25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry received advice that the Government of New Zealand proposes to reduce that country’s imports by 15 per cent, in order to cope with its balance of payments situation? Will he indicate to what extent Australia’s trade with New Zealand will be affected if the proposals become effective?
– I do not think we yet have the actual details of the imports that New Zealand proposes to prohibit. That the proposal will have some effect on Australia’s trade with New Zealand goes without saying. If the honorable senator puts his question on the notice paper, I will endeavour to obtain the relevant details. By the time the question reaches the Minister for Trade and Industry, no doubt he will have the information available for the honorable senator.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that the United States of America, through Mr. Dean Rusk, made an offer to Red China to have a friendly exchange of newsmen, doctors, scholars and weather information? Was this offer made in a friendly spirit to try to ease the tensions that exist? Is it true that Red China has flatly refused this friendly offer?
– Mr. Dean Rusk has made it public that for some time he has sought to establish this sort of relationship - an exchange of the kinds of people to whom the honorable senator has referred - with Red China. It is also a fact that Red China has flatly refused to engage in exchanges of newsmen, doctors and similar kinds of people.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I understand that he now has additional information on the question that I asked yesterday about payments from the No. 28 wheat pool. Would he be good enough to tell the Senate whether that is so?
– Yes, I have the following additional information: The request for a second payment of, I think, 20c a bushel was made by the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association, which is a constituent body of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation; but another constituent body - the wheat growers’ section of the Farmers Union in Western Australia - was unanimously opposed to that action. In effect, this request to assist drought affected growers would, in reality, mean paying funds to many farmers who are not in need of such assistance; whereas the Government’s action in respect of assistance for drought relief purposes is to assist all farmers by means of advances made to the two States affected by the drought. The Government did not accept the proposal of the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association for a special guaranteed advance to the wheat growers, but it is supporting - as the States require aid - all those affected by the drought. The procedure is for advances to wheat growers to be requested by the Australian Wheat Board. The Government has had no such request yet from the Board. The first advance is through the Reserve Bank, guaranteed by the Commonwealth, amounting to $412 million. Any subsequent advances are made when the overdraft has been paid and sufficient funds are in the pool funds. The Board is dependent upon the balance of its realisations on credits that have been given to various countries and this proposal is, in effect, asking the Government to guarantee all deferred payments.
– I ask the Minister for Housing: Has she recently received a communication from the Salvation Army? If she has, can she give the Senate some information as to the eligibility for war service homes of Salvation Army personnel who serve in theatres of war?
– ‘Like other honorable senators, I have received a communication from this excellent body, the Salvation Army. I know that you, Mr. President, and other honorable senators will understand that the matter raised by Senator Sandford is one of Government policy and therefore should not be dealt with in answer to a question without notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it not a fact that troops of the National Liberation Front in Vietnam, known as the Communist Vietcong, have killed a number of Australian servicemen? Is the Vietcong officially represented at the current Moscow Communist congress? Are there any Australians present at this conference and, if so, who are they and to what political party do they belong? If it is the Communist Party, is it the Moscow wing or the Peking wing of that Party? Is there anything that can be done to stop Australian citizens collaborating with an enemy that is responsible for a number of Australians being killed or wounded? If the Minister has not got this information, will he obtain it and give it to the Senate later in the day, in view of the approaching 19 day recess?
– In his first question the honorable senator asks whether the Vietcong have been engaged in operations which have caused Australian casualties. The answer to that question is: “Yes”. With regard to the second question, which relates to a conference taking place abroad, the answer is also: “Yes”. The honorable senator asks, further, whether Australians are taking part in that conference, which is a conference of Communist parties backing the Vietcong. The answer, again, is: “ Yes “. The honorable senator also asks who those Australians are. One is Mr. Richard Dixon, the President of the Australian Communist Party. Another is a man called Gamdini, who is President of the Western Australian branch of the Communist Party and another is a man called Hatfield, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
I do not know of any legal way of preventing these individuals from attending conferences such as the one referred to by the honorable senator. However, I think it is good for the fact to be made public and for it to be known that they are in fact attending as members of the Communist Party, that being one of the actions taken by that Party in juxtaposition with its other actions in endeavouring to prevent Australian assistance at all to South Vietnam.
– In view of the recent happenings in Vietnam, will the Acting Minister for External Affairs inform the Senate of his Department’s interpretation of the following events: First, the dispute between the Buddhists and the Ky Government? For example, is there a real threat of a further civil war? Is it solely a matter of religion, or is it a general revolt against an undemocratically appointed government? Secondly, the desertion of almost 90,000 men from the South Vietnamese Army.
– It seems to be quite clear that there are in Vietnam not only Buddhists and Buddhist leaders who are seeking a civilian elected government, but also members of the Catholic community who are seeking a civilian elected government. Air Marshal Ky is in broad agreement with the requirements of both those bodies and has indicated publicly that he also seeks a civilian elected government, but there is a conflict as to the timing at which such a government should be appointed. The other groups are taking the opportunity to express in various ways their opinion - such as demonstrations - that they wish to have the election conducted sooner than is at present planned. I point out to the honorable senator that not one of the leaders of the groups who require a civilian government has done anything other than express strong opposition to the Vietcong. This is not in any way supporting them, but I think it indeed shows that there is in South Vietnam opportunity for these groups to express opinions - an opportunity which does not exist in North Vietnam or in any other Communist dominated countries. People have been leaving the armed forces of both North and South Vietnam, on many occasions to return to farms to get in the harvest, and for reasons of that kind. I think the significant fact is that not one of the leaders who is expressing opposition to the present Government is doing other than expressing equal opposition to any suggestion of support for the Vietcong.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Because many primary producers are urgently requiring additional finance for developmental purposes and drought rehabilitation, will the Treasurer make an early statement regarding the implementation of the farm loan fund scheme as announced by the Prime Minister on 8th March?
– I shall ask the Treasurer to see whether he can make a statement along the lines suggested by the honorable senator. I understand that the special developmental funds are made available through the farmers’ own trading banks, but I shall get the Treasurer to clear up the matter for the honorable senator.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it correct that the basic reason that no payment other than the first advance on the 28th wheat pool has been made is that a large quantity of the wheat has been sold to Mainland China on credit and that payment by China has not been made? Is it true that credit for this sale of wheat is carried by the Australian wheatgrowers?
– To the best of my belief, the answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question is: “ No. “ With regard to the second part of the question, the sales were made by the Australian Wheat Board, and not by the Government. They were made by the Australian Wheat Board after negotiations with the interests in the countries concerned. The normal procedure is that certain payments are made. In the case of the country mentioned by the honorable senator, some payments are owing. That has been the pattern of the transactions with all countries that buy our wheat. It has been the custom for the Australian Wheat Board to make
payments as they become due, and this is done sometimes twice a year, depending on the state of the funds at the disposal of the Board. So far as I know, the Board’s procedure in relation to Red China is no different from the normal procedure that is observed when sales of wheat are made to other countries.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I ask: Will the superphosphate bounty of £3 a ton cease in two or three months’ time? Is it a fact that there has been great agricultural development in Australia as a result of this bounty? Has the Minister in mind legislation to provide for the continuance of the bounty after the present legislation expires?
