25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Mister McMullin) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - Mr. President, on Friday last during your absence, in ray speech in the SenateI made reference to a meeting of the War Cabinet which was held in 1942 and which was attended by Australian intelligence officers. I said that during that meeting Dr. Evatt and the late Mr. Ward had made inquiries of the intelligence officers present as to what communication facilities were available to the Australian Government of the day should the Australian Government require to approach the Japanese in respect of establishing a separate peace. I said this information had come to me from what I regarded as a completely reliable source. I had no reason to believe that it was not completely accurate. Treating it as reliable, I gave the information to the Senate in good faith.
When I was asked to name the informant I said I was not able to do so at that time and without the approval of the source, and would therefore withdraw the statement until such time as I was able to quote the name of the informant. I pursued my inquiries over the weekend and I have now to inform the Senate that I am not in a position to quote my source. Having regard to the fact that I am unable to support my statement by reference to an informant, I withdraw unreservedly the statement that I made and tender my apologies to the Senate. At the same time, I express regret to those whom my statement may have injured, particularly Dr. Evatt and the relatives of the late Mr. Ward.
– I desire to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister seen a report in today’s Press emanating from Djakarta, making the claim that Indonesia hoped to be in a position to explode an atomic bomb next year? Is the Minister aware that in the same Press report it was stated that Canberra sources had described this claim as quite fantastic and had also described as fantastic the claim that Indonesia is now able to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles. In view of the fact that comparatively recently Canberra sources were reported to have doubted the ability of China to explode an atomic bomb, can the Minister say what concrete evidence the so called Canberra sources have to doubt this claim of Indonesia that it will be in a position to explode an atomic bomb next year? Finally, will the Minister give the names of the Canberra sources quoted by the Press?
– Let me answer the last part of the question first. I have no idea of the identity of the Canberra sources mentioned in the Press statement. As to that part of the question which relates to the suggestion that Indonesia might next year explode an atomic bomb and engage in the discharge of ballistic missiles, I can only say that I have no official confirmation of this, nor, in fact, do I have any official information in respect of it.
– Who makes these reports? Who are the Canberra sources?
– They could be any of the 70,000 people in Canberra. The honorable senator is as aware as I am of the difficulty, when unknown sources are quoted, of tracing the origin of stories which get into the Press. How frequently has he seen such a report and himself been aware of the impossibility of tracing its origin? I can only tell him that I have not the faintest idea of where this story, alleged to have come from Canberra sources, originated. Maybe the office boy in the newspaper office was the culprit. Dealing with that part of the question which suggests that there was an official view in Canberra that China could not explode an atomic bomb, I say, with great respect, that I think the honorable senator is in error.
– I did not say an “official view.”
– It might have been the same Canberra sources. Officially we had been made aware, not through any contact of our own, that work on an atomic bomb was going on in China. We had no precise information, but we knew that.
– My question is directed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Recognising that accommodation pressures on our universities in Australia are creating grave problems in relation to the admittance of some students seeking advanced education, will the Minister advise whether the report which attributed to Professor T. G. Hunter, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Sydney, the statement that about 20 per cent, of graduates were illiterate, is substantially a correct report of the Professor’s statement? The report was published in the Sydney Press on Saturday last, 14th November. If it is a correct report, is the statement a reasonably correct assessment of fact? If so, can the Minister give any explanation of this extraordinary and almost incredible situation?
– I do not know whether Professor Hunter made the statement which apparently is attributed to him, but quite clearly such a statement in those bald terms is obviously wrong. As I understand the word “ illiterate “, it refers to people having an incapacity to read or write. It is obvious to everybody that a graduate of a university cannot be illiterate. What Professor Hunter may have had in mind was that there should be a wider basis of education and that instead of people graduating as specialists in physics, in chemistry, in history, or in other subjects, there should be a wider spectrum of people who were literate in the fullest modern sense of that word. I do not know whether that was what he had in mind, but quite clearly it would be wrong to say that any graduate of an Australian university was, in the general sense in which the word is used, illiterate.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question. In view of Senator Branson’s unsatisfactory withdrawal of and apology for the allegations he made last Friday because he could not disclose his source of information, will the Leader of the Government have a full public inquiry to clear the names of the two Ministers of His
Majesty’s Government and to ascertain who gave the honorable senator such a false report?
- Senator Branson made a statement as a private senator. He has withdrawn it unreservedly in that capacity and has apologised. That being so, I do not see the need for any further inquiry.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that in this morning’s Press there is a statement by the Chief Electoral Officer to the effect that people should study the voting system before the Senate election in order to ensure that they cast a correct vote. Will the Minister tell the Senate how people can study this system and what is a correct vote? I understand also that a film was to be presented on television in order to show people how to vote. Can the Minister give any indication as to when this film will be shown? As the Senate voting system is so highly complicated and was introduced by the Labour Party designed obviously to confuse people, will the Government give consideration to introducing a system which people can understand?
– I will discuss the question asked by Senator Buttfield with the Minister for the Interior. I have not seen any reference to the need to study our voting system. I think there is a need for the electors generally to make themselves aware of how to cast a formal vote. However, I know of no undertaking given by the Department of the Interior to bring to the public a greater awareness of how to do so. As indicated earlier, I shall discuss the question with the Minister for the Interior.
– I preface my question, which I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, by asking him whether he recalls that, a few days ago, in reply to a question asked by Senator Sandford, he said that Mr. Menzies was thrown out of office in 1941 by two independents. Has not the Minister sot his facts upside down? Will he again look up the records which will show that Mr. Menzies was ignominiously rejected by his own socalled supporters in August 1941 because he was responsible for Australia’s helpless position, and that Mr. Fadden was suffered by Australia until October 1941. To assist in his inquiry, will the Minister get one of his eavesdropping colleagues to examine the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 20th December 1941, emphasising Australia’s hopeless position? I ask him to ascertain whether the newspaper report said -
The Labour Government was starting behind scratch in a country unprepared for war, a country that even after two and a half years war still lacked essential weapons and supplies; that Australia did not have one modern fighter airplane in Australia; there were no serviceable tanks, no aerial torpedo bombs; very little oil or petrol; that Australia’s small Army was without proper equipment, and were not properly trained.
– I must confess at once I think the honorable senator has put his finger on an error of fact which I made in answer to a question a few days ago. I think the sequence of events which the honorable senator has described with regard to the departure from office of the Menzies Government, the establishment for a short period of the Fadden Government and then the collapse of that Government, is quite true. I regret my inaccuracy in regard to what happened 22 years ago. Time rushes on. I can only say that I am sorry that my reply was not correct as I would have liked it to be. The honorable senator may acknowledge that this rapid change of governments at that time could very legitimately have contributed to the confusion which I experienced during the progress of the debate. However, I was wrong. As to the other part of the honorable senator’s question, I will not accept that the Menzies Government, on departure from office, left this country in a state of unpreparedness. Indeed, there is ample evidence that its entire energies during the early years of the war had been successfully directed to building Australia into a machine that could be developed rapidly as a fighting unit. That fact has been acknowledged by many authorities and many authors. I repeat that it was acknowledged by the incoming Labour Prime Minister of that day, Mr. John Curtin.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to an article published on the front page of the “Australian” today alleging that the Melbourne Catholic “ Advocate “ attacked the Government’s conscription proposals? I ask him whether it is a fact that the “Australian” printed highly selective extracts from the “Advocate “ but carefully omitted the following sentences which occur, not consecutively, in the editorial -
Nevertheless, particularly when an enemy, or a potential enemy, has great conscript armies, a freedom-loving nation has the right and the duty in an emergency to conscript its citizens for lawful defence. we have to recognize that practical concessions have sometimes to be made in the face of hard and unpleasant facts.
It should be made clear to the world
. that any building up of military or allied forces is governed by measures strictly necessary for our legitimate defence.
Do these extracts not make the “ Australian’s” statement completely mendacious and typical of the offspring obtained by mating “Truth” with the “Daily Mirror “?
– I have not seen the copy of the Catholic “Advocate” to which the honorable senator has referred. I did see the article in the “ Australian “ and although I do not remember word for word just what was stated in the “Australian”, I agree completely that if the paragraphs which the honorable senator states were omitted had been carried into the article printed by the “ Australian “, it would have been capable of completely different interpretation. In the circumstances I can only agree that the article was mendacious and, on the face of it, deliberately mendacious.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Government come to a decision concerning the Western Australian Government’s request for amounts to enable the completion of the Ord River irrigation project? The State Government sought £19,300,000 to complete the irrigation scheme and £10,700,000 to finance associated developments such as hydro electric power and housing. Requests for both these amounts were made about February or March of this year. If the Government has come to a decision, what decision did it reach? If it has not reached a decision, what is the present position and when can a decision be expected?
– No decision has yet been reached on the request made by the Western Australian Government in respect of the second stage of the Ord River dam project. I am aware that discussions between the two Governments are continuing and that Mr. Court, the Minister for the North-West in the Western Australian Government, was in Canberra last Friday and had discussions with the Minister for National Development. I expect that consideration of the request made by the Western Australian Government will now take place in the light of the further discussions which were held last Friday. I am not in a position to indicate when a decision might be reached.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been directed to a statement that Indonesia hopes to explode a nuclear bomb within the next 12 months, and also that it will then be in a position to launch guided missiles? In these circumstances, does not the Minister regard the Australian Labour Party’s policy of a nuclear free zone as being even more suicidal folly than some of its other ideas?
– As I indicated in reply to a previous question, I have no official information at all as to the possibility of Indonesia exploding an atomic bomb next year or embarking upon a programme of firing guided missiles. I am reminded, as I speak, that Indonesia, like Australia, is a member of the non-nuclear pact. For that reason, it would appear, on the face of it, at least doubtful that Indonesia would engage in such an enterprise. I put it to the honorable senator that Indonesia’s aggressiveness can be judged in the light of its build-up of conventional weapons and of men, apart altogether from what might be its policy in respect of nuclear power. It is this military build-up of weapons and men which, of course, concerns the Australian Government and the Governments of the other countries of the Western world which are intent upon halting aggression in any part of the world.
(Question No. 333.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has furnished the following replies -
Senator MURPHY (through Senator
Poke) asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has furnished the following replies -
– by leave - Mr. President, I was reluctant to comment at all upon the announcement made earlier in the Senate by Senator Branson in view of the unqualified withdrawal by him when he said: “I withdraw unreservedly and apologise to the Senate.” He added an apology to Dr. Evatt and to the relatives of Mr. Ward. Had that been done alone, I should have been quite content not to have uttered one more word regarding the matter, having regard to the deeply humiliating position in which that places the honorable senator. I thought that that was an adequate enough apology for that for which he now apologises. But, Mr. President, his withdrawal was preceded by two lots of statements that I feel I cannot allow to pass.
I have not a copy of the statement before me, and I made a rapid note as he spoke. What the honorable senator said, according to my note, is that the information that he gave to the Senate on Friday came to him from a reliable source, that he had no reason to disbelieve the information, and that he gave the information to the Senate in good faith. He went on to say: “I find now I am not in a position to quote my source of information.” I must comment upon those two aspects of what he said. On his claim that he gave the information to the Senate in good faith, I must make the comment that his information was obviously wrong. The question of good faith arises in whether he checked it or not. The information that Mr. Ward was a member of War Cabinet and at a meeting of War Cabinet had joined in saying certain things was completely and absolutely untrue. The honorable senator in one minute, by reference to the Commonwealth “Year Book” of the year, or by reference to the Parliamentary Handbook, would have known that the information given to him was untrue. It has been denied by people who were present at War Cabinet meetings - Mr. Makin and Mr. Dedman. Dr. Evatt is not in a position to comment. Mr. Forde was not available for me to speak to him, but I have no doubt about what he would say about it.
The honorable senator, in what he has said, has presented himself as a person who acted in good faith and I say that that cannot be accepted when he did not take the simplest and most obvious precaution to verify what he was told. The statement was obviously and demonstrably, and must be known to him now to be, untrue, and he has presented his informant as a reliable witness; he could have ascertained in a minute that he was not.
The Opposition is most reluctant to be obliged to comment at all when the terms of the honorable senator’s withdrawal and apology are so complete and in such complete terms. I do so in justice to the people who have been hurt in this matter. The honorable senator quite obviously did not have a thought for them when he accepted the reliability of his informant and came in with the most disastrous consequences and hurt to him. The honorable senator now finds that he is not in a position to quote his source. He has held up his source to us as being a reliable one and he has not acknowledged the falsity of the information that was given to him. So far as the Opposition is concerned, until that is done the matter is not complete. The falsity of the information that was given to him must be acknowledged by the honorable senator. Quite’ frankly, I feel sorry for what the honorable senator has done to himself. He has got himself into a position where he has had to abase himself not only before the Senate but before the nation. I do not want to make it any worse for him. He ought to make complete amends and not leave the matter where it is merely by saying that he has had reliable information and by putting almost as the ground for making his withdrawal the fact that he is not free to quote the source of his information. Mr. President, the Opposition cannot leave the matter there. I hope the Senator Branson will see the fairness and justice of acknowledging that the information that was given to him was false, and that he will do so before the Senate. It is so clear to him that the information was false. If he does as I have suggested, he will have made an amende honorable for what he has already said, and the Opposition will not pursue the matter further. But it will not have been done in the situation that I had hoped, when the honorable senator rose, would exist.
I have only one other thing to say. When this incident is closed - I hope it will be closed satisfactorily - I hope that the Press of the country, the radio stations and the television stations will recognise the moral responsibility that rests upon them to give to the withdrawal the same degree of publicity that they accorded to the allegation made by the honorable senator on Friday last.
Debate resumed from 13th November (vide page 1782), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Senate take note of the following paper - Defence Review - Ministerial Statement dated 10th November 1964.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the motion - “ and opposes the Government’s proposals to conscript Australian youth for service overseas, regrets its failure to stimulate recruitment for the regular Army and condemns its delay in securing Naval and Air Forces to safeguard Australia and its territories and communications”.
– Mr. President, when this debate was adjourned on Friday last, 1 had dealt with the charges that had been made by the Leader of the Opposition in this place and his counterpart in another place and I had stated that those charges called for some reply. Both these gentlemen said that the fact that repeatedly we are faced with a crisis in an election year suggests that the most recent crisis that has been mentioned is a gimmick which the Government is seeking to use in an effort to win another election, that the methods that have been adopted to meet the alleged crisis are contrary to the advice that was tendered as late as three weeks ago through the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), and that the Government’s proposals will not provide a satisfactory means of defence or, if it is satisfactory, will provide no real defence until 1970. The Opposition asks: Is conscription the best means of building up our forces to defend Australia? The Opposition states that it is not the best method of building a force and that the Government is adopting conscription in order to support an election campaign and in complete defiance of the opinions of military experts on the best method of raising defence forces. The questions raised by the Opposition must be answered. Many slurs have been cast directly and by innuendo upon the motives of the Australian Labour Party in condemnation of its policies, but the questions raised by the Opposition on the Prime Minister’s defence statement have not been answered.
I am waiting to see whether the answers will be given here or in another place this afternoon. If one is not forthcoming, the Government must stand condemned for trying to create fear in the public mind as a way out of the dilemma in which it is placed in endeavouring to maintain control of the Senate. As part of the pattern of condemnation of the Opposition’s policy without any attempt being made to justify the Government’s policy, Senator Hannan today referred to an article in the “Australian “ dealing with the attitude of church leaders towards the Government on the conscription issue. Senator Hannan asked whether the quotation in full in the “ Australian “ report of the editorial to which it referred would have allowed an entirely different construction to be placed on the matter. The Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), clutching at a straw, immediately jumped up and agreed with the honorable senator. According to Senator Hannan, the portion of the editorial omitted in the article in the “ Australian “ would justify the Government’s policy if it was opposed by a conscript army in the case of an extreme emergency. “ Extreme emergency “ are the words used by Senator Hannan. Clutching at a straw in an attempt to find salvation the Minister agreed that the matter would have borne a different complexion had the editorial been quoted in full and that the Government’s policy in relation to conscription would have been justified. But we are not at present opposed by a conscript army or in a case of extreme emergency. Therefore, by implication, the article in the “ Australian “ does not create a false impression, but correctly expresses the attitude of the church concerned.
Senator Hannan’s question and the answer given by the Minister illustrate that the Government is desperate in its struggle to justify its policy of conscription. The article in the “Australian” gives point to the belief that conscription will result, not in a better Army, but simply in a restriction of individual liberty. It may be that in a time of extreme emergency a conscripted Army is of great value, but the question we must ask at present is whether conscription will better meet Australia’s requirements than they are being met at present or could be met if other circumstances arose, or if Australia had a government which inspired sufficient confidence to encourage adequate numbers of men to enlist in the Services.
During the debate on the Estimates members of the Opposition expressed concern at the high cost of recruitment advertising by the Army and the failure of recruiting campaigns. Senator Willesee and I offered to investigate alternative means of making the Services more attractive to young men, after we had received from the Minister an assurance that Service pay and conditions at present are as attractive as those paid by private enterprise. The Minister also said that he would make available to us facilities for investigation so that we might discover whether anything was stopping our young men from enlisting. I have discussed this matter with the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna), who is of the opinion that the Opposition should take advantage of the Minister’s offer. It will be necessary to have a further discussion on the matter. I do not know whether we can find anything wrong with conditions in the Services, but because of the Government’s conscription policy, certain selected individuals - lucky or unlucky - must enter the Army irrespective of whether they find it an attractive proposition. Without investigating to find the reasons why the Services are not attracting men although private industry can do so, the Government has decided that men are simply to be taken into this unattractive organisation because the voluntary system has failed.
During the discussion that has taken place on this matter we have learned that, because of the educational standard, one man in five of those who volunteer has not been able to meet the requirements of a highly mechanised technical army and has been rejected. The rejections have been due, not to lack of intelligence, but to lack of education. Those who have been rejected have never had the opportunity to receive education of the standard required. Senator Branson described as treasonable the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), that if some years ago some of the money for defence had been spend on education, including university education, we would today have all the volunteers that the various arms of the Services need.
I put to the Minister that, even under the system of compulsory call-up, an educational standard will be required. Young men will need intelligence in the Army whether they are conscripts or volunteers, lt is reasonable to assume, therefore, that there will be as many rejects as there were previously. In addition, men will be exempted because they are not naturalised. The way will be open for individuals who wish to dodge military service to fail in the examinations, while others will be exempted because, as I have said, they have not been naturalised. That will be undesirable in both instances. Although we are short of manpower for industry and the development of the country, we are told that people who are hanging about the coffee bars and other such places at the present time will not necessarily be conscripted for the Services, although men who are employed in industry are to be plucked from their employment for service in the forces. At a time when there is an acute shortage of skilled manpower in industry, the Government proposes to take the best educated section of young manpower for the purpose of military service. I acknowledge that national servicemen need to have a reasonable standard of intelligence and ability, but I maintain that sufficient volunteers would be available for service if educational training were provided.
The Government assists private enterprise and the country generally by providing technical schools, apprentice training schools, and also schools for physically and mentally handicapped people. Surely it would be sensible for the Government to provide a period of training for volunteers for the Army with the object of raising their educational standards, instead of depriving industry, which at present is short of skilled manpower, of young men by taking them for service in the forces. Employees who occupy key positions in industry are to be called up although, if a little time were devoted to education, men who volunteer would be available.
I would like an answer to the question: What is wrong with the system? Would it not be a better scheme, both for the forces and for the industrial development of Australia, if the young men who volunteer and are rejected on educational grounds were given training to enable them to meet the educational requirements, and would it not also make better citizens of them? There is obviously something wrong. A question was asked in the Senate during this sessional period as to whether it was true that 100 officers had sought to resign from the Services, and whether their resignations were held up pending a High Court case. The reply given by the Minister was that there were not 100 resignations, but he did not say how many there were. However, it is known that a number of officers did want to resign from the Services.
Events such as those of the “ Voyager “ catastrophe do not help to create in the minds of those entering the Services the thought that in peace time at any rate their lives will be secure. During the debate on the “ Voyager “ disaster, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) spoke about the risk involved in naval service and he implied that those who went to sea should be prepared to accept that risk. He went on to say that Australia has not had as many naval catastrophies as America, Britain and some other countries. During peace time no risks should be involved if naval training is carried out properly. It is not right for the head of the Government and others in responsible positions to say that there must necessarily be risks involved. It will be impossible for those who will be called up for service not to feel some concern about matters such as this.
There has been a lot of muddled thinking by the Government. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) condemned the whole of the manoeuvre in which “ Voyager “ and “ Melbourne “ were engaged, and the ex-Minister for the Navy, Senator Gorton, tried to exonerate himself by discrediting the honorable member for Batman. He told us that the honorable member knew very little of what he was talking about. However, information which has been supplied to the Senate shows that between 1949 and 1962 the honorable member for Batman, at least on one occasion - it was not said that this was the only such operation in which he was engaged - piloted a visiting American destroyer through Port Phillip Bay. A person who is capable of piloting a destroyer of the United States Navy would not be so ignorant of naval affairs that it could’ bc said that he had not the necessary experience to discuss the “Voyager” accident. But, as I have said, the exMinister for the Navy attempted to discredit the experience of the honorable member for Batman in order to exonerate himself and his conduct during the eight years in which he had been in ministerial charge of the Navy.
The Minister said that the honorable member for Batman had written to him saying that it was dangerous to use whalers as they were liable to sink. He tried to prove that the statement of the honorable member for Batman was completely wrong. He said that a whaler had been submerged and had not sunk. He produced a photograph as evidence that the honorable member for Batman did not know what he was talking about. There is however, a great weakness in the argument of the ex-Minister for the Navy. At the time of the “ Voyager “ disaster, when a whaler was lowered for the purpose of rescue work it went to the bottom of the ocean and has never been seen since. That would seem to contradict the evidence produced by the Minister.
While we have men in responsible positions sticking to their ideas and refusing to admit that they may have been wrong, and while we have the Prime Minister saying that the naval accident rate in Australia is not as high as in other countries, some doubt must be cast into the minds of lads - and into the minds of their parents - who are going to be subjected to a lottery to find out whether or not they should be called up. I submit that anyone who condemns the voluntary system is failing to acknowledge the outstanding service rendered by Australian servicemen in both world wars. The Government should first try to attract more recruits to the Services, and secondly, it should try to clean up the organisation of the Services so that greater protection can be given to those who join. The Government also should introduce some system of educating those who fail to reach the educational standard required. I think that any doubts as to the public reaction to selective service training are resolved by the wave of support for the opponents of the conscription of young men for overseas service other than at times of actual war. The condemnation of this system by the Australian people will be demonstrated on 5th December.
It becomes necessary at times to refer to what has been said against my colleagues in this Parliament. As I have stated, I am of the opinion that continued reference to what members of the Labour Party have described as their attitude is no answer to the criticism of the Government’s proposals. But there is a distorted sense of responsibility in this Senate. I refer to the speech delivered by Senator Branson during this debate last Friday. Ignoring the episode which has already been discussed this afternoon, I find on .page 1774 of “ Hansard “ that Senator Branson said -
Last night the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made three statements at the conclusion of his remarks. I think those statements must have been a wonderful comfort to our enemies. If they had been made in a time of war, and without privilege they could well have been treasonable. Mr. Calwell said - we are emphatically not in a position to meet any serious emergency. We are not in a position to meet any serious threat to our nation. We are not in a position to honour any of our international obligations.
Senator Branson said that, in his opinion, this statement would be treasonable if it were said outside the Parliament, and therefore was not afforded parliamentary privilege, in a time of war. One would have thought that the Leader of the Opposition elected by and representing the views of approximately 50 per cent, of the electors of Australia had a duty to those electors to tell them of the position of Australia in regard to its defence forces’, its inability to meet an enemy if one came at the present time; and the need for some reorganisation of Australia’s defence forces in order to put this country in position in which it could meet any emergency which might come at any time. One would have thought the Leader of the Opposition had this responsibility to the- electors and had some responsibility as a member of this Parliament to point out the weaknesses of our defence system and our inability to meet our obligations.
But we find a senator who wants the Leader of the Opposition not to tell the enemy of our position by keeping up the pretext that Australia has the forces here that would repel any aggressor who came to our shores. Senator Branson did not challenge the truthfulness of what the Leader of the Opposition said. He criticised the Leader of the Opposition because he stated to the people of Australia, and to any potential enemy who might have been listening, Australia’s position in regard to preparedness. Surely any member of this Parliament has a responsibility to the Australian people to let them know our true defence position. It is time we stopped kidding ourselves that we are fooling a potential aggressor or any future enemy into believing that we have a defence force when we know just as well as that enemy knows that we have not such a force.
The honorable senator who made those remarks went on to say, as reported at page 1776 of “ Hansard “ -
I think it is understood by every sensible, thinking Australian that we cannot, within the limits of our resources of both manpower and money, hope to defend Australia.
There is an admission by the very senator who is condemning the Leader of the Opposition for saying the very same thing as he said. Senator Branson then discussed what members of the Australian Labour Party had said over the years in regard to its defence policy. Throughout the speech of the honorable senator, we had a well rehearsed scene. Senator Hannan, who was sitting next to him, would say; “ Who said that?”, “What did he say?”, “Was he serious?” or, “Is that true?”. If Senator Hannan lacks anything in political knowledge, at least we can say that he is a good actor. He performed his role very well, giving Senator Branson an opening to repeat his statements, and it would have created quite an impression upon anybody who had not studied the defence statement. Accusations were made against members of the Australian Labour Party in this speech by Senator Branson. They were agreed to by Senator Hannan and repeated at the request of Senator Hannan. As they had Senator Hannan’s approval, the inference is that nobody else should question what was said. According to Senator Branson as reported at page 1777 of “ Hansard “-
Mr. Calwell said that we can do nothing, that we are defenceless, that we cannot live up to any of our obligations.
– It is treason.
– If it was said in time of war T would consider it treason. I think that Mr. Calwell’s statement must have been a very great comfort to the people whom we consider to be our enemies.
– It made headlines in Peking.
Of course, other countries would derive even greater comfort if they knew what we have to defend our coastline. Senator Branson referred to Dr. Evatt and the policy speech he delivered in 1955 on behalf of tha A.L.P. Senator Branson said that Dr. Evatt stated then-
Labour would not require the huge annual expenditure at present appropriated for defence.
Senator Branson also quoted Mr. Calwell as having said in a radio broadcast in Melbourne on 24th November 1957 -
It would have been far better if some of the defence grant had been spent on universities and secondary and technical schools . . .
Obviously we would have followed a proper course and conscription would not have been necessary today if Mr. Calwell’s policies then had been put into operation. According to Senator Branson, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) was sufficiently treacherous to have said - and this statement was reported in Senator Branson’s speech -
This Government should reduce its expenditure on armaments and use the money it is now wasting on expenditure for war to work for peace. It should devote the money to peaceful uses, such as the Colombo Plan.
Then Senator Branson, quoting Mr. Uren further said that this was the important point -
It should disarm and contribute to the work of the United Nations.
Then the “ Hansard “ report continues -
– Who said that?
– Mr. Uren said it in the other House on 11th October 1960.
– Was he serious?
According to Senator Branson, here was another crime: We have in the Australian Labour Party somebody who said in 1960 that we should have been spending more on the Colombo Plan than we were spending on defence at that time. Senator Branson then referred to statements by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) who had said in the debate in another place -
All we need to have at our disposal is something in the nature of a police force to meet that form of attack pending the arrival of assistance from the United Nations.
Then the honorable member for Yarra - the notorious Dr. Cairns - was quoted by Senator Branson as having said -
My point is that we should prepare ourselves to supply troops to the United Nations and that is the only justification that Australia has for supplying any troops anywhere at any time.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) was quoted as having said -
Honorable members opposite are the scaremongers. We are not the ones who say we must defend ourselves against the surging hordes from the north.
Then we find that the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) had the cheek and audacity to quote a subversive publication to say -
Great statesmen throughout the world, and great Australians are clamouring for world peace on a permanent basis. Yet we find this Government . . .
And then Senator Branson said -
This frightful Government, which does nothing about defence -
And Senator Branson then completed the quotation of Mr. James -
The honorable member for Hunter was asked: “Would you cut it?” and Senator Branson quoted the honorable member for Hunter as having said -
Yes, I would cut it . . . This Government proposes to spend £204 million this year on weapons of war, although the Tenth Commandment is: “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.
Apparently, in the opinion of Senator Branson, a man is not worthy of our respect if he quotes the Tenth Commandment in relation to expenditure for war. Senator Branson referred to Mr. Haylen whom he described as “ the fellow who has aspirations to join us “. The fact is that Mr. Haylen will join us next July if for no other reason than that he will be assisted by the feeling in the country against the Government’s defence policy. Senator Branson quoted Mr. Haylen as having said -
The Australian Labour Party is a parly of the people. We who belong to that Party believe that S.E.A.T.O. is useless.
