25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is with very great regret that I have to inform the Senate of the death of Senator the Honorable Sir Shane Paltridge, K.B.E., which occurred on 21st January last.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, I notified the Governor of the State of Western Australia of the vacancy in the representation of that State caused by the death of Senator Paltridge. I have now received, through His Excellency the Governor-General, from the Governor of the State of Western Australia a certificate of the appointment of Reginald Greive Withers as a senator to fill the vacancy.
Certificate laid on the table and read by the Clerk.
– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a com mission to administer to honorable senators the oath or affirmation of allegiance.
Commission laid on the table and read by the Clerk.
Senator Reginald Greive Withers made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
– Mr. President, I inform the Senate that, following the resignation of the Right Honorable Sir Robert Menzies as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth - to which resignation I shall be referring at a later date - His Excellency the GovernorGeneral commissioned Mr. Holt, as the newly-elected leader of the Liberal Party, to form, a Ministry. I formally announce that the new Government, which was sworn in on 26th January 1966, is constituted as follows -
Minister for Trade and Industry - Right Honorable J. McEwen.
Treasurer - Honorable W. McMahon.
Minister for Supply - Senator the Honorable N. H. D. Henty.
Postmaster-General and Vice-President of the Executive Council - Honorable A. S. Hulme.
Minister for Works - Senator the Honorable J. G. Gorton.
Attorney-General - Honorable B. M. Snedden, QC.
Minister for the Interior - Honorable J. D. Anthony.
Minister for the Navy - Honorable F. C. Chaney, A.F.C.
Minister for Air and Minister assisting the Treasurer - Honorable P. Howson.
Minister for Customs and Excise - Senator the Honorable K. M. Anderson.
Minister for Repatriation - Senator the Honorable G. C. McKellar.
Minister for Housing - Senator the Honorable Dame Annabelle Rankin, D.B.E.
Minister for the Army - Honorable J. M. Fraser.
The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) will assist the Prime Minister in Commonwealth activities in relation to education and research which fall within the Prime Minister’s Department. The first 12 Ministers that I have mentioned will form the Cabinet. Mr. Fairbairn will be the Leader of the Government in the House of Representatives and I shall be the Leader in the Senate.
In the Senate I shall represent the Prime Minister in matters other than those relating to education and research and Senator
Gorton will represent the Prime Minister in matters relating to education and research. I shall also represent the Minister for Trade and Industry, the Treasurer and the Minister for National Development. Senator Gorton will also represent the Minister for External Affairs, the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Territories, the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Attorney-General. The Postmaster-General, the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for Civil Aviation will be represented by Senator Anderson. The Minister for Primary Industry, the Minister for the Interior, the Minister for the Navy, the Minister for Air and the Minister for the Army will be represented by Senator McKellar. The Minister for Immigration, the Minister for Health, and the Minister for Social Services will be represented by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin.
– Mr. President, since we last met, India has lost a distinguished Prime Minister and the world has lost a great statesman. Lal Bahadur Shastri was in every way a great leader. At school he received the highest scholarly rank of Shastri, comparable with Bachelor of Arts, and this he adopted as his name. As a schoolboy he became a follower of Mr. Gandhi. Between 1921 and 1942 he was active in the mass movements launched by the Indian Congress Party. In 1937 he was elected to the United Provinces Legislative Assembly. In 1946 he was promoted to Minister for Home and Transport, a portfolio he held for five years.
In 1951, when the Congress Party was fighting its first general election in an independent India, Mr. Shastri was called to New Delhi by Mr. Nehru, appointed General Secretary and given the task of organising the Party’s electoral campaign for the whole of India. Largely as the result of his organising ability the Congress Party had a sweeping victory at the polls and Mr. Shastri entered the Central Parliament as a member of the Upper House. In the same year, 1951, he became Union Minister for Railways. He resigned in November 1956, following a rail disaster in which 150 people were killed. Mr. Shastri’s gesture in resigning on the grounds that he felt himself constitutionally responsible for the disaster, although he had no actual responsibility for it, was widely praised at the time and publicly commended by Mr. Nehru. At the 1957 general election Mr. Shastri was returned to the Lower House and in April of that year became Union Minister for Transport and Communications, a portfolio which he exchanged in 1958 for that of Commerce and Industry. In 1961 he became Minister for Home Affairs. In 1963 he was one of the Ministers chosen by Mr, Nehru to leave the Cabinet and devote themselves to the internal reorganisation of the Congress Party. A few months later, however, he was recalled to Cabinet office as Minister without portfolio, to relieve Mr. Nehru of some of his duties.
In 1963, upon the death of Mr. Nehru, Mr. Shastri became Prime Minister. From his first day in office he was confronted with immense problems - tension with Pakistan which later flared into war, trouble on the border with China and the ever present threat of famine. However, Mr. Shastri proved to be a great statesman, as well as a mediator, in dealing with these problems. His combination of moderation and firmness held India together. Lal Bahadur Shastri died just a few hours after achieving his greatest international triumph, the signing of a pact renouncing the use of force to settle the Kashmir border dispute. The man who had never been abroad - except to Nepal - before he became Prime Minister, died suddenly far from his homeland in the Soviet city of Tashkent on January 10th last. His toil was rewarded, although he was not to live to see the results.
A man of simple habits, Mr. Shastri lived humbly with his wife, four sons, two daughters and their families. He died penniless, having given away his salary to the Servants of India Society, an organisation devoted to India’s social and economic advancement. He had been a member of the Society since 1926 and at the time of his death was its president. He owned no property, not even the house in which he lived. Thus India has lost a much loved leader. Over a million of his people lined the route of his funeral procession, sorrowing for the passing of the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy. I am moving this motion because I believe that it should be made clear to the Government and people of India that there is an understand- ing in Australia of their problems, a wish to cultivate a1 spirit of help and friendship and a profound sympathy for them in their loss. I move -
That the Senate records its sincere regret at the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri, Prime Minister of India, places on record its appreciation of his high ideals, his service to his country, his dedication to the cause of international peace and the development of harmonious relations with Pakistan, expresses to the people of India its profound regret at the loss they have suffered, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family.
– On behalf of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate, I second the motion that has been moved by the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty). It is most appropriate that the Senate should mark the passing in such tragic circumstances of this great Commonwealth statesman, Mr. Shastri. Unquestionably, his life was sacrificed in the cause of both duty and peace. He succeeded that very great Indian leader, Mr. Nehru, in 1963 and, as Senator Henty has said, he faced troubles immediately. One of these - the border trouble between his own country and China - carried over from Mr. Nehru’s time. Then there developed acutely the argument over Kashmir between Mr. Shastri’s India and the other Commonwealth country, Pakistan. Throughout the whole period of his term of office there was the danger of famine, and ever present also were the economic difficulties which unfortunately surround this new emerging and powerful nation of India. None of them could be resolved simply.
Mr. Shastri was a man of diminutive stature but he more than made up for that by his courage, character and integrity. Some of the aspects of Mr. Shastri’s character were quite graphically recounted by Senator Henty in supporting the motion he has moved. In him, India - one of the premier countries of the Commonwealth of Nations - found in time of crisis the man for the occasion. Unquestionably Mr. Shastri, this shy, quiet man, proved to be the one to launch India into a new phase of political life after the passing of its previous great leader, Mr. Nehru. As one writer has said, Mr. Shastri left India united and more confident than ever. There was a terrific surge of national feeling throughout India.
I agree with Senator Henty that the greatest triumph of this man was the negotiations which, under the auspices of the Russian Premier, ended successfully at Tashkent. The situation took toll of this frail man. lt meant a terrific drain on his spirit and physique to undertake the long journey, stand up to the rigours of the negotiations and emerge from that situation with a formula that at least points the way to goodwill, peace and understanding between India and the neighbouring nation of Pakistan over the acute problem of Kashmir.
We of the Opposition join most cordially in the expressions of regret that have been voiced by Senator Henty on behalf of the Government. We extend to India our sympathy in the loss of its great Prime Minister. We extend our sympathy also to Mr. Shastri’s sorrowing relatives and friends and deplore with them the passing of a very great leader.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– A sad blow to the Commonwealth of Nations and, indeed, to the world was the death in January of one of Africa’s foremost statesmen, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Sir Abubakar showed himself to be one of the outstanding figures of the new nations of the Commonwealth. He enjoyed the very high regard of his fellow Commonwealth Prime Ministers. His death came at a high point in his career shortly after he was host at the Lagos conference of Prime Ministers. The Commonwealth looked to Sir Abubakar as a moderating influence in a troubled continent. He was calm and dignified and was widely acknowledged as a man of integrity, fairness, courage and sound judgment.
Sir Abubakar entered his country’s Federal politics when the Nigerian Federation was first established and in 1952 was its first Minister of Works. His reputation grew steadily and by 1957 he was Chief Minister. He played a great part in the formation of a national government and it was as Prime Minister on Nigeria’s Independence Day in 1960 that he received the constitutional instruments from Princess
Alexandra, in the same year he was knighted and in 1961 he became a member of the Privy Council.
Sir Abubakar had a firm belief in the value of the Commonwealth and the role it could play in international affairs. He believed deeply in democratic standards and in fairness and free speech. Sir Robert Menzies, who had a warm regard for the Nigerian Prime Minister, described him as a respected leader who was clear minded, sagacious, tolerant and just. The world can ill afford to lose men of the quality of Sir Abubakar. We deeply regret his death and extend our sympathies to his family.
I move -
That .the Senate records its regret at the death of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and expresses ils condolences to the members of his family.
– On behalf of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate I warmly support the terms of the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in (he Senate and concur in the remarks that he has made to the chamber. Sir Abubakar Balewa became the first Prime Minister of the independent Federation of Nigeria in 1960. We regret that the events of earlier this year, immediately following the Lagos conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, led to a military uprising during which the Prime Minister of Nigeria was abducted. A week later he was found dead, his body thrown by the wayside. It was a death of indignity and violence which we cannot but regret. I have no hesitation in saying that in view of the contribution he had made to African independence he deserved a far better ending.
Sir Abubakar had made a major contribution/ in the Commonwealth of Nations. He was indeed a balanced man of moderate outlook. He presided over a nation of about 55 million people in the most populous state in Africa. All we can do at this stage is express our regret at the time and mode of his passing and pay tribute to his great service to all proper causes, including that of his own country. We express to his relatives the deep regret that is felt, I am quite certain, on all sides of politics in this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their place*.
– Mr. President, I regret to advise the Senate of the death on 21st January last of Senator the Honorable Sir Shane Dunne Paltridge, one of Australia’s ‘most valuable senior Cabinet Ministers. On 19th January acting on medical advice, he resigned as Minister for Defence and Leader of the Government in the Senate, and two days later he died. Sir Shane entered the Senate to represent Western Australia in 1951 and was reelected twice. During his outstanding parliamentary career of more than 14 years he administered five senior portfolios. He was Minister for Shipping and Transport from 27th September 1955 to 5th February 1960. He was Minister for Civil Aviation from 24th October 1956 to 10th June 1964 and Minister for Defence from 24th April 1964 to 19th January 1966. In addition, he was Acting Minister for Labour and National Service from 28th May to 5th July 1960, Acting Minister for Defence from 13th May to 21st June 1961 and from 4th June to 11th June 1962, Acting Treasurer from 2nd September to 30th September 1962 and from 20th September to 13th October 1963, and Acting Minister for Civil Aviation from 2nd September to 16th September 1964 and again from 27th August to 2nd September 1965. He was Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate from 17th February 1959 to 10th June 1964. He was appointed as Leader of the Government in the Senate on 10th June 1964, a post he occupied until two days before his death.
In 1958 he went overseas in connection with civil aviation matters to the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Holland, France and New Zealand; in 1959 to New Zealand; in 1960 to France, Italy and Iran; in 1961 to New Zealand and the Union of South Africa, and in 1964 to Malaysia. As Minister for Defence, he visited South East Asia and the United States of America in 1965.