– It is true that the legislation under which the superphosphate bounty has been paid will expire in some months’ time. The question of continuance of the bounty is clearly a matter of Government policy and I am not in a position to answer that part of the honorable senator’s question at the present moment. A classic example of the practice that is observed in these matters appears on the Senate notice paper for today. Pending a complete examination of the question of the payment of the bounty on sulphate of ammonia, legislation is about to be passed to provide for the continuance of the payment for a short period until the matter of policy to cover subsequent periods has been determined. However, I am not in a position to answer the honorable senator’s question regarding the superphosphate bounty. In any event, I point out that while the Department of Customs and Excise administers the bounty it does not deal with the policy involved in the matter. That is the responsibility of the Minister for Primary Industry.
– My question, which is addressed to the Acting Minister for External Affairs, arises from the question asked by Senator Turnbull. Has the Minister seen in today’s “ Australian “ newspaper a report to the effect that Premier Ky intends to mete out tougher treatment to pro-Communists in Saigon? Has the Minister any knowledge of the size of the proCommunist forces operating in areas under the control of Premier Ky?
– The last suggestions I saw on this matter were to the effect that some nine regular North Vietnamese battalions were operating in South Vietnam as an invasion force.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Is the Minister aware that many of the rural lessees in the Australian Capital Territory claim that they will experience difficulty in making a reasonable income if the proposed increase in rentals is implemented?
– I will pass on to the responsible Minister the honorable senator’s request for information.
– T address a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In view of a statement by t responsible Minister of the Government at the recent Liberal Party conference in Queensland concerning the reduction of sales tax on air-conditioning units and fans, is it the intention of the Government to alter its policy in this regard? If so, what will be the extent of the reductions and when will they commence to operate?
– The incidence of sales tax is reviewed periodically by the Government. Such a review usually is made in the period prior to the introduction of the Budget. The next Budget probably will be presented in August and no doubt by that time the Government will have reviewed the incidence of sales tax in many fields. If the honorable senator is a little patient and waits until August next he will no doubt learn on the day that the Budget is introduced the information that he is now seeking.
– I address to the Minister representing the Treasurer a question relating to reports that the Mint at Bombay, in India, has been supplying orders from overseas collectors for Australian coins of certain years. I ask: Is this practice acceptable to the Australian Government? If not, what means of redress are open to Australia?
– 1 read a statement, which I think emanated from India, that the mint in question was minting rare Australian coins and other rare coins and was selling them throughout the world. 1 do not know what the position is at the moment. Ishould like the Treasurer to reply direct to the honorable senator’s question. If he puts it on the notice paper, I will get an answer for him.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Would countries such as Fiji, Tonga and the Solomon Islands be eligible for loans from the newly formed Asian Development Bank? If not, what other qualifications are necessary to become eligible?
– The purpose of the Asian Development Bank is to foster economic growth and co-operation in countries which are in the region covered by the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, and to contribute to the acceleration of the process of economic development in developing member countries in the region. The Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, of course, is a United Nations instrumentality. To be eligible for loans from the Bank a country would need to be geographically located within the area of Asia and the Far East as defined in the terms of reference of E.C.A.F.E., to have ratified the Articles of Agreement of the Bank and to have made an appropriate subscription to its capital, and to be a developing country or territory. As Fiji, Tonga and the Solomon Islands are not members of E.C.A.F.E., they could not currently qualify for Bank membership. To become eligible for loans they would have to become members of the Commission, to have had the terms of reference of E.C.A.F.E. redefined to include them, and to have subscribed to the capital of the Bank an amount determined to be appropriate by the Board of Governors of the Bank.
(Question No. 826.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answer -
Reports on Items.
. -I present the report by the Tariff Board on the following item -
Bonded fibre fabrics.
I also present a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject -
This latter report does not call for any legislative action.
– On behalf of the Public Accounts Committee I present the following report -
Eightieth Report - Department of Customs’ and Excise - Excise Control Procedures.
I ask for leave to make a statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Eightieth Report relates to an inquiry by the Committee into the assessment of excise duty administered by the Department of Customs and Excise and into certain aspects of the Department’s administration which, although not specifically a part of the excise function as such, have an important bearing on the operational efficiency of the branches concerned with excise duty, namely, the Excise Branch and the Petroleum Products Branch.
In the field of excise revenue, the Committee’s inquiry was centred on the assessment methods adopted by the Department in refineries, breweries, wineries, cigarette factories, distilleries and match and liquer production. In respect of the more general aspects of the Department’s administration, the inquiry related to personnel, training, organisation and methods, automatic data processing, and publications. The Committee has also taken the opportunity to place on record a short history of excise collection in Australia dating back to the early days of colonial settlement.
Basically, the Committee’s interest in the matters under review stemmed from evidence it had received from the Department of Customs and Excise during the inquiry into the Auditor-General’s Report for 1961-62. In that inquiry, the Department had stated that in 1959 it had introduced a new system of administering customs and excise controls over petroleum products and that as a result, cash savings of £50,000- $100,000- per annum and a substantial reduction in staff employed had been achieved.
In formulating its approach to this inquiry, the Committee recognised that considerable advantage would be derived if evidence were taken from departmental officers located in state regional offices as well as from the central administration in Canberra. Accordingly, public hearings were held in Canberra, Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth. In addition, the Committee took the opportunity to make inspections of premises where excise duty is actually assessed and to discuss the procedures involved with the manufacturers and excise officers concerned.
The Committee’s inquiry indicated that effective control is being exercised by the Department of Customs and Excise over a wide range of excisable commodities which in 1964-65 yielded about £315 million - $630 million - of Commonwealth revenue. However, following the introduction of the petroleum products system of control in 1959, the Department appears’ to have faltered in maintaining the momentum of its re-appraisement of existing procedures to other areas of excise collection. Only recently has a system of commodity control been extended to an additional industry and then only on a trial basis. The Committee feels that whatever the merits or demerits of the proposed system may be, senior officers of the Department have had an adequate opportunity to endorse or reject the proposal. We also find it difficult to accept the Department’s view that, if the new system of commodity control is finally accepted, a period of several more years may elapse before it is finally implemented.
Another disturbing feature of. the Department’s apparent indecision over the proposal is the failure to make any assessment of staff requirements necessary to successfully implement the system. The Committee believes that certain outmoded provisions are contained in the legislation governing some detailed aspects of the Department’s administration. For example, we doubt whether the present allowances in respect of the contents of beer kegs may continue to be justified. As a significant proportion of brewers currently use steel containers, the Committee considers that the legislation providing for this allowance should be reviewed. The various levels at which the cost of distillers’ licences appear to have been arbitrarily fixed is also worthy of comment. The Committee considers that fees for such licences should be fixed on a uniform basis, at a level appropriate for the purposes of licensing but not less than an amount sufficient to recover the administrative expenses incurred. I commend the Report to honorable senators.