I have only one other quotation to give to show the accusations that are made against members of the A.L.P. I will not read it because I think I have already dealt with it. There is a reference to a group of Labour politicians who, Senator Branson says, cannot be trusted because they want peace, because they want to spend money on universities and because they want to spend money under the Colombo Plan. Let us examine whether this approach is treacherous. For as far back as we can trace our history, groups of warriors have been going from one battlefield to another, beating their tom toms and rallying forces for the purposes of war and destruction. At first, battles were fought for the possession of hunting grounds, and later, for profits - which amount to the same thing. From the earliest days, men have been prepared to kill and to die rallying round a chief or a flag. That position has not altered now.
We must ask ourselves: What is it that excites men to such a stage that they are prepared to kill? It is my opinion that the taking over of hunting grounds or the prospect of profit is not sufficient to attract the mass of the people. They can, however, be roused by cultivating a national pride. There is no other factor more likely to force men into conflict than national pride. So we get the position that Christians will fight Christians, Moslems will fight Moslems, Hindus will fight Hindus, Catholics will kill Catholics, Protestants will kill Protestants, and members of the Labour Party and the Liberal Party in one country will kill members of those parties in another country. Those ideologies do not prevent war. We have developed and we play upon the idea of national superiority, and this forces us to fight against inferior beings, who, because of propaganda, we believe to have forfeited any right to live. Civilisation has not altered in this respect. With the development of more powerful armaments and with a perverted science, we can more easily kill the women and children of nations which we consider to be inferior. They have the same love and affection for their families as have Australian, British and American people, but we say they have forfeited their right to live because of some action on their part - not because they are Germans, Japanese or people of some other race. We have invented terms to make us believe that peoples of other nations are inferior to us. We refer to them as Huns, Dagoes and Communists, and by other names.
India and Pakistan are fighting to see who will control the area of Kashmir. The only thing to be resolved in the dispute is: Will the people of Kashmir complain about their starvation to the Indian Government or to the Pakistani Government. There is no desire on the part of the Governments to end the conflict, because it helps the people forget about their poverty. The people ask themselves: “ What are our Governments doing to uphold our dignity and our pride in the Kashmir issue?” We see a similar position in Indonesia at present. The people there forget th at they are living under remarkably bad economic conditions; their main concern is with Indonesia taking over Malaysia. The Indonesian Government tells them: “ We are being hemmed in by Malaysia. Indonesians will never stand this “. That policy is used by governments of civilised countries, including Australia. We are told that we are surrounded by and threatened with an invasion by Communists, and that we must defeat them.
Despite the cultivation of this psychological attitude, for at least 2,000 years voices have rung out asking that this wanton destruction be stopped. Almost 2,000 years ago the death of a saviour leader was deemed to be necessary because of utterances which were thought to be subversive. He preached the policy of peace on earth and goodwill to all men. He preached this policy until it had such support that the authorities decided he should be condemned to death. However, other people have carried on his policy. His philosophy has been written in the book from which the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) had the audacity to quote. The honorable member referred to the commandment: “ Thou shalt not kill “. The belief has been held through the ages that as orthodox attempts to stop holocausts have failed, we should make another approach to the question. In a chapter of St. Luke we find it related that when the soldiers sought advice as to how they could be cleansed for the purpose of receiving baptism from John the Baptist, he told them: “ Do violence to no-one “. Those subversive statements have been handed down to us. These are the statements which were mentioned in another place and which were criticised in this place during the course of the debate.
The inventor of gunpowder had high ideals; he. thought that he was making something so horrible that no-one would engage in war again. We have carried on the belief that we can make something so horrible that people will not engage in war. Gunpowder was used to destroy hundreds of thousands of lives in the two World Wars. We believe that there will not be another war because we now have atomic power, which can destroy more quickly and more completely. What a great policy that is! What a great belief that is! It is used in support of the condemnation of men who have said that they want atomic weapons used for peaceful purposes.
Over the years many people have believed that we should turn the other cheek to our enemies, that we should comfort and support them and that we should not seek to seize their hunting grounds. Out of this has developed the psychology that, if we fail to have an international force, we fail in our ambitions completely. Senator Branson said in his speech that any reasonable person knows that we cannot defend Australia alone against a major enemy. Everyone knows that few countries, if any, could defend themselves against a major enemy if attack came. While we have the limited powers of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and the A.N.Z.U.S. organisation, this is only the machinery which is necessary in the absence of a world power that we can trust.
In Senator Branson’s speech there was condemnation of the United Nations. He asked what we would do while we were waiting for the United Nations to come to our aid. I remind the Senate of the prompt action of the United Nations in Korea; in this debate we have heard nothing about that. It achieved more than the Americans have achieved in Vietnam. If we condemn the organisation which is the hope of the world we are not serving the ideology of peace and the hope of mankind for peace. We have heard members in the other place describe as treacherous and subversive those who dare to quote the Bible and to advocate a peace force. The Menzies Government would have us believe that they threaten the existence of our whole society. We do not know what would come about if eventually we got peace upon the earth. It would deny our boys who are now of military agc the opportunity of recalling the valour that they encountered on the battlefield. Some hope that they will have that opportunity.
While we silence the peace advocates, saying that these subversive activities should not be allowed, while we refuse to permit visas to those who would dare to come to Australia for the purpose of discussing peace, let us at least not condemn those who think that there may be some solution of the whole problem if we were advocating peace instead of boasting of” our defences. While some are condemning them, let us remember the words of the poet -
Let us tell with such high zest children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
– I should like to make it clear that I rise at this stage of the debate to address myself to the amendment. It is not my intention that these remarks of mine should bring the debate to a close. There is only one comment that I want to make on the philosophical address that has just been delivered by Senator Cavanagh and it is this: If he abhors war and seeks to avoid war, he should address himself pointedly to those who make war and to those who seek war. He should address his philosophy to those who today are taking aggressive action against her neighbours, to those whose lust for power and for pelf cause them to invade the country of their neighbour. The sort of address that he has just given has no relevance to any Australian government that I have known during the whole course of my life. We in Australia can surely say - and in this we can speak as one - that we seek nothing other than to live in peace, to bring progress to our country, and to make our contribution to the progress of the world in peace. At no time do we seek war. Throughout the statement made recently by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), particularly in respect of some South East Asian countries, it is emphasised again and again that our purpose is always to refrain from war and to maintain peace.
Sir, when this debate was started, we found ourselves being criticised as a government whose successive programmes of defence, whose policies over a long period had not equipped this country to take its part fully in the defence measures that were necessary in order to accept those obligations which our treaties placed upon us. I want to deal with that in a minute, but in passing may I say that this comes with a complete lack of realism from an Opposition which over the years has consistently criticised our defence policies, frequently on the score that expenditure on defence was unrealistically excessive. This is borne out by statements which have been made and repeated - many of them today by Senator Cavanagh - in respect of our defence expenditure. Going back to the days when Dr. Evatt led the Opposition, it is pointed out that he said that he, in office, would be able to save £40 million a year on defence. More recently, in 1957 Mr. Calwell said that it would have been far better if some of the defence grant had been spent on universities and secondary and technical schools, instead of being figuratively poured down the drain. The money which it was alleged we were pouring down the drain just a few years ago is the same money which has added to our material strength today and which has permitted us to take our full part in fulfilling the obligations which we have accepted under our various treaties. I could go on to quote almost ad nauseam what members of the Opposition have said in the past about our expenditure, about the excesses of our defence expenditure and how it could be better directed to purposes other than defence, but I leave the matter there because I believe that it has been well canvassed.
I want to have a look quite briefly, if I may, at this record of defencelessness to which the Opposition has directed its criticism. I say that Australia has fulfilled - more than fulfilled - all of her obligations in this part of the world. May I go back a few years to the action in Korea? The 3rd Battalion of the Australian Regular Army served there and received a presidential citation for its brilliant action on Anzac eve, 24th April 1951. It was in Korea that the 77th Squadron served and was in fact one of the first units into action in that area. We did not fail to meet our obligations in Korea. Look at the situation in Malaysia. Australian troops have been stationed there for a decade. It is a new departure for Australia to have regular troops overseas, and they have been there for 10 years. The 2nd Battalion of the Australian Regular Army went there in 1954-55, and a force has been maintained there ever since. They are keeping Communism out of Malaysia for the whole period of their Malaysia posting - they have been acting as a component of the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve.
We have our Air Force units at Butterworth, a base which was built by an Australian squadron. That is a further evidence of our contribution to the defence of this area. More recently we have sent a light anti-aircraft battery to Butterworth, and some of our R.A.A.F. helicopters are now there after having served for months on the Thai border. We have recently sent additional forces to Borneo to protect the States of Sarawak and Sabah against the forays that are being made into that territory by the Indonesians. We have sent units of our fleet there, including four minesweepers and two other vessels. The carrier “ Melbourne “ is on loan to the Strategic Reserve for three months of the year. I suggest that this defenceless country of ours has not been so defenceless that it could not fully accept its obligations in Malaya and Borneo.
In South Vietnam we are supporting the Americans in their efforts to assist the Vietnamese to resist the Communist Vietcong. We have sent six of our newest Caribou aircraft there and have recently increased the strength of Australian instructors in that territory. Probably one of the nicest tributes that could have been paid to the Australian people for their action in that respect came from the President of the United States of America. It is worth putting on record that on 25th June, when we announced our decision to give this aid, the President said -
We work for the same kind of free world.
I don’t know when a news announcement has given our country more comfort and been received with greater satisfaction than the announcement made last week that the people of Australia were ready and anxious to make their contribution of men, materials and equipment alongside of our men who are fighting for freedom in South Vietnam.
Everything that matters for us and everything that matters for you is at a common risk in this strange world end must therefore be explained and defended in common.
As I speak of South Vietnam, I am reminded that recently in another place the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) took it upon himself to say that no American conscripts were fighting in Vietnam. I take advantage of this opportunity to tell the Senate that a significant proportion of American draftees is fighting in Vietnam, indeed, a significant component of American draftees is to be found in every area of conflict in which United States forces are stationed. We should not forget, Mr. Deputy President, that the United States of America has in the field a force of no fewer than 200,000 men west of Hawaii including draftees, which daily suffers battle casualties. At Ubon in Thailand we maintain, in association with the Americans, half a squadron of our fighter aircraft, and at Mukdahan, in association with the British, we are building an important strategic airfield.
Is this the picture of a country that is unable to provide for its own defence and to do the things that it has undertaken to do? On the contrary, it is a picture of a vigorous country which is fulfilling to the limit the obligations it has undertaken and which at the same time is carrying on an extensive programme of development.
I now wish to say something about the strategic situation. It has been said from time to time during this debate that the situation has been exaggerated for the purpose of winning the Senate election and that our defence proposals, including our manpower proposals, are phoney - that this is all a stunt. The Prime Minister, in his defence review on 10th November, referred in general terms to the continuing deterioration in the South East Asian area. He mentioned specifically the unsettling incident in the Gulf of Tonkin and the explosion of the Chinese nuclear bomb. Little comfort is to be found in these incidents. Let us look at what is happening around the periphery of this area in which we are so interested. Russia maintains a relentless pressure for expansion. Of particular interest to us is the assistance which Russia extends to Indonesia in the hope, no doubt, of giving herself a window on to both the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Perhaps it is not a window; it might be a springboard. Red China is increasing the pressure she has exerted for years to extend her influence to all her neighbouring countries. This has been seen in the unprovoked attack that was launched on India last year, and her active military support of forces in North Vietnam.
North Vietnam, supported by Red China, in turn lends active support to the Vietcong in South Vietnam and the Pathet Lao forces in Laos. She maintains control of the strategic roads of access into both those countries. She is supplying weapons and instructors to the Vietcong, and there have been evidences from time to time in both Laos and South Vietnam of the presence of Vietminh troops. As yet South Vietnam has been unable to establish a stable government. This adds to the insecurity not only of that country but the whole of South East Asia. American forces who are there at the invitation of the existing government might well find themselves to be not welcome under another government. Any other form of government possibly could lead to their departure, with a consequent weakening of the general strategic situation. Thailand, of course, is a S.E.A.T.O. country.
– I rise to a point of order, i point out, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) is speaking to the amendment that has been moved by me, as Leader of the Opposition. He has ranged far and wide for a considerable period beyond the terms of the amendment and he is really speaking to the motion. I would be reluctant to slop him from speaking if I thought he would not have a later opportunity to speak when the debate on the proposed amendment ends. He is entitled to close this debate and then to deal with all the matters which relate to the motion.
There are three matters only referred to in the proposed amendment and I do not think that the Minister has yet touched upon one of them. The three matters are: First, the conscription of Australian youth for service overseas; secondly, the failure of the Government to stimulate recruitment for the Regular Army; and thirdly, delay in securing naval and air forces, to safeguard Australia and its Territories and communications. At this stage there are only three matters to which the Minister may address himself - the conscription of Australian youth for overseas service, the question of recruitment for the Regular Army, and delay in securing naval and air forces to safeguard Australia and its Territories and communications. If the Minister ranges beyond any of those three matters he certainly will be talking to the motion. If he does that, of course, he closes the debate. I am concerned that the Minister does not close the debate and I point out to him that his opportunity to speak in reply to the general motion will be presented to him later. I am not seeking to gag the Minister. I am just pointing out that he is endangering the position of others on my side of the chamber who wish to speak, when he addresses himself to Vietnam and the general strategic position.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT__ I have returned to the Chair because I thought it was unfair to expect Senator Wood to give a ruling on the point of order which has been raised, as he had only just occupied the Chair. I have been in the Chair during the period for which the Minister has been speaking. I have paid very close attention to the words of the amendment and I had reached the conclusion before I vacated the Chair that his remarks may be construed to be well within the terms of the amendment. I so rule.
– Thailand is a S.E.A.T.O. country, but its position is greatly affected by what happens in the remainder of South East Asia. Any deterioration of the situation in the countries to which I have referred - South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia - could lead to a greatly weakened situation in the S.E.A.T.O. State of Thailand.
– And that has some relevance to the proposal to conscript troops.
– Indeed, it has every relevance to the proposal to conscript troops, the matter to which I shall come specifically in a moment. Indonesia maintains her active confrontation policy against the new Federation of Malaysia. There have been continuing forays into the Bornean territory and in recent months, together with attempts at insurgency in the States of Sarawak and Sabah, Malaysia proper has been subjected to a number of sneak raids by Indonesians. Australian troops have been in contact with the Indonesian raiders for the first time. There is no indication of any reduction in the intensity of the Malaysian campaign.
I suggest that none of these situations gives cause for comfort or relief to anyone who calmly analyses the situation and who takes ‘note of the quickening activity of States bent upon armed aggression and the rapidly increasing build up of Communist pressure throughout the area. It is clear beyond doubt and beyond argument that we have a situation which has deteriorated and is continuing to deteriorate, and one which demands a step up of military activity on our part. The strategy of the defence of our homeland is traditionally based upon the establishment of defence in depth. We aim to keep actual warfare as far from our shores as is possible. When the defence proposals, including our national service training proposal, are described as a political stunt, that assertion should be calmly judged against the background of the strategic situation which I have described and which shows marked and rapid deterioration. I repeat that no-one bringing objective judgment to the problem could doubt the recent deterioration which has occurred. To meet this deterioration we have brought to the Parliament a number of proposals.
The measures we have adopted require record expenditure of £1,220 million over a three year term, an increase of not less than £404 million during that period. The proposals cover all the Services and provide for a wide range of new equipment for each of the defence arms. I want to come at once to that proposal which, not surprisingly, has proved to be the most contentious and the one which has excited the most criticism from the Opposition. I refer to the proposal to introduce selective national service training, providing for two years in the Service followed by three years on the reserve, with an obligation to serve overseas. I wish to refer to the part of the Prime Minister’s statement which contains this proposal. He said -
The Government has given the most careful consideration to the means by which the Army’s manpower requirements may be achieved. It seems clear, on our military advice and our own carefully formed judgment, that we cannot expect by voluntary means to achieve a build up in the Army’s strength of the order we require and to the timing which is necessary. We are living in a period of unsurpassed prosperity and more than full employment; the attractions of civilian employment are very great indeed.
The Government has therefore decided that there is no alternative to the introduction of selective compulsory service. We know that this presents difficult personal, social, economic, and perhaps political problems. Our decision has been taken only because of the paramount needs of defence and, in the difficult circumstances 1 have described, the preservation of our security.
I would have thought that the statement I have quoted made plain the reasons for the Government’s decision, but the Opposition has sought to make a good deal of political capital out of the earlier view expressed by the Chiefs of Staff of their preference for a volunteer Army. Of course, there can be no doubt that the Army sees advantages in the establishment of a wholly volunteer force. Any honorable senator or any member of the Australian community who has been a member of the volunteer Services will appreciate why there is a preference for a volunteer force. We are on common ground here, and this preference would be shared by most people. However, the plain fact is that it is now clear that the volunteer system will not produce in the time required the number of men needed to establish the force in the necessary strength. We have reached the point where the numbers in the Army are of the first importance. We must obtain those numbers.
The Prime Minister said that in reaching this decision we took into account our military advice. I want to impress specifically upon the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) that the advice of the Army was to the effect that the establistment of selective national service training was necessary in order to obtain the required numbers. I do not want anybody - particularly Senator McKenna - to be in any doubt about this matter. I do not want him to go on to the hustings saying that this was a Government decision taken without the benefit of military advice. I want him to understand that when he opposes selective national service training he is opposing, not only a Government measure for which the Government takes full responsibility, but also a measure which was recommended to it by its Army advisers. The Army authorities had watched the situation closely. They had come to realise that there was no alternative to a system of selective national service training if we were to raise a force of the strength required. I might say that we took our military advisers into the closest consultation to establish the basis for their decision and that all the weight of evidence indicated that resort to a selective national training scheme was inescapable in the present circumstances.
I have been at pains to make clear the reasons for and the background of this decision. The Opposition has tried, and no doubt will continue to try to present this as a political decision. I do not understand that at all. A political decision for conscription, or for a selective national service training scheme, is not a decision which any Government would gladly take before going to an election, as we are. We have taken the decision on the basis of our military advice and firm in the belief that selective national military service is required for the defence of the Australian people. I am not surprised, of course, to note that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Australian Labour Party have opposed this move. They are at least consistent. One has only to recall the circumstances which existed in 1943, to remember that John Curtin, a Labour Prime Minister who had opposed conscription during his whole lifetime, was compelled, on the basis of military advice given him at the time to accept conscription, or compulsory call-ups, as being necessary in the national interest and for the national defence. With the bravery and the courage that characterised John Curtin, he took that step to find himself opposed within his party by Mr. Calwell, who now leads the party, and by others, including Senator Kennelly.
– The honorable senator did not read the record properly.
– Yes. The honorable senator supported a motion at the Victorian executive meeting. Just as he opposed conscription in those days, although its inauguration was advised by the military people as being in the interests of Australia, so he opposes it today. Today, he finds himself in a similar situation. This Government has been advised by its military advisers reluctantly and after long deliberation, that the solution of this problem is national service training. Just as Mr. Calwell opposed the Prime Minister, who came from his own party, in the Parliament and at the federal conference of his party, so today he opposes this legislation here.
We believe, Sir, that the people of Australia will see this proposal as very necessary and very much in the interests of Australia. It has been shown, beyond the point of contradiction, that voluntary enlistment will not get for us in the time required the numbers that are regarded by the military authorities as necessary. Because of that, and only because of that, we have taken this step. We earnestly believe that, having regard to all the circumstances, the people of Australia will wholeheartedly support us.
– We have listened with great care and attention to the speech of the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) on this matter. I thought that he made a temperate speech, which was rather unusual, because we are used to his blood pressure rising to great heights. However, I have learned that he is to speak again. I fully expected that the Minister would enter the debate provoked by the remarks of Senator Kennelly, take up the challenge and throw his cards on the table, but I have learned from Senator McKenna that the Minister is to speak later when he closes the debate, so that he will have a second opportunity to speak. I hope that when he speaks for a second time he will restrain himself and will be as calm as he was on the first occasion.
The Minister said that the Opposition had criticised the Government for . wasteful defence expenditure. The Government has been in office for the last 15 years, and during that time it has spent not less than £200 million a year on defence. In total, it has spent more than £3,000 million on defence. I ask the Minister and the Government: What is there to show for that expenditure? Can it be wondered that we have been critical? After all, not only the members of the Opposition have been critical. The Government’s own supporters, including the members of its defence committee, have been decrying the situation for some time. Before I have finished my remarks I hope to show not only that the Government’s proposal to call up youngsters is a stunt, but also that the facts of the defence decision have been forced on it by malcontents within the Government parties.
The Minister said that Australian troops had won world renown. Of course they have. In every battle in which they have been engaged - in World War I, World War II and the skirmishes that have taken place since then - Australian forces have shown, as they will continue to show, great valour. I think that all Australians are proud of our fighting men. As Senator Ormonde has said, for the best part they have been volunteers. Reference has been made to American support of Australia. Of course, the Americans are very happy with the association they have had with Australia. Was it not John Curtin, against the hostility that existed in the ranks of the conservative parties opposite, who made a direct appeal to America? Honorable senators opposite know why he did so. When people criticise the Labour Government for leaving our traditional friends to associate ourselves with the United States of America, they should remember that if it had not been for John Curtin we would not have saved Australia. The Australian Labour Party has been closely allied with the Democratic Party in the United States in every Presidential election that has taken place. Our people helped President Kennedy in his election campaign, but supporters of the Government parties who were in America at the time were canvassing and working on behalf of Mr. Nixon because he was their close associate. Honorable senators opposite should not speak of any dissociation or disaffection from the American people by the Australian Labour Party, because the closeness of our tie with America is very dear to the Labour movement and the trade union movement.
– What about the Labour Party’s attitude to the North West Cape proposal?
– We only asked for consultation, and by God, would we not have needed it if Goldwater, one of your men, had been in charge of the United States? The Minister stated that there has not been hostility over the spending of more than £1,100 million on defence during the next three years, and that there has not been a great deal of criticism of that matter by the Opposition. The Government is concerned, of course, about the numbers in the Army, and it has stated that that situation must have No. 1 priority. It has said: “We must get the numbers.” I hope to show by the time 1 have finished, by using the words of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his address to the House of Representatives on Tuesday last, what a great stunt this is. Reference has been made during the debate to events that occurred in 1941 and 1942. At that time, and throughout the period of the war, the Australian Labour Party demonstrated its desire to defend Australia. Labour will always defend the lives and liberties of the people of this country. John Curtin brought up within the Labour movement the question of the use of Australian national service trainees abroad. Senator Kennelly’s name has been mentioned in this connection. I was very closely connected with the Labour movement in my own State during that period and I know that John Curtin brought this matter before the Australian Labour Party’s special conference. The Party, led at that time by men like Pat Kennelly, who was the secretary, supported John Curtin. The resolution was carried, and the Australian people, as a logical consequence, were able to successfully fight the war.
On 10th November the Prime Minister made his defence review statement. This was another case of drawing a red herring across the trail, or, if you like, pulling a rabbit out of the hat. In view of the Senate election which was to take place on 5th December, the Prime Minister made another defence statement. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has issued to honorable senators on this side of the chamber a list of the defence statements made by the Prime Minister since 14th July 1950. The list was supplied to the Leader of the Opposition by Senator Paltridge, the Minister for Defence, on 10th November 1964. We see that 37 defence statements have been made since July 1950 and that nine have been made since 17th March 1964. Nine statements have been made in the last eight months. If honorable senators go back through the records of the Parliament, they will find - as has been pointed out by honorable senators who have spoken before me - that the majority of the defence statements have been made on the eve of an election campaign. Right on the eve of every election campaign, another statement is made. It is most important for the Prime Minister to make these statements on the election eve for the safety and security of Australia is a first priority with every Australian. Nobody will deny that. The Government is not foolish. It realises that if it comes out with one of its defence statements and talks about the dangers of war, every person in Australia will be willing to help. Our young men and every man is anxious to learn the rudiments of how to use weapons of defence. If they believe that the situation was dangerous, and that we were in a desperate plight, our lads - indeed every man, woman and child - would be prepared to learn the rudiments of defence at weekends, during the week or at any period when their services could be utilised.
I repeat that this is a political stunt. The Prime Minister talks about what will be required in 1968 - three and a half to four years hence. I want to read a portion of his statement, because I think it is important. He said -
At present the regular forces number just over 52,000 including 22,750 in the Regular Army, 16,600 in the Air Force and 12,900 in the Navy. In addition, there are approximately 1,000 Pacific Islanders in the Pacific Islands Regiment. In the Citizen Military Forces we have 27,630, in the Citizen Naval Forces 5,115 and in the Citizen Air Forces 868.
He went on to outline the programme for the Navy and Air Force up to mid-1968. Then he continued -
The Government and its naval and Air Force advisers are confident that a satisfactory progressive build up of manpower towards these levels can be achieved by existing means of recruitment.
He pointed out that the question of Army manpower is more difficult. The numbers are larger, and the whole strength and organisation of the Army are involved. The Prime Minister continued - the Regular Army should be built up as rapidly as possible from the present 22,750 to an effective strength of 33,000 men, which means a total force of 37,500.
That is what he stated as the requirementan Army of 37,500. He continued -
A peace-time Army of this size would be adequate to meet our immediately foreseeable operational requirements and form a basis for rapid expansion in war.
The Prime Minister himself said that this build-up of the strength of the forces is not to meet the possibility of Australia being immediately involved in war. There is much talk of what is likely to happen to Australia and of the danger which surrounds us. We of the Labour Party understand and appreciate the dangers to our north. We have been talking about them for a considerable time. That is why we have never opposed a defence vote although it is true that we have been critical of what the Government has done with its money. We have asked questions about the armaments it has provided.
– The Labour Party’s policy speech was based on the suggestion that the defence vote should be reduced.
– The Labour Party has said on many occasions that the defences of the nation today are a disgrace to this Government, in view of the money that it has had at its disposal. The Labour Parly is not objecting to the amount of money that the Government proposes to spend, but it is objecting to this stunt for the purpose of obtaining 4,200 men. The Labour movemen’t believes that the position represents an admission of failure by the Government which has been in control of this nation for the past 15 years and has spent no less than £200 million each year during that period on defence. A total of £3,000 million has been at the Government’s disposal during that period. Why should not the Opposition ask what has happened to the money? The Government members’ own defence committee has been critical. Honorable senators opposite have criticised the Government. Why should they be surprised when the Labour Party is critical?
We have been critical of the faulty ammunition which has been provided for Australian troops. Of course we are concerned about what the Government is doing and about the mismanagement that is taking place at the present time. The Opposition believes that the Government should be condemned by the people of Australia for the introduction of this cheap political stunt. We remember what happened prior to the last general election. We saw B47 bombers shown on our television screens, but after the election campaign we saw no more of those bombers. The people of Australia were fooled by the Government’s progapanda. After the collision between “ Voyager “ and “ Melbourne “, they found that the Navy had been almost destroyed and that we were left almost without any striking force. This nonsense has been going on over a period of time. I am certain that the people of Australia will wake up to the situation.
Wherever members of the Labour Party go, they will be vigilant in their effort to advise the mothers of Australia just exactly what the position is.
I could refer to a leading article which appeared in one of the Sydney newspapers, but it has probably been referred to quite sufficiently. However I must refer to the statement made 15 days ago by the Minister for the Army, Dr. Forbes, when he was addressing the Returned Servicemen’s League conference in Hobart. He said -
Our military advisers have said in the clearest and most unmistakable terms that conscription is not the most effective way of creating an army. We need to meet the situation we face.
I stress that this is military advice - the reason for rejecting conscription has nothing whatsoever to do with the political consequences of its introduction or its costs. The day before Dr. Forbes spoke the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) told another audience that national service training would severely affect the Royal Australian Navy’s efficiency and ability to meet its commitments. In Perth Senator Paltridge said -
The Government regards defence and recruitment as extremely important but does not propose to go ahead with any national service training scheme.
– The Government is not proposing a national service training scheme.
– If the situation is dangerous and is giving concern to the Government at the present moment, then this is the right time to introduce such a scheme. The Australian Labour Party was not opposed to the introduction of compulsory national service before the First World War. But it does object to the stunt which has been put up to send lads of 20 years of age overseas to areas which, in many cases, may be battle areas. I will speak at greater length on this matter very shortly. We on this side of the chamber think that such a proposal is completely wrong. We are opposed to it in every shape or form.
On Friday, 9th August 1963, the present Minister for Defence gave his views. The article in the “ West Australian “ of that date reads -
Northam, Thursday. - “Much criticism of our defence policy is based on misunderstanding of its aims and objectives “, Acting Defence Minister (Senator Paltridge) said at a civic reception today.
The Defence Chiefs, he said, did not consider an invasion of Australia to be very likely within the foreseeable future.
Those who thought an invasion even a possibility should first ask themselves who the aggressor might be. Russia could be discounted immediately a-d it was fairly obvious that China’s preoccupations for many years to come would preclude such an assault.