The late Senator Paltridge left school at the age of 16 years to enter the National Bank of Australasia. Ten years later he entered commercial business. During World War II he served with the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian
Imperial Force. He was created a Knight Commander of the British Empire in the last New Year honours list. Senator Paltridge never spared himself. His dedication and faith led him to devote himself entirely to every task entrusted to him. His death is a great loss to the Government, the Parliament and the people of Australia. I am sure I speak for all honorable senators when I say on this, the first day of a new sessional period, that we think of Lady Paltridge and her two daughters in their sorrow. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Sir Shane Dunne Paltridge, senator for the State of Western Australia, Minister of the Crown, and Leader of the Government in the Senate, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of ‘members of the Australian Labour Party who sit in this place, I second the motion that has been proposed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I heartily endorse all the remarks that he has made in commendation of the former Leader of the Government in this chamber. Every member of the Opposition was shocked and distressed at the untimely death of Sir Shane Paltridge on 21st January last. At the commencement of the midwinter recess last year I went to him and expressed concern at the signs of exhaustion that I thought I saw. I urged him to take a holiday. He returned temporarily to the Senate in August last but became ill early in September, and he scarcely appeared again in the chamber.
Senator Sir Shane Paltridge had a very impressive parliamentary record. He made his presence felt in the Senate in debate from the outset in 1951 and he won a place in the Ministry in 1955. His mastery of detail and his all round competence were clearly displayed in the important and onerous portfolios that he administered - Shipping and Transport, Civil Aviation and Defence. He also acted temporarily in the portfolios of Labour and National Service and the Treasury and, at times when he was not the actual Minister, he administered the portfolios of Defence and Civil Aviation. He was Leader of the Government in the
Senate from June 1964 until his resignation from the Ministry. Sir Shane had a great all round knowledge of Government affairs, was quick in decision and tough and effective in debate, and was a keen advocate for the State of Western Australia. He had a very direct manner and a great capacity for friendship. He added greatly to the prestige of the Senate and never bore a grudge after a parliamentary encounter.
In short, in addition to being a Minister of the highest calibre, he was a good citizen, a good Australian and a good fellow. His premature passing is a serious loss to the Government, to his Party and to Australia. We of the Opposition respected and liked him. We shall continue to miss him. He would always listen to the Opposition’s viewpoint regarding the conduct of the business of the Senate and met it wherever possible. His death drew a great deal of international attention, and his funeral in Perth brought from all over Australia a most representative gathering. These things were an eloquent testimony to his personal worth and must have provided real solace to his widow and two daughters. To them my colleagues and I extend our deepest sympathy in their great loss. It will console them to remember the richness of their life with one who was a splended husband and father as well as a great Australian, and to believe that he is now enjoying the reward that comes to one whose earthly activities were based firmly on Christian principles.
– I wish to support the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate and also the Leader of the Opposition in respect of the unfortunate passing of Senator Sir Shane Paltridge whom we held in very great esteem in this Senate. I, too, have that feeling of personal loss in the absence of our late colleague. We all agree, as has been slated, that Senator Sir Shane Paltridge brought great credit to the Parliament, to this chamber of which he was a member and also to the community of which he was a very respected member. He was held in high esteem, not only in Australia, but also by allied governments, by their representatives in this country and by the Services.
Mention has been made of the important portfolios which he held. I consider that perhaps the two he held with the greatest distinction were those of Civil Aviation and latterly Defence. He had a very trying portfolio during the period when he was Minister for Civil Aviation, but there again he showed the attention to detail which has been mentioned, the capacity and the hard work that were necessary in administering the portfolio. He seemed to thrive on hard work. It was difficult to understand how he managed to sustain his effort.
We are going to feel his loss very deeply in the Senate and in the Parliament. I know, too, that he will be sadly missed in his own State of Western Australia. In my capacity as Leader of the Australian Country Party in this chamber, I, too, was privileged to be present at his funeral in Perth. The presence of so many people on that occasion to pay their last homage to him was an indication of the affection and esteem in which he was held.
Senator Sir Shane Paltridge was a natural and human person. I think all will agree when I say that never did he lose the common touch. I recall with pleasure the many instances of help that he extended to me. On behalf of my Party, I tender condolences to Lady Paltridge and the two daughters.
– My colleague, Senator McManus, and I desire to associate ourselves with the motion proposed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and supported by the Leader of the Opposition. 1 first met Senator Sir Shane Paltridge many years ago when I was the Premier of Queensland. Although my association with him was not over a long period, I knew him well enough to recognise in him a man of excellent character; a man who was natural and friendly; a conscientious man who sincerely desired to serve his country and its people.
As a representative of Western Australia. Senator Paltridge discharged his duties most ably. As a member of the Government for a number of years, he was tireless in his efforts. He was hard working. As Senator McKenna has said already, Senator Paltridge in debate pulled no punches, looked for no quarter, and gave none if he believed in the merits of the case that he was espousing. It is greatly to be regretted that he was taken from us in the prime of life - indeed, very prematurely. However, God’s ways are not our ways. We are left with no alternative but to accept his death with resignation. Nevertheless, all of us who have been privileged to know Senator Paltridge will cherish his memory and be grateful for the service that he rendered this country as a senator in this Parliament. We, too, sincerely sympathise with his sorrowing widow and daughters in the great loss that they have suffered.
Senator SCOTT (Western Australia).Mr. President, I associate myself with the motion submitted by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and supported by the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Country Party in the Senate and the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. We in Western Australia are deeply grieved at the passing of Sir Shane Paltridge. Members from the West knew what a wonderful man he was, particularly for Western Australia and, if not for Western Australia, for the whole of Australia. Senator Paltridge administered with distinction the important portfolios he held. In debate, he did not ask for any quarter and he did not give any quarter. This is the type of person whom we respect in the Senate. I extend to Lady Molly Paltridge and his two daughters, Claudia and Mary, my profound sympathy in their sad loss. Western Australia will miss Sir Shane, and Australia will feel the loss of such a notable person.
– Mr. President, I want to associate myself with this motion for two reasons. One is because of the very great admiration and respect I had for Shane as a senator. The second is for the great affection I felt for him as a close and dear personal friend. Shane was responsible for my entry into the Federal Parliament so I was closely associated with him from 1955, when I first stood for election in the team of Paltridge, Vincent and Branson. Such is the uncertainty of life that the two men with whom I stood are no longer with us.
I have just finished reading a book about the life of a former senator from Western Australia, Sir George Pearce. It is interest ing to see that the parliamentary careers of Sir George and Sir Shane ran parallel for quite a deal of the time they served in this Chamber. Two of Shane’s greatest qualities were his loyalty and his thoughtfulness. He was an intensely loyal person, but he was also a thoughtful person. Only four days before he died, he still retained this characteristic of thoughtfulness; he instructed his staff to send a telegram to one of the officers of this Parliament who happened to be retiring on that day. That was the kind of thoughtful person Sir Shane was.
To Lady Molly and to Claudia and Mary I want to say how sorry I feel for them at the loss of this very great man, this very great father and, to me, this very great personal friend.
– I wish to be associated with the motion before the Senate and to pay tribute to the great public service of Sir Shane Paltridge. I will remember him best for his close personal friendship, his kindness and his humanity. He loved his country and served it with great distinction. I express my deepest sympathy to Lady Paltridge, to Claudia and to Mary, who have borne this sad loss with great fortitude.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I regret to advise the Senate of the death on 9th January last of Mr. George William Shaw, member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Dawson in Queensland. Mr. Shaw was a prominent figure in the Queensland sugar industry. From 1943 to 1964 he was general manager of the large Farleigh mill near Mackay. He became a manager in his early 30’s, supervised a rebuilding programme shortly after the Second World War and helped to establish Farleigh as one of Mackay’s most modern and efficient mills. Mr. Shaw was a State Government representative on the Mackay Harbour Board between 1961 and 1963. He entered Federal politics in 1963, when he won the seat of Dawson for the Australian Country Party following the retirement of Sir Charles Davidson. On New Year’s Day 1966 he became critically ill following an operation. He entered a Brisbane hospital on the day the Country Party plebiscite for Dawson closed, with seven candidates challenging his re-endorsement. He died at the age of 52, one day after he won the plebiscite.
VI r. Shaw is survived by his wife, five sons and one daughter. Although he wa”3 a member of this Parliament for only two years, he earned a reputation for himself as an able legislator with a dominating drive for work, lt was a loss to the Country Party, to Queensland and to Australia generally when his Parliamentary career was cut short. 1 place before the Senate the following formal motion -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret al the death of Mr. George William Shaw, member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Dawson, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of members of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate, I second the motion proposed by the Leader of the Government. It is unfortunate that Mr. Shaw should have died before he was able to make his full contribution to the Parliament and the nation. It was a high honour to have won admission to the Parliament and it was tragic that this man, newly introduced to politics, should have died at the early age of 52 years, leaving behind him a wife and six children. We join with the Leader of the Government in expressing to his widow and children our deepest sympathy in the very sad loss that they have sustained.
– I wish to associate the Australian Country Party with the motion which has been moved by the Leader of the Government and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition. George Shaw had an infectious charm and a natural ability to make friends. As has been stated, his stay in this Parliament was all too brief.
He had a distinguished career in management in the sugar industry in Queensland before he entered Parliament after the last election. I think all honorable senators will agree with me when I say that his knowledge of the sugar industry was unsurpassed in the Australian Parliament. His counsel was sought at the highest level when matters relating to this very complex industry arose. He gave of his best to his country and to the Parliament. On behalf of members of the Country Party, I extend our deepest sympathy to his widow and family.
– The Australian Democratic Labour Party desires to be associated with the motion before the Senate. It was my privilege to know Mr. Shaw for many years. As has been stated, he was always regarded as an authority on the sugar industry. His death was unexpected and greatly regretted by the people who were privileged to know him, particularly the people in the district where he lived and worked for very many years. My colleague and 1 would like to be associated with the motion of sympathy to his widow and his family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I suggest that, as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased gentlemen, the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8.15 p.m.
– I am sure that the suggestion meets with the approval of the Senate.
Sitting suspended from 3.47 to 8.15 p.m.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Matrimonial Causes Bill 196S. National Health Bill 1965. Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill (No. 2) 1965.
States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill 1965. Income Tax Assessment Bill 1965. Income Tax Bill 1965.
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1965.
Income Tax (Non-resident Dividends) Bill 1965. Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1965. Australian National University Bill 1965. Native Members of the Forces Benefits Bill 1965.
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1965.
Trade Practices Bill 1965.
Temple Society Trust Fund Bill 1965.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Pay-roll Tax Assessment Bill 1965.
Nauru Bill 1965.
Income Tax Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Customs Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Bill 1965.
Sulphuric Acid Bounty Bill (No. 2) 1965. Pyrites Bounty Bill (No. 2) 1965. Broadcasting and Television Bill (No. 2) 1965. Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Brigalow Lands Agreement Bill 1965. Weipa Development Agreement Bill 1965. Royal Australian Air Force Veterans’
Residences Bill 1965. Air Navigation (Charges) Bill (No. 2) 1965. Audit Bill 1965. Banking Bill 1965.
Bankruptcy (Decimal Currency) Bill 1965. Butter Fat Levy Bill (No. 2) 1965. Canned Fruits Export Charges Bill 1965. Christmas Island Bill 1965. Commonwealth Banks Bill 1965. Customs Bill (No. 3) 1965. Customs Tariff Bill 1966.
Defence Forces Retirements Benefits Bill (No. 3) 1965.
Dried Fruits Export Charges Bill 1965.
Egg Export Charges Bill 1965.
Estate Duty Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Excise Bill 1965.
Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Honey Levy Bill (No. U) 1965.
Honey Levy Bill (No. 2a) 1965.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Insurance Bill 1965.
Life Insurance Bill 1965.