That the Report of the Committee be primed.
Report of Public Works Committee. Senator PROWSE (Western Australia). - I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following project -
Building Extensions and Central AirConditioning Plant at Australian Broadcasting Commission Television Studios. Gore Hill. New South Wales.
I ask for leave to make a statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is set out below.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
The main purpose of this Bill is to lay down who may practise as barristers or solicitors in the High Court and other Federal courts, and who may practise in courts of the Territories. The Bill deals also with subsidiary matters such as discipline of persons so practising. Section 49 of the Judiciary Act has dealt with these matters, in part at least, since 1903. However, section 49 is not suited to modern developments, and the Bill takes the course of deleting the section and substituting a new set of provisions.
The new provisions recognise Territory practice, in a way that the earlier law was not concerned to do, by giving Territory practitioners as well as State practitioners a right to practise in the High Court and other Federal courts. The new provisions also say who are to be Territory practitioners, subject to any Territory laws that may make other provision. The Bill leaves it open for Territory laws to provide for local admission as a condition precedent to Territory practice. Any such Territory laws that are made will not affect the right that Territory practitioners will have under this Bill to practise in Federal courts.
I explain first the position under the Bill as to Territory practice. A person who is enrolled as a barrister or solicitor in a State or Territory may practise as a barrister and solicitor in any Territory. This provision can be replaced at any time by a Territory law providing for local admission and restricting practice in that Territory to persons locally admitted. The Bill does not attempt to lay down the terms on which local admission in the Territories will be granted. This would be a matter for Territory ordinances, which would be able to deal with the question as fully as the State statutes do within the States. The Bill proceeds on the view that ultimately the subject is one for local legislation in the Territories and not one on which conditions are to be laid down in the Judiciary Act, which will stand in relation to local legislation as something in the nature of a constitutional document. If legal practice in the Territories is to achieve full recognition throughout Australia so that persons admitted to practice in the Terrtiories can be readily admitted to practice also in the States, it seems necessary that the Territories should be in a position to direct their policy in the matter towards reciprocity with the States. The Bill will enable them to do so. It is not intended to be used for the purpose of closing Territory practice against State practitioners, but will enable the Territories to control legal practice within their boundaries in the same way as the States are able to do, and will enable the Territories to move towards a proper basis of reciprocity in these matters. With the growing importance of the Territories, and particularly in that regard of the Australian Capital Territory, which has within its boundaries the Australian National University - a university of high standing in legal education - it is necessary not only to have regard for the conditions on which practitioners from the States are admitted to practice in the Territories, but also for the conditions on which practitioners from the Territories are admitted to practice in the States. This
Bill leaves the position quite flexible for this future development, and this seems the proper course for what I have already described as something of a constitutional document in this area.
Now I come to the position under the Bill as to practitioners in the High Court and other Federal courts. Persons who are for the time being entitled to practise in the Supreme Court of a State or Territory will have the like entitlement to practise in Federal courts. To show they are “ for the time being entitled “ they will need to hold current practising certificates from a State or Territory in any case where the State or Territory makes this a test. The Chief Justice has already issued directions to this effect, and the Bill adopts the Chief Justice’s approach. Territory practitioners do not at present need to hold practising certificates, and therefore they will be able to practise in federal courts without holding such certificates. A State solicitor who has no current practising certificate will not, however, be able to take advantage of this provision. The right that he has to practise in a Territory cannot be used as a means of becoming a Federal court practitioner unless in fact he practises as a solicitor in the Territory and has his sole or principal place of business there.
The provisions I have mentioned so far relate to legal practitioners generally. There has always been a special provision in the Judiciary Act giving the Crown Solicitor a right to practise in his official capacity. The Bill takes the opportunity to restate this right in greater detail than before. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is complementary to the Judiciary Bill, in which rights (o appear in Territory courts are laid down, subject to any Territory law that may make local admission in a Territory a condition precedent to practice in that Territory.
Section 40 of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act at present provides that a party may appear before the Supreme Court by a barrister or solicitor having the right to practise in any Federal court, lt would be inconsistent with the Judiciary Bill to leave standing that provision. The test should be whether the barrister or solicitor concerned has a right to practise in the Supreme Court itself, and that is the test adopted by this Bill. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended. Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
fi 1.40].- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators will recall that on 16th March last the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) announced that the Government had advised State Governments that it was prepared to support an increase of $15 million in the Australian Loan Council borrowing programmes for this financial year on condition that the share of each State in the additional amount was used wholly for housing purposes. The States have accepted this offer. The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the raising of further loan moneys totalling $15 million, which will be advanced, under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, to the States this financial year for expenditure on housing. These advances are repayable over 53 years and bear interest at 1 per cent, per annum below the long term bond rate.
The amount of $15 million is, of course, additional to the $102 million already allocated for housing under that Agreement in 1965-66. The distribution of this additional amount among the Stales is -
As the Treasurer mentioned in his recent statement, the provision of these additional funds in the next few months will serve to stimulate home building activity. In addition to the benefit accruing to those seeking accommodation through State housing authorities, the additional allocation will be of assistance to private home builders. Under the Housing Agreement, not less than 30 per cent. - $4.5 million - will be allocated to home builders’ accounts from which advances are made by the States to building societies and other approved institutions. T commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 30th March (vide page 345), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
– The presentation of this Bill arises from the necessity to extend the period that was recommended in the last Tariff Board report on this matter for the payment of a bounty of £4 a ton on sulphate of ammonia. The Bill provides, amongst other things, for amendments of the Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Act as a result of the recent changeover to decimal currency. In future we will refer to a bounty of $8 a ton. At the present time the Tariff Board is reviewing the whole of the Australian chemical industry. The Board is expected to present a comprehensive report on all facets of this vast and fast growing industry. During the course of past debates on bounty measures doubts have been raised about various activities of the chemical industry, because of the interlocking nature of the companies concerned and also because byproducts and basic products can be used for purposes other than those to which bounties apply. Sulphate of ammonia comes within that category.
The Tariff Board, in its report of 3rd April 1964, recommended the present bounty of £4 a ton or, under decimal currency, $8 a ton. It also recommended that the total bounty payable should not exceed £450,000 in any one year, lt recommended, further, that the bounty should be payable for a period not exceeding three years, and that period expired yesterday. The Senate is now considering legislation to extend the period of the bounty, the purpose of the extension being to allow the Tariff Board to complete its comprehensive examination of the chemical industry. It was stated in another place that the Board’s report on the subject would include a full reference to sulphate of ammonia. The Board also recommended in its report of 3rd April 1964 that a review of the position in relation to this bounty should be made at least six months prior to the expiration of the bounty period. Evidently the examination of the chemical industry has become more complex than was anticipated. The Minister has seen the importance of the Board having plenty of time available to it in which to compile its report and has taken the precaution of extending for a further six months the period during which this bounty will be paid. It is expected that, within that time, the Board’s report will be before us.
