25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer, refers to a decision that has been made by the trading banks, by agreement among themselves and, I assume, the Reserve Bank and the Commonwealth Trading Bank, to charge what is called, euphemistically, a “ fee “ in respect of money not lent, but allowed on overdraft and not used. Can the Minister tell me to what extent the statutory law of this country entitles the Reserve Bank or the Treasury to supervise control of such charges, other than rates of interest and discount? Could the Treasurer comment upon the justice of trading banks charging a fee for money not lent and holding deposits totalling about £1,270 million on which they pay no interest?
– I read with some interest this morning the statement in the Press to which the honorable senator referred. I think it emanated from the banking institutions themselves. It pointed out that about £800 million was locked up in overdrafts which were not being used. The banks proposed to apply interest charges on unused credit only to overdrafts of over £50,000. The banks believe that an amount of £800 million could be released for the benefit of the community, particularly the smaller people, because if a fee were charged, the unused credit would be unlocked for use in the general overdraft system. I am not in a position to say whether the Treasurer might make a statement on this matter, or what the law is that governs it. I ask the honorable senator to put that part of his question on the notice paper and I will get an answer for him from the Treasurer.
– I ask the
Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research whether any Commonwealth financial assistance is given for the training of qualified child welfare teachers. Would the Minister investigate the financial benefit in the form of social service savings and taxation payments that could be secured by the Commonwealth if efficient, trained child welfare officers were available thus enabling tha mothers of Australia to leave their children in capable hands? Would the Minister investigate this matter and provide, if necessary, funds for the training of child welfare officers in the States?
– If I have in mind what is in the mind of the honorable senator, he is referring to child welfare officers who would be the responsibility of the Department of Social Services, rather than education departments. Therefore, the matter about which he asks would not be something that came within my administration or in relation to which I could give an answer. If the honorable senator was refering to pre-school training or kindergarten teacher training, then it would come within my administration. However, I do not think he was referring to that matter; I think he was referring to child welfare officers. That being so, the question should be addressed to the Minister for Social Services. I suggest that he place his question on the notice paper.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. As radio listener fees are not paid in respect of B class stations, their services really being provided free to the listeners, will the Postmaster-General consider reducing radio listener fees paid in respect of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s stations to half the existing rate, particularly in view of the very great deterioration in the standard of programmes being broadcast by the Commission and in relation to which apparently it acknowledges that it is competing with the B class stations?
– The honorable senator has asked for some information and has also made some comment. I do not wish to reflect upon his comment. I shall raise with the Postmaster-General the substantive matter that the honorable senator has mentioned. I suggest that he place his question on the notice paper.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to yesterday’s call by the Secretary-General of the United Nations for a reconvening of the Geneva Conference as being the only means of bringing peace and stability to Vietnam and to his expressed view that the Geneva Agreements of 1954 can still be implemented. I ask the Minister: Will the Australian Government, as the Government’ of one of the few nations that have combatant forces engaged in the Vietnam war, declare its support for U Thant’s appeal and urge the Soviet Government to join with the British Government in taking the necessary steps to call the Conference together?
– This is a very grave matter of policy. Obviously the question should be placed on the notice paper so that the Minister for External Affairs may give a considered reply. I point out that the Australian Government has already fully supported the statement by the United States of America that it is ready at any time to enter into talks to see whether it is possible to bring peace to South Vietnam, and that this offer has been greeted with icy silence by Hanoi. Obviously this door is open as an alternative, should anyone choose to take advantage of it. The question deals with a different method of approach. It obviously should be answered by the Minister for External Affairs.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, by saying that I have noted with interest that a system of direct telephone dialling between the metropolitan areas of Sydney and Brisbane has been inaugurated, with the promise of rapid expansion so that all telephone subscribers in the metropolitan areas of those cities may soon enjoy this privilege. Does the Minister know when subscribers in Adelaide will be able to dial subscribers in Melbourne direct, and vice versa?
– It is true to say that subscriber trunk dialling is not in operation between Adelaide and Melbourne and vice versa. Provision of a high capacity trunk system is necessary between these capitals before subscriber trunk dialling services can be offered. Installation of this trunk system is proceeding. The present indications are that some Adelaide subscribers will be connected to the S.T.D. system by 1967 or 1968, but the destinations that will be available to them under this system have not yet been determined. The provision of an S.T.D. service between Melbourne and Adelaide also is dependent upon the provision of a high capacity trunk system. A target has not yet been set for the introduction of an S.T.D. service on this route.
– I address the following question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health: In view of the recent return of the Minister for Health from an overseas visit, can an early decision be expected on the date that the national fitness booklet will be available for general distribution?
– I will convey the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for Health.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Repatriation been directed to a newspaper report that the honorable member for Yarra, Dr. Cairns, had declared that the Returned Servicemen’s League and other reactionary sections of the community posed the real threat to freedom in Australia? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the report is accurate? If it is accurate, in the interests of members, both past and present, of this organisation, which has done so much to protect the welfare of ex-service men and women, will the Minister, on behalf of the R.S.L., emphatically refute this damaging statement?
– My attention was directed to this article. I have not seen any refutation of the statement alleged to. have been made. If the article was accurate - I have no reason to believe that it was notI believe that the statement is to be thoroughly deplored. I point out that the difference between Dr. Cairns and the organisations that he is attacking is this: Whilst those organisations are constantly working for the defence of Australia and the welfare of the people of Australia, on the other hand Dr. Cairns constantly associates himself with people and organisations whose words and actions over the years-
– Mr. President, I raise a point of order. My point is that this question and certainly this answer are not directed to anything within the administration of the Minister or for which he is responsible. The Minister is using the occasion to enter into an attack upon a member of another House, which is not permissible within the forms of this chamber in respect of questions without notice.
– Order! The Minister must not reflect upon a member of another House.
– I leave it to you, Mr. President, to say whether or not I was reflecting on a member of another House. I was pointing out the difference between the gentleman concerned and the organisations that he is attacking. I was saying that those organisations were constantly working for the defence of Australia and the welfare of the people in Australia; whereas the honorable member himself-
– I raise a point of order. Is it not most important that in this Parliament we establish freedom of speech, including comment, especially on current political affairs and personalities who activate those affairs? I appeal to you, Mr. President, to consider that that is the essential purpose of the Parliament.
– Order! I point out that the Standing Orders state quite clearly that an honorable senator is not permitted to make a personal reflection on a member of another House. It is as simple as that. The Minister’s remarks seem to me to be tn the area of a personal reflection.
– I did not consider that I was making a personal reflection. I was pointing out the difference between the gentleman concerned and the organisations, fend going on to say that through his association with organisations arid people-
- Mr. President - -
– I -would like to finish this, Mr. President, so that you can see whether or not it is a personal reflection.
– Mr. President, I raise a point of order. I suggest that the Minister, in trying to answer the question, is still evading the ruling that you have given, and that his attention should be directed to the relevant Standing Order.
– I wish to speak to this point of order. The Minister is not reflecting on the character or personality of a man.
– He is.
– if it is a reflection to state that a man is associated with a peace council, then the statement is a reflection. But to say that a man is associated with various bodies, as he has publicly said he is, surely cannot be construed as making a personal reflection.
– Speaking to order, Mr. President, I point out that under Standing Order No. 98 questions are to be directed to public matters. The matters that are raised are not to be debated. That is stipulated in another Standing Order relating to questions. Then there is the rule of natural justice, which suggests that if a person is to be attacked, whether in relation to a public matter or otherwise, he should have an opportunity to defend himself. Neither he nor anybody who might like to support him in the Senate would be free, when Senator McKellar concludes, to enter upon a defence of Dr. Cairns. There are other forms of the House which would enable the matter to be thrashed out thoroughly. Mr. President, I suggest to you, that it would be unfair as well as completely disorderly for the Minister to proceed along the lines that he is taking now. When he has regard to what I have said about the fairness of the matter, I would expect him to desist.
– I would like to say a few words on the point of order that has been raised. I listened very closely to the question and I also listened very closely to die Minister. The question dealt with a statement which had allegedly been made and not refuted by a member in another place. In reply to the question the Minister merely said that, the associations, which were attacked by the member, were working for the defence of the country and for the wellbeing and welfare of their members. He said, alternatively, that the member was a member of organisations and associations which were doing exactly the opposite.
– He did not say that.
– Yes, by inference he said that.
– I again rise to order. The Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate is doing the very thing which we sought to prevent. The statement that Senator Henty has just completed had not been completed in that form by Senator McKellar. Mr. President, it is completely improper for Senator Henty in speaking to the point of order to do the very thing that you have indicated already that the Minister, not seated at the table, was attempting to do.
– Order! I have already indicated to the Minister how far I propose to let him go. He knows the area in which he can continue his remarks. Senator Keeffe’s point of order is not upheld.
– May I say something on the point of order?
– Order! I have already ruled on the point of order.
– I will endeavour to finish. I did not say that this man was a member of an organisation. All I was going to say was that he constantly associates with people and organisations whose words and deeds over the years have shown that their activities are concerned with assisting our existing and potential enemies.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer. Will the Minister consider exempting from taxation, fees paid by parttime university students and post-graduate teachers who are pursuing courses which ultimately will be of benefit to the community as a whole, because increased fees are causing hardships to students and discouraging them from following such courses?
– I suggest that the honorable senator place the question on the notice paper. Individual cases such as those referred to by the honorable senator are far better taken up directly with the Treasurer. If she places the question on the notice paper, I shall take the matter up with the Treasurer.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. I ask: Are inspections which are made by war service homes inspectors of houses erected under the supervision of the War Service Homes Division, undertaken for the purpose of protecting the equity of the Division without regard to the welfare of the purchaser? Is it necessary for the purchaser to seek independent architectural inspection in order to ensure satisfactory standards of workmanship, although architects have no power to enforce their recommendations?
– I have not the knowledge to enable me to answer the question in the manner desired, but I shall refer the question to the Minister for Housing and obtain an answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. Having regard to the laudatory remarks made by the Minister earlier in relation to the Returned Servicemen’s League, does he consider the R.S.L. pension plan submitted each year on behalf of returned servicemen to be reasonable? If he does, will the Minister explain why his Government has rejected continually over the years the great bulk of requests submitted to the Government on behalf of ex-servicemen and which each year have been supported in this Parliament by the Opposition?
– The repatriation benefits that have been given over the years speak for themselves. We have had a continuing improvement in repatriation benefits since their inception and I hope that this will continue. The question of whether or not we would agree to provide all of the requirements under the pensions plan submitted by the R.S.L. was a matter for Cabinet to decide. Cabinet decided this year that it was not possible to accede to all of the requests.
(Question No. 593.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer -
(Question No. 577.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer -
(Question No. 707.)
Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
I have read the advertisement and the letter referred to in the question. Neither of these documents appears to contain allegations by Australian Fertilizers Ltd. that warrant action on the part of the Commonwealth.
(Question No. 720.)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies -
– by leave - A number of honorable senators yesterday raised with me the question of the effect of cross winds on airport runways. I should like to inform them that Australian airports are rarely, if ever, closed because of high winds. In high cross wind circumstances the procedure is that the duty air traffic controller advises the pilot of an incoming aircraft of the prevailing weather conditions on the ground, including the speed and direction of any wind. The pilot then assesses these conditions during his landing approach. If he doubted his ability to land the aircraft safely because of a cross wind he would normally discontine his approach and either wait for better conditions or fly to another aerodrome. All aircraft are required to carry sufficient fuel to enable them to divert to another airport if unfavorable weather conditions are forecast at the destination.
It is’ not usual to close aerodromes because of cross winds. These winds, usually gusty, do not always follow the same direction or maintain a constant speed. Each type of aircraft has what is known as a maximum cross wind component, that is, a’ limit over which landing in a cross wind is not recommended. With cross winds, the speed can vary, without warning, from above limit to below. Air traffic control advises the pilot when the cross wind exceeds the maximum component. So it must be left to the pilot to decide whether conditions are safe for landing.
The chief factors in placing this responsibility with the pilot, and not with the ground controller, are the pilot’s intimate knowledge of his aircraft and his ability to land safely in such conditions. It would be impossible for ground controllers to assess those qualifications. It must also be remembered that cross wind landings are an important feature of a pilot’s training and he is constantly checked during his career on this aspect of aircraft handling. The Department of Civil Aviation is extremely jealous of Australia’s high safety record and it would not condone any operation which could jeopardise the safety and lives of air passengers.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to -
That Government Business take precedence of General Business after 8 p.m. this sitting. ‘
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 1601), on motion by Senator Mckellar-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When the debate was interrupted, we were discussing experiments on set stocking and continuous grazing which had been developed by scientists and the effect on the carrying capacity of farms in the higher rainfall areas of south western Australia. While we had in Australia at the end of last year some 170 million sheep and lambs, it is thought now by some scientists who have been investigating the carrying capacity of southern areas of Australia that with better types of pasture and improved farming techniques, the sheep population could rise rapidly to more than 400 million soon after the turn of the century. This development has been brought about by research conducted by scientists of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the various Departments of Agriculture throughout Australia. .
The producers could not pay too much into a fund to provide- scientists with adequate finance to conduct research into methods of increasing the stock carrying capacity of Australian farms and this is the objective of the Bill. It is proposed to impose a beef levy to a maximum amount of 7s. 6d. a head. It is proposed to retain the present allocation under which 2s. of this levy is devoted to research and up to Ss. 6d. may be spent on promotion and administration. Of course, these funds are not always used and the present total levy is only 3s. 3d. a head. Of this amount, 2s. is being spent on research and ls. 3d. on promotion and administration. It is also suggested that the legal maximum levy on sheep and lambs should be 9d. per head, of which a maximum of 4d. should be for research. This would allow Sd. for expenditure on promotion and administration. The figures I have quoted are the maximum figures. I understand that the present intention is that the total levy on sheep and lambs will be 2id. - Id. for research and Hd. for promotion and administration.
I believe that farmers’ organisations throughout Australia are rapidly becoming more aware of the need to pay more attention to the advice given by research officers on farming methods in the various States and in Commonwealth Territories. I agree with Senator Cant that there are still many farmers to whom we are not getting the message through. This is a problem. We spend a lot of money on research and it has been proved that by adopting the methods suggested by research officers more economic farming can be achieved. However there are still some farmers who say: “We and our fathers before us have been farmers. Scientists cannot tell us anything about this game. They have only learned from books, but we have had practical experience.”
I had occasion to meet some of these people recently during a tour of my own State. One of them said to me: “ We do not take the advice of the farm advisers in the area. They are only, university students, whilst we, as our fathers and their fathers before them, have practical experience. We think we know more than the advisers do “. This man was not prepared to join a group and follow the advice of the advisers. I thought this was a pity, because he had a fairly large property and the farm adviser in the district had told me that it was carrying less than one-third of the stock that it could have carried had the farmer adopted the methods outlined by the advisory officers. This sort of thing is bad for Australia. Therefore, we, as the Government with the co-operation and help of the State Departments of Agriculture, should do everything in our power to help the research officers to bring knowledge of modern methods of stock husbandry and farming to the people concerned. I do not believe we are doing this, and I cannot find the answer to the problem. The fact ,is that farmers are not getting the message.
– We must have more extension services.
– Yes, we must have more extension services and more extension officers scattered throughout the States.
– Would television help?
– I do not think so in many cases. How can one get a message through to those who do not want to hear it? Perhaps it is a good suggestion that television services should be used. The only difficulty is that the farmers in the outback areas around Geraldton and Kalgoorlie, in the south at Esperance and in many other areas of Australia cannot view television because they do not have a service provided by a station. I understand that the position in Western Australia is rapidly being improved. It is an important subject and a lot of people could receive the message through television services. 1 have referred to some of the developments in southern Australia. More important is the need to get through the message of the latest developments in research stations in northern Australia, in the higher rainfall areas. I refer to the tropical areas where 30 inches of rain and over are received annually. These areas have the potential to more than double their cattle carrying capacity. I think they have the capacity to carry ten times the amount of cattle they are carrying at present. When those figures are achieved, then we can say that we will be able to improve their capacity by 10 times again. I have seen areas of Australia where one or two beasts are carried to 100 acres, or to a square mile, which is 640 acres. Those areas are capable of carrying and fattening a beast to two or three acres, which would improve by about 200 times their cattle carrying capacity.
In the areas north of Katherine in the Northern Territory very few cattle stations are carrying more than three beasts to a square mile, although they enjoy a rainfall of over 30 inches a year. I am referring to an area which extends for about 230 miles north from Katherine and is about 400 miles in width. The numbers of cattle carried there at present are insignificant, lt is capable of development with pastures, as has been done in the south, so that it can carry and fatten at least a beast to three acres. This is true not only of the Northern Territory, but also of the northern areas of Western Australia - a small part of the Kimberleys - and a large part of Queensland. Because of the development of Siratro and Townsville lucerne by scientists through money made available for beef research, a new era of farming can take place in the areas I have referred to, providing we can get the message through to the people in both the northern and southern areas.
We must not only get the message through but also take the matter a stage further. There may well be many people who are eager to commence farming in these areas but who cannot do so because of the lack of finance. I saw in the Press either this morning or yesterday an article from a certain organisation in which it stated that the whole subject of rural finance should be re-examined by the Commonwealth. I agree wholeheartedly. I have stated in this place on many occasions that this subject needs to be completely re-examined.
In days gone by, the banks were willing and eager to lend money to farmers on a long term basis. If one had a property worth £30,000, one had no trouble at all in arranging an overdraft limit of £15,000. One would not be expected to reduce the overdraft; that was the working arrangement. One could carry on for a year, and then go back to the bank and get £15,000 for the following year, and even more if ons wanted to undertake development. But today if a person goes to a bank and asks for £15,000 he is asked how long he wants it for. If that person says: “ I want it for 10 or 15 years because I want to continue with development”, the bank is just not interested. I am not blaming the banks for this attitude. Perhaps it has been brought about by the Government itself. I do not believe that the banks are interested in lending farmers money on a long term basis. I admit that within the last two or three years the banks have agreed to lend money for development purposes, but they want it repaid within 10 or 15 years.
The availability of finance is vital to the development not so much of southern Australia as of northern Australia. We must get our financial institutions to come to the party and play a larger part than they are playing at the present time in developmental projects. As a nation we should endeavour to publicise the potential of areas that have lately been proved by research officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the various State departments so that companies in the south will be made aware of the prospect of making handsome financial returns from the investment of capital in these areas. 1 have very much pleasure indeed in supporting the measure.
– The speeches that have been delivered by Senator Scott and Senator Cant illustrate the concurrence of honorable senators on both sides of the chamber in the proposals contained in the measure that is now before us. This legislation is further evidence of the Government’s recognition of the very great need that has existed in the past, and which still exists, to bring to the aid of our primary industries the benefits of the research that has been undertaken by the scientists. There is no doubt that the beef research programme has proved to be an outstanding success. The relevant figures show that the beef industry is fast becoming one of our most stable and up and coming export earning industries. To illustrate that statement let me quote figures showing the position at 31st March last as set out in the 30th annual report of the Australian Meat Board. They show that the total number of beef cattle was 13,919,000, which was an increase of 279,000 on the peak figure in 1964. That illustrates that, although there is a drought in vast areas of Queensland and New South Wales, the other States, when the seasons are favourable, are improving their techniques in the whole field of meat production.
There is no doubt that a revolution has occurred in this section of Australian pri mary industry over the past 10 to 15 years. The figures that I have quoted show the results of the elimination or tremendous reduction of rabbits through the miracle of myxomatosis, the awareness of the need for continuing pasture improvement and the development and bringing under pasture of marginal lands, in conjunction with the contribution that the scientists and research workers in the laboratories of various organisations are making by disseminating their knowledge right down to the practical men on the land.
The number of sheep in Australia as at March 1965 was 170,620,000, which was 5,500,000 higher than the previous peak figure. In the year ended 30th June 1964 Queensland produced 35,000 tons of mutton. In the year ended 30th June 1965 it produced 42,000 tons of mutton. That represented an increase of 20 per cent. That is not a normal increase. It illustrates that killings of sheep in Queensland were much higher because sheep were slaughtered as a result of the need for various graziers to unload their stock. That will have serious repercussions in the future because a big proportion of the sheep that were killed would be ewes. When a young ewe is killed it means that we lose the nine or ten lambs that she might have produced in her lifetime.
– She would be a bit old by the time she got up to 10 lambs.
– I do not know about that. When sheep get on to these improved pastures they can eat although they have no teeth. Some ewes can produce 10 lambs. However, that is by the way. I am making the point that research is being directed towards the improvement of the fat lamb in the southern States. It also is being directed to the handling of cattle, to the stud lines from which beef cattle are being produced, to station and farm management and the handling of cattle in the sale yards. New regulations have been introduced regarding hygiene in the slaughtering of cattle. Those matters indicate the research that is being carried out by the Meat Board. Organised marketing and improved preparation of our beef are matters which are providing rich dividends for the nation.
The legislation with which we are dealing extends a venture which has already proved to be most successful into the field of mutton and lamb production. There is no doubt that Australia can produce first class lambs. The areas which are most suitable for fat lamb production are those where the English breeds of sheep thrive. Rainfall is a big factor. Competitions that are held in England prove that Australian fat lamb carcasses can be matched with those of other countries, including the famous New Zealand Canterbury lambs. It must be of great pride to the individual Australian producer of fat lambs and to the Australian people generally to know that they can place their lambs in open competition with fat lambs from other countries and have them judged to be of top standard. We can prove that in limited numbers wc can compete with any other country. This is the field to which the Australian Meat Board will be asked to direct its attention.
The levy of 4d. a head, which is to be subsidised by a similar amount from the Government, will bring out the undoubted talents of the men who are applying themselves to research. They are always seeking to improve pastures and breeding strains which give sheep inherent characteristics and to produce meat which is more palatable, or more sappy or more attractive in appearance. Although the handling of sheep from the birth of a lamb to its eventual slaughter is of a fairly high standard, it can be improved. I believe that the experience which has been gained by the Meat Board from research that has been carried out as a result of the beef levy, will bring greater benefits to the mutton and lamb industry. On every occasion when legislation such as we are discusing at the present time comes before the Senate, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to see that primary industries are realising the advantages to be gained from co-operating with enlightened organisations, such as the Australian Meat Board. It is for their benefit as well as that of everyone else. An organised, planned industry, aided by science, must continue to expand, because this is the day of application of technical knowledge to the old, inherited know-how on increasing flocks. There are short cuts. More, efficient methods can be fed to the man on the land in order to complete the cycle necessary for the efficient production of the most attractive end commodity.
I commend the Government upon initiating this projection of the levy and research into mutton and lamb production. I hope that in the future we shall see a similar extension to pig meat and poultry production and the production of other types of foodstuffs that can make such a great contribution to our export earnings. There is no doubt that in these days there is very keen competition. All sorts of arrangements are made between countries. We must produce high quality products at competitive prices. If scientific aids and research can be brought to bear on both of these factors - price and quality - we shall stand a much better chance of getting our fair share of the world’s markets. Research into beef and mutton production should be extended to the finding of new markets. I believe that the whole of Asia is on the threshold of a movement towards western tastes in meat. The standard of living of the masses of Asians is such that they cannot afford even a bowl of rice, but others can have their fill of rice and are looking for other things to eat. Meat is one of the commodities for which they look. Perhaps they will not be able for a time to afford the choicer cuts, but the energies of the Australian Meat Board and those persons associated with export of meat products should be directed towards expansion of the sale of meat products in Asia. It is quite possible that the meat that now goes into mince could be supplied cheaply to Asian countries to cultivate palates for Australian meat.
We are committed to living in the Asian sphere, whether we like it or not. Whatever the future holds for our relationships on a political level, we must, for our very existence, find ways of trading with Asian countries. Many countries are forming into groups for their mutual advantage. There are the European Common Market, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the European Free Trade Area, and other international trading organisations. With each formation of such an organisation there is a tendency towards restriction of the field into which Australian products may flow. It is therefore important to cultivate new markets, even if only for special offcuts or by-products of our main meat industry, to start the ball rolling in Asian countries.
We of the Opposition support the measure. We believe that the Australian Meat Board will select the most practical and capable men for this purpose. These need not necessarily be the nominees of various wool growing or primary producing organisations, but they must be men of imagination and proven administrative capacity, with a good leavening of background experience. As we know, we often find in these organisations a man of pleasant personality who may be determined or ambitious and who can bring advantages to the industry from his selection to positions such as these. I am glad that the selection committee will really go through with a fine tooth comb the men who are to administer the scheme to see that the best are obtained. Men of that calibre are available, and I hope that they will be selected. If they are, they will make a success of this project. I wish the measure a speedy passage.
– This Bill stems from discussions which have been going on over the past two years between federally constituted grower organisations. I have been personally associated with these discussions and therefore I am particularly pleased to be here in this chamber to support the legislation. As the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) has said, this legislation would probably have been introduced last year when the Australian Meat Board was reconstituted but for the fact that the Australian Agricultural Council had some reservations. The legislation was therefore withheld at that time.
Because the meat industry is now the second biggest primary industry and plays a very important part in providing overseas credits, I am glad that both the industry and the Government recognise the importance of building up our production. The various federally constituted organisations have been endeavouring over the last two or three years, to improve the industry by coming together in consultation and, in turn, submitting their views to the Government. The first step in this direction - I mention it because it is important to remember when we are looking at the Bill before us - was to reconstitute the Meat Board. The industry recognised that it extends much further than the producer. Formerly we bad a producer board but now we have on it representatives of other sections which are of vital importance to the industry. We have two exporters and five producers and, so that the Commonwealth Government will have knowledge of the functioning of the Board, we have a representative of the Government. This has brought about a much better balanced board, which will play a more important part than the old grower board was able to do. The aim of the Committee which this Bill proposes to set up is to make the best possible use of research with a view to increasing production, and also to look into marketing techniques both at home and abroad. It is tremendously important that research be conducted into marketing techniques, because meat must be presented to Australian consumers in the best possible manner so that they will buy it. Research must be conducted also into packaging, refrigeration in transit and other aspects so that our meat is presented to our overseas customers in the best possible condition.
Until now there has been a levy for research only in relation to beef, but we have come to recognise the importance of research into lamb and mutton. Some years ago, mutton was looked upon as fairly poor quality meat. Now, because we are presenting it to our overseas customers in a better way than we did previously, we have obtained new markets. For instance, in 1963 we exported only 1,087 tons of mutton to Greece. By 1965 that amount has grown to 14,208 tons. Our mutton exports to Japan, which is a tremendously important market to us, have increased from 4,000 tons in 1963 to over 16,000 tons in 1965. Our exports of mutton and lamb to other markets increased by 10,000 tons between 1963 and 1965. I refer particularly to the growth of markets in Asia, where the people are becoming greater consumers of meat of all categories - particularly mutton, which is cheaper than beef. Our beef prices are yet too high for the Japanese people to import beef. However, with the rising standard of living in Japan and other Asian countries we can look forward with a great deal of confidence to building up this important market still further.
In his second reading speech the Minister indicated the method of appointment of members of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee. Producer representatives will now be appointed by the Minister on the nomination of the Australian Meat Board. Previously such members of the Committee were appointed by the Minister on the nomination of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Dairy Farmers Federation. I believe that the new method of appointment, by which members will be appointed after consultation between the Australian Meat Board and the selection committees of the producer organisations to which I have referred, is a very important step forward, because it will bring to the Committee the best men available in the industry, irrespective of the organsiations to which they belong. This will result in a balanced Committee, comprising men of experience, with knowledge of stock and of marketing techniques. As far as practicable, the personnel of the Committee should come from various parts of Australia so that they will have a knowledge of weather conditions and of the need for development in those areas which could play an important part in lifting our meat production. I have referred to the importance of research. We must be conscious also of the importance of lifting our production. In this regard the Committee will give very serious consideration to animal husbandry, genetics, pasture improvement and the efficient marketing and processing of our meat.
Senator Scott has referred to the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, an organisation of a kind probably unequalled in the world. The fact that the C.S.I.R.O., will be working in consultation with the proposed Committee should give us a great deal of confidence that we will lift our meat production. This aspect is important at any time but, in my judgment, it is particularly important now because of the effect that increased production will have on reducing our costs. There seems to be an ever increasing cost of production, and this is one of the avenues in which we are likely to make the biggest impact by reducing the unit cost of meat.
I agree with Senator Scott, who mentioned the tremendous potential not only in our southern areas but also in the northern areas. On a recent trip to the north I was very encouraged by the prospect of lifting our meat production, particularly in view of what I saw at the C.S.I.R.O. research station at Lansdown in Queensland, where a very good illustration was given of how to increase carrying capacity and the calving rate by the application of superphosphate to Townsville lucerne. We all know that superphosphate is not a cheap commodity, but I believe that we have a . tremendous potential in the north by the further use of Townsville lucerne and, where practicable, the application of superphosphate.
Reference has been made to the levy. The fact that the industry, on its own initiative, recommended to the Minister a large increase in the levy is sufficient evidence that the growers are confident of the results to be obtained from further research and that they recognise the enormous potential of the industry.
– What is the increase in levy?
– Previously the operations of the Australian Meat Board were financed from the proceeds of an export levy on cattle, but now there is a research levy. On cattle, there will be a research levy with a maximum of 2s., with a maximum total levy of 7s. 6d. Portion of the levy is to be used for the general administration of the Australian Meat Board and, if the Board thinks fit, funds can be used for marketing and promotion. This, coupled with the contribution that the Government is prepared to make on a £1 for £1 basis, is an acknowledgment by both the growers and the Government of this very important aspect of research.
Personally, I have great faith in the prospects for the Australian meat trade. With the rising standard of living in the world we can look forward confidently. I am pleased to note that the Minister has stated the levy will not be imposed until 196& Although producers acknowledge that the work to be financed by the levy will be of great benefit to them, the collection of the levy at a time when they are suffering severely from the effects of the drought would be rather hard upon them. I congratulate the Government on the Bill and believe it has the support of the Senate.