National Health Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Parliamentary Retiring Allowances (Decimal
Currency) Bill 1965. Pay-roll Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1965. Post and Telegraph Bill 1965. Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1965. Pyrites Bounty Bill (No. 3) 1965. Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1965. States Grants (Petroleum Products) Bill (No. 2)
Superannuation Bill (No. 2) 1965. Taxation Administration Bill 1965. Wheat Industry Stabilisation Bill 1965.
– Honorable senators will recall that last year I presented, on behalf of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, a desk set to the Sarawak Council Negri as a gift to mark the independence of Sarawak within the Federation of Malaysia. I have now received a Resolution of Thanks from the Council Negri, which reads as follows -
Be it resolved that this Council places on record its grateful thanks and appreciation for the handsome desk set presented to the Council Negri by the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia to mark the independence of Sarawak within the Federation of Malaysia and to serve as a token of friendship and goodwill on the pant of the Government and people of Australia towards the Government and people of Sarawak.
– I have to inform the Senate that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Honorable Sir John McLeay, K.C.M.G., accompanied by Senator O’Byrne, on behalf of the Commonwealth Parliament, presented a President’s Chair to the Legislative Council of Nauru on the occasion of its inauguration on 31st January, 1966. The Council was pleased to pass a Resolution of Thanks in the following terms -
We, the Members of the Legislative Council for the Territory of Nauru in Council assembled, express our thanks to the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia for the gift of a President’s Chair which they have presented to this Council to mark the inauguration of this legislature.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will he accept the congratulations of the Opposition upon the confirmation of his appointment as Leader of the Government in the Senate? Will he also convey to his colleague, Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, our congratulations upon her appointment to the Ministry as Minister for Housing? I indicate that, whatever we may say of or to either of them in the future, at this particular point of time in the history of affairs we consider that both appointments are well deserved.
– I hope that this is the hardest question I will have to answer in the course of the next few weeks of our Senate meetings. I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the Opposition for this courtesy. I shall certainly have much pleasure in conveying to the new Minister for Housing, Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, the congratulations offered by the honorable senator and warmly shared by everybody in this chamber.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral a question. He may recall that on 2nd September last I requested him to explain why the Australian Broadcasting Commission television authorities in South
Australia had changed the time for telecasting the evening news from 7 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. I asked him also to ascertain whether the Commission could revert to the time of 7 p.m., as the earlier hour was inconvenient to many people, particularly to primary producers. Can he now let me know whether the Australian Broadcasting Commission in South Australia will revert to 7 p.m. for its news service?
– I well recall the question asked by the honorable senator. I have been informed by the PostmasterGeneral that the change was made as an experiment. The Australian Broadcasting Commission, since the alteration, has caused a survey to be made to determine the suitability of the change to 6.30 p.m. In view of the results of the survey, particularly in the rural areas of South Australia, the Commission has decided to put the telecast back to 7 p.m.
– Will the Minister for Housing inform the Senate how long the Commonwealth homes savings grant scheme has been operating, how many couples have received grants during the period of operation, and what is the total amount paid to date under the scheme?
– First, may I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his kind congratulatory remarks upon my appointment to this portfolio. I appreciate them very much. In reply to Senator Wedgwood, I point out that the homes savings grant scheme has been operating for about 20 months. During this time, grants have been paid to 44,000 couples and total payments exceed $20.5 million. Recently in Sydney I had the great pleasure of presenting to a young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, a cheque which marked the passing of the $20 million mark, lt is always a cause of great regret to me when young people do not satisfy the eligibility conditions laid down under the Homes Savings Grant Act. I say to young people who are considering saving so as to become eligible for this helpful grant that I hope they will consult the officers of the Department of Housing, who will explain to them how to become eligible.
– Has the Leader of the Government read a statement in the “ Australian Financial Review “ of Tuesday, 8th March, credited to Mr. W. M. Gilchrist of the Canadian Government’s Eldorado Mining and Refining Limited, stressing the magnitude of the problem relating to the supply of uranium and predicting shortages in countries other than Canada? What is the Commonwealth Government doing in having the Mary Kathleen mine not producing at full capacity? Who is advising the Government on these matters? Is the Government so bogged down with its numerous other blunders that it is overlooking the facts that 13,000 tons of uranium will be needed annually by J 970 and that the present production capacity is 5,700 tons?
– 1 have not seen the article to which the honorable senator has referred and I do not know whether his statements are correct, but I am certain that we can rely entirely on the management of the Mary Kathleen mine to meet any demand within the capacity of the mine to produce uranium. The management has proved itself lively, energetic and efficient and I am sure it will be able to meet any demand in this field.
– Is the Government bogged down in its own blunders?
– I heard the honorable senator’s comment to that effect. This matter has not been before the Government. The question is based entirely on a newspaper report. I have not ascertained yet whether the report is correct or not.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he will consider making to the Senate a statement in relation to the problems that have arisen involving Boeing 727 aircraft. I refer specifically, of course, to the alleged fast sink rate of this aircraft. In the statement which I hope the Minister can persuade his colleague to make, will he advise the Senate whether attention will be paid to a claim made in the British aviation Press that high tailed rear engined aircraft are subject to stalling errors of a major order?
– I shall refer the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. It is a matter of judgment for a Minister in the administration of his own portfolio to decide whether he should make a statement on any particular matter. I assure all honorable senators that if a statement is to be made by the Minister for Civil Aviation, I shall ensure that a corresponding statement is made to the Senate.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Is the Minister aware that a report appeared in the “ Canberra Times “ of Saturday, 19th February . 1966, stating that there is an action against the Commissioner of Taxation for the return of income tax deductions made under the Income Tax Act 1965, which is claimed to be invalid on the grounds that there is not and has not been since the dissolution of the Twenty-Fourth Parliament any source of legislative power in the Commonwealth, because the representations of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia were not altered as required by section 24 of the Constitution? Has the Attorney-General directed his officers to examine the substance of that claim? Will the Attorney-General ensure that this action is determined so that any question of the illegality of the Twenty-Fifth Parliament may be finally resolved?
– I remember the report in the “ Canberra Times “ referred to by the honorable senator. If my memory serves me rightly, two university junior lecturers or undergraduates, merely by way of a joke, are making the claim against the Commissioner of Taxation. I have no idea of the legal basis of the claim, but no doubt that will be determined by the courts. When it is determined, the question raised by the honorable senator will also be resolved.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport: How does the Commonwealth Government allocate priorities for lighthouses and other aids to navigation along the Australian coast? What proportion of the total expenditure is spent on the Western Australian coast? Will the Minis ter give consideration to the provision of more aids, in view of the greater quantity of shipping and the new ports opened up as a consequence of iron ore development?
– On 9th February the “ West Australian “ referred to the matter raised by the honorable senator. I was prompted, in my newly found responsibility of representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport in the Senate, to seek some facts from my colleague. There is no set formula for the construction of lighthouses. A complaint was made that Western Australia was not receiving its proper proportion of expenditure, having regard to its sea lanes. The Department of Shipping and Transport is assisted in its decisions on the order of priority of lighthouses by a lighthouse advisory committee, consisting of shipping interests and representatives of the Navy. It is also responsible for hydrographic surveys in charting the coastline. In the last 10 years, 37 radio stations and radio beacons have been erected on the Australian coast; 13 have been built in Western Australia. In the current financial year 27 per cent, of the Department’s expenditure on new lights and other navigational aids has been spent in Western Australia. One of the reasons for that expenditure is the growth of shipping on the Western Australian coast and the increased use of ports, which previously had little use, due to the new iron ore developments. The future construction of 31 additional aids has been approved; of this number, 14 will be in Western Australia.
– I address the following question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research: ls it a fact that some 1,300 qualified students have been unable to gain admission to the University of Melbourne and the Monash University this year? Whether this number is exact or merely approximate, in view of the Government’s financial commitment in the provision of university facilities does the Minister acknowledge the Government’s responsibility to take energetic measures to stop the bitter frustration and disappointment of the rejected students and their families and the serious waste of talent in the nation?
– I am not sure what the honorable senator means when he speaks about qualified students.
– I mean matriculated Students.
– If the honorable senator means persons who have managed to pass the matriculation examination, I remind him that that matter has been discussed here in the past and that it has been argued quite extensively in academic circles that the mere completion of the secondary form of education does not of itself indicate an ability properly to pursue a tertiary education course.
– What does it indicate?
– It indicates the successful completion of secondary education.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether a final decision has been arrived at by the Commonwealth Government in answer to a request by the Government of Queensland for financial help to construct a dam on the Nogoa River, near Emerald, in that State.
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following information: Some time ago the Premier of Queensland wrote to the Prime Minister asking that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics undertake an economic evaluation of a dam for irrigation purposes on the Nogoa River. This study was completed some months ago and a report has been sent to the Queensland authorities for consideration. I understand that those authorities are currently considering the report.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is the Minister satisfied with the supply of growing millable timber that is available in Australia to meet present and future building demands? Has the Minister considered engaging botanists and silviculturists in the Forestry and Timber Bureau to make a complete review in Commonwealth territories of the timber situation and to ascertain whether sound plans may be made to commence a programme of afforestation? Will be communicate with the six State Governments for the purpose of gaining their co-operation in a general scheme of reafforestation? Is the Minister aware that reafforestation would be an ideal way in which to provide gainful employment for the 10,000 men and 4,000 youths in Queensland who are now unemployed?
– I read a statement that was made recently by the Minister for National Development in relation to the forestry position in Australia and the steps that the Government proposes to take to increase supplies of timber in every State. Reafforestation is a matter for the State Governments. Every State in the Commonwealth has pursued a policy of reafforestation, particularly in relation to softwoods. The proposal that was outlined by the Minister for National Development was for a great stepping up of assistance to each State to enable it to increase its reafforestation activities and to plant new softwood forests. I shall send a copy of my colleague’s statement to the honorable senator. It is well worth reading. I entirely agree with the Minister’s statement that the present situation in Australia is leading to greater imports of timber from overseas and that to provide ourselves with sufficient timber resources in Australia it is necessary for us to pursue the policy of assisting the States that the Government now proposes to pursue.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to a complaint from the master of the Norwegian freighter “ Mariko “ that there was no marine radio beacon which could be used in the vicinity of Geraldton? If this is so, what does the Department of Shipping and Transport intend to do to help shipping in this area?
– My attention has been drawn to this statement alleged to have been made by the master of the ship. I am happy to be able to say that it is quite inaccurate and that the necessary provision has been made in the Geraldton area. As a matter of fact, the Department of Shipping and Transport pays a fee to «he Department of Civil Aviation for providing a 24 hour beacon service which is of assistance to shipping. In fact, all shipping authorities and people associated with shipping have been so informed. Other 24 hour beacons operate in the Fremantle, Port Hedland and Broome areas which are under the control of the Department of Civil Aviation.
– There is no substance in the complaint at all?
– There is no substance in the story.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. Has the Minister seen a report that an Australian private soldier serving in Vietnam was handcuffed to an iron stake in a weapon pit for a period of 20 days and that by night he was handcuffed face downwards to a stretcher? Has the Minister also seen a report that, in addition to this heinous and barbaric treatment, a court martial has sentenced the soldier concerned to a period of six months detention and subsequent discharge from the Army? Will the Minister agree that if the details as reported are correct, the inhuman punishment inflicted on the soldier is likely to have a deleterious and psychological effect on him? Therefore, will the Minister ensure that any application this man might make subsequently for repatriation benefits arising from this punishment will be viewed sympathetically by the appropriate authorities?
– I think that the early part of this question has been directed to me because I represent the Minister for the Army in the Senate. The latter part of the question deals with repatriation benefits. I have quite a long statement here about this matter. I feel that it is a little too long for me to read to the Senate. I would be quite happy to allow the honorable senator who asked the question to have a look at this statement later. Briefly, the position is that the newspaper reports have given the facts as outlined by the honorable senator. But I want to draw his attention to the fact that, so far, the decision of the court martial has not been confirmed. At this stage I do not know whether or. not it will be confirmed. If this soldier is discharged from the Army and the question of repatriation benefits has to be considered, it will be dealt with when it arises.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. Could the Minister inform me, and thereby the Senate, whether the services of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation have been availed of to the extent hoped for by the Government? Assuming that there has been some lag in the acceptance of insurance by lending authorities covering advances for a greater percentage of loans towards the cost of a house, could it not be that greater publicity would remedy the situation?