The background to this bounty is of great interest to people throughout the primary producing industries of Australia, because of the action of sulphate of ammonia in releasing nitrogen in the soil. The dramatic effect that this type of fertiliser has on soils with a nitrogen deficiency has to be seen to be believed. The difficulties that the sulphate of ammonia industry was experiencing when the bounty was introduced came about through heavy imports from overseas, particularly from Canada. Two or three main producers in Australia made representations for some type of protection, and the Tariff Board eventually decided that the payment of a bounty was the best form of assistance to the industry. There was previously a recommendation for a bounty of £2 a ton. Then there was a steep decline in the world price because of low cost supplies of sulphate of ammonia and NPK fertilisers.
Another interesting factor is that the devaluation of the Canadian dollar in June 1961 gave Canadian exporters a big advantage over Australian manufacturers. One of the largest producers of sulphate of ammonia in the Commonwealth is the Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australasia Ltd. of Risdon, Tasmania. In addition to providing employment, it provides a not insubstantial part of Tasmania’s revenue. The great advantage is that materials of domestic origin are used. Therefore it is an ideal industry because the by-products of other industries are assembled in a form which, in a completely different industry, triggers off a process that in some cases improves the carrying capacity of land tenfold.
Sulphate of ammonia is a very important commodity to the community. When it leaves the factory, its effects permeate right throughout the economics of primary production. At the Tariff Board inquiry, opposition was expressed to a bounty or protection in some form. The farmers had the idea that the extra cost, in whatever form it was imposed, would be handed on to them and would so raise the eventual prices of their products.
– An extra cost occasioned by means of a bounty?
– Representations were made to the Tariff Board which had to decide whether a duty would be imposed on imported sulphate of ammonia, thus lifting the price of that commodity and allowing a margin between the price of our own product and the price of the imported product. However, the Tariff Board finally decided that a bounty was a better way to satisfy the various influences and interests that were putting their cases.
The farmers put quite a good case. They said that if the cost of their fertilisers were increased, it would add a burden which eventually would have to be passed on to the consumer. Now, as then, we have to be very careful in a competitive world market into which so many of our primary products find their way and costs are of vital importance. The ready availability of sulphate of ammonia is of great importance in assisting people on the land to plan for land development and pasture improvement. The Tariff Board evidently had in mind, when it recommended that the bounty should be paid, the desirability of ensuring continuity of supply at a reasonable cost.
The total production of sulphate of ammonia is more than 100,000 tons a year. T understand that with the added demand and with adjustments in the cost of the raw materials that are used in manufacture, the industry could be kept on an economic footing. I should think that since many of the materials which are used in the manufacture of sulphate of ammonia are readily available as by-products that otherwise would go to waste, the price which the primary producer ultimately pays for sulphate of ammonia could be reduced. However, in that respect we will have to await the report of the Tariff Board.
As I have mentioned, the industry is of great importance to Tasmania. The Tariff Board in its 1964 report on nitrogenous fertilisers noted that the production of sulphate of ammonia in Tasmania was commenced by the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Ltd. in 1956. The report states that the Company has a capacity of about 62,000 tons of sulphate of ammonia. lt goes on to state -
Its production of ammonia is based on nitrogen produced by the fractional distillation of liquid air and hydrogen produced by electrolysis of water. The Company makes sulphuric acid from sulphur dioxide gas which is a by-product of the smelting of zinc concentrates.
The Board also states in its report that the principal reason for the request for a bounty was that the importation of sulphate of ammonia at low cost was endangering the local industry. It is to be hoped that adjustments can be made within the industry with a view to keeping costs of production as low as possible. The cost of nitrogenous fertilisers adds to the costs of primary producers and if the cost of fertilisers is high, this may have an effect on the marketing of our primary products. We of the Opposition appreciate the necessity for this legislation. We agree with the extension of the period of the bounty for six months pending the Tariff Board’s comprehensive report on the chemical industries. Therefore, we wish the Bill a speedy passage through the Senate.
– I suppose that this Bill should not require the attention of the Senate for very long because it is a machinery measure which merely seeks to extend the period of the bounty for a further six months while the Tariff Board completes its inquiry into the production of nitrogenous fertilisers. Parochial matters are involved in a consideration of this subject. Senator O’Byrne, speaking as a true senator, inevitably got around to the corner of the Bill that deals with a substantial industry in Tasmania which is concerned with the production of sulphate of ammonia. Undoubtedly- my colleague Senator Lawrie, who I understand wants to speak during this debate, will rise and refer to the importance of this industry to Queensland.
– it is important.
– So there are two of them. This is the House of the States. That being so, I want to put in a plug for Victoria, a small area in south eastern Australia which, it seems to me, gets very little help from the Parliament when money is disbursed here, there and everywhere, and which seems to be harrowed by the Commissioner of Taxation to produce revenues that might sustain Tasmania on the one hand and the rich State of Queensland on the other hand.
– In what way is the honorable senator harrowed?
– It harrows me in two ways: It pains me and it fills me with a sense of depression. All I hope is that, when the Tariff Board completes its investigation into the whole of this industry, it will acknowledge that there must be some residual benefits for the State which I have the honour to represent in this place.
– Apparently Imperial Chemical Industries has been missing out.
– Well, Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., which has its headquarters in Melbourne, gets nothing by way of bounty. Although it is a big producer of sulphate of ammonia, last year it did not receive any bounty. Some decrepit undertaking somewhere else could not make a profit of 10 per cent, and received a bounty, but B.H.P., which is based in Victoria and is run efficiently, ran over the 10 per cent. margin and got nothing. This illustrates the need for careful consideration to be given to the needs of what have been described, I think rather unfelicitously, as mendicant States. I cannot anticipate the wisdom of the Tariff Board. Whether it has any wisdom I do not know, but let us suppose that it has some. Honorable senators should consider the needs of Victoria in this matter, and also those of South Australia, which seems to have been missing out on the gravy train lately. I know that will strike a sympathetic chord in you, Mr. Acting Deputy President. South Australia and Victoria pioneered the great agricultural revolution that has distinguished Australia over the last 30 years. I refer to the renovation of leached out. soils. This was done wilh the ingenuity of the farmers and not by the scientists. Of course, the scientists are now turning their attention to the matter. I refer to the discovery of a voluntary legume which came into the high rainfall areas of south-eastern Australia, including South Australia. This voluntary legume, which is the well known subterranean clover, is stimulated by a basic fertiliser which is derived from phosphate rock. A characteristic of all legumes is that they arc able, by bacterial action, to fix nitrogen in the soil.