– Although, this is not a controversial measure, I am prompted to speak in the debate by some personal experience in the field covered by the Bill and also by the receipt four or five days ago of information from my son who is studying in the United States of America on a paper issued by Professor Wyn Owen. Professor Owen is an Australian agricultural economist who has done considerable work in Asia and Egypt and is working now in the United States of America. He has produced a new general theory on the development of agriculture in the less well developed countries. The paper will be printed in due course. On reading through it I came to a comment which is of significance to the Australian scene as well as to the countries mentioned in the paper. This is one of the broad premises of Professor Owen’s paper and if it can be proved to be true, it is of great significance. Indeed on Professor Owen’s figures, it is proved to be true. In this paper, Professor Owen stated -
The family farm market orientated type of agricultural economy we enjoy provides a framework within which increased agricultural production on a cumulative basis can be rendered essentially automatic and almost a direct function of public investment in agricultural research and rural education.
To define that for simple people like myself, what it really comes down to is this: What we are working on in Australia is similar to the pattern in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Western democracies and it is called a family farm market orientated type of rural economy. There are two distinct types of production: The Communist bloc type where everything is run on a collective farm basis, and the family farm which is orientated to a free market. What Professor Owen has said in this connection is that there is a framework within which increased agricultural production on a cumulative basis can be rendered essentially automatic and almost a direct function of public investment in agricultural research and rural education.
So far as I can see, he has proved this to be a tenable argument. If that is the case, this sort of thing is of tremendous importance to Australia in its own right. It is also of great importance to Australia to serve as a model for other countries whose economies are predominantly agricultural. So the more money you can spend on research in a country like this, the more likely you are to develop a cumulative expansion in resources and general abilities. This might seem to be a truism but, as Senator Bull has said,- it is of particular importance to Australia where costs of production are so critical and increased research will produce results in direct proportion to the amount of money spent. Moreover, it will gain in strength with arithmetical progression many more times as time goes on in relation to the first expenditure of money.
As I understand the Bill, the proposal is to investigate the marketing position generally, breeding patterns and stock management and it is planned to bring within this research mutton and lamb as well as beef. I take a very good view of the proposal that the industry and the Government should do this work in conjunction. That is the way Australia can best do these things. There is a common interest and a common purpose to be served and to have industry make a contribution, with government support for the plan, is the best way to handle it.
There is a need for research into markets undoubtedly. Senator Bull covered that aspect very well and reference was made to it by Senators O’Byrne and Scott. Marketing research and the general development of new markets must be related back to the origins of meat production, breeding programmes, slaughterhouse arrangements, grading and general methods of production before you get to the markets. It is in this field that stocking and breeding techniques will become of more than ordinary significance.
The meat industry has shown quite remarkable growth. In 1945, total meat exports from Australia to all destinations totalled 102,000 tons. Taking 10 year periods for the purposes of comparison, exports have increased to 194,000 tons in 1955 and to 429,000 tons in 1965. That is a growth of four times in 20 years. When we consider that we have some knowledge of what to expect in the next 20 years with the growth of the agricultural economy, pasture development and new methods of livestock management yet to be developed, we realise that the growth of the meat industry in Australia will be of great significance if it is properly fostered. The fundamental basis of this prospective development is research and the application of research. There is no doubt - and we should accept the fact - that Australia needs a great deal more precision in the marketing of meat. I cannot speak with any experience of mutton or beef marketing but I can say something on lamb marketing because 1 have had something to do with it and have studied it. The picture of lamb marketing in Australia is governed fundamentally by the fact that wc eat 92 per cent, of the lamb we produce and export 8 per cent. New Zealand, the nearest comparable country, exports 92 per cent, of its lamb and eats 8 per cent. That 92 per cent, has to bc exported to the free world markets in other parts of the world where meat is sold in open competition and subject to rigid regulations.
I have studied the New Zealand lamb market since 1953 and have made a number of visits to New Zealand. In my opinion the New Zealand methods and techniques employed in the marketing of lamb are substantially ahead of ours. I was there first 10 years ago and have been to New Zealand at intervals since. In my opinion, New Zealand was well ahead of us 10 years ago and when I visited New Zealand again last January I gained the impression that it is even further ahead now.
– What accounts for the difference in the consumption of lamb?
Senator COTTON__ That have a much bigger lamb economy than we have. There is a direct contrast. We export 8 per cent, of our lamb production and the New Zealanders eat 8 per cent, of theirs. Their consumption might fluctuate a little but not a great deal. I think it is true to say also that we tend to use the home consumption market in Australia as a base to the whole industry. We tend to eat the best lamb we produce. Generally Australian lamb is regarded less highly on the London market than New Zealand lamb.
– Does that mean better marketing practices?
– Yes, and it means having more lambs to sell. In the time available to me I will illustrate some of the things that happen in New Zealand, where I have spent quite a lot of time. The reason for this is that many of our breeders of British breeds of sheep are stud breeders in their own right and export a lot of sheep to New Zealand. I do not say this with any intention of boasting. However, in my view, New Zealand is the country where lamb breeding, lamb management and lamb selling are refined to an exceptional degree. One can learn a lot there, lt was a matter of great satisfaction to us that we were able to sell rams from our stud to New Zealand and that their progeny beat the whole of the north island of New Zealand in the fat lamb competitions. This was not usual for an Australian breeder.
We naturally followed this with great interest and went to New Zealand to see the competitions there. Lamb competitions in Australia are not run with anything like the degree of competance with which those in New Zealand are run. The north island lamb competition - the critical one - is held at Palmerston North, where the lambs are brought in and are judged on the basis that I will outline. This will be of interest to those who are interested in the lamb business, but I hope that honorable senators who are not so interested will not go to sleep. The lambs are brought in in classes of over 34 lb. and under 33 lb., in groups of three. They are of all breeds and all types, mostly in the normal range of types of sheep. There are at least 500 lambs in the competition, in pens of three. On the first day, they are judged on the hoof by a normal livestock show judge and they are allocated places. This takes place on Saturday. On Sunday morning they are all branded and yarded, put on a train and taken down to Wellington, where they are penned in an open paddock together.
At about 3 a.m. on Monday they are brought to the meat works, killed in a consecutive run and noted by number. Then as the carcasses come down the grading line the Meat Board judges reject those which are not fit for export and throw them out. They are still in groups of three. This brings the number back from about 500 live lambs for judging on the hoof by the livestock judges to about 320 to be judged by the Meat Board judges on the hook. The balance are rejected. This is the standard they work to, and 180 lambs are taken out of 500 lambs of show grade. The Meat Board judges take the 320 in groups of three and judge them on the hook in groups of three, under 33 lb. and over 34 lb. For the satisfaction of an Australian audience, I can say that in our case 24 lamb carcasses were brought to the final judging by the Meat Board. There were three pens of three over 34 lb. and five pens of three under 33 lb., and the lambs bred by Australian rams were first and third in the under 33 lb. section and second and fourth in the over 34 lb. section, having a total of 15 lambs out of the final 24. This shows that the Australian producer can, in effect, match the people who are the real experts in this field. That is the second stage of the judging.
The third stage covers the winning 24, plus the reserve winners - about 60. All the carcasses are placed in the chilling room on Monday night. The butchers start at about 1 o’clock in the morning and the carcasses are all divided and hung. One half is hung totally and the other half is cut three ways, lt is docked with a standard template on the leg bone; it is docked at a standard place back against the chops, and is cut at the fifth rib, and the shoulder is boned out. Then the butchers come in and judge the lamb from the butcher’s point of view on the block. They allocate points for weight and take off points for over-fat. They allow points for the eye of meat in the chop. The whole thing is done on the basis of a butcher’s ability to make money out of the lamb, lt is astonishing to see the variation between the opinions of the judges. There is the opinion of the man used to judging on the hoof what he thinks is a fat lamb. It is astonishing to see how far away his opinion is, in nearly all cases, from the final results of the Meat Board judges, and how far both those opinions are from that of the butchers. This is the degree to which they take judging in New Zealand.
If we are to have a big lamb export market and to capture markets from countries like New Zealand and Iceland, or take our share of them, we have to be prepared to introduce much more precise methods of meat marketing. Let me give an illustration of what happens in New Zealand. We were staying with a friend at Asburton, south of Christchurch. This man was having his lambs taken one morning to Borthwick’s works at Christchurch to be killed. They were sent off and got there at about 1 1 a.m. At about 2.10 p.m. this man received a ring on the telephone and was told: “ Jack, you had better come up to the works. I want to show you your lambs. You have a bad dog there “. He went up to Borthwick’s works and they showed him his lamb carcasses hanging up. About one in every six was blemished on the back legs, where his dogs had been handling the sheep too roughly. I have heard that the same thing happens in the case of people who have been prodding their sheep with a stick while they are going up the race into a lorry. They have been warned by the Meat Board and the killing works, who have told them: “You have a fellow on your farm whose habit it is to give the iambs a good kick as they go up the race. We are going to dock your lambs “. In New Zealand, if you visit a friend’s farm when the lambs are going off in the season, he can show you his account sales. The whole of his lambs are taken by the works and all the details are put on a sheet, showing so many lambs totalling so many pounds weight, the total price per pound, the number of lambs graded A and the number graded down, the lambs graded for export and those graded for the home consumption market. The farmer can be there when the lambs are killed and can check the whole thing; the method is weight and grade over the hook. This produces precision as far as the operator is concerned and quality as far as the consumer is concerned. It is no use begging the question. This position does not exist in Australia, and I do not think we will have it for some time, but I believe we should be aiming in that direction. The research proposal is a great delight to me because for years I have hoped that we will get much more refinement in our meat marketing as meat becomes more important to our economy.
The only other thing I want to mention is that the experience we gained in New Zealand impressed us greatly. We saw the new developments in meat marketing flowing from the packaged meat trade mentioned by Senator Bull. We are thinking more of lamb in this regard, but I imagine this development is taking place over the whole field of meat marketing. New Zealand believes that the days of sending lamb, mutton or beef away in the total carcass is going to pass and that meat will have to be sold in packaged form. Some of the leading meat works such as G.M.E. - even Borth- wick’s are beginning to think like this- r have developed this technique to a fine degree. In New Zealand an overseas buyer can place an order for so many thousand dozen boxes of leg lamb with a weight range of from 3 lb to 3i lb. If one is running a school, and institution, a gaol or a hospital, where one needs a big leg of lamb or mutton, one can put in an order for so many thousand boxes of 6 lb. legs. The same applies to chops and shoulders. The New Zealand exporters believe that they should not be shipping, or air freighting, stuff which is normally classed as dog meat, but packaged meat. Their leg of lamb trade would fundamentally be with the United Kingdom, and they believe a chop trade can be generated on the west coast of America, in Honolulu, in the more wealthy parts of Asia and, to some extent, in Italy. They believe their shoulder trade - the shoulder is the worst part of the lamb - will tend to go to the poorer countries, which cannot afford to buy the expensive cuts. This is the level of marketing precision which is being reached in New Zealand in regard to lamb.
This Bill will in due course enable us, through education and the application of research, to reach a point where we can improve what is obviously going to be a very big factor in our economy. Our grass land is expanding at such a rate and our livestock population can be fed at such a rate that there will be a great build up in our meat production. This will be of great importance to us and I believe we will see the day come when the meat production of Australia’s grass lands will be of greater consequence than the wool production of those same grass lands. I support the Bill.
– The complete and uniform support of the Bill from both sides of the Senate is very encouraging. I believe all those who have been associated with this industry will have found the debate so far to be of outstanding interest and a great help to them. I am quite certain that the future of Australia’s overseas trade more and more will be wrapped up in the meat industry as a whole. In its turn, the meat industry will become more dependent on the research which is undertaken into all aspects of the industry. On other occasions in this chamber I have referred to what is popularly known today as the population explosion. I repeat that too few people in the world recognise that whilst the population has increased steadily over the centuries, today it is increasing at such a rapid rate in comparison to previous times that in 45 years we can anticipate a doubling of the population as from 1975. The increase will be, not millions, but billions of people.
Those persons who have made a study of the subject are all of one mind. They say that in many types of foodstuffs serious shortages will occur, particularly in protein foodstuffs. Meat, of course, is rich in protein. If that prediction is accurate - and I do not think there is any justification for believing that it is not - we in Australia must recognise that because of the nature of our country and climate and our general facilities we have a great responsibility in future to provide the food that is needed. We should increase our assistance for research in an industry which is vital to the future, not only of Australia, but of the world.
Proof of the existence of the population explosion is to be found in some of the figures cited earlier by Senator Bull when he told the Senate of the markets opening to our meat in overseas countries which have never in the past been known to import meat from Australia. Today they are becoming our most important customers. That is just one of the effects of the seriously increasing population growth in the world. We have a responsibility to play our part in overcoming the problem associated with that growth.
Senator Scott paid a very well merited tribute to the scientists whose research has greatly improved the cattle carrying capacity of millions of acres of Australia. Often, I have referred to my part of the world as the area of maximum hardship in Australia where the greatest difficulties are experienced in expanding the cattle industry. Nevertheless, there is now greater opportunity to expand it because up until the present we have not had very good animal husbandry and a lot of land in the Northern Territory has not been put to good use. I was most impressed by Senator Scott’s reference to the need to increased extension services. It is a sad commentary that much of the knowledge gained from the great work being done by our scientists to develop new processes in pasture improvement and similar fields, is not availed of as often as it should be in outside areas. I believe that each State Government is doing much to develop extension services so that the knowledge gained by scientists can be taken to the practical producers in the country areas.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended for lunch I had started to refer to the value of extension services. I must emphasise the value of these services, because even if we have the best research in the world and our scientists are making very great progress in overcoming the many problems that are associated with the beef industry, unless the knowledge of the solution of those problems is passed on to the men who are producing the beef, the work of the scientists will be virtually useless. Extension services form one of the main media that have been used to disseminate this knowledge. Senator Scott also referred to this earlier today. The appointment of more extension officers is a vital necessity.
It is necessary not only to have more extension officers, but also to make it possible for those we already have, and the new ones who I hope will be appointed, to go to the areas where they are most needed. Senator Bull referred to the splendid work that is being done at Lansdown. It is splendid work. But the lesson to be learned from Lansdown can be learned only by a visit to the property. On that property we have an example of the startling difference between cattle that have been reared on areas which have not been treated with superphosphate and next door cattle that have been reared on areas of similar size but which have been treated with superphosphate. This property provides a perfect example of the use of superphosphate to produce better and fatter cattle, and to improve the calving rate and the carrying capacity of the land.
It is all very well to achieve these results, but the producers must see them. Many of them can do so. However, we must realise that a great number of producers who live in the isolated areas around the Gulf of Carpentaria and in the Cape York Peninsula, and similar areas in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, simply cannot knock off for an afternoon, look at this experiment and learn from it. They are so far from the larger centres that they get to them only once a year if they are lucky. This emphasises the need for sending extension officers to the isolated areas. It seems to me to be a great waste of splendid, knowledgeable officers that in many cases, and in all cases until a couple of years ago - I do not know whether the position has changed in the last twelve months or so - they have been required to travel by conventional means, usually in their own motor vehicles and sometimes by the conventional airlines.
I have discussed with some of these officers the tremendous amount of extra reproductive work they could do if they were provided, with more modern means of transport. Naturally, I am referring to the use of small aircraft. If we relate it to the cost of the training of these men and the amount of time they have to spend in travel, I am quite satisfied that it would be economic to provide at least some of them with a faster means of travel. I know one officer who believed that this would be the trend in this type of work and who at his own expense qualified as a pilot. I repeat that if this method of disseminating the knowledge that is gained from research were used, we would get a great deal more value from the work that is being undertaken. I must say in all fairness that I am not criticising the Department of Primary Industry. Speaking broadly - I do not think the position is quite clear-cut - the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation controls the scientific work and the various State departments have , the responsibility for extension services. I recall, of course, that in the Estimates a certain amount of money was allocated for this type of work. I repeat that extension services are largely the responsibility of the State Governments but that infinite value would be obtained from the appointment of more extension officers and the provision of greater mobility for them.
The value of research is lost to a great degree when finance is unavailable to producers who live in the more difficult areas. Senator Scott referred to this matter also. The Commonwealth Development Bank has moved into this field and has assisted in many cases, but the fact that it has assisted in many cases does not mean that there is now no problem. A tremendous amount of finance is needed to provide better pastures, better stock, better fencing, better watering points and so forth. I do not think that our extreme areas will be developed until more finance is made available. No doubt honorable senators will recall a news item some three or four months ago about a development that had occurred in the Cape York Peninsula. A group of cattle men from America had joined together in a syndicate and had taken over three well-known properties in North Queensland. I know that some honorable senators raise objections to the importation of overseas capital, and I understand the reasons for their attitude. But we must remember that when a development such as this occurs it produces for the properties that are taken over finance that is not available to our local people. On these properties we may now expect to see development that we would not otherwise have seen. Only a month ago, this syndicate I have spoken about arranged for the transport of some hundreds of tons of superphosphate - that is a considerable quantity - to improve the pastures, and six tons of legume seed and various other types of seed for the growing of fodder. If honorable senators will think of that for just a moment - six tons of seed and hundreds of tons of fertiliser on a property on which the previous owners were handicapped in carrying out developmental work - they will realise that the research that is conducted by our scientists will be put to very great use in these areas. I believe that this is the only avenue that will really provide us with the development that we want to see as quickly as we want to see it.
The value of research is lost if we cannot attract such people. There is one vital reason why we cannot attract them in greater numbers. At the moment I am speaking only of Queensland. That vital reason is that the system of land tenure is not conducive to the attraction of people with a great deal of money to spend. When it is not possible for them to obtain reasonable security of tenure of land, it is quite unreasonable to expect them to spend huge sums of money in developing that land. Whilst leasehold tenure has attractions for any government, we have to weigh the pros and cons. We have to recognise that apparently it is not possible for us to provide the finance that is needed for the development of this land. In the light of that, we have to remove the obstacles that are inhibiting people who are able to develop the land in doing so. I repeat that in order to do that we must change the system of land tenure in Queensland.
I have made several proposals whereby such a change could be effected. No doubt several other proposals could be made, which could be variants of the proposals that I have made. But there is a fundamental need for a change in the system of land tenure, which prevents anyone having the long term certainty of being able to proceed with development. I would not like to be misunderstood on this matter. I do not mean that there should be a type of land tenure under which people could hold a property unused or unsatisfactorily used for decade after decade, because they had an unrestricted freehold title to it. I hate to see land unused. I believe that it would be easy to introduce the type of land tenure under which there was security but the holder of the land had an obligation to develop it and ultimately to provide portion of it for closer settlement. In fact, that type of lease has been introduced in Queensland in the last three or four years. But the type that has been introduced is not wide enough. All of this research which is so vital to the meat industry will be only partially advantageous unless we solve the problems about which honorable senators have spoken, such as lack of finance and lack of knowledge.
Queensland is going through one of the most serious periods that it has ever known, as far as stock is concerned. I think an official statement that was issued only within the last week - unfortunately I have not been able to lay my hand on it - mentioned that the drought has been responsible for the loss of 6i million cattle in Queensland this year. That is a shocking state of affairs. In view qf that serious situation, the need to solve the problems with which we are faced becomes more urgent.
Provided the research work that is being done by our scientists is followed up by effective extension services, I believe that it is possible for landholders to initiate on their own properties measures which, to a very large extent, will offset the everrecurring effects of drought. If research work provides the know-how for the improvement of pastures, cattle and cattle husbandry, and if the results of research work are conveyed to the practical men who are running the properties, then we will really see progress in the meat industry.
– in reply - I thank the Opposition for the support that it has given to these measures. I also thank the honorable senators on this side of the chamber who have spoken in support of them. I wish to give Senator Scott some information that he requested on the subject of extension services. I inform him that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and his Department are paying special attention to this matter. Recently a senior position was established in the Department with a view to the proper co-ordination of the results of the various research schemes and the introduction of adequate arrangements for passing the knowledge gained on to the producers. That is an important aspect. It is not much good obtaining information and knowledge if they are not passed on to the producers. As I have said, that is what the Department intends to do in the future. I thank the Senate for giving these measures a speedy passage through the second reading stage. 1 hope that they will have a speedy passage through Committee, too.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th November (vide page 1518), on motion by Senator Mckellar-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The second reading debate on the Meat Research Bill covered the provisions of this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th November (vide page 1518), on motion by Senator McKellar-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill is complementary to the two previous Bills which we have debated. The Opposition does not oppose it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th November (vide page 1518), on motion by Senator Gorton-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of this Bill, and of the Public Accounts. Committee Bill which the Senate will consider later, is to increase the standing appropriation from £5,000 to £10,000 per annum. The Opposition does not intend to oppose either Bill. The Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee are two of the Joint Standing Committees of the Parliament. Both Committees perform important work. As honorable senators know, the Public Works Committee reports to Parliament from time to time on various projects. Recently it has investigated and submitted reports on work to be carried out at airports in the various States. At the present time it is considering a proposal in relation to a migrant hostel at Randwick.
The Public Accounts Committee was reconstituted under the chairmanship of Professor Bland in 1951. He came to this Parliament as the member for Warringah and was Emeritus Professor of Public Administration at the University of Sydney. This Committee has frequently been referred to as the watchdog of the public purse. Honorable senators will have noticed that reports on such matters as the administration of the Northern Territory and the Department of Social Services have come before the Parliament. I am certain that they received praise from members in both Houses of the Parliament.
– Has the honorable senator a vested interest in this Bill?
– Being a member of the Public Accounts Committee, of course, I am interested in the Bill. As I am a member of the Committee, I have been deputed by my Party to put forward the Party’s point of view. The Public Accounts Committee investigates criticism by the Commonwealth Auditor-General of the affairs of the various Federal Departments. I might add that the number of Government Departments has increased to a great extent over the years. I believe that there are 25 departments and approximately 115 bureaux and statutory authorities which are subject to Commonwealth audit checks and which attract the attention of the Public Accounts Committee.
The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) in his second reading speech said that the present standing appropriations have remained unaltered since 1951, except for a special increase of £1,500 which was approved for the Public Works Committee in 1962-63 only. Honorable senators will recall that in 1951 the salary of members of Parliament was approximately £1,500, which included allowances and all other forms of payment. Today the salary and allowances of members have almost trebled. Also, today’s basic wage is almost three times that of 1951. It is important that the Senate approve of the proposed increase in order that these Committees may carry out their work. This will be the first increase in the standing appropriation of the Public Accounts Committee since its inception in 1951. As I have said, the standing appropriation for the Public Works Committee has remained unaltered, except for a slight increase in 1962-63. The Opposition raises no objection to either of the Bills.
.- As the purpose of the Bills is the same, we can deal with both Bills in the one speech. The increase, from £5,000 to £10,000, in the amount that is provided to both the Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee indicates increased expenditure in various directions, such as travelling allowances and sitting fees. I know that over a period of time the number of sitting days has increased and no doubt this has resulted in increased cost of administration. But I think that we might have been given more information as to why the increases are necessary. Is extra money being spent on administration? Is it necessary for the staff to work overtime? At what times do the Committees sit? If the reason for the increase is because of overtime worked by the staff, could not the Committees sit at other times, which would result in more economical administration?
I have entered the debate because of the reference in the second reading speech of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) to “sitting fees”. It seems rather strange to me that the members of the Committees receive sitting fees. It is a rather higgledypiggledy sort of arrangement. In my view, sitting fees should not be paid to members of the Committees. They are members of Parliament, and as such they receive a salary. That salary, in my view, should cover all parliamentary work. Generally, the members of the Committees are appointed at their own wish. No doubt there would be many honorable senators and members of the other place who would be willing to serve on committees. Therefore, I do not think that any distinction should be made, nor do I think that any special payment should be made just because members sit on committees. They are paid as parliamentarians to do this sort of work.
I know that sometimes the members of the Committees say that they have to carry out extensive research work which takes many hours. These are all good stories, but to me there is one clear principle and that is that when they become members of Parliament they receive a parliamentary salary which should cover work which they perform on the Committees and any part they may take in debates in this Parliament. It rather staggers me to think that the members of the two Committees which we are discussing receive sitting fees. I have learnt that sometimes these Committees sit in the morning before Parliament begins and also during the suspension of the sitting for lunch. The members of the Committees receive sitting fees on those occasions. As all honorable senators know, when we come to Canberra to attend sittings of the Parliament we receive an allowance of £6 a day to cover our expenses, and we receive our parliamentary salary; To receive a sitting fee for attendance at meetings on days on which the Parliament meets is, I think, just over the odds. But irrespective of whether the meeting is held on days when the Parliament is sitting or on days when the Parliament is not sitting, an allowance of £6 a day is made available. That, together with the parliamentary salary, should cover attendance at any meetings of committees. I have served on various committees. I served on the Select Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. It has been put to me that sometimes committees have to meet on other than parliamentary sitting days. That is all right. The Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, on which 1 served, continued for many months. We took a lot of evidence and interviewed many people. I travelled from Mackay, in North Queensland, to Canberra and to various other places, and I do not remember receiving any sitting fee in respect of that Select Committee. I also served on the Senate select committee on indemnity payments to maritime unions. I cannot remember a sitting fee being paid in respect of that committee.
– Yes, it was.
– Did we receive a sitting tee in respect of that committee?
– No sitting fees were payable in respect of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. I do not think that sitting fees should be paid for attendance at any of these committees. To my way of thinking, this attendance comes within the scope of our parliamentary salary. The allowance of £6 a day that we receive is quite fair, I think, and should cover the attendance. Let us see how lacking in system is the payment of fees for attendance at meetings of parliamentary committees. Travelling allowance is paid in respect of meetings of all committees on days other than days when the Parliament is sitting. The allowance is paid in any event to members on- days when the Parliament is sitting. The scale of allowance varies, depending upon whether a committee meets in Canberra or at some other place. Sitting fees are paid to members of the Public Works Committee, Public Accounts Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Committee. The Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee are appointed pursuant to statute. But members of another Committee appointed pursuant to statute - the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee - do not receive any fees. Mem bers of the Standing Orders- Committee, which is a standing committee, do not receive fees.
– How often do these committees meet - the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting’ Committee, for instance?
– I do not know, but some committees meet quite regularly and the members do not receive any fees. The members of some select committees of each House have received sitting fees. Members of the Constitutional Review Committee, which was a Joint Committee, members of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, and members of the Select Committee which considered voting rights for Aborigines received sitting fees, but members of similar committees, such as the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety and the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, did not. So there is no system in the matter of paying fees to members of parliamentary committees.
– What are the fees per day?
– I think that the amount is £2 10s. a day and there is a suggestion that it will be raised to £4.
– This is in addition to the £6?
– Yes. Committee members receive their allowance of £6, in any event, and there is a suggestion of raising the sitting fee to £4 a day. This is the sort of thing that is bad from the parliamentary point of view. I think it is a practice that should be stopped. To my way of thinking, the parliamentary salary that we receive should cover committee work, if we are fortunate enough to be on a committee. It should be considered a privilege and an honour to be on a committee. I take the view - this is something of which I have often spoken in relation to local government work as well as parliamentary work - that the aim of being in a public position is not to get as much out of it as one can. It is a matter of how much one can give. I am reminded of a definition of democracy. It is not a matter just of what we get out of it; it is a matter also of what we give to it. Democracy is a two-way process. It is more a matter of what we give than of what we get out of it. I believe that we should have more of a democratic outlook in relation to service in the Parliament and on committees than apparently prevails at the present time. I am amazed that sitting fees should be paid in this way, more particularly for attendance at meetings of the Public Accounts Committee, which is supposed to be a custodian of accounts or a watchdog over the spending of various departments. Here we find the very practice with which the Public Accounts Committee should concern itself being carried on and pursued further by that Committee.
The Senate is dealing with the Public Accounts Committee Bill, which proposes an amendment of the Public Accounts Committee Act of 1951 by substituting the words “ ten thousand pounds “ for the words “ five thousand pounds “ wherever they occur in that Act. The original amount of £5,000 is the amount appropriated annually by the Parliament to cover, the administrative expenses of the Committee. It is a figure that has stood for some 14 years. Both the Public Works’ Committee and the Public Accounts Committee have advised recently’ that more than £5,000 may be required in the current year. The general principle behind this Bill, and the Public Works Committee Bill is to ensure that these two Committees may work as they have been doing for many years, unrestricted by inadequate finance.
It was very interesting to hear Senator Wood’s comments. I give him credit for some of the points that he made. There is no particular point in saying that all persons elected to the Senate or to the House of Representatives should receive no more than their parliamentary salaries and allowances. If we were to follow Senator Wood’s argument, Ministers would certainly not receive the extra remuneration that they receive for the additional work they do. The Government Whip and the Chairman of Committees would not be paid more for the extra work in which they are undoubtedly involved and for which they are undoubtedly entitled to receive extra payment. This is not equivalent to saying that attendance at meetings of various other committees in which members and senators may take an interest should necessarily attract a sitting fee. I know that committees have been established within the past twelve months as a result of the desire of members to further their information and knowledge. It would certainly not be wise to pay sitting fees to members of committees in those circumstances. But I am firmly of the view that the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee perform a very valuable service not only for the Parliament but also for the people.
I address my remarks first to the matter of the Public Accounts Committee, with which I am familiar. The duties of this Committee are set out in section 8 of the 1951 Act. They are-
That there is great value in such a parliamentary committee is shown by the fact that many State Governments are in the process of establishing or have already established their own Public Accounts Committees. Similar committees are in existence in the United States, Britain, Canada, Israel, South Africa and other countries. One is being established in Papua and New Guinea.
Let me refer again to the duties of the Committee, particularly as mentioned in item (d), which relates to the Committee’s duty to inquire into any question in connection with the public accounts which is referred to it by either House of the Parliament, and to report to that House upon that question. I believe that the Houses of Parliament should show a greater interest in the work done by the Committee and refer to it matters which they believe require inquiry. It is interesting to note that this has never been done in the life of the Public Accounts Committee, so one may assume that both Houses of the Parliament have been satisfied with its work.
– Who decides the programme of work?
– The programme is decided by the Committee itself, except for the statutory requirement placed on it to investigate the reports of the AuditorGeneral. The honorable senator may be assured that the Committee directs its attention to those avenues in which it believes some improvement can be made in the financial arrangements of the Commonwealth.