As regards Australia’s neighbouring countries, there was no evidence that any of them had aggressive designs on Australia.
It might be said that in the past 12 months the situation has changed. But the fact is that the Government spokesmen believe that it has not changed. The Government is not seeking to introduce a national call-up. The Government is to call up approximately 120,000 youths of 20 years of age to obtain 4,200 personnel who would be used for overseas service for the Army not this year but in 12 months’ time. The Opposition says to the Government that this is something which it is not prepared to accept. We on this side will very vigorously oppose the measure.
What will be the position of the 20 year old lads who will be called up in this campaign? They will be liable to serve overseas. Approximately 120,000 lads, aged 20, will be called up for service next year. One in every 30 will be chosen to give service. Every lad must enroll within the specified period. We ask the Government: Why differentiate between the lads? How are those to be deferred from service to be chosen? There are to be heavy penalties imposed on those who do not enroll. Certainly to appease the members of the Country Party, lads who are rural workers will be exempted. We are told that university students will be exempted also. Why is there to be this differentiation? If Australia is in danger, then these lads are as much entitled as anyone else to be trained to defend their country. I ask the Government: How many public servants will be employed in the calling up of the 4,200 youths? I prophesy that there will be almost as many public servants as youths selected for service employed to select the 4,200 for next year or the 6,900 to be selected by 1966 and annually thereafter.
The Prime Minister almost declared war on Indonesia. I have noticed with great pride that when questions about Indonesia have been asked of Ministers in this place - for instance, Senator Sir William Spooner or Senator Gorton - over the last 12 or 18 months, those Ministers have decried any statement which would create a feeling of horror about, or produce disharmony between, Australian and Indonesian relations. These Ministers know that the United States of America which is as great as any country on the face of this earth wishes that friendship and good neighbourly relations should exist between Australia and Indonesia. The United States is not backing us in this situation. The Government speaks about the great United States. I wonder what the great United States feels about the speeches which have been made by members of the Government in regard to this issue.
– There is no person on this side of the Senate who does not regard aggressive acts on the part of Indonesia with horror or who does not wish peace for bis people.
– I suggest that the honorable senator’s statement is not correct.
– No. Senator McKenna said practically the same thing in his speech. He said he had no sympathy for Indonesian acts of aggression.
– No honorable senator has. But rather than take the action it is taking, the Government ought to be assisting the United Nations or, in turn, should act as an intermediary between the United States, Britain, Malaysia and Indonesia which are the countries involved in this area at the present moment. That is the role we ought to be playing at this time, but we are not taking any action at all to bring understanding into this conflict.
I come back to the question of these 20 year old conscriptees. The first six months of their training programme will be their breaking in period. With holidays and all that sort of thing, the first six months of training will be lost. As we know, they will be enrolled for two years and will then be placed on the Reserve for three years. I want to quote from a letter which was written to the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ during last week on this question of call-up. A reader who signed as “ D. R. Humphrey “ wrote -
With all the bickering going on about the re-introduction of National Service, no-one has thought to consult the people who really know if it would be worthwhile or not, namely the “Ex-Nashos” in the community.
If 1 thought that National Service would make mcn out of some of the supercilious longhaired dead beats who frequent the local milk bars I would be for it on that score alone.
I cannot help thinking, however, that its reintroduction would lead to the same waste of taxpayers’ money as before.
I served my 98 days plus C.M.F. and this is the extent of the soldiering I learnt ….
I learnt how to carry rocks to build pretty rock gardens to surround the barracks.
I learnt how to distinguish weeds from flowers and how to keep the snails away.
Since our platoon was to represent the company in the battalion gymkhana in drill at the end of our camp I learnt to drill as well as any Grenadier Guardsman. In fact, hours spent drilling far outnumbered hours spent on using basic weapons. If our platoon were to have been called upon to defend this country, all we could have done would have been to take them by surprise with our drill.
I had a good time in camp; everyone did. But we wasted our lime. Returning to Civvy Street, I found it very hard to settle down to the job.
If we call up the apprentice or the student, we’re going to cripple industry and the professions.
If we call up the no-hopers we’ll be no better off.
My vote, undeniably, goes against the reintroduction of National Service.
I tell the Government that its whole proposal for national service is absurd and ridiculous. Last year alone, 23,000 men volunteered to join the Army and 6,300 only were accepted. I agree with the Leader of our Party when he says that the standard of the members of our forces should be maintained at the highest level. But surely the rejection rate of three out of every four applicants is too high. In fact, I have been making representations on behalf of some of the people who have been rejected. I want to mention one of these cases. I see that officers of the Department of the Army are in the chamber at the moment. I hope that they will take some notice of what I am going to say because the case I shall mention is that of a lad who wants to enlist and is not one who has missed out because he failed a spelling test. The Department of Labour and National Service, which is under the control of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), is now questioning the procedures which are leading to such a large number of volunteers being rejected. I point out that 4,400 volunteers were rejected because they could not spell. I am advised that a person was rejected because he failed in a geography test. 1 do not know what he had to answer, but he failed that test: That is the sort of situation that is to be found in the Army. As I have said, the Department of Labour and National Service is concerned at what is taking place.
Recently, after I had spoken on the air about this matter, a mother rang me and said that her son was rejected because he was pigeon-chested. This is the way in which the Army is operating at the moment. The Government says that it requires 4,200 lads. This is part of the stunting that is going on at this present stage. We say that the people who enlist should be given top conditions and should be treated in the right way. There is no question whatsoever that a peace time organisation will be available and our own Prime Minister has emphasised that this is what is required at the present time.
Young men who are not naturalised will be exempt from service under the Government’s conscription plan. We concern ourselves about the thousands of migrants who are not naturalised. I know a few who have become naturalised and they are concerned about their sons and what might happen to them. That is also the worry of mothers who have sons about the eligible age group. I tried to get a lad into the Army. He is aged 22 years, 5 ft. 10 ins. tall and has passed the Leaving certificate examination. He had two years university education under a Commonwealth scholarship. He had first class honours in English, an “ A “ pass in two sciences, an “ A “ in Maths I and Maths II and a “ B “ in Latin. When he was born, one leg was a little thinner than the other and the boy developed himself by becoming a physical culture expert. He is a member of a Bush Walkers Club and comes of an excellent family. He passed a medical examination for the Reserve Bank of Australia but all he wanted to do was to join the Army because he liked the outdoor life. However, he failed the medical examination for the Army and was rejected.
The Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Calwell) suggested that an Army educational group might be created to cope with the educational difficulties of volunteers such as those who fail in geometry and spelling. I could give to the Minister’s adviser the name of this young man who has been rejected twice by the Army on medical grounds. He would be ideal to assist in the education of recruits like the 4,400 who were rejected last year on the grounds of lack of education. Men like this would overcome the problems of thousands of public servants who will have to undertake this work to get the first intake of 4,200.
The Australian Labour Party objects to the Government’s defence proposals. Labour has a proud record in defence. Fifty years ago a Labour Government established the Royal Australian Navy. Labour set up the Royal Military College at Duntroon for the training of Army officers. The proposal was opposed by the Tories of those days who really called themselves Tories. Labour brought about compulsory military training before the First World War. In 15 years this Government has squandered the huge sum of £3,000 million on defence and we are no better off now than we were in 1941. I was in the Parliament and heard the statement by the late E. J. Ward. This is not information I got from any other source; I heard it myself and some elderly senators might have been in the Parliament at the time. The Minister for the Army, the honorable Percy Spender, in May 1941, said that if one armoured division of Japanese troops landed on Australian shores, they could over-run the whole of Australia. I repeat, that statement was made in 1941 at a secret meeting of the Parliament by the Minister for the Army who was then Mr. Spender.
– That was substantially true.
– It was?
– It might have been.
– I do not know that we would be much better off now despite the huge amount that has been spent by this Government. I need not give the details of Labour’s defence record. In the early days of World War II, two supporters of the Government, Messrs. Coles and Wilson, crossed the floor of the House to vote on a motion moved by Mr. John Curtin. The motion provided for increased pay for servicemen and increased pay for age pensioners and related to compulsory loans. Those were the three main issues. The Government party of that day got rid of its leader, who is now the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), and Sir Arthur Fadden - who was then Mr. Fadden - became Prime Minister for a few weeks.
Honorable senators know of Labour’s war effort. They know of the dispute in the advisory War Council over . the return of Australian troops from overseas. Members of this Government who were on that Council left it because they objected to the action taken by Mr. Curtin and the Labour leaders to bring Australian troops home to defend Australia. Those who left the Advisory War Council included the present Prime Minister. We have 12,000 miles of coastline around this vast continent of three million square miles of territory and yet the Government wants to send forces overseas. The Labour Party knows what our commitments are to our allies and we are prepared to meet those commitments with volunteers. If the situation becomes grave, we need our men here. As 1 have said, Labour stands for the defence of Australia.
– I shall give the honorable senator the words of our leader. He asks me whether we believe in the defence of Australia. We are proud of Australia’s defence record in both world wars and of our own Labour record. It is the working people who provide the soldiers to fill the front line. I saw what happened in the general elections in 1940 and 1943 when votes came forward from the troops overseas. In 1940, the troops voted Labour. I remember the support that was given for John Curtin himself in 1940 before he became Prime Minister and again in 1943. The troops overseas supported Labour also in the State elections of New South Wales. The honorable senator should not talk about who fights these wars. It is the working class who fight them because they are fighting for their own people. The Leader of the Opposition set out Labour’s policy on defence in 1961 in these words -
The three years ahead will be years of anxiety and concern for all Australians and all mankind. The danger of war may be lessened in that time, and this is our prayerful hope. The possibility of mutual destruction is now so great that this in itself should be sufficient to prevent war. It does, at least, strengthen us in our belief that another world war will be averted.
If, however, war should be forced upon the free world, Australia, whether we wish it or not, will be involved. In those circumstances we who belong to the free world will stand with the free world and give wholehearted suport to its cause. There could be no other course for those who cherish freedom and believe in democracy. We of the Labor Party have always been found on the side of liberty because we hate tyranny and abhor oppression.
It is our proud boast that we have always stood for freedom of all mankind, and have always opposed every form of totalitarianism. When Nazism plunged the world into war in 1939 it was a Labor Government that led Australia to victory. If Communism should plunge the world into war …. it will be necessary to have an Australian Labor Government in office to again save this country from invasion and defeat. An anti-Labor Government would fall to pieces in a future war as the Menzies and Fadden Governments did in 1941.
That is our declaration. That is where we stand on these matters. If we were in government we would do as we did in World War II and afterwards. We would work in the United Nations to achieve an understanding between Great Britain and the U.S.A. on the question of Indonesia. We should come to some agreement with the United States of America and with Britain on our policies towards Malaysia and Vietnam. It is important that the forces of democracy should be united. They are divided in many respects at the present. They are divided on the question of Indonesia.
– Who is7
– America is divided from Australia on the question of Indonesia. Look at how much war material the Americans have given to Indonesia over a period.
– And Russia.
– Russia has given Indonesia war material, and so too has America. We can see from the newspapers today what amount of war material Indonesia has got from both Russia and America.
Let mc say in conclusion that I think I have shown that the Government is engaging in a cheap political stunt. It says that it wants 4.200 more people for the Army. They are there for the taking now: 23,000 men have sought to enlist in the last 12 months, but about 16,000 have been rejected. The men are coming forward. Of the men who were rejected, 4,400 were rejected only on the ground of their deficiencies of spelling. Nothing much could be achieved by calling up one in 30 of our 20-year old youths, with a possibility that, having been conscripted, they might be sent overseas to become engaged in a conflict in South Vietnam, Malaysia or somewhere else.
The Australian Labour Party says that if we want these lads urgently, and if in fact they are necessary to our defence, it will not object to a policy of compulsory military training to defend Australia. However, we make the qualifications that the call-up must be shown to be necessary. The Government does not say that war is inevitable, and indeed it says that the situation is not grave. It apparently wants these people for a peace-time war. We say and show that men are available on a voluntary basis. It is far better to have volunteers than conscripts on the grounds of economy, efficiency and of the effective spending of defence money. With conscription, a large army of public servants will be needed to chase these kids, because there has been reference to the penalties that will be inflicted upon people who fail to register, who make false statements, and so on.
I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment which has been moved by Senator McKenna, seconded by Senator Kennelly, in the following terara -
At end of motion add the following words- “ and opposes the Government’s proposals to conscript Australian youth for service overseas, regrets its failure to stimulate recruitment for the regular Army and condemns its delay in securing Naval and Air Forces to safeguard Australia and its territories and communications “.
.- There are one or two matters to which I wish to refer at the outset of my speech. First, I reject the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition. Secondly, 1 do not think there is any man or woman in this country who looks forward to war with excitement or great enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, the men and women of my generation who have served in wars know the futility of war as well as the dangers, the horrors and the destruction that inevitably ensue. As Senator Paltridge mentioned this afternoon, there has never been an occasion when attack on any neighbour country has been advocated by a member of any Australian Parliament. That has been my experience since I have been interested in politics. In the circumstances in which we find ourselves at the present time, it is proper that I should say here in the Parliament - as indeed other honorable senators have said - that we seek to attack no-one. But we are involved in a situation which calls for serious consideration.
When I was speaking in the debate on the Defence Bill I mentioned the problem of the national will. Let us put this matter in perspective. If we accept what Senator Fitzgerald and other honorable senators opposite have said, we have failed in our external policy and we have failed in our defence policy. I think it is proper at this stage that I should define what an external policy is and what a defence policy is. When the external policy fails, the defence policy must ensue. Lord Strange, who was the Permanent Secretary of the British Foreign Office, in a book that he wrote, said that foreign policy “ must be related in its general direction to and be tempered by the domestic situation of the nation “. In other words, a foreign policy must be related to what a nation conceives to be its foreign policy needs. I think that this test has been made of our foreign policy in the post-war years. We have given constant assistance to .Indonesia as well as to other countries. This assistance has been given generously. If the foreign policy tends to fail, it must be succoured and sustained by the defence policy. Lord Strange went on to define defence capacity as being “ related to the minimal defence of the nation and fulfilment of treaty obligations”.
Having said that, I want to refer to the general attack which has been launched by members of the Opposition both in this place and in another place upon the defence statement which was delivered by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). It is manifestly impossible for me to canvass and refute all the allegations that have been made. I must confine myself to a general outline of the allegations. Great sport has been made of the number of statements which have been delivered since 1950 relating to Australia’s defence. This was held up to derision. However, the truth is that circumstances are constantly changing. There is no static situation in relation to defence. I suppose that at least some members of the Australian Labour Party envisage a defence effort in terms of a dozen warships lying off Garden Island in Sydney, an annual fly-past of aircraft over Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide, and a garrison battalion parading each night, beating retreat at sundown. They believe that that constitutes a defence effort. They visualise defence forces in a static situation and with a static role.
I want to relate the question of changes in defence posture to the problem which is faced in war. There is not one Army commander, Corps commander or Divisional commander who, as a result of defence appreciations, does not change substantially the disposition of the. forces that are at his disposal. The situation in war changes every hour and every day. So it is with a nation. A nation’s responsibility in relation to defence changes, particularly in these days, when having regard to the speed with which troops can be transported, the speed at which rockets and aircraft travel, and the speeds - up to 40 to 50 knots - at which submarines can travel. It becomes quite clear that the speed with which the international situation changes is related to the speed with which men can move about the world today, and to the changes relative to the imperial forces of Communism which seek to penetrate South East Asia and Africa.
I want to relate the constant changes in our defence posture in Australia to the events which have occurred since 1950. Each of these matters places emphasis on the defence requirements of Australia, not the offensive requirements of Australia. They have been mentioned in a dozen defence statements made by the Prime Minister or his Minister for Defence from time to time. There was the war in Korea, then the war in Vietnam, then the problem in Malaya, where British, Australian, New Zealand and Fijian troops spent eight years to bring that country into order after Communist penetration from Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Now there is the problem of South Vietnam. This sets up another set of circumstances in relation to our defence posture.
We have the confrontation of Malaysia, which is a current problem. A new situation arises as a result of explosion of an atomic bomb by the Republic of China. We have the problem of the split between Russia and China, which has set up new strategic pressures all over the world. Each one of those new defence appreciations has required of Australia a new understanding and a new appreciation of the defence needs involved. So these constant changes in the defence posture are legitimate to this extent. If the Government had not been changing its defence posture and changing its requirements and equipment in relation to its defence posture, it would have been recreant to the responsibility with which it is charged by the Parliament and the electorate. 1 turn to deal for a few moments with the naval problem. Great play has been made of the fact that the Royal Australian Navy, in terms of ships, is not as great a Navy as Andrew Fisher’s Navy in 1914. This is perhaps a legitimate political quip, but it does not bear any examination, because the Royal Australian Navy of the 1914-18 war was only a titular Navy. The problem of manning the ships was solved by drafting British seamen to the tune of over 90 per cent., as well as some of the 1 00 hungry officers, as 1 have been reminded by a colleague. The problem then was to have a fleet in being in the Pacific so that it could exert a strategic influence. But the strategic influence of a fleet in being in the Pacific today is accepted by the Navy of the United States of America, and, therefore, the Royal Australian Navy is a Navy with a tactical role within the strategic responsibility of the United States. The plain truth is that with modern equipment costs it is not possible for the Royal Australian Navy to accept a strategic role. It has been suggested by implication by the Leader of the Opposition-
– Does the honorable senator think that it is not possible or that it is too expensive?
– I am about to tell the Senate and to give one explanation. Much play has been made of the fact that H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ is to come in for refit, to have new parts gummed on to it to make it a more effective fighting ship. Oddly enough, this occurs in war more often than in peace. I think it is wise at this time that opportunity should be taken to put “ Melbourne “ into dock to carry out a refit in relation to her tactical role. When it comes to having an aircraft carrier to occupy a strategic role, it is doubtful whether at that level one aircraft carrier would be effective. Let us suppose that we have to expand the Royal Australian Navy to exert a strategic role. The only aircraft carriers available at present, as I understand it, are the Essex class carriers in mothballs in the United States. They were built in 1944-45. That is to say, they were lightly constructed as a result of wartime requirements. It would cost about £30 million to buy one. According to the condition in which the carrier came out of mothballs, it would probably cost another £40 million or £50 million. So £90 million would have to be invested in one ship to produce a strategic element which in itself, in my opinion, would not be adequate.
But that is not the end of the story. If we wished to use this aircraft carrier in a strategic role we would have to put on it modern fighters capable of flying on and off and competent to deal with any land based aircraft that they might meet. Probably another £40 million would be required to equip the carrier with aircraft. So to purchase, as it were, from the American Woolworths one of the mothball fleet of aircraft carriers would cost - without support vessels - about £150 million. I am no professional; therefore, all that I can do is accept the best technical advice that I can get. That is the technical advice conveyed to me by the Government, and that I accept.
I turn to the problem of the Royal Australian Air Force. A great deal of play has been made of the fact that the R.A.A.F. is not in a posture that will enable it to meet an enemy that it may be required to meet. All that I can do is to turn to a defence statement made by the Prime Minister in 1957, in which he made this remark in relation to aircraft -
Having regard to the almost alarming rate at which military aircraft become obsolescent and finally obsolete, it was thought . . .
He was referring to the requirements of the Air Force at that time -
– That means: Who is your enemy?
– Yes. So we find ourselves in the situation in which Great Britain found itself prior to 1939, of delaying to the last possible moment the selection of and freezing upon the air equipment that it would require in order to conduct a defensive war in the event of its being attacked. Taking this cold and calculated risk, Britain came up with the Spitfire and Hurricane which, right to the very end of the war, going thought the various marks, were able to establish technical superiority and to maintain the superiority that they established. This cold decision was made by the British in 1937 and 1938 in response to German rearmament. Yet one gets also the reverse picture - I mention it for the information of honorable senators - when it comes to armoured fighting vehicles. The allies never caught up with the standard of German armoured fighting vehicles and only the enormous superiority of American mass production of Sherman tanks enabled that superiority to be overcome.
– Second class aircraft won the Battle of the Coral Sea, did they not?
– I do not know whether one would call them second class aircraft.
– Second line aircraft.
– The Japanese were using Zeros. The Americans were using Kittyhawks. The Japanese came down to a level at which their operational capacity was diminished, tactically making a mistake which allowed, for example, the Australian Beaufighters to cut them to ribbons. There was a second reason for this. The Japanese had no radar. The Americans and the Australians did have radar and they were able to pick the Japanese up as they came through and vector our own aircraft on to them. Was the honorable senator referring to the Bismarck Sea or the Coral Sea?
– The Coral Sea.
– That was a line ball or draw. It was not until the American Hellcat fighters came in the next 18 months that the Americans were able to take the
Zeros on. I thought that the honorable senator was referring to the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. In the Coral Sea Battle, I think, the Americans were beaten in the air in an aircraft to aircraft fight. The Japanese got the wind up and pulled out. They thought that they had sunk the “Yorktown” or the “Saratoga”. The Americans were able to get it back to Pearl Harbour and repair it in very short time for use in the Battle of Midway. The Americans found themselves in the same position as the British. They had to defer a freezing on to the types of aircraft they wished to use until the last moment.
So far as the Air Force is concerned, I suggest that at present we cannot exercise a strategic role; that must be left to the United States of America. We have a tactical role only within the overall strategic capacity of the United States. The decision of the Government to postpone the purchase of aircraft of a strike and reconnaissance capacity until 1968 is quite important.
Having rebutted, not in great detail but at least in general, the attack that has been made on the equipment problem, I turn now to what I describe as being the time factor in relation to danger. The Prime Minister’s statement clearly indicates that the professional advice that has been tended to it by, I assume, the Department of External Affairs, and the intelligence information that has been gathered by our own armed forces and which is available from our allies, indicate that the crisis may develop in the late 1960’s. I am not in possession of any more information than is any other honorable senator, but it is quite clear, when we look at the equipment programme and the delivery dates, that the crisis period may well be in the late 1960’s. It is very proper, therefore, that the Government should have designed its re-equipment programme to meet a crisis at that time. Indeed, it is quite clear that the whole of the defence posture is being planned with that in mind.
I turn now to die Army. Senator Fitzgerald spent most of his time by talking about national service. There is nothing in the Prime Minister’s statement about national service, which is the calling up of every able bodied youth in the country - we had experience of this in the post-war years - giving them 60 or 70 days training and then expecting them to do some training with the Citizen Military Forces. That scheme was objected to by the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force on the ground that it was not possible to fit national service trainees into those Services, So national service training became the residual responsibility of the Army. Because during the ‘fifties the emphasis was changing from time to time and the Government was reluctant to divert more money to defence than was being asked for by the Army - probably the Government was taking calculated risks - the Army decided that it would sooner spend on equipment the money that became available as a result of the abandonment of national service training. I agree with its decision.
What the Government now proposes to introduce is not national service. It proposes to introduce selective national service, which is a horse of another shade altogether. Senator Fitzgerald and other honorable senators have referred to what they describe as the hurling of young men 20 years of age into battle. It is not proposed to make the first call-up before 30th June next. The period of service is to be two years, the reason being that it takes two years to train a soldier. Honorable senators can take that from me as being so. In my opinion, a soldier cannot be put into battle without two years’ training. If a man is put into battle with less than two years’ training, he is being trained in battle. By doing that we would be inviting casualties of a substantial order. Honorable senators opposite and Opposition members in another place have derided the government that sent divisions abroad in 1940. We must remember that it was possible to train those men near the scene of battle. They were trained for at least 1 8 months before they went into battle. Unfortunately, a great number of others had to be trained in battle. But when they returned to Australia they were seasoned troops and probably were of the highest quality in the world. Who will give us two years in which to train our Army for the next situation which may develop? Who will guarantee to hold the ring? That question has not been answered.
– Did the honorable senator not say a moment ago that, according to the Government’s plan, it is expected that nothing will happen until the late sixties?
– I said the indications were that nothing will happen until the late ‘sixties. If the first call-up is made on 30th June next, two years’ training will take us up to 1967. The training of the 1966 intake will make those troops available in 1968. So there will be a building up of our Army to a strength of approximately 40,000.
– To meet the crisis.
– Yes, to meet the crisis which may develop in the late 1960’s. Any government which did not plan accordingly would be recreant to the Australian people.
Now I shall deal with the dispersal of Australian troops, the consideration of which has been coloured by a terrific amount of emotion. As I have argued in this place on previous occasions, we must either decide to defend Australian beaches whereever we think the attack will take place, that being a tactical situation only, or we must disperse our Army and our Air Force, the Air Force being the shaft of the spear and the Army the head of the spear, in the area where we think we can defend ourselves against a physical invasion of Australia. That question arose in early 1942. It led the late John Curtin to go to the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party, which has already been mentioned here this afternoon. According to my information, he first appealed to the Conference on 18th November 1942, but he did not obtain a resolution from it until 14th January 1943. I have taken the liberty of obtaining the official report of the proceedings of the special conference which was held in Melbourne on Monday, 16th December 1942, and again on Monday, 4th January 1943. It is not possible for me to read here the full report of the conference, of which I understand Senator Kennelly was the secretary.
– That is not true? I am afraid I do not know; I just thought that was so.
– The voting was 24 to 12.
– I am not concerned with the votes. I have extracted a quotation from the remarks of the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, to whom history has not yet accorded the stature which I think he will be accorded when the scene is viewed from a greater distance. I believe he will be regarded as being one of the great, distinguished Australians of the 20th century. I should liketo take advantage of this opportunity to say that from this side of the Senate. When addressing the Labour Party Conference, the then distinguished Prime Minister of Australia said -
The problem of Australia’s defence is a strategical one. If an area is vital to Australian strategy that area must be the one to which Australia must give full weight.
That area has nothing to do with the equator or anything else. Mr. Curtin asked for the Party’s platform to be changed by adding these words -
The word is spelt with a small “ t “, meaning, I assume, such other areas of land - of the south west Pacific area -
General MacArthur’s command extended as far north as Japan - as the Governor-General proclaims as being territories associated with the defence of Australia.
That proposal was advanced by the distinguished Prime Minister of the day who, at the time of that January conference, said that he did not wish to live the previous three months over again.
– That was sound reasoning.
– It was very sound. I am not being mealy mouthed about this. I do not like raking up words against another man, but it must be said here that when the then Prime Minister asked for leave to make his statement, he was opposed by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Mr. Calwell said that Mr. Curtin had not consulted any section of the Labour movement and that not one of the 37 persons present at the conference had been aware of his proposal. He said that they had had no opportunity to consult their State branches or the rank and file. Mr. Calwell opposed the extension of powers which the Prime Minister sought fort he defence of Australia.
– Those are the rules, if the honorable senator wishes to know them.
– I know of the rules, but sometimes rules have to be torn apart in the interests of the nation.
– The honorable senator is not going to tear them up just to suit himself.
– I am not trying to suit myself, I am trying to suit the Australian people. May I pass now to the problem of mixed units. Anyone who has seen service in wartime in a mixed unit is aware of the problems that arise when some men volunteer to go - in the present context - to the Australian Regular Army, and the other portion does not wish to join them. A unit may be under orders to move beyond a particular point, but cannot do so as a unit because 20 per cent. of the men are protected by the Defence Act and may not be moved. A tragic situation arises, and the story must be told. It was found necessary during the 1939-45 war to break up literally dozens and dozens of units and send the troops back to a General Details Depot. This situation was forecast by Mr. Curtin in his address to the Australian Labour Party conference. At the General Details Depot it was necessary to sort out the men who had volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force and disperse the members of the Australian Military Forces, as they were styled in those days, amongst other units.
I come now to the policy of volunteers advocated by the Labour Party. I agree that volunteers make the best fighting force. With volunteers you form a corps d’elite. This was proved by the United States of America in the South Pacific theatre of war when the American Marines - and they were not draftees - formed the corps d’elite of the United States forces. In Australia we formed the A.I.F., a volunteer organisation, to go abroad. We formed a corps d’elite and called it the Australian Imperial Force. But what ruin was left in the train of the formation of that force.
I shall explain that statement. I believe that men volunteer, particularly in wartime, mainly from a sense of duty. It is not always the young men who volunteer, as was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. When danger flows men make decisions to volunteer as an act of will and not from emotion. I wish to illustrate that point by saying that when France was falling the Seventh Division with corps troops was formed. Volunteers were called for to form the Seventh Division. I do not know, what was the position in the Eighth Division, but the Seventh Division consisted of men who had volunteered and their average age was 30 years; 75 per cent, of the men were married. Amongst one corps was a regiment of 1,100 men. It was an antiaircraft unit. The colonel of the unit boasted to me after the war that it was the finest regiment to go abroad, I asked him why he said so and he told me that there was no other Australian unit which contained men of such calibre. He said that it contained 750 potential officers and 200 potential sergeants.