– The Corporation has now been in business for barely three months. During this period it has received many indications of the potential for growth in its business. Already some mortgage management trusts have been established to make and administer insured loans, and it would seem that these firms are attracting new money into the home building industry. The Corporation, at the present time, is writing new business at a rate close to $1 million per month. Of course, it is far from satisfied with this level of activity. It is hoped that many institutional lenders for housing purposes will make far more high ratio insured loans.
Honorable senators will recall, of course, that my colleague, the former Minister for Housing, Mr. Bury, said in his second reading speech on the Housing Loans Insurance Bill that it would be some time before the habits that these lenders had built up over many decades could be changed. I have, however, been examining the desirable scope of the Corporation’s housing insurance business. At present the Corporation is merely authorised to insure a loan to acquire a single unit of accommodation for occupation by the borrower. This will, of course, always constitute the major portion of the Corporation’s business.
However, there are a number of other classes of housing loans that the Corporation should be authorised to insure. I hope before very long to be able to inform the
Senate of new fields in which the Corporation may operate. Regulations which are a necessary prerequisite of this are in the process of being drafted. I feel I should say in answer to the honorable senator’s question that all this will be of advantage in increasing this business which we believe is so important in helping to overcome the shortage of housing in the community.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Housing a question which will not have the same effect as the two prepared questions that I think she has been asked tonight.
– I assure the honorable senator that my question was not prepared. It was asked absolutely without notice.
– The answer was not given without notice. I ask the Minister: Was the appointment of a Federal Minister for Housing for the purpose of increasing the home construction rate in Australia? Were the Homes Savings Grant Act and the Housing Loans Insurance Act - queswere asked about both Acts this evening - introduced for the same reason, namely, to increase the home construction rate? Have these Government proposals had the effect intended? If so, what has been the increase in home construction since the appointment of the Minister and the coming into operation of the two Acts?
– Mr. President, the honorable senator knows that I have just been appointed the ministerial head of the Department, so I do not feel that I can give him, perhaps, quite the lengthy answer that I will be able to give in the future. The honorable senator asked first whether the appointment of a Minister for Housing was to ensure the building of more homes. I can assure him that the purpose of this Government, whatever may be the way it tackles the job, is to ensure for the people of Australia the greatest number of homes possible and the best kind of homes in which to live. We believe in -home ownership. We believe also in the provision of good homes for the Australian people. This is the whole purpose of the Department of Housing.
The honorable senator’s question referred to the present situation. He will know, as we all do, that approvals recently have not been as high as we would wish. I myself have made a Press statement concerning this matter. I do want to say this: As Senator Cavanagh will know, increased savings bank lending for housing purposes is being provided which represents $4 million per month during the first half of this year. This is a considerable amount of money. I believe that, before very long, we shall see these loans reflected in the community to a marked extent in the form of increased housing approvals and statistics. I can assure the honorable senator that I will do my best to ensure that I bring constantly before the Government whatever is required in this regard. I do know that the Government is watching the situation closely and is most anxious that the Australian housing programme shall be a very successful one indeed.
– I wish to ask a question supplementary to the question asked by Senator Branson because it has a technical interest which I feel has left me slightly in the air. Does the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport know that air navigation beacons are not a satisfactory method of navigation for ships at sea for two reasons that have come to my knowledge? The first is because of what is known as the night effect and the second is the overland effect. These factors materially affect the safe navigation of ships. If this is the case, is the air navigation beacon in Geraldton sufficiently close to the sea to provide a reasonably efficient means of radio navigation to ships trying to enter that port?
– Quite clearly the honorable senator asks a technical question to which I think, in fairness, the Minister for Shipping and Transport should have the privilege of supplying the answer.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Following receipt by me of a letter from the Chief Electoral Officer refusing, on the ground of an instruction from the Government, my request to be supplied with a copy of the “ Yes “ case in the referendum which has now been abandoned, I ask, first; Why has the Government instructed the Chief Electoral Officer not to make this literature available to me? Secondly, as millions of copies of the literature relating to the “ Yes “ case were printed and will now be pulped or burnt, will the Government issue instructions that copies be made available for the information of honorable senators?
– I do not know why the honorable senator has not been supplied with the literature, but I will find out. 1 will convey his request to the Minister to see whether it can be complied with.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Can he advise as to the cost or the estimated cost to the Commonwealth of the conversion to decimal currency? ls he aware that housewives are complaining that it is costing them pounds a week more to maintain their families since the conversion? In view of the lengthy notice which was given of the proposed conversion so as to permit the printing of notes and the manufacture of coins, will the Government complete the conversion to decimal currency with the least possible delay instead of permitting a changeover period of two years, thereby putting an end to the blatant cheating of the buying public which is going on at present?
– I have not the figures relating to the total cost of the conversion to decimal currency but L understand that it is far lower than was expected when the decision to convert was first made. As soon as the cost is available I will let the honor. able senator know. Quite frankly, 1 think it is an exaggeration to say, as the honorable senator has said, that since the conversion it is costing housewives pounds a week more to maintain their families. 1 think on balance, on the large and small items, that it is working out very well indeed. In fact, 1 believe that the conversion to decimal currency has been a very smooth operation, far smoother than I expected it would be. I repeat to the honorable senator that, on balance, the situation is working out very well. The conversion to decimal currency will be of tremendous benefit to Australia. It has brought us into line with practically every other country in the world.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development by stating that 1 noticed recently that the Government had made some £20 million available to State Governments for reafforestation purposes. This is particularly commendable. Has the Government considered the advisability of making loan money available to private or public companies or institutions for this purpose? 1 point out that this would not only encourage the private sector of industry to engage in reafforestation but would also eventually lead to a greater tax yield.
– The honorable senator has referred to a statement by the Minister for National Development relating to assistance to State Governments for reafforestation. 1 suggest that he place the second part of his question on the notice paper so that I can get a considered statement for him from the Minister. T am not aware whether the Minister’s statement referred to assistance to private institutions for reafforestation purposes.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Will he advise why the Australian Government was not represented by the Deputy Prime Minister or by a senior Cabinet Minister at the funeral of Mr. Shastri, Prime Minister of India? As this lapse could have grave repercussions and could possibly cause serious offence to our non-white Asian neighbours, has the Australian Government since apologised to the Indian Government for its apparent discourtesy in failing to have at least a Cabinet Minister at the funeral?
– I think that such an important’ question should be placed on the notice paper.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. What is the extent of the slump in the housing industry? What are the causes? Why has the Government been unable to correct it?
– The housing approval figures at the end of January have dropped considerably and we are concerned about this position, but I think that, in fairness, ‘I should say also that in the previous year they were very high. We must realise also that there is a holiday period in January, which rather affects the figures. There has been, as the honorable senator knows, a shortage of money for home building. This is one of the problems that have affected people and the Government has therefore been looking at this matter. The honorable senator will know from Press reports that the savings bank has increased lending for housing purposes of $4 million a month over the first half of this year. This, we believe, will assist to a very marked extent in meeting the housing problem.
The number of dwellings expected to be commenced in 1965-66 is now estimated at about 105,000. We still feel, after talking with State Ministers, that this is a matter for concern. We want more homes. I assure the honorable senator that the Government is conscious of this, that it is very much aware of the problem, and that it’ will do all that it possibly can to ensure for the people of Australia that there is an improvement upon the figures that we received at the end of January.
– Does the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research know whether any Australian State Labour Governments have indicated to the Holt-McEwen Government whether any action is to be taken by them - that is, the States - to challenge the validity of Commonwealth legislation providing financial aid for education?
– I have heard of no such intention on the part of any State Government.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence: What has been the result of investigations carried out on the sightings of foreign submarines in New Guinea waters in September 1965 and in waters off the south coast of New South Wales during February of this year?
– I have no Information which I can give to the honorable senator on that subject. Perhaps he might care to put the question on the notice paper, specifying whether he is referring to alleged sightings in territorial waters or in international waters.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Am I correctly informed that the subsidy on sulphate of ammonia is due, by law, to expire on the 31st of this month? Is the Minister yet in a position to inform me whether any decision has been made to extend the provision by law for that subsidy?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question is: Yes. The provision for the subsidy expires on 31st March. As to the remainder of the question, that is a matter which comes within the responsibility of the Minister for Trade and Industry and I would suggest that the information be sought from him. This is a matter of government policy, but as the honorable senator has asked the question I suggest that he direct it to the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service able to inform me how many of the 1,858 women and 3,877 girls who were unemployed in Queensland at the end of January last have succeeded in gaining employment?
– No, but I will get the information for the honorable senator.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, refers to the continuation of the subsidy on sulphate of ammonia. Having regard to the necessity for the trade to make price arrangements for the period after 31st March, will he take the earliest opportunity of consulting with the Minister for Trade and Industry so that we may be advised whether the Government will make a decision to extend the subsidy?
– Yes, I will take the first opportunity of consulting with the Minister for Trade and Industry. This is an important industry and this is an important matter to be settled before 31st March, when this subsidy expires.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. When is it anticipated that appointments will be made of a Commissioner of Trade Practices, of members of the Trade Practices Tribunal, of the Registrar of that Tribunal or to any of the offices created by the Trade Practices Act of 1965? ls the Minister aware that unconscionable restrictive trade practices are just as rife and harmful today as they were before the Act was passed three, months ago, and may we hope that there will be a much shorter delay in setting the machinery of the Act in motion than there was in introducing the legislation, so that this immense national problem can be tackled with a proper sense of urgency?
– I will ask the AttorneyGeneral to give his estimates in answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question.
– In asking a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I would like to point out that when the Senate ended its last sessional period legislation was hurried through to provide for a referendum to be held in May of this year. The referendum provided for a measure of justice to Aborigines by altering the nexus that exists between first and second grade citizens and is one which should not be postponed on the grounds of expediency. When will this overdue alteration to the Constitution be put to the people of Australia for their decision?
– I will shortly be making a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister and I think the honorable senator will find the answer to his question in that statement.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Have any staff been appointed by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads? What has the Bureau achieved so far? Has there been any unnecessary delay in establishing this Bureau and permitting it to function?
– lt is common knowledge that some appointments have been made recently to the Bureau. In view of the second part of the honorable senator’s question, 1 consider that it would be proper for him to put it on the notice paper so that he can bc provided with a considered reply.
– On 7th December last, I asked the then Minister for Civil Aviation, who is now the Minister for Supply, a question relating to automatic insurance cover for air travellers. 1 asked for an expeditious reply couched in lay language that an ordinary person could understand and was given an assurance by the Minister that he would reply expeditiously. I refer to Question No. 785 on the notice paper. Does the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation wish me to repeat it?
– When can I expect an expeditious reply?
– I am confident that 1 shall be able to get an expeditious reply for the honorable senator.
– by leave - Further to my announcement to the Senate this afternoon, regarding ministerial arrangements I wish to state that the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) will be the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Senator Malcolm Scott will be Government Whip.
[9.21. - by leave- The statement that I am about to read is at present being made by the Prime Minister (Mr.
Harold Holt) in the House of Representatives. Where the personal pronoun is used, it refers to the Prime Minister. The statement is as follows: -
I am taking this first opportunity after meeting the House to speak oh some of the more significant matters with which we have been dealing since the Government took office. The new Government was sworn in on January 26th - Australia Day. We have been in office, therefore, just short of six weeks. They have been weeks of unusually intense activity. As I give an account of the highlights of events over that period, I shall also be mentioning some important policy decisions not previously announced. Ministers who will be speaking later in the debate on this statement, or introducing statements of their own, will provide more detail on several matters which I shall only be able to touch briefly.