Senator Gair and other honorable senators may ask what the. Committee has achieved. I have been associated with the Committee for only a comparatively short time, so I cannot claim to. have made any great contribution to the work of the Committee, but I should like to instance one matter to illustrate that the minimal expenditure incurred by the Committee in acting as the. parliamentary watchdog has been well worth while. In this particular instance the Committee was responsible for saving some hundreds of thousands of pounds. In paragraph 22 on page 8 of its report relating to the Auditor-General’s report for the financial year 1963-64 the Committee had this to say -
Your Committee notes that in 1960 the Postmaster-General’s Department made a change in procedure in relation to ‘transfers of telephone services, but did not institute the payment of rental in advance to cover this new arrangement until Sth August 1964. In this period of time the level of outstanding debts on telephone services rose from £435,457 (21,189 accounts) to £1,102,407 (39,917 accounts). We are of the opinion, on this evidence, that the decision to abolish the transfer system was not accompanied by an adequate detailed analysis of the probable outcome of the new procedure. The Department set aside a vital principle which it had followed in respect to telephone rentals, namely, collection of rent in advance, which after a costly experimental period it had to reinstate. We believe that in taking the decision to treat successive subscribers to a telephone service as though they were initial subscribers to a new service and not simply as the recipients of a transferred service, the Department should have collected from each successive subscriber, six months rent in advance in accordance with its own established treatment of initial subscribers. By discarding this principle temporarily the Department lost its valuable deterrent against the defaulting subscriber, permitted accounts to be established without the protection of any pre-payments and placed an undue strain on the resources of the Commonwealth Police Force and the Crown Solicitor’s Office in Sydney. This absence of foresight by the Department calls for criticism not only on the grounds that recovery action has multiplied but also because increased unrecovered debts, which must be written off ultimately, will affect adversely the profitability of the Post Office.
– Would not the Department itself have come to that conclusion without a direction from the Public Accounts Committee?
– If the honorable senator had listened to the comments that I have made he would have heard me say that the Department adopted this new procedure in 1960 and returned to the old procedure in 1964. No private enterprise which wished to remain in business would ever institute a system which in three years permitted outstanding debts to rise from £435,000 to £1,102,000, and allow that system to continue without giving it a good deal of thought. It was within the Department’s own ability to overcome this problem but it was left to the watchdog of the Parliament to call attention to it. In my view, in that one case alone the Committee justified the expenditure which it has incurred. I remind the Senate that I had nothing to do with that singular achievement. As Senator Fitzgerald has said, there are some 25 major departments, which give the Committee ample scope to function.
I wish to pay a tribute to two personalities on the Committee. The first is the Committee’s chairman, Mr. Richard Cleaver. As a qualified accountant, he brings to the Committee a necessary knowledge of accounting and auditing practice as well as a ready knowledge of commercial law which is of great benefit. He demonstrates an energy and strength of purpose in his chairmanship which creates an attitude within the Committee which encourages close attention and scrutiny to its appointed work. I pay tribute also to the work and ability of Senator Wedgwood, who is the only lady to be a member of the Commitee. At this stage she is the longest serving member of the Committee. The honorable senator is a lady of experience in the commercial field.
Let me refer now to the work of the Public Works Committee, which to my mind is equally as important as the work performed by the Public Accounts Committee. May I mention two matters in relation to which the members of the Public Works Committee within the last six months have more than earned their sitting fees - one cannot call them salaries. The first matter, which is to be the subject of further inquiry, relates to the cost of the preparation of airport runways. The Committee directed its attention to the fact that the costs of preparation of the runways at Tullamarine and Perth were similar. It should have been evident to those concerned with the work that the costs should not have been similar. The Public Works Committee directed its attention to this aspect and learned that at Tullamarine it was necessary to remove soil to a depth of 58 inches before the runway was topped whereas at Perth only 11 inches of soil had to be removed. Despite this, the cost per foot of runway was claimed to be similar. This matter has not yet been finalised.
– What do they propose to do with the overburden?
– It will not get rid of the weed, that is certain. These two Committees have done much beneficial work and the Parliament and the Australian people would lose if either the Public Works Committee or the Public Accounts Committee failed because of inadequate finance to continue its activities fully.
.- 1 did not intend to intervene in this debate until I heard some comments made during the course of it. At the outset, I remind the Senate that I have never been a member of cither the Public Accounts Committee or the Public Works Committee but I think we do a great disservice to the Parliament if we do not appreciate fully the work and the functions of those Committees or if we disparage the work of either of them. Although I have not had the honour of sitting on the Public Works Committee, I have taken a continuing and effective part for four or five years in persuading the Government to make it compulsory to refer to that Committee, as a matter of law, projects involving expenditure above a minimum of £250,000. I wanted the minimum to be reduced to £100,000. That result was achieved in the usual fashion by patience, with a little sugar at times and some vinegar at others, and with the co-operation of members of the Committee and other honorable senators.
I took that course to - ensure, not only that the Committee was constituted, but also that by law it had to be consulted about major public works. I feel that the very existence of the Committee has a salutary influence upon recommendations from the Department of Works and the architects because of its scrutiny of contracts and tenders. Any proper criticism that is forthcoming in connection with the work of the Public Works Committee should be directed at ourselves for not subjecting the Committee’s reports more often to critical debate and examination so that we too in this chamber may have an understanding of the matters that should be considered when public money is being expended. For my part, I greatly admire the skills of the practical men on the Committee who reveal in their reports from time to time that judgment which is the precious possession of practical men. Perhaps they have a special insight into building construction, land valuation, utilities for hospitals or the usefulness of airports. The combination of experience a member obtains with the Public Works Committee is a great balancing factor and an influence to check the constant human tendency of departments to aggrandise expenditure on useless appendages and not always to scrutinise tenders with the degree of rigid economy iri public expenditure required of trustees of the people and their money.
The Public Accounts Committee was constituted after the Menzies Government was returned to office. Its purpose is very important in the current running of the Treasury. As Treasury finance grows in complexity and extent, the opportunities for waste and improper expenditure are tremendously manifold and difficult to detect. The mere existence of the Public Accounts Committee in itself is a standing deterrent to any tendency to waste or impropriety in relation to expenditure of public money, departmentally and otherwise. When the estimates for the Department of Works were before honorable senators, I remarked that although the Department of Works took responsibility for the expenditure of a huge amount of public money, there was not one real criticism of it and certainly there was. no significant mark of censure. One honorable senator did correct me by directing attention to some irregularity but notwithstanding that, I claim that the Department is entitled to the credit of escaping any significant criticism by the Auditor-General. 1 say that because I want to put the Auditor-General on notice. 1 have a feeling that the Auditor-General’s office is not as critical and as probing as it could be. I have no reason for saying that, except that 1 have read the reports and relied on them year after year. I value the integrity and skill of the Auditor-General and his staff and 1 make no reflection on them. But I rely on their reports and I get from them the impression that they take more time in transferring into their reports factual figures that we can get from the Budget Papers than they do in directing their minds to essentially critical matters. I have put that rather badly but I will not take time to improve upon it.
What I was trying to put before the Senate was that tremendous credit is due - if we take, by way of example, only the Department of Works - in view of the fact that, with all the complexities of contracts and the crevices through which improper or wasteful expenditure could go in that Department, there was not a really significant matter that the Auditor-General thought fit to criticise before us. If we survey the whole field of Commonwealth . expenditure and the critique of it that is represented by the Auditor-General’s report, I think we must be driven to the conclusion that there is an extraordinary degree of integrity in relation to expenditure of Federal moneys. I do not wish to qualify that in any way at this stage. What I am saying is that I believe the mere existence of the Public Accounts Committee contributes to that result in a very remarkable degree.
That is not the only contribution the Committee makes. It was constituted initially under the chairmanship of Professor Bland whom we all remember with great affection and indeed, with unique esteem, because of his technical skill and balanced judgment. He has been succeeded by chairmen and members of that Committee whose reports give evidence of work on an almost unbelievable scale year in and year out. Having regard to the intense application that, is required not to sift through accounts but to examine a whole block of figures with the degree of perspicacity that Senator Webster revealed in the instance to which he referred, I believe the Parliament is greatly indebted to the members of this Committee for the work they do - not only for the extent of that work but also for the independent and fearlessly critical terms in which they frequently express their conclusions.
You know, Mr. President, and the Senate knows that I am not one who would wish the efforts of any man who is devoted to independent expression to be wasted. Independent expression is such a precious commodity that one should not ever expend it uselessly. The Public Accounts Committee can take credit over the years for never failing to criticise, in appropriately independent terms, any action of a Government department, whatever might be the political effect of that criticism inside or outside the Parliament. I feel a great sense of deficiency. I confess that I have not given the reports of this Committee the study they deserve. I wish to say to the Committee, in addition to what I have already said, that I have drifted into that condition of apathy towards its reports because a great surfeit over many years of technical disquisitions on forms of accounts, which are simply odious to me. Formalities mean nothing to me, and disquisitions on forms of accounts are very difficult for me to understand and imbibe. I leave it at that.
One of my colleagues, Senator Wood, suggested that there should be no sitting fees in addition to the parliamentary allowances. I feel that that would do much less than justice to the equipping of the Parliament with those arms of efficiency which it must have. These Committees sit for particular purposes and, by their reports, bring into the Parliament information and knowledge which, if we properly use them, would enable us also to speak with the light of knowledge in our eyes. I wish to say that it is only because of the growing extent of parliamentary allowances that we have neglected to alter, in accordance with modern economic values, the amount of the sitting fees of these Committees, lt is somewhat of a reflection to refer to such a payment as a fee in relation to any person who has the claim to importance that even a member of Parliament is entitled to make today. The fee is only £2 1 Os. All I am saying is that the members of these Committees arc entitled to an appropriate sitting fee on the days when they sit other than in Parliament House or in the Australian Capital Territory when the Parliament itself is sitting. I make that statement because for Committees of this character to sit on a day when the Parliament is sitting detracts from the service that can be given by members of the Parliament to the chambers which have a prior claim on their work when the Parliament is sitting or in intervals between the actual sitting hours of the Parliament. I go on to say that members who contribute to the actual work of the Houses on the floors of those Houses do not do so without some preparation. 1 express my own independent view that a sitting fee is a most proper allowance for members of committees to receive, provided it is not drawn in respect of any day when the Parliament is sitting in Canberra.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Committees should not sit while the Houses are sitting?
– I suggest that it would be a breach of privilege of the Houses if they did so.
– When would the honorable senator suggest that they should sit?
– On days on which the Parliament does not sit - on Friday or Monday, in the weeks between sittings of the Houses, or in the great vacation between the Autumn and Spring sessions of the Parliament.
– They do that as well.
– I am only giving my independent view. I have tried to bring my view to focus on efficient and proper parliamentary performance. The only other matter 1 want to refer to is travelling expenses. All I will say there is that it is imperative, for the integrity of the Parliament, that that allowance should not be duplicated.
I conclude by saying that these two statutory Committees have independent functions, the discharging of which renders a signal service to the work of the Parliament. I rose chiefly to express my appreciation of their work, but, thinking that there was no great urgency in the Senate, with regard to time today, I took a little time to state these other matters, which, I hope, as we do not refer to them very frequently, will not be thought to have been fruitlessly mentioned.
– in reply- I will refer first to the remarks made by Senator Wood, which called forth replies from Senator Webster and Senator Wright. In referring to these matters I will take the privilege of expressing my own views on them, because, after all, these are Committees of the Parliament of which we are speaking - Committees set up by Acts of Parliament. Therefore, I think it reasonable that even a Minister should express his personal views on these matters. Both Senator Webster and Senator Wright have stressed the importance of the work of these Committees iri a way which I could not better. Senator Wright stated, in general terms, the import!ance attached to their work. Senator Webster gave some practical examples, which could be duplicated many times, of the results of the work of the Committees.’ To make the points, it was necessary to give only one or two examples. Therefore, I do not propose to labour the fact that the two Committees, being separate from all other committees in that they are set up by act of this Parliament, are committees which the Parliament can be said to have entrusted with special and continuing duties.
The Committees do not conduct a special investigation into one particular subject, but conduct a special and continuing scrutiny of Government activities in the expenditure of money and the planning and building of works. They are, therefore, to a great extent, sui generis - to a great extent different from other committees. No doubt that is the reason why Parliament over the years has never accepted the views expressed by Senator Wood that these Committees should not receive special sitting fees and allowances.
It will be of interest to honorable senators to learn, if they do not already know, that the Public Accounts Committee has been in existence - although its existence was in?terrupted - since 1914, and the Public Works Committee since 1913. As long ago as that, Parliament said that both these Committees are necessary to help Parliament to scrutinise government activities and that they are entitled to an emolument for their work.
For reasons I am not sure of, both Committees were abolished in 1932. The Public Works Committee was re-established in 1936 and the Public Accounts Committee in 1951 under Professor Bland, to whom proper tribute has been paid. I think some credit can go to this Government also, for it asked Parliament to re-establish the Public Accounts Committee to scrutinise Executive expenditure. I am sure that for those reasons the Parliament has never agreed with the present views of Senator Wood to the effect that special fees and sitting allowances should not be paid to the members of the Public Accounts Committee.
I move on now to the question of when the Committees should be paid. A suggestion has been made that fees should not be paid to Committees which sit on a day on which Parliament is sitting. I am referring now to sitting fees, and not to travelling allowances. I have heard it argued that a member of Parliament is paid so much a year and therefore he should not receive anything extra for work performed as a member of a special committee. If that argument were adopted, he would be paid no sitting fees at all, irrespective of whether Parliament were sitting, because he gets paid no more on the occasions when Parliament is sitting than on the days when it is not sitting. If the argument were accepted, it would mean accepting that no sitting fees should be paid to the Committees, yet this is the very argument that Parliament, from the inception of the Committees, has always by its actions rejected, because it has voted that these fees be paid to members of Parliament.
The Senate should be clear that neither Committee sits during the hours when the Parliament is in session. I believe this practice springs from the requests of the Committees. It is a point that should be made. So far as I can see, there is no reason whatsoever why the Committees should not sit and receive a sitting fee at times when the Parliament is not in session, even though they may sit on a day on which Parliament will later be in session. I think Senator Wood showed a tendency to confuse travelling allowances with sitting fees. We heard a reference to a Canberra allowance of £6 a day which is drawn by all honorable senators. I would like it to be quite clear, also, that members of the Committees when they are sitting draw no travelling allowances in excess of the £6 a day Canberra allowance drawn by all members of this Parliament.
– I was referring to the position on days other than days when Parliament is sitting.
– In times when members of the Committees come to Camberra they receive no more and no less than all other members of this Parliament in the form of travelling allowances.
– I was referring to days on which Parliament is not sitting.
– I believe that if the Committees sat in Canberra or anywhere else on a day on which Parliament was not sitting, they would be paid £4 a day, although I may be wrong on that. I think I can state clearly the point raised by Senator Wood. He has accepted my statement that members of Committees who sit in Canberra on days when Parliament is meeting get no more and no less an amount than £6, which every member of Parliament receives. On days when Parliament is not sitting and members of the Committees travel to any other city in Australia, they receive £4 a day. I would have thought - but I cannot get a clear answer at the moment - that if they came to Canberra on days when Parliament was not sitting they would receive £4 a day. I may be wrong on that.
– The £4 would not meet the hotel bill.
– That may well be. I am simply stating the position as it applies. I am not saying that the allowance is too little or too much. I am merely refuting a suggestion that I think we have heard made, that there might be a duplication of allowances for Committee members. The truth is that there is not. That being so, I think we must take note of the particular views of one or two senators that special fees should not be paid to any Committees. In doing so, we should remember that Parliament has always said that the Committees should be paid and that Parliament is indebted to them for the work that they do.
In taking note of what has been said about allowances, we should put on record that the members of the Committees who come to Canberra when Parliamentis sitting receive no more as allowances than any other members of this Parliament. When Parliament is not sitting and the Committees sit here or elsewhere, they receive an allowance which, as one honorable senator has said by way of interjection, is barely enough to pay a hotel bill. There is nothing more I need to say or can say on this matter, except to commend the Bill to the Senate and also to commend in advance, as I did in my second reading speech, legislation which will later come to the Senate. I refer to legislation to increase the fees of the two Committees.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
I mentioned during the second reading debate that Senator Wedgwood is the only lady member of the Public Accounts Committee. I would like, now, to put on record that Senator Wedgwood has served on the Committee since 12th October 1955. Not only is she the only lady member of the Committee, but Parliament and her party have thought fit to retain her services on the Committee for a longer period of time - something over 10 years - than any other member of the Committee, at least in the last 20 years.
– I wish to take advantage of the committee stage to raise a matter which relates to the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960. For the information of the Senate, I point out that the Public Works Committee Act provides that that Committee may sit during the sitting of either House if it has the leave of that House or of both Houses, and only then. The Public Accounts Committee may sit during the sitting of either House, but it does not do so.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 16th November (vide page 1519), on motion by Senator Gorton-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 29th September (vide page 696), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill deals with a very important matter to which the Senate should give the closest consideration. Another Bill, the Customs Bill (No. 2) 1965 has been introduced also, and it is my intention to deal with both Bills together. I suggest that we debate them simultaneously, even though they will have to be passed through the remaining stages separately.
– I concur in that suggestion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman). - There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– The Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1965 is designed to validate an application by Australia for a waiver from the relevant provisions on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade as part of a plan on the part of Australia and other countries to assist the expansion of trade with underdeveloped countries. An application has been made by Australia, under the hand of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), to the Executive Secretary to the Contracting Parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades in the following terms -
The reasons for Australia’s inability to accept the new Protocol other than on this understanding were explained in the statement of the Australian representative to the Special Session of the Contracting Parties on 8th February, 1965.
I have referred to those details of the letter to illustrate the fact that Australia’s position is difficult to define with any degree of finality. Australia really is an underdeveloped country. Although perhaps we are reaching the twilight zone where we are moving away from being essentially a primary producing country and are moving into the field of secondary production, we still have a long way to go to be regarded as fully developed. Compared with older industrial countries such as the United States of America, Great Britain and the countries of Europe, we are only in the infant stage. However, when a comparison is made between Australia and the 118 countries that will accompany Australia in seeking a waiver from the relevant provisions of G.A.T.T., it will be seen that those countries, relatively speaking, are a long way behind Australia, not only in regard to our potential, but particularly in regard to our present state of international trade.
A list that was included in the relevant papers that were tabled in another place last May give an idea of the width of the repercussions of this legislation. This application for a waiver is an attempt to come to grips with a very great problem that has been facing the world since the end of the 1939-45 war. The idea behind the adoption of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the establishment of the United Nations was that if men did not hang together they would hang separately. Although the various international organisations have experienced some difficult times over the years - the United Nations has had its crises - out of their establishment has flowed some good for mankind. The ideals of the
United Nations have still to be achieved, but nevertheless they form a guiding star for man in his strivings. That applies to a lesser degree to G.A.T.T. which, in its own sphere, is of great importance.
We all recognise that the key to the prosperity of a country is the exchange of goods. The standard of living of the people of a country depends on its ability to find markets for its goods. Some countries are better endowed than others with natural resources such as minerals, climate and the means of producing primary products. Some countries can find ready markets in other parts of the world for some of their products because of their exclusive nature. But vast sections of the world’s population have a much lower standard of living than that of us in Australia or the people of the older industrial countries of Europe and of the United States of America. So we have a moral obligation.
This legislation tries to take a step towards Australia’s discharge of its moral obligation to co-operate with the other contracting parties to G.A.T.T. in order to find a formula for assisting the under-developed countries. The list of countries that will benefit from Australia’s application for a waiver of the relevant provisions of G.A.T.T. includes Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, Fiji, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pitcairn Island, Korea and Vietnam. Practically all of the countries of the Asian areas to the north, north-east and north-west of Australia are considered to be underdeveloped and emerging countries. For the purposes of this measure, we speak of them emerging into the trading markets of the world with the commodities that they have to sell. We have the long range hope that they, having sold on the markets of the world, in turn will want to buy. AsI said before, this is the essence of international trade and the primer for improved standards of living.
The inter-dependence of nations is becoming more obvious every year. In the old days, big sections of the world were under the control of older settled European countries. Great Britain, with its great farflung empire, had its trading arrangements fairly neatly balanced. There was a steady flow of commodities to the manufacturing areas of Great Britain from countries that were able to produce them. Those commodities were placed on the markets of the world. There was a continuing source of supply because, as long as Great Britain was mistress of the seas, she could ensure that the flow of commodities continued. In that way she gained the economic strength and sinews that enabled her to become the dominant world power that she was. The same sort of thing happened in respect of the French, with their dominions and possessions, the Dutch, with their interests in the Dutch East Indies and various other parts of the world, the Spaniards, the Portuguese and the Belgians.
But we are living in an important era when the nature of those old empires is changing in many ways. People who knew nothing but the traditional patronage and oversight of a European Continental power are now becoming politically independent and are trying to establish forms of government to their own liking. But they are being faced with the same problems as beset so many of their neighbours on this list of 118 countries which will share the benefits of Australia’s application for a waiver of the relevant provisions of G.A.T.T.
If we can grant these concessions without damaging our own economy, this will be a splendid piece of statesmanship. There is no doubt that over the years the new countries have looked to Australia with trust and a certain amount of admiration. In the minds of people in many other parts of the world Australia, being part of the Commonwealth of Nations, was just a source of supply of raw materials for Great Britain. But those people have rightly gained the impression that Australia has been able to overcome that situation, has established its own form of government, has come through the stage of development of its primary industries, and now is developing its secondary industries at quite a spectacular rate and entering the export markets of the world. Because that has happened in a relatively short period of time, I believe that other countries regard Australia as an example of what can be done. This is a long process; but a start has to be made.
The history of Australia is well known to us. The narrow coastal strip was the first area to be settled. Whereas the United States had much fertile land ready for cultivation and exploitation, the Australian hinterland was not nearly as bountiful or as fertile. The development of lower rainfall areas and less fertile areas took a longer period and created even greater hardship on this continent than in the United States.
However,- the need for self-reliance really did not exist in Australia until the outbreak of the 1939-45 War when this country suddenly realised that the old sea links and the shuttle service of raw products from Australia to the Motherland were not to be continuous and would not be as safe as they had been. The belief of the Australian people that military protection would always be available was subject to doubt. Australia virtually was forced to make a completely new approach to this question. There is no doubt that that stimulated and triggered off this era through which Australia is passing at the present time. With a combination of factors, such as the application of science to industry, the migration programme and the increase in the amount of capital available - of course, there is the problem as to where the capital is coming from and as to whether we have not the means of providing it ourselves - Australia has got beyond the stage to which I referred earlier. Australia has developed into a primary and secondary exporting country.
The purpose of the legislation is to try to help others to help themselves. The schedule to the measure that we are discussing contains particulars of proposed tariff preferences to less developed countries. We find that the proposed quota for rubber thread vulcanised, is £100,000. Of the 118 countries to which I have referred, obviously this tariff would be of assistance to only one or two. There is a quota of £500,000 for machine made paper and paper board, and £2 million for newsprint.
– Newspapers have a habit of looking after themselves.
– That seems to be true. On the other hand, the quota limit of £2 million for newsprint for less developed countries could be questioned by the little island of Tasmania, which I have the honour to represent in this chamber. The people of Tasmania could say that that ls too great a concession to make when they are developing their industry, exploiting their forest reserves and creating employment opportunities on the island. But we find that the substantial quota of £2 million is set for newsprint.
There is no doubt that sacrifices will have to be made. Sacrifice is an unplesant word in the business world. Senator Wood referred earlier to putting in and taking out. The attitude in business today seems to be: Grab as much as one can as quickly as one can and disregard the consequences. In order that this plan may succeed and that progress may be made in assisting the underdeveloped countries, a proper explanation will have to be given to the people of Australia so that they may know that we have a part to play and that the world situation requires us to make concessions wherever we can so long as they do not greatly disturb the present equilibrium in our production and export fields.
There is a proposed quota for the less developed countries for hand made carpets. It is obvious that some of the beautiful hand woven Indian rugs will continue to come to Australia. Over the centuries they have been a source of revenue to the Indian and Chinese people. People who have the good fortune to be able to purchase these wonderful Indian and Chinese hand woven carpets have a lasting asset. The same comment applies to Persian carpets. These carpets are things of beauty and objects of art. They have great utility. This is the basis on which trade can be arranged and expanded between countries. We cannot expect everyone in Australia either to desire or to be able to afford an Indian, Chinese or Persian carpet. But if we are able to encourage the exchange of goods between the major contracting countries to G.A.T.T., and between the 118 countries to which I have referred, as the standard of living of the less developed countries improves they will need more goods and a greater interchange of trade will result.
Provision is made for a quota for carpets and floor rugs made of wool. The wool that grows on the sheep in northern India is of a distinct type - it is as exclusive to that industry as merino wool is to our fine quality fabrics. That is their specialty. Because of that and because the products are of good quality, the people are entitled to the best prices they can get for these woollen carpets and rugs.
We find that a quota of £125,000 is set for machine tools and a quota of £100,000 for musical instruments of the lute class, including strings. We also find that a quota is provided for chairs and lounges of wicker, bamboo and cane. These are fine articles of furniture which adorn many houses in this and other countries. People in the less developed countries of Asia seem to specialise in this type of handiwork. If concessions are made and if encouragement is given to various countries to export these commodities to us, they will permit us to sell our products to them. The whole concept of the legislation is the need to come to grips with less developed countries. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade contains an entirely new part - Part IV - headed “Trade and Development”. It sets out the principles and objectives in these terms -
The contracting parties,
This marks a new phase in the relationship of the G.A.T.T. countries to one another. If there is agreement in this application for a waiver, it will not only fulfil one of the original ideals in setting up the organisation but also go a long way towards ultimate internationalisation of the trading countries of the world. After all, the best way for people to come together is for their mutual advantage. This may be illustrated by the vexed question of mainland China, which is a very good customer of Australia. Politically, we do not recognise it. In the United Nations, we oppose some of its measures. But the Australian Wheat Board finds the Chinese to be quick and good payers and lusty orderers of our wheat. They are evidently quick consumers, because the orders keep coming in each year. At least there is a contact and a common denominator between China and Australia. To have that channel opened is very much better than to have the door locked altogether.
It is my view that in future we shall have to find a compromise with all of the countries of Asia and particularly with Indonesia. We shall have to do much more trading with them. We must find ways in which we can exchange goods with them. They have commodities that we need, such as rubber, oil and spices. The Indonesian islands are the great Spice Islands. They will have a growing need in future for very many things that we produce.
The two Bills that we are debating have the concurrence of the Opposition and its support. There is nothing really of substance that we can do as yet about the objectives of the legislation. The contracting parties to G.A.T.T. will accept the waiver and will support, I feel certain, the idea behind it. Unless encouragement is given to the underdeveloped countries, the world will be a much poorer place, and the political and even the military repercussions could be of such a nature that it may not be possible to predict the outcome. This is legislation in anticipation of a most progressive and positive development in international trade and relationships, and we support it.
– As my colleague, Senator O’Byrne, has said, this is most important legislation. It is important to me in principle. I firmly believe that if we are to stop people from adopting “ isms “ as they have done in some parts of the world, we must first feed them, clothe them, and shelter them. While we may be giving something away under this legislation, in the end this nation will be saved millions of pounds and many lives will be saved. As I have said in the Senate on more than one occasion, we have no fear of Communism taking over in this country only because our people are fed and housed and clothed. It is of no use for anyone in this chamber or outside it to say that people who lack these essential requirements in life should not do this or that. The fact is that if people are hungry under one system they will try another system. I am not one to say that these people should not try something else. We ought to ask ourselves what we would do if we were placed in circumstances like those of people in the less-developed countries. For that reason and for that reason alone, I welcome the Bill. If we can give people less fortunate than ourselves the normal things of life, I do not think we need fear that they will be inveigled, if I may use the word, into following philosophies which, as we in this country know, do not lead to the things to which people think they lead.
It is true that before this assistance can be given to under-developed countries, the nations which are parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade must allow it to be given. One cannot be certain of obtaining that permission. I was amazed to learn from a speech which was made recently that some of the wealthy industrial nations of the world are not overkeen on the proposition which has been submitted. We know that nothing is more important to certain people than profits. When disturbances break out in various parts of the world, they are the people who want to send troops to the trouble spots because troops need shells, guns and aeroplanes and huge profits are to be made out of those things.
However cynical I may seem to be about these things, I feel deeply that we must attend to the material welfare of the peoples in the under-developed countries before we can hope to gain anything from their adoption of the philosophy to which we adhere, and before they are able to govern themselves, irrespective of whether those countries are in the Eastern bloc of politics or in the Western bloc. If they are not already in the Eastern bloc, hunger will drive them into it far quicker than anything else. 1 thank the Department of Trade and Industry for sending me the schedule I have in my hand. I have already commented that the only sum which is worth while considering is the £2 million quota limit on newsprint. With the free entry of newsprint from the less developed countries, the newspaper proprietors of Australia will save £4 a ton.
– It will not make any difference. The newsprint comes in under by-law.
– I was approached by an amateur sporting body a short time ago, which asked me to try to have certain items imported under by-law but 1 was unsuccessful. However, the friends of this Government can have newsprint imported under by-law. To my mind, that makes matters worse. The items that the sporting organisation sought my assistance in importing under by-law can be obtained from Malaya at less than half the cost at which they can be obtained under the British preferential tariff, but the sporting body had no political pull. It was not as fortunate as were the newspaper proprietors.
– Are the newspapers already getting newsprint duty free?
– If the newspapers are already getting newsprint duty free, why include it in this schedule?
– I am not justifying it or rejecting it. I am trying to clarify the position.
– I have attempted to clarify it. Why include this item in the schedule if the newsprint is already being imported duty free?
– It is a substantive provision.
– But they are still getting it free. If a person who is not extra knowledgeable about tariff procedures were to pick up this schedule, he would be justified in saying that when this Bill is passed £2 million worth newsprint could be imported duty free if it came from the less developed countries of the world. At present, newsprint comes in free under the British preferential tariff and at the rate of £4 a ton under the most favoured nation tariff. I take it that so far newsprint from these less developed countries has attracted the most favoured nation tariff of £4 a ton, unless by-law entry has been granted. That has been granted, I understand.
– That is right.
– In that case, there is no need for the item to be included in the schedule. What is the need for it, in view of the by-law entry?
– I do not want to interrupt the honorable senator. I say merely at this stage that it is not a standing by-law.
– For how long has it been standing?
– We are using different language, so I shall remain silent now and reply to the honorable senator later.