When the dangers of war came closer it was necessary to conscript troops in Australia. As has been mentioned by honorable senators opposite, we had no officers and no wherewithal effectively to lead the Australian Military Forces, because the junior leader component of our troops had gone abroad with the corps d’elite - the A.I.F. Unless the situation of conscription is faced in peacetime so that the Army may be adequately filled, when war comes and a volunteer Army is raised, the corps and divisions to go abroad - which are composed of volunteers - take away the potential leadership. The troops left behind, however willing they may be, are not capable of carrying out the obligations placed upon them.
– Is that an argument in favour of a selective system?
– Yes, that is in favour of a selective system. I turn now to the claim that we are not making the best use of volunteers who are offering their services. The Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) has been good enough to provide at my request an analysis of the volunteers in the last year. Because the Army is the Service involved in our present problem, I shall confine myself to the results, of my examination which relate to Army volunteers, at the same time bearing in mind that the Navy and Air Force, in the expectation of equipment coming forward in the next three or four years, believe they are obtaining enough men and will continue to obtain enough men to fill their establishments. Last year the Army received applications from 11,079 volunteers. Of that number 1,230 were rejected for medical reasons. To me that seems to be a reasonable proportion. There were 1,417 rejections for educational reasons and 5,593 rejections for other reasons. I sought an explanation of the expression “other reasons” and was informed that it covers persons who failed to follow up their applications, withdrew applications, failed to report, had unsatisfactory civil records or were below required training potential. “ Below required training potential “ is a very carfully worded phrase and I shall not eleborate on it.
– Is the honorable senator referring to applicants for the Army?
– Yes. I shall read the information I have been given so that it may be incorporated in “ Hansard “. Currently between 10 per cent, and 20 per cent, of applications to join the Army are rejected on the grounds of failure to reach the standard of literacy required. A further 20 per cent, of applicants are rejected as below required training potential. I am explaining now the expression “other reasons “. I believe that all honorable senators will benefit from this information. In the case of the Army, the minimum standard is in fact equivalent to an educational age of about 10 years. Suggestions that the Army should lower its educational standard if adopted would involve infanticide.
The truth is that the Army is a complex organisation. It has changed greatly from the time when I was a young man of 21, with saddle and bridle hanging ready for use and a rifle standing outside on the verandah. A uniform was available to be worn and if war broke out I was expected to mount my horse and go to war. Today war is extraordinarily complex. In Australia, with our small population, the best use of our ability lies in the technical resources available here. In order that our technical resources may be fully exploited we require men who are technically qualified and of a high level of literacy and ability to handle the weapons provided. That is a substantial reason why we must have a selective system of national service. Behind every infantryman - the point of the spear - it is necessary to have hundreds of men to maintain his equipment so that he can successfully carry out the final function for which he is in the Army - the penetration of the area held by the enemy.
– Would all the selected men be of leadership calibre?
– I think that selection would help to improve the efficiency of the Army and also would help in the provision of technical men, which is one of the great problems that the Army has.
– But would it provide potential leaders for the Army?
– Leadership material is what we need at all levels, from the level of corporals and sergeants in charge of platoons, upwards. When Vulcan pulls (he bolts of war out of the forge it may be too late.
– During this debate we have beard much about events that happened in 1940, 1941 and 1942, when this nation faced the greatest perils it has ever faced. I suggest that it is about time honorable senators brought their minds back to a consideration of the situation which faces us today. Senator Cormack gave us a dissertation on the political and military history of the 1940-42 period, but the question under discussion is the defence of this country today, not as it was 18 or 20 years ago and not as it will be in 4, 5 or 6 years’ time. We are discussing what is perhaps the most important question that this Parliament could debate. We are speaking of the defence of this country at the present time.
Having read closely the statement made last Tuesday night by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in the House of Representatives, and the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) in the Senate, I agree with my colleagues that this is no more and no less than a political stunt which has been brought on three weeks before the forthcoming Senate election. We of the Australian Labour Party oppose the Government’s proposal to conscript Australian youth for service overseas. We regret the Government’s failure to stimulate recruitment for the Australian Regular Army, and we condemn the Government for its delay in securing adequate naval and air forces to safeguard Australia and its territories and communications.
Less than three weeks ago the estimates for the Department of Defence were discussed in this chamber. We had before us a rather glossy document entitled “ Defence Report 1964 “. We were led to believe that everything in the garden, so far as defence was concerned, was rosy, that everything was blooming, that we had nothing to fear, and that all the facts in the Government’s possession had been placed before the Parliament and the people of Australia. Let us look at one or two of the matters mentioned in “Defence Report 1964”. Under the heading “ Manpower “, the report states that all aspects of defence manpower, including the present strengths, the means of achieving the expanded numbers which are considered to be necessary, and the ready availability of each element of the forces to perform its intended role, had been carefully reviewed. The glossy document goes on to refer to matters which had been considered by the defence advisers, but there is not one word, nor was there in the Estimates debate less than three weeks ago one word, about the calling up of Australian youths for overseas service.
In reference to the Royal Australian Navy, the report states -
The Royal Australian Navy is combining a period of rapid expansion of ships and manpower with a programme of increasing operational activity. Ten new ships are on order for the fleet; manpower strength is rising by 1,000 per year; and today’s fleet is undertaking increasing operational commitments in the defence of Australia, her Commonwealth partners, and her allies.
So much for the Royal Australian Navy. In relation to the Army, the report states -
The Army continues to be expanded and developed as a highly trained, hard hitting force directed to meeting any likely threat to Australia and its territories and the fulfilment of obligations under defensive Treaty arrangements.
In relation to the Royal Australian Air Force, the report states -
The Royal Australian Air Force, with a large contingent overseas, is now making its greatest peacetime contribution to Australian defence.
According to the report, and also according to the statements then made by the Minister for Defence, everything in relation to the defence of this nation was in a fine condition. RUt last Tuesday night the Prime Minister walked into the House of Representatives, and the Minister for Defence walked into the Senate, and stated, amongst other things, that there had been a deterioration in our strategic position since the review Which had been announced to the Parliament last year. That had occurred, not since the presentation of the “Defence Report 1964” three weeks ago but since the defence review of last year. According to the Government, in a period of slightly more than twelve months our international strategic position had changed. It has taken the Government 12 months to bring down the statement which the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence delivered to the Parliament last week.
Senator Cormack said that we are today involved in problems which cause him to think. I believe that all honorable senators should think about those problems. The Government has decided to think about them, but apparently it thinks that they can be put to one side for a considerable time. Let us refer to the ministerial statement to ascertain what is to happen in the field of defence. The Minister said that the review of May 1963, two years ago, raised the programme for 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68 by about £40 million a year to a total of £816 million. He went on to say -
This present review raises that total to £1,220 million. That is, a further increase of £404 million.
Of course, that sum will not be spend straight away. It will be spent over a period of four or five years. The Minister went on to say that over the programme period to mid-1968, the Navy and Air Force will require a considerable increase in manpower to correspond with the planned expansion of these forces. He continued -
By June 1968 -
Nearly four years from now -
The Navy will have a requirement for approximately 16,700 and the Air Force for 21,000 men.
The Minister went on to say that during the second half of 1965 a total of about 4,200 young men would be called up by way of ballot to strengthen the present forces, that thereafter there would be annual callups of about 6,900, and that by December 1966, two years from now, the Army would have a total strength of about 27,500. The Minister also stated that in the 1963 defence review it had been found imperative to double the strength of the Pacific Islands Regiment. Now, according to the statement made last week, and three months after the presentation of the “ Defence Report 1 964 “, the Pacific Islands Regiment is to be increased to three battalions and supporting units, with a total strength approaching 3,500 men, by 1968. As I have said, we are discussing the defence of this nation as at the present time, having regard to the international strategic position as it has affected Australia, according to the Prime Minister, during the last 12 months. Yet, all that the Government can do is to come forward with plans which may meet the needs of the nation in 1968, 1969 or 1970.
– I am suggesting that the Government is being quite hypocritical in its approach, having regard to what the Prime Minister has stated. He has said that the defences of this nation will not be ready for a further four or five years. The Government proposes that H.M.A.S. “Melbourne” should undergo a refit in 1967. That will take a period of two years. Then what is to happen? The additional men referred to in this report will be introduced into service in 1968. I think that the TFX bombers are going to be in service by 1968. Of course, we all know what happened about the B47 bombers. As my friend Senator Fitzgerald said, immediately prior to the last general election they were brought to Australia and were shown on television landing on airstrips with parachute brakes. However, we found out subsequently that the B47 was considered inadequate for this nation’s Air Force because we had only one airstrip on which the aircraft could land.
This ministerial statement on the defence of the nation is not based on the strategic situation today, but preparing for a situation which might exist in four, five or six years’ time - as late as 1970. This is the case despite the fact that on 16th September last, when addressing the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney, Sir Robert Menzies declared that Australia had never lived in a state of greater risk. What a ludicrous position we find ourselves in, after the Government has been in office for 15 years and after almost £3,000 million has been spent on the defences of this nation. We have the Prime Minister saying that Australia has never lived in a state of greater risk, yet this defence statement sets out the Government’s attitude to, and caters for the needs of, the years 1968, 1969 and 1970. I suggest that if the Government were sincere it might have done what the wartime Prime Minister, John Curtin, did. He sent Dr. Evatt to the United States to discuss with
President Roosevelt the international situation in which Australia found itself at that time. The only Minister we have sent over to the United States in recent times, to discuss any matter of this nature, was the late Mr. Athol Townley, who was sent to America to purchase bombers that will be coming to Australia in 1968 or 1969.
Let us consider the defence situation today. The Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), during his contribution to this debate this afternoon, said that the Government had taken the military advisers into the closest consultation, but apparently it failed to take its junior Ministers into its confidence. On 26th October last, two days before defence was discussed in this chamber during the course of the debate on the Estimates, the present Minister for the Army had some very important and pertinent remarks to make about the debate which was ensuing at that time. Addressing the National Congress of the Returned Servicemen’s League on 26th October he said -
As 1 have already stated publicly, the Government has not got a closed mind on the subject-
He was referring to conscription - and should in its judgment the circumstances demand it we would have no hesitation in introducing it.
This was less than three weeks ago. Might I ask rhetorically: What has taken place in the last three weeks? Cabinet certainly has not told Parliament or the people what it is. The Minister for the Army then went on to say -
I could perhaps say, however, that we have not introduced conscription up to this point in time because our military advisers have indicated in the clearest and most unmistakeable terms that it is not the most effective way of creating the Army we need to meet the situation we face.
He emphasised this by saying -
I stress that this is military advice. The reasons for rejecting conscription have nothing whatever to do with the political consequences of its introduction or its cost.
Yet we were told that this defence review had been taking place over a period of some three to four months.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended, I had pointed out that the Minister for Defence said this afternoon during the course of this debate that this decision to call up for service both in Australia and overseas thousands of young Australians had been taken in close consultation with military advisers. I pointed out also that the Prime Minister in the opening part of his defence review statement said -
For some months the Department of Defence and the Service and Supplies Departments, in close collaboration with the Chiefs of Staff Committee, have been making a complete re-assessment of our defence needs and programme.
In other words, not only was this advice taken, according to the Minister for Defence, after close consultation with military advisers, but also the consultations, according to the Prime Minister, had been taking place for some months. But apparently such consultations were taking place without the knowledge of the present Minister for the Army, because only three weeks before this very day when the defence review statement was presented, the Minister for the Army was condemning this form of call up as being ineffective. I think I have already cited part of what the Minister said in his address to the Returned Servicemen’s League Congress. The Minister stressed - and he used the word “ stressed “ in order to emphasise his point - that this method of recruitment was against military advice.
It is obvious that if this advice was taken in consultation with military advisers the Minister for the Army did not even know what was going on. I suggest that it is quite reasonable for members of the Opposition to be excused for gaining the impression that this proposal is no more nor less than a political stunt put on three weeks before a Senate election. I suggest that the people of Australia can be excused also for wondering what is going to happen between now and 1970 because the Prime Minister went on record on 16th September last as saying that Australia had never lived in a state of greater risk. I now refer to a statement made by the present Minister for Defence in this very chamber. On 26th August last, I asked the Minister about statements that he had made in Perth on 31st July. After setting out his statements, I asked the Minister for Defence whether he still maintained his view of 31st July or whether he had since had any reason to modify it. The Minister, in a very long reply, said that he hastened to assure me that he was not disposed to alter what he had said previously in addressing a Liberal Party meeting in Perth. Making certain comments about recruitmen, he went on to say-
The correspondent in question made certain comments about our forces.
This article had appeared in the “Sydney Morning Herald “. In it, the correspondent referred to some 6,000 men - less than half of the strength of our existing field forces in Australia. The Minister, in denying this situation to be the case, went on to say-
He made no mention- that is, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ correspondent made no mention - as might be expected, of the measures that have recently been adopted by the Government to encourage recruiting.
Obviously, the measures which were adopted by the Government, despite the fact that the Minister for Defence on 26th August last was relying on the steps that the Government had taken to defend the Government’s attitude after this article had appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, were being put forward by the Minister to suggest that the steps taken by the Government to encourage recruiting would solve the problem.
How does the Government expect to get volunteers for the Australian Army in view of some of the conditions under which cx-servicemen are serving today? On 6th May 1964, an officer attached to the 1st Lancers Barracks at Parramatta went on record as saying that recruits beginning Citizen Military Forces training were often discouraged because of the long delay in the issue of their uniforms. He said - . . recruits and permanent staff were disgruntled because winter uniforms had to last for eight years, boots for four, and two pairs of woollen army socks had to be worn for four years before new ones were issued.
The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty), in reply to me during the course of the - Estimates debate, said that an exserviceman, when he had worn his boots out, would be entitled to another pair. But he did not deny that members of the C.M.F. have to wait for a period of eight years to be issued with a second uniform or four years for a couple of pair of socks. How can the Government expect, with this state of affairs going on within the C.M.F., to get C.M.F. volunteers to enlist in the Australian Regular Army. As late as the 9th June last a retired soldier, Brigadier Meredith, in a letter to the “Sydney Morning Herald “, compared conditions today with the conditions during World War II, and said -
Today things are vastly different. In the past two years, over 3,500 men have refused to reengage. That has cost the country the best part of £5,000,000, which, roughly, is what it will cost to train their replacements. What is far worse is that over 100 Army officers or about 20 per cent, of the total officer establishment have either submitted their resignations or would do so if resignations were being accepted.
As this gentleman has suggested, something obviously is wrong somewhere. I suggest that before the Government plays around with this idea of conscripting a certain percentage of young Australians for service both in Australia and overseas, it should have a look at the conditions under which servicemen are serving.
What is the situation in regard to the Navy? Just recently, in the Sydney “ Sun “ there was an article which read -
Pressure on accommodation at the Navy’s main training centre for ratings had resulted in a lowering of morale and a loss of highly-trained men.
There is the situation in Borneo today where the 7th Field Squadron - I have raised this matter from time to time in this chamber - are serving under very deleterious conditions and are receiving a lower zone allowance than troops serving in New Guinea, Darwin and Woomera. I suggest that the Government and its military advisers should have a close look at the situation and at the conditions of servicemen before they give some consideration to the introduction of conscription at the present time. Improve conditions, and you might get more volunteers.
Only last Thursday night, a young fellow who attended a C.M.F. parade on the North Shore of Sydney told me that as a result of the Defence Bill recently brought forward in this chamber calling upon members of the C.M.F. to volunteer for service overseas those on parade who wished to volunteer for this overseas service were asked to step one pace forward. Only one third of his particular unit had done so. Why is this the situation? I suggest it is the situation because of the hopeless and obsolete equipment with which these fellows are issued to train. I have here a statement by someone who has declared himself to be a “ Dinkie Di Aussie “. He says -
C.M.F. trucks are a disgrace. A little while ago, 10 trucks started up the coast in convoy, by the time the trip was over, all but one truck was broken down. Some radio equipment was on sale in British disposal stores, long before it was issued to the C.M.F.
At the annual 14-day camp, small units have to borrow equipment, such as rifles and trucks. Some units haven’t enough weapons to go around.
This is the type of equipment that is given to these men for their training. How can one expect men who have volunteered for the Citizen Military Forces to volunteer for overseas service in those circumstances?
– Has the honorable senator anything on which he can base that statement about the condition of the equipment other than the Press statement?
– I have no statement other than this but the letter was published in the Press and I assume that what was written is correct. If you talk to men serving in the C.M.F. they will tell you about the hopeless state of the equipment and. its obselete nature. I suggest to the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) that he should get his military advisers to have a private talk with the other ranks of the C.M.F. and get some information on the state of the equipment with which these men are supposed to train.
On 27th May the American magazine “Time” stated that the Australian Air Force was obsolete, its Navy a memory and its 23,000 man Army was smaller than that of Cambodia. What is the situation in regard to the Royal Australian Air Force? Recently I asked the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) by way of a question on notice whether major repairs to service aircraft were being carried out by private enterprise and I was told that major repairs to Sabre aircraft were being done by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and that certain repairs were being carried out by Trans-Australia Airlines and by a private company in South Australia. This is the state of the R.A.A.F.
We all know what has happened in regard to the radar service in Darwin. It was working Public Service hours until a couple of weeks ago. There have been six reports, according to the Minister for Air, of unidentified aircraft operating over Australia and not one of them was spotted or picked up by radar because none was available in any of the areas from which the reports “ emanated. One of these areas was Cocos Island. The Government has sent a couple of Bofors guns to Darwin and now it is trying to give the Australian people the impression that because there are a couple of Bofors guns there, Darwin is defended.
What is the situation in regard to the Navy? Rear-Admiral Oldham said only last Friday night that it would be suicidal in future for units of the Navy to go within range of enemy aircraft. He was Flag Officer in charge of the Australian Eastern Area before his retirement and he attacked the new naval programme. Of course, this new programme will not come into effect today or in three months time to meet the urgent situation forecast by the Prime Minister; it will come into effect about 1968, 1969 or 1970. Earlier this year, Rear Admiral Oldham went on record as saying that in his opinion the Navy was inadequate, the Air Force was considered to be impotent and the Australian Army was immovable. I suggest that from all the reports we can obtain, and having regard to the Prime Minister’s defence review, this is the exact situation at a time when, according to the Prime Minister, a serious international strategic situation has developed within the last 12 months.
This Government has been in office for 16 years. From time to time, we have had warnings from the Government that we must be ready to defend ourselves. As early as 1953 - 11 years ago - the Prime Minister went on record as saying that we must be ready for war within three years. Now, in 1964 and on the admission of the Government itself, Australia is not in a position to defend itself adequately and will not be in such a position before 1970. On 21st May I received a reply from the Minister for Defence to certain questions I had placed on notice asking for information about recruits. I asked the Minister -
I was informed that the number of persons who made application to join the Services in 1963 were -
That makes a total of about 25,000. The number who were accepted as recruits in each Service were -
Tn other words about 6,000 were accepted from 25,000 volunteers. The Minister said that a number had been rejected because of their educational standards. This afternoon, Senator Cormack told us that those who were rejected - and I think the number was about twice the number of those actually accepted - were rejected because they had an I.Q. equal to a child of only 10 years of age.
– I did not say that.
– That was the impression I got from the honorable senator’s statement. If I am wrong, I am subject to correction.
– Will the honorable senator allow me to make the correction? I said that a great number of them had educational qualifications of the level of 10 years.
– The honorable senator now says “ a great number “, but what number? Obviously others are capable of being trained for a period of 12 months educationally to enable them to serve for five years in the Australian Regular Army, but the Government prefers to conscript a batch of young Australians. It will call them up compulsorily and mix them with a Regular Army unit. What did the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) have to say on this matter? He said in a statement to the Returned Servicemen’s League National Congress on 26th October -
T hasten to emphasise that all this means is that an Army composed entirely of long-term volunteers is a better one than one based on a mixture of volunteers and conscripts.
Obviously the Minister for the Army has an opinion different from that of the Government regarding young Australians being called up, being trained and then mixed with units of the Australian Regular Army. Senator Cormack, speaking as a former senior Army officer, said it took two years to train a soldier. These young Australians are to be called up for two years. I suggest that if Senator Cormack is correct in saying that it takes two years to train a soldier then, first, it is futile to call young men up for two years. Secondly, if they are sent on active service overseas within two years then on Senator Cormack’s own admission they will be untrained Australian troops. The Government has said that it will defer calling up apprectices, university students and certain others. In other words, it will hold a lottery for those born on a certain date and call up a certain number of them. The first intake will be 4,200 next year and the second intake the year after will be 6,900. On the percentage ratio previously cited of one recruit accepted for every four volunteers, the Government will have to call up about 30,000 men to get the quota.
– If they arc lucky, they might not be selected.
– This could well be the situation. What is to be the position in regard to new Australians - people who came to Australia 16 or 17 years ago at the age of 1 year, 2 years or 3 years? They have been educated by Australians, and they have been given an opportunity to take a place in the Australian society. These people are to be exempted from this type of training if they have remained unnaturalised, as many have.
The Government speaks about the lack of education of men who have volunteered to join the Services but who have been rejected. Senator Cohen recently asked the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) a question upon notice concerning the number of students who were eligible for admission to universities but had not been accepted. At the University of Sydney there was a total of 1.435: at the University of New South Wales, in the faculty of medicine, there were 120; at the University of Melbourne there was a total of 879; at the Monash University, a total of 578; at the Adelaide University, a total of 71; and at the University of Western Australia, in the faculty of music, there were 2. In other words, for every two students who have passed their matriculation examinations, one is to be admitted to a university and will have his training deferred.
The other will not be admitted to the university and if his number comes out of the hat he mast serve in the armed forces for a period of two years.
I suggest that the Government is putting on nothing more nor nothing less than a political stunt intended to arouse a fear hysteria among the electors generally. I believe that the Government is whipping up a fear hysteria in order to hide its maladministration and the deficiencies in the Post Office, in health services, in social services and in other matters such as the national economy. It is creating a fear hysteria preparatory to another smear campaign just before the forthcoming Senate election. Indeed, Senator Branson started one smear campaign last Friday when he made allegations against a man who has passed on and against another who is too ill to defend himself. That did not work, nor will any future smear campaign which is initiated by the Government because the people are awake to them.
In conclusion, I say that the Australian Labour Party stands for the defence of this country, based on adequate and satisfactory plans. I remind the Government that there is just as much loyalty amongst members of the Australian Labour Party as there is amongst members of the Liberal Party and of the Australian Country Party. We do not stand for hotchpotch methods. We do not stand for delays in implementing policies, such as the delay in the defence programme which will extend over six years. We do not set out to fool the Australian people. We believe that the action which the Government has taken is no more than a political stunt and that the Government will receive the condemnation of the people of this great nation at the forthcoming Senate election.
.- I have listened with a great deal of interest to the honorable senators who have taken part in this debate. At the outset, I refer to a question that was asked in the Senate some time ago relevant to the issue of uniforms and boots to members of the Citizen Military Forces. If my recollection serves me correctly, the Minister gave a most effective answer to the question which was asked. I make the observation that discontent is one of the human characteristics that is to be found in every body of men and women in the world. However, when discontent is expressed by a persons who writes a letter to the Press under a nom-de-plume, it should be taken with a very big grain of salt. I would not regard it as authentic information.
I would say that if this measure had not been introduced until after the Senate election, the Government would have been charged with not having enough guts to introduce it before the election. For months past we have heard it said that the Australian Labour Party proposes to fight the Senate election on the question of the defence of Australia. I have seen that published in the Press on a good many occasions. When the Government does something to accelerate the defence programme, the Australian Labour Party says that that is not right. It makes me wonder just what the Government can do to win. If a person sits down and considers a statement in the frame of mind that he is going to disparage it for all he is worth, that he is going to be wholly and completely destructive in what he says about it and that it has to be wrong, that persons is apt to say some very remarkable things.
Some very remarkable things have been said during the course of this debate on the defence review statement. Senator McKenna even got down to quoting the opinion of the trouble maker to the north of Australia. He did not say a word of commendation of our allies. New Zealand is calling up 3,000 men a year. If we were to adopt the same ratio, we would be calling up double the number envisaged at present. So far as I am aware, the New Zealand Labour Party is not creating an uproar about this action by the New Zealand Government. Strangely enough, over the years it has never done so. Not a word was said about the commendation of this measure by the United States of America or Great Britain. Senator McKenna referred to the aggressor to the north of Australia and quoted what he said about the proposals. Then he continued with these words -
Of course, he smells -
Meaning the Indonesian statesman - . . sees and points to the completely political content of this defence statement which is directed, not so much at providing for the defences of Australia as at winning the forthcoming election.
I could refer to other statements that have been made by members of the Australian Labour Party, but they are scarcely relevant to the defence of this country.
Senator Kennelly criticised this defence statement because it referred to the aggression of Indonesia against Malaysia. He said that a reference to something which all the world knows is occurring is an incitement to war. Mr. Calwell criticised the Government because there had been five defence reviews in five years. Most thinking people would hope that there would be many more of them. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) commented critically on the fact that, as he said, the Service departments had had 35 Ministers. He said that there had been insufficient contact between responsible Ministers, and that the Australian Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) saw less of the chiefs of staff than did the Secretary for Defence in the United States and the United Kingdom. So it goes on - that kind of empty, innocuous, almost irrelevant statement that does not get down to the roots of the defence of this country in any way whatsoever. It is desirable to build up the armaments of this country. In a democracy it has always been a hard thing to do. It is notorious that right down through history those countries that have been in a 100 per cent, state of defence preparedness or readiness for war have been those which intended aggression.
It has never been easy for a democracy or for any country with peaceful intentions to place itself on a war footing. Leaving out this nation of 10 million people attempting to defend a continent, we. have only to consider Great Britain prior to the last two world wars, the United States, and France itself. It has never been easy for them to build up a sufficiency of armaments, because of prevailing public opinion which is often antagonistic, in a democracy which has no intention whatever of aggression. It does not matter what the condition of its armaments may be. I have no doubt whatever that ours are not as bad as the Opposition makes out. In my opinion there is another all important factor, namely, the will to resist of the people of this country. I can think of nothing more morale destroying, more calculated to make the spirit of resistance waver than the continuous reiteration over months and years that this Government has done nothing whatever to help the defence of Australia in any way, shape or form.
I go on to another aspect. If we tell that to the whole wide world - as has been done - surely it is an inducement to an invader to believe that here is a country divided against itself, which one of the major political parties says is defenceless. That is a most treacherous attitude for the Australian Labour Party to take up. First, it is not true; secondly, it is done purely and entirely for political purposes. I remember reading two books by men who used to be in authority in France before the fall of France in World War II. 1 was impressed by the fact that both authors said that with the enemy right at the gates, with the whole country just about to crash, the same old political game of intrigue and treachery was played right up to the end. The Australian Labour Party needs to look out that it does not emulate the example of a very considerable element of the French people prior to the downfall of France in World War II.
Defence should not be a party political matter; it should be a national matter upon which all parties co-operate and work together. My objection to the policy that the A.L.P. adopts is that it is only destructive. It puts up nothing to remedy the position. Is it not only a few years ago that the then Leader of the Opposition advocated that a considerable slice be cut from the defence vote and spent on something else? I believe that if Labour had been in office this country would have been very much less prepared than it is today. Surely it is time we got away from a wholly political atmosphere, this desire only to gain some political advantage from what should be a vital national matter.
The statement placed before us is a realistic one. It accepts the fact that the strategic position of this country has deteriorated. One phrase in it attracted my attention. It referred to the fact that the further we are away from the Communist dominated countries the safer we will be. For some reason or another, Communism is an aggressive force. I have often wondered why that should be. I have heard it said that if Communism is contained it must die, so it must be aggressive. There may be some truth in that. Consider the position existing in West Germany and East Germany. Contrast the prosperity and liberty on one side of the Berlin wall with the conditions on the other side, a comparison which the Communist hierachy does not want. Their own people cannot see it; they cannot mix with the people across the wall. For the first time in history to my knowledge a wall has been built not to keep an invader out but to keep a whole people in and enslaved.
Many people come to the southern part of Tasmania to view the ruins of Port Arthur, I suppose to have their share of morbidness. They express horror at what happened 100 years ago when malefactors under the law as it then was were sent out to that place to endure penal servitude. By comparison with what is happening in other parts of the world, where a whole population is kept imprisoned, where a wall is erected to keep them in, Port Arthur and similar places fade into insignificance. The Chinese form of communism probably is, or it appears to be, more aggressive than ‘ the Russian form. Undoubtedly the force of communism is being felt in Indonesia. There has been a very great deterioration in South Vietnam where Communist agents have deliberately ambushed public servants, even schoolmasters, in the execution of their duties so as to prevent the country from functioning as an economic unit, to cause as much chaos and disruption as possible, and to bring the country to such a condition that the Communists will be able to take over. I mentioned a moment ago what is happening in Indonesia. I have never been able to understand just why Sukarno is committing the aggression that he is committing. What is the reason for it? What does he hope to gain? He must know that he has nothing to gain. Is it that he is being dragged at the heels of the big Communist Party which comprises part of his Government and believes that willy nilly he must embark upon a policy of aggression?