It is to be expected that a new Government will have a busy time in its early weeks as it takes up the reins of Government. But in addition to the tasks normally to be expected in these circumstances, we have found ourselves engaged in discussions - some of a profound and far-reaching character - in the fields of defence and foreign policy. On the domestic front, we have concluded a review of the current state of the economy. This followed discussions with official economic advisory bodies assisting the Government and with representatives of industry. We have devoted a good deal of attention to the drought situation persisting over large areas of the Commonwealth and the problems arising from the ramifications of the drought.
Before commenting on these matters, I would like the House to know that the Government will be inviting it - on two occasions I shall mention - to give recognition to the distinguished public and Parliamentary services of my predecessor, Sir Robert Menzies. Sir Robert established a remarkable record of more than 18 years of leadership as Prime Minister, more than double the previous record length of service in this office. Next week I shall present a resolution to the House enabling us to place on Parliamentary record our appreciation of his many years of service. On 17th March, the Government will be holding a parliamentary dinner in honour of Sir Robert and Dame Pattie.
I also mention the Government’s decision to defer, until the next Parliament, the referendum on the two proposals to amend the Constitution which were passed by both Houses of Parliament towards the end of last year. We would have preferred to let the question of deferment stand until such time as we could have the benefit of parliamentary discussion and decision concerning it. But this course was not open to us because, as matters stood, the Chief Electoral Officer would have been required under the provisions of the Act to post the arguments for and against the proposals to some 6,000,000 voters before the end of February. Therefore, in practical terms, it was necessary for us to make and announce the decision before we met the Parliament. In pursuance of this decision, we will recommend to the Governor-General in Council that he should not issue the writ provided for in section 5 of the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act. We remain strongly in support of both proposals. But we are a new Government and, inevitably, much occupied not only with the very many important and pressing matters arising at home and abroad, but with other matters which beset a new Government. A referendum campaign would be an extra and lengthy commitment. In these circumstances, and because there is no urgency about either of the proposals becoming law this year, we believe that it would be better to defer the holding of the referendum.
However, we intend, early in the life of the next Parliament, to introduce the necessary legislation to enable a referendum to be held on the proposal to break the nexus between the two Houses of Parliament. We will also then give a general indication of our intentions in relation to the distribution proposals which would be made should the referendum prove successful.
We intend, at the same time, to present also the proposal relating to Aborigines. This proposal has been supported by all political parties, and there was indeed no negative case prepared for circulation to the electors. Any delay in passing the referendum in relation to the counting of Aborigines will have no adverse practical result because, in fact, the Commonwealth Statistician does count the Aboriginal natives in the community and makes the figure public. The provision in the Constitution does not amount to an impediment against this counting. Nor does it prevent Aborigines voting; many of them do. We, nevertheless, believe that the provision should be taken out of the Constitution. It is outmoded and misleading, and gives unwarranted cause for criticism both inside and outside Australia by people unaware of the actual situation.
As I said when announcing our decision to recommend a deferment, we are sensitive to the fact that the Parliament has supported in both Houses the referendum legislation which the Menzies Government presented. We believe, however, that members in both Houses will recognise the reasons which have influenced us, and will approve our decision to defer the proposals for the time being. The deferment is being made with a view to strengthening, rather than weakening, the prospect of success for the two proposals.
I turn now to aspects of foreign affairs and defence with which we have been dealing over recent weeks. In our first month of office, we had visits from Mr. Denis Healey, the British Minister of Defence, Mr. Hubert Humphrey, VicePresident of the United States, and His Excellency Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn, Prime Minister of Thailand. Each of these discussions was of importance for Australia. Each of them required considerable preparation and close consultation with our civilian and military advisers.
Mr. Denis Healey, the British Minister of Defence, visited us for four days from Monday, 31st January. The talks, although occurring within the first week of our taking office, were most timely. They were held at a time when the United Kingdom Government was coming to major long term decisions, subsequently incorporated in the White Paper on Defence recently presented to the United Kingdom Parliament. Mr. Healey had been set the task of framing a defence programme which would contain British expenditure on defence in 1970 within the equivalent in that year of £2,000 million sterling today. This task called for some drastic adjustments. Gne of the possibilities coming under public discussion in Britain was a withdrawal of British forces east of Suez. Mr. Healey made it clear to us that his Government did not hold any views on these lines. But the general proposition had found support amongst highly placed parliamentarians on both sides of politics. The United Kingdom Government decided - in our view, very wisely - that it would continue to maintain a global role in world affairs and that as part of this role it would continue to maintain substantial forces in South East Asia. The Canberra talks were of tremendous value in enabling us to make a frank exchange of views. Mr. Healey made it clear to us in direct but friendly fashion that if British troops had to leave Singapore, then either they would have to be accommodated in base facilities on the Australian mainland or they would have to go home. For our part, we were willing to plan against the contingency that Singapore might become untenable at some future point of time and have now put in hand a study, at the Service level, of various possibilities and their feasibility. However, we emphasised strongly the need for a continued British presence in South East Asia, and we affirmed that the bases in Singapore and Malaysia, in which we share and to which we have made substantial contribution, should be retained for as long as possible. The British presence on the mainland of Asia provides an essential stabilising and moderating influence and aid to morale. British departure from the scene could have disastrous consequences. We are gratified that the United Kingdom Government has confirmed, in the White Paper, its firm intention to continue to maintain the bases in Singapore and Malaysia so long as the Governments of Singapore and Malaysia make this possible on “ acceptable conditions “. For Australia this is a most significant and welcome decision.
Mr. Dean Eyre, the New Zealand Minister for Defence, participated in all the discussions with Mr. Healey. This Government wishes to increase its co-operation with New Zealand in defence matters and, indeed, in all other matters of mutual interest. The Anzac tradition was forged between us in another great struggle fought by the forces of freedom to resist aggression. The grim events in Vietnam, and Indonesia’s ill conceived confrontation of Malaysia, have brought us closely in association again. Our discussions revealed complete identity of view between our two Governments. lt is worth recording that the British Government carried out its recent defence review in a way which was, we believe, unique in British history. It was probably the first time the British Government has ever tried to look so far ahead in planning its foreign and defence policy - Mr. Healey’s talks with us ranged over the period from the 1970’s to the 1990’s- and it is also the first occasion on which the United Kingdom has consulted so closely with its allies before final recommendations were adopted by the Cabinet.
Arising from the Canberra talks, it was agreed with the representatives of Britain and New Zealand that consultations will continue at ministerial level. We felt that there should be discussions between ourselves and United States representatives on our respective activities in South East Asia. These should not be confined to political and defence matters. We all are involved in military action in one area or another but we all are also participating in programmes of economic and social aid in the area, lt would be of great advantage to develop the widest possible agreement on policy aspects, and to see how far our activities can be co-ordinated.
It was of great advantage to us to receive a visit from Vice-President Humphrey and Governor Harriman so soon after the defence discussions with Mr. Healey. The Vice-President was with us on 18th and 19th February. This is only the second occasion on which a Vice-President of the United States has visited Australia. Mr. Humphrey came to us after a rapid tour embracing a number of the key countries of South East Asia. He was able to bring us a complete account of the talks between President Johnson and Prime Minister Ky of South Vietnam. We found our own assessment of the situation there, based on information reaching us from our own sources, to be very much in line with that conveyed by Vice-President Humphrey to us. In his public statements in Australia, he brought out compellingly the critical and fundamental character of the struggle in South Vietnam. We had earlier told him we applauded the initiatives advanced by Prime Minister Ky and President Johnson for a vigorous programme of economic and social reform.
We all recognise that there is far more to the problem of South Vietnam than the checking of the Communists by military means. There is a need for reconstruction and rehabilitation. There is a need for an effective national administration pressing on with desired reforms and the improvement of standards.
Most of the people of South Vietnam live in villages and hamlets. Many of these have suffered the ravages of terrorist activities for years. First, the affected areas must be cleared of the enemy and made secure against Vietcong reinfiltration. The next phase is the establishment of effective administration, so that the benefits of modern services can be brought to scattered rural communities. So many leaders have been murdered that the Government of South Vietnam has launched an extensive, but concentrated, programme of training. It aims to produce as quickly as possible successive teams of people who will return to the ravaged areas as leaders in various activities of significance to the local communities. They include people trained in the business of administration and government, and in health and rural development; they include also teachers and personnel trained to undertake such rehabilitation tasks as the building of homes, schools, roads and hospitals. Already hundreds of these teams are operating and the South Vietnamese Government plans to have many more available by the end of 1966. The Government is planning in this way for the progressive rebuilding of the social fabric of the community. Australians are assisting in this valuable work. I speak, in particular, of our surgical teams, providing medical help in a country which has far too few trained doctors serving the community of 14 million people. Australians are also helping as advisers in agriculture and road building.
I pay tribute, also, Mr. President, to the contributions made by Australian forces in the area. Since 1962 we have had military advisors with the South Vietnamese forces. These are highly trained and dedicated men, who at great risk, and in some cases casualty, to themselves, have stood beside their South Vietnamese counterparts in the field. Since 1964, a flight of Royal Australian Air Force Caribou aircraft has been used in a great variety of ways for general transport purposes, and to bring supplies quickly to meet emergency needs. Last year, Australia committed the First Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment to Vietnam. It was subsequently expanded to a battalion group. The Battalion has to great effect and purpose been conducting operations from its base at Bien Hoa, and has earned praise and respect from our South Vietnamese and American allies. Vice-President Humphrey made particular reference during his visit here to the high value placed on the Australian contingent, both in their role as fighting men and their conduct generally amongst the Vietnamese people.
The Vice-President spoke of the overall prospects in terms of what he described as “ restrained optimism “. The information we and the Americans have is that the tide of war is turning in our favour. Progress is being made in rescuing new areas, in clearing them of Vietcong and in preparing them for orderly civil government. The critical nature of the conflict in South Vietnam has not been fully recognised by all, and this certainly includes many members of the Opposition. We are told that we over-simplify the issue there. It is more accurate to say that our critics overcomplicate it. We still hear from some representatives of the Opposition that this is a civil war and that we have no good cause for participation. This view runs against all the information and advice reaching us. The discovery by our own forces of extensive headquarters and military facilities in close vicinity to Saigon illustrates the long term planning and the years of preparation with outside assistance which lie behind the activities of the Vietcong. This is no civil war. It is the principal present manifestation of the expansionist activities of Communist China. These activities are channelled through, and directed from, Hanoi. All the countries in South East Asia are facing the threat of Communist China’s expansion in one form or another. In Laos, for example, there is fighting between Chinese supplied
Pathet Lao, or Communist forces, and the forces of the Government. The Prime Minister of Thailand and the senior ministerial colleagues who accompanied him gave us a graphic account of increasing Communist subversion, infiltration, and terrorist activities threatening that country. In India, there have been direct attacks by troops of the Communist Chinese Army across the Indian border. Honorable senators will see in these and other countries the manifestation, in one form or another, of externally directed Communist aggression.
We were able to discuss all these matters fully and frankly with the Prime Minister of Thailand and his distinguished ministers in Canberra recently. We shared a common view of the situation in Vietnam and agreed about the incessant and widespread nature of Communist pressures in South East Asia.
The Thai Government, let it be said, has a proud record of domestic achievement. It is a responsible Government which has committed the services and facilities of government and administration to the goals of economic and social progress in the spread of education, health and medical facilities and social services generally. Its record of economic advance is impressive. National income has been increasing at an annual rate of 7 per cent, for the past decade. Agricultural production is currently increasing annually at about 6.3 per cent. This is a country under Communist pressure. It is a country that we are glad to have as an ally and we look forward to the multiplication of our interests and associations.