– I hope the Minister will not forget one question: For how long has the by-law been in operation which permitted newsprint to be imported duty free?
– From which country is the newsprint coming?
– It would be coming from the less developed countries.
– Is the country of origin named?
– Not in the schedule I have.
– I will clear up this matter when I reply to the honorable senator.
– I agree in principle with the proposal, but I want to know how many people in the under-developed countries will gain employment out of the proposed quota limit of £10,000 on the importation of chewing gum.- To my mind, the Government is gilding the lily. The next item on the list is confectionery. The amount involved is £50,000, and the tariff is. reduced from 47i per cent, plus primage of 10 per cent, to a net 20 per cent. The vital matter which concerns me is the number of people who will gain employment from this so that they can raise their standards of living sufficiently to prevent them from adopting Communism as their philosophy. I should like the Minister to tell me how many people in the underdeveloped countries will gain employment.
The next item on the list is Portland cement and the amount involved is £25,000. I have forgotten how much a ton of cement costs. Cement previously attracted the most favoured nation tariff of £1 7s. 6d. a ton but, under this proposal, it will be admitted free. It would be wrong for me to consider how much cement costs a ton. I am all for this but I have one query: Surely in these under-developed countries they manufacture commodities that we do not manufacture in Australia. If we import chewing gum from Malaysia or one of the countries Senator O’Byrne mentioned, I suppose it will taste the same. Irrespective of the drought, if any country has supplies of leather, it is Australia. Yet it is proposed to allow the importation of £75,000 worth of calf leather free of duty. Formerly the most favoured nation rate was 17i per cent. The more one reads of this schedule the more one wonders how many of the people affected will get the standard of living we want for them. I notice a reference to cotton, linen and ramie, which I understand is hemp, huckaback and honeycomb weave. But Hong Kong has been excluded as a source of supplies. Why has Hong Kong been excluded? Is it because the Government thinks the goods will come from Hong Kong?
– I will reply to the honorable senator later. The real reason is that Hong Kong is competitive with us.
– The schedule also provides for butter knives, cruets, shakers, etc., of cut glass to the value of £5,000. How many sets will that amount cover assuming they cost £5 a set? One item that concerns me is washing machines. I read in the Press this week a report of a meeting of manufacturers of electrical appliances. The manufacturers said that the Australian people tend to get their washing machines repaired if they break down whereas in the United States of America the people toss them out and get new ones. The article gave the impression that the manufacturers hoped we would adopt the same practice in Australia. They said there were far too many manufacturers of these goods to serve the Australian market. The schedule provides for washing machines valued at £20,000 to be admitted. If washing machines were £100 each, this would cover 200 washing machines. We want to help these people but surely we should help them through the import of goods that are not manufactured in Australia.
– Suppose this policy had been begun on much larger dimensions, what would have been the reaction of the unions?
– I do not think Senator Wright would agree that our people who work in these industries should be put outside the factory gates. We would not stand for that and neither would Senator Wright. I want to be clearly understood; I would love to see goods we use but do not manufacture in Australia allowed into this country. I have read about the protection and free trade policies and the controversies in the early 1900’s before 1910 when the “ Age “ newspaper was the great champion of protection. The idea was to protect Australian industries in their early years. But now the Department of Customs and Excise is used not for protection so much as to raise revenue by indirect taxation.
– To what extent? Does not the Tariff Board protect us adequately?
– I do not think it does.
– It is charged with providing a tariff only for the purpose of efficiency in industry.
– I am one who does not like indirect taxation. I did not rise to say that it should be abolished overnight because that would be silly. But more is done through the tariff to raise revenue by indirect taxation than is done to help Australian industries. There is a big factory not far from my home. I wonder what the management will say when it learns that cooks’ and butchers’ knives and blades are to be admitted free although they were paying 5 per cent, preferential rate and before that were paying 17 i per cent, most favoured nation rate. We are to admit £10,000 worth. It will be interesting to see what Mytton’s Ltd. say about that. Although I do not know what it is, these people must manufacture something that we do not make in Australia. Offhand, I cannot point to an industry in any of these countries that is not established here. Our manufactures should be given protection. As Senator O’Byrne said, if we have to help the less developed countries, surely there is something that we need and that we could buy from them. The trade position between Australia and Japan today is a cause for worry. Under a capitalistic system, nations are more or less like individuals; one says to another: “ If you buy from me, I will buy from you “.
– Would it be different with trade on a government to government basis?
– I do not know whether it would. Under that system possibly there would not be the great driving force in relation to which Senator Wright and myself do not see eye to eye - the great driving force of the grasp for profits. I say that without any feeling and do not imply that the honorable senator is one of the graspers.
I am pleased to see that from less developed countries “ other sporting goods “ to the value of £78,000 were imported in 1963-64, while the value of such imports from other British preferential tariff countries was £313,000 and from other countries £339,000, making a total of £730,000. The British preferential tariff was 17i per cent, and the most favoured nation tariff was 55 per cent, plus 5 per cent, primage. It is said that we do not use some of these tariffs for financial reasons. I cannot agree with that. The British preferential tariff of 17* per cent, has now been brought down to 15 per cent.
Having made those criticisms, I wish the Bill success, because it does something which I have always believed in. If we help the people in the less developed countries to feed, clothe and shelter themselves we will not have the troubles we now have and will not have Australians dying in wars such as that in Vietnam. I give great credit to the person who thought of extending this kind of aid and also great credit to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and to the Government for attempting to extend the aid. Australia may lose a few pounds through the operation, of this measure but ultimately it may save us spending millions of pounds in Vietnam and other places. I believe this is a good method, of aiding these people - much better than the method adopted by the United States, which has been expending billions of dollars in providing aid to different countries. If we give these people help to put their countries on a sound basis I do not think we shall have any need to worry about the future. I commend the Bill.
– This is a very important measure, although its impact on revenue will not be very substantial. I have a fair amount of source material, to which I am anxious to refer. To me, this is a very important matter. I like to believe that I began my life in politics as a radical, and I hope I shall continue in that fashion. I like to feel that this measure is the product of a party which will always have a radical outlook and will always be a genuine party of reform. It was very nice of Senator Kennelly to admit that this is a good piece of legislation, forward looking and designed to promote the interests of the part of the world we live in - not in any way selfish, but a piece of reform legislation looking forward and not backward.
We are really discussing the subject of help for the people of the poorer nations, people who are not as well off as we are, people who do not have very much and whose poverty and misery most of us could never understand or appreciate and which we will, I hope, never have to endure. One of the slogans or catch cries which emerges when a measure of this kind is under contemplation - this one has been under contemplation for some time - is: “Trade, not aid “. It is said that the poor countries want trade, not aid. This is understandable. Nations do not like charity. People do not like it and nations do not like it. Much of the aid that the nations which have wealth have given to the nations that do not have wealth has had a content or overtones of charity. To the extent that the wealthier nations were doing something to help others to do more for themselves, this was very good indeed, and was as it ought to be. But if it had the quality of people giving their old clothes to others who could not afford to buy clothes, it could never have had much value. I would not be fascinated by the prospect of receiving such aid if I were a person in one of the poorer nations. One comment on the “ trade, not aid “ proposition appeared in the “ Australian “ of 12th February 1965. It stated -
If the West-
And we are amongst the West - wants to know why the poorer nations are now pressing them for trade rather than aid, the answer can be found in a detailed report . . .
The detailed report shows that the free world’s assistance to developing nations apparently reached a peak in 1961 and has been dropping slightly ever since. At the same time, the flow of investment from richer nations to poorer nations has been declining. These are the highlights of a document published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to which we are making a contribution through the Department of External Affairs, as the Senate saw when studying the estimates of that Department. I think Sir John Crawford is among those people who had hoped that we would be prepared to enlarge our contribution.
At the Conference on World Trade last spring, the United States of America tried to persuade the poor nations that their best hope of development would lie in reliance on aid programmes. There is the first conflict. The United States is a country of great wealth and has done a fantastic amount to help other nations. Despite criticism that has been made, the United States has done more in real terms than has ever been done by a world power. It has acted more generously and more freely than any other nation and we should be fair about this matter. Fundamentally, assistance has been given in the direction of aid. The people of the under-developed countries want something more than that. They want to feel that they can generate sufficient ability to stand on their own feet. Our hopes should be directed to continuing aid but also to continuing to try to help them to trade and to generate more momentum on their own. The real objective to be sought is trade and aid, as opposed to the slogan of “ trade not aid “. We should be looking to the transition stage. While we should continue our trade and aid programme, we should help these countries as much as possible in the hope that, in the end, they will be able to trade on their own behalf without relying on aid or charity.
I turn now to another aspect of what is happening in the under-developed countries. I shall refer to an article which dealt with the distribution of world trading, published in the “ Daily Telegraph “ of 23rd March 1964. The article divided the world’s nations into three groups: Industrial countries; developing countries which are the countries we are contemplating in this measure; and the countries of the Communist bloc. In the industrial countries 20 per cent, of the world’s people had 66 per cent, of the world’s exports. In the developing countries, the group to which we would hope to render some useful assistance, nearly half of the world’s people had 23 per cent, of the world’s exports. In countries in the Communist bloc, 31 per cent, of the world’s people had 11 per cent, of the world’s exports. They are some of the fundamental facts on world trade as they affect the world’s population.
Although an argument can be advanced that some of these countries cannot generate much ability to become great trading nations and become economically viable, it does not fascinate somebody who has nothing. He wants something. He wants to see his country become great. Why should he not? This is what we hoped for many years ago and have since seen become real. One of our objects should be to make the dreams and aspirations of the under-developed countries also become real. The aims of this measure have been defined in various places. I think they are defined fairly well in “ Current Notes on International Affairs “ of July 1 965, in which it is stated -
The aim of the new preferential measures is to help the manufactures and semi-manufactures of less developed countries to enter the Australian market on terms competitive with imports from the developed nations.
Australia is regarded as a developed nation.
The document continued -
In many cases the proposed preferential rates are below the British Preferential Tariff rates.
This is, of course, substantially the fact of the matter. In addition, quite a few other useful comments are to be found in some of the documents I have gathered. One would wish to speak in much greater detail in dealing with this Bill. Although it appears that the Bill will receive unanimous support and consent, a more detailed study of its provisions would be worth while. This legislation begins to set Australia in a new role which 1 hope will strengthen us and help us to grow and flourish, lt represents one of the most important developments in our policy as a nation - our genuine desire to help people who are less well off than we are, and our desire to be a good partner of people who are less fortunate in the part of the world in which we live.
In order to be a good partner it is necessary to do more than just give something away. We really have a lot of money when compared with other nations and we are not making a very great contribution in this area of the world. By this measure, we are indicating our intention to proceed in the direction of giving assistance to our less fortunate neighbours. We have decided to become a partner of the developing nations in this part of the world and to help them with our resources and techniques. Therefore we ought to contemplate the problem, lt is of no use offering help that is not useful. We must help in a direction that means something.
One of the leading authorities in Australia in this field is Sir Ronald Walker, our Ambassador to France, who formerly was in Tokyo. He has prepared a very notable paper for the Giblin lecture. This very lengthy paper deals with the underdeveloped countries and I shall quote a paragraph from it which states, in relation to the development plans of the underdeveloped countries -
In all such development plans, though great stress is often laid upon the need to increase food production, a very large place is given to the establishment of manufactures. The already industrialised countries have viewed this trend with some concern, and have drawn attention insistently to the dangers of premature industrialisation, including the establishment of infant industries that grow only into white elephants. The choice of new industries is of course a delicate one. But it must be remembered that the role of industrialisation in the process of development is not merely to add new enterprises that can show a profit. It contributes to development in two other ways. Firstly, it brings into productive activity not only natural resources which were previously not utilised, but also the surplus of under-employed labour which exists in most underdeveloped countries. Secondly, it entails training people in new occupations, new skills and new attitudes with beneficial effects upon all branches of the economy.
That is one of the fundamental considerations - that you cannot argue only on the proposition that the industries which ought to be supported are the ones which will make a profit in these countries which are without large resources and which are undeveloped in the real sense. The problem must be approached from what might be called the stabilisation or underwriting point of view. We can attempt to help them by taking their manufactures because this will provide work for people who do not really work now and will help to use resources that are not now being used. Perhaps we can help to generate a pace that will gather momentum as time passes.
To me this is an important measure. It is what I call a measure of reform in our attitudes. I hope that it begins to translate the Australian from being a fairly introspective and selfish person to an outward looking person who realises his responsibility to defend his own country and to extend his abilities to become a real partner of the people he lives amongst and will always live amongst. We are really dealing with assistance for the poor countries. It is better to be factual about the poor people in the under-developed countries without large resources but with lots of misery. Assistance can be given by people who are wealthy and in this sense we are wealthy. While we are developing, we are still a wealthy country. We are not heavily industralised, nor do I believe that we will see for a long time a really dramatic change in the balance of our economy between agriculture, mining and industrialisation.
It is a good thing to discuss the plans we are likely to put into operation to use the considerable resources we possess because of the start we have had, our natural abilities and the gifts that God gave us. There are some considerations that we must take into account. Australia is one of the six richest countries of the world. She has never claimed to be a have-not country. She has never been so offensive as to say that Australians are a poor people. We have always taken the view that we are not a have-not country. We have quite a lot, but we do claim to be a developing country.
We are a substantial importer of capital. We are in a rather different position from some other people. Really we are a wealthy country. As I said a moment ago, we are also a developing country. We live amongst peoples who are developing also. But they are further back than we are; they are poor. We are an importer of capital. These other peoples are trying to be importers of capital. Capital tends to flow to places where it will be safest. Therefore, Australia is a rather more attractive home for capital than are some of these other places to which I have referred. As the years pass, we must consider whether we are prepared to become an entrepreneur of capital and be regarded as a country where capital can be safely invested. We must consider whether we have not enough gumption and initiative to try to help with capital countries that have not got capital. Australia could be a transfer house for overseas capital that could go to the East, if we had some management understanding and know-how. This is not beyond the bounds of possibility or of our ambitions.
There are various measures for trying to assess the wealth of a nation. One measure that is freely adopted is to examine the gross national product per head of population. A table in the “ Economic Record “ of September 1965 sets out the wealth of various countries in terms of United States dollars. It shows that per head of population the United States is the wealthiest country. She is followed by Switzerland, then by Canada, then by New Zealand, then by Australia and then by Sweden. In the eyes of many people - perhaps not in our own eyes - we are very wealthy, a very privileged country. But in the eyes of many people we are a selfish country. The table shows that the gross national product per head of population in Sweden is equivalent to 1,833 United States dollars, whereas the corresponding figure for Malaysia is 207 dollars. Malaysia stands in relation to Sweden in the ratio of 1 to 9.
– What is the figure for the United States of America?
– It is 2,691 dollars. The figure for Australia is 1,843 dollars and for Pakistan 74 dollars. I commend these figures to honorable senators; they are the most recent figures available.
– Incorporate the whole table in “ Hansard “.
– Very well, with the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate this table in “Hansard” -
As will be noted, the table also sets out the capital importing and capital exporting countries. Australia is shown to be a capital importing country whereas the United States of America and Switzerland are shown to be capital exporters. The table sets out, furthermore, the primary-industrial ratio of the various countries. The United States of America is classified as having an industrial/quasiagricultural economy, being 65 per cent, industrial. Australia is shown as having an economy that is 14 per cent, manufacturing and 86 per cent, primary producing. These figures are useful for demonstrating the point of my argument.
We in Australia are living in a country that has great wealth per head of population. Therefore, we ought to be prepared to take fairly substantial steps towards becoming an influence for real good. I am always impressed by my own argument - others may not be so impressed - that the history of the world has shown that small nations with resources of spirit as well as of money have a great capacity to do good and to be great leaders in their time. The history of the world is very much the history of the progress of the small nations. One of the great hopes one has for Australia is that she will seek to be an influence for good in this part of the world.
As one looks at the figures I have quoted and thinks about the matter we are discussing, it is clear that Australia, as a wealthy country, should be helping other countries which in effect are poorer than we are. The development of their industries is only a small part of the answer to the problem that confronts these countries. The fact that we will admit certain of their industrial products at favorable rates of duty is a token of our goodwill, but what we do will not be of great consequence. It is a matter of encouragement more than anything else. At least it will show these countries that we are pleased to trade with them, that we are pleased to help them, and that we are not fundamentally selfish. However, it will do very little to provide a strong base for the provision of a new industrial plant or complex in any particular country. This help may be extended in time, but at this point of time it is more in the nature of a gesture. Of course, it is a good and proper gesture.
The problems of development that confront Asia are really much more consequential, much more substantial, than our help might indicate. They lie more in the agricultural area. In extending this gesture, in adopting this new attitude, in telling these people that we want to help them by sharing some of our great responsibilities and resources with them, we should not allow ourselves to think that we have really grap-pled with the whole problem. One of the aspects of the problem is that, despite such forms of help, Asian development is tending to fall away. A very good paper on development problems in Asian countries was delivered at the recent congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science by Alex McBride Kerr. It is quite a large paper. I have marked certain paragraphs that seem to bear upon the problem that we are now discussing. It is pointed out that, while we are giving assistance, we ought to be looking at the whole situation and seeing whether these people are getting where they want to get.
One of the significant things about Asian countries - one may include Indonesia - is their propensity for plans. This is what McBride Kerr said -
In recent years the countries of Asia have become concerned with development planning as a means of expressing in specific terms their national hopes and aspirations for economic progress.
These emerging peoples are fascinated with plans. That is only natural. Really one is fascinated with plans for the whole of one’s life. But as life passes by one realises that most plans have a nasty habit of falling over. Really a plan is only an indication of the road along which one has to walk. But as I said a moment ago, many of these people in Asia are obsessed with plans. They think that, if they can produce a plan or get somebody else to produce one, or if they have something bound in a book, they have really got somewhere. The Indonesians have recently finished the third stage of a three stage plan for their economy. The performance as set against the plan has been too sad for words but we should not stand back and say to ourselves: “We told you so. Plans never work out.” Instead, we should adopt a more helpful attitude. We should see whether we cannot lend a hand and try to make some of the plans more realistic.
– But would the honorable senator not say that it was bad planning?
– That is quite true. One would have to assert that it was bad planning. We must ask ourselves: Who did the planning? Was it an economist who knew how to draw a plan, was it a trade union leader who knew how people would work in a scheme of labour, was it a businessman who might understand whether the plan would return him a surplus or leave him with a deficit, or was it a banker who would understand how it was to be financed? When we look at a lot of these plans, we find that they were drawn up by people who had little practical experience of the way in which labour would best work in a society, how money could be made to work best, or how resources should be used. One of the problems associated with plans is that the planners are not always too hot. McBride Kerr’s paper states, in effect, that most of the plans that have been made just have not worked or have not measured up to expectations and that the planned growth rate has not been anything like realised. The paper contains this comment -
One of the sombre facts about the Asian countries as a whole is that in recent years they have turned from being net exporters of food to being net importers and this has had the effect of placing a further strain on their already precarious balance of payments position.
There is a great deal more than that in this paper, but there is no point in spending the whole of my time in reading it.
I suggest that what we are really doing in this Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2), as is right and proper, is expressing a willingness to help the industries of less developed countries. But we should have a better method of evaluating where our efforts to help can best be directed. I put the proposition that the Asian countries need help in increasing their production of food, agricultural products and stable fibres far more than in increasing their production of certain manufactured items. That statement is borne out by quite a number of people who have worked in this field. One of them is Barbara Ward, who has made this comment -
In no society have the monied group alone had enough resources to set in motion the really massive savings that underlies the transformation of a static into a dynamic economy . . . the surplus has to come from savings imposed on the mass of the people.
That comment was developed by Professor Owen who wrote a paper in which he quoted it. He wrote -
All genuine development reforms movements
This is what we are dealing with in dealing with Asia. These development movements are genuine. There is no doubt that the people want them and that fundamentally they have a form content, although not as much as we might like. This paper states -
All genuine development reforms movements have to come to grips with the reality of poverty in the conditions of economic underdevelopment.
This is the real problem. These people want development, but fundamentally they are living in a world of poverty.
– What is the date of that paper?
– May 1955. As yet it is not in print; it is only in draft form. It was written by Professor Owen of the United States of America. He hopes that it will be available in Australia when he finally has it printed. This is one of the very interesting comments that Owen makes - . . in the economically underdeveloped countries any substantial sacrificing of present consumption opportunities, in the interests of higher rates of investment and of corresponding future consumption possibilities, must necessarily fall primarily on the shoulders of the poor.
That shows the tragic world in which we live. These people want development. They do not have many resources of their own. They need help from outside. They want to be able to generate their own resources. They do not want to be the object of charity. All that they want is to be helped.
We have to be very careful that the help that we give them is in the right direction. I suggest that one of the things that we should do in addition to passing this Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) is look at our programme to see whether we are developing skills to enable these people to increase the productivity of the land and their production of staple fibres and foodstuffs. That could be of real aid to them. I will not quote any more from the paper written by Professor Owen. Speaking from memory I think it says, in effect, that if we want to develop a country that is undeveloped our first task is to increase the productivity of the land so that it will grow more food and more fibres. If we do not do that, we do not put down a proper basis for achieving anything - unless, of course, we discover oil, gold or diamonds. But in relation to the countries about which I am speaking, we should remember the statement made by McBride Kerr, namely that in most of these countries food production has declined and that, whereas they used to be exporters of food, now they are importers of food. Do not honorable senators feel that perhaps these people have been heading in the wrong direction for some time? They have been hoping that industry would get them what they wanted; but what they really needed was substantial help in relation to techniques that would increase food and fibre production. I should like to see us give some help in that area of the problem, if we can, as time goes on.
I think honorable senators understand my feelings about this measure. It is a clear case of help in certain directions. Specified manufactured items will be admitted to Australia under various conditions of favourable duty. Some of these items are made in Australia; some of them are not. This measure indicates a willingness on the part of Australia - a developing nation in its own right and a capital importing nation in its own right - to play its part in the area of the world in which we live. I suggest that in the long term what we are really talking about is whether we will begin to export some of our know-how, some of our resources and some of our wealth to the less fortunate people who live around us. We should do that genuinely in a form of partnership. We should try very hard not to get into the situation where what we give can be regarded as charity. I commend this Bill to the Senate. I believe that it is one of the dramatic steps in Australia’s development; a forward looking step; and perhaps the beginning of steps that we will make in respect of people outside our shores in a greater realisation of our responsibilities in the part of the world in which we live.
.- I express my concurrence in the general line of argument that Senator Cotton developed in support of these Bills. As we all know, the Bills make provision in Australia’s customs tariff legislation for tariff preferences in favour of the less developed coun tries. I believe that the Government should be supported in taking this step which must be regarded as a proper one in the light of the situation of the countries - especially those to our north - which fall into the category of less developed or developing countries, and because in the long term Australia’s own enlightened self-interest lies along the path of assisting the less developed countries to realise their own potential.
In the field of international co-operation between the developed countries and the less developed countries, whether at the economic or political level, both trade and aid are important. One aspect of the problem is the expansion of the amount of practical assistance in the form of aid which countries such as Australia are called upon to give to the developing countries. Of course, these Bills deal with the other aspects of the problem - the development of trading relationships that contemplate preferential tariffs on imports into Australia from less developed countries’. I believe that it is commendable that the Government should have brought itself to the position of accepting its broad responsibilities in the international field and of taking steps, by way of legislation, in anticipation of the member countries of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade granting the waiver so as to permit this departure from the general provisions of the Agreement.
This broad problem can be approached in many ways. In the course of my contribution to the debate on these Bills, I want to direct attention particularly to approaches that have been suggested by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development which was held in Geneva between 23rd March and 16th June 1964. I have in my hand a copy of the preliminary report of that Conference. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the broad lines upon which international agreement is being reached on this extremely important question. These lines were laid down by this unique Conference of many countries, whose recommendations were later adopted by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. That is the first matter to which I wanted to refer. I hope to give honorable senators the benefit of some of the observations and conclusions of that important Conference.
The second matter of which I think we ought to take very special note in this Parliament is the report of the Vernon Committee of Economic Inquiry, which was appointed by this Government, and which was publicly rebuked by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) at the time when its report was presented to the Parliament.
– The whole of the Committee’s report was not the subject of rebuke.
– The Committee was publicly rebuked. I think that the conduct of the Prime Minister with regard to the Committee’s report was outrageous. It was quite uncalled for. A group of highly responsible, enlightened and hardly to be called radical businessmen and economists who were experienced in public affairs, had been invited to survey the nation’s economy. Whatever its deficiencies might be and whatever criticism might be levelled at some of its approaches, the Government commissioned the Committee to make a report. It ill became the Prime Minister of this country, at the moment of making public the report, to enter upon such strictures of the work of the Committee as he seemed to think necessary on that occasion. I will not retract a single word of what I had said before Senator Sim interrupted me.
– Should the Prime Minister have said nothing about the report as he laid it on the table?
– No, he should not have said nothing about it. But he should, at least, have acknowledged that when one asks a body of men of such eminence to make a report, one does not rubbish the report at the moment when one presents it to the people. Men of their standing should not be regarded as mere researchers or fact gatherers. The Government sought their views on the broad economic problems facing the country, both nationally and internationally. It is complete nonsense for anyone to suggest that they should have confined themselves as though they were first year undergraduates or students assisting somebody else to do a job, and just gathered the facts and leave it to the big boys to work out the conclusions. However, I do not want to be diverted, as I have been already by one interjection.
I wish to refer to what the Vernon Committee had to say on this very important question that the Senate is debating. I direct specific attention to an excellent chapter in the Committee’s report dealing with Australia’s trade policy and prospects, including a very enlightened section of our trading policy in relation to less developed areas. Perhaps it would be convenient at this point to say that the Vernon Committee took the trouble to read what had come from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The Final Act of the Conference is a much larger volume than the one to which I have access at the moment, although I understand there is a copy of it in the Parliamentary Library. The Committee took the trouble to read the Final Act and expressed the view -
– What would the honorable senator call a less developed country?, I would like him to give me some idea. I am a little hazy as to what a less developed country is.
– I should have thought that almost all the countries of Asia and Africa fell into this category. They are countries where two out of three people go to bed hungry every night. They are countries where the great majority of the population live in a backward state, so far as their economic development and general standards of living are concerned. The people in those countries need to be lifted up by some conscious policy in order to improve their standards of living and, particularly, to be encouraged themselves to improve their standards of living. If we take the two weapons of trade and aid, trade is the weapon which encourages them to do something for themselves. Without particularising, I do not find any difficulty in identifying a group of countries as being in this less developed stage. Certainly they make their presence felt at international gatherings where this kind of subject matter is being discussed.
We in Australia - and the Vernon Committee was very conscious of this point - have been operating in what might be called a middle zone position somewhere between the developed and the developing countries. I use the word “ developing “ in the same sense as I use the word “ under-developed “. We have some of the attributes of the highly industrialised developed countries, for example, high standards of living and highly developed social, political and financial institutions; but, on the other hand, we have many of the attributes of the developing countries. The Vernon Committee, of course, drew marked attention to Australia’s position as a middle zone country. It put the matter in this way -
The discussion so far may help to explain what has recently been termed Australia’s “middle zone “ position in world trade. The term does not reflect Australia’s rank as a trading nation, but its heavy dependence, along with South Africa, New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, Canada, on exports of primary products and on imports of manufactured goods required for programmes of industrialisation. Australia shares these two characteristics with the less developed countries. However, unlike them, lt is affluent, lt is also more advanced industrially, although less so than the older industrial countries. Thus, Australia may be caught between the developed areas and the less developed, because it is not necessarily helpful to have features in common with both.
At the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Australia attempted to gain acceptance of this middle zone category, but it did not meet wim a very sympathetic response. The recognition which it sought of its somewhat special middle zone position was not forthcoming at the Conference. The Vernon Committee stated - the alignment of less developed against developed nations left little room for an intermediate group. Australia’s relative affluence made both developed and less developed countries less than sympathetic to its worries about instability in trade and trends in the terms of trade.
The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in introducing this Bill in another place, referred to Australia’s representation at that Conference. When our representatives drew attention to our difficulties because we had some of the advantages of the developed countries and some of the disadvantages of the less developed countries, we did not excite much interest because we were talking to people who were so very much worse off than we were. One of the tragedies of the general situation, to which Senator Cotton drew attention, is that development is declining in the area about which we are talking. Another way of putting that is that however much is being done the position is getting worse, not better.
– Because of the population explosion. The demographers tell us that the world population, which is now approximately 3,000 million, will be about 6,000 million at the end of this century. India, which has a population of some 450 million, will by the end of the century have a population of 750 million. I have not the figure for continental China, but I suppose one has to start from the present figure of between 600 million and 700 million.
– They are putting on the Australian population each year.
– That is so. As a recent writer about India put it - perhaps not having heard of Australia - they are putting on each year the population of Belgium, which is round about 9 million or 10 million.
– What figure is given for Australia at the end of the century?
– That depends on many factors. I have not any greater wisdom or insight on that than die honorable senator has. What Senator Cotton says is quite correct. From some recent estimates of population it seems that the reality of events has made nonsense of statistical projections. The precise figures are not in my mind, but between 1951 and 1961 the population of India increased by about 40 million in excess of the expected figure, so we are dealing with problems of fantastic proportions. One of the staggering things is that the gap between the haves and the have-nots is not narrowing; it is expanding. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
– The rich get richer and the poor get children.
– Both of those propositions are essentially true. The Vernon Committee makes this clear, and I seriously commend this to honorable senators. They should not fall into the trap of discarding this report. I am not its advocate, because there are a number of aspects Of it about which I would want to be in critical disagreement, but it has seriously discussed serious problems. On this very point that we are discussing, it says -
The gap between low-income and high-income countries is both large and increasing. About twothirds of the world’s population, receiving probably less than 20 per cent, of the world’s income are in the low-income countries. Population increase in many of the poorer countries is at a high rate and adds to the difficulty of raising incomes per bead.
Dealing with the problem of developing countries, the report says -
Although aware that they must solve the internal problems hampering their efforts to develop economically, most of the poorer countries are restricted in their economic programmes by lack of trade.