Only last week the Australian delegate to the United Nations was under attack. The opinion was advanced that the Communist countries had come to regard New Guinea as the key to the Pacific. In ali probability it is the key to the Pacific and as such it could be one of the greatest menaces which confront Australia. So it behoves us to try to act as a cohesive force. It may well be that there are amongst us those who will live long enough to see that the Governments proposals are not a political stunt but that they are quite the reverse and are of vital importance to this country. If our allies are able to adopt national service training, as far as I am aware without complaint - if little New Zealand can call up a greater percentage of her work force for military training than we can, and if the United States and the United Kingdom can adopt this principle - surely it behoves us, who have so much at stake and who are closer to the danger that threatens than are these other countries, to accept this burden. Ultimately this means may have to be used to defend our country.
I have heard a lot of adverse comment about the Government’s proposal. Senator McKenna referred to the method of selection as being like Russian roulette. However, I have gained the definite impression from comments public and otherwise that the great majority of the Australian people believe that to oppose the Government’s proposal as vehemently as it is opposed by the Opposition will not make the issue the election winner that Labour thinks it will be.
– That is not why we are opposing it. We are doing so as a matter of principle.
– Of course it would not be for that reason. I have lived long enough in politics to know that the real test of any issue is not so much its merits but whether the Opposition can make the people believe that the Government intends to bring in conscription holus bolus, that Australia is defencless, and that the members of the Labour Party are the people who can place Australia in a state of .preparedness. Labour Party members think that if they can make the people believe that, they may gain the treasury bench. That is all there is in it - nothing else. I have in my hand a statement issued by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, who are in a position to know the effect on industry of national service, which reads -
Contrary to the many reports now circulating there is no reason to fear any serious disruption to Australian industry or the economy as the result of the Government’s realistic decision to increase Australia’s defence commitments and to embark on a scheme of selective national training.
The Chambers of Manufactures then give their reasons for adopting that point of view.
Wc all have heard a lot of statements made in this place for the purpose of party political advantage. Senator McKenna referred to the “Voyager” disaster in his speech last Friday. It was a remarkable speech. It was a 50-50 speech. Half of it could be used to refute the other half. Senator McKenna devoted a full column of “ Hansard “ to disparaging the Government over the disaster involving the “ Melbourne “ and the “Voyager”. When discussing this disaster on 23rd September, the honorable senator, after referring to the fact that there was a clear moonless night, that visibility was approximately 12 miles and that there was not another ship within 8 miles, said.
I say with great deliberation that the fact that there was a collision at all under those circumstances is, on the face of it, the result of plain gross negligence. There are no other terms in which to describe it. The thing speaks for itself. I repeat that it under those conditions vessels come into collision there must be negligence and that negligence must be, as I have described it, gross. That is the view 1 put on behalf of the Opposition.
I repeat that that is what Senator McKenna said some time ago when he spoke about the “ Voyager “ disaster, to which he referred in this place on Friday last in an attempt to make much capital out of the fact that 82 people had died. The Royal Commissioner said in this report -
There can be no question but that the two ships were suitable for the task in which they were engaged. Indeed they were the very vessels required for touch and go exercises at night.
It was declared at the hearing that that was the first exercise in the book. Both ships were in a fit and proper condition to perform the exercise. Senator McKenna said that the collision was caused by negligence. Surely it is clear who was responsible for that negligence.
I believe that the statement is most realistic and that it expresses in concise terms the position in which the Commonwealth finds itself at present. Unfortunately, that position could deteriorate in the near future. I hope that national unity and co-operation may develop towards this measure. I believe that we have as Minister for Defence a man with ability, drive and initiative to equip him capably to do a job equal to that which could be done by any man in this Parliament, and better than the great majority. If the Minister is left alone and given the necessary opportunity, he will go ahead and do all that any human being can do in the interests of our defence. I have no doubt whatsoever about the capacity of the Minister. I support the statement and the legislation that will flow from it.
– Let us face the issue of defence quite squarely. Senator Lillico spoke of a wholly political atmosphere being developed. Does the honorable senator spell the word he used to begin with a “ w “ or an “ h “. The honorable senator spoke of the adoption by our allies of the system of conscription proposed by the Government. Does he not realise that the late President Kennedy of the United States of America was investigating the abandonment of a compulsory system of conscription. Honorable senators may term it what they wish; the Government terms it compulsory national service. It is a system identical with conscription.
Air Vice Marshal Bladin in a recent television interview said that the term “ compulsory national service “ has a spiritual significance.
– He made mincemeat of the honorable senator’s cobber on that programme.
– Who said he was my cobber? Who said that I even agreed with the person who was on the opposite side of the table?
– I have always thought that there was a certain affinity between you.
– I did not interrupt the Minister. I ask him to let me proceed until I get into my stride, and then he can do what he likes. Compulsory national service is a system of conscription, and honorable senators should not forget that. If compulsory military service has a spiritual significance, so has conscription because it serves a similar purpose. President Kennedy sought an alternative method to conscription and his successor is seeking a means to abolish compulsory national service, conscription, or call it what you will. If senator Lillico does not know the position in the United Kingdom, I suggest that he look it up. He referred to the collision between the “ Melbourne “ and the “ Voyager “ and used the incident as the basis for an attack on the distinguished Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna).
– Read his speech; read what he said.
– I am not making Senator McKenna’s speech. 1 am not using the speeches of other people to the extent that Senator Lillico did in an attempt to delay me from making my speech. A closing time for the debate has been proposed and I am grateful to Senator Lillico for resuming his seat before 9 o’clock. I ask honorable senators to forget what Senator McKenna said about the collision between the “Voyager” and the “Melbourne “ and examine what the Government did subsequent to the inquiry. It changed the procedure. Let us see what transpired. The steps taken by the Government must reflect on the efficiency of the administration, which must be traced back to the political parties in control of the treasury bench. During the inquiry it was found that vital spanners were missing from the “ Voyager “. Lifebelts were stored in an inaccessible position.
– That had nothing whatever to do with the collision.
– But it had something substantial to do with the loss of 82 lives. I did not interrupt the honorable senator’s speech very often. I do not mind his interrupting me, because he helps to highlight the inefficiency of the Government’s administration. I shall deal with it in greater detail. It was found that the boats that might have saved a number of lives could not be used. The hopeless failure of some of the boats’ to be used in rescue operations reflects in no small measure the inefficiency of the administration of the Navy. I refer now to the midshipmen who lost their lives in the sea near the Great Barrier Reef. I draw the Senate’s attention to the differential treatment of the Captain of the “Sydney” and the Captain of the “ Melbourne “. Do honorable senators wonder why the people are hesitant to trust the Government with the defence of this country?
I shall speak very briefly because my time is limited. The issue of defence should be faced squarely. The Opposition has been challenged by Government members who have suggested that we are treating defence as a political issue, as though a political issue is of necessity divorced from a national issue. Do not honorable senators realise that the control of this country and its natural endowment - the rights of its people are determined by our politics? Any matter that is of the nature of a national issue must necessarily be a political issue. Why should there be such acrimonious discussion simply because the Opposition sees fit to disagree with the Government on this occasion? On many occasions we have disagreed and in the majority of cases the Opposition has been right. In the course of time its suggestions have been adopted - in a dilatory fashion - by the Government.
In the years I have been a member of the Senate 1 have’ never heard a more acrimonious discussion than has occurred during the present debate, nor have I heard more insults hurled at members of the Opposition. I do not know what occurred during the debate on the defence statement of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in the other place, but I do know that Senator Wright saw fit to belittle Senator McKenna in the debate in this chamber. Senator Wright referred to synthetic heat. If there is anyone more coldblooded or logical that the distinguished Leader of the Opposition in the Senate I have yet to meet him. Senator Wright referred to a second edition of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Calwell. With his truly basic actor’s approach, the honorable senator sought to create the impression that Senator McKenna had followed entirely the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. A second edition of a scientific work is justifiable and may be worth while because of changes that have taken place. In the interpretation of historical events a second edition, altered as it may be, is justifiable. There are many other instances that I could give, but in regard to a story, a second edition is interpreted to mean a complete repetition. Anyone who read the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in the other place and then listened to Senator McKenna’s speech would appreciate that of necessity Senator McKenna would take from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in the other place certain essential features because of the very truth that underlay them. But when we compare the two speeches there is no suggestion of a second edition. Senator McKenna detailed instances which time precluded Mr. Calwell from mentioning.
Then we had the unfortunate incident last Friday, which I think was due, not to basic vileness, but to immaturity and to listening to gossip. At least the honorable senator saw fit to retract the statement he made. I had thought .that we would witness, either today or tomorrow, a complete retraction of the attack that had been made on two distinguished Australians who served Australia well in waT and peace. I understand that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), big minded as he is, to his credit, saw fit to disown the statement completely this afternoon. During the debate, Senator Mattner, from South Australia, a man distinguished in war and a brave warrior, when challenged by an honorable senator on this side of the chamber said that he had a dossier and that if he was provoked he would use it. Just how far do we intend to go in this august and honorable chamber, if supporters of the Government or even members of the party to which I belong sink so low as to use such a mechanism in order to achieve political ends? The supporters of the Government see fit, in their determination to win the Senate election, to sink to any depths and to accuse the Opposition of the vilest and the lowest purposes in political life.
Let us consider the issue that we are debating. I do not propose to deal with all the statements on defence that have been made during the period, of almost IS years that the Government has been in office. There have been no fewer than 17 statements on defence. I have appreciated every statement that has been made, but I would have appreciated them much more if they had been backed by realistic performance. Unfortunately, the history is there to be read. They have not been backed by realistic performance. The Prime Minister, who has enjoyed the prestige of being Prime Minister for a longer period than any other occupant of that office, has been acclaimed as a past master of political trickery. On this occasion he has been acclaimed by Government supporters for pulling the greatest political trick of all time. Let us be quite realistic in our assessment of this issue. Perhaps in the hurry scurry of the Senate election the Government parties may have pulled the greatest boner of all time. We must realise that the nation is not united behind the Government. Even distinguished churchmen have seen fit to attack the Government. I am not going to detail their names. They are there to be read.
– Were they connected with the peace front?
– Would the honorable senator say that a distinguished Methodist minister in Sydney would be in that category?
– Several of them were.
– I am not as immature as the man who levelled the vile charge last Friday. Therefore I say that Senator Kendall is not going to goad me into stating names. I take it he has read the article to which I am referring. If he has not done so, others who are interested in the matter have read it. The man to whom I refer gave a considerable measure of detail. He spoke of a lottery of death. It could be a lottery of death. Perhaps it is a barrel of death filled with marbles, each number synonymous with possible destruction. I again say that the honorable senator is not going to induce me to name the clergyman concerned. All I am saying - and the article is available to be read - is that churchmen have made such statements. If Government supporters have anything against the churchmen, or know of anything to their discredit or of actions that are against the interests of the nation, or if they say that the churchmen are wrong or insincere in sponsoring the rights of these young people, they should challenge the statements. If the sittings of the Senate are not prolonged sufficiently to enable honorable senators opposite to do that in this chamber, they may do it through the Press or by way of statements through other media.
Let us consider the statement made on 8th March 1963 by the late Mr. Athol Townley, who was then Minister for Defence. He said -
Never in the peacetime history of Australia have our defence forces been more readily available, better equipped or as efficient as they are today.
– That is right.
– Why should it not be right, irrespective of the inefficiency of administration? The Government had spent £2,700 million since 10th December 1949 on defence. When we think of the peacetime Government prior to the last war, we realise the complete ineptitude of that Government. The present Government proudly boasted in 1963 that after spending £2,700 million on defence we were better prepared than we were prior to the 1939 war. Prior to the 1914-18 war there was a Labour government which saw fit, even though we were protected by the wealth and prestige of the United Kingdom and by the invincible British Navy, to establish a navy and introduce compulsory military training. That merely highlights the contrast between the efforts of that Government and the peacetime efforts of a former anti-Labour Government. 1 do not propose to refer to all the statements on defence that have been made, but there are some that I must use. In fact, I propose to use only four of them. One of them must be accepted because it was made as recently as last month at a particularly important conference. It was made by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) when he claimed that his military advisers had advised him that they were opposed to conscription. The day before that the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) had claimed that if compulsory national service were utilised for the purpose of increasing the number enrolled in the Navy it would vitiate voluntary enlistment in the Navy. The Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) is a distinguished, competent and aggressive person, but I have never seen him so meek and mild as he was this afternoon. According to his statement of last July, apparently the Government had no intention of introducing conscription.
These statements are important. The Australian people may be gullible as far as the propaganda mechanism available to the Government parties is concerned, but they are not complete idiots. There must come an occasion when they will awaken to the true position and realise the facts. Only 14 months ago the then Minister for the Navy, who was fortunate enough not to be in charge of the Department of the Navy when the royal commission was held into the collision between H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “ and H.M.A.S “Melbourne”, said that the “ Melbourne “ would serve for ten years. He said that it would not need the extra speed necessary for it to operate with fixed wing aircraft. Now, of course, the Government has changed its mind again and is going to modernise the “ Melbourne “ at a cost of £10 million and is going to use fixed wing aircraft on it. That will be in the sweet bye and bye, in 1969, if, of course, the “ Melbourne “ is ready. In the meantime the S2E Tracker piston-engined aircraft are becoming obsolescent, even though they are being used by the United States at present. What their role will be by late 1968 or 1969 no-one knows.
If the Government is really interested in defence, then, in view of the fact that by the end of this financial year it will have spent £3,000 million, it should have a fair idea of the defence needs of Australia and of the mechanism that should be used, in keeping with the financial resources of this country to satisfy our obligation to our allies. It happens that on this occasion, on the eve of an election - this has happened often before - the Prime Minister decided to highlight an emergency - a real crisis. The timing was such as to ensure that his political opponents would not have the opportunity or the time to convey in full to the people of Australia the real deficiencies of the Government. Here we arc, within a fortnight of a Senate election.
– And the honorable senator is still talking in the Senate.
– That is my responsibility. If honorable senators on this side of the chamber did not continue to speak, Government supporters would be the first to say that we had run away from our responsibility and were not game to face the issue. It would be suggested that we were treasonable and guilty of treachery to the nation, as I have heard said in this chamber in debates on a matter such as this. It is our responsibility to remain here. If the Government had seen fit to do so, it could have introduced its proposals months ago. If members of the Government had had a sense of national responsibility, not divorced from competency, they would have done the correct thing months ago, and the position would then have been seen and understood by all of the people of Australia, who could have cast an impartial vote confirming or condemning the action of the Government. If the people had voted to condemn the Government, before the next
House of Representatives election the Government might, perhaps, have trimmed its sails to conform with the wishes of the people.
If the Prime Minister, with the academic brilliance that is so characteristic of him, were to put as much zeal into governing in the interests of the nation as he devotes to winning elections, he would leave a much greater impression on the history of Australia than will be the case. He would leave an impression that would be in direct proportion with his brilliant intellect. However, as it is, he will be remembered only because he enjoyed a record tenure as Prime Minister and in some small way sponsored assistance to universities. We may be able to deal with matters affecting universities tomorrow.
One of the leading daily newspapers, for which I have a great respect, said that the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, Mr. Calwell, made a great speech. If it had stopped there, having said that he had made a great speech in relation to the defence issue which is before the Parliament of this country, that would have been all right, but the newspaper did not stop there. It had to say that he made defence a political issue. I dealt with that before, and I do not propose to traverse the ground again because my time is limited. However, I would be failing in an obligation - not to honorable senators on this side of the chamber but to those on the Government side - if I did not have placed in the records of the Senate the failures of the Government that the Leader of the Opposition outlined. Honorable senators will pardon me if I quote the Leader of the Opposition verbatim. I say to Senator Wright that my speech does not happen to be a second edition of the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition in the other place. This is what Mr. Calwell said -
Let me list a few of the failures and deficiencies which have resulted from the confused policies of the past 15 years. The Government has failed to recruit sufficient of our youth to the Services. It has failed to define an effective role for the Citizen Military Forces. It has failed to replace the outdate and immobile Centurion tanks.
In fact, these tanks cannot travel on the railways of this country; they cannot go through the tunnels and they cannot be transported. Mr. Calwell continued -
It has failed to provided a temporary replacement for the Canberra bomber. It has failed to make any decision on the future of the Fleet Air Arm-
In fact, there will be no Fleet Air Arm - and as a result it has now given the Fleet Air Arm its death warrant. It has failed to make a decision on the purchase of a modern aircraft carrier. It has failed to provide an adequate radar system.
If I might digress for a moment, honorable senators will recall that only recently the radar system in Darwin was operated on an eight-hour basis. However, since attention was drawn to the matter the system has been put on a 24-hour basis. Mr. Calwell continued -
It has failed to develop the service industries.
In- this regard, Australia has a counterpart in Indonesia. Although that country may be better armed than Australia, it has not the industries to service the means of war. Mr. Calwell went on -
On the contrary, these industries have been allowed to become run down to a dangerous level. It has failed utterly to provide defences for our 12,000 miles of coastline, either by way of adequate surface combat ships, or naval, military or air bases.
Each of these failures is a critical failure.
I do not think that Government supporters have an effective answer to any of these charges. They have seen fit to say that we are opposing conscription for the Army. The Navy has had no trouble in enlisting the number of men it visualises will meet its requirements. Neither has the Air Force. The Army is the only Service that has fallen down in this respect. Sometimes I wonder just why it has fallen down. As recently as last year 23,000 men sought to be enlisted but of that number only 6,300 were accepted 4,400 being rejected on the grounds only that they lacked suitable educational qualification. I do not know the basis for the rejection of the others; it might have been for medical or other reasons. The point I make is this: Surely the Government should have pursued the issue when 4,400 men were rejected on the basis of lacking the necessary educational qualifications. There has been compulsory education in this country for a long time. It is plain, and it has been reported in the Press, that intelligence tests do not define the highest level of educational qualifications. But surely there are many positions in the Army that could be filled by other than Rhodes scholars, doctors, engineers, lawyers or parliamentarians. Has it ever occurred to the Government that it might pursue this issue further and that many of the 4,400 young men could be trained to take a place in the Army in the following year or in two years’ time. In the last war we found that not all the courageous men came from the ranks of those educated at secondary schools and that not all of them had topped the Scholarship, Intermediate or Matriculation examinations.
On the other hand, there is another avenue to be explored. In Sweden, for instance, military personnel are not utilised for all the Services in the homeland. As a matter of fact, some duties are not performed by any of the Services - .the Navy, the Army or the Air Force. Civilian personnel fulfil certain obligations and occupy certain positions in those Services. That procedure might well have been worthy of consideration by the Commonwealth Government but, almost certainly, the Government did not look at it because it is wedded to the traditional approach. That is the whole position. The Opposition feels that the approach of the Government, apart from the political chicanery associated with this plan being introduced so close to a Senate election, was immature. We certainly believe that the Government should have been seised of a sense of national responsibility and, if it was so wedded to the efficient defence of this country, it should have taken action within the limits of the finances of the nation so as to convey to Australia’s allies that we are making a real endeavour to protect our own territory and fulfil our obligations under the treaties into which we have entered.
There is no reason why the Opposition should not at the present time, not necessarily out of a sense of political antagonism, oppose the statement simply because it was made by the Leader of the Government in the person of the Prime Minister. If we saw fit to agree with it, if in all sincerity and in all truth we thought that it was worth while, and justifiable, and that the Government had used every efficient endeavour over almost 1 5 years of office, no-one would have more readily sided with Government members than members of the Labour Opposition. No party is more Australian in its outlook than the Australian Labour Party. No party has served this country better, in war and peace or in government or Opposition, than the Australian Labour Party and its members have done. It has been unfortunate for this nation and its people that, through as I say’ political tricksterism and political chicanery, the anti-Labour Parties have occupied the treasury bench of this nation for a long time. The Australian Labour Party says that it is basically opposed to conscription for overseas service.
When we think of loose arrangements entered into by the present Government of Australia, we say that we are not opposed to the integration of the territories that constitute the Federation of Malaysia. The Labour Party has repeatedly said that it is in favour of that Federation and it’s preservation. But we on this side believe, and we say we are justified in thinking, that we should know what our obligations are to Malaysia. There is no treaty involved. Whether or not it was the Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who determined that Australian troops should go to Malaysia, the Parliament of this country docs not know. All that we have been told is that our troops are over there. Let me show how interested the members of the Government were in our troops overseas. Until last year when I visited Terendak where a battalion of Australian troops has been stationed for years, no Federal Parliamentarian from the Government side had visited them. That is how interested the Government was in its troops in overseas countries. The Government had sent a battalion there, replaced it, and replaced it again. Terendak is comparatively close to Kuala Lumpur, and only a few miles out of Malacca. But no Government member or Minister, had seen fit to go there until last year. I take it that the journey was finally made only because I saw fit to visit the boys from Australia who were over there serving, as the Government would have us believe, the interests of Australia on distant shores.
The Government says that it has fulfilled its obligation to South Vietnam. The Government had 30 service personnel there. It substantially increased that number to 65. That must be a great effort on the part of Australian servicemen. If the Government thinks that that sort of thing justified a pride in fulfilling its obligations under a particular treaty, then its efforts bring it a peculiar sense of gratification.
When we seek the alleged jusification for the introduction of this defence statement on the eve of an election, we find that the key word used is “ emergency “. We could say “ crisis “. But in what way in the last week or so has the situation, even in South East Asia, changed? Prior to the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia, Dr. Sukarno, the President of the Indonesian Republic, had breathed words of fire and destruction. He had threatened confrontation and subsequent to the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia, he saw fit to embarrass the Federation. Subsequently, he landed troops in Malaysia. But those events did not happen in the last few weeks. Those things have been going on for nearly two years now, apart from the landing of the paratroops in Malaysia.. The position in South Vietnam has been turbulent over the years. So, how in heaven’s name can the Government justify this particular time for introducing such substantial measures? It may think that they will embarrass the Opposition but I suggest to the Government that they could embarrass it at the Senate election on 5th December. But perhaps the Government saw fit to introduce its defence review statement because it thought that the election was so close that it could not be really embarrassed by a full, proper and effective discussion, not on what it proposed, but of what it had failed to do in relation to defence expenditure over its long, continuous period in office.
I think nearly every honorable senator who has spoken in this debate has dealt with the subject of conscription. As I said earlier, let us be under no misapprehension about this matter. It was a desirable word by some in the First World War just as it was a hateful word to others. It was utilised in the Second World War and although Air Vice Marshal Bladin has said that compulsory national service has something of spiritual significance, it is not different from conscription. The names of eligible youths will be drawn out of a barrel and a bullet will be marked for somebody. In the process of time, if war comes, that will be the fate of many, irrespective of whether we have volunteers or conscripts.
What does the Government propose? In 1953, we were said to be living on the edge of an international abyss. The Prime Minister said we should be prepared for war in three years and he said that perhaps that was a liberal estimate. The right honorable gentleman used similar words or manufactured a similar crisis on the eve of the 1958 elections. In 1961, he was so arrogant in his expected assumption of power that he did not enunciate a defence policy but in 1963 he borrowed Labour’s policy. Now, with a Senate election coming up, the Prime Minister sees another crisis developing.
What is the Government’s solution? We shall have two of the Adams class vessels with guided missiles allegedly available next year and one is to follow two years later. We have ordered 100 Mirage fighters but they will not be effective on an operational basis probably until 1970. The TFX bombers were promised for 1967 as an election gimmick last year when the then Minister for Defence, the late Mr. Townley, purchased them in a hurry. He would not even look at the British counterpart. The TFX bombers were promised for 1967 and now we are to get them in 1968 or possibly 1969 but they will not be operational until 1970. We are to get S2E Tracker antisubmarine aircraft. These are twin pistonengined aircraft and are now becoming obsolescent in the U.S.A. They are to be used in a year or in five years time but experts say that the pistonengined type aircraft will be quite out of date.
Then we are to have four Oberon class submarines to be delivered in the process of time. The aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ is to be reconditioned at a cost of £10 million and is supposed to be available at the end of 1968. But knowing the hill-billy approach of the Government, if it retains control of the Treasury bench we can expect that the carrier will not be available until 1969. Fourteen months ago the Minister for the Navy at the time said the vessel would serve us for ten years. Will it suffer the same fate as H.M.A.S. “Hobart”? The Government spend £6 million on it and then a few months later sold it to the Japanese for scrap. We do not know what this Government will do. If it wins the Senate election, the people will not be surprised if the Government scraps parts of its defence programme. That has been its tactics in the past.
What is suggested for the future? Senator Lillico quoted statements by industrial giants and said that industry would not be inconvenienced by the call-up of 4,200 young men in the latter half of next year and 6,900 each year thereafter in the foreseeable future.
– The election will be over if the honorable senator does not look out.
– It will be a success for the Australian Labour Party if I have my way. If we have an opportunity to tell our story to the people and if the Press and radio give us a fair go in the interests of the nation, the election will certainly be over and Labour will demonstrate that it can criticise the Government constructively as it has done in the past. The Government of course will again borrow brilliant ideas from us as it has always done. Is that sufficient answer for the Minister for Civil Aviation?
Senator Lillico said industry would not be inconvenienced. It will not be inconvenienced because the Government is proposing to bring migrants from overseas. They will benefit from the Australian way of life but they will not be obliged to serve in the forces as conscripts. 1 say with all respect that we have approached this issue with the realisation that the defence programme has been delayed by the Government for political purposes in an endeavour to achieve electorial success in the Senate elections on 5 th December. We appeal to the people to look at this issue closely. It is not an obligation on the Australian Labour Party to put forward a policy. It is for the Government to answer for its deeds and its misdeeds. We see this election as an opportuntiy for the people of Australia to register their condemnation of the Government by voting for Labour candidates in each State. We say further that if in the process of time there is Labour control of the Senate for the remainder of this Government’s tenure of office in another place, we will realise that we have an obligation to the country and its people should the Government introduce worthwhile legislation. In that event, Labour will assist the Government as it has done in the past with helpful suggestions such as those it has made prior to every election.
– On 10th November, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) delivered, on behalf of the Government a defence review which was presented in Senate by the Leader of the Government (Senator Paltridge). The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) seeks to add to the motion concerning this review certain words by way of amendment. A multitude of words has flowed in this debate and from them has emerged the main burden of the Australian Labour Party’s submissions. The first proposition is that the defence review is not genuine and that the Prime Minister’s statement on the defence needs of Australia is purely a political stunt designed presumably to gain votes at the Senate election. Very strong words have been used. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) called it a contemptible political stunt ant I think this phrase has been repeated by almost every speaker on the Opposition side.
Let us look at this political stunt. Let us examine this contention that the review is intended as a vote catching stunt. The present proposals would increase the amount of money to be raised by defence purposes in the next three years from £816 million to £1,220 million, an increase of £404 million. Does the Opposition think that the prospects of having to find this amount in taxation or additional liability by way of loan is an electoral bribe? Does the Opposition really think the Australian people will be so thrilled at the prospect of having to pay more in taxes for the defence effort that they will rush to vote for the Government in the Senate election? The Opposition scorns to be horrified that the Government has put a proposition of this kind before the people just prior to the election. I suggest that its disquiet is occasioned by the feeling that the people will approve of the Government’s action and will support the proposals for increased expenditure on defence. Does the Opposition seriously suggest that the defence review and the proposal for increased expenditure on defence should be held over until after the election? Is it suggesting that there is no need for a review? Surely it cannot maintain that proposition, following its own allegations of vast shortcomings in materials and manpower. In my opinion, the Government is doing the right thing by putting the facts of the increased expenditure on defence before the people at this time. It is giving the people an opportunity to express their approval or disapproval at an early date.
The second line of attack in this debate has been against the element of conscription in the call-up of 20-year old youths for service overseas. This also has been described as a political stunt. What sort of a political stunt is it to tell the mothers and fathers of Australian sons that their sons may be required in an emergency to serve overseas? Is this a vote catching measure? Is the Opposition afraid that the
Government is correctly judging the attitude of the Australian people and that they will support the measure? There is, in fact, much evidence to support the view that the Australian Labour Party’s disquiet on this issue is well founded and that it is out of touch with Australian thinking today. I am encouraged to believe that this is so because in late July of this year the Young Country Party in Western Australia carried a resolution, “That the Government institute a system of selective national training”, and put the resolution before the senior conference. The resolution was carried by an overwhelming majority after vigorous debate by the young members who were in favour of it. I say that the action taken by the Government is not a vote catching measure but one which most Australians will accept because they have a better appreciation of the realities of the situation than do honorable members opposite. I submit that this is the time to put such a proposal before the people of Australia, so that they are given an opportunity to accept or reject it. The amendment moved by the Australian Labour Party reads - and opposes the Government’s proposals to conscript Australian youth for service overseas …
Are we to understand from the wording of the amendment that the only objection which the Labour Party has is to conscription for overseas service and that it does not object to conscription for service within Australia? Or is its objection to conscription of a more general nature? Surely the Labour Party does not object to conscription as a principle. It believes in the conscription of workers to trade unions. So it appears that its only objection to conscription is that for overseas service. Are we to understand that the objection to conscription for overseas service is an expression of the Labour Party’s defence policy of withdrawing all defence activities to within our shores and territorial waters and waiting for an enemy to invade before we strike back?