The war in South Vietnam has many brutal aspects. What has been far too little perceived is the systematic destruction of leaders in the villages and hamlets in which most of the population of South Vietnam lives. The Communists deliberately eliminate any elements in village communities who might hold out some hope of effectively rebuilding their community. In the last two years, more than 3,000 local officials and civilians have been murdered. The leaders include teachers, medical workers, leaders in politics and administration, and technical experts of one kind and another. We can all picture the mental anguish and physical distress caused by this systematic butchery and the dislocation it brings to the life of the community where it occurs.
All this is what Communism in Asia means. It does not stand for peaceful, political and economic change. In the words of a leading Communist military theoretician, General Giap of North Vietnam, “ armed struggle and political struggle are very closely co-ordinated “. Of South Vietnam he says: “ Armed struggle has budded forth from political struggle.” Communism in Asia is the politics of brutality, the politics of disruption, the politics of the exploitation of backwardness. Its highest form is the “ people’s war “. That is to say, the brutality and viciousness of guerrilla warfare practised against an entire population, men, women and children alike. A study of North Vietnam’s pronouncements in respect of South Vietnam reveals the complete rejection of peaceful coexistence. Its language is the language of power, of protracted struggle, of repression, and it shows no disposition to tolerate the existence of neighbouring social and political systems other than its own.
Neither we, nor our allies, are in South Vietnam for territorial gain or colonial power. We are there to establish conditions in which ordinary men and women - and there are 14 million of them in South Vietnam alone - can pursue their lives in freedom. We are there because while Communist aggression persists, the whole of South East Asia is threatened. While the Chinese Communist philosophy of world domination persists, the whole free world is threatened.
During the suspension of bombing in December and January, every conceivable effort was made to bring the North Vietnamese authorities to the conference table. They rebuffed every approach. The search for peace will go on, but a long period of fighting is the prospect which we have to face. The critical fighting in the area increasingly involves units and personnel trained in North Vietnam and directed and equipped from Hanoi and Peking. As pressure on the Vietcong has increased, North Vietnam has sent in reinforcements of regular North Vietnamese troops on a very substantial scale, there now being nine and possibly more regiments of the North Vietnamese Army in South Vietnam. These reinforcements continued during the bombing pause as did work on repairs and improvement to the infiltration system. Only when it is convinced that South Vietnam, the United States and other allies have the will and the cohesion to see the struggle through is the other side likely to desist. At the present time the evidence is that it wants to continue the fighting and to test our will and cohesion.
The Government has for some time been made aware of the desire of the Government of South Vietnam that we increase the size of the Austraiian force there. There has been a very large build-up in strength of the United States forces. It is evident chat the allies must put forward an increased effort if military successes are to be achieved and then followed effectively by the tasks of reconstruction.
Honorable senators will bc aware that there are at present serving in Vietnam more than 1,500 Australian Service personnel comprising the Army training team, the battalion group, and associated headquarters and Royal Australian Air Force personnel. Of these forces, the main element, namely, the infantry battalion, the First Royal Australian Regiment, is due to be, and will be, relieved on the conclusion of its tour of one year in the theatre. Its personnel, other than those who will have served a considerably shorter period, will return by air to their home station in Australia during the first two weeks in June.
Measuring the availability of Australian troops in the light of our other commitments and in consultation with our allies, and at the request of the Government of South Vietnam, the Government has decided that the battalion will be replaced by a self-contained Australian task force under Australian command embracing all personnel serving there and enlarging our contribution to a total of some 4,500 men, in effect, a trebling of the current strength of our military forces there. The task force will contain, in addition to its headquarters, two infantry battalions, a Special Air Services Squadron, and a substantial force of combat and logistic support units. The task force will need close helicopter support and, for this purpose, we are incorporating with it a flight of eight R.A.A.F. Iroquois helicopters. Provision of the flight of Caribou aircraft and of the team of 100 Army advisers will be continued.
This force will make a greatly enlarged Australian contribution to the maintenance of security throughout South East Asia. It is, of course, in addition to our other force contributions in the region for the defence of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. It is our judgment that this is the most militarily effective way in which we can assist the overall allied effort in South East Asia at this time.
Honorable Senators are aware from previous statements by the Government that the obligation to discharge national service with the Army includes an obligation to serve overseas if necessary. The Australian task force which we will be sending to Vietnam in the middle of the year will contain two Army battalions, the 5th and 6th Battalions, Royal Australian Regiment, each of which will contain a proportion of fully trained and integrated national servicemen as will all future substantial Australian Army units deployed overseas in any theatre. That proportion may vary to some extent from unit to unit, but it will be a continuing feature. The normal tour of duty in Vietnam of personnel in the task force will be twelve months. The Government has also decided that the national service intake will be continued at 8,400 each year.
I am sure, that honorable senators will, in the light of what I have already said, appreciate the necessity for the Government’s decisions. They are decisions of great responsibility and we have not taken them lightly. Australia cannot stand aside from the struggle to resist the aggressive thrust of Communism in Asia and to ensure conditions in which stability can be achieved. Our own national security demands this course. We cannot be isolationist or neutralist, placed as we are geographically and occupying, as we do, with limited national strength, this vast continent. We cannot leave it solely to our allies - and their national servicemen - to defend in the region the rights of countries to their independence and the peaceful pursuit of their national way of life. 1 am confident that a majority of this Parliament will warmly support this increase in the Australian contribution. It has been heartening to the Government to have had, from the outset, the unanimous support of members of the Government parties for Australian participation in resisting Communism in South Vietnam. The overwhelming support given by the Congress of the United States of America in recent days to the amounts sought by the President for the conduct of military and aid operations, is encouraging testimony of the strength of purpose of the American people. The free world has cause to be grateful for the clear-sighted view President Johnson has held at all times of the menace and fundamental character of the challenge to freedom in South Vietnam, and we have admired the resolution with which he has met that challenge.
One matter which has had and is still having our attention at ministerial level, is the matter oi supply of goods and material of various kinds by Australian industry to the American forces in South Vietnam. Late last year, the present Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall), when Minister for Supply, outlined personally to the United States Secretary of Defence Australia’s capacity to provide a wide range of military supplies. The Minister’s talk has been followed up actively at the official level and, as one result, agreement has now been reached on the sale of a substantial quantity of Australian small arms ammunition to the American forces. We have also been asked to quote for a number of other important items most of which are needed in large quantities. We are now working on these requests. I might add that we took the opportunity to put this whole matter in the mind of Mr. Humphrey on his recent visit. We believe that Australia can, with advantage to the allied effort and to our own nation, play an increasing part in this matter of supply.
From our recognition of the fundamental significance of the struggle against Communist aggression in South Vietnam, and the special nature of the service which our armed forces are giving there, the Government has felt it appropriate that a special award should be made to Australian and, if the New Zealand Government agreed, to New Zealand servicemen posted to South Vietnam. 1 conveyed our view on this to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Right Honorable Keith Holyoake. As I have already mentioned, New Zealand takes precisely the same view of the issue in South Vietnam as we do. I am glad to say that Mr. Holyoake fully and immediately welcomed the proposal, and we are jointly recommending to Her Majesty that a special medal for service in Vietnam be struck. Her Majesty has told us that she will be pleased to make this award. The detailed conditions of eligibility are being worked out, and will be announced following Her Majesty’s approval of them.
This new special medal for service in Vietnam will replace the General Service Medal 1962 with clasp “South Vietnam”, which has hitherto been available for Australian servicemen in the area. The new medal will apply to Australian servicemen who have been in South Vietnam at any time since 29th May 1964, which is the date when the role of the Australian Army training team in Vietnam was extended to permit its employment in the field with South Vietnamese Army units in contact with the Vietcong.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand and I have seen the issuance of a special medal as another welcome link in the chain of the Anzac tradition. I am sure the medal will be worn with pride by all who participate in the South Vietnam campaign and it will carry with it to the wearer an expression of the gratitude of our two countries for service in the highest order of duty.
I am hopeful it will prove possible for me to make a visit within the next few months to South Vietnam and some of the other centres in South East Asia where Australian troops are on active service. My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, was in the area as recently as last December, and I propose to arrange for other visits by appropriate Ministers so as to keep the Government in close and frequent contact with developments in this and other centres where our servicemen are engaged.
Australia has an expanding role to play in South East Asia and, indeed, in the world at large consistent with its growth in economic strength and the development’ of its natural resources. The growing influx of immigration, investment capital and official visitors, the substantial increase in tourism, all signify an increasing world interest in Australia and its growing stature.
Growing responsibilities carry with them enlarged obligations. Our three-year defence programme now in its first year of duration is one measure of our response to our obligations. In the four years between 1962 and 1966, the defence vote has doubled, from approximately $400 million to $800 million. Large forward commitments have been undertaken for new and improved equipment, for which substantial payments must be made as the Services arm themselves to meet the defence requirements of the future. But even a rapidly growing bill for defence expenditure is not the only way in Which Australia’s general external policy should find material expression.
Aid appropriations from our Budget totalled $114 million this year. This is more than nine times the amount given in the year before we took office. This is practical recognition of the needs of other countries for our assistance. The Territory of Papua and New Guinea, for which we have special responsibilities, remains the major recipient of our aid. Indeed, this is a commitment which Australia has been carrying alone. Australia played a pioneering role in the evolution of the Colombo Plan. Through this instrument, we channel the largest component of Australian aid to Commonwealth and foreign countries, the amount this year being $12 million. Although we are a capital importing country, our programmes of aid for overseas compare well in scale with those of other major donors of aid. We are currently spending about 0.6 per cent of our gross national product on external aid. There are few donor countries which can match this record. We have joined the Asian Development Bank, on the basis of an Australian subscription of $US85 million. This is a substantial contribution quite disproportionate to our population and national wealth, even when compared with the subscription of major donors such as the United States and Japan. Our contribution reflects our willingness to play a significant pact in promoting greater prosperity and security throughout the South East Asian area, and our hope that this new instrument will play an increasingly significant part in that process.
We recently offered aid to India to a value of $8 million, principally in the form of food, as a contribution towards meeting the critical shortages occurring there. We believe (hat much remains to be done by the international community to alleviate hunger problems of this kind, and we are doing what we can to stimulate a willingness on the part of industrialised, as well as other food producing countries, to join in helping the less favoured and less developed countries of the world. Our capacity to increase expenditure on defence and foreign aid will depend on the success of our efforts to ensure that our own economy is soundly based and continues to develop rapidly in stable conditions.
I now turn to our latest survey of the economy. This Government retains the same broad economic objectives which, successfully pursued by Governments led by Sir Robert Menzies, resulted in the greatest era of economic development in Australia’s history. Our slogan of “ growth with stability “ will continue to guide us. We shall aim at the highest practicable level of national development and growth of industry. A policy of full employment has been successfully conducted with remarkably little fluctuation throughout our years of office. It remains in the forefront of economic policy. Our national growth has been associated with a programme of immigration on the large scale. This will be continued at the highest level we find it practicable to sustain. The inflow of people has been accompanied by an inflow of capital responding to a climate favorable to enterprise, skill and initiative. Judged on the latest statistics of the volume of capital and the stream of official visitors coming here from various parts of the world to study investment prospects, Australia can look forward confidently to this inflow continuing strongly. Its extent is the more remarkable because the Governments in the two principal source countries from which this investment comes - the United Kingdom and the United States of America - have both imposed some restraints on external investment. The combination of favorable growth prospects and stable economic and political conditions are proving strongly attractive. Australia finds 90 per cent, of its capital investment from its own savings but our rate of growth has been greatly assisted by the savings of others who bring new industry, new techniques, new equipment and new skills to us.
Within the past fortnight, we have had discussions with representatives of industry and commerce and finance. These have been followed by discussions in the Cabinet. It is clear that the measures adopted in last year’s Budget succeeded in bringing about a better balance between supply and demand in the economy. There are, I know, apprehensions about some weaknesses in the economy which, if they were to spread and combine, could create an undue slackening of demand and unemployment. The Government certainly does not want this to happen and will take any steps necessary to prevent it happening. The general trend of demand must be kept rising sufficiently to preserve full employment and provide jobs for the additional labour coming forward locally and from the rising migrant inflow. From the preliminary information available to us, there was a sharp fall in registrants for employment during February.