This great revolution in soil usage took place in South Australia. Because Victoria happens to be adjacent to South Australia, this revolution spread to our State. Honorable senators will be interested to know that this agricultural revolution which has been going on in South Australia and Victoria over the last 30 years has now penetrated into the backwoods of New South Wales. That has happened 30 years after the discovery of this legume. Because of the backlog that has to be overcome in agricultural practice, 1 cannot see how New South Wales will benefit to any degree in the near future. In the two high winter rainfall States - Victoria and South Australia - the possibility of increasing agricultural yields significantly has passed. The capacity of the legumes, stimulated by superphosphate, to fix nitrogen in the soil has reached the stage where it is dubious whether further significant increases in agricultural production can be expected. This applies to Western Australia also.
I have not in my mind the terms’ of reference of the Tariff Board in relation to this subject, but I am doubtful whether it comes within the function of the Tariff Board to examine future developments on the agricultural front, if I may so describe it, in the use of nitrogenous fertilisers. The Minister should consider whether or not the Tariff Board should call evidence from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I do not think that the Tariff Board is capable of making a correct assessment of the need for nitrogenous fertilisers in Australia unless it has in its mind a clear picture of requirements over the next 25 years in the high winter rainfall areas of south-eastern Australia, lt is quite easy to identify the future usage of nitrogenous fertilisers in the sugar industry in Queensland, and I suggest that it is possible to identify the needs of the orchard industry in Tasmania. I repeat that the Minister should consider whether the Tariff Board should call scientific evidence about Australia’s needs over the next quarter of a century. 1 understand that the Tariff Board now has before it an application from a consortium of Australian interests that proposed to establish an industry to produce nitrogenous fertilisers as a by-product of the petro-chemical industry. With the establishment of great refineries in Western Australia, we should consider whether the petro-chemical industry should not assume greater responsibility for the production of nitrogenous fertilisers. As a true Australian, I do not want to see these industries centred in New South Wales, for example. As I said earlier, I do not think that New South Wales has the capacity to use nitrogenous fertilisers in any density.
– Is the honorable senator sure that he is not speaking as a true Victorian?
– I am speaking as a senator who is interested in the welfare of the whole country.
– The honorable senator is now speaking agriculturally.
– Yes, I am speaking agriculturally. I suggest that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) should take steps to have the scope of the Tariff Board’s inquiry into nitrogenous fertilisers widened. Perhaps when he replies at the end of this debate he will be willing to make some comment on this aspect of the matter. This leads me inevitably back to my own State of Victoria, where two great refineries are now in being. In addition, a great oilfield seems to have been discovered off the Victorian coast. It may be - I see Senator Kennelly, another Victorian senator, nodding his head wisely - that another great industry will be established in Victoria. Therefore, 1 hope that when the Tariff Board brings down its reports it will not use this arbitrary limit of 10 per cent, profit as a measure by which the bounty should be applied. Surely bounties should be on the basis that the most efficient industry gets the highest bounty or that the least efficient industry gets the lowest bounty. 1 am afraid that I could go on in this vein for some time, but I know that the Minister had a sense of urgency about getting this Bill through the Senate in order that he will be able to deal with the problem and obtain moneys under the appropriate legislation to award the bounty to the five industries involved as quickly as possible. Three of these are receiving the bounty at the moment and two are not. I therefore conclude my remarks by appealing to the Minister to take an Australia wide view and to see that the Tariff Board adopts a wide horizon instead of the narrow compass in dealing with these matters. I support the Bill and recommend it to the Senate.
Senator LAWRIE (Queensland) [12.121- - I. too, support the Bill. As honorable senators know, the payment of bounty as authorised by the Act will end today and the purpose of the Bill is to extend payment for a maximum of six months to enable the Tariff Board to conduct a proper inquiry into the whole of the Australian ammonia industry. I should like to point out that the bounty on sulphate of ammonia is paid only to bring the cost of the locally produced commodity into line with that of the imported product. It should be made clear that the bounty is paid not to farmers but to manufacturers. I have been informed that during last year the bounty was paid on 59,789 tons at £4 a ton, but that that is only half the quantity that was manufactured here. An additional quantity, probably at least equal to that, was manufactured and sold but did not attract the bounty. I am speaking with particular reference to the quantity used in Queensland, especially in the sugar industry.
– And the pastoral industry.
– Yes. I should like to mention that the sugar industry is changing over rapidly to a different form of nitrogenous fertiliser, called aqua ammonia. I do not fully understand the chemical breakdown of it, but it is supplied by contractors on to the farms from tanks and it is fairly dangerous to handle. The use of sulphate of ammonia in the sugar industry may decrease as the use of aqua ammonia increases.
Senator Cormack mentioned the winter rainfall areas where nitrogenous fertiliser is largely required for the pastoral and dairy industries. In Queensland, the situation is just the opposite. We have large areas which have heavy summer rainfall and no rain in winter in many years. Consequently, over countless centuries the soil has become leached out and is deficient in nitrogen. All of the experiments conducted by the various authorities show that nitrogen is required in these areas. In Queensland we are looking at the prospect of putting the nitrogen hack by means of legumes, but a summer legume is not quite the same as a winter legume. Clovers will not grow in most of the areas to which I am referring and it is difficult to get nitrogen into the soil.
– Some of our legumes give more than clovers.
– Yes. We probably have the best legume of all in Queensland, but the area in which it grows is a bit limited. I refer to the brigalow tree. That is the best legume for putting nitrogen into the soil and that is why the brigalow lands are so rich. I suggest that if the price of nitrogenous fertiliser, in the form of sulphate of ammonia, urea or aqua ammonia, can be reduced, its use can be extended to a great Dart of the pastoral areas of Queensland. This would have the effect, as I think Senator O’Byrne said, of increasing carrying capacity at least tenfold. T hone that we can do something along those lines.
I suggest that when the Tariff Board is considering this matter it should have a look at the urea angle. Urea was not manufactured in Australia at one stage, but some is manufactured here now. It is easy to handleasa nitrogenous fertiliser andit should be considered along with the other forms of fertiliser. The productivity of central and northern Queensland, which areas have a high summer rainfall and no winter rainfall, could be increased out of all recognition through the pastoral industry, which is the main industry established there now. If it were made economic to apply nitrogenous fertiliser to large areas, particularly in the Gulf country and the Peninsula country, where the soil has been absolutely leached out, greatly increased productivity could be achieved. All experiments and tests show this to be the case. I hope that this Bill is speedily passed so that the bounty may be continued. 1 support the Bill and commend it to honorable senators.