The Opposition has raised various objections to the method of selecting the conscripts under the proposed scheme. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in another place coined some fancy phrases. He spoke about Russian roulette. I notice that the objection to the method of selection has been repeated by several honorable senators in this chamber. Certain churchmen have objected to it. First, I would like to know what is the alternative to this method of selection? A similar method of selection is used by scientists in scientific matters. It is a method of random selection. No one has suggested a better method of carrying out a selection from a group of men. Does the Labour Party at this point of time want to call up all the young men for military service, or is this just some fanciful play upon the word “ lottery “?
– We want voluntary enlistment.
– But the Opposition is making a song about the method of selection. It is joined in its objection to the method of selection by an eminent Methodist clergyman. Senator Dittmer had a sort of objection to naming this gentleman. I have always maintained that a clergyman, of whatever eminence, has every right to express himself on political matters. But when it is observed that this clergyman in particular always comes down on one side of the political fence and that his political bias is always prominent in his pronouncements, he must surely be prepared to be named in a debate such as this. If he criticises the Government, surely he should not object to members of the Government defending the Government’s decision. I have no hesitation in referring to the Reverend Alan Walker, who was quoted in the “Australian” in this connection. He spoke about a lottery barrel. Under the heading “ Boys’ lives will be put in a lottery barrel”, he is reported to have said -
A human lottery is utterly objectionable to the Christian conscience. It suggests life and death are at the mercy of chance.
The Reverend Alan Walker is an eminent clergyman. Let us look at the history of the word “lottery”. It has come down through the language until it has changed, in many connotations, from being a verb to being a noun. We now speak about a suburban lot or allotment. The lot was a method by which Jewish decisions were made. It was the only practical, fair and reasonable way in which to make decisions. Let us turn to Holy Writ, with which I presume the Reverend Alan Walker is familiar. If we look at the book of Numbers, chapter 26, verse 55, we find -
Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot;
Chapter 33, verse 54, says - and ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families.
Then if we read further in the book of Joshua, chapter 18, verse 6 we find -
And ye shall therefore describe the land into seven parts, and bring the description hither to me, that I may pass lots for you here before the Lord our God.
This has come down, not only through the Old Testament but also through the New Testament. I am bringing to the Senate the real derivation and moaning of this word “ lottery “ to which objections have been made by clergymen. We do not need to confine ourselves to the Old Testament. In The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 1, verse’ 26, we read -
And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven Apostles.
This is a time honoured, sensible and practical way of reaching a decision of this sort. It is a method which has been used in the New Zealand system of call-up and it has been used for a very good reason. I could take honorable senators back further, but I think that I have given a fairly good coverage of the meaning of “ lot “.
I was very interested to hear Senator Cooke read an extract from Labour’s defence policy as stated at the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party at Perth. I should like to read portion of it to honorable senators, in case they have forgotten. The rest of it may be read in “ Hansaid “. The Conference stated -
The nation’s defence must be so arranged that the intentions and ability of Australia is clear beyond all doubt to our own people, to our allies and to any potential aggressor.
They are fine words, but in them is inherent the suggestion of defence on our own. Qualifying this paragraph, the next one states something that sounds fine until it is examined -
The development by negotiation of a regional defence system of the United Nations member states within the South East Asian and Indian sub-continental areas for mutual defence, consistent with the requirements of the United Nations Charter and not inconsistent with the general provisions of Australia’s existing defence treaty commitments.
– Fair enough.
– What does it mean? What is the meaning of the expression “ regional defence system of United Nations member states “? Who will be the member states? Let us remember that the Labour Party wants China to be included. What sort of defence arrangements could we get that would be advantageous to Australia in a concept of that sort? Senator Cooke joined with his colleagues in trying to make much of the fact that a large percentage of volunteers, particularly for the Army, were rejected. Most Opposition senators have tried to make much of this. It was stated that 2,800 were accepted out of 11,000 applications. A full analysis of the rejections is available to honorable senators if they want it. Senator Cormack dealt with them fairly completely. He said that 27 were rejected on educational grounds. The rest were rejected for a variety of reasons. The Opposition is trying to make out that the standards are so high that one needs a Leaving Certificate to qualify. The utter nonsense of this was shown by the statement that Senator Cormack read. I suggest to honorable senators opposite that they study the grounds for objection before they continue to suggest this method as an alternative to a limited call-up to maintain the armed services.
Honorable senators opposite cited statistics in support of their argument that there was a continuing increase in the total number of men in the Army, even though we now had a period of full employment. But this use of statistics does not reveal any material point at all. The point at issue is whether the rate of enlistment is sufficient to maintain the Army at the desired strength. Over the past four years enlistments have been -
These figures show that with the fall in unemployment, when men went back to full employment, enlistment in the Army continued to decline.
– Despite improvements in conditions and pay.
– It is obvious why they have declined, despite extensive advertising and, as Senator Wright says, improvements in pay and conditions. The rate of men coming into the forces has continued to decline. To try to prove the opposite by statistics is a dishonest use of statistical material. It is true that there are liars, damned liars and statistics. Any review of defence policy and expenditure must be made not only after full consultation with defence chiefs but also after a careful evaluation of international relationships. To suggest that it is practical politics to have a defence policy that is based on any single factor such as current availability of weapons without regard to the type available in the near future is sheer nonsense. To suggest that we can lay down defence requirements without regard on the one hand to our obligations and on the other to the possible contribution to a given situation of the fact that we have allies displays complete lack of appreciation of the position that Australia is committed as part of the free world. Throughout this debate there has come from the Opposition the urging that Australia should defend herself by herself. Mr. Gray said, to use his own words, that we should put ourselves in a position where we can defend ourselves. He further said -
I have no faith in anybody going to anybody’s aid.
That is pure neutralism and, in the present circumstances, arrant nonsense. Mr. Whitlam, upon his return from his world trip on 12th August, is reported in the “ Herald “ and other newspapers as having called for an independent foreign policy. The people of Australia would like to know what this independent policy is and of whom it would be independent.’ To translate a policy of this sort into the practical reality of defence requirement would entail sacrifices of manpower and resources that would stifle economic growth, would lower our living standards tremendously, and would mean a burden of taxation beyond anything previously dreamed of.
In this debate the Australian Labour Party has gone to the limit in piling up accusations of alleged deficiences in the state of our defences. It is easy to sit back and criticise. What would we have now if Labour had been in power for the last 10 years? We would have no troops in Malaya, we would have no nuclear weapons in the southern hemisphere, we might have a naval communication station at North West Cape following a vote of 17 to 19, and we would have no allies. I contend that a policy having those features would have made it impossible for us to continue with our contractual obligations. I have always been intrigued by the reasoning behind the idea that the absence of nuclear bombs from the southern hemisphere would in some way prevent nuclear bombs landing in this hemisphere. To me that seems just about as sensible as hoping that, by shutting one’s eyes to a crisis, one escapes the danger of accidents.
What would have been the position now if it had been decided eight or ten years ago completely to rc-equip the armed forces with the then available weapons of war to the full limit of our resources and disregarding the economic effects? We cannot disregard the economic effects, because we as a nation of 1 1 million people are charged with the responsibility of developing this continent and we must put the greater part of our economic resources into that task. If we fail in that task, we fail to defend this country. But for the moment let us disregard the economic effects. The result would have been that we would have spent our resources on equipment which now would be either obsolete or obsolescent and we would still have to face an immense programme of re-equipment with more modern arms. Mr. Deputy President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Consideration resumed . from 12th November (vide page 1731).
Clause 4 (Crimes committed overseas).
– Madam Temporary Chairman, this clause was deferred in view of certain suggestions that were made by Senator Murphy. If I interpret the honorable senator’s remarks correctly, he suggested that it should be possible to make some sort of alteration so that Australian members of a force stationed overseas would not be accused of committing a crime against Australian law unless what they did was also considered to be a crime in terms of the law of the country in which they were serving, The Australian Government does not believe that it should alter the provisions of this clause in any way.
Under the provisions of the Bill, a person who is serving in another country under an agreement made between the United Nations and that country and which states that such persons are to be subject to Australian law will not be subject to being charged with or tried for any act unless that act would have been a crime had it been committed in the Australian Capital Territory. It is possible for a person who goes abroad in these circumstances to be subject only to Australian law - I do not mean subject only to Australian trial or trial only in Australian courts, but subject only to Australian law as is the case with members of the police force that is in Cyprus under an agreement made between the United Nations and the Government of Cyprus - or subject only to the law of the country in which he is serving, or subject to both Australian law and the law of the country in which he is serving. I emphasise again that I am talking of the law to which he is subject rather than the courts in which any alleged transgression of that law is tried.
It is believed by the Australian Government that the best conditions which can be applied to Australian citizens who go abroad in circumstances of this kind is to subject them only to their own law and to make them subject to trial only for acts which would be crimes if they had been committed in Australia. We believe that if this arrangement can be negotiated between the United Nations and the country concerned, it would be the best situation in which Australian nationals could, find themselves. There are certain acts for which theoretically Australian nationals might be tried which would be crimes if committed in the Australian .Capital Territory but which would not be crimes in the country in which they find themselves. Theoretically, driving on the right hand side of the road could be a crime. Theoretically, drinking liquor after the prescribed hours of drinking in the A.C.T. could be a crime. I think these objections are more theoretical than real. The Australian Government would not wish its nationals serving abroad not to be considered guilty of a crime if they did things which might be legal in the countries in which they were serving but would not be legal in Australia. I refer, for example, to bigamy or to carnal knowledge of a girl who had not reached an age fixed as the age of consent in Australia. I could cite a number of offences of that nature. The Australian Government would prefer its representatives serving abroad in the United Nations forces not to be relieved com pletely from the obligations of the Australian law, but to be subject to Australian law as far as possible and not to be subject to the law of the country in which they are serving. That is the object of this legislation. The Government therefore does not wish to accept the amendment proposed by Senator Murphy.
.- I do not think that the Minister has offered a satisfactory solution to the problem which arises. We are dealing with a field of general application. The Bill does not purport to deal merely with the situation of our police officers at present in Cyprus. It purports to cover all civilian persons who, from the time this legislation becomes law for the indefinite future, may be serving in a country outside Australia under arrangements made between the Commonwealth and the United Nations Organisation.
Civilians who are serving in a country under arrangements made between Australia and the United Nations will be covered, and that means persons living in that country. It does not mean only members of a disciplinary force. Those persons living in foreign countries ought to observe the oldest of international rules. On the face of it, they ought to be observing the laws of the country in which they are serving and doing as the residents of that country do. They will live with’ them, drive on the roads with them, drink with them, and have all forms of social intercourse with them’. On reflection, it seems to me fantastic that during the whole of their residence in that country - it may be for an indefinitely long period - Australian citizens or British subjects ordinarily resident in Australia who happen to be in that other country will be subject to the law of the Australian Capital Territory and not to the law of the country in which they are present, so the intent that if they do something which is perfectly permissible under the law of the country in which they are present, but which happens to infringe the law of the Australian Capital Territory, they will be committing a crime in greater or lesser degree.
It is no answer to that situation to say that the considerations are theoretical. The Minister says - no doubt upon advice - that a person would be committing an offence even though he were doing something which was perfectly permissible in the place where lie v:is. No-one could think that it is sensible to have a’ law that a person driving on the right hand side of the road in some place where it is perfectly permissible would nevertheless be committing an offence. Yet under the precisely plain terms of this statute he would be committing an offence. If he drinks throughout 24 hours of a day, under this statute he would be committing an offence, but nothing much presumably, would bc done about it. There must come a point when something would be done about an offence. Who is to be able to tell when that point is reached? Who gives the men going overseas the assurance that they will be perfectly all right doing some things and hot when doing other things? It is wrong that any civilian person should be placed in that situation where he will be constantly commiting offences and somebody has to exercise discretion as to whether fac is to be charged with committing those offences. A person in that situation would not know where he was placed. This is no charter to have in a law of general application. There ought to be something clear and definite. A law ought not to be made in a way which is absolutely ludicrous. That is how I would describe this legislation. I have made a suggestion. I am not saying that it is the perfect solution.
– What was your suggestion?
– If it errs, it errs in the direction of the citizen; that is, it ought to be a defence for any person charged that what he was doing was permissible under the laws of the country where he was serving. If something further was intended - that special offences be made - let them bc made, but he should not be left in a completely indefinite situation. I ask honorable senators: Does it not sound wrong that a civilian person resident abroad perhaps for a lengthy period- rit may be years that he is serving in some other country - may be observing the Jaws of that country and necessarily, perhaps daily, breaking the provisions of this Act, because, he would be doing something which is contrary to the laws of the Australian Capital Territory? Obviously, the two sets of law might differ in many respects. Either there ought to be a complete code by which to measure these persons or they ought to be given the benefit, at least, that if what they are doing is permissible under the laws of the country where they are, they should not be committing an offence against this Act. I ask that further consideration be given to this matter. If it is not to be given, the Opposition cannot support this particular clause.
.- I am glad that the Government has given consideration to the arguments of Senator Murphy to the extent that it has. However, after listening to the honorable senator’s observations tonight, I express myself as being unconvinced as to the existence of any great objection to the method of treatment for which provision is made. I understood Senator Murphy to say that the present proposal would apply the law of the Australian Capital Territory insofar as it creates offences, not merely to any person serving in a foreign country - Cyprus or elsewhere - but to any person who is resident there. I do not think that the Bill sustains that interpretation.
– I said “ serving under arrangements made with the United Nations “.
– It applies strictly to a person who is an Australian citizen or a British subject ordinarily resident in Australia who is serving in a country outside Australia under arrangements made between the Commonwealth and the United Nations, but does not include a member of the defence forces. Clause 4(b) of the Bill makes it clear that it is only to a person so serving that the Australian Capital Territory law applies to create an offence.
The second point is that it is suggested that if these people carry with them the benefit of the Australian law, they should be given, for the purposes of a defence, the benefit of the local law of the country in which they are serving. Some criticism was made the other day of the out of date and confused state of the law in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of creating offences. We have to acknowledge that the law of the Australian Capital Territory is out of date and confused. I think that is due partly to the federal system, partly to the autocratic system by which it is made - that is to say, by ordinance instead of act of Parliament - and partly because of its smallness and’, therefore insignificance. Nevertheless, it is a characteristic law for people representing Australia, under arrangements with the United States, to carry with them.
– And the United Nations.
– And the United Nations. 1 suggest that the last point is a matter that we should deal with independently of this Bill. Is it a not valid proposition that these people should carry with them the benefits of Australian law which, under the arrangements made, as the Minister has explained, exempt them from procedures for offences at the instance of the local government?
Is not that a very real benefit, particularly when we have regard to the countries in which the persons concerned may from time to time be serving? In many instances, an Australian citizen would find himself awkwardly placed if he had to defend himself according to the law . of Cyprus and according to the procedures of the courts of Cyprus. If we gave to such a person a clear understanding that the law by which he was to have his conduct judged for the purpose of offences against the law, was the national law of Australia as typified by the Australian Capital Territory law, I should think that he would be under no grave disadvantage or risk of injustice.
The benefit that the person concerned obtains from the local law outweighs <ny possible disadvantage, such as those that have been instanced tonight, flowing from the fact that he may be offending against a law which has significance only in the Australian Capital Territory. If I am drinking at 2 o’clock in the morning in a hotel in Cyprus, I do not think anybody is going to hijack me back to the Australian Capital Territory to say that I have committed an offence by drinking after 6 o’clock. That might by a local law, but I would not have occasion to know it. I have risen in the hope that a little discussion might bring about agreement in the chamber, because I think that the Bill is a fairly reasonable proposition.
– To answer the points made by Senator Wright, I say that there is no doubt that this provision applies only to persons - Australian citizens or British subjects ordinarily resident in Australia - who. are serving in countries outside Australia under arrangements made between Australia and the United Nations. I read the relevant provision originally. The point of the objection which we are making to this measure is that persons will be living in an unreal situation. That is one thing. They will be living in other countries in the artificial atmosphere that they will be constantly committing offences against the law of Australia, as embodied in this enactment, because of differences in the law. Necessarily, there will be differences between that law and the law of the country where they are serving. It is no answer to select examples, such as of a person drinking after hours, and to say: “ Very well. The person is not likely to be prosecuted “. There will be a multitude of offences which the civilian will be committing.
It is disturbing to hear Senator Wright speak in this chamber and treat as being of no great consequence the enactment of a state of law under which persons will be committing offences, and the answer: “ Well, nobody would prosecute them for that type of thing”.
– That is the kind of situation which is occurring in the diplomatic sphere every day;
– This is a completely different situation. In the diplomatic sphere it is not a matter of persons being prosecuted or not being prosecuted according to the discretion of someone or other. There are well known rules of diplomatic immunity under which a person who has such immunity cannot be prosecuted at all in the country where he is serving. There is no doubt that under the type of arrangement which would be made by the United Nations and Australia, if it followed the present arrangement, a person would not be subject to the criminal jurisdiction of the courts of the place in which he was serving. So, all we have to do is to consider the actual law that is to be. applicable. In what circumstances will such a person be committing offences?
It seems an extraordinary situation that persons will be resident in a country, observing the laws of that country to the letter, and yet committing offences because what they happen to. be doing when measured against the laws of the Australian Capital Territory are offences. That is wrong, and it is no answer to say: “Even though they are commiting offences perhaps daily, they are not likely to be tried.” The Minister said that even to drive on the correct side of the road in another country, if it happened to be contrary to the Australian Capital Territory law, would be to commit an offence. .
– I took the minor offence of drinking after hours in the absence of more serious offences which the honorable senator could instance.
– The Minister mentioned the offence-
– Of bigamy.
– Yet, but let us take the offence of carnal knowledge. Suppose that the age of consent was 154- years in a particular country. Would the honorable senator say that a person would commit a grave offence because the laws of the A usual ian Capital Territory happened to be different? There must be a multitude of such instances which could be given. I have not bothered to go through the statute books, it is said by learned professors of law, by Mr. Justice Joske and by others, that the law in the Australian Capital Territory is in u terrible mess.
– I dealt wilh that.
– Yes, that is so. When this Bill becomes law, people will be going overseas, serving in other countries and doing things there which are perfectly permissible in those countries, but quite unknowingly, because no-one can advise them on what the law is in the Australian Capital Territory, they will be committing offences against the law. That is not right. If there is a means of correcting the position, even though it errs in the direction of the civilian persons concerned, we ought to adopt it. Until a proper code is fashioned we ought to err in the direction of persons who may be charged with offences. 1 suggest that it would be a simple solution if it were provided that persons were not committing an offence against this Act if what they were doing was perfectly permissible according to the laws of the counttries in which they were serving. If such provision cannot be made now, I suggest that further consideration be given to the matter with the possibility of an amendment in the future in order that a proper code might be designed. I am satisfied that this is not a proper law to be applied to these persons. It is not satisfactory that the Senate has not been informed of what has been done by other countries which have entered into similar arrangements. Canada, the United States, New Zealand and other coun tries have arrangements with the United Nations. What specific provisions have they made applicable to their own nationals resident in other countries? I should like to be informed of the specific provisions. Sometimes these things are clouded over by discussions about the jurisdiction of the courts. The Senate has not been informed in any way of the arrangements that have been made. The precedent for the application of clause 4 is merely that it was used in relation to the Crimes (Aircraft) Bill. The application there, as was said in the second reading speech of the Minister, was completely different from that which applies here.
– I have listened with great interest to Senator Murphy and Senator Wright. I am bound to say that I find myself in almost complete agreement with the argument put forward by Senator Wright and in disagreement with the argument put forward by Senator Murphy.
– I thought that would be the case.
– That may be so, but it seems to me that in this case 90 per. cent, of the logic - it is rarely that you get 100 per cent., of the logic on one side - rests with Senate Wright. Senator Murphy said that in his opinion the Australian Capital Territory laws need reforming. Per-? haps they do. If they are reformed, they will be the laws which will apply to these persons. At the moment, the present Australian Capital Territory laws apply to Australian citizens abroad. If they are reformed, the reformed laws will apply.
The real question is: If it is possible, should Australians who go abroad in the circumstances outlined in the Bill be protected by Australian law and be subject to Australian law? Senator Murphy asked: “ Who can explain to these Australians who go abroad what the law of the Australian Capital Territory is? “ Who can explain to them when they go to another country what the law of the particular country is? Are they not far more likely to understand the law of the country in which they grew up than the law of some country -to which they have gone? Furthermore, it is not ‘only a question of Australian representatives, for such they are, living under the protection of Australian law abroad and doing something which is an infringement of some local criminal law, compared with a local citizen? There will be other Australians there; and there will also be Britishers, Canadians and New Zealanders. If two Australians happen to be living in a country where something which is a crime in Australia is not a crime in that country, are we to say that if one Australian wrongs the other Australian in that country he is not to be subject to the Australian law on the matter? This is not a matter only between Australians and the people of the country in which they live.
In the Government’s view the Bill gives the best possible protection that could be achieved for Australians who are serving abroad with the United Nations under an agreement negotiated between the United Nations and the country in which they are serving. Assume that somebody in the Senate put the proposition: Do you want an Australian who goes abroad to be subject to the laws of the country to which he is to go and also to Australian laws, or do you want him to be subject only to Australian laws with the protection and the penalties of Australian laws? I believe that most of us would say that the best thing for an Australian in those circumstances would be for him to be subject to the laws he knew and to have the protection of the laws he knew. That is the sort of agreement we want the United Nations to negotiate with a country in which our people are serving.
But this Bill does not insist on this. It provides for the United Nations to negotiate an agreement with some foreign country. Then the Commonwealth can either agree or disagree to send its people to the country in accordance with the agreement that has been negotiated between the United Nations and the country. Clause 4(b) indicates that the United Nations might make an agreement with another country under which people from Australia, New Zealand, Canada or elsewhere might be subject to proceedings in the courts of that country. If the United Nations did make such an agreement, it would be up to the Commonwealth to decide whether or not it would send Australians to that country under those circumstances. It would require much more thought to send Australians under those circumstances than it would to send them under circumstances where they were subject only to Australian laws and had the protection of Australian laws.
As I said when I spoke before, I admit that somebody driving on the right hand side of the road in, say, America might theoretically be committing an offence. But is it really seriously held by anybody in this Senate that such a man would be brought back to Australia and charged with a traffic offence because in the Australian Capital Territory people drive on the left hand side of the road? I suggest that to say that would be carrying theory far into the realm of fantasy. It seems to me that every country which has its troops abroad - this. Bill, of course, does not apply to troops; it applies to civilians - tries as far as it is possible to make sure that its troops are subject only to the law of the country from which they come, and are not fully subject to the laws of the country to which they go.
I cannot answer in detail the request of Senator Murphy for information about what other countries have done. We know that in this instance New Zealand is doing precisely the same as we are doing. We know that during the last war, for instance, when American troops came to Australia at Australia’s request, the Americans insisted that the troops be subject only to American law and to the protection of American law. This Bill applies, of course, to areas other than Cyprus, but the same pattern will be followed. The United Nations has negotiated an agreement with Cyprus as well as with Australia, New Zealand and, I believe, other countries. It required this protection if it is possible to achieve it. Since it has been possible to achieve it, we would not wish to retreat from the protection and have Australian citizens abroad not subject to Australian law, or not subject to its protection.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed Clause 5 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 12th November (vide page 1733), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr. Deputy President, this is a Bill to raise moneys to purchase aircraft for the purposes of Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. and the Australian National Airlines Commission. The amount of the loan to be raised is some 30 million dollars American which is £13.4 million Australian. The Opposition, of course, approves of Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines acquiring such aircraft as they need. We on this side of the chamber are proud of the fact that these airlines - one international and one national - are sturdy and are proving the value of public enterprise. In their own way, they arc a demonstration of successful Socialism. It is because of the success of ventures of this type, and because these enterprises are held dear by the people of this country that the Menzies Government would not dare to sell them, as it and its predecessors have sold other public enterprises.
There is little doubt from what is said from time to time that the Government is not altogether pleased with the fact that it has to assist, control and supervise these forms of public enterprise, but it is stuck with them because the Australian people are insistent that these endeavours will continue. So much is the Government stuck with them that it must even do something to see that they prosper for fear of the wrath that would otherwise descend upon it, and rightly so.
There have been objections raised to this Bill by the Australian Labour Party. In another place, significant objections were made on the subject of the Government borrowing in this manner by the honorable members for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), Scullin (Mr. Peters) and Reid (Mr. Uren). The Opposition elsewhere and in this Senate is of the view that this Bill ought to be supported but that this support should be qualified in the way which appears in the amendment that I now move to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time. The amendment reads -
That the following words be added to the motion - “ but the Senate is of opinion that the financing of the purchase of aircraft by the Australian National Airlines Commission and Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. should be met from revenue and not from a loan raised overseas “.
What is the position of Australia? This Commonwealth enters into the agreements which are set out in this Bill. One will see in the Schedule to the Bill the nature of the agreement which this Commonwealth of Australia has entered into with the banks named in the agreement and also the Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. of New York. When one looks at the terms of agreement, one sees the indignity to which this Government has subjected the Commonwealth of Australia. The Commonwealth of Australia has entered into an agreement with the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York, the Chase Manhattan Bank, the Bankers Trust Company, the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago, and the American Security and Trust Company to borrow this money.
– Are those companies of ill fame?
– No, they are not companies of ill fame, if one looks at them from the point of view of their credit. There are other points of view from which they might perhaps be regarded as of ill fame. But that does not relate to their credit in the commercial community. The rate of interest which is provided for in the agreement is approximately 5 per cent. The interesting position is that Australia has at the moment a great overseas reserve of the order of £850 million. Yet here we are going into the international loan market to borrow a paltry £13.4 million. For that loan we are paying interest at the rate of approximately 5 per cent., yet Australia has bonds and other securities in the United States of America under which money is payable to us on which we are receiving interest of approximately 4 per cent. So, looked at from the point of view of business dealings, this is not a very satisfactory arrangement. That is the monetary side of this agreement.
When one turns to the other matters set forth in the agreement, one. sees, in section 6 of the schedule that -
The Commonwealth represents, warrants and agrees that the principal of and interest on all the Notes will be free of all present or future taxes imposed by the Commonwealth . . . except to some extent where persons in Australia or in its Territories receive the interest. Section 7 of the Agreement is in terms which would offend the dignity of any person who would love his own country. The section reads -
The Commonwealth represents and warrants that there has been no material adverse change in the financial, economic or political conditions of the Commonwealth from the conditions set forth in the Prospectus dated April 10, 1963 relating to the Commonwealth’s Twenty Year 5 per cent. Bonds Due April 1, 1983.
Section 8 reads -
The Commonwealth represents and warrants that the proceeds of the Interim Loans and Term Loans will be made available to TAA and Qantas to assist them in financing the purchase of Boeing 727 and 707 jet aircraft manufactured in the United States and related equipment and spares, and for no other purpose. The Commonwealth also represents and warrants that not less than 85 per cent, of the proceeds of the Interim Loans and Term Loans is to be used for the purchase of property manufactured in the United States. Upon request of the Agent the Commonwealth agrees to furnish the Agent invoices or other supporting documents as necessary to establish such use of such proceeds.
This is not consistent with the dignity of this nation. This is the kind of agreement that a poor broken down individual signs when he goes along to a pawnbroker. He has then to make warranties, representations and promises in this fashion. This is the kind of agreement another citizen might have to sign when he takes out a hire purchase agreement. But it is not the kind of agreement that the Commonwealth of Australia should be signing through the agency of this Government in an agreement with these banking firms. We deplore the Commonwealth of Australia making such representations in order to borrow a paltry £13.4 million. It has some £850 million in overseas reserves, yet the Commonwealth of Australia is to go along to the Morgan Guaranty Tru& Co. of New York and the other companies and enter into this agreement. The people ‘ in charge of these negotiations are prepared to allow the Commonwealth to commit the indignity of having its signature put to this document which states in part -
The Commonwealth represents and warrants that there has been no material adverse change in the financial, economic or political conditions of the Commonwealth from’ the conditions set forth ….
