in your 1954 policy speech.
– You said that it was in the last one until Senator McKenna proved that it was not.
– That interjection by Senator Toohey is quite true. We have never suggested, that the- defence vote should, be reduced.. We have said that we do not believe that we are getting value for the money that we are. spending.
– You want to cut the vote.
– No. On 17th of last month Senator Cavanagh asked a question about certain defence bases that the Americans have in Australia. If the Leader of the Government is so conversant with our defences, why is not he or the Government able to- answer this question, which, was put on the noticepaper almost a month ago?
– A month ago; my foot! How many sitting days have we had since 17th of last month?
– Irrespective of how the Government wastes the time of this chamber and of honorable senators, I want to remind Senator Gorton- that, although this chamber does not sit continuously, the public servants who. advise him and. answer these questions are working continuously. Senator Gorton does not have to answer the questions. He could not answer them. The public, servants can answer them. I say that the Government should try to give to the chamber that information for which Senator Cavanagh asked.
I am surprised when I hear Ministers, of the Crown, such as. Senator Henty and Senator Gorton, coming into this debate which, in my opinion, Mr. Temporary Chairman, has nothing at all to do with the estimates before the committee.
– I rise to order. That remark by Senator Hendrickson brings- me to my feet on this point of. order: We have listened’ to him addressing the committee, presumably on the defence estimates* I make bold to say that during his entire speech he. has not made one direct reference to; the estimates that are before the committee..
Order! Ruling on the point of order; I say that honorable senators have an obligation to link up their speeches with the Estimates. L think everybody will agree that this debate has ranged fairly widely all night. At about ten minutes past eleven I would not try to be too exact in binding an honorable senator to the Estimates. However, Senator Hendrickson, I suggest that you link your remarks to an item in the Estimates.
– The Estimates have been debated at great length. I had no intention of intervening in this debate, except to answer certain allegations that were made by responsible or irresponsible Ministers. I wanted to correct their statements. After making those remarks, I will resume my seat.
– I wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government on the defence statistics that have been circulated by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). I wish to refer to the major categories of expenditure on capital equipment.. The amounts set out in the Estimates for the. forthcoming year total nearly £40,000,000. They cover aircraft, weapons, vehicles and other equipment. I should like to know how much of this money is invested: in Australian built land vehicles such as weapons carriers, jeeps and transports for personnel. This is important not only from the point of view of the supply of vehicles, but also from the point of view of replacements of the equipment. Both the vehicles and the replacements should- toe. produced by Australian industry if possible, and I think. Australian, industry can manufacture them. If Australian built equipment is not being used to-day, what policy does the Government propose to pursue in future in connexion with this matter?
Because the matter has been raised during this debate’, I think it is advisable to incorporate in “ Hansard “ a statement made by Mr. Calwell in connexion- with President Kennedy’s statement in relation to the Cuban crisis. As an ex-serviceman, I have a full appreciation of the assistance we would1 have to get from1 the United1 Kingdom and1 tile United’ States of America should there be another war, and’, to put this- matter in proper perspective; I ask for leave to. incorporate in “ Hansard “ the statement made by Mr. Calwell in the House of Representatives, on 23rd- October last.
Is leave granted?
– I wish to relate my remarks, to the question of defence- and, in view of the discussion that has taken place- here to-night, I propose to read Mr. Calwell’s statement. When speaking in the House of Representatives on 23rd October last Mr. Calwell said -
The House appreciates, I arn sure, what the Prime Minister has just said. Events have happened so quickly- since President Kennedy made his broadcast only a. few hours ago that there has been no opportunity for me or any other member of the Opposition. - or, I presume, for any member on. the Government side- of the House - to read the full text of the broadcast. Indeed, it was only ten minutes ago that the Prime Minister was able to give me-
– I rise to order. The honorable senator is now referring to a. debate in another place, in the same session, on the subject which is being debated’ in the Senate to-night. 1 submit that that is contrary to the Standing Orders.
– I presume you are- taking a point of order under Standing Order No. 416.
Standing Order No. 416 reads -
No Senator shall allude to any Debate of the current Session in the House of Representatives, or to any measure impending therein.
On my interpretation of the standing order, I uphold the submission that the honorable senator cannot read the statement. He may refer to it.