.- I support the Bill. In April 1962 the present Government gave a bounty at the rate of £2 a ton to the Australian manufacturers of sulphate of ammonia. This was payable for three years. The amount payable was limited in the first year to £225,000, in the second year to £225,000 and, if my memory serves me correctly, in the third year to £420,000. The Government, in its wisdom, asked the Parliament to amend the Act in 1964 in order to extend the operation of the bounty for 12 months and to increase the bounty payable to £4 a ton, with a limit of £450,000, this Bill is to extend for six months to 30th September the period during which the bounty will be payable at the rate of £4 a ton. AfterThe Tariff Board completes its inquiry and conies to a decision on the effects on the Australian primary producer of the cost of artificial manures that he uses, perhaps the bounty will not last till 30th September. This depends upon the Tariff Board’s inquiry. As Senator Lawrie said, this bounty is payable to manufacturers. Although that is so, the primary producer does get a benefit. Senator Lawrie mentioned urea, which I understand is imported duty free.
-I do not think so.
– From Taiwan.
– We get any amount of urea from Japan, unless what is stencilled on the bags is wrong, and we get a tremendous quantity from Germany. senator Morris. - It comes from there, but it is duty free.
– Yes, it is duty free.
-I am glad the point has been made that it is duty free. We always have to bear in the mind the fact that urea is a competitor of sulphate of ammonia. Sulphate of: ammonia contains 21 per cent, of nitrogen whereas urea contains 47 per cent of nitrogen. There is a difference in price.
As Senator O’Byrne pointed out. Tasmania produces the greatest quantity of sulphate of ammonia in Australia. The works are at Risdon. It is interesting to note that sulphuric acid, zinc concentrates and nitrogen are used in the manufacture of sulphate of ammonia, and that all of those elements are to be found inTasmania. The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. also manufactures sulphate of ammonia, chiefly by using the by-products from its coke oven in Newcastle. In the olden days a certain amount of sulphate of ammonia was received from town gas supplies, but with the increased demand for the fertiliser, it was found that Australia would have to manufacture much more than was being obtained from this source.
I suppose that the five largest companies which manufacture sulphate of ammonia and which are claimants registered under the Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Act are the Australian Gas Light Co. of Sydney; the Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australasia which is situated in Melbourne but which has its works at Risdon; the Australian Iron and Steel Co. Pty. Ltd.; the B.H.P. Co. and also a fertiliser company which has recently gone out of production. I think it was Australian Fertilisers Ltd., of Newcastle. The amount of bounty that was paid in the year ended 30th June 1965 - and I am taking only two of the companies to which I have referred - to the Australian Gas Light Co. of Pitt Street, Sydney, was $39,128 for 4,891 tons of sulphate of ammonia. The Electrolytic Zinc Co., whose office is in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, received $439,184 for 54,898 tons of sulphate of ammonia. It is interesting to note in this regard that the Australian Iron and Steel Co. in Melbourne and the B.H.P., also in Melbourne, have not been included in this return. A sulphate of ammonia bounty was not paid to those companies for the 12 months ended 30th June 1965 owing to the implementation of the provisions of the profit limitation clause in the Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Act.
It is interesting to note that the Tariff Board issued a report on sulphate of ammonia 30-odd years ago. The report is dated 31st October 1933. Evidence was produced before the Board by various people who wanted a duty imposed on sulphate of ammonia. The late Professor A. E. V. Richardson, who was Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute in Adelaide at that time, was credited with giving, perhaps, the best information to the Board. He summarised the results of experiments with nitrogenous manures or fertilisers over a period of five years. It was pointed out in the report that his table of results showed that dressings of sulphate of ammonia added materially to the yields of wheat and barley, particularly when these crops were grown on stubble land. The application of 1 cwt. of sulphate of ammonia per acre produced an increase of 5$ bushels in the case of wheat and 13.4 bushels in the case of barley. He was careful to point out that these results could be expected only in areas subject to a moderate to high rainfall, that is, over 15 inches during the crop growing season. Those remarks were made over 30 years ago when very little was done with sulphate of ammonia, but they hold true today.
I do not believe all the glowing reports that we hear about the results achieved with the use of sulphate of ammonia. One would think that the people who made these reports were agents for the supply of sulphate of ammonia. Sulphate of ammonia provides good results, but we should not get carried away with the reports that we hear. There is nothing like a little practical experience. We in Australia are heavy users of sulphate of ammonia. It is one of the basic fertilisers that are used in the growing of potatoes. For this crop a mixture of 2 cwt. of superphosphate and 1 cwt. of sulphate of ammonia is often used. These fertilisers are sometimes applied at the rate of 10 cwt. or 15 cwt. to the acre. They must be applied at the right time. As Professor Richardson pointed out more than 30 years ago, the soil has to be moist in order to obtain the full effect of the fertiliser. In many respects sulphate of ammonia is a competitor of urea. Urea can be supplied in a powdery or crystal form. This is so particularly when it is to be used for vegetable growing. It is desolved in water and spread through sprays. That is the ideal way in which to apply the fertiliser, but there are one or two problems involved in the operation.
Mention has been made of the places where sulphate of ammonia is used. We have heard about the places where it is used in Queensland. 1 speak subject to correction by my Queensland colleagues, but I believe that in Queensland sulphate of ammonia is used as straight manure. It is used extensively and has a marked effect on our citrus trees in South Australia, and also in the Murray irrigation areas. The fertiliser is a valuable adjunct to the production of good quality fruit. It has a limited use in the pasture areas. Sulphate of ammonia is useful in certain cases where it is necessary to establish a pasture on sandy or depleted land. It is common practice for sulphate of ammonia to be added to superphosphate and used as a fertiliser in the production of wheat, barley and oats.
I have much pleasure in supporting the Bill. I point out that the bounty is paid to the manufacturer and not, as some people think, to the primary producer, although I hope that he gets the full benefit of the £4 a ton bounty that is paid by the Government.
– There is no controversy about the legislation that is now before the Senate but the importance of the commodity with which it deals demands that we should say something about its importance to agriculture. At one stage in agricultural history there was great concern throughout the world because supplies of organic nitrogen were disappearing very rapidly. Traditionally, this was the form in which the nitrogen requirements of soils ere replenished. Throughout the ages farmers learned that the return of organic material maintained the fertility of soils. In fact, there are those today who would argue that the use of artificial fertilisers brings certain dangers, diseases and such-like in its train. One famous professor of agriculture in Australia labelled this school of thought as the “ muck and mystery school
That leads me to tell a story concerning a gardener who was a very taciturn sort of chap but very famous for his roses. On one occasion he was conducting an inspection of his garden and, because it was an important occasion, his wife and daughter were accompanying him. In response to the enthusiasm of the visitors who constantly exclaimed: “ How do you do it?”, the gardener replied: “ With plenty of muck “. The daughter, who had been to high school, was becoming rather agitated about the use of the word “ muck “ and she whispered to her mother: “ I wish father would not continue to use that word “. The mother replied: “ For goodness sake, don’t say anything. It took me two years to get him to use that word “. Whatever word we use to describe this essential requirement of our soils, its history is of great interest.