That is getting right down to the matter with which this Bill deals, the need to create Opportunities for them to enjoy conditions under which they may develop constructive trading relationships with countries like ours and increase their own rate of economic growth. But the important thing is this -
The share of developing countries in world exports decreased steadily from nearly one-third in 1950 to only slightly more than one-fifth in 1962.
I do not know how any of us can contemplate those figures with equanimity. They are striking and they are startling. In the course of a decade the share of the world’s exports that these less developed countries had declined from one-third to just above one-fifth. To appreciate that is to realise that whatever we are doing it is not enough. In terms of increasing the amount of aid that we give to underdeveloped countries, the Opposition in this Parliament - the Australian Labour Party - has, I am proud to say, sought to draw attention to this crying need by saying that a minimum of 1 per cent, of our national income ought to be devoted annually to aid to developing countries. That is something at which to aim. I think that at present it is about .6 per cent.
– lt is higher than that.
– It is not more than 7 per cent., and that includes our expenditure on New Guinea.
– Which is also a responsibility.
– Of course it is a responsibility, but it is included in the figure that I last heard, which was either .6 or .7 of 1 per cent. Two-thirds of that amount was on New Guinea. That is taking the commitment on New Guinea at about £50 million a year.
– Expenditure on New Guinea last year was £37 million.
– But the projection for the next year is, I think, in the broad order of £50 million. I am not concerned to argue about £25 million or £50 million, because many thousands of millions will be required.
– Pounds and people.
– Pounds and people. Many thousands of millions of pounds will be required to solve these problems. This general proposition emerges strongly in that part of the report of the Vernon Committee that I am putting to the Senate. I am happy to find myself in agreement with the general approach that was made by Senator Cotton. He made some very interesting comments on some aspects of this extremely important question. Our enlightened self-interest means, of course, that we cannot neglect the primary object of tariff policy, which is to give protection to our local industries and help to develop them. But equally we cannot neglect - this Bill accepts this position very firmly, I believe - our responsibilities in the international sphere, to grant preferential tariff treatment to underdeveloped countries, to give them some opportunity to expand their exports so that they can earn enough to buy, reciprocally, some of our products. That must be the aim of a sensible and constructive policy.
At the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development some extremely important general propositions of this kind were accepted. Of course, it is difficult in a conference representative of so many countries to get agreement right across the board on specific and detailed aspects of policy. It is inevitable that if a country wants to hammer out precise tariff schedules or a precise programme of action which includes details and finance, it does not canvass the matter at a body of representatives of 100 nations or so, but the particular principles involved in the consideration of this problem were, I believe, very adequately dealt with at that conference. It stated -
The international community must combine its efforts to ensure that all countries, regardless of size, of wealth, of economic and social system, enjoy the benefits of international trade for their economic development and social progress.
The Conference also agreed-
This is particularly important - that developed, industrialised countries should assist the developing countries in their efforts to speed up economic and social progress, with special attention for “ the less developed among them “; it adopted a series of specific recommendations for action by governments and international bodies; and it proposed continuing machinery in the field of trade and development.
The Minister’s speech, 1 think, mentions these proposals. Certainly there is specific reference to the new Trade and Development Board in the report of the Vernon Committee. Dealing with the need for change - this brings me to the more positive aspect of the matter - the United Nations Conference had this to say - in drawing up its recommendations, the Conference was guided by the essential consideration that at the root of foreign trade difficulties facing developing countries and other countries highly dedendent on a narrow range of primary commodities are the slow rate of growth of demand for their exports-
It will be readily seen that this Bill will make a contribution towards solving that problem - the increasing participation of developed countries in world trade in primary commodities and the deterioration in the terms of trade of developing countries from 19S0 to 1962. An additional factor has been the widespread use of substitutes and synthetics.
It was thus recognised that urgent action on a wide front was required in the field of commodities. This action should include international commodity arrangements and the removal of existing or potential obstacles to commodity trade; compensatory financing, offered as an appropriate solution to meet the problems caused by short-term fluctuations in primary commodity prices; and the promotion of industries with an export potential in developing countries so as to reduce reliance on a mere expansion of exports of primary products and raw materials.
I have taken the liberty of quoting somewhat extensively from the report because it may be convenient to have the references in “ Hansard “ and because it would not be possible to cover the whole of the ground that is indicated in the report.
I believe sincerely that when we deal with the problem of aid to under-developed countries we must bear in mind the real inter-connection between economic development and progress and political stability. One of the most important contributions we can make towards stabilising international relationships in our part of the world is to do whatever we can, both of our own efforts and in co-operation with other like minded and fortunate countries and with international agencies, to assist these people to get above the level of utter degradation to which they have become accustomed but from which important and diverse influences are trying to drag them.
We often talk in this chamber about the challenges of international Communism. We have different ideas as to how that challenge can be met. There are some who think they can see military solutions. The view I put is that an increasing number of people, whether on this side of the chamber politically or in the general community, are coming to feel that until we solve the huge, enormous, intractable problems of curing hunger, poverty, disease and the illiteracy which exists on a grand scale in Asia, we will not even begin to cope with the problem of adjusting international relationships on a permanent basis.
I believe that this Bill offers an indication of a proper attitude on the part of the Government, reflecting, I think, the views of the community that both aid to, and trade with under-developed countries are ultimately the path to human progress in this part of the world. If we do not grapple with those problems then we are ignoring the basic realities and attempting to solve our problems by slogans and by inadequate attention to the real needs of the people. The sort of response we want from those people and those countries this Bill is designed to help in the long run - of course, miracles will not happen overnight, even with the passage of this legislation - is the reciprocal feeling and conviction that Australia wants to develop the firmest foundations of international co-operation and agreement. In that sense, I have pleasure in taking part in this debate and in supporting the measure before the Senate.
Sitting suspended from 5.42 to 8 p.m.
– It is my pleasure to support the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1965 and the Customs Bill (No. 2) 1965. In doing so, I congratulate the Department of Trade and Industry upon the enormous amount of work that has been done over the past two or three years at Geneva and other places to enable these Bills to be framed. The measures will not come into force immediately but have to await the conclusion of more work which is proceeding now in Geneva. I am grateful that the Opposition has accepted this legislation. Senator Cohen delivered a deep philosophical speech on world trade, but throughout it he supported the attitude of the Government in submitting the legislation at this time although it might not be put into effect until later.
The Senate is interested in the purposes of the Bills. Briefly they make provision under the Australian customs tariff laws for tariff preferences in favour of the less developed countries. This policy was first announced last May by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in another place and in the Senate by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) who said that the Bills would provide for the admission of selected products from the less developed countries under preferential rates of duties. In the terminology of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, it is necessary for these purposes to obtain a waiver or dispensation. The application for a waiver or dispensation is now before the contracting parties to G.A.T.T. This is awaited before the preferences will be available under this legislation to the underdeveloped countries. I understand that in. the course of time this can be done without further reference to the Parliament but under the hand of the Minister for Trade and Industry.
Clause 2 of the Customs Bill (No. 2) provides for the act to come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. The Bill provides for preferential reduction in duties on specific manufactured products from the less developed countries. I have been able to procure a list of the countries which will be submitted in the Australian approach to G.A.T.T. for the waiver. The list contains about 200 names, mostly of the smaller countries of the world. Two of the larger countries on the list are Burma and Ceylon and some of the smaller countries close to Australia are Cook Island, Fiji, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and the New Hebrides. A number of the countries are members of the Commonwealth of Nations including Jamaica, Kenya and Pakistan. Others are those with which Australia is doing a small trade but a trade which is increasing. These include the Philippines, Peru and Malaysia.
So that the Senate might be informed on the proposed tariff preferences to be granted the less developed countries, I propose to give in some detail a list of proposed tariff preferences covering some of the amounts and the proposed quota limitations to preferences for the less developed countries, setting out a brief description of the commodity and the rating in 1963-64 and the present tariff rates on such commodities. I shall also give the proposed preferential rate for the less developed countries sending commodities to Australia.
First I shall deal with travel and other goods of leather. At present we import these goods to the value of £9,000 from the less developed countries. Under the British preferential tariff, we import £237,000 worth and from other countries £146,000 worth. That means that £9,000 worth out of £392,000 worth comes from the less developed countries. The proposal is that the new tariff for this item will be 15 per cent, and the quota will be £50,000 worth of goods. The other tariffs will be the most favoured nation tariff of 45 per cent, and the British preferential rate of 17 i per cent. So there will be a slight edge on the British preferential tariff and the quota will be £50,000 worth of goods.
The largest item is newsprint. At present the less developed countries do not supply any newsprint to Australia but provision is to be made for £2 million worth under the proposed quota. Under the proposed preferential rate on this £2 million worth, the newsprint will be free of duty whereas it will be £4 a ton under the most favoured nation rate, so that £2 million worth of newsprint from the less developed countries will be admitted to Australia free of duty under this legislation. An item of interest to honorable senators is hand made carpets. Obviously these will come from the Asian countries. At present hand made carpets worth £423,000 are admitted and it is proposed to admit £500,000 worth duty free. So some of the countries such as India, Pakistan and Nepal which export hand madecarpets will be very interested in this item.
I might also mention coir matting. At present we admit £184,000 worth from tha less developed countries. The proposed tariff will be reduced to 15 per cent, and the quota will be £250,000. This will be a stimulus to trade with countries which produce coconuts. Obviously this will give impetus to the trade of some of our South Pacific island neighbours. Another item - these articles are no doubt in common use by honorable senators - is “ Razors and razor blades”, of which at present we get only £1,000 worth from the less developed countries. The Bill proposes that £150,000 worth be admitted at the small preferential duty of 5 per cent. Next there is an item connected with industry, “ Bottling and bagging machines, and plastic processing machines “. At present none of these items comes from the less developed countries, but provision is made for £100,000 worth to be admitted under a 20 per cent, preferential tariff. One can see, therefore, that the types of goods proposed to be imported are not restricted to goods of vegetable origin but extend to the more sophisticated manufactured goods which are under contemplation. lt is proposed to allow £125,000 worth of machine tools into the country duty free, whereas at the present time the less developed countries supply us with only £7,000 worth. I think I have shown the Senate the wide choice of items covered by the measure.
How was this choice made? The less developed countries were invited to submit to G.A.T.T. lists of the items they desired to be included in this approach by the Australian Government to assist their trade. The vetting of these lists has gone on very carefully in G.A.T.T. conferences over a period of several years. The important thing to remember is these preferential reductions in duty will not result in the removal of the protection required by Australian industries. This has been very closely watched. Should an Australian industry mink it suffers, it will have the usual access to the Tariff Board for a determination by the Board for submission to the Minister and then to the Parliament. I therefore do not think any interest in Australia will feel that the Bill before the Senate tonight will affect it badly. The preference is directed specifically towards the under-developed nations’ export requirements and the quantities specified are quantities which the Australian Govern ment thinks we can absorb without in any way adversely affecting Australian industry.
We are just emerging, as it were, from being a country with very little exports to one with quite considerable exports of manufactured goods. When I have the opportunity of watching television I am always most interested in the programme known as “ Export Action “. There it is made quite clear that products which theman in the street would not think it possible for Australia to export are going to all parts, of the world, including some of the most sophisticated parts of the world, and this ismainly through the energy that the manufacturers are putting into the export drive, assisted, of course, by imaginative taxation concessions by the Government. Somefigures which I came across recently showed that in the year the Commonwealth was founded our imports amounted to £9.1 per head and exports £13.1 per head. In 1963- 64, which of course was a year of fairly high exports, our imports amounted to £107 per head and our exports to £126 per head. One can see how our trade, in terms of imports and exports, has grown in the last 60 years.
Trade, as I see it, is really a form of aid. If we trade with these under-developed countries we are virtually aiding them in their development. Of course, there is nomore appropriate time to think in terms of trade and of giving the less developed countries an opportunity of trading with us than the present. As Senator Cohen pointed out, the report of the Committee of EconomicInquiry paid great attention to this question. In paragraph 12.85 of that report, under the heading “ New Pressures: Trade Policy in Relation to Less Developed Areas “, this, learned Committee discussed the question of trade policy in the less developed areas. It stresses the urgency of this matter in paragraph 12:86, where it said -
The main facts are: The gap between low-income and high-income countries is both large and increasing.
I emphasise the words “ and increasing “ -
About two-thirds of the world’s population, receiving probably less than 20 per cent, of theworld’s income, are in the low income countries. Population increases in many of the poorer countries is at a high rate and adds to the difficulty of raising incomes per head.
That strikes an urgent note. I am very glad indeed that the Government has taken the initiative - Australia is possibly the first country in the world to introduce legislation of this nature - in bringing this Bill forward. The report of the learned Committee continues in that strain, referring to the pressures that exist, and says that this seems to have been the one striking outcome of the United Nations Conference - an outcome which will undoubtedly be reflected in future international conferences on economic matters - and it is now imperative that Australia’s policies in this field be more specific. This report was written before the present legislation was brought down. I think this legislation is entirely in line with the policy set out in the Committee’s report and follows one of the more urgent suggestions contained in that report.
– That is a very balanced chapter.
– This is a report which will be referred to in this Senate for many years to come. I pay tribute to this chapter of the report because it seems to show a new way for us to regard tariff matters, especially in relation to the underdeveloped countries.
Another reason why I think it is most important that we pay great attention to the Bill before us and the attitude of the Government in enlarging this aid at the appropriate time is that there are many more countries in the world now than there were, say, 20 years ago. Many more countries now have self-determination or independence. When the United Nations was formed shortly after the last war, there were 30 or 40 member nations and I understand that there are now about 114. Possibly within a year or two there could be 120.
Each of these independent and selfdetermining nations has its own specific trade problem. At one time - just a few years ago - the United Kingdom virtually controlled the trade problems of 10 or 12 African nations. Nearer to Australia, Singapore and Malaysia are countries that at one time did not have a separate trade department. Within the last three or four years in the Pacific independence has come to the new nation of West Samoa; the Cook Islands have recently received selfdetermination from New Zealand; and in a very short while the British Solomon Islands protectorate will have its own department of trade. In due course, decisions must be made on the independence of Nauru and perhaps Papua and New Guinea. All around us are the new countries with their own trade policies.
I support the Government for the start it has made in respect of the trading nations of the world because, before very long there will be more trading nations on our doorstep. I think that the importance of trade in the diplomatic field is something the Senate could usefully consider. Recently I visited Fiji. Honorable senators will remember that there is a very large Australian investment in Fiji. The sugar industry there is virtually an off-shoot of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. The gold mining industry is controlled by another Australian company, Emperor Mines Ltd. Banking is virtually in the hands of two Australian banks - the Bank of New South Wales and the Australian and New Zealand Bank. Slightly more than half of the inhabitants of Fiji are of Indian extraction; 45 per cent, are of Fijian extraction and there are about 10,000 others, including Europeans, in which category Australians would be counted. While in Fiji, from remarks that were made and articles which were drawn to my attention, I gathered that there is an envy of Australia. The Fijians said that although the sugar they produce certainly provides them with useful employment, the profits go to Australia. That is their attitude, even though at one stage, I understand, they were given an opportunity to take up shares in the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. and did not accept to the extent expected. They were critical of Australia’s interests in their islands.
I believe that when this Bill is passed, the people responsible for our trade with Fiji and for our image there - the Australians who are doing such valuable executive work there - will feel the benefit of it, because they will be respected as belonging to a country that is providing opportunities for Fijians to export their products to Australia. The products of the craftsmen of those delightful islands possibly will find a way into our markets because of these tariff changes. I believe that Australia’s representative in Fiji will be made happier by this legislation. Australia’s representative in one of these under-developed countries which are to be given £2 million access for newsprint in Australia will be a very happy man when he explains to the people in that country that the Australian Parliament has taken this action.
This type of legislation, because of its benefit to trade, will create a first class image of Australia. The countries that produce hand woven carpets are to be guaranteed free access for between £200,000 and £300,000 worth of their products. No doubt they will be very pleased. Obviously, when a country is pleased, it helps in the field of diplomacy and in promoting trade in other products.
I congratulate the Government on the speed with which it has worked to bring this Bill to Parliament before it has been completely cleared by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade authorities. I predict that it will improve the stature of Australia in many parts of the world. Although our reputation is already high, it will expand. Consequently, it gives me great pleasure to support this legislation.
– Although the views of the Opposition have been very well put by other speakers on this side of the chamber, it might be as well for me to restate them. The Opposition supports the Government in this measure because we see it as important in view of the assistance it will give to the underdeveloped countries. Although it is a long time since the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) introduced this legislation in another place, he has made an important contribution to the economic support of under-developed countries. This assistance is quite distinct from the military commitments to which Senator Cohen referred earlier. The Opposition has always accentuated the need for good economic aid. We believe that political and economic solutions should be sought before military means are tried. Honorable senators will remember that there have been many debates in this chamber on the sending of military expeditions to other countries, including South Vietnam. The Opposition has not so much critised our military commitments as it has said: “ Look. There are other solutions.”
By the introduction of this legislation the Government agrees that certain economic aid, starting at the base, is important. I think we should consider special legislation and ask the General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade authorities to waive theusual commitments between the agreeing: countries so that we can assist the lesser developed countries.
When introducing this legislation in another place, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwan) said that he had1 advocated such an agreement as far back as 1963 during a meeting of the Commonwealth Trade Commissioners. We heartily agree with him. I wish to quote now what was said by Sir Leslie Melville, a former Chairman of the Tariff Board in 1963. Hesaid -
The struggle of the infant industry in an agricultural society to survive against the technical experience and the labour skills of a developing industrial country is sufficient to explain why this should be so. The development of an efficient industrial society, however, is not simply a matter of encouraging isolated infant firms to grow piecemeal. It is necessary to have a complex of firms each depending on the others for equipment, for parts, for scientific and technical knowledge, and for that most scarce of all resources, good management. It is necessary to have a great reservoir of labour with industrial training, with industrial traditions and with the skills so essential in an industrial society.
The Opposition sees as an important contribution to the economic development of the countries in the areas in which we exist, the cultivation of conditions which will allow such development. Unless this development is achieved and, as a byproduct of that development, skilled labour is produced, we will not be able to do much to solve the problems associated with wealth and poverty. So any aid that this Government can give will do good. Australia does well to support the proposed waiving of the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to enable these countries to find their economic feet. Indeed, it is highly important that we should do so.
I listened to Senator Cotton suggest the basic approach that he believed ought to be adopted. He described it as aid and trade. I agree that fundamentally, if we want to assist these surrounding countries, whose standards are low when compared with our own, we must first give them aid. We must give them aid so that they can establish the sort of community that will enable production to maintain itself. Once production is maintaining itself, the products of the industries that have been established could be distributed within Commonwealth countries. Then, of course, we would have to accept the challenge of trade with these countries. This is the sort of aprpoach that Senator Cotton suggested. The honorable senator was followed by Senator Cohen, who offered the same sort of prescription.
Senator Laught referred to Fiji, amongst other countries. Incidentally, I understand that approximately 100 countries will be brought within the compass of this legislation. Jamaica is included in this number. I think it would be pertinent if I were to mention Jamaica, a Commonwealth country with a multi-racial society that has adopted the kind of political organisation that we of the Commonwealth of Nations have adopted, as affording a good example of the value of the kind of approach we envisage. Jamaica has been struggling out of a state of impoverishment as a result of slavery and the old relationships that existed within the British Empire. She is now independent and is being assisted by certain countries, including the United Kingdom, to establish industries and to lay a basis to ensure that people will be employed without discrimination, whether they be Chinese, Indian or Negro. The Jamaican society might well be contrasted with the new Rhodesian society. Jamaica enjoys the same relations with the United Kingdom as we do. If we can afford to give trade assistance to a fellow Commonwealth country, we can afford to extend that form of assistance to others.
As the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has said elswhere, in extending such assistance there is always the problem that another country will say that we ought to make it more widespread. I agree with the following statement by the Minister as reported at page 335 of the “ Hansard “ report of the House of Representatives debate -
Quite frankly, we agree that there are additional countries which should be treated as less developed countries for purposes of the preferences. We agree also that Australia might be able to give preferences on additional items or make adjustments to some quotas. But first priority must be given to getting the principle established. We would only make this more difficult if we allowed ourselves to be sidetracked into arguments about particular products. . . .
As I said earlier, we of the Opposition have no hesitation in saying that this is a very good piece of legislation. The Australian Government might well venture into more of this kind of expedition rather than give tacit support to military occupations, which often are not very fruitful in solving the problems that confront the modern world.
As we look at the areas that surround Australia, what are those problems? Generally, they flow from conditions of poverty and the need to encourage the establishment of industrial communities such as we have in Australia and which are characteristic of the modern world. Such communities are necessary if people are to be free of poverty and to share in the advantage of production. But this can be achieved only if economic aid and advice are made available. If we in Australia follow up what is proposed in this legislation, we not only will do much to ensure that the countries which surround us remain in a peaceful state but also will enhance our own prestige. To pursue such policies will ensure a more lasting solution than will be achieved by adopting political and military means.
The aid that we have given to Thailand is an example of the kind of aid that produces lasting results. I refer particularly to the Khon Kaen expedition. People from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority went to Thailand to make surveys for road construction. They made estimates and assays of materials and trained mechanics and earth moving equipment operators. They have been responsible for opening up communication links which can be used by members of the community to carry their products to market. Not only has this result been achieved, but also we have established excellent peaceful relations with this country which will have lasting effects.
I am reminded also of what has been done in Cambodia. I saw this for myself as a member of a parliamentary delegation which went to this country in July of last year. What we have done in that country has led to the establishment of fairly good relations, which will ensure that the views’ of the Australian Government are properly analysed. We equipped the municipal workshops which not only handle the ordinary repair work in the town of Phnom Penh but also do additional construction work. I was pleased to see in Cambodia milling machines and lathes that had been produced in South Australia. These machines were being operated by Cambodian’s who had been instructed by people sent out by the International Labour Organisation. The Organisation has provided technical aid by training skilled tradesmen and apprentices.
It seems to me that the aid that is proposed in this legislation, allied with the other economic aid which we in this country are giving, will make a contribution that will have more lasting effects than if we became involved in military expeditions, which in the long term probably would be futile. It may be argued that the assistance we are now providing has been contemplated since August of last year and that it might have been afforded more speedily. Certain members of the Government - the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in particular - see this legislation as an opportunity to establish an economic relationship with the less developed countries of the Commonwealth. Such a relationship will be good for them and for us.
We have no hesitation in supporting this legislation. We want to see this sort of agreement extended. I hope that the Government will take note of the fact that the Opposition has no misgivings about this sort of agreement. So, if there are any complications in obtaining the G.A.T.T. waiver, the Government might argue that the whole of the Australian community supports it on this matter. I do not think there is any point against which anybody could argue. As has been said, this legislation establishes a principle which is wider than purely economic aid. I have referred, for example, to the aid that might be given to Jamaica. We are satisfied that in time it and other countries will form a body of influence within the Commonwealth.
As I see the Commonwealth today, its existence does not depend upon it being just an economic and political unit. In fact, the test is whether the parliamentary machine can be sustained in a time of dictatorships; whether we can meet the challenge of dictatorships; and whether we can prove that a parliamentary democracy can be sustained. We can do these things if we can assist economically the units of the Commonwealth and if we do not allow discrimination to enter into our concepts.
I am pleased to see that in this legislation there are no discriminations on that basis.
I hope that in the future the Government will develop this sort of aid and that it will look at propositions of trade and aid in the way in which not only other Opposition speakers but also members of the Government parties have suggested. Admittedly, some members of the Government parties have some reservations concerned with people helping themselves and what we should do in respect of some countries. There is no doubt that all that many of the Commonwealth countries need is practical assistance from countries such as Australia to enable them to get on the road to prosperity. We have to provide some finance. We have to send teams of management experts to countries with industries. Once they get their industries established, we have to allow a certain amount of the products of those industries into Australia. Unless we do that, we will not sustain the populations of those countries.
It seems to me that in the area in which we are most interested there are not the same sorts of problems as exist in India, for example. I think anybody who has been in South East Asia will agree that generally it is very fertile land. If the countries of South East Asia were properly organised, if they were stable politically, if there were no military juntas, if they had political systems along the lines that we accept - that is, a parliamentary system with one party in power and another strong party in opposition - there would be a stable economic base. Then all that we would have to do would be to arrange tariff preferences for them and send trade experts to give them the sort of advice that they would expect to receive from a fellow member of the Commonwealth.
In conclusion I say, with other members of the Opposition who have spoken in this debate, that we are pleased to support the approach embodied in this legislation because we see it not only as an attempt to deal with the economic problems of the Commonwealth but also as an attempt to deal with the political problems of the Commonwealth with which we will be involved in the future.
– The Senate has been privileged to hear excellent contributions to this debate from honorable senators on the Government and Opposition sides of the chamber. Before the sitting was suspended, we heard excellent contributions from Senator Cotton and Senator Cohen. Sometimes we wonder how we will fill in our time in this chamber; but today has been one of the most illuminating, instructive and educational times that I have had for quite a long while. To the honorable senators who contributed to the debate before and after dinner, I offer my congratulations. I am speaking tonight only because the Government Whip was short of a speaker. I feel somewhat out of place.
One of the aims and principles of the Australian people is to contribute to the economic development of countries in areas which are of key importance to us. I believe that that is a fair comment. The Government has presented these Bills to the Senate in its desire to fulfil that aim. Every government has to carry out the wishes of its people. These are only two of the many bills that are designed to support our friends in the Western world in their co-operative efforts to assist in the economic, social and political development of our near neighbours.
Whilst it is true that much of our overseas aid and effort has been directed towards Papua and New Guinea, we have not overlooked the countries of South East Asia and our other near neighbours. Honorable senators may be interested to know that in 1965-66 our contribution to Papua and New Guinea will be more than £30 million. In the international field, under what I call the multilateral agreements, we are contributing £4.5 million, and under the bilateral agreements - in respect of which very close relationships exist between the countries concerned - we are giving £6 million under the Colombo Plan and £3.5 million through the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. When we add the aid that we are giving to Malaysia, which is a further £6 million, we see that Australia is donating approximately £57 million this year.
– A fiver a head.
– I did not hear that interjection; but I repeat that we are donating approximately £57 million this year. The Colombo Plan and other bilateral agreements are of great value because of the direct relationships that they create.
This legislation should demonstrate that in trade, too, Australia is prepared to make concessions to assist her near neighbours.
In the field of practical aid, it is interesting to note that, under the Colombo Plan, up to August 1965 Australia had supplied 692 experts in its attempts to give know-how to the assisted countries. Those experts, who have gone to various countries, have created goodwill as well as giving the people of those countries knowhow. Senator Bishop referred to the workshop outside Phnom Penh. That is typical of the assistance that we are providing and of the goodwill that is created. When the people see the kangaroo emblem they say: “ Oh, you are from Australia “. They believe that we are humane and kind people. This is the correct image that we want to create in these areas. We have also provided 129 advisers who have reported on 235 projects. The recipient countries welcomed these men. I shall mention some of the countries which have received this assistance and the number of experts that have been sent there. We sent 14 experts to Burma, 23 to Cambodia, 60 to Ceylon, 33 to India, 54 to Indonesia, 6 to Laos, 165 to Malaysia, 6 to Nepal, 54 to Pakistan, 26 to the Philippines, 92 to Singapore, 55 to Thailand and 20 to Vietnam.
We often hear what Australia should have done, but it is interesting to note that between 1946 and 1963-64 Australia contributed £380 million to development and relief work. It is true that Papua and New Guinea has received £201 million, but other countries have received £179 million in this period. We have also contributed to the United Nations regular programmes of technical assistance and to the South Pacific Commission’s technical assistance programmes. We all know that the Western countries - and the United States of America is included in this - have made magnificent aid contributions to other countries of the world. In 1962-63 the aid given by Australia, Great Britain and America under the Colombo Plan amounted to over £800 million. In fact, to mid June 1963 the Colombo Plan countries received no less than £6,216,825,000. That is a staggering amount. America alone supplied 1,200,000,000 U.S. dollars, the United Kingdom provided £284,300,000 sterling and Australia contributed £44,443,000 Australian. Canada, Japan and New Zealand also were large contributors. Institutions such as the International Development Association, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation have provided investment funds for private enterprise. That is a sketchy outline of some of the asistance that have been given to the so-called less developed countries.
While Senator Cohen was speaking this afternoon I interjected and asked him what he meant by less developed countries because the phrase worries me. I sincerely appreciate what Senator Cohen said on this matter. I have done a great deal of soul searching, if I may so describe it, in trying to satisfy myself that I am not basing my beliefs on wrong premises. We know that these countries, whether they be in the Middle East, Asia or South East Asia, have great histories. Their peoples have great intellectual ability. Their rural workers - and this is where I, perhaps, fit in, being a peasant myself - possess great pertinacity and ability to grow agricultural crops. I know that some people go to these countries and say: “ We will mechanise them, we will do this and we will do that “. But when I went to South East Asia and saw men and women planting and harvesting rice, I marvelled and wondered at their courage and skill. I. also marvelled at their wonderful irrigation systems, their practical skills, their use of levels in the control of flood waters and the management of their agricultural fields.
When I saw the conditions under which they lived I wondered why they appeared so placid. I asked myself: Because they live so close to nature have they caught some mysterious thing of life that we, in our supposedly industrialised world, have lost? Yet I still thought that something should be done to raise their standard of living. Many of these people seem to have a happiness that we have missed. I asked myself: How can these people be given a better way of life? Is their land tenure to blame for their standard of living? From where must improvement come? The greatest wealth that a country has is its people. To my way of thinking, the people themselves are the only ones who can raise their standard of living.
How can we provide assistance to them? Other speakers have said that aid and trade are the paths to human progress. I think that is correct. Yet we, together with the other contributing nations, should review the effect of the assistance which we have given to these countries by trade and aid. Again I must refer to the speeches made by Senator Cotton and Senator Cohen. They were both constructive and interesting. Both honorable senators mentioned that the continual increase of population in the countries which we wish to assist has cancelled out the benefits of the aid that has been provided. We were told that those countries had to import food. The increased production in food alone made possible by economic development and foreign aid has been followed by a multiplying of the millions and the result is that the countries have to import food. Many honorable senators have been overseas and have surely noted that the technological development financed by foreign aid takes place in big Asian cities and, to some extent, in African cities. Unemployment is most serious in the rural areas. How do we grapple with this?