A substantial additional amount of finance, estimated at $24 million, is being provided by the savings banks for housing in the second half of 1965-66. The effect of this has yet to show up fully. We have under consideration other measures to give further support to housing. The same approach applies to other sectors - subject always to the consideration that we must be guided first and foremost by the trend in the general level of demand and activity and the need to ensure that resources are available for the priority requirements of defence and for developments of a kind that will increase exports. It is for this latter reason that we have been especially concerned with the problems created by the drought and the still wider problem of finance for rural industries.
The drought in New South Wales and Queensland has been a great misfortune in many ways. Most of all, it has been a misfortune for the producers in the drought areas. They have suffered heavy losses and a great deal of personal hardship. Our sympathy has gone to them and we join our hope to theirs for early relief. The drought has been a misfortune for the industries which serve the rural producers, such as the makers of agricultural machinery. It has been a misfortune for the economy because it has brought a heavy cut in rural output. We have felt the effects in exports for this financial year and we will, possibly, feel it still more heavily in exports for 1966-67.
The Commonwealth and its agencies have, from the start, viewed the drought as a national problem. The first requirement is that of assistance while the drought is still on. The provision of finance for this purpose rests largely with the trading banks and, from all the information I have, they have done an excellent job. They have been assisted in this by the Reserve Bank which has seen to it that there was no policy restraint on their ability to lend for the purpose and that they had the liquid resources to support their customers all through the drought areas. The Commonwealth Government has backed the State Governments with finance in all the relief measures they have found necessary. It has done this by grants and advances to enable the State Budgets to carry the costs of drought relief and to make loans to drought-affected producers on easy terms. In fact, it has assisted the States on a quite unprecedented scale to carry out drought relief measures.
Unfortunately, the drought has not passed even in Queensland where there have been rains, and in New South Wales it is worsening. The Commonwealth will continue to assist the States to finance their drought relief measures as far as necessary and for as long as necessary. Where rains have fallen and re-stocking of properties has become possible, a need for restocking finance has arisen and is expected to grow as and when the drought is relieved. Here again, the provision of finance wi’l largely be a matter for the trading banks. The Reserve Bank will support them in this to the full extent. The Commonwealth Development Bank has also been lending for the purpose and the Government will ensure that it has tha resources to continue doing so.
There will, however, be producers who, for one reason or another, cannot get adequate bank finance for re-stocking. The Premier of New South Wales has written to me about this. He has proposed that the system of loans the State is making to producers for relief purposes should be extended, with necessary adaptations, for re-stocking purposes. Under this system, loans are made up to certain limits at low rates of interest and with provision for a deferred repayment period. I have advised the Premier of New South Wales and also the Premier of Queensland that the Commonwealth is prepared, for this purpose, to extend the support it has been giving to the State for other drought measures. Obviously, it is only sensible and very much in the national interest that, so far as finance is necessary and can help to keep down drought losses and get farms and stations back into full production as the drought lifts, it should be made available. The need to sustain and increase rural production for domestic requirements and for exports is as important today as it has ever been in our history.
The drought itself has demonstrated a need for more investment in rural industries to strengthen them in various ways against a recurrence of drought from which we have had the good fortune to be relatively free over a long period. This need for drought mitigation work merges into a wider need for increased capital investment in the rural industries. On the one hand, we will need more and more rural output to provide exports. On the other hand, the scope exists for progressively increasing rural output in a variety of ways, all of which require increased capital expenditure on farms.
We have had a great many opinions as to where the main need lies and, while they vary in detail and emphasis, they all converge in a requirement for improved facilities to provide longer term rural development finance on a term loan basis. We are convinced, however, that the need is not so much for any radical innovations or new machinery as for improvement and extension of facilities which have already proved their worth.
The Commonwealth Development Bank, established in 1960, has already made a valuable contribution towards meeting the needs for devolpment finance by rural and other industries. However, we believe that the special problems of the farmer would be better served if there were facilities exclusively devoted to his credit needs. Accordingly, the Government has under consideration the establishment of a separate Rural Division within the Commonwealth Development Bank. Legislation will be required for this.
The Government believes it is desirable to provide the farmer with greater access to medium and long term capital for development purposes through his own private bank. The term loan funds, introduced in 1962, already go some way towards meeting this purpose. The Government now proposes to consult with the trading banks with a view to establishing farm loan funds separate from the existing term loan arrangement. The funds would provide finance for medium and long term development purposes including the purchase of land and measures for drought recovery and mitigation of future droughts.
Subject to suitable arrangements being made with the banks, it is envisaged that a sum of $50 million will be available for these farm loan funds. This will be in addition to the arrangements now being made by the Reserve Bank to increase existing term loan funds by $20 million, lt is contemplated that overdraft lending to farmers will continue as before. In addition, the trading banks will, we hope, be lending from the new funds on a long term basis on reasonable terms and conditions. I hope to be able to make arrangements for the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) and myself to discuss these matters with the Reserve Bank and the trading banks in the near future.
The Government is exploring an insurance scheme to cover loans made from the farm loan funds of the banks. This will be done in order to ensure that this kind of lending is not unduly restricted by security considerations where projects otherwise offer excellent prospects of success. From the national standpoint, action in this area is directed initially to the building up of our export capabilities, which are one of the great key requisites for ensuring continued growth. As such, it is to be seen as part of a many sided programme embracing not only assistance, direct or indirect, to exporting industries, but all that goes to the discovery and development of resources, such as mineral exploration, oil search, water conservation, road, rail and port improvements, scientific research and extension services - in fact, most of the main branches of developmental work.
One of the most encouraging facts about exports in recent years has been their increasing diversification. Rural exports still predominate, and will do so for many a day to come. But they are being increasingly and most opportunely supplemented by exports of minerals and of manufactures. One of the main topics discussed wilh industry representatives last week was that of export incentives for manufactures. It was the unanimous view that the scheme introduced in 1962 had yielded excellent results. The Export Development Council told us that it was making a general review of the subject, on which it would be reporting to us. It asked that certain features of the existing scheme which had come to be regarded as anomalous should be removed, and we have undertaken to consider this. It strongly recommended that the Government should give an assurance that export incentives will be continued after the present legislation expires next year. It is certainly the general intention of the Government that this should be done. Industry representatives also urged upon us most strongly the need for encouraging the pursuit of research and development in manufacturing industry. The Government has been impressed by these views and is considering various proposals for assistance to industry in this field.
Our approach to development generally, and northern development in particular, will continue to be both vigorous and comprehensive. Achievements to date have been very much more impressive than published criticisms would suggest. When account is taken of current and proposed work, the total of public and private investment for northern Australia is in the vicinity of $2,000 million. The Government will maintain close co-operation with State Governments for development purposes. The planning and construction of public developmental projects are primarily matters for
State Governments. The Commonwealth Government has assisted the States to undertake a variety of projects by means of special grants and loans. We recognise, however, that while our activities can sometimes trigger off worthwhile developments, or act in aid of the development undertakings of others, the major contribution will be made by private enterprise and the initiative of private investors.
A recent example of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States towards development was the announcement by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) on 24th February that the Commonwealth and State Governments have agreed that Australia should increase its rate of softwood planting from the present 40,000 acres a year to 75,000 acres for the ‘next 35 years. The programme recommended will meet Australia’s most urgent needs in the foreseeable future. Imports of timber and other forestry products now cost Australia more than $200 million a year. This cost could treble by the end of the century if we fail to increase our planting rate. The Commonwealth Government has offered the States about $20 million in long term loans over the next five years to help lift the planting rate in the Government softwood plantations. These loans will be interest free for the first 10 years.
Commonwealth-State co-operation led to the formation some four years ago of the Australian Water Resources Council. Thanks principally to the provision of Commonwealth funds of about $5.5 million, expenditure on the investigation of water resources will increase by 60 per cent, in the three years to 1966-67. A further expansion of this work in the succeeding three years is being discussed by Commonwealth and State officers in Canberra this week.
Examples of this co-operation are too numerous for me to list them all here, but I mention the agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments in 1962 to develop 4i million acres of land for beef production in the brigalow belt of central Queensland, with the Commonwealth providing $14.5 million to finance the scheme. Despite severe drought conditions in 1964 and 1965, good progress has been made in development of the area and, as recently as last Friday, I talked in Canberra with the Premier of Queensland about a similar scheme for a further area of nearly six million acres in central Queensland.
Expansion in the mining industry has been the most spectacular development in the north in the post-war period. New industries have been established at a number of places - -‘bauxite development at Weipa and Gove, manganese at Groote Eylandt, iron ore on the north-west of Western Australia and at two centres in the Northern Territory, and coal at two centres in Central Queensland. In addition, considerable expansion has taken place at Mount Isa, involving private investment of some £130 million. In this case, the Government has made this development feasible by providing £34.5 million towards the cost of reconstruction of the railway to Townsville. In the case of the bauxite deposits at Gove in the Northern Territory, the Government has negotiated arrangements for development of the field by a company with 50 per cent. Australian equity and with conditions requiring establishment of a plant on the site to process bauxite into alumina.
The Commonwealth Government through its financial assistance in connection with the beef cattle roads has made an enormous contribution to the development of better road transport facilities throughout Northern Australia leading to a larger turn-off of cattle. Drought effects were alleviated by movement over these roads to better pastures. Since 1961-62, approval has been given for assistance totalling £41.5 million towards the construction and up-grading of roads for cattle transport in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
The sugar industry which supports the bulk of the population in the north of Queensland has gone through a phase of expansion since 1950 with acreage and output both increasing by approximately 100 per cent. This expansion has been made possible by the successful negotiations of the Government which have enabled it to establish markets at home and abroad to absorb the increased output. Development of the industry over the past 15 years has led to substantial growth of cities and towns on the north Queensland coast and to development and modernisation of harbour and transport facilities.
The changeover to the new decimal currency system., for which work and planning have proceeded over several years, went remarkably smoothly. The fact that it did so reflects great credit on the many people in all walks of life who played an active part in one aspect or another of the planning for this highly complex operation. Naturally, there were some uncertainties, and even an element of confusion, as was to be expected, in a few areas during the early stages, but, by and large, the general public has rapidly become familiar with the new coins and notes.
The United Kingdom had a team of official observers in Australia at the time of the changeover. Presumably these must have reported favourably, because shortly afterwards the United Kingdom Government announced its own firm decision to change to a decimal system in 1971. New Zealand will be moving into decimals in July of next year, and several other smaller countries will also be following suit over the next year or two. There will be very few, if any, countries remaining outside the decimal family by (he time of the British changeover. Australia thus will have become part of a world-wide decimal currency community.
The Government has been making a review of the restrictive aspects of our immigration policy. Australia’s increasing involvement in Asian developments, the rapid growth of our trade with Asian countries, our participation on a larger scale in an increasing number of aid projects in the area, the considerable number of Asian students - now well over 12.000 - receiving education in Australia, the expansion of our military effort, and the scale of diplomatic contact, the growth of tourism to and from the countries of Asia, combine to make such a review desirable in our own eyes.
It is, at the same time, important that there should be a clearer understanding in Asia of our policy, and the reasons for it. It is certainly not based on- any false notion of superiority. We are fully aware that many of the peoples of Asia can point to cultures dating back centuries before those of Western Europe. But, in these modern times, every country reserves to itself the right to decide what the composition of its population shall be; it has regard to the preservation of standards and of national characteristics and to the maintenance of the essential homogeneity of its people. Australia derives strength from its unity and a community life free from serious minority and racial problems. All countries in South East Asia maintain restrictions against immigration to serve their own national policies. Our basic policy has been firmly established since the beginning of our Federation. It is widely supported. But it has been the wish of the Government, as it would be of the community at large, that the policy should be administered with a spirit of humanity and with good sense.