As the natural reserves of guano nitrate of soda, which was generally called Chilean nitrate, vere used up the prophets of gloom said: “ We cannot feed our people. Our supplies of nitrogen are disappearing”. As usual, however, the chemist came into the picture. Ways were found of using the atmospheric nitrogen, which is in unlimited supply, by various chemical and electrolytic means, and artificial fertilisers were born. Great was the controversy among English farmers about the respective virtues of the old Chilean nitrate and the new ammonium sulphate. There was even greater controversy about whether certain forms of ammonium . sulphate did not promote too rapid growth and so deplete other substances in the soil. The fact remains, however, that agriculture throughout the world received a great stimulus from the modern manufacture of artificial fertilisers.
Australia has been rather lagging in the usage of artificial nitrogenous fertilisers, and there are some very good reasons for that. We have based our economy largely on our pastures, and the discovery that legumes provide us with a remarkably economic source of nitrogen has been of tremendous benefit in Australian agriculture. It is not necessary for me, as a Western Australian, to say that the usage of superphosphate, which rectifies certain deficiences, in conjunction with clovers, which rectify nitrogen deficiency, has virtually transformed country that was considered to be useless. One of the romantic stories of Australian agricul ture is the story of the ways in which scientists and practical farmers, working together, have solved problems which seemed insoluble to the early settlers. So we sec the extension of the nitrogen picture. 1 said that traditionally Australia was not a great user of this fertiliser, but as our sugar industry developed we found there was no opportunity to spell the soil and use lay farming methods. There is a monoculture which requires that soil shall receive adequate and steady supplies of fertiliser. If honorable senators look at the figures relating to usage over the last few years, they will see the importance of fertilisers to, for instance, the sugar cane industry, in which 86,761 tons of what comes under the heading “ Other Artificial Fertilisers “ - mainly nitrogenous fertilisers - were used in 1962-1963. This compares with the use of only 8,000 tons for cereal crops in that period. In other words, nearly 1 1 times as much was used in the sugar industry as was used in the cereal industry. Another point of interest is that the use of nitrogenous fertilisers is of particular importance to industries relating to the growing of fruit, vegetables and flowers.
When we found that increasing quantities of nitrogenous fertilisers were required, the problem of cost had to be considered, because they are expensive. The rising cost to the sugar industry was of considerable importance. The introduction by the Government of a bounty, which had the effect of enabling Australian producers to compete with importers of sulphate of ammonia, was important not only to the users but also to the manufacturers. By the use of a bounty device the Australian manufacturers are enabled to compete with the manufacturers of the fertilisers that we import and are able to expand their business knowing that they will receive this measure of protection. This is a very important economic aspect of the bounty. The Australian producers can confidently expand their businesses and, with that expansion, they can become more economic producers of one of the essential requirements . of our agricultural pursuits.
We have been very happy to learn that with the expansion of the oil refining industry the readily available sources of nitrogen are being increased. We can look forward to more effective and more economic competition between the Australian industry and other world sources. This decision to continue the bounty for another six months is purely a matter of continuing to protect the industry until the Tariff Board can present its findings. It is studying not only this aspect but the whole subject of the protection of our chemical industries. This is a big field. The Board has a very big and important task. Earlier in this debate Senator Cormack urged the necessity for evidence to be given to the Board by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I am quite in agreement with that. I believe that it is important that the Board have available to it the scientific background to the purposes to which this bounty is being applied and the basic reason for it.
I was interested to hear Senator Mattner refer to some of the limitations of ammonium and nitrogen fertilisers. In wet seasons spectacular results can be obtained by the use of nitrogen in respect of cereal crops. But in drier years there is a danger ofcrops particularly grain crops, being diminished if they have been stimulated by nitrogenous fertilisers. Therefore, there seems to be a place for judgment and care in the use of these fertilisers. Their use in the cereal industries has been of great assistance in developing new country. For instance, in large areas of Western Australia the soil is deficient in nitrogen. The farmer has not the time to build up the soil by legumes, but the application of nitrogenous fertilisers in the first few years enables him to go ahead with his cropping programme, relying on artificial fertilisers to give him a cash crop that will offset his development costs. These fertilisers are of great importance in assisting the expansion and development of new agricultural areas. So. as a farmer and a representative of the people of Western Australia in the Senate. I have great pleasure in supporting this legislation, which will ensure that there will be no disruption of the existing legislation which is contributing considerably to the wealth and welfare of the people of Australia.
Sitting suspended from 12.44 to 2.15 p.m.
– in reply - Mr. Deputy President, I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I am speaking now, Mr. Deputy President, on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon). In my statement to the Senate on 8th March on Government policy, I referred to some proposals the Government had under consideration for new and extended farm loan facilities designed to provide primary producers with greater access to medium and long-term finance through the banking system for farm development purposes, including measures for drought recovery and mitigation of future droughts. The proposals comprised the establishment of a separate Rural Division within the Commonwealth Development Bank, and the establishment by the trading banks of farm loan funds which would be separate from the existing term loan arrangement and for which a sum of$50 million would be available. I also indicated that the Government was exploring an insurance scheme to cover loans made from the banks’ farm loan funds.
After further consideration we have decided not to proceed with the proposal to establish a separate Rural Division within the Commonwealth Development Bank. On this matter we have taken the view that legislative action is not necessary to achieve the Government’s objectives so far as the operations of the Commonwealth DevelopmentBank are concerned, and that the needs of the rural industries for development finance from the Commonwealth Development Bank could be served just as effectively if we were to indicate that we wished to see a somewhatlarger proportion of the Development Bank’s funds applied to rural loans. We haveaccordingly adopted this course and the Treasurer has informed the Commonwealth Banking Corporation Board, which controls the Commonwealth Development Bank, of the Government’s wishes.
With regard to our proposals for the establishment of farm loan funds by the trading banks, the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and the Treasurer discussed the proposals on 17th March with the general managers of the major trading banks and the Governor of the Reserve Bank. The general managers expressed themselves as being generally in full agreement with our proposals, and it was arranged that further discussions on details would be held between the Reserve Bank and the trading banks. I am now pleased to report to the Senate that these further discussions have taken place and have resulted in the formulation of agreed arrangements. The arrangements arc entirely in keeping with the Government’s objectives, and the trading banks will proceed immediately to take the necessary action to give effect, to them.
A Farm Development Loan Fund will be set up initially by the transfer of $50 million from the trading banks’ resources to accounts to be kept by the trading banks with the Reserve Bank and to be called Farm Development Loan Fund Accounts. Approximately two-thirds of the amount of $50 million will come from the banks’ statutory reserve deposits with the Reserve Bank and one-third from their other assets. At the same time an amount equivalent to 0.4 per cent, of banks’ deposits - approximately $21 million - will be transferred to the existing Term Loan Fund Accounts on a similar basis. As in the past, a proportion of the term loan funds will also be applied to rural lending. The Governor of the Reserve Bank will shortly be announcing the reduction in the statutory reserve deposit ratio necessary to make these transfers.