Whenever I visit these countries, that seems to me to be the problem. We see evidence of mass migration of rural workers to the cities. Shanty towns have arisen in very many of the cities, and these are populated by destitute people. Some people have said - and on a superficial view one is almost led to believe - that Western aid is tending to intensify these slums and produce vast areas of concentrated human misery. This may be happening. I hope that this problem if it exists - and I am afraid that it does - will be solved satisfactorily. The very fact that we know of these circumstances that have arisen through aid should be the spur to urge us forward to correct these faults. I firmly believe that the developed countries - particularly the Western countries - will endeavour to do that. Moreover, I firmly believe that this legislation will assist in producing greater trade between our neighbours and ourselves, with consequential international goodwill and a greater co-operative effort on both sides. I support the Bills.
– in reply - In closing the second reading debate on the two Bills, which we are debating concurrently, I express my appreciation to honorable senators for the debate that has taken place. Senator O’Byrne, who led for the Opposition, other Opposition speakers, and also Government senators, have all indicated a very enthusiastic support for the Government’s action and the principles that are incorporated in this legislation. The main Bill is to make provision in Australia’s custom tariff legislation for tariff preferences in favour of less developed countries. The second Bill, which is a machinery Bill, sets out the conditions under which special preferences will apply to less developed countries. The second Bill provides, also, that imports from less developed countries, subject to the provisions of the Customs Tariff Bill, which is the main Bill, qualify for entry at the preferential rates, if 50 per cent, or more of the labour and material costs of the imported product has been incurred in less developed countries, and if the last processing before export has taken place in the exporting less developed country. This is a very understandable safeguard to the proposals.
We are all aware that after World War II the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade came into existence because the world was desirous of bringing into effect a form of international trade which would get away from the extreme economic nationalism that had grown up in the world since 1930. Australia subscribed to the establishment and principles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. All of us would be as one in relation to that. G.A.T.T., through the years since its inception, has had certain successes, but only limited successes in relation to the problems of less developed countries and primary producing countries. In contemporary times more and more of the less developed countries are coming to independence and becoming more alive to the need to trade in their own right. As this significant factor has emerged, the need for help for less developed countries has become apparent.
Over a period, conferences in relation to G.A.T.T. were held. I understand that Senator O’Byrne read from a letter written by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), which indicated Australia’s willingness to accept the protocal amending the Agreement and to introduce a new part - Part IV - on trade and development, with qualifications to meet Australia’s very special circumstances. As a nation we are now setting about giving special help to less developed countries and we are seeking from G.A.T.T. a waiver to enable us to do so. I understand that a working party has been considering the question of waiver, but the matter has yet to be finally determined. There is overwhelming support from the less developed countries for this dramatic, significant and historic proposal.
The climate of the debate has been very good. The matter has been covered very widely, and it is hardly necessary for me to recanvass the subject matter of the second reading speeches, but I might be expected to comment upon a number of matters raised in the debate. For instance, Senator Kennelly drew attention - quite validly - to the minimal items in some categories. He spoke of them as though they were not of great significance in terms of the quota limit fixed in relation to those goods. That is quite true. That is a conclusion that could be drawn from the schedules, but it should be remembered that these low quotas have been fixed with one overriding consideration - that they would not damage Australian industry. We recognise that quotas of this kind will not solve the problems confronting the less developed countries. Nevertheless, they are a start along that road. Many of the items mentioned have not so far been imported into Australia. Therefore, to fix a preferential tariff rate for items which are not being imported into Australia, and also to fix a quota for them, be it ever so small, is a step in the right direction. I have gathered from the atmosphere of the debate that all honorable senators recognise that.
We must understand, too, that if we get the waiver from G.A.T.T. and this proposal becomes a part of the Australian customs law, it will be a tremendous encouragement to the major countries of the world. It may be said that we do not seem to be doing very much. However, looking across the board and viewing the matter overall, realising that many of the items concerned have not so far been imported into Australia, and bearing in mind the cumulative effect that we hope this legislation will have on the major countries of the world, I am sure we are all as one in feeling that the proposal will be worthwhile.
Two other points were raised. One was in relation to newsprint. A quota limit of £2 million has been set and newsprint to that value from less developed countries will be admitted duty free. Without developing the matter at length, Senator O’Byrne asked whether the Government’s proposal might be injurious to the Tasmanian newsprint industry. I assure Senator O’Byrne that his fears are quite groundless. There has always been a significant Australian short fall in newsprint. Senator Kennelly claimed that the proposal was just another concession to the Australian newspaper proprietors. He did not develop that argument at any great length, but I feel I should refer to it. It is true that for something like the last 20 years, going back to well before this Government came into office, by-law entry has been given to newsprint other than that coming from the United Kingdom duty free under the preferential rate. The normal by-law criterion of suitable equivalent goods not being reasonably available from the United Kingdom has been used.
– Will the Department always keep to that? That is all 1 am concerned about.
– This has been operating for some 20 years. Even though in certain circumstances by-law entry could be given to newsprint from an underdeveloped country, this is a substantive tariff item. When we pass the legislation and get the waiver, it will become a substantive item, allowing free entry to a certain quantity of newsprint from underdeveloped countries. Such newsprint will not be the subject of a by-law application. That is the point I wanted to make.
asked which were the under-developed countries. He may get his answer from the point I make now. Since the system of preferential tariffs cannot be operated without designating the countries to receive preference, the absence of international agreement as to what countries are less developed has posed a problem. The Government would, of course, prefer to adopt a general list but, in the circumstances that I have explained, it is not able to do so. Therefore, it has taken the countries which made up the caucus of the less developed nations at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and has added Papua and New Guinea and the British Territories or former British territories which already receive some preference under the Australian tariff system.
I again thank honorable senators for their contributions to the debate. When this legislation is passed - and, as we hope, we receive the waiver - it will make a real con’tribution to the economic life of the people in the less developed countries. It will be an inspiration to other countries of the world. In that sense, Australia is doing a magnificant job. I ask that the Bill be given a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to A - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 5 (Special rates of duty applicable to goods of less developed countries).
– It is not my intention to delay the Committee unduly. I notice from the schedule that, of the 48 items listed, 27 attract a lower duty than that under the British preferential tariff. On one item, household utensils of wood, the British preferential tariff is 221 per cent, plus 5 per cent, primage whereas these goods from less developed countries are allowed free entry. That is a major disparity. Provision is made for the importation of £405,000 worth of household utensils of wood including £20,000 worth from less developed countries, £99,000 from countries under the British preferential tariff and £286,000 from other countries. It is true that some of these items are small but a duty of 22i per cent., plus 5 per cent, primage, is to be placed on articles under the British preferential tariff while those from less developed countries will be admitted free.
Generous provision has also been made for vulcanised rubber thread. I wish the Department of Customs and Excise had been as generous to me when I made a small request. The schedule provides for the importation of £73,000 worth from countries under the British preferential tariff and £278,000 from other countries. It is proposed to charge 20 per cent, plus 5 per cent, primage under the British preferential tariff but no tariff will be placed on goods from less developed countries. This also is a disparity.
I will not comment at length on newsprint. The Minister for Customs and Excise said the tariff preference in respect of imports of newsprint is to operate for 20 years.It is always the same; when people get on the government benches they seem to want to be persona grata with the Press people. I do not believe in that. In the case of newsprint, £2 million worth is to be allowed into Australia from less developed countries free of duty. These less developed countries might find themselves in the position that was facing Australia when the balance of payments problem arose in the United Kingdom and the United States of America resulting in a closure on capital coming into Australia. There will be a transfer of interest to some of the less developed countries which have wood for making into newsprint pulp. Senator O’Byrne referred to kunai grass from which paper can be produced. But it is clear to me what will happen. The newsprint interests will find a less developed country which has enough wood for pulping and eventually will make newsprint there. Let us hope history will not repeat itself so that some countries virtually own other countries. We have been reaping the fruit of such a development unfortunately in recent years.
I notice that in the case of “other articles of cut glass “ the British preferential tariff will be 121/2 per cent, and goods from less developed countries will be admitted free. I do not raise any serious objection to this because we have to govern ourselves and have the right to do what we believe to be the correct thing but I have visions of the plight of the United Kingdom with its balance of payments problem. I do not know how the United Kingdom Government will view these provisions. I suppose it will just have to put up with them.
However, I should like the Minister for Customs and Excise to explain why this is being done. I do not claim to be an authority on customs duties. I do not have to worry about them very much and I hope I have less to do with them in the future. It will be sufficient if I am informed when the new duties come into operation.
But I should like some explanation of the disparity in the cases I have mentioned.
– We have to go back to the basis of these proposals to answer Senator Kennelly. The Bills provide for a preferential tariff for less developed countries. The cases mentioned by Senator Kennelly are not the only examples where the rate of duty proposed will be less than the British preferential rate.
– But not as great as those I have mentioned.
-I can only speak of principles. After all the United Kingdom is a developed country but we are proposing to give special preferences to the less developed countries in certain fields. The schedule before the Committee was made up originally from lists supplied by the less developed countries to indicate in which fields they needed help. We must not assume in these circumstances that the rate of duty provided of necessity must be greater than the preferential rate. We have to decide whether we can give these preferences without hindrance to our own industries and in some cases we are giving a rate of tariff below the British Preferential rate. In essence that is part of the spirit of the proposals. We are making a special concession for the less developed countries as a lead to the world in this field.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 29th September (vide page 696), 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 amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 1566), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a comprehensive measure, covering quite a number of items on which the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority have made reports on some items arising from the Budget. In his second reading speech, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) gave a thumbnail sketch or precis of the various reports I have mentioned. The first report to which he referred was on safflower seed and soya beans, safflower oil and soya bean oil. In regard to these items the Tariff Board, in its report, stated that it considered that the increased rate of duty that it recommended would adequately protect the Australian industry.
An item which I am particularly pleased to see mentioned in the Bill is “ Umbrellas and sunshades”. The Tariff Board’s report says that the Australian industry produces articles of unquestioned quality, which compare favorably with the best produced anywhere else in the world, and that the industry has increased its production and sales over the past three years. In the opinion of the Board, the former duties were more than were required to enable the more efficient producers to obtain a reasonable return on funds employed. On its recommendation, therefore, the duties on ordinary umbrellas are being reduced by 7i per cent, ad valorem, and other types of umbrellas are being grouped under one item at rates about equivalent to the present level.
This is an illustration of what a tariff policy can bring about. This is an industry which, at one time, was unable to produce a product equal to some of the imported products but which now, because it has had the protection afforded by the tariff policies of various governments, is operating on a sound basis. In its report the Tariff Board said that 1 1 local manufacturers were represented at the inquiry and that of these seven gave direct evidence. These seven producers were said to represent at least 90 per cent. of the Australian industry. The Board said, further, that the firms which presented evidence employed over 330 people, 78 per cent, of whom are women and juniors, and used funds totalling about £600,000 in the production and distribution of the goods under reference. It said, further, that no evidence was given about any local production of paper covered umbrellas or sunshades, nor was any request made concerning them. The Board’s report said, further, -
Local production of umbrella tents is negligible and imports are low. However, the industry requested that the existing duties be retained as special orders would be made. Beach and other umbrellas classified under Item 116(d) were said to represent possibly 40 per cent, of the value of production of the local makers, and the industry asked for the retention of existing duties.
In summer time, when our beach resorts are being used more and more by people relaxing in their holiday periods, the demand for beach umbrellas is continually increasing. To me, it is a source of satisfaction that this Australian industry is now so firmly established that we can reduce the rate of duty on imported articles to Ti per cent. It is said that that is a rate under which the Australian industry can be expected to prosper, and I feel quite certain it can.
There are some very technical products mentioned in this measure. Among them are continuous filament acetate yarn, monofil, strip and imitation catgut, copper and brass sheet, strip and foil, static transformers, telescopic sights for weapons, bubble levels, and A.C. Watt-hour meters. These items have been very thoroughly investigated by the Tariff Board and its recommendations are readily available for us to examine in detail.
Generally speaking, this Bill is designed to implement the policy of the Government which, through the Department of Customs and Excise, keeps a close watch on tariff duties in order to maintain them at a level at which our industries are protected. The policy is also to ensure that the superimposing of extra costs is kept at the lowest possible level. To me, this represents efficient working of a tariff policy. Without going into further detail, I will say that most of the matters dealt with are technical. It is difficult to understand many of the wondrous things that are being created synthetically these days. I am sure the officers of the Department must find it increasingly difficult to keep the long names of these products in their minds, let alone understand the nature of their construction and the like.
The Opposition supports this measure and pays a compliment to the Department, as I have done in the past, for the way it keeps constantly under review the multitudinous items that make up our flow of trade. The literature and background information supplied to us equips those of us who are interested enough with all the information we need. I am quite certain in offering our support for the measure that it can be taken that the Opposition is very satisfied with the work that the Department is doing.
– in reply - I thank Senator O’Byrne for expressing the view of the Opposition. I agree with him that the names of the new products that are emerging are sometimes very frightening when one has to stand and read out a long list of them. As the honorable senator has indicated, the consideration of duty by the Tariff Board is always full and comprehensive, and is always designed to preserve Australia’s best interests through the policy pursued by the Government which the Opposition, in the main, supports. Again I am very grateful for the speedy passage of this legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 1566) on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- It is the intention of the Opposition to oppose this measure which provides for alterations to the excise payable on a number of products including beer, brandy, whisky and cigarettes. The Opposition intends to vote against the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– This Bill imposes further excise duties on beer, spirits and tobacco. The Opposition believes that these are indirect taxes which will weigh more heavily on persons receiving lower incomes than on those persons receiving higher incomes. While it is true that some indirect taxation is necessary, it seems to me that every time the Government wishes to raise more revenue, its first step is to examine what some people call the “ pleasures “. If smoking can be included in that bracket, I am one who indulges. Others derive pleasure from liquor. No-one can quarrel if it is taken in moderation. A tremendous amount of money is paid into Commonwealth revenue through the excise duties payable on beer, spirits and tobacco. It is a little fantastic to find that on a gallon of ale, porter or other beer - I do not know what is meant by “ other beer “ - containing not less than 2 per cent, of proof spirit, excise duty of lis. 4id. is paid.
I do not speak with feeling on this matter because the Government gets no excise from me on sales of liquor. I can assure the Minister of that. The stage has been reached where people who partake of liquor as it should be consumed - that is in moderation - are paying a tremendous amount of excise duty. I cannot tell honorable senators how many 7 oz. glasses can be filled from a gallon of beer. Possibly the Minister will be able to inform me of that later.
– To what percentage of proof spirit did the honorable senator refer?
– To 2 per cent.
– That is pretty weak stuff.
– Our friend comes from South Australia and possibly he is used to drinking Chateau Tanunda brandy. I think that is the name of the brandy that is manufactured from the grapes of that State.
– They drink pure power alcohol over there.
– I shall let anybody who knows what they drink speak for himself. If one could only be told how many 7 oz. glasses of beer can be obtained from a gallon, I suppose one would be able to work out how much excise is paid on a glass of beer.
– That depends on the barman.
– I admit that it depends on whether it has a high or a low collar. To put levity aside, I think the Government is putting this commodity out of the reach of the ordinary person. The Good Book refers to water being turned into wine at a place called Cana. So at least those who do partake have a very good example to follow.
– St. Paul said: “ . . . use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake . . .”.
– Did he? My friend, who knows the Book very well, has given us another example.
– Some of the pubs turn water info whisky, too.
– Well, I leave that to those who drink it. Personally, 1 have never found much pleasure in it. Of course, I can do what I want to do, but I do think that those who enjoy a drink ought to be allowed to have one and not be made a chopping block for every government that needs money. For the benefit of Senator Hannaford, the schedule to the Bill provides that on “ blended brandy, distilled wholly from wine, the fermented juice from fresh grapes and containing not less than 25 per cent, of pure spirit (which has been separately distilled from wine, the fermented juice of fresh grapes by a pot-still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 40 per cent, overproof) “ the rate of duty shall be £4 per proof gallon. Not only the beer drinker but also the spirit drinker is being hit. Some of us who do not partake sometimes have to use a little for medicinal purposes.
– The honorable senator is like the rest. They always have a reason.
– I do not know what the inference is. I thought the honorable senator would be about the last to imply that one was a silent drinker. On Australian blended whisky the rate of duty is £5 Ils. per proof gallon. By George! How much a nip does it cost now?
– It is nearly 2s. a nip.
– Well, I would not be drinking too much of that. Now I come to something in which I am very much interested.
– No, tobacco.
– The honorable senator is not exempt from duty on this item.
– No. I have stopped smoking more often than has any other living person, and I have recommenced smoking more often.
– The honorable senator will smoke more in the next life than in this one.
– Some people who want to be loquacious just cannot be stopped when others are on their feet. The honorable senator will burn; I will not. In regard to fine cut bobacco which is suitable for the manufacture of cigarettes in the manufacture of which all the tobacco leaf used is Australian grown, the rate of duty is £2 ls. 4d. per lb. If imported leaf is used, the rate of duty is £2 2s. Someone will have to help me here. I do not know the weight of a packet of 20 cigarettes, but I should say that for every packet purchased one would be paying 9d. or lOd. into the coffers of the Government. I do not know of any cigarettes which contain all Australian grown leaf, except perhaps those which were supplied yesterday by a certain firm that tried to be funny. I do not know whether anybody liked them. Without giving a free advertisement to the firm concerned, I understand that a question was asked in another place about the sample supplied. I should say that almost every cigarette that is sold in this country is made from blended leaf. On hand made cigars the rate of duty is £1 12s. 6d. per lb. and on machine made cigars it is £1 13s. 6d. Honorable senators will note the differentiation that is made between the duty that is applicable to the ordinary man - I should say the vast majority of ordinary men smoke cigarettes - and that which is applicable to those who smoke cigars. The rate of duty on cigarettes is £2 2s. per lb. and on cigars £1 12s. 6d.
Now I come to gasoline. On gasoline used in aircraft the rate of duty is .957 shilling per gallon and on gasoline used for other purposes it is 1.23 shillings. The ordinary person would buy super grade petrol at about 3s. 9d. per gallon. I know a little more about the cost of a gallon of petrol than I do about the cost of a gallon of poison. Every time the nation needs money, the ordinary people are the first ones to be called upon to pay. I do not know when this practice will ever stop. I admit that I do not imagine for a moment that if there were a change of government we could completely abolish indirect taxation.
– I reckon that 12 months after the change of government indirect taxation would be half as much again.
– Anyone can say that without proof. I do not want to think about what may happen in the future. Let us deal with the present and let the future take care of itself.
We oppose this measure because we believe that the Government is taking the easy way out. In my opinion, this imposition is extremely heavy and unfair. The fairest method of taxation is to tax people according to their ability to pay. We believe that, instead of increasing the tax on beer, spirits and tobacco in order to raise revenue, portion if not all of the additional revenue should be raised by the fairest means; that is, by direct taxation, under which people pay according to their ability to pay. The Opposition opposes this Bill and will vote against it.
– in reply - These proposals had their origin in the Budget. They are all Budget proposals. Therefore, I do not think it is necesary for me to debate them now at any length. The Opposition has indicated that it intends to oppose them. The only comment that I make is in relation to Senator Kennelly’s reference to indirect taxation. Over the years there has been a notable fall in revenue from indirect taxation as a percentage of total taxation revenue. In 1953-54 revenue from indirect taxation represented 40.177 per cent, of total taxation revenue; whereas in 1965-66 it represents 38.404 per cent, of total taxation revenue. I have no further comment to make.
Question put -
That the Bill be now read a second Lime.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Senator Gair and I voted against the motion for the second reading of this Bill. I propose to explain briefly the reasons for that action. I believe that there is too much of a tendency today for governments in search of revenue to look to the man who likes to drink a glass of beer or to smoke a cigarette and to say: “ He is indulging in luxuries for which he should be prepared to pay extra. Therefore, let us take extra tax out of him “. I suppose that there was some justification for reasonably small extra imposts on liquor and cigarettes. But I believe that the Government is now going too far. For that reason I felt that I should vote against the excise proposals contained in the Budget.
I go further and say that it is wrong in principle for the Government, when it is in search of extra revenue, to introduce a measure such as this which, in effect, calls upon the poorer man to pay the same taxation as the wealthier man pays. On the average I suppose that the quantity of beer consumed by the ordinary working man is the same as that consumed by the rich man; yet they both pay the same amount of tax and, in my view, that is opposed to what should be a firm principle in taxation. I think that people should always pay taxation according to their ability to pay. I regret, therefore, that there appears to be this continual concentration upon those of us who like to drink in moderation or who smoke. I suggest that on future occasions when the Government needs extra revenue, it goes more into the direct taxation field and not so much into the indirect taxation field which, in my view, is not fair treatment for the ordinary member of the community.
– I would like to seek some enlightenment from the Minister on a certain matter. I am trying to work out how much excise the ordinary drinker pays on a 7 oz. glass of beer.
– I understand that it is approximately 6d. The honorable senator will appreciate that we do not deal in glasses.
– I know that, but the man who has to pay the excise has to deal in glasses. In round figures it is 6d. on a 7 oz. glass?
– That is only an approximation.
– That will do me. As a glass of beer costs1s. 2d., it means that the beer accounts for 8d. and the excise for 6d. That seems fantastic. These proposals are included in the Budget, and if the Government, irrespective of its political colour, has the numbers, the Budget proposals go through.
– I think that the excise is even greater on rum and other spirits.
– I can understand Senator Gair being concerned about rum, not from a personal point of view, but because of the famous Bundaberg rum which is distilled in his State.
– There is also Beenleigh rum.
– I do not know anything about that, but Mr. Walsh, M.L.A., a great friend of both Senator Gair and myself, often spoke to me about Bundaberg rum. Matters such as increased excise do not receive the attention they deserve in a budget debate. In a budget debate everyone tries to speak on the economic position as it affects the nation. It is only when bills are introduced into the Parliament that we give these matters the close attention that they deserve.
I do not need any information from the Minister about cigarettes because I know that the price of cigarettes was increased by 4d. a packet after the Budget was introduced. When the Budget was introduced it was stated that the price of a packet of cigarettes would be increased by 3d. Those who smoke had to find the additional1d. I turn now to petrol. The average person today does not buy a gallon of petrol. As a rule he goes to the garage and says to the attendant: “ You had better put a pound’s worth in “, or: “ Fill it up.”. Am I correct in saying that the duty on petrol is 1.23s. per gallon? The item in the schedule to the Bill dealing with petrol states -
Can the Minister tell me why there is a differentiation between the rate of duty on petrol that is used in aircraft and the rate of duty on petrol that is used in motor cars? I take it that the word “ other “ refers to petrol used in motor cars. Can the Minister tell me why there is a difference, or is this just another sop to my great friend, Ansett? Why should the commercial airlines pay957s. duty and the ordinary people 1.23s.?
The petrol that is used in aircraft would be of a much better standard, I should think, than that used in the ordinary motor car. Why should both airlines - and let us be fair, as I always like to be when I arn speaking of the airlines of this nation - pay less than the ordinary person? Is it because the number of motorists is great and for that reason the Government can get more revenue? Does the Government intend to fleece the motorists and let the two airlines off comparatively lightly? I would not accuse the Minister of being concerned whether Reg Ansett made an extra 2 per cent, profit on his outlay. That is the last think I would want to do.
Can the Minister tell me why there is this difference in the rates of duty? It does not seem to me to be altogether fair. The item in the schedule also refers to -
Aviation turbine; kerosene, n.e.i., other than power kerosene as defined by Departmental Bylaws . . .
I would love to be in the position to make those by-laws. I am not saying that the officers of the Department are in any way unfair, but I have not got far along the line with them to date.
Aviation kerosene appears in the schedule. Kerosene is used in heaters and, in rural areas, in refrigerators and incubators. There is no doubt about that corner party; it is the greatest pressure group known. There is no differential in the rate of duty paid on kerosene, irrespective of the purpose for which the kerosene is used, but there is a differential in relation to petrol. I take it that the duty on a gallon of petrol is 1.23 shillings. There is one motor car to every 3.5 persons in the community - men, women and children. I think there are a few too many, unless the people can pay for them. Will the Minister explain why the duty on aviation petrol is .957 shillings a gallon when the duty on ordinary petrol is 1.23 shillings a gallon?
– It must be realised that these alterations result from the Budget proposals. In determining the matter of an increase in excise the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) must have regard to the purpose of his Budget. It is a matter of judgment for him and the Treasury as to what they hope to get by way of increased revenue from excise. They must look across the board and determine how the increase should be applied, and then this becomes a matter of Government policy. Senator Kennelly asked about the increase of approximately 3d. a gallon in the excise on petroleum.
– What is the total excise on a gallon of petrol?
– The honorable member himself mentioned it. The excise rises from Hid. to 1.23 shillings a gallon. The duty is expressed in that way with a view to ultimate conversion into decimal currency. The honorable senator may take my word that this represents an increase of approximately 3d. a gallon. He drew a comparison with aircraft fuel and asked why the rate of duty was different. Quite obviously, the two things that he compares are not the same. The quantum of petrol would have no relationship at all to the quantum of aviation fuel. As a matter of interest, the amount of aviation fuel used is not very great. Modern aircraft use aviation kerosene, which has become an important factor.
The short answer to the honorable senator is that at Budget time the Government decides on the amount of revenue that it will raise by way of direct and indirect taxation. It then looks across the board and makes an arbitrary decision, in accordance with its judgment, as to the area from which the increased revenue will come. In this instance, it chose to apply extra excise on petrol, tobacco, cigars and cigarettes. This was not done without consideration, lt was done with due regard to the manner in which the increase would be reflected in retail prices. The increase was fixed deliberately to try to meet all the known circumstances. It is not logical to say that because excise on petrol was increased by 3d. a gallon, the Government did wrong in not increasing the excise on another item by the same amount. One could not argue that because the excise on beer was increased by a certain amount the excise on some other form of liquor should be increased by the same amount. One commodity is aircraft fuel and the other is petroleum for normal use. I do not think that the point that Senator Kennelly tried to make has validity. The Government has taken this action as a matter of policy.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 1567), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill relates to the bounty that has been payable over the years to Australian producers of copper. No bounty has been paid since August 1964 because the price of copper has risen to the datum line struck at £A340 a ton. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) stated in his second reading speech that the price had increased further to £A395 a ton. I have read in today’s Press that the price of copper bars in London is £524 sterling a ton. Evidently the levels in Australia and on the sterling metal market in London are different. At those prices it would pay the Australian producer to sell his copper in London rather than at £A395 a ton, which is the price that the Minister mentioned. As I stated during the debate on a previous Customs measure, this is an example of a bounty or protection being given to an Australian industry to enable it to plan its development and to acquire more modern equipment and other things necessary for the mining of ore. In addition, the bounty will give some guarantee of security for the many townships surrounding copper mines in Australia.
Over the last several years the producers in the area in which I am most interested - Queenstown on the west coast of Tasmania - have been able to diversify their mining interests and rather rich deposits of tin have been found. The Electrolytic Zinc Company of A/asia Ltd. is operating very profitably. With the improved techniques employed in the open cut mines at Mr Lyell and with the fact that the price of copper has been high and is rising, a greater level of stability has come to the industry. Nevertheless, the fact that the copper bounty operated if the price of copper fell below a certain level seems to have given a boost to the industry in that area in particular and throughout Australia generally.
Mention was made of the world shortage of copper which has led to the unreal situation of two unrelated world prices for this commodity. I do not know whether the price of £524 sterling on the London market that appeared in today’s Press and the price of £395 mentioned in the Minister’s second reading speech are the two unrelated world prices. There certainly seems to be a tremendous discrepancy in the two prices and I am sure the Senate would be very interested to know why the price obtained by Australian copper producers is so much below that obtained on the London market.
The Tariff Board has had some difficulty in assessing this industry because the great demand for copper throughout the world has caused a certain fluctuation in price. A further Tariff Board inquiry will not be conducted until a more settled state of affairs exists. Nevertheless, the Government has seen fit to continue the annual extension of the copper bounty. The Bill before us provides for the bounty to be extended for 12 months from 31st December 1965 until 31st December 1966, unless an earlier date is proclaimed.
The benefits of the bounty have been twofold. As I have said, it has given encouragement to the copper producers and has given a greater degree of security and stability to the towns surrounding the mines. In addition, it has given impetus to the search for new mining areas, because if copper is found and can be developed the producers will participate in the bounty if the price does not reach £340 a ton. There is also the incentive of the high prices which obtain at present. Mention has been made of the profit limitation provision which applies to mines where the financial year and the bounty year do not coincide. An adjustment is made over a specified period of years. This allows some elasticity, in that any bounty which may be payable to a mining company can be levelled out over that period.
As I see it, the copper mining industry has progressed from being one of the Cinderella industries of Australia and has taken its place among the vigorous, thriving components of the mining economy, despite industrial troubles and fluctuations in price. We offer no opposition to this measure and will grant it a speedy passage.
– I am pleased that the Opposition does not intend to oppose this Bill. We have just heard an interesting address by Senator O’Byrne. I am reminded of some of the towns which were suffering disabilities before the Government introduced the Copper Bounty Bill of 1957. That Bill assured the Australian producers of a suitable market for their production. We have in Australia below-grade copper mines. Mount Morgan in Queensland and Mount Lyell in Tasmania have ore bodies of a very low grade. In fact, when I visited Mount Lyell many years ago I was surprised to learn that the ore body was running at about .7 per cent. The people who were with me on that occasion were amazed at how efficiently the mine was operated.
When the price of copper fell in 1955-56 the industry, particularly around Queenstown and Mount Lyell, suffered to such a great extent that the Government had to decide whether copper producers should be subsidised, and if so, by how much. If the producers were not to be subsidised, the Government had to decide whether the mines at Mount Lyell and Mount Morgan should be allowed to close down and the towns surrounding them become ghost towns like some of the towns in the goldmining areas in other parts of Australia. The Government decided to come to the rescue of the industry. Following a Tariff Board inquiry it decided in 1957 to grant a bounty of up to £45 a ton.