– I accept your ruling, but 1 cannot see how such a point can logically be taken in view of the fact that honorable senators on the Government side have been canvassing various issues to-night in an attempt to draw red herrings across the trail. Certainly they have alluded to many matters not directly related to the estimates under discussion. Now, when I seek to put the matter in proper perspective and record exactly what Mr. Calwell said, a Minister wants to gag me. In my opinion, Mr. Calwell’s statement made it quite clear that on this issue between Cuba and the United States of America the Australian Labour Party’s sympathies are with the United States Government and the people of the United States of America. That is all I want to say on that subject. 1 come back now to the question 1 asked when I rose. I am anxious to know whether we are getting the best out of our defence services. It is always an easy way out for the defence chiefs to use equipment that is produced in some other country when it is possible that such equipment could be manufactured by our own people. As an ex-serviceman, I know that a great deal of the equipment used in the last war was manufactured in the United States of America. I know also that to-day similar equipment is being manufactured in Australia. Every day I see on the roads of this country large transport vehicles and other machinery used by the armed services, such as earth-moving equipment which is used in the construction of air fields, and I should like the Minister to tell me how much Australian manufactured equipment we are using in our defence services and what the Government’s policy is in connexion with such equipment.
– I shall be very brief. In conformity with Senator Kennelly’s suggestion, I think we ought to rise above party politics. Therefore, I do not propose asking the
Minister to reply to me. Instead, I invite the Leader of the Opposition to say something in reply to what I have to say.
– That would be out of order.
– I am issuing an invitation. He need not necessarily respond. I listened carefully to Senator Cavanagh’s speech, and I think I am right in saying that he said he disagreed with the action of this Government in supporting President Kennedy in the present Cuban crisis.
– He did not say that.
– I think I am right in saying that Senator Cavanagh disagreed with the Government’s attitude.
– I rise to order. Is this relevant to the matter under discussion?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. As I understand the position, Senator Vincent is attempting to rebut an argument used by Senator Cavanagh. I hold that he has a right to do so.
– I think this question of just where the Government stands and where the Opposition stands in relation to the Cuban crisis is very important. We have been all but precipitated into a horrible conflagration, and I do not think any one will deny that the position was provoked by the Soviet Union. It is interesting to note that we now have a member of the Senate who disagrees with the action that President Kennedy took.
– I did not say I disagreed with President Kennedy’s action; I said I disagreed with the action Mr. Menzies took.
– I may not have heard the honorable senator correctly, but I believe I am speaking the truth when I say that he said he did not agree with the action of the Government.
– I rise to order. I wish to correct that.
Order! The honorable senator may make a personal explanation when Senator Vincent has completed his speech.
– In answer to an interjection, I got the response across the chamber that this was the Labour Party’s policy that Senator Cavanagh was dishing out. I may be wrong. It is at this point that I invite the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) to come in and say whether what Senator Cavanagh said is Labour Party policy. I invite the Leader of the Opposition to state the policy of the Australian Labour Party on this matter. I do not think for a moment that it is the policy enunciated by Senator Cavanagh. Every democratic nation of the world, including Great Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, hos supported President Kennedy’s action. I think that every official Opposition in the democracies also has supported it. From Senator McKenna’s remarks to-night, I strongly suspect that he does so, too.
– I rise to order. I do not mind whether we stay here all night, if we have something to discuss that is relevant to the matter before the committee, but 1 have listened to the debate for some time and it seems to me that the matter now being discussed is not relevant to the debate. We are supposed to be discussing the defence estimates and to be asking the Minister who represents the Minister for Defence for certain things to be done. Instead, we have an honorable senator talking about Castro, people in New Guinea, and other matters that have nothing at all to do with the subject before the committee. If we are to have a debate on that basis, I shall be happy to speak about China, Russia and the rest, but I point out, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that if you allow the debate to continue in that way we shall be here all night. I, for one, will take part in the debate and discuss matters that are quite irrelevant.
Order! It is apparent that Senator Arnold has not been in the chamber all night.
– Yes. I have been here for too long.
– That is uncalled for, Mr. Temporary Chairman.
– It is not uncalled for. The plain fact of the matter is that this debate has ranged freely on both sides of the chamber, and it cannot be stopped in the middle. When an honor able senator makes a statement, other honorable senators have the right to come in and discuss it. So far as Senator Vincent is concerned, he has been replying to an argument put up by Senator Cavanagh.
– Or which he says was put up by Senator Cavanagh.
– I accept that correction. I ask Senator Vincent to continue.
– If certain members of the Opposition, including Senator Arnold, do not like what I am saying, they can reply. If Senator Arnold does not agree with my statements he may rise and differ from me. The whole discussion around the defence vote has been related to questions which are entirely relevant to the points I am now making.