Is there any honorable senator who is prepared to say other than that is an indignity and that the Commonwealth should decline to have its name and signature appended to documents with that sort of condition in it? That is not what a sovereign nation should sign. We are a nation in control of one of the continents of this earth. Yet the Government is prepared to go to five or six private bankers in the U.S.A. and sign this sort of document. It is prepared to promise - it “represents and warrants” - this sort of thing. Such conditions might well be put by the Commonwealth Bank to some private citizen but imagine the Commonwealth of Australia putting itself to that indignity. It has to warrant that the proceeds of the loan are not to be used for anything else. It is like a person representing that he is not borrowing money for false pretences; It is like a person saying: “ I am borrowing this from you. I represent that the cheque will be all right and I will use the money for this purpose or that purpose.” But imagine the Commonwealth Government borrowing £13.4 million from private bankers and entering into terms such as this.
– Where would the Commonwealth get this other than from private bankers in New York?
– The first point is: Should the Commonwealth sign a document like this? Why should the Commonwealth have to seek money at the hands of private bankers who can say that unless we crawl on our knees right up Broadway and through the door into the bank, they will not give us the money until we have signed a document of this sort? The Commonwealth Government should be prepared to say that it will not sign such a document and that it will go somewhere else. Why should the Commonwealth be submitted to an indignity such as appears in this document? Now I will answer Senator Wright’s question. The Commonwealth Government has great fund’s to a total of some £850 million in overseas reserves.
– They are not for uses such as this.
– The honorable senator has said that those funds are not for uses such as this, but that is not the answer the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) gave in the other House. He did not say we could not get the money from other sources or that we could not raise it. His answer was: “ You should go cap in hand and borrow because the time might come when you will not be able to get any credit when you want it.” It is like a man with a credit card. He borrows money for the day will come when the man who previously borrowed will be the only one able to get credit. The other persons who have not needed to borrow before because they could pay their debts will not be able to borrow in time of crisis because the lender will say to them: “ I do not know you. Show me your credit record.” The man who wants to borrow replies: “ I have not got one because I have not needed to borrow before.” Then he is turned away.
Is this the type of consideration that should be applied to our sovereign nation? Does it have to go running to the private bankers to borrow money because if it does not do so, it might be refused some day when the bankers will say: “You did not come to us before and let us make our interest out of you “? What an approach by a sovereign nation. Is this the way Australia is to become great? With its 11 million people, is Australia to become great by crawling to the bankers in New York or racing somewhere else to borrow guilders from Holland or francs from Switzerland as we have been doing? Are we to go racing around the world borrowing in bits and pieces, dribs and drabs, and building up debts all around the world? This is not the way to do it if there is any other possible way and it is not denied by the Government that Senator Wright supports that there is another way to do it.
– It is not by any false and conceited ideas of greatness that this country will become great.
– -We will never make this country great if the sort of idea Senator Wright is putting forth is to hold sway. Australia will not become great while men of little minds are controlling Australia as they do today. This country will become great when persons of broader outlook and persons with faith in their own country and able to give it inspiration get into power as they undoubtedly will.
– Is there any part of section 9 (c) of the Schedule entailing indignity? It states -
All legal matters relating to each loan hereunder and the Notes shall be satisfactory to counsel for Banks . . . and to such Australian counsel as they may consult.
– I suppose Senator Wright considers it a joke. These matters are a joke and will become a joke and I suppose that is how Australia is treated in the banks of New York - with great hilarity. It must be hilarious for them to think that a country would crawl on its knees up the marble steps of the bank and lick the boots of the gentlemen who sit behind the great chairs and say: “ What have we to promise? Tell us to what we have to consent? We will promise. We will warrant. We will drag our country’s dignity down in the mire if only you will give us dollars.” This country has money available and it is not denied. It has resources. Its overseas trade balances are at the tremendous height of £850 million. There are moneys available which should be used to finance this transaction and it is not denied.
– To the detriment of what? You would have to take it from somewhere else.
– We have investments ourselves. We have investments in dollars earning us 4 per cent, which could be made available for this purpose. We are going to pay 5 per cent, on this loan. We have tremendous resources and we ought to be using them. The credit of this nation should be made available for such a purchase. Why should we not be straining our own resources to do these things rather than run around the world borrowing money? How can it be advantageous to Australia to borrow money from dollar sources and then have to meet the repayments? The reckoning is still to come. You cannot say that you can borrow and forget about tomorrow. We are borrowing dollars unnecessarily. We ought to be using our own resources and our own credit when we are borrowing a paltry £13.4 million. This is a paltry amount when one looks at the national income of Australia.
– It is often good business to borrow.
– It is often good business for the lender and that is why the great banks are in the position they are in today. The great Commonwealth of Australia is going to the U.S.A. to borrow from private bankers and I suppose that establishes the old rule. Although Senator Wright may consider it good business to borrow, history seems to establish that it is much better business to lend at rates of interest. That raises other questions of the economy in this country. We are doing things by way of borrowing money and by manipulations of our balance of trade which must inevitably bring disaster to Australia. This is not merely the view of the A.L.P. and those living in this 20th century who support it. There are others in the Government who also live in terms of the 20th century and one of these is the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) who often has adverted to the facts of life in relation to our overseas balance of trade and what we are doing to ourselves by these measures. We are using our resources in such a way as to create problems for us in the future. Our balance of trade position is affected by the amount of foreign money that the Government allows to be invested in Australia. It is being invested to such a degree that a great number of our primary and secondary industries are in pawn to foreigners. It means that ever increasing amounts of money are flowing out of this country by way of dividends. We also have ever increasing amounts of money flowing out of the country by way of shipping freights and insurance. This creates problems with which we are confronted at the present time. It has been estimated that the amount of money which goes out of the country by way of shipping freights and insurance amounts to several hundred million pounds a year.
The Government has to fossick round to borrow moneys from here, there and everywhere. If we were to do with our shipping what we are doing with our international airlines, we would go a long way towards solving many of the problems in Australia. It would mean that we would not have to turn round and borrow moneys as we are doing at the present time. Why do we not have, a shipping line in the same way as we have Qantas Empire Airways Limited?
– What has that (o do with the Bill?
– It has much to do with the Bill. If the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) cares to turn to the .arguments which were addressed to the Bill in another place by the people who were responsible for it, as well as those who opposed it, he would find it is very close to the problem. I refer to Australia’s position qua with other countries, Australia’s economy and its balance of trade position qua with other countries, and the funds available to Australia for purposes such as the one envisaged in the Bill. We are being forced into the economic narrows because of the prodigality of the Government. There is its failure to protect Australian industry from takeovers; and its failure to face up to the effect of Australia’s balance of trade of the moneys which are spent on shipping freights, on insurance and on the other increasing dividends which go overseas to service the capital which has flowed into Australia in recent years. The Opposition says that we ought to stand on our own feet in this matter. If we need to raise moneys for the purpose envisaged in the Bill, we ought to raise it in Australia. We ought to live within our own means. We certainly ought not to allow ourselves to be subject to bleeding in the shipping sphere, as we have been for a long time.
I suppose that no-one has more eloquently expressed what is happening to Australia in this respect than has Mr. Uren in another place who stated that “ we are being bled white by the overseas monopoly shipping lines “. I notice that honorable senators on the Government benches are keeping relatively quiet because they know that is the truth. It is no satisfaction to any Australian patriot that this state of affairs should continue. We say that Qantas and TransAustralia Airlines should have the money. It is a pity that the Government has not directed its energies to enabling a considerable aircraft building industry to be developed in this country, as has been developed in small countries, such as Sweden. Its failure in that respect means that we have to purchase aircraft from overseas. Its failure to deal with our international reserves in a proper manner means that it has to go to the extent of borrowing even paltry sums, .such as the amount envisaged in the Bill, from overseas. These failures are bad but worse is what the Government does to Australia’s dignity by the terms on which it enters into agreements. This Government by this Bill is guilty of not only injuring Australia’s economy, but also of injuring Australia’s dignity. I commend the amendment to honorable senators.
.- The first thing that I can say with a great deal of certainty is that the speech which we have just heard has not come from the lips of a future Labour Treasurer. I have heard some ineffective economic theses, and this is really as ineffective as any I have heard. The point that the honorable senator missed is that our dollar reserves are on short term loans at 4 per cent, interest. They have to be used. Is anyone going to ask Qantas Empire Airways Limited to repay this money on a short term basis? Of course not. Qantas wants time in which to earn the dollars to repay its loans. It is earning dollars, because it is the greatest international airline in the world. It has been built up by this Government.
Senator Murphy referred to the establishment of an aircraft industry in Australia. He spoke about the aircraft industry in Sweden. Australia has an overseas airline, which is earning money. What Swedish overseas airline compares with Qantas? The honorable senator also referred to our overseas reserves of £860 million. This record amount is due largely to our exports.
– To selling Australian industries overseas.
– The amount of our overseas reserves is due to the export of Australian products.
– What nonsense.
– Of course it is. The reason why we have overseas reserves is that in a significant year of drought, when our exports of primary products disappear, we shall have to use overseas reserves in order to exist, not to buy on a long term basis aircraft with which we can earn dollars and repay loans as we go.
– That is normal business procedure.
– It is normal business transaction. Senator Murphy referred to the rate of interest. We are getting this loan at 5 per cent, interest, and it runs for seven years. During that time we will be able to earn dollars. We will be able to pay off the loan and Qantas will own the aircraft. It is going to have a great fleet of Boeing 707 aircraft. Senator Murphy commenced his speech by referring to the fact that we are also borrowing on behalf of Trans-Australia Airlines. He said, I think, that we would love to sell T.A.A., and we are always very uncomfortable about the fact that we have to live with it. Senator Ormonde is interjecting. He was not present at the time. If he had been here, he would have had quite a laugh at Senator Murphy’s remarks. The fact is that this Government has a policy which really upsets the Opposition. This policy, which is applauded by the people of this nation, is for two competitive, airlines, one government owned and one owned by private enterprise. This gives the greatest service at the lowest price of any system in the world. Nobody can say that this is not good business. This is what the people of Australia like. We are borrowing 30 million dollars for a special purpose. T.A.A. and Qantas, from their earnings over seven years, will pay back the loan, as they have always paid back loans. This is no new policy. This is how the great fleet pf Boeing 707!s has been built up. This is how the assets of Qantas have been built up- by borrowing money, purchasing with it magnificent, modern aircraft, using them to make money out of the transport of passengers all over the world, and applying the money to pay back the loans.
The honorable senator talks about the indignity that Australia has to undergo to sign on behalf of the two trading organisations. We are accepting the normal terms which have always been extended to any borrower - it does not matter what it is - which goes into the international market in New York. We are borrowing for a particular purpose. The honorable senator says that we should use loans raised in Australia. He ought to talk first to State Premiers. The Australian Loan Council, which consists of the six State Premiers and Commonwealth representatives, endeavours to raise the maximum amount of loan money for expenditure by the States on their development. The honorable senator wants some of that money, because only a certain amount can be raised in Australia, to be taken from the States and given to Qantas and T.A.A. to spend.
– What about new money?
– We borrow every bit of new money that we can get for the Loan Council every year. The honorable senator need not worry about that. The States and the Commonwealth borrow all the money that they can get for Government purposes. The honorable senator suggests that we should not give to the States some of the money they want for development, schools, roads and many other things. The States always want more money. He wants to take from the States money that Qantas and T.A.A. can borrow elsewhere, paying it back to the lenders with money they get from international air travellers. This is good business. This is how this enormous industry of Qantas has been built up. Its assets are owned completely by the Australian people and amount, I think, to about £50 million. The airline is owned completely by the people and this is how it has been built up by this Government into a magnificent service.
The honorable senator talks about the indignity of borrowing money overseas. What an indignity it would be if we were to say to State Premiers: “You cannot have money for hospitals, schools, for this and for that, because we are going to give it to Qantas “. They would say, “ But Qantas can borrow it elsewhere “, and we would reply: “ Oh, it is undignified to borrow it elsewhere. We must not do that. We must take it from the States.” The honorable senator has been talking complete nonsense. I have never heard such rubbish.
The purposes of the loan, set out clearly in the Bill, are to enable additional aircraft to be purchased for the use of Qantas and T.A.A. in further developing the magnificent international and domestic air services that we have. No-one can suggest that we should borrow this money on the already short loan market in Australia. We could not do that without robbing somebody else. Nobody would suggest that we should take this money from our international reserves, which might be needed at any moment, as we have seen in past years when there have been unfavorable seasons. Nobody would suggest that we should obtain from these sources money on long term to purchase aircraft which can earn money to repay loans on the due date as they have always been repaid.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I should like to refer to one matter, namely, the borrowing of these moneys. The Minister for Civil Aviation ,(Senator Henty) said earlier that the money was to be borrowed from the sources from which money had been procured on other (Occasions because otherwise the Australian , loan market would be affected. As I understand it, the argument runs that if one were ;to endeavour to raise loan moneys in Australia this would hurt the States. In fact, :’t said that this would be robbing the States.
– To what clause is the honorable senator referring?
– I refer to clauses 3 and 4. The question is whether the bill ;should include such a reference as is in clause 3 to “ lenders in the United States of America” rather than to “lenders in the Commonwealth of Australia “. As I understand it, the Minister argues that if these moneys were to be raised in Australia rather than in America, some detriment would be suffered by the States. This is fallacious. The Commonwealth is in control of the Australian Loan Council. If it likes, it can raise the limits for borrowing. It says it will not do so, because if more money were to be raised in Australia the States would be affected in their public works activities. How gullible does the Minister except honorable senators and the Australian public to be? This is a government which has sat back and done nothing at all to utilise its powers in relation to the great hire purchase institutions, nothing in relation to people such as the Reid Murray group, and others who, for innocent or other purposes, are allowed to raise as much money in this country as they like.
The Commonwealth puts a clamp upon the activities of the States and its own instrumentalities. It imposes a clamp, not pursuant to any law, but as the result of a gentlemen’s agreement; upon the local government authorities and says that they are not to borrow more than a certain amount. Yet anybody in the community can go out with impunity and raise millions or tens of millions of pounds. In recent years people have done that to the detriment of the Australian community. But this Government says that for the Commonwealth to as for £13.4 million from the people of Australia would be robbing the States. If the loan situation in Australia is as tight as is suggested and if the Government is concerned about the position of the States, why has it not explored its powers over hire purchase finance? Why has the Government not used’ the many avenues that are open to it to curb private loans to enable the States and the Commonwealth to raise the moneys they need? I suggest that the proposition which has been advanced and which goes to the kernel of the Bill is entirely without substance.
– Having listened to the remarks of the honorable senator, I again find him to be quite unsound - this time in regard to economic matters. He has spoken about people borrowing money on the Australian market. Let me remind him that they do not get that money at an interest rate of 5 per cent. The money that will be raised under this Bill will attract an interest rate of 5 per cent. We will be able to pay it back out of the profits that are made by the Qantas organisation and the Australian National Airlines Commission. I say quite frankly that, if a further sum of £13.4 million is to be raised in Australia, I should like it to be raised by the State Governments so they may get on with the development of Australia. If we can borrow these funds for the airlines from the money that is spent by international travellers and can pay it back, then it is an exceedingly good deal for Australia, and I am all for it.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a third time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - I have received the following message from Mr. Speaker -
Dear Mr. Deputy President,
It was with pleasure that I received today your letter of 13th November in which reference was made to my term of office as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
I should be grateful if you would convey to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Shane Paltridge and the Leader of the Opposition, Senator N. E. McKenna, my appreciation for their very kind remarks. To you too, Mr. Deputy President, my warm thanks for your personal congratulations.
Sitting suspended from 11.25 to 12 midnight.
Debate resumed from 13th November (vide page 1745), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) said in his second reading speech, the purpose of this Bill is to amend the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1964. We shall be dealing later with the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 4) 1964 and the Excise Tariff Bill 1964. Tariff Proposal No. 19 and Excise Tariff Proposal No. 1 were tabled on 1 1 th August last and give effect to the Government’s decisions on matters arising out of the Budget.
In the course of his Budget Speech, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that the rates of customs and excise duties on cigars and cigarettes would be increased by 5s. 3d. per lb. and that the rate applicable to manufactured tobacco would be increased by 2s. per lb. The increased rates, which came into force on and from 11th August last.
Are broadly equivalent to an increase of 3d. for a king size packet of 20 cigarettes or a packet of 2 ozs. of tobacco. According to the Treasurer’s Budget Speech, the additional revenue is estimated at about £14,100,000 in a full year, and at £12,500,000 in the ten months of the present financial year. This is a substantial amount. Whilst the Opposition does not oppose the Bill, I must point out on behalf of the Opposition that the increases represent quite a slug to those who regard smoking as a pleasure. 1 do not know whether a survey has ever been taken of the number of people who smoke or of the amount of tobacco consumed annually. In the fiscal year 1961-62, according to the official “ Year Book “, the value of retail sales of tobacco in Australia was of the order of £126 million. Excise revenue for the same financial year amounted to £11,898,000 from tobacco, £67,488,000 from cigars and cigarettes and £640.000 from cigarette papers, a total of £80,026,000. The total quantity of tobacco in round figures on which this amount of excise duty was paid was 12,980,668 lb.; in the case of cigars, the weight upon which excise duty was paid was 156,871 lb. and for cigarettes it was 42,322,473 lb. According to my mathematics, the combined weight of tobacco, cigars and cigarettes upon which excise duty was collected is the rather staggering amount of about 24,760 tons. The total of net collections of customs and excise duties in 1961-62, both Commonwealth and State, was about £350 million, or £33 ls. 6d. a head of population.
From the figures I have quoted it will be seen that Australians are substantial users of tobacco and related products and that these proposals, which emanated from the Budget, affect a great number of people. Therefore the increases could well be dis.cribed as sectional, being imposed on a large number of Australians, lt is interesting to observe in this regard that whilst the Treasurer said in his Budget Speech that the proposals would result in an increase of 3d. in the price of a king size packet of cigarettes, consumers of cigarettes are in fact paying an increase of 4d. a packet. Prior to the last Budget a king size packet of cigarettes cost the consumer 3s. 3d. Now it costs him 3s. 7d. It seems to me to be fair to ask who is getting the increased price of Id. a packet above the increase of 3d. attributable to customs and excise duties.
Tariff Proposal No. 19 is of great significance. Indeed, it is one of the most significant indirect taxation measures to stem from the last Budget. An indirect tax is a tax paid by people in proportion to the amount they spend on a particular commodity, without regard to their overall capacity to pay. It is this type of indirect tax which normally the Labour Party could be expected to oppose. However, the Opposition does not oppose this measure because it is thought that the increased duty might induce some smokers to abandon the habit or might cause some members of the younger generation in the community not to take up the habit of smoking. I doubt very much that this will be the result, but the Government has done nothing else to induce people not to smoke. Because some members of the younger generation in particular may be influenced not to adopt the habit of smoking, the Opposition does not oppose the measure.
The abolition of duty on cathode ray tubes is another result of the Budget. This duty was imposed to help pay the costs of the national television service, but is to be abandoned. In its stead, through a provision contained in the last Budget, the Government has decided upon an increase of £1 in a television viewer’s licence fee. According to the Treasurer, the additional revenue expected in 1964-65 from the increase in fees is £1,725,000, an amount approximately equal to the loss in excise revenue from cathode ray tubes. I repeat that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill. My remarks have been made by way of comment.
– in reply - I thank the honorable senator for his remarks and for his advice that the Opposition does not oppose this Bill and the Bills which are supplementary to it. His references to smoking reminded me of a saying of, I think, Mark Twain. He said that it was easy to give up smoking and that he had done it a thousand times. I have no other comment to make on the suggestion that members of the younger generation may be dissuaded from taking up smoking. The important thing is that this is a revenue proposal.
– lt is not a health proposal.
– That is true; 1 am pleased to learn that the Opposition supports the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 13 th November (vide page 1745), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 13th November (vide page 1745), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– The debate was adjourned to enable me to conclude remarks concerning grants for homes which I had been making in the Senate on an earlier occasion. Last week, I endeavoured to deal with the question of the wholesale rejection of applications for grants, on the basis of regulations or orders put out by the Department of Housing. In my opinion the rejections were not in accordance with the Homes Savings Grant Act. On that occasion, the Minister representing the Minister for Housing was not in the chamber, but it was stated subsequently that he was notified of my comments. I was informed that the matters I had raised would be referred to the Department and that I probably would receive a reply. I have not yet received a reply. I notice that on this occasion the Minister representing the Minister for Housing again is not in the chamber, although he was notified of my intention to speak on this subject when the debate on the Excise Tariff Bill was resumed. It is regrettable that answers have not been supplied to the questions 1 have asked, because the matter is of great concern to applicants for home savings grants.
I shall endeavour tonight to deal in the main with the position of applicants for grants whose applications have been rejected by the Department, in my opinion contrary to the Act. During the second reading debate on the Homes Savings Grant Bill it was agreed that in South Australia only houses constructed by the South Australian Housing Trust and sold on a deposit of £50 would be excluded from the provisions of the Act, since those homes were constructed from Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement money. However, we now find that that is not so. We do not condemn the Act on this ground, but we say that attempts have been made in South Australia, by means of falsehoods, to make political propaganda from its provisions.
During the second reading debate on the Homes Savings Grant Bill, Senator Bishop referred to a statement which appeared in the Adelaide “News” on 7th May 1964, attributed to Mr. Cartledge, the Chairman of the South Australian Housing Trust. It was as follows -
South Australian Housing Trust homes offered for sale are not excluded from the Federal Government’s housing subsidy.. All homes built by the trust under its house sales schemes qualify for the subsidy, with the exception of those sold under the £50 deposit scheme.
According to the report, Mr. Cartledge went on to say -
This is a great victory for South Australia . . . This has been brought about by strong representations to the Prime Minister by the Premier, Sir Thomas Playford.
It was stated on the following day in the newspapers that the Premier had said that the grant would be applicable to all homes in South Australia other than Housing Trust homes sold on a £50 deposit, and that this was a result of his strong representations to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on the matter. On investigation, it is found that the grant is not applicable to a large number of homes built by the South Australian Housing Trust. The Premier has sought to make great political capital from his achievements in South Australia in this respect, but in fact he has achieved nothing.
I have been informed by Mrs. Masters, who is secretary to the manager of the South Australian Housing Trust, that the timber framed houses at Elizabeth, which have been built under CommonwealthState grants, are sold, not” on a deposit of £50, but on the normal deposit applying in the housing market at the present time. I asked Mrs. Masters what benefits the purchasers of such houses received. She said: “ Well, they get cheaper money. There is a reduction of 1 per cent, in interest on the Commonwealth money. While the purchasers of homes sold under mortgage get no benefit from the reduction of interest, the cheaper money is reflected in the purchase price of the home.” This may be so. Although I dispute it, there may be some reduction in the price of the house when, it is sold to the purchaser.
Let us consider the situation which arises when the purchaser re-sells the house. On the second occasion it is sold at market value. Because the purchaser takes over the existing mortgage and pays no less interest than he would pay on other mortgages, he does not qualify for a grant under the Act. While that may be in accordance with the Act, it would appear that such anomalies need to be considered. I have had several complaints from applicants whose applications were refused on the ground that previously in their married life they had owned houses, that at some time or other they had been purchasing houses under mortgage, that they had never completed the payments, or that they had made arrangements to dispose of the house, thereby terminating the contract. When they sought to purchase a home with the assistance of a grant under the Act they were told that they were ineligible. One such case concerned a person in Western Australia who had been transferred by his employer to South Australia. His home in Western Australia was under mortgage and was disposed of there.
The Act provides, amongst other things, that for a person to be eligible for a grant he must not have owned a house previously in his married life. The legal question arises of whether a person who is purchasing a home under mortgage really owns it. It may be said that while the home is under mortgage it belongs to someone else. I would appreciate it if the Department would consider that question with a view to clarifying the position of persons who have had an application rejected and who wish to apply for a grant in the future. The names of all applicants for this assistance are available and it would be possible for the Department to investigate the individual cases. For public reasons, I will not mention names tonight. I received a letter from a man whom I will call Mr. A for the purpose of this discussion. In the letter the following statement appears -
When my wife and I signed our contract note on 7th December 1963 1 had £275 in voluntary savings with the South Australia Superannuation Fund, and £206 in various banks. Only the £206 was allowed and we have therefore been denied a Government payment of one-third of £275 which is a considerable sum of money to a person of my means.
The letter refusing to allow this £275 was dated 27 7th October 1964 and signed by the Regional Director of the Department of Housing in South Australia, Mr. M. C. McTaggart.
I strongly query the rejection of this claim. Section 22 (l.)(a) of the Act provides for the purchase of homes during the present year. To money .saved in the seven previous years there is added any money saved during the seven savings years. From that amount we take any decrease in savings in any one of the seven savings years. Under the Act, the Commonwealth should pay an amount not exceeding one-third of the remainder. “ Acceptable savings “ are denned in section 15 of the Act, which provides -
This section applies to an eligible person in relation to whom the prescribed date is a date not later than the thirty-first day of December, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-four.
I would point out that section 15 is pertinent to the matter I am raising. Sub-section (2.) of section 15 provides -
For the purposes of this Act, the acceptable savings of a person to whom this section applies as at a time before the prescribed date are, subject to this Act, the moneys that were saved in Australia before that time by the person and were held at that time in Australia by the person, or by the person jointly with his or her spouse, whether in the form of an investment or otherwise.
Sub-section (3.) provides -
For the purposes of this Act, the acceptable savings of a person to whom this section applies as at the prescribed date are, subject to this Act, the moneys that were saved in Australia before that date by the person and -
were maintained at that date by the person, or by the person jointly with his or her spouse, on deposit with a branch in Australia of a savings bank or of a trading bank.
The sub-section then goes on to refer to other institutions. It is necessary to grasp the significance of this matter. The Commonwealth gives an amount equal to onethird of the savings. For this year, they must represent money that was earned and saved in Australia. In relation to those making a claim this year, the money may be earned, saved or invested in any place at all, but on the prescribed date the money had to be in one of the institutions named. The prescribed date is the date on which the contract was signed.
Mr. A. had £275 in a superannuation fund which is not one of the institutions named in the Act. He had not transferred the money to one of the institutions on the prescribed date and therefore he does not become entitled to have those savings counted for the purposes of the grant. I raised this matter during the second reading debate on the Bill and I pointed out that what has in fact happened would be likely to happen. I pointed out that the position would be unfair and that some alteration of the legislation was needed to cover such cases. I did not proceed any further because I was given an assurance by the Minister then in charge of the scheme that money deposited anywhere for this particular year would be accepted as savings. I refer the Senate to “Hansard” of 21st May 1964, page 1432. It will be seen that I raised the matter with the Minister. I asked - 1 want to know what happens to those persons who have entered into contracts between the date of operation of this legislation - 2nd December 1963 - and the present date. Those who have entered into contracts as at the prescribed date are obviously entitled to the grant if they fulfil the other requirements, but those who had their money invested at the prescribed date in something other than one of the institutions mentioned in the legislation are not eligible for a grant. Will the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) say whether this distinction is fair and whether there is any way of overcoming the anomaly?
It will be seen that I foresaw the very thing that has happened as a result of the interpretation that has been given to the Act. I pointed out that there was an anomaly, I suggested that the legislation needed to be changed and I asked the Minister to find a method to overcome the anomaly. Senator Sir William Spooner replied to my question as follows -
Taking the last point first while it is fresh in my mind, I point out that the period between now and the end of December 1964, is in the nature of a transitional period. In that transitional period savings, no matter in what form they are evidenced, become eligible for the grant. So if the couple many and build a home they become eligible for the grant by virtue of the department accepting their savings in any form, investment or otherwise. That, I think, is the foundation for the answer to Senator Cavanagh’s query.
I interjected -
But their savings must be in a particular bank at the prescribed dale.
In effect, 1 pointed out to the Minister that he might be wrong as the Bill prescribed that the savings had to be in a particular institution. The Minister answered my interjection by saying -
Not until 31st December 1964.
He went on -
When you get to 31st December 1964, by and large, with certain exceptions, your savings must be in a narrow group of savings banks, permanent building societies or trading banks. That proviso becomes operative from 1st January 1965, with an exception in the case of credit unions and friendly societies, which may continue the even tenor of their ways until 1967.
I appeal to all honorable senators to look at this question quite frankly. What I said could happen has happened. The Act needs amending. Senator Sir William Spooner was not speaking off the cuff when he gave the answer I have read out. He had sent the Secretary of the Department to see me in order to find out what questions I should be raising, so that he could have his answers prepared. I told the Secretary of the point I intended to raise. The Minister had the assistance of officers of the Department, who were sitting next to him during the debate. As a result of what he told me, no doubt was left in anyone’s mind that any savings made in 1964, no matter where they were invested, would be acceptable savings. As a result of that undertaking given by a responsible Minister, I did not make any further attempt then to have the provision amended.
I wish to know now whether the Government intends to make any alteration of this provision, which operates quite unfairly against the people I have mentioned. On the assurance given to me by the Minister, Mr. A., to whom I have referred, is entitled to a grant equal to one-third of his savings of £275. There can be no equivocation about that. Does the Government get over this matter simply because the Minister who gave this assurance has now been dismissed from the administration of this portfolio in the Senate? Are we arriving at the position where senators should not accept assurances from Ministers in this chamber? It is a sad state of affairs if senators cannot accept those assurances. The proposal for the amendment of the clause went no further because we obtained the assurance from the Minister. Now 1 ask whether the Department of Housing looks into such assurances and gives a prompt answer to them.