The price in Australia was to be fixed between producers and consumers at £330 a ton, always taking into account the freight allowance from the United Kingdom to Australia of £10 a ton. This meant that when the price of overseas refined copper landed in Australia fell below £275 a ton, there would be a tariff of £1 a ton for each £1 it fell below that figure. When the price was £275 a ton, the £45 a ton bounty would apply bringing the price up to £320. With the assistance of the freight allowance of £10 a ton, the return to the Australian producer would be £330 a ton. This arrangement has been amended since to increase the return to £340 a ton. Without this help some sections of the industry would have had to close down.
As a result of this arrangement, since 1957-58 the price of copper to the Australian producers has been more or less stable. Certainly they have known what price they would get from year to year. As Senator O’Byrne has said, with this knowledge they were able to plan ahead and become more efficient by installing modern methods of mining and refining. The price in Australia now has risen above £340 a ton. Refined copper is selling at £375 a ton.
– It is more than that now.
– Those are the latest figures I have been able to obtain. As Senator O’Byrne has said, the overseas prices are interesting. The price on the London Metal Exchange has reached almost £700 a ton Australian. Some people wonder why our Australian producers do not take advantage of this price. Some of them do. They sell their concentrates to other countries as refined copper but the companies that take advantage of this higher price are not eligible for the bounty. Three big producers - the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd., Mount Morgan Ltd. and Mount Isa Mines Ltd. - take advantage of the Australian price but the Peko organisation and Ravensthorpe Copper Mines N.L. export and take the higher world price.
It is interesting to note that there has been an astronomical increase in the production of copper in the past 10 years. Production of copper concentrates in Australia last year totalled 110,000 tons and production of refined copper totalled 90,000 tons.’ The production of copper concentrates is expected to reach 125,000 tons next year and production of refined copper should reach 110,000 tons. Copper production in Australia has increased at least three times in the last decade. With the big deposits that have been found in Australia, new equipment, more modern methods of mining and the increase in production from the bigger mines we can expect the output to reach far greater heights. Australia is exporting copper valued at £10 million a year and this trade is expected to increase rapidly. I have pleasure in supporting the Bill and note that it is not opposed by the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Reports on Items.
– I present a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject -
Pigments and colour lakes.
I also present a report by the Special Authority on the following subject -
Continuous filament polyamide raw yarns.
Motion (by Senator Henry) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I speak on the motion for the adjournment because I feel obliged to make some observations regarding events that occurred in the Senate this morning during question time. The incidents began with a question from Senator Wedgwood directed to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). It related to a statement attributed to Dr. Cairns in a newspaper report. Before I proceed further, I will lay the foundation for the theme I want to develop by referring to two Standing Orders well known to honorable senators. The latter portion of Standing Order No. 418 provides -
Not merely disorderly, but highly disorderly. I draw attention to the fact that, in its context in that Standing Order, the word “ Members “ covers members in either House of this Parliament. That is the only element of it which is relevant for my purpose. I refer next to Standing Order No. 438, of which paragraph (b) is the relevant portion for my purpose. It states that if any Senator -
That report having been made, the provisions of Standing Order No. 440 apply, which may, on motion moved, lead to the suspension of the offending senator. I would like the Senate to know, too, that the discussion that raged around the name of Dr. Cairns led me, soon after question time, to endeavour to make contact with him. I found that he had left Canberra this morning to attend a meeting at Wodonga. I have tried, without success during the day to make contact with the Doctor. Accordingly, I want the Senate to realise that I do not know whether he claims that he has been misreported in the newspaper report, whether he has refuted it and the refutation has not been published. I am completely without any information or inkling as to his outlook in that matter.
– The report was published last Monday, was it not?
– I have no idea when it was published. I have not even seen it. I act on what Senator Wedgwood said. I do not think she quoted the date of the report.
– Last Monday.
– The Minister says it was Monday of this week. Senator Wedgwood’s question, directed to Senator McKellar, invited him to refute the statement that had been attributed to Dr. Cairns. It was alleged that he had said that the Returned Servicemen’s League and other reactionary bodies were the real threat to freedom in Australia. Senator Wedgwood asked, quite properly, whether the statement was accurate and, if so, would the Minister refute it. The Minister, in his reply, indicated that he had seen the statement and that he had not seen a refutation - in short, that he did not know whether the statement was accurate or not. The remarks that he addressed in reply to Senator Wedgwood were prefaced with the words “ if the article was accurate”. All that he said was based on that assumption. I might add that he also did not know whether the statement had been refuted by Dr. Cairns and whether the refutation had not been published. That prepares the way for what I want to say.
In the course of his reply Senator McKellar said that the organisations attacked were constantly working for the defence of Australia and the welfare of Australians. He then proceeded with the words “ on the other hand “. Here he was clearly pointing a contrast and setting up some lower standard - and any lower standard must, of necessity, constitute a reflection upon a member in another place. He said - on the other hand-
I underline those words -
Dr. Cairns constantly associates himself with people and organisations whose words and actions over the years-
At that point he was interrupted by Senator Murphy, who took a point of order. The President ruled, at that very point of time, that the Minister was not free to cast a reflection upon a member in another place.
– A personal reflection.
– Any kind of reflection. What else is a reflection upon a member than a personal reflection? Of course it is a personal reflection. This one, quite frankly, goes very deeply to the character of the member in another place, who was, I claim, attacked. I have referred to the first warning from the President. I will mention the warnings in order, because there were three in all. After the warning, Senator McKellar proceeded exactly as before and almost to the same point as when he was interrupted on the first occasion. Again the President said the Minister was not free to reflect on a member in another place.
– A personal reflection.
– All right. One cannot quote from what used to be called the “ flats “ at the present time. I do not mind the words “ personal reflection “, because 1 cannot imagine anything more personal than what the Minister did in fact say. At that time the President said, too, as a further warning to the Minister, “ the remarks seem to be in the area of a personal reflection “.
– He did not even know what the remarks were.
– He said they seemed to be, and I think it was a very proper commentary. He did not know, nor did any of us, but with the Minister prefacing his statement with the words “ on the other hand “ and talking about Dr. Cairns’s association with other bodies, everybody in this chamber knew that at that point of time the Minister did contemplate a personal reflection and, in fact, that is exactly what later emerged. I do not have to go ahead and prove that point. After that second warning, in which the President added to the warning that the remarks from the Minister seemed to be in the area of a personal reflection, the Minister again went on as before, but before he had reached the critical point again Senator Keeffe rose and interrupted. At that particular point Senator Gorton spoke. I spoke to the point of order and then Senator Henty, the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, spoke next to the point of order. Here is what I claim to be the first point which disturbs me very grievously.
– He did not speak next. I spoke before him.
– 1 said that you had. I said that Senator Gorton spoke, then 1 spoke and then Senator Henty. I believe I am accurate. Senator Henty spoke to the point of order and he claimed that Senator McKellar had said that the associations attacked by Dr. Cairns were working for the defence of Australia and the welfare of Australians. In short, he reported him accurately. He next claimed that Senator McKellar had then said that Dr. Cairns was a member of organisations and associations which were doing exactly the opposite. On that occasion Senator McKellar contradicted his Leader. A little later in the proceedings, when he had attributed to him by Senator Henty the statement that Dr. Cairns was a member of organisations and associations, he said he had said no such thing, but had said that he had constant association with such bodies. He corrected his own Minister later on. There is a significance in what the Acting Leader of the Government said. He misquoted his colleague and referred to the fact that Dr. Cairns was a member of organisations and associations which were doing exactly the opposite. Into that list of organisations necessarily comes the Australian Labour Party. Of necessity it comes through in explicit terms.
– He did not say that every organisation to which Dr. Cairns belonged did that.
– It is there in explicit terms and this element should and must be removed by the Acting Leader of the Government. He completely misquoted Senator McKellar, who did not say that Dr. Cairns was a member of any organisation - and this is my point - nor had Senator McKellar said that these organisations were doing the exact opposite to supporting the defence of the people of Australia. Senator Henty quite obviously was casting the reflection, which Senator McKellar obviously was trying to make and up until then had not succeeded in making, in case Senator McKellar ultimately was prevented from doing so. It is very significant that the words stating that these organisations were doing exactly the opposite were short, pungent and effective, and were the very last words uttered by Senator Henty at the end of his speech. There was no opportunity to interrupt him.
– The honorable senator did interrupt me.
– No. It was after the Minister had finished speaking.
– No. The honorable senator interrupted me and I then replied.
– I accept that. 1 think I had overlooked that. I remember saying to the Minister that Senator McKellar had not said anything like that. There was clearly no opportunity to deal with the Minister at that point. He made sure that the words were out before they could be stopped. Senator Henty ignored two plain warnings that had been given by the President at that stage. The President then issued a third warning to Senator McKellar. However, Senator McKellar immediately referred to Dr. Cairns in words that I shall quote verbatim from shorthand notes taken by my colleague, Senator McClelland, who ds a licensed shorthand writer. Senator McKellar referred to Dr. Cairns as having “ constant associations with people and organisations whose words and deeds over the years have shown that their activities are concerned with assisting our existing and potential enemies “.
Senator Henty made his remarks about Dr. Cairns after two warnings from the President. I will come back to that statement in a moment. Senator McKellar had at least three warnings; Senator Henty had only two. Any one warning ought to have been enough for either of them, in their positions.
I shall now examine the meaning of Senator Henty’s accusation when he said that Dr. Cairns was doing the exact opposite to those who have supported the defence of Australia and the welfare of our people. The opposite of it is that Dr. Cairns was working against the defence of the country and against the welfare of its people. The words permit no other construction than that they are a plain accusation that Dr. Cairns was traitorous and anti-Australian. It would be impossible to imagine a more serious accusation - a more heavy personal reflection upon the honorable member in another place.
Now I shall examine -the meaning of Senator McKellar’s accusation or reflection. It means, in short, when he said that Dr. Cairns was “ constantly associating with those whose words and deeds over the years have shown that their activities are concerned with assisting our existing and potential enemies “, simply that Dr. Cairns was constantly associating with traitors and condoning their activities. The words can have no other meaning at all.
Here is an example of two Ministers of the Crown - one being the Acting Leader of the Government - disobeying Standing Orders and the President’s repeated warnings while they were on their feet. Between them, they persevered until the reflection was out and on the record. I think this is about the worst instance of disorder that I have seen in the Senate, particularly at the level of Ministers. If their contempt is to stand without reprimand, any senator may in future, with impunity, cast the self-same reflection upon the Prime Minister of the country. If that is to stand - that one may reflect upon a private member in the other place - it certainly applies, no matter how high you go. I am putting to the Senate that it is an exceedingly serious matter. One reason why I have risen to speak now is out of concern for the prestige of this chamber. I say that what happened this morning could set a standard that could alter the whole character, the good repute, and the dignity of this chamber.
In my view, the Ministers gave a very shocking example to the Senate. I ask: How can the President continue to preserve order in the future if he is not to be supported in persistent calls for order and observation of the Standing Orders, and if he is not supported by Ministers, including the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate? How can the President exercise proper control in future if he feels that he cannot rely upon the Ministers to support him in his rulings?
– The honorable senator has never moved dissension from a ruling of the Chair.
– That is another matter altogether. I say that the conduct I am now picturing to the Senate as I see it - and I claim to have put it with objectivity and accuracy - means the rule, not of law and order, but of the law of the jungle in this chamber.
It is grossly unfair. The subject was raised at question time and we all know that matters cannot be debated in answering or dealing with questions. There could be no answer by Dr. Cairns. There could be no answer at the time by anybody on this side of the chamber who wished to support him. In other words, the damage is done. The reflection is cast and there has gone into the national record and out to the nation in that record probably the most damaging statement that can be made about any human being. That is, in effect, that he is a traitor to his country. [ want, next, to refer to the question of privilege. We enjoy an enormous privilege in being able to speak freely in the National Parliament. It is a necessary privilege, but it carries the great responsibility that it should not be abused. That is quite clear. I say that on this occasion that privilege has really been abused. I put it that if the Ministers want to be fair, let them do what they allege Dr. Cairns did. According to what we are told, it is alleged that Dr. Cairns made his statement in a public place where apparently there was access to the Press. Let the Ministers walk outside this chamber. Let them go outside Parliament and say there what they said this morning regarding Dr. J. F. Cairns. That is the honorable thing to do, because it is the only situation that will give to Dr. Cairns an opportunity for an effective remedy. I point out to the two Ministers to whom I am particularly directing my remarks through you, Mr. President, that they should make their attack where Dr. Cairns is alleged to have made his statement - outside the Parliament.
I point, too, to the recklessness and irresponsibility of proceeding with a desperate allegation of that character against a member of the Parliament based on a newspaper report, as to the accuracy of which the Ministers had no knowledge. They express no knowledge-
– It is four days old and not denied.
– The honorable senator cannot say that. I do not know that that is true.
– I do.
– I do not know that that is true. Certainly Senator McKellar, in the grievous attack that he made, acknowledged that he did not know. That shows a high degree of recklessness, unfortunately, and irresponsibility. Despite all that I have said, I would be glad to believe that both Ministers did not realise at the time the true gravity of their behaviour and actions - the effect on this chamber and its stature. Now that they have had time to think, on every count of morality - I refrain from developing that theme - fairness and order, they should, in my view, completely withdraw their remarks about Dr. Cairns. I think, too, that they might well express their regret to you, Mr. President.
– I rise to make two statements. The first is that we have just witnessed Senator McKenna attempt to put up a smokescreen to confuse the real issue. It is needless to say that I consider that in asking my question this morning I exercised the right of every member of the Parliament to seek information about a newspaper report concerning a threat to the freedom of Australia, particularly when that report involved the Returned Servicemen’s League and every member of it. In asking the question I asked it, as Senator McKenna has said, in three parts. First, I asked the Minister whether he had seen the report. Secondly, I asked him if he could inform the Senate whether the report was accurate. Thirdly, if it were an accurate report of the statement made by Dr. Cairns, I asked the Minister would he refute it. I gave my reason for asking for refutation, and I shall now repeat it. I believe that such a statement, if it were made by Dr. Cairns or anybody else, is damaging to an organisation that has done more than any other to protect the welfare of ex-servicemen and ex-service women and to uphold the principles of freedom and justice for which ex-servicemen and ex-service women fought and in many cases gave their lives.
Senator Murphy, as Senator McKenna has said, queried whether the question was directed to anything within the administration of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) or for which he is responsible. I took those words down as Senator Murphy uttered them. But the honorable senator’s memory was very short, and so was that of Senator Keeffe, who rose immediately afterwards. Senator Keeffe found no difficulty whatsoever in linking the Department of Repatriation with the Returned Servicemen’s League when he made a scurrilous attack on it in this chamber. For the information of the Senate, I should like to read from “ Hansard “ just what Senator Keeffe did say about the R.S.L. On 20th October, during the debate on proposed expenditure for 1965-66. Senator Keeffe criticised repatriation benefits. This is what he said -
My final criticism of the repatriation benefits is that I believe this Government is guided by the hierarchy of the Returned Servicemen’s League. I feel that this organisation, at the top level, no longer represents the ordinary average exservicemen of any war. They are fearful of condemning the Government when putting forward their requests prior to Budget time. When the requests are not granted, there is little or no protest from the top echelon of the Returned Soldier’s League.
This is the vicious part of the statement -
I suppose that in this selfish world the people who guide the destinies of this organisation, which ought to be the greatest ex-servicemen’s organisation in the country-
And which, may I interpolate, is the greatest ex-servicemen’s organisation in the country - are fearful of what will happen to them if they are offside with the Government when the Queen’s birthday honours and the New Year honours lists are made out.
As I said before, the Opposition found no difficulty earlier in linking the Department of Repatriation with the R.S.L. when it suited it to defame the organisation.
After what I have heard from Senator McKenna tonight, I should like to know whether the Opposition really supports these attacks on the R.S.L. I would be very interested to hear whether or not it does so. Or is it a fact that its right wing is so imprisoned by the left wing that its members are not game to rise in this place and defend the R.S.L.? Those are questions that
I should like to pose. In spite of all that Senator McKenna has said, I do not believe that one can dissociate the members of an organisation from the organisation any more than one can dissociate the organisation from its members. I believe that an attack on one is an attack on the other. I do not know whether the newspaper report is true, but the photostat copy of it that I have in my hand is headed: “R.S.L. a threat, says M.P.”. If the statement was not made, then I will be the first to say that I am pleased that it was never made.
To say that Senator McKellar had no responsibility in the matter is not to speak the truth. Senator McKellar has a responsibility. He is the Minister for Repatriation and therefore is responsible in one way or another to every ex-serviceman who draws a pension, and to the dependants of that man. As a member of the R.S.L., he also is responsible to the organisation. I know there are many members of the R.S.L. on both sides of this chamber. I believe that, if the League is under attack, they have a responsibility at all times to rise in their place here to refute any statement that is made against it.
– I desire to enter just briefly into this controversy, because I support what Senator McKenna has said. Senator Wedgwood, in seeking to defend the action of the Ministers concerned, referred to what another senator said on an earlier occasion about the Returned Servicemen’s League. In discussing the charge that has been levelled here tonight, does what somebody said about the R.S.L. matter? Does it matter what the Australian Labour Party has said? If somebody on this side of the chamber has no desire to praise the R.S.L., is that justification for condemning that man by making the most vicious accusation that could be made?
– Lack of praise is different from an attack.
– There is justification for saying, if Dr. Cairns said the R.S.L. and other reactionary organisations
– The honorable senator does not deny it?
– I do not know anything about it.
– The honorable senator just said that he said it.
– I said: “ If Dr. Cairns said . . .”I draw comfort from the words of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton), who has just interjected and who, when 1 asked about peace efforts in Vietnam, said that you could have no more flimsy evidence than a newspaper article.
– Of what somebody else said.
– Despite the fact that there was confirmation from Washington, the Minister still would not accept the newspaper article. But, when somebody says that Dr. Cairns said something, it is regarded as being enough to condemn Dr. Cairns.
– Does the honorable senator think he might not have said it?
– It is not a question of whether he said it or not.
– Yes, it is.
– That is not a matter for discussion on the question now before the Chair. If Dr. Cairns condemned the R.S.L. and Senator Wedgwood, in all honesty, wanted to protect it, she had the right to ask her question for the purpose of getting the Minister to give some praise to the R.S.L. But that did not justify the Minister making libellous accusations against anyone.
– He did not do that.
– Well, he has just been challenged to make his accusations outside the chamber.
– That is old hat, old boy.
– Whether it is old or not, it is effective. No-one refuses to make accusations outside the chamber when he is not afraid of the operation of the law. Let us consider the question that was asked. I am a member of the Standing Orders Committee of the Senate, which received a proposal that the asking of Dorothy Dix questions be stopped. My attitude was that I was not opposed to Dorothy Dix questions being asked from time to time, because I realise that if we were in government such questions would be handy on occasions, and that we have to learn to live with them in this chamber.
Let us look at the background of this question. The comparatively new Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) has brought down two bills on repatriation. On the first one, an amendment was moved to extend hospital benefits beyond the point to which the Minister was prepared to extend them. That amendment was carried. On the second one - the Bill that we debated yesterday - the debate indicated that the Committee again was prepared to go further in bestowing benefits than the Minister was prepared to go.
– That is not right.
– Well, the Minister sought the adjournment of the debate in order to give consideration to the question that had been raised. Under the Bill repatriation benefits were to be given to servicemen who were incapacitated, or to the relatives of servicemen who were killed, as a result of enemy action. When it was suggested that the granting of repatriation benefits need not be dependent on the incapacity or death occurring as a result of enemy action, the Bill was hastily withdrawn for reconsideration.
The point is that on two bills that the Minister has brought down in this chamber the majority of honorable senators have been prepared to bestow benefits in excess of what the Minister has been prepared to incorporate in those bills. Obviously, that must put him in disfavour with the R.S.L. In view of that, there was a necessity for rehabilitation. I do not see any objection to a Dorothy Dix question being asked for the sole purpose of giving the Minister the opportunity to praise the great patriotic motives of the League. There is no condemnation of the question. It was a proper question. Although the question was based on a newspaper report, there is no condemnation of the Minister for replying, in effect, that he had the greatest admiration for the R.S.L.; but there is no justification for the condemnation of a particular in dividual.
Two things happened on this occasion. First, Ministers stood up and deliberately and defiantly made statements in breach of the warnings given by you, Mr. President, as stated by Senator McKenna tonight. They made statements after they had been warned not to cast reflections on a member of another House. Secondly, the honorable member has no right to defend himself in this chamber against accusations that he is guilty of the most vicious crime of all; that is, of associating with people and organisations who are enemies of Australia. A challenge has been issued to make the accusations outside the chamber. I am submitting that it is good for reporting purposes to take the attitude of a cur and to shelter in the coward’s castle of the privilege of the Parliament. An honorable member in another House, who represents responsible people, has been accused of associating with people and organisations who are the enemies of the defence and welfare of Australia.
– Hear, hear!
Senator CAVANAGH__ Someone says: “ Hear, hear! “
– I said that.
– No more serious accusation could be made. But Senator Gorton, with all his bravado, is proud of the fact that he says: “ Hear, hear! “ and libels an honorable member who has no right to defend himself here. Senator Gorton’s spirit of justice is such that he seeks the protection of this chamber to ridicule, libel and belittle a man who has no opportunity to defend himself here.
Senator McKenna has challenged Senator Gorton to repeat the accusation publicly, when action could be taken in respect of such statements as have been made. The whole matter revolves around the important question-
– Whether Dr. Cairns said it.
– The point is not whether he said it or not. If he said it, in the minds of some people that would be a reason for criticising him for having said it. No-one is condemning any criticism of him for saying it. But accusations that he has associated over the years with people and organisations who are the enemies of Australia should not be tolerated in this chamber. I hope that they will not be tolerated. If that is permitted, there is no reason why members of the Opposition would not be in order in referring to the honorable memmer for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) associating with Fascist organisations throughout their political careers.
– That has been done.
– I do not think it has been done by honorable senators on this side of the chamber. If it has been done, Senator Gorton does not say that it was justified, does he?
– No, because there was no truth in the references.
– If such accusations are permitted, we will be given licence to reflect from time to time on members of the other House in these terms or in any others that we wish to use.
First, the accusation that has been made in this instance is grievous. Secondly, statements were made which you, Mr. President, said should not be made. Thirdly, when the Minister who wanted to rehabilitate himself with the R.S.L. found himself in some difficulty in saying what he wanted to say in condemnation of a member of another House, the Acting Leader of the Government (Senator Henty) stepped in and obliged, fearing that the junior Minister had not succeeded where he could succeed. So we had a repetition not only of the libel against the individual but also of the contempt for your warning, Mr. President. I submit that Senator Gorton has repeated that tonight in this chamber. If we reflect on this matter, we can see that injustice has been done. If there is a claim for the privilege to make this accusation in the name of truth, let those who are making it act as honorable and decent men and repeat it publicly where it can be replied to and where those accused may defend their actions.
– One thing that has emerged from this debate - this is a sidelight - is the complete inaccuracy that Senator Cavanagh has a practice of displaying in attacks on people on this side of the chamber. I refer to statements about the Bill brought down by Senator McKellar. Senator Cavanagh said it did not provide what was formerly provided as repatriation benefits for people abroad. Not only did it provide all the repatriation benefits which are provided in other places, but it provided, more in that it provided protection during transit to and from an area. The argument is not as to whether it provides benefits in the area, which it does, but whether it ought to provide benefits additional to those which it already provides. This is a minor point, but it is an indication of the way in which these things are presented.
What is this particular discussion about? It is about a statement which was made by Dr. J. F. Cairns, and not denied, claiming that the Returned Servicemen’s League was a threat to freedom in Australia.
– Is not the discussion about the Standing Orders not being adhered to?
– No. I think the incident began with a question about a statement attacking the R.S.L. as being a threat to the freedom of Australia. It was asked of the Minister for Repatriation, whose duties require him to deal with members of the R.S.L. - at least those who have suffered war caused disabilities. The question concerned a statement which was made last Sunday, and which has not since been denied, attacking a group of people who are not those about whom Senator Keeffe speaks - rich people, whom he dislikes - but a cross section of the people of Australia, the majority of whom are trade unionists and people working in that way. The R.S.L. is one of the most democratic organisations in Australia when it comes to electing sub-branch presidents, branch presidents, and those who run the organisation.
The reference to their being a threat to the freedom of Australia was a smear on all of them. Yet they were the very people who, by their own blood and sacrifice, destroyed a threat to the freedom of the world and not least to the freedom of Australia. They stood against the black tyranny in Germany. Because the German people were not vigilant to protect themselves against the coming into power of this black tyranny it was able to rule the countries without any rule of law at all. It was able to use terrorism and murder against its opponents. It was able to take over country after country.
– Get back to the question.
– This is the very point. This black tyranny was able to embark on an endeavour to wipe out a complete race of people merely because they belonged to one race. In spite of the appeasers along the way - and the members of the R.S.L. lived through that period of appeasment - eventually, for the protection of Australia and the rest of the world, it had to be fought in a world war. The members of the R.S.L. did not do only that. They lived through a period of time when a threat was growing on the horizon. A tyrannical force was coming against them. Yet, if they put forward any proposition to oppose it or if they said: “ This must be stopped now “, they were accused of being warmongers and of wanting war, just as Senator Cavanagh now accuses all those who seek to oppose the equivalent red tyranny as being warmongers and wanting war. These people got for this country the freedom that it now enjoys. Their reward is to be accused as being a threat to the freedom of Australia.
In replying to this question, Senator McKellar said that the difference between these people so accused, with a record behind them, was that they had fought for the freedom of this country whereas Dr. Cairns has constantly associated with people and organisations whose words and deeds over the years have shown that their activities are concerned with assisting our potential enemies. This is what the honorable senator opposed. This is what he claimed to be a personal reflection instead of a political reflection. If a public man has associated with such people, would anybody here deny that it was right to bring the matter up in Parliament? An honorable senator who raised the matter would not be attacking his motives or his character. He would be saying what he has done and with whom he has associated. Is it denied that he has associated with Communists? I have no doubt there are some honorable senators here - Senator Cavanagh, for example - who would not believe that the Communists are a red threat in the same way as the Facists were a black threat. But there are others - and I am one - who believe that they are a threat to this country and to every free country. If that is accepted, then it must be accepted that Dr. Cairns over the years has associated with them.
– With enemies of Australia?
– If the honorable senator does not believe that the Communists are enemies of Australia and of the free world, then, of course, he would not accept this argument, but I do not know of any other ideology which has posed more threats to the peace of the world since the black ideology was destroyed. From the time when the Communists openly walked into Korea with armed formations and were defeated; from the time when the guerrilla forces attempted to overthrow Malaya and were defeated; since they began their murder, sabotage and kidnapping in Vietnam, supported from Hanoi, they have posed an aggressive threat and the only aggressive threat in the world today. These, I think, are the enemies of Australia and ‘the enemies of peace.
I suggest it is perfectly correct for Senator McKellar to say that these are the people with whom Dr. Cairns has associated over many years. I have here some facts to back that statement. These are newspaper reports, I admit, but none of them has ever been denied. On 11th March 1948-
– The Minister is relying on flimsy evidence.
– I am sorry, but somebody must attack the Communists sometimes, even if it annoys the honorable senator. On 11th March 1948 the Communist “ Guardian “ reported the following speakers as being at a meeting of the Victorian Prices Vigilance Committee, which was a Communist organisation: J. F. Cairns - that is, Dr. Cairns; Dorothy Cameron, an open and admitted member of the Communist Party; J. J. Brown, an open and admitted member of the Communist Party and Secretary of the Australian Railways Union; P. Malone, an open and admitted Communist in the Building Workers Industrial Union; and Thelma Lee, an open and admitted member of the Communist Party.
On 13th May 1948 the University Labour Club - which is the Melbourne University Labour Club and should not be confused with the Melbourne University Australian’ Labour Party Club which is a completely different organisation - held a weekend conference at Healesville, at which the speakers were: J. F. Cairns that is, Dr. Cairns; Ralph Gibson, President of the Communist Party; and E. Lawrie, who was a Communist candidate at elections in Victoria. On 7th September 1949 the Communist “Guardian” reported Dr. J. F. Cairns as being chairman of the inaugural meeting of the Peace Council, which was at that time or very soon afterwards branded by the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labour Party and later by the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party as being a subsidiary of the Communist Party. On 15th November 1949 the Communist “ Guardian “ reported the main speakers at a meeting of the Democratic Rights Council, branded by the Labour Party under Mr. Chifley as an auxiliary of the Communist Party, as being Dr. J. F. Cairns, Rex Mortimer - an open Communist, and A. J. Cregan - an open Communist. On 28th July 1955 the Communist “ Guardian “ reported an Open Trade Routes meeting convened by J. Young - an open Communist - and featured in its reports, among the speakers, Dr. J. F. Cairns. In reply to some of the statements that Senator Cavanagh has cared to make, let me say that what I have read here has been published outside this chamber by me.
– They are not libellous. Publish outside what was said today.
– Oh, Mr. President, that is only some of the justification for what Senator McKellar has said as to the political affiliations - that was all that he was talking about, not the personal affiliations but the political affiliations - of a public man in the public life of Australia. They have continued. Certainly at one stage Dr. J. F. Cairns resigned from the Peace Council and the Peace Front, when the Labour Party insisted that he should, but he rejoined it. The Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), on 3rd September 1964, brought down to this chamber the history of the Peace Council, of which Dr. J. F. Cairns was the first Chairman in Victoria and to which, as soon as he could, when there was some alteration in the Labour Party attitude, he returned. The Attorney-General said -
The organisation known as the World Peace Council was formed in 1948 on the initiative of the Soviet Union as an instrument of Soviet policy. Its aim is to reduce the resistance and capacity for resistance of the Western countries so that peace in the form of Communist domination could ensue.
In 1949, the Australian Peace Council was formed. . .” .
That was the year in which Dr. J. F. Cairns was the first Victorian President-
A congress of the World Peace Council was held at Stockholm in July 1958.
That congress refused to condemn the Russians for their actions in Hungary, but it did condemn the Americans for what was described as their imperialist policy generally. Whoever wishes to read the full and documented report of this may read this in “Hansard” of 3rd September 1964. But “it is of some interest that when I sought the right to have incorporated in “ Hansard “ the names of the parliamentary sponsors of this Conference at that time, I was refused permission to have them incorporated, and 1 had to read the names into the record. The second name in the record of sponsors was that of Dr. J. F. Cairns.