I want to return to what I was saying about Senator Cavanagh. It is interesting to hear a new senator in this chamber getting up and putting across the line that we have heard to-night. He has made himself quite clear on what he believes, and we are most interested to hear his views. They will be recorded in “ Hansard “. I am concerned to know where the Australian Labour Party stands in relation to the statements made by Senator Cavanagh to-night. They were very important statements on a vital issue. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition should now rise and say where the Opposition stands in relation to those statements.
– I seek to make a personal explanation. I have been accused of saying that I opposed the action that President Kennedy took. 1 expressed no opinion about the President’s action. I think that “ Hansard “ will show that that is so. What I did was to criticize Mr. Menzies for declaring support for President Kennedy’s action without consulting the British Government. As Mr. Calwell stated, I said that the matter should have been referred to the United Nations. I did not say whether I supported or opposed President Kennedy’s action. Therefore, Senator Vincent’s comments are entirely out of order. It would pay honorable senators to make sure of their facts before they make accusations.
’. - 1 deprecate your statement, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that I. was not. here for quite a lot of the1 debate.. To be. truthful, I have heard far too much of it.. I. thought that this was supposed to be a debate on the defence estimates, but I do not think I have ever’ heard a debate- range as widely as has the debate to-night. 1 deplore Senator Vincent’s attempt to show that my colleague, Senator Cavanagh, had, made a reference to President Kennedy which in fact he did not make. What Senator Cavanagh said was that Mr. Menzies came in so quickly to defend. President Kennedy that proper thought was not given to the Prime Minister’s action. That is all’ that Senator Cavanagh said. T think his comment was justified. We ought not to tumble in as quickly as we possibly can and agree with the American President whenever he takes action. On this occasion the. action that he took was of a very serious kind. I feel, that we of the Australian nation might well have waited a little longer before we came in behind President- Kennedy and agreed to his action.
– On this occasion it is a clear-out issue between us on this side and the Opposition, is it?
– My colleagues say no. but I would say yes, it is a clear-cut issue-. As soon as the President of the United1 States adopts an attitude, you follow behind him willy-nilly without any thought for the welfare of the Australian nation. If honorable senators opposite want to know whether it is a case of tweedledum and tweedledee, I say to them, that we on this side put before everything else the welfare of the Australian nation. The supporters of the Government want to follow the President
Of the United States in whatever action he takes.. That is the issue that Senator Vincent has taken, up with Senator Cavanagh.
My colleague, Senator Cavanagh, put the matter- very clearly before this chamber, and Senator Vincent has fried to twist his comments and to give- them a different meaning altogether. That is the view of the Opposition as I know it. It is certainly the view that I take. As a responsible member of the Opposition.. I feel that Australia’s interests might well be considered and should be put first before- we follow willy-nilly on the heels of President Kennedy in whatever action he proposes.
– Tn> this case we are discussing, I think your- attitude would have damaged Australia’s’ interests, but that is just a< difference of opinion.
– Of course it is. You are entitled to put that view. I still say that my first thought, is for Australia. Apparently, your first thought is to follow behind America in order that you might win favour with the American nation. That is the issue between us, and I rose only to place it clearly before the Senate. If we are now agreed on the matter, I shall sit down.
’. - Senator Arnold; has: not put the issue clearly before the- committee. The issue is not whether we are supporting the United States in general terms. I have no doubt where I stand’ on that issue, but that is not the matter that is under consideration in this Cuban affair. The issue is whether or not the Prime Minister’s statement in the particular circumstances was the- best’ course for Australia to follow. We do not do justice to the argument when we bring in generalities. You have to look at the particular circumstances. It is not good enough to say that we are talking- about whether we- support the United States of America, whether we are against Russia or for India or whatever the: issue, may be. It. is not good enough to put the matter in general terms.. You have to put an important matter like this entirely m the particular circumstances and it is not fair to introduce a general argument. In this particular instance, the point is whether or not you agree with the declaration of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) of Australia’s attitude and Australia’s stand on this matter.
– We agree with that.
Senator- SPOONER. - If: you agree with that, then- surely you, should commend the Prime’ Minister and the. Government for making its stand plain as. quickly as possible. This is not a question of generalities. Here was a great issue. Here was a good Government that knew where it stood and what it should do, and did it promptly. That is what we should be talking about; not some general issues. Did we do the right thing in these particular circumstances? I am sure the majority of honorable senators im Opposition would say, “ Yes, “. That was done, and if it was right, it was a good thing for Australia that it was done quickly.