Loans from the Farm Development Loan Fund will be made by the trading banks to rural producers, particularly smaller producers. Those whose main activity is outside rural production, and public companies, will not generally be eligible. Loans so made will be designed to supplement those available from the trading banks on overdraft and from term loan funds, and will represent a net addition to bank lending to the rural sector. They will be at fixed terms for a period related to the nature of the particular project being financed. It is expected that the periods will range up to 15 years, with longer periods possible in special cases. The loans will be subject to fixed periodical repayments. Conditions for servicing the loans will be related to circumstances in the rural sector and to the requirements of farm programmes for which they are made. Where the project financed takes some time to yield increased income, the first repayment may be delayed appropriately.
Loans from the Farm Development Loan Fund will be directed predominantly to developmental purposes which will raise productivity in rural industries. These purposes will include development projects for the mitigation of future droughts or to promote recovery from the present drought. Purchases of property may be financed if the purchase will result in a substantial increase in productive efficiency, lt will, of course, be for the trading banks themselves to determine whether to make loans in particular cases. However, the trading banks have indicated that, in examining applications for these loans, they will stand prepared in appropriate cases to relax normal security standards. They will look for good prospects for the success of the venture and capability* and integrity in the borrower. Generally in the administration of the Farm Development Loan Fund they will also give special consideration to the needs of creditworthy younger men with appropriate experience who have been unable to build up adequate resources. With regard to rates of interest, loans from the Farm Development Loan Fund will bc made within the range of preferential overdraft rates normally applicable to rural customers, with the majority of loans being towards the lower end of this range.
I should perhaps emphasise that the Farm Development Loan Fund will constitute accounts of the trading banks whose administration will be a matter for the trading banks. It follows that applications by primary producers for loans from the Farm Development Loan Fund should be made direct to the trading banks. With regard to the question of an insurance scheme to cover loans made from the Farm Development Loan Fund, this is a matter involving complex technical problems and the banks have proposed that, for the time being at least, they would prefer to undertake the type of lending envisaged by the Government without looking for insurance or guarantee cover from the Government. The purpose of the proposal was to ease the risk which banks might feel would be involved, and therefore the Government is disposed to defer consideration of the scheme for the time being.
The establishment of the Farm Development Loan Fund, as a source of finance for primary producers additional to the facilities available on an ordinary overdraft basis and through the term loan funds, marks a new and continuing policy on credit for the rural sector. The new arrangements will result iri the provision of additional facilities exclusively devoted to the special needs of primary producers for longer-term developmental finance and will undoubtedly make an important contribution to the achievement of higher farm productivity. The outcome is a pleasing one to the Government, and we should like to place on record our appreciation of the helpful and co-operative attitude shown by the trading banks in the formulation of the arrangements I have outlined.
.- I move - t
That the Senate take note of the Statement. I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - Australia, the United States of America and Great Britain have agreed to conduct a series of re-entry experiments using United States Redstone rockets to be launched from my Department’s Woomera rocket range. The experiments are designed to obtain information on the physical phenomena associated with reentry of rockets into the atmosphere. I am delighted that the arrangements between the three countries have been successfully completed.
Woomera’s facilities for some years have achieved a worldwide reputation. This reputation attracts worthwhile projects such as Sparta and enables Australia to be associated with countries of the free world working together for their mutual benefit.
Sparta, is a follow-up to the projects Gaslight and Dazzle, both of which used the British Black Knight rocket to launch re-entry vehicles, and then propel them back into the atmosphere to generate the type of phenomena it is desired to study. The use of United States rockets will extend these studies to cover higher speeds.
The first stage of the United States test rocket will be a modified Redstone unit, built by the Chrysler Corporation of America, and using liquid oxygen and alcohol as fuel. The second and third stages will consist of American built solid fuel rockets. The rockets will carry a range of re-entry vehicles. An American supplied radar tracking unit at Woomera will observe the re-entry phase. This radar was also used in the Black Knight-Dazzle experiments. The United States will provide a large quantity of ground support equipment for the rocket system. This will consist mainly of .trailer mounted equipment which formed part of the United States Army launch complex for the Redstone rockets. My Department will prepare a launch site and facilities for the Sparta test rocket and will be responsible for range instrumentation, conduct of trials and provision of data from the trials.
The experiments are scheduled to start about the middle of this year and will continue at the rate of about one launch a month for ten firings. As a weapons system and space booster, the Redstone has an excellent record of highly successful flights in more than 80 launchings.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that the Select Committee on Constitutional Development appointed by the House of Assembly for Papua and New Guinea has been invited to come to Canberra for exploratory discussions in the week beginning 18th April 1966. This invitation follows informal talks the Minister for Territories had with the Committee in Port Moresby on 1 9th January this year. The Committee was appointed in 1965 and its terms of reference are to draft for the consideration of the House of Assembly a set of constitutional proposals to serve as a guide for future constitutional development in the Territory.
The Committee presented an interim report to the House of Assembly in November 1965. The report said that it was reasonable to suppose that the Government would consider further changes in some aspects of the House of Assembly before the 1968 elections and that the Committee would be considering early this year possible constitutional changes before the next House of Assembly elections. The Committee was also formulating a list of the possible alternatives from which the people of both Territories might at the relevant time choose their future. Before it sought the views of the people on possible constitutional development, the Committee considered that it should have exploratory discussions with the Government. It appears that the Committee is particularly interested in the range of special relationships in the future between Papua and New Guinea and Australia which might be considered by the Government of the day.
The next elections for the Territory House of Assembly are due to be held in March 1968. Any proposals for changes in the composition of the House of Assembly would need to come before the Commonwealth Government this year for consideration, so that if legislation to amend the Papua and New Guinea Act were decided upon it could be brought before the Parliament in due time, and so that any legislation relating to proposals for adjustment of the Territory electoral boundaries may be considered by the House of Assembly in time to enable all actions necessary for holding of the elections to be taken.
The Government has no desire to press constitutional changes upon the people of the Territory which they do not want or for which they think they are not ready; nor will the Government refuse to make changes if there is strong and widespread support for change in the Territory. This is the Government’s attitude to the possibility of changes affecting the House of Assembly which the Select Committee referred to in its interim report, and it applies also to possible changes in the form of executive government, that is, in the arrangements for the Administration of the Territory to operate after the next elections for the House of Assembly.
Subject to these considerations, the Government would regard transitional steps towards eventual responsible ministerial government as appropriate at this stage. Without taking away from the Commonwealth Government’s final policy responsibility that is exercised through the Administrator and the Minister for Territories, arrangements could be made for certain responsibilities of a ministerial character to be passed to an initially limited number of elected members and for changes to be made in the arrangements for the Administrator’s Council directed to the same end.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) - by leave - proposed -
That the Senate take note of the Statement.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 390).
– in reply - The Bill provides for