If the Communists are in fact the enemies of this country - I do not say all Communists, because Tito Communism is of no danger to us; it does not seek to expand or to conquer other countries - if the Communists who seek, as the Nazis sought, to bring other countries into their ideological domination, are a threat to peace and a threat to this country, I suggest that the record shows that, wittingly or unwittingly, over the years, Dr. J. F. Cairns has been associated with them. If he has and if they are the enemies of this country then it is right and proper for the Minister for Repatriation to say so in this chamber, and he has said so. He has not cast any personal reflections. He has merely brought out public facts about a public man. He has therefore not transgressed your ruling, Mr. President, about personal reflections being cast on an individual.
.- This debate has taken a somewhat extraordinary turn. The Leader of the Opposition, Senator McKenna, made a case to the Senate which involved this unassailable proposition that two Ministers, including the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty), had transgressed your ruling, Mr. President. They had gone beyond the limits that you had set in dealing with an objection taken by Senator Murphy. In my opinion, what we have witnessed so far tonight - I do not know whether we have heard the lot - is not a reply, not an apology, not a withdrawal by either of the two guilty Ministers but an unprincipled backdoor challenge to your ruling made by a third Minister who has now joined the other two in defiance of the Chair. There is no escape from that proposition. The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) is laughing because he thinks he has got away with the defiance of your ruling. What he has done is to repeat and to attempt to elaborate the smear - by a collection of references taken from here and there, quoting at one stage the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) - leaving it to be inferred that, because Dr. Cairns on occasions spoke at the same meeting as Communists, he was putting forward a view that coincided with theirs.
– Birds of a feather flock together.
– You see this idea of guilt by association. The Minister for Works would, I suppose, wish to repudiate an allegation, made whether against himself or any of his colleagues, which suggested that he or they were associated with a Fascist organisation. There are members on the Government side - I do not wish to add fuel to the flames by naming- them - who have associated with Fascists and some who have associated with leading anti-semite: in this country.
– Mr. Killen.
– I am not naming anybody. I merely say that it is absolutely insincere for the Minister to be arguing as apparently he has been on behalf of his silent colleagues tonight, that what was said by Senator McKellar and Senator Henty in relation to the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) in another place was not casting a personal reflection. Mr. President, you made it amply clear in dealing with the point of order taken by Senator Murphy that you regarded this matter as falling within the area of personal reflection.
– No he did not.
– I say that the President made that perfectly clear, and every honorable senator so understood it. The President spoke for himself. I speak for myself and I say that every honorable senator here understood the President to be warning the Minister for Repatriation that he was transgressing - that he was in the area, to use the President’s own words, of personal reflection.
– The President did not say that.
– Honorable senators opposite will have a chance to speak. Notwithstanding the President’s remarks, both Ministers persisted in repeating an allegation, showing, in my opinion, the grossest disrespect to the President of this Senate and besmirching the very reputation of the Senate. If I had control of the situation I would suggest that the best thing for the Acting Leader of the Government, the Minister for Repatriation and the Minister for Works to do would be to resign their positions. They have shown complete and utter disrespect for this chamber and for its respected Presiding Officer. That is the case Senator McKenna made. Not one decent word has been said in reply.
Neither Minister appears anxious to answer the point that Senator McKenna made either by repeating the allegation, which would be in gross disrespect and in gross breach of the President’s ruling, or by making an honorable withdrawal. That is what is customary. That is what might have been expected of men occupying their high positions. Instead, they have chosen to attempt to get away with it, to attempt to add insult to injury, by repeating the allegation which was held by the President to be in this area of personal reflection.
No amount of interjection, vulgarity, guffawing or leering will erase the fact that there has been no answer to the case made by Senator McKenna. Let us see if either of the two Ministers - though in my view there are now three guilty Ministers, not two - is prepared to rise in his place and either repeat his defiance of the President’s ruling or make an honorable withdrawal of the allegation.
– First of all let me say that the events of this morning were brought about by an attack made on the Returned Servicemen’s League by Senator Keeffe. Senator Wedgwood referred to it some little time ago. He seemed to be quite proud of his statements because tonight when Senator Wedgwood quoted the words that he had used he had a smirk on his face. He is still smirking. Apparently he is still proud of what he said.
– He has a happy disposition.
– Perhaps he has. I now come to the question which was asked of me this morning. I think Senator McKenna stated it pretty fairly. At this stage 1 want to correct something that Senator Wedgwood said unwittingly. I am not a member of the R.S.L. although I am a member of an ex-servicemen’s organisation. The honorable senator did not know that, so 1 put the record straight.
In addition to Senator Keeffe’s besmirching of the R.S.L., we have Dr. Cairns alleged statement, the report of which I have seen. Having seen that, I answered the question this morning in the way 1 did.
– Did the Minister see it on Monday or this morning?
– I saw it yesterday, if that makes any difference. I did not see the newspapers on Monday. Let me ask this question of the Senate: Is a person allowed, without a protest being made, to make in public untrue, slighting and derogatory allegations against bodies of the calibre of the R.S.L., whose members comprise men who were prepared to offer their lives and sacrifice their health and security in the interests of Australia? I point out to honorable senators that some of the organisations referred to have been named as Communist organisations not only by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) but indeed by the Australian Labour Party itself.
The other point I want to make clear is that when I referred to various organisations this morning I had no thought in my mind at all, nor do I have any thought now, of including the Australian Labour Party. I was astounded when Senator McKenna said by inference that I included the Australian
Labour Party in these organisations to which .1 referred.
– No, Senator Henty.
– With all due respect to Senator McKenna, Senator Henty, according to my understanding of what he said, did not in any way imply that the Australian Labour Party would be one of the organisations to which I referred. I certainly did not have the A.L.P. in mind, nor do I have it in mind now.
I want to say this in order to make a correction: I did wind up by talking about Dr. Cairns’s constant association with people and organisations whose words and deeds over the years have shown that their activities are concerned with assisting our existing and potential enemies. I did not say that these people were traitors; I said that by their efforts they were assisting our existing and potential enemies. I want to get that straight.
I was rather tickled to hear Senator Cavanagh say that I took this means of getting out of the disfavour that I am in with the Returned Servicemen’s League. That is what he inferred. It is news to me that I am in disfavour with the R.S.L. That organisation fully recognises - and perhaps I have a better understanding of the R.S.L. in respect of these matters than the honorable senator has - that although we did not give that organisation all it asked for, it still got a very good deal. What I am here for is to try to get a good deal for the exservicemen and I am going to try to get them an even better deal. So I just throw that allegation back in the teeth of the honorable senator. Senator Cavanagh wanted to know of some instances of Dr. Cairns’s association with Communists. Well, if he did not get enough from Senator Gorton he is very hard to please.
Now we come to the matter of disobeying Standing Orders. It is true that the President issued warnings. He was not in a position to know whether the remarks that I was going to make were contrary to Standing Orders. He could not know until I had finished. But what happened? Almost as soon as I started to speak Senator Murphy rushed in and made a protest. Do honorable senator opposite have guilty consciences? They might at least have waited. Instead they rushed in as if to say: “ We know what he is going to say, so we will get in first “.
– Well, we guessed right.
– Of course you did and it is nice to be right sometimes.
– And the President warned you.
– Yes, he warned me against transgressing but not until I had finished. If what I said was so dreadful why did honorable senators opposite not ask for a withdrawal when I had finished? They had every opportunity to do so but they did not because they knew that what I had said was true.
We have been talking about this gentleman and I would like to read to the Senate some extracts from the “ Australian “ of 30th October this year. I do not think that anybody will suggest that the “ Australian “ is a pro-Government paper. Here are some of the things that it said about Dr. Cairns -
His long connection with peace movements, his anti-American line on Vietnam, his support of the communists on some issues, have rendered him the object of great suspicion.
His intelligence, his capacity to marshal facts and present forceful, unpalatable arguments, don’t endear him. But he’s noticed for all of that and somewhat feared too.
The Prime Minister takes a passing jab at him every now and then, characterising him as being “on the side of his country’s enemies”. At least one minister thinks him a “ secret member “ of the Communist Party. and that is not I - and yet another, Paul Hasluck, listens with more than his usual careful interest to what he has to say.
His barneys with Billy Wentworth are legend, while Liberal member John Jess’s description of him as “ the lover boy of the Communist Press “ still sticks and still hurts.
– Was that in the public press?
– It was published in the “ Australian “. The article continued -
He thinks Ted Hill, Leader of Australia’s proPeking Communists, merely “ an energetic bully “. On the other hand he admires Communists like the A.R.U.’s Jacky Brown and the waterfront’s late Jim Healy as “ good, commonsense unionists. I’m behind men like that “.
But the doctrinaire, emphatic side of Cairns appears well to the fore on subjects like Vietnam, where he implacably pursues the left Labour line.
The war is an evil one. The North Vietnamese contribution is exaggerated and a red herring. The solution is a conference between the Americans and the National Liberation Front- he nods with impatience when you substitute the words Viet Cong for N.L.F. - with representation from Hanoi, and Saigon. As simple as that.
He undoubtedly has a regard for the Communist Party. It serves the useful purpose of curbing the power of the absolute right and forcing it into progressive socialist reforms. ls it only coincidence that on 28th October the “ Guardian “, a Communist publication, also attacked the R.S.L. under the heading “How the R.S.L. Can Tidy Up Its Image “?
– 28 th October this year?
– Yes. Here is an attack by this newspaper. It might be a coincidence. Last Sunday we had another attack on the R.S.L. by Dr. J. F. Cairns. I have no apology to make for the reply I gave to the question this morning. It is about time those men who go about making statements attacking decent organisations, while all the time they are associating with these people who are doing what I spoke of, were answered. If they are prepared to go about in this manner attacking decent institutions it is time someone did something about it, and that is what I did.
– This matter arose yesterday morning - that is, Thursday morning - because you, Mr. President, called the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) to order and gave as your authority for so doing Standing Order No. 418 which states -
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House . . .
Had you been stubborn, Mr. President, and insisted on applying that ruling tonight, you would have confined the debate to the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and it would not have been diverted by the red herrings that have been so skilfully drawn across the track by Ministers.
– There is no issue in an adjournment debate.
– We have Senator Wright interjecting, and supported by the Minister for Repatriation, to the effect that there are no issues before us. For some time I have been trying to get a revision of the Standing Orders and some respect for the Standing Orders, particularly by Ministers. That is why I am interested - not only in an academic sense but because of the smear that has been dragged into all this. Senator Wright knows perfectly well that the Standing Orders exist and he should at all times show the respect for them that he professes to have.
– Senator Willesee should pay respect to those members who have been getting the Standing Orders up to date.
– For ten years I have been trying to get Senator Wright to a meeting on this matter. Senator Wright appears in the courts far more readily than he is prepared to meet with the responsible Committee. If you, Mr. President, had applied tonight the ruling that you applied yesterday morning, this debate would have been confined as it was meant to be confined. But this takes us back to the days of gangsterism in America when the authorities set up a Public Enemy No. 1. After he was destroyed, another one was declared Public Enemy No. 1. It has been the policy of the Liberal Party always to have a Public Enemy No. 1 in the Australian Labour Party. Generally it has been the leader of the Party. Each leader of the Labour Party was a villain until he died and became a hero, when another villain was found. Dr. J. F. Cairns happens to be the person over the barrel now. When Senator Gorton started to speak I asked whether the matter at issue was the Standing Orders and he answered: “ No “. He almost said, in effect: “ It is a smear. We have to attack somebody in the Labour Party”. Let us get back to taws on .his. Senator McKenna raised this matter tonight in an attempt to gain some respect for this institution to which so many people pay lip service. You, Mr. President, yesterday asked the Minister to conform to a Standing Order which forbids members of this House to cast offensive words -
– He said no such thing.
– The President’s ruling was in respect of personal reflections.
– Senator Mattner tonight interjected and said: “ But these were personal reflections “.
– I did?
– I did not.
- Senator Mattner is at the stage where he is incapable of thinking back 10 minutes. That very definitely is what he said. AsI look at this question, not only do we have Standing Orders but Presidents who become very honoured people. Whenever they give a ruling that ruling is written into a book and on that ruling the Clerksadvise later Presidents. I have discovered a ruling that was given by a former President. As far as I can remember it is the only ruling he ever gave. It was given by Senator Mattner when he was President. His ruling, in dealing with this type of subject was -
The honorable senator is not in order in discussing a member of the House of Representatives.
This was Senator Mattner’s ruling. Tonight, by interjection, he said that, to be disorderly, remarks had to be personal.
– Read the whole incident.
– Does Senator Mattner deny that the “ Hansard “ report is correct?
– Read the whole question.
– It was not in relation to a question, but a speech. Senator Mattner has forgotten again. He cannot think back beyond 10 minutes, but this happened in 1951.
– Read why the ruling was given.
– What would Senator Mattner like me to read? He has not a leg to stand on. I will read a few lines to indicate the circumstances in which the ruling was given. A Labour senator was speaking. He said -
Mr. Kekwick, who represents the constituency of Bass in the House of Representatives, also issued a pamphlet which set forth what he would do if he were returned to the Parliament.
There was nothing inflammatory in that. He continued -
In the pamphlet there is a picture which shows the honorable member taking away Mr. Chifley’s 10s. note and replacing it with Mr. Menzies’s £1 note. There is some element of truth in that, at any rate, because it now takes almost £1 to buy what could be bought with 10s. when the Labour Government was in office.
At that moment Senator Mattner stepped forward and, from under his wig, said -
The honorable senator is not in order in discussing a member of the House of Representatives. 1 would suggest that the statement I have read was not very offensive, but Senator Mattner so ruled and his ruling has gone into the records of this Parliament that not only must words be not offensive but they must not even be discussed. What happened yesterday was that the President was not even applying that stricture, although from time to time we do hear about the precedents of former Presidents. God forbid that the rulings of the former President I have mentioned should be laid on our shoulders, but they are.
What Senator McKenna said tonight was that there was a defiance of the President’s ruling. Never mind whom it concerned or what it concerned. During the course of his speech Senator McKenna said that Senator Wedgwood quite properly asked a question. There was no argument about that. Now we have had a great defence of the Returned Servicemen’s League. Senator McKellar says that this organisation should be defended if it is under attack. Of course it should be. That is the whole basis of debate in a democracy, but the situation of the R.S.L. has nothing to do with this debate tonight.
– That is what the honorable senator thinks.
– Notice how senators opposite are trying to evade the issue and are defying the ruling the President gave yesterday. The fact is that if senators want to defend the R.S.L., a Fascist organisation or any other organisation, they are perfectly at liberty to do so. If honorable senators opposite want to attack those organisations they are perfectly at liberty to do so. But when they get up here and try to drag in a person, in defiance of one of the Standing Orders- for 10 years I have been trying to get the Standing Orders Committee to amend them - or if they want to attack people in another place, Royalty or Governors-General, let them remove the relevant Standing Order and we can have an open go. But they should not try to apply the Standing Orders to one side of this Parliament and not to the other side. That is what they have done tonight with somebody whom they have converted into a controversial figure. Their case has nothing to do with the rules of this Parliament or with Mr. President’s ruling yesterday. But because it happens to suit them to smear this man, because the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia is a body that has been known to and respected by many people for many years, and because this is the ground on which they want to fight, they completely ignore the whole question. What they are trying to do, knowing it is a political body, is to use the Standing Orders against the Australian Labour Party whilst refusing use of them against the Liberal Party and its hangers-on in the Country Party.
– We all feel that this debate has gone on far too long from the point of view of personal convenience; but in my opinion the discussion contains an element of such fundamental parliamentary importance that I wish to make my contribution to it. In the course of answering a question the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) made use of the words: “ What I was going to say was that he “ - that is Dr. Cairns - “ constantly associates with people and organisations whose words and actions over the years have shown that their activities are concerned with assisting our potential enemies “. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has used his undoubted right to speak from the floor of this chamber and has reproached two Ministers - the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty), who joined in the controversy, and Senator McKellar for using the words to which I have referred. The reproach is two-pronged. The first is upon the triviality which, for Senator Willesee, has become an obsession so intriguing that he can talk of nothing else. But to talk about the Standing Orders on this occasion is completely to degrade the debate. On that matter let me say only that the relevant Standing Order says that one shall not make a personal reflection upon a member of the other House. Anybody who has inherited the right of free speech in a free community - much less a British parliament - knows that to make fair comment on the activities of a public man is the entitlement of every citizen who walks the pavement. The privilege that we enjoy here is to enable us to defend the public interest against any attack - be it inside or without - that is insidious te the public interest. I could not respect a surrender of that right, and a surrender it would be if Ministers or private members refrained from exercising the privilege to meet an attack that has been made on a public organisation which we on this side think has duties inseparable from the security and defence of the country. Why do I say that? The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) has made his own appreciation of the Australian Imperial Force and the Armed Services of Australia. I take leave to refer to two sentences that were written of the British Army by Winston Churchill. Every word can be applied to the A.I.F. It is -
A young army, the finest we have ever marshalled, improvised at the sound of cannonade*, every man a volunteer, inspired not only by love of country, but by a widespread conviction’ that human freedom was challenged by military and imperial tyranny. They grudged no sacrifice, however unfruitful and shrank from no ordeal, however destructive.
Those men who survived that sacrifice came back to their country and organised the R.S.L. They carried on two traditions. The first was to take such interest in the public defence of this country as to criticise and compliment Governments according to their deficiencies or their achievements in defence. Secondly, they evolved the tradition of Legacy and showed their interest in bringing the opportunities of peace to the dependants of their fallen comrades.
Mr. President, a Minister of the Crown in this Parliament has had his attention directed to a statement in a journal, the “ Age “. The “ Age “ is notorious for the reliability of the material it uses and for its sense of responsibility and accuracy. It printed a statement, undenied for four days, as coming from the lips of Dr. Cairns: “The R.S.L., the wealthy, established and conservative - the reactionaries - from these the threat to Australia’s freedom lies.” The men who went through Flanders in the Second World War are keeping true to their motto. They are eternally vigilant on the public affairs of this country in the interests of its defence. Who would be so cowardly when an attack of that sort was made on the Returned Servicemen’s League as not to reply to it? Not the Minister for Repatriation whose proud privilege it is in the Senate to associate himself with the purposes of the R.S.L. in the administration of his Department and see that proper benefits are provided through the agency of this Parliament for the purposes of ex-servicemen. It would be a damaging dereliction of duty if the Minister did not at least say this: The R.S.L. is a worthy organisation whose purposes are utterly devoted to the defence of Australia at all costs and also to the preservation of Australian freedom. Those who deny that claim of the R.S.L. are traducers whom most of us regard as despicable.
How deficient in judgment we would be to deny, not only that the Minister should say that, but also that he should invite us to consider the character of the R.S.L. ‘s accuser. It has been asserted that Dr. Cairns’ activities have been associated with organisations that are concerned with the purpose of the potential and existing enemies of Australia. Yet this is the man who, in the “ Age “ of 15th November, was the accuser of the R.S.L. As the Minister said, it is no coincidence that a campaign is being waged in the Communist Party’s journal, the “ Guardian “. On 28th October the “Guardian” printed a statement that the leaders of the R.S.L. should stop calling themselves Australia’s greatest patriots. This advocacy is entirely in tune with the advocacy of Dr. Cairns.
There are honorable senators here who apparently are wanting in experience of the proper rules and authority of public debate. They are also so lacking in the corresponding duty as to suggest that it is a personal reflection to give a proper characterisation to the activities of Dr. Cairns in associating himself with the purposes of organisations which preach defeat, disparage our involvement in Vietnam and scurrilously attack our great treaty allies in the Pacific, and in saying that America and now Australia are on the losing side.
When an actor goes on the stage to portray a fellow, he can be criticised for any part of his public performance. If at 2 o’clock in the morning that actor resorts to a brothel, that is his private life and to criticise it would be a personal reflection. His private life should be left alone. However, his public activities are open to criticism. As faithful parliamentarians, we are given a privilege by the Constitution, so that, undeterred by all the elements of the Yarra Bank, we may fearlessly here say in the course of free and, if necessary, fierce debate, how we traduce the accuser of the R.S.L. In order to appreciate the complete baselessness of the accusation made against the R.S.L., one should know the rubbishy performance in the elements of patriotism by the accuser. When Parliament, under the conception of personal reflection, precludes a member from this advocacy, Parliament will wither and die and be on a plane worthy of disrespect.
– The honorable senator should forget his emotions and tell us-
– Forget my emotions? The honorable senator will find that what I am saying is written in the annals of the precedents of free speech, fair comment, privilege and defamation. Now I am applying the principles for true purposes, not in this instance defending the public interest but the nation’s security, of which the integrity of the R.S.L. is an essential pillar.
Far from being negative, I throw the suggestion right back at those who ask for withdrawal and apology. I, for one, am here to assert that the Minister paid proper respect to any references you made, Mr. President - and, if I may say so without presumption, they were in terms of perfect appropriateness - to the fact that an honorable member is not permitted to make a personal reflection on a member of another House. Observing that, and never yielding to the idea that for this there should be an apology, I go forward to assert that this is the kind of criticism which it is one’s inalienable duty to offer on an occasion such as this.
– Senator Wright has assured the Senate that he is a true patriot.
I think we should be gratified that he has given us this assurance and I do not think we want to debate it. But I believe that I should comment on his reference to Dr. Cairns’ rubbishy performance, as he put it, as a patriot. I think it must be remarked about Dr. Cairns that his father is one of those who were killed in the First World War, to which Senator Wright referred in such glowing terms; that Dr. Cairns himself is a returned serviceman, having served overseas; that he repeatedly applied for release from his duties with the police force so that he could serve overseas and that only after repeated applications was he granted permission to serve overseas. I submit that, if anybody is entitled to criticise an organisation of ex-servicemen’, Dr. Cairns is.
I must say that, as a new senator, I find myself a little confused about some of the happenings that I have witnessed since taking my place in this chamber. Shortly after I arrived here, the Repatriation Bill was before the House. The Australian Labour Party suggested some amendments to the Bill introduced by the Government. The amendments were desired by the Returned Servicemen’s League, but Senator Wedgwood and other honorable senators opposite voted against them. I inferred from this, of course, that the Government, and Senator Wedgwood in particular, had a very scant regard for the R.S.L. To my surprise, today I find that they are champions of the R.S.L. This was one confusing occurrence. The second confusing occurrence happened during this week when some questions were put to Senator Gorton concerning allegations made in various newspapers. Senator Wright has told us that the “ Age “ is notorious for its accuracy. I am not quite certain how he means that, but his words were that it is notorious for its accuracy. If something is printed in the “Age”, it must be true.
– Why was it not refuted?
– How does the honorable senator know that it was not refuted? It was not refuted in the “ Age “, but that does not mean it was not refuted at all. I do not know whether it was refuted. However, Senator Gorton has said that he is not prepared to accept something that is printed in the “ New York Times “, nor is he prepared to accept what was printed in the “ Age “ concerning the alleged American rejection of the North Vietnam proposals for peace talks. Senator Gorton is not prepared to investigate this statement; but he is prepared completely to accept what was printed in the “ Age “ on this occasion. I do not know whether Dr. Cairns made the statements attributed to him by the “ Age “, but if he did make the statements I for one would be completely in agreement with him and I would be prepared to say it either inside or outside this chamber.
I believe that what we are seeing tonight in this Senate is exactly what Dr. Cairns said was taking place in this country in debates on the situation in Vietnam. What we are seeing is the constant personal attack on people who put a point of view contrary to the point of view of the Government. This does not happen in the United States of America. As far as I know, it does not happen in Great Britain, and it does not happen in New Zealand. But it does happen constantly in Australia. Someone said tonight that Dr. Cairns had been seen at a meeting with a Communist in 1948, or whenever it was, and that birds of a feather flock together. Do they indeed? If this is so, perhaps we should have a look at some of the statements made by a member of another place who belongs to the party that sits opposite. He wrote a series of articles on the theme “ Why I am a Fascist “. Does the saying “ Birds of a feather flock together “ apply to honorable senators opposite? Does it mean that they also subscribe to the articles of the honorable member in another place who wrote “Why I am a Fascist “? Certain members of the Government parties sit on platforms with members of the Ustashi, the Croatian Fascist organisation which collaborated with the Nazis during the last war. Birds of a feather flock together. Are we to infer that the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party accept the policy of the Ustashi - the policy of the Croatian Fascists and the Nazis?
We have never made such allegations in the course of debates on Vietnam. We have always attempted to put forward logical arguments about the situation in Vietnam. But those arguments have been met with nothing but personal abuse of the people who have put them forward. The question that was asked by Senator Wedgwood earlier today apparently is regarded as being a slur on every member of the R.S.L. What nonsense that is. Does anybody believe that every member of the R.S.L. is bound by the decisions that are taken by the governing bodies of that organisation? I note that Senator Bishop and Senator Drury, who are sitting near me, are both wearing membership badges of the R.S.L. I have not heard from them that they feel aggrieved or insulted by what Dr. Cairns has said, or is alleged to have said. Of course they are not aggrieved.
If the leaders of the R.S.L. wish to enter into politics, then they must expect to get political answers. If the leaders of the R.S.L. arc going to make statements on foreign policy or on alleged internal subversion, then they must expect people who hold the contrary view to answer them. They cannot expect to have immunity. There is no reason why members of the Australian Labour Party should not criticise a statement because somebody in the R.S.L. has made it. 1 believe that what has been said tonight completely confirms the charges that were allegedly made by Dr. Cairns - if they were not made by Dr. Cairns, then I would make them myself - that at the present time there is an organised campaign of intimidation, sneering and McCarthyism against any person who wishes to disagree with the policy of the Government in relation to Vietnam.
– in reply - Mr. President-
– Is the Minister closing the debate?
– Honorable senators opposite have said that I have been silent, but when I rise to speak they say that I am afraid not to speak. I am neither afraid not to speak nor afraid to speak. I intend to say what I want to say, and I intend to say it right now. The first thing I intend to say to honorable senators opposite is that as far as I am concerned there will be no apology. I do not think any apology is needed. The attack that has been made tonight on the ruling of the President is without foundation. If one of the Ministers or senators on this side of the chamber breached the
Standing Orders and therefore was out of order, it was not for Senator McKenna, Senator Keeffe or Senator Cavanagh to say that he was out of order.
Sitting in the President’s chair is a man whom we all honour. He is the person who says whether we are out of order, not honorable senators opposite whose bias has been so obvious tonight and who have been trying to throw a smokescreen over what has happened. The President did not rule that anything that Senator McKellar or I said was out of order. He asked for no withdrawal of anything that was said by Senator McKellar or myself, and honorable senators opposite made no request for a withdrawal. Yet we have had all this nonsense put up tonight. I came into this matter on a point of order. I came into the matter because on this side of the chamber, which I temporarily lead, a perfectly proper question, as the Leader of the Opposition admits, was asked and was being answered by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). But when the Minister got to a stage where it was believed that something might damage the Opposition, he was interrupted. There was an immediate attempt to smother him and to stop him from speaking. He was attacked immediately before he said anything. It is of no use for honorable senators opposite to say that this is not true. Here it is in black and white. They can say that it is not true but they cannot argue with what is down here in black and white. Before the Minister got the words out of his mouth, Opposition senators tried to prevent him from saying what he intended to say.
– They tried to muzzle him.
– They endeavoured to muzzle him. That is the first point. When the Minister went on to deal with the point of order, you, Mr. President, rightly referred to a Standing Order which stated that no senator may reflect personally on a member of another place. You did not say that anybody had done this. You just pointed out that under the terms of the standing order this was one thing that must not be done.
– It had not been done at that time.
– Exactly. Honorable senators opposite tried to muzzle the Minister by taking a point of order. They tried to prevent him from saying what he wanted to say. That is all very well for them. He then endeavoured to continue, but up jumped the second muzzier in an attempt to try to muzzle him by taking another point of order for the purpose of ensuring that he would not be able to say anything. The honorable senators who tried to do this are birds of a feather. We know them. We can see them and we can pick them. They tried to muzzle the Minister and prevent him from speaking, but their attempt was not successful because I rose, as I will always rise, if I believe that anyone in my team is being muzzled. I will rise at any time in defence of any member of my team whom somebody else attempts to muzzle. All I said was this -
I would like to say a few words on the point of order that has been raised. I listened very closely to the question and also listened very closely to the Minister. The question dealt with a statement which had allegedly been made and not refuted by a member in another place. In reply to the question the Minister merely said that the associations, which were attacked by the member, were working for the defence of the country and for the wellbeing and welfare of their member. He said, alternatively, that the member was a member of organisations and associations which were doing exactly the opposite.
Senator McKenna interjected ;
He did not say that.
I replied -
Yes, by inference he said that.
At that stage, Senator McKenna endeavoured to make a very weak case that I was breaching the Standing Orders. I would accept a statement from you, Mr. President, to the effect that I was breaching the Standing Orders. If you had told me that I was out of order I would have accepted your ruling, and if necessary withdrawn my remarks, in deference to the very high esteem in which I hold you in the office that you occupy and as a man. But you said not a word to the effect that my remarks were out of order or breached the Standing Orders. The Opposition tried to build a case in an attempt to throw a smoke screen around what had allegedly been said about the great organisation that we know as the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. This attempt was made for the purpose of muzzling any comment in this House. Honorable senators opposite tried to make a case for this purpose and they asked for an apology from me. When they get an apology from me in that way, that will be the day, believe you me.
– It takes a big man to apologise.
– It does not take a man any bigger than I am. Let the honorable senator make no mistake about that. When you, Mr. President, tell me that I am out of order, 1 am prepared to bow to your ruling and if necessary withdraw my remarks. But I was not asked to do anything of the kind. You, Sir, being apparently the only fair judge in this place apart from my colleagues on this side of the chamber, said not one word to the effect that my remarks were out of order. I say to honorable senators opposite: If they endeavour to muzzle any member of my team I shall do again exactly as I did today. If they attempt to stop fair criticism of someone who besmirches the name of the Returned Servicemen’s League of this land of ours, I shall do the same again. I submit that there was no breach of the Standing Orders because you, Mr. President, did not say that there was one and because the Opposition did not say that there was one. Members of the Opposition did not even raise a little finger. I am darned sure that I will not apologise to any of them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.40 a.m. (Friday.)
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 November 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19651118_senate_25_s30/>.