I come now to the next case which I shall refer to as the case of Mrs. B. She writes -
I applied for the Housing Grant having checked on the requirements needed, and having found I fulfilled them all as listed in the booklet “A Grant for Your Home “, I was surprised to be contacted by an officer of the Department of Housing. This gentleman informed me that because my husband end 1 were temporarily absent overseas and had transferred our Australian money to an Australian Bank in London, without leaving money actually deposited in this country, we were ineligible for a grant.
The next pertinent portion of the letter reads -
All the time we were overseas we deposited any savings in the Commonwealth Bank inside Australia House and in the Bank of Adelaide, London. Is not Australia House, Australian territory?
The letter continues -
I feel that a person born and bred in Australia could reasonably call a two year working holiday abroad, “ Temporary Absence “. My husband, British born, and resident in Australia 10 years prior to departure, returned to U.K. to see his parents; this should be termed “Temporary Absence “.
Section 14 defines “ eligible persons “. It reads -
A person is an eligible person for the purposes of this Act if-
the Secretary is satisfied that the person has saved moneys in Australia throughout a period of not less than three years preceding the prescribed date.
This money was saved in Australia for three years before the prescribed date. These people know that they cannot make any claim on moneys saved in England because such moneys are not recognised as savings as they were accumulated during a holiday. The other pertinent section of this Act in regard to the case of Mrs. B. is section 1 5 (2.) which reads -
For the purposes of this Act, the acceptable savings of a person . . . are, subject to this Act the moneys that were saved in Australia before that time by the person and were held at that time in Australia by the person, or by the person jointly with his or her spouse, whether in the form of an investment or otherwise.
On the prescribed date, these people had the money saved in Australia in a bank in accordance with section 15 (2.). Because, at one time, that money was not in a bank in Australia, they are deprived of the benefits available under this Act. I cannot see that this case is entirely contrary to the provisions of the Act and it needs, to my mind, some explanation.
I pass on to the next case which I shall call the case of Mr. and Mrs. C. This couple put their savings into a block of land. They then decided to purchase a house. The contract of purchase dated 16th March 1964 stated the purchase price at £5,800. The deposit was nil. A further sum of £850 was payable from the proceedings of the sale of the block of land. For the balance, there was a loan from the savings bank of £4,500 and a second mortgage arranged by the selling agent. Clause 5 of this contract stated -
This contract is subject to the sale of the block of land, and the purchasers authorise the agent to apply the full proceeds of the sale of the land as deposit of this contract.
A separate memorandum of agreement permitting the agent to sell the land and to keep the proceeds as a deposit on the house was signed.
Now, section 17 (a) accepts as savings moneys invested in a block of land provided that the claim for a grant for the house is made in respect of a house to be built on that particular block of land. These people bought a block of land. Had they built on that block of land, they would have been entitled to the grant of £250. But because they never built on that block of land, but sold it for the purpose of purchasing a house, according to the Department of Housing they do not become eligible for the grant. I haVe read section 17 (b) to the Senate already. I do not want to go over the same ground again. Section 22 (2.) deals with the amount of the grant, and section 15 defines what are aceptable savings. This couple had an added claim on this particular contract, because if we look at section 17 we see that it reads -
Where, but for me operation of this section, the acceptable savings of an eligible person as at any time would not include moneys that were saved in Australia by the person before that time and were expended before that time -
in the payment of a deposit in respect of the purchase by either or both of those persons of a dwelling house in respect of which an application for a grant under this Act has been made by by the eligible person. the acceptable savings of the person as at that time include those moneys.
This section means that even although these people never had that money in a special purpose account in a bank, if the money had been paid as a deposit on a house it would have been acceptable in the view of the Department to attract a grant. This money was paid on the purchase of a block of land. One of the conditions of the contract through the agent for the purchase of this house was that this couple should pay no deposit but that the” gent should, in effect, take the block of land in lieu of a deposit on the home. Obviously, this was money invested in the block of land which was then accepted as the deposit for the house. Not only in accordance with section 1 7 (b) are these applicants justly entitled to the grant, but also they are entitled to it in accordance with the guarantee by Senator Spooner that in matters of this kind the money invested is entitled to attract the grant.
The next case to which I shall refer is that of Mr. D. He purchased a home on 8th July 1964. His application for a homes savings grant was refused. He had all qualifications other than residential qualifications. The interpretation in section 14 of an eligible persons makes provision that the applicant, if an Australian citizen, throughout the period of three years before the prescribed date must have resided in Australia for a period of three months immediately preceding the prescribed date. Sub-section (4.) of section 4 states that -
For the purposes of this Act, a person shall be deemed not to have ceased to reside in Australia during any temporary absence from Australia.
This man was four and a half years in the United States of America and so, at first sight, he would not come within the provisions of the Act. He is classed as an Australian citizen if his absence away from Australia can be regarded as a temporary absence. His absence in the United States may seem to provide a difficulty here, if we look at the question to temporary absence in view of the fact that he and his family were four and a half years in the U.S. However, looking at the facts of the case, we find that Mr. D. was born, in Australia and lived here until 1959 when he left to spend four and a half years in the United States on an exchange visa through the
American Fulbright Scholarship Foundation, which Australia has now joined, as a student engaged in medical research at the University of California. While in the United States he was paid a trainee allowance from this Foundation and at all times was taxed on bank interest. He had money deposited in Australia and kept it here. He was also paid child endowment by the Australian Government for the four and a half years that he and his family were in the United States. On this exchange scholarship and American visa, he was not permitted to remain in America after he had done his training in medical research. This man was sent to the United States to gain knowledge that he would apply to his employment in Australia, and all the time he was there the Government taxed the interest earnings on his savings bank deposit and paid him child endowment. Surely the authorities did not believe that he was absent from Australia on other than a temporary basis. The question at issue was whether, within the meaning of section 4 (4.) of the Home Savings Grant Act, his was a temporary absence. I do not think that by any stretch of the imagination the Government could claim that this was other than a temporary absence from Australia, in view of the circumstances of his case. I ask that consideration be given to this question.
I refer now to cases which have arisen in which people have taken an option on a house by paying a deposit so that the house will be held for them until such time as they can arrange finance. On one occasion a school teacher from the country came to Adelaide and selected a house on which he paid £5 as a holding deposit. He wanted his wife to inspect the property and to approve of it before he completed the purchase. He is only one of many who have taken options on properties. Because he had taken this option before 2nd December last year, the date from which the Act operated, he found that as a result of the interpretation placed on the Act by the Department he was denied the grant, although the contract to purchase was signed after the date from which the Act had effect. The Act has application to people who enter into a contract to purchase or to build a home after 2nd December, but in the case to which I have referred there was no firm or binding contract, nor could there have been, until a date after the date of commencement of the scheme. Yet this person was refused a grant. There are similar cases. During the past week I have been informed by my office of similar cases in which people have been refused grants but are awaiting consideration as to whether or not they are eligible for the grant.
I make a strong protest about the disinterested attitude adopted in the Department of Housing. The officers of the Department are a law unto themselves. The Secretary of the Department, acting on his authority under section 20 (1.) of the Act, decides whether or not a grant shall be made. He acts capriciously and rejects applications, relying on his power under that section. Yet some of the applicants have all the qualifications to meet the requirements of the Act. Under section 20 (1.) the Secretary may, in his discretion, make a grant in accordance with the Act, and he is limited to that power. On some occasions we have found that our queries to the Department have been sent on to Canberra and the ruling that we have received has come from Canberra. I have found on occasions when this subject has been debated that the responsible Minister has not been present to assist us. On three occasions I have raised this subject in the Senate and have been promised a reply, but I have not yet received any reply. The only replies that I have received were to questions that I have placed on the notice paper.
The instances I have cited are only samples of what is being done by the Department of Housing. The Department has shut itself off from the public and people are often refused grants for no other reason than that the Secretary has decided to refuse their applications. Now that Senator Sir William Spooner has returned to the chamber, I would say that the Government is refusing the grant in complete contradiction of the promises that were given by Senator Sir William Spooner.
– I want to put the record straight on one point. The honorable senator referred to the Minister of the day whose administration covered housing. That was Senator Sir William Spooner who was then Minister for National Development. The honorable senator said that Senator Sir William Spooner had been dismissed. He should withdraw that statement as it is not correct. As everybody knows, Senator Sir William Spooner resigned his portfolio.
– I was informed by a source that I thought was reliable that Senator Sir William Spooner had been dismissed. However, I would not submit that statement to a thorough investigation and I withdraw it.
– in reply - We appreciate that Senator Cavanagh has used the forms of the Senate to raise a matter which comes under another portfolio. I shall bring his remarks to the attention of the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Excise Tariff Bill 1964 provides for amendments in respect of tobacco, tobacco products and television picture tubes, arising out of the 1964-65 Budget. The alterations are complementary to those made by the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1964 with which we have just dealt. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
– The remarks I made on the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1964 apply equally to this measure. The Opposition offers no opposition to the proposal.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 1835).
– When the debate was adjourned I was examining the situation that would have arisen if a decision had been made eight to ten years ago to purchase equipment of the sort and quantity that is now contemplated. Senator Murphy interjected that I should apply that reasoning to 1964.
I do so gladly. The decisions made eight or tcn years ago were made in the light of the situation at that time. A judgment was made that perhaps calculated risks had to bc taken to arrive at the correct apportionment of our resources to defence and other requirements of this country. Today, wc are faced with making a similar decision, a decision of calculated risk perhaps, but one to be made in the light of the known situation. This situation today indicates that certain equipment should be bought and planned for and our defence programme geared as has been suggested. There is no measure to determine in advance how correct any decision may be. We are a non-aggressor nation. Aggressor nations can plan ahead for programmes of aggression but it is not so easy to plan programmes of defence. I believe that Australia is planning, not for aggression, but for defence. Because of that fact there is always the possibility of misjudging any situation. But 1 believe the Government has made a decision in good faith and in the light of the knowledge available to it.
Senator Kennelly tried to make some sort of constructive contribution to the debate. When challenged he said that the Government could buy an aircraft carrier. I do not know just where one buys aircraft carriers or whether they are available. But even if the type of carrier suitable for Australian requirements were available - if we could buy one - it is almost certain, that we could not buy the men to man it. If we could have another aircraft carrier in Australian waters within a matter of months it is certain that it would take time to train the skilled men to operate that vessel.
Senator Kennelly and other Opposition speakers made much play on the fact that there had been many defence reviews. I think he said that there had been five reviews in five years, and this is so. The Government has said that defence requirements are under constant review. This is perfectly correct and absolutely desirable because world conditions are not static. Does the Opposition want the Government to have some fixed and irrevocable policy and programme of defence that cannot be altered? Docs the Opposition want us to have this fixed programme - some sort of Magi not Line in thinking - so that we can lay down a programme that cannot be altered? I am sure that if the Government did adopt a policy such as that we would be heading for a disaster as great as that which followed the adoption of the Maginot Line in France. I believe that the present proposals put forward by the Government are warranted by all the relevant facts. The Government is politically honest in submitting them before the Senate election rather than afterwards and they are in conformity with what is known of the international situation today. I believe that these proposals deserve the support not only of this Senate but of the Australian people. I believe that the proposals will receive that support.
– I draw the attention of honorable senators who have been listening to the debate to the fact that we are discussing a motion which appears on the notice paper in this way -
That the Senate take note of the Paper- And of the amendment moved thereto by Senator McKenna, viz. - at the end of the motion add the following words - “ and opposes the Government’s proposals to conscript Australian youth for service overseas, regrets its failure to stimulate recruitment for the Regular Army and condemns its delay in securing Naval and Air Forces to safeguard Australia and ils territories and communications “.
If there has been a debate to which I have listened since I have been in this Parliament where the Government has avoided the arguments that have been presented by the Opposition, it is this debate. All kinds of red herrings have been drawn across the trail by honorable senators opposite and various charges have been made by them. I think that some of the honorable senators opposite who have made the charges are now sorry that they did. Senator Prowse, who is not known as a vicious person, used three phrases which, for him, represent pretty strong words. First, he described the argument presented, not only by the Labour Party but also by the churches of Australia, as utter nonsense. Then he described it as sheer nonsense, and finally he reached a climax by describing it as arrant nonsense. However, although he became a little vicious, at no time during the course of his speech did he answer the argument that had been presented.
Senator Prowse did not seek to take on only one church in Australia; he sought to take on three. When he mentioned the name of a reverend person, I noticed that he was referring to the “Australian”. I obtained a copy of it and found out that he was not only taking the Reverend Alan Walker to task as opposing this method of the conscription of youths. He was also taking on the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church.
– The “Daily Mirror” has corrected that statement tonight.
– I am speaking only of the part of the article to which Senator Prowse referred. He said that the main objection to this method of conscription arose because a lottery is to be used, and he argued that the word was derived from the Bible. I do not dispute that; it is probably true. Then he attempted to convince honorable senators who were listening to him that, because the word “ lottery “ was derived from the Bible, it behoved any Christian, and most certainly reverend gentlemen of the Church, not to oppose the use of the word in this connection. If you carried that argument to its logical conclusion, it would mean that anybody who opposed a lottery of any kind whatsoever was not a Christian. There is where I think Senator Prowse’s argument fell down.
During the time Senator Prowse was speaking - I think he spoke for about half an hour - he did not answer one argument that had been advanced by any honorable senator opposite. In the time that I have at my disposal - I am not quite certain just how long that is-
– You have until 1.30 a.m.
– I am advised that I have until 1.30 a.m. I wish to add my contribution on one argument which has been presented by speakers from the Opposition side of this chamber and by speakers on behalf of the Opposition in another place, and which has not been answered by any members of the Government parties. In fact, they have studiously avoided it. Our opposition to conscription is based not only on the fact that it is conscription as such but also on the fact that the voluntary system of recruitment for the armed forces has not been really tried out. Figures have been quoted’ to show that had the people who offered for service in the Army been accepted there would have been no need for the Government to introduce a bill to conscript youths.
Senator Prowse attempted to argue against that proposition on the score that the figures were only statistical evidence and did not mean very much. He used a very strange expression. He said that anybody who quotes statistics only proves the old saying that there are liars, damn liars and statisticians. If people are to be condemned for quoting statistics-
– I referred to people quoting statistics untruthfully, with intent to deceive.
– The honorable senator said that the fact that members of the Opposition quoted statistics provided in answer to a question asked by Senator McClelland proved that there can be liars, damn liars and statisticians. I was about to say that if people are to be condemned for quoting statistics, not many members of the Opposition will be condemned because honorable senators on the Government side quote statistics much more frequently than we do.
The plain fact of the matter is that the figures that we used were supplied by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) in answer to a question asked by a member of the Opposition. The argument was that the number of lads who volunteered for service in the Army and were rejected on the ground of lack of educational qualifications was larger than the number that the Government proposes to obtain in the first year by means of conscription. A certain number of lads were rejected because they did not have a sufficiently high intelligence quotient; but the number of lads who were rejected purely and simply because they did not reach the required educational standard was more than the number that the Government hopes to conscript in the first year.
I will give one illustration in support of what Mr. Calwell said in another place. He said that if the lack of educational qualifications was the only reason why these lads were rejected there was a simple solution; namely, to accept them as recruits for the Army, to give them the same training as was given to servicemen in the Second World War and to bring them up to the required educational standard. That standard has been stated variously by members of the Government parties. It has been stated to be the educational standard of a 12 year’ old’ schoolboy. Another speaker said that only the intelligence quotient of a lad of about 10 was required. If lack of education were the only barrier to the obtaining of voluntary recruits I suggest it could quite simply be overcome by requiring lads who volunteered to undertake a special course of training during the first 12 months of service. I am sure that they could be brought up to the standard failure to meet which is responsible for their rejection today.
Anybody who has any knowledge of the state of trade labour in Australia at the commencement of the last war knows that it would have been completely impossible for Australia to fulfil its wartime armament programme if it had had to depend on the original educational qualifications of the people who eventually fulfilled the programme. The tradesmen that the General Motors-Holden organisation employed at the end of the war were 50 times as skilled as the labour employed at the commencement of the war. When the organisation was building motor bodies it had a large proportion of semi-skilled workers to skilled workers, but at the end of the war it had about 90 per cent, skilled workers and about 10 per cent, semi-skilled, and the total number employed at the end of the war was greater than the number employed at the commencement. This means that people who lacked education and were unskilled early in the war ended the war not only as skilled tradesmen but also with a high degree of education. These dilutee tradesmen, as they were called, were culled from lads who were the products of the depression, who had had to leave school before reaching a high standard of education. They included lads who had had no opportunity to become apprentices because in the depressed state of industry no apprentices were being taken on. They were not lacking in ability merely because they had little or no education or because in the first place they lacked skill. The General MotorsHolden organisation, together with the government of the day, provided the avenue for their training.
The Holden car was built by people who were not tradesmen. The whole of the tool ing up for the Holden car was performed by toolmakers 90 per cent, of whom were not tradesmen prior to the war. However, at the end of the war they were trained men. They were turned out as tradesmen because of the opportunity that was provided by the war. They were trained to a skill that had been denied to them and in many instances they proved to be better tradesmen than persons trained before the war. With respect to people who are rejected by the Army on the score that they lack education there is quite a simple solution: The Government can provide them with the opportunity and they can be brought to the necessary standard of education. There is no need for rejection on the score of lack of education. I challenge any honorable senator in this debate or in the subsequent debate on a Bill that flows from this review to show that the persons who have been rejected are impossible to train to the necessary standard.
This brings me to another point. I do not wish to deal with a lot of statistics and lay myself open to the kind of charge brought by Senator Prowse. We have been told roughly how many men the Government hopes to obtain by conscripting 20 year olds, but the figures for the number of applicants for entry to the armed forces compared to the number rejected suggest that not enough of the 1 in 30 registered whose names are drawn out of the hat, shall I say, will have the educational and other qualifications demanded now of volunteers. This means that the Government will have to draw out of the hat again.
– That contingency is provided for.
– How is it provided for?
– If the honorable senator had studied the National Service Bill, he would know.
– Apparently the honorable senator has not studied it, because he did not give us any explanation. It is claimed that 1 in 30 of those registered will serve. But neither Senator Prowse nor anybody else can tell me how many times names will have to be drawn out of the hat to get the number of men required. Names could be drawn out of the hat 100 times and still not enough men with the required qualifications may be available. The Government would have to continue drawing out of the hat until it had enough men with the required qualifications.
– The simple answer could be that, if that happens, we shall not have an Army.
– If the Minister had been listening instead of sleeping, as he has been doing most of the night, he could perhaps give me some information on this point. Enough men could be obtained, as they were obtained in the last war, by taking them into the Army and then training them.
– They were conscripted into the Civil Construction Corps.
– The Government proposes to conscript men, but does it propose to accept them at a standard lower than that required of volunteers?
– We have not yet been told.
– Apparently, the Government does not yet know about that. If it requires of conscripts the same standard as is required of volunteers, nobody can say how many times a draw will have to be made out of the hat to obtain sufficient men with the required qualifications. What happened in the last war may happen again. In the last war, men who volunteered for the Army and were rejected were later conscripted as “ chocos “ and subjected to all the indignities associated with that description. That was mentioned by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) a couple of weeks ago.
– He did not say that it was not possible.
– He said that a mixed Army of conscripts and volunteers was not desirable. He said that, in saying that, he was speaking not just on his own authority, but on the advice of his advisers.
– He did not say that.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar).- Order!
– He said that he was quoting the advice of his military advisers who had told him that it was not desirable and that it would not provide the sort of Army that was required for Australia.
– He said that one set of circumstances was preferable to another.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! I ask honorable senators to allow Senator Ridley to make his speech without so many interruptions.
– Thank you very much, Mr. Deputy President. The Minister continually mumbles in his beard. I was making the undeniable point that the Minister for the Army had stated that an Army made up partly of volunteers and partly of conscripts was not desirable and not in the best interests of Australia. I agree with him about that. This has been proved throughout Australia’s history in recruiting for the armed forces. It has been established on a number of occasions that five volunteers are better than ten conscripts. If you mix the two groups, you bring everybody down to the common level. I now want to come back to the argument that was developed by Senator Prowse when he claimed that, because the churches were opposed to the Government’s call-up plans, they came in the same-
– I did not say that.
– What did the honorable senator say?
– I said a churchman had’ said it.
– You mentioned one churchman. You selected one of three. You certainly mentioned only one; you mentioned the Reverend Alan Walker. But the newspaper from which you quoted carried this heading -
METHODIST: Every voter should pronounce judgment.
CATHOLIC: Conscription is a restriction on liberty.
ANGLICAN: Selective national service is not democratic
Then followed another heading or two and this report -
A wide section of the church in Australia, led by Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist spokesmen, yesterday attacked the Government’s call-up plans.
The strongest comment came from Melbourne and Sydney. It is expected to affect the Senate elections for which the main issues are defence and conscription.
The official Catholic newspaper, The Advocate, siad those in authority had an obligation to restrict a citizen’s liberty only when the need was real and when it left no alternative.
– It also said that that was the editor’s remark and they took no responsibility for it.
– I am not saying whether what the newspaper said was correct or otherwise. Each time within the last few days that we have asked a certain question about or quoted any newsaper report we have been told by the Minister who has spoken on behalf of the Government that we cannot take any notice of what appears in newspapers. Senator Prowse based his argument on the report of the newspaper in question about what the Reverend Alan Walker had said. The honorable senator said that the Reverend Alan Walker opposed the conscription of lads by medium of a lottery. I do not think Senator Kendall was in the chamber when Senator Prowse was giving the derivation of the word “lottery”. Senator Prowse went right back to the Bible. The only reference to the word “ lot “ that he did’ not mention was the reference to Lot’s wife. For a moment I thought the honorable senator was going to turn around.
– It would be a good thing if the honorable senator were to turn into a pillar of salt.
– That was what I was afraid the honorable senator might do if he turned around. The honorable senator sought to prove, by indicating that the derivation of the word “ lottery “ went back to the Bible, that no Minister of .the Church had a right to oppose the use of a lottery for the conscription of youth.
– That is quite wrong.
– Why did the honorable senator want to bring in the word “lottery”?
– Because it is a perfectly legitimate method of judgment.
– That is so. The honorable senator argued that it was a quite legitimate and fair method that had been used in a number of other situations to determine things. But then the honorable senator sought to argue that, because the word was to be found in the Bible, there was no justification for the Reverend Alan Walker opposing the use of the lottery method. If the honorable senator wanted to argue in favour of the use of a lottery to ascertain which youths should be conscripted into the Army, why did he have to mention the Bible and why did he have to link it up with Alan Walker? I suggest that the only possible reason that the honorable senator could have had for doing so was to argue that it was not in accord with Christian teaching for anyone to object to the calling up of lads by means of a lottery because the word “lottery” derived from the Bible. If the honorable senator had some other purpose in mind, I hope he will mention it to one of the other speakers on the Government side so that he may help the honorable senator out. I cannot see any other possible reason that the honorable senator could have had in mind. Why quote the Reverend Alan Walker, then trace the derivation of the word “lottery” and say this is a quick, complete and fair way of recruiting lads into the Army? The suggestion is that it was not right and proper for the Reverend Alan Walker to object to the recruitment of lads by lottery.
– Is there any fairer way?
– Yes, by seeking volunteers. I said this before and no-one on the Government side, including Senator Mattner, has proved that it is not possible to obtain lads in this way.
– That is not the point at issue at all.
– I was asked whether there was another fairer way. Earlier in my speech I said that there was a fairer way and that is by asking people to volunteer. The official Catholic newspaper, the “ Advocate “, said that the Government had an obligation to restrict a citizen’s liberty only when the need was real and when it was left with no alternative. This is our argument and honorable senators on the Government side have not yet proved that there is no alternative. No Government supporter here or in another place has sought to prove that there is no alternative to the Government’s proposal.
– But it has been open to people to volunteer.
– Yes, but there is-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator has addressed everybody in the chamber except the Chair.
– Everyone is interjecting and not through the Chair either. Earlier I put the argument that if .the volunteers who had been rejected because they lacked the necessary educational qualifications had been accepted, the Government would not have had to introduce this conscription proposal. Nobody on the Government side who has spoken has tried to refute that argument. I suggest that until such time as the Government can prove, not only to the Parliament but also to the people in general, that there is no alternative to conscription, the views expressed in this newspaper as representng the views of the Church will also be the views of the majority of the people of Australia. If, on the other hand, the Government can prove that there is no alternative to this proposal, it will probably have the support of the people. If it cannot prove that there is no alternative, I think the majority of the people will accept the view of the Labour Party, that this proposal has not been introduced because of any real need or of any dire circumstances that confront Australia, but because the Government, with the approaching Senate election in mind, realises the need to create the belief in the minds of electors that a state of emergency exists in the hope that this will cause panic amongst the electors and lead them to vote for the Government candidates at the election.
The first reaction of the people may have satisfied the hopes of the Government. At first blush, the people may have thought that the Government had failed to obtain sufficient volunteers for the Services, had had to do something and that therefore this proposal was warranted. Following the debates in the Senate and in another place and consideration of the views expressed by church leaders and others, I am positive that the people of Australia no longer believe that the Government brought down this proposal because of necessity. I think that the people agree with the Labour Party’s interpretation, stated here and in another place, that it is a political stunt. I am positive that 90 per cent, of the Australian people have formed this opinion.
– I cannot deny, Mr. Deputy President, that the sudden termination of the honorable senator’s speech has taken me somewhat by surprise. The paper before the Senate has been outlined by Senator Ridley. It contains the Government’s defence proposals. The Opposition has proposed an amendment to the motion that the paper be noted. The Government’s proposals to increase the defence forces have been well and truly expounded by my colleagues. I approve of the proposals and believe that upon their implementation unquestionably they will place this country in a stronger position. For some reason, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), said that they would weaken our defences. I cannot follow this argument. I express the hope that the Navy has not seen the virtual end of fixed wing flying and that when the “ Melbourne “ has been modernised, we may be able to secure from Britain or the United States of America more modern jet fixed wing aircraft to be carried by the “Melbourne” in replacement of the Venom aircraft.
I think it is generally conceded that the augmented’ defence measures are, unfortunately, very necessary in the changed world in which we live. The Labour Party alleges that the new defence programme is only an election stunt. To prove this claim in another place it threw into the breach that devastating military critic, the Honorable A. A. Calwell. He made some astonishing statements. Taking one at random, he said that Fisher’s Navy, which the Labour Party set up, was stronger than the present Australian Navy. I do not know how silly it is possible to get, but Fisher’s Navy comprised one battle cruiser and half a dozen cruisers and destroyers. The honorable gentleman does not seem to realise that one Gannet from the aircraft carrier “Melbourne” - the “Melbourne” carries three squadrons of Gannets - can carry more explosive fire power than one of Mr.
Fisher’s cruisers. I could range through a number of Mr. Calwell’s foolish errors, but I do not propose to do so because not only would’ it be fruitless, but also it would be extremely tedious. Times have changed and the honorable gentleman should not make such absurd comparisons. In the same speech Mr. Calwell said that if we were attacked there would be no question that Labour would fight. I do not know with what. Does he expect an enemy to give him due notice of his intentions? Presumably Mr. Calwell will wait until the parachutists are dropping.
Mr Deputy President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to 10.30 a.m. today.
Debate in the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I want to address myself, I hope very briefly, to the statement that was made by Senator Branson yesterday morning in this place, and to the comments that I then made, I thought that the honorable senator had gone a long way in making his statement. However, there were several points in the statement that I thought needed amplification and some addition. What I had in mind was that the honourable senator should have addressed himself to the fact that no check had been made on the statement that he made on Friday before he brought it to this chamber. The second point was that he should have acknowledged that the information supplied to him was false. On that I pause briefly to note that it was demonstrably so, having regard to the fact that Mr. Ward was never a member of the War Cabinet. I do not want to develop that theme further at this stage.
The withdrawal and apology that the honorable senator made were subject to a qualification. I feel it is proper in the circumstances that these two things - the withdrawal and the apology - should be without qualification of any kind at all. I do not want to develop these themes if Senator Branson will indicate in any way at all to me that he feels disposed to meet these three points. If he did, I would be perfectly happy to sit down and say not one more word on the matter.
– I will be speaking.
– In those circumstances I shall resume my seat. I hope that the honorable senator adverts to the points I have mentioned.
– I hope that I will give the Leader of the Opposition some solace . by saying that the withdrawal and apology which I made this morning were intended to include the three points now mentioned by him. I now inform him specifically that I include them in my unqualified apology and withdrawal.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1.33 a.m. (Tuesday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 November 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19641116_senate_25_s27/>.