– The Leader of the Government has not answered’ my question on details of the proposed expenditure of £40,000,000 on capital equipment.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure, £504,000.,
Senator KENNELLY (Victoria)’ [11.32). - I am concerned about the amount of money that is being spent under- this heading on newspaper advertising, and I should like to have details of th& expenditure on the recruiting campaign. I admit that if we want recruits, apparently we have to advertise for them, but I should like to have details on how the money is spent. If the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) cannot give me the information now, I am prepared to accept an assurance that he will supply it to me later. I should like to know how much is spent on newspapers in the Melbourne “ Herald ‘” group, the Packer group and the Fairfax group. I should also like to know how much is spent on television stations, and radio.
– An efficient Minister can always give the answers, and I have the information here. The total expenditure proposed on advertising is £398,900, and this will be allotted as follows: - For the Royal Australian Navy, £94,350; for the Army, £236,550; for the Royal Australian Air Force, £68,000. All that expenditure is to be devoted to newspaper advertising. There is no radio or television advertising.
– The Minister should check on that statement. I look at the idiot box occasionally, and I have seen recruiting advertising.
– 1 have to make a reservation in that respect. There is no paid advertising except that in the newspapers. Apparently we get some buckshee advertising on. the air. All the advertising for the Navy is in the metropolitan press. So also is the advertising for the Army, except for £15,000. The advertising for the Royal Australian Air Force is all in the metropolitan press, except an amount for the. Townsville: press which is not stated separately..
– Will the Minister state the amounts that are spent in different sections of the metropolitan press? I would like to know how much my friends the Melbourne. “ Herald “ and other groups, get.
– If the information is. available,. I will supply it to Senator Kennelly.
– I wish to relate my remarks to the proposed vote for the recruiting campaign. When ‘the Army is recruiting, no doubt it tries to persuade- young Australians to serve their country, and1 the recruits would be interested in the sort of equips ment they are to use. Therefore, I repeat the question I asked earlier and to which 1 received no reply. 1 said, that we were spending, according to the Estimates, £40,000,000 in this financial year to provide certain equipment and vehicles for the Royal Australian. Air Force, the Royal Australian Navy and the Army.. I asked for Information about equipment that could be made in Australia, such as earth-moving equipment, generating plant,, motor transport, jeeps and weapon carriers and I asked whether the Government was using Australian equipment. I asked whether the Government intended to use Australian equipment in the future if it was not doing so now, not only to assist Australian production but also because obviously it was essential to have Australian equipment and plant to produce spare parts in Australia.
Order! I remind the honorable senator that we are dealing with the proposed vote for the recruiting campaign.
– I am relating my remarks to the recruiting campaign. The
Government asks young men to join the armed forces and to drive transport, jeeps and weapon carriers, and to use other equipment. The Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) spoke about democratic processes and the fact that we were always behind the times when it came to facing a crisis. 1 asked a fair question, but I did not get an answer. It is something about which I should complain. No undertaking to get the information for me was given. The question is very important to Australia, to our economy, and to the defence services. 1 want to know whether the Minister intends to supply the information - if not publicly, then privately.
– It is not a fair question, first because it is put under the heading “ Recruiting Campaign “ and, really, it has nothing to do with recruiting; secondly, it is asked so late in the evening and should have been asked earlier before the argument commenced; thirdly, and most importantly, it is hardly related to defence, coming more appropriately under Army, Navy or Air Force.
I can hardly give a general answer, but in general terms the objective is to use as much Australian equipment as possible. The answer must be related to particular equipment. In relation to Army equipment, so much is spent on motor vehicles. In relation to tanks, a different set of circumstances applies. Different considerations apply in relation to the Air Force and in relation to the Navy. In general terms, it must obviously be the objective to use as much Australian equipment as possible in order not only to have it available but also capable of being serviced in Australia.
– My remarks on the matter of recruiting will be brief. Having regard to the matter raised by Senator Kennelly and the reply by the Minister, I suggest that there is an avenue of advertising which is available to the recruiting authorities but which has apparently been overlooked. It could be a very effective source of recruits. I refer to trade union papers and journals issued by the trade union movement. Practically every Australian worker is a member of a trade union and receives a trade union paper or journal. He reads, and reads thoroughly, the opinions expressed in such newspapers. The rates for advertising in union journals and newspapers are much lower than the rates charged by the metropolitan dailies. I ask the Minister to give some consideration to this form of advertising. The recruits for the armed services will be coming not only from the younger generation which is leaving school and will be eligible to join the forces in the very near future but also from the ranks of the trade union movement. I put the suggestion forward to the Minister and to the department, believing that its adoption would be not only profitable for the services geenerally but also in the interests of Australia and of the Australian people.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Senate adjourned at 11.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 November 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19621107_senate_24_s22/>.