Following our most recent review, the Government has decided on some modification and a degree of liberalisation. Under current policy, a non-European admitted on a long-term entry permit, must complete 15 years in Australia before applying for resident status and Australian citizenship. We have decided that, in future, application can be made in these cases after five years, the same period as applies for naturalisation application by settlers from Europe.
There are other changes which, while maintaining the basic principles of our policy, can be made with advantage to enable more flexibility in administration. The Minister for Immigration will shortly indicate to the House the Government’s conclusions in more detail.
Honorable senators will realise, from what I have been saying, that the Government has been, and will be, active on many fronts. Legislation will be needed to put into effect some of the matters I have mentioned tonight, and, of course, there will be numerous other items not covered in this statement encompassing as it does the broad field rather than the detail.
The legislation being prepared will cover a wide and important range of subjects. Some of them are complex measures which will require much drafting and consultation, such as the shipping provisions for the Trade Practices legislation, measures relating to copyright and off-shore petroleum, and the comprehensive review of the defence legislation. Others will reflect our immediate preoccupations at home and abroad, such as the legislation seeking approval of our decision to join the Asian Development Bank and legislation in regard to drought relief. I am sure that all honorable senators will welcome our proposal to give full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory.
My fellow Australians will find reflected in what I have said tonight the change of orientation which marks Australia’s situation in this second half of the 20th century. We find ourselves playing an active and not uninfluential part in the world community, but we have become increasingly involved in the affairs of Asia. We have found our external responsibilities increasing as we have increased our population and economic strength. Others expect us to play an increasing part in military assistance, in international aid and in diplomatic discussion. We are all conscious of a heightened influence on our community life from a quickening spirit of nationalism. We see dangers ahead, but they seem to occupy far less of the horizon than happier vistas of national growth. We have the good fortune to live together in a true democracy. We breathe the air of freedom. We do not always succeed in doing so, but we have learned to co-operate effectively at all levels of government, and in the relations between government and industry. We are confident that our greatest years are yet to be.
It is a privilege for all members of this Government to have the opportunity, through their Ministries, to make a contribution towards Australia’s progress. We commit ourselves to the tasks ahead with enthusiasm, with our hard work and our devotion.
I present the following paper -
Statement of Policy by New Government - Ministerial statement, 8th March 1966- and move -
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 16th March, at 3 p.m., unless sooner called together by the President by telegram or letter.
– I will address myself briefly to the motion. I draw attention to the fact that unless we are called together earlier, as the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty) has indicated might happen, the Senate will have sat this week for one day only and next week will sit for about one and a half days - on Wednesday and, on Thursday, until about dinner time, there being a social event which we would all like to attend on Thursday evening. I point out that at the end of a sessional period there is always a rush to complete legislation, and there is usually a rather leisurely approach to it at the beginning.
Looking at the notice paper, we find that there are many matters of importance that might quite usefully have been discussed during this week and next week. For instance, under the heading “ Government Business “, where there are eight items, there are six items that in some aspect or another affect external affairs. Item No. 1 is a ministerial statement on Rhodesia and items Nos. 6 and 8 are ministerial statements on foreign affairs. All of these have been on the notice paper for months, awaiting debate. Then there are three items with external affairs implications of consequence. Item No. 3 is a ministerial statement on Papua and New Guinea, dealing with the report of the mission from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Item No. 4 is a ministerial statement on Nauru, while item No. 7 is a ministerial statement dealing with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
In addition there is item No. 2, dealing with the Vernon Report. That has been on the notice paper since 22nd September 1965. I must make a comment on that matter. On behalf of the Opposition, I have asked that we do not embark on that debate at least until it has been entered upon in another place - dealing, as it does, with the economy. Subject to that, the Opposition is prepared to proceed with any of these matters. Under the heading “Government
Business “ there is the ministerial statement on the Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. That item has been on the notice paper since 17th August 1965, with honorable senators on both sides of the chamber making repeated requests for an opportunity to talk about it. I gather that during next week there will be introduced a Customs Bill to validate certain tariff proposals. I wonder whether the Minister is in a position to indicate whether any of those proposals relate to matters that are dealt with in the Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. If they are not, can he indicate when that legislation is likely to come before the Senate?
I pass now to general business. The first item that has been awaiting attention for a long period is a renewal of the discussion on the report of the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television. That has been on the notice paper for nearly two years - since April 1964. As yet, there has been no announcement of a Government decision on these particular matters. I do not know whether the Postmaster-General or whoever is responsible is not able to read the report or, if he has been able to read it, has not been able to think about it. Possibly, if he can read and think about it, he is unable to act. It is certain that we have had no action in relation to the report and not even a statement of intention in the matter.
In these circumstances, it seems that the Government’s approach to the sittings of the Senate is far too leisurely. I would not anticipate, in view of the postponement of the referendum that had already been determined for a fixed date - 28th May - that there would be any prospect of the Government allowing the other constitutional proposals that I sponsored on behalf of the Opposition to be debated, including the two that are now postponed, I learned with dismay, beyond the next election - not until the election but until after it. I direct attention to the fact that this means more delay and certainly more cost in dealing with these two proposals. That emerged from the ministerial statement to which we have just listened. There are many other matters of great importance in the other 12 items of general business on the notice paper.
There are also three notices of motion. These, too, are reaching the stage of antiquity, having regard to the time they have been on the notice paper. One in particular in which the Opposition is interested is the motion of which I have given notice to deal with the question of the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council. I merely indicate that we regard that as of importance. Certainly I would welcome an opportunity to embark on that debate. I take the opportunity to draw attention to these facts and to say at this early stage that we are seeking opportunities to debate these matters. 1 ask the Government to give attention to our desire in these respects and not to crowd these matters out from debate as we approach the date, perhaps already in mind, on which the present sessional period is to conclude.
– I had protested within the Australian Labour Party against being brought to Canberra for one day’s sitting of the Senate this week and two days next week, but, knowing that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) intended to speak on this matter, I did not intend to refer to it further. I would not have done so but for the statement we have heard tonight from the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty) on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt). There are eight items of Government business on the notice paper, 12 items of general business and 3 notices of motion; yet the Senate can find nothing to discuss now. We have been brought here for one day only. We shall go home again and return next week for two days. We are waiting for a bill to come from the other House, as if we had nothing to talk about already on the notice paper. I should think that the motions already on the notice paper are important to those who moved them. The Leader of the Opposition has referred to items he wants to bring forward for discussion, as he considers them to be very important.
There are two statements on foreign policy that have been on the notice paper for some time. The Government does not intend that we should discuss them. Business was rushed through the Senate at the close of the last sessional period, but now that we have time for discussion the Leader of the Government in the Senate has avoided a debate on foreign policy or has sought to limit such a debate by presenting the ministerial statement we have heard tonight. This shows that the Government plans to send 4,500 Australian troops to Vietnam, including conscripts. The Minister talks about the expansion of Communism from the north, but he deprives honorable senators of an opportunity to throw back at the Government the history of events or to analyse this propaganda. The statements that have been made tonight are not statements of fact, whether they come from British and American diplomats or from any similar source. They will not stand up to analysis. The Government is doing everything in its power to StoP a debate on these matters. It claims that we have the good fortune to live together in a true democracy, but k forbids the elected representatives of the Australian people to discuss these questions. According to the Government, we breathe the air of freedom in Australia, yet for the first time in Australian history we are conscripting 20-year-old youths for military service overseas. This is the air of freedom that the Government offers us to breathe.
If the Government has nothing to hide about its policy, it should make facilities available to the Senate to discuss these questions. These and many other questions are important issues in the other House. The people may be led to believe- that the lower House dominates the Commonwealth Parliament and that senators come here only to take a holiday or because the Constitution compels them to come here. The Senate represents the people and we should insist on the right of discussion. Honorable senators want to discuss the ministerial statement that has been presented tonight. We are now waiting for Bills to come to us from the other House, and quite possibly we will adjourn with this statement still on the notice paper of the Senate. The gallup polls suggest that the majority of the electors are opposed to sending conscripts overseas, and it will take more than the Government’s fine phrases about breathing the air of freedom in Australia to justify this. The Government does not dare to permit discussion of the matter in the Parliament. I protest strongly against these upsetting arrangements under which senators are brought to Canberra from every State to sit for one day, simply to suit the convenience of the Government. The Senate is not functioning as it was intended to function.
Senator TURNBULL (Tasmania) [10.17J. - I intended to say some of the things that have been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). The statement we have heard tonight from the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty) is one of the most important that has been presented since I have been a member of the Senate. In addition, many important items are on the notice paper, awaiting discussion. I refer in particular to items relating to foreign affairs and to the encouragement of Australian productions for television. One can well understand the Government leaving on the notice paper Senator Wright’s motion on the siting of the permanent Parliament House on Capital Hill. It seems likely that the new Parliament House will be built before that motion comes up for debate. Can the Leader of the Government state whether he will allow us to discuss next week the statement presented by him tonight? If he will not permit this, I think we should signify our protest by opposing the motion that the Senate adjourn until next Wednesday.
– in reply - I have listened with great interest to honorable senators. The statement I presented tonight on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) was a comprehensive and wide statement of the new Government’s policy. It was presented so that the Senate could debate these matters. The Senate will debate the statement on Wednesday and Thursday of next week, and after that again. This is one of the most important statements of Government policy that has been presented in recent times.
We often have to wait for legislation to come from the other House, because generally legislation is not initiated here, although at times it can be initiated if the responsible Minister is a member of the Senate. I have studied the records of the Senate and they show that when the present Opposition was in office as the Government often a fortnight elapsed after the meeting of the House of Representatives before the Senate was called together. because no legislation was available to the Senate from the House of Representatives. I assure honorable senators that they will have ample time to discuss the vigorous and wide statement of Government policy which I presented during the past two hours. I can assure honorable senators that every opportunity will be given for debate of all aspects of the new Government’s policy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I take this opportunity tonight to pay tribute to the memory of Mr. Albert Victor Thompson, former member for Port Adelaide, who represented that electorate in the Commonwealth Parliament from 1930 for over 30 years. Prior to entering the Federal Parliament, Mr. Thompson was a member of the South Australian House of Assembly.In his lengthy service in both State and Federal Parliaments he distinguished himself in many and signal ways. Prior to entering the South Australian Parliament, Mr. Thompson was a member of the Carters and Drivers Union. He was an official of that organisation. He was President of the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labour Party and held practically every office in that Branch during his period of service with the Australian Labour Party in South Australia.
Mr. Thompson was a hard working member of the Public Accounts Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament for many years. He distinguished himself also by his very comprehensive study of the structure of social service legislation. He issued many valuable documents in that field. I think it can truthfully be said of him that he was the pioneer of a group of men who have dedicated themselves to the purpose of informing the pensioners of Australia of their entitlements, not all of which are known to them. I believe that many pensioners would be eternally grateful to Mr. Albert Thompson for the splendid work that he performed in the field of social services, for which he earned the plaudits of everybody associated with him.
Mr. Thompson was a gentle giant. He was a Christian in every way and a great churchman. It is noteworthy that his voice was seldom raised in anger. Probably he was one of the most tolerant men ever to serve in the Commonwealth Parliament and he will be remembered for the kindliness that characterised every activity with which he was associated. Mr. Thompson will be sadly missed by the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labour Party and by the National Parliament in which he occupied many great offices and performed splendid work. We extend to his sorrowing widow and children our sincere sympathy in their bereavement.
– I wish to be associated with the tribute of respect to the late Mr. Thompson. As Senator Toohey has said, Mr. Thompson served on the Public Accounts Committee for many years. He was the first to admit that in his early days he had received a limited education. To gain the mastery that he did over the accounts of the Commonwealth Government must have earned for Mr. Thompson great respect from all who knew him. It must also have been a source of great satisfaction to himself. As Senator Toohey also said, Mr. Thompson was a very kindly and courteous gentleman. I wish to convey my sympathy to his widow and family.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.25 p.m. till Wednesday, 16th March 1966, at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 March 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660308_senate_25_s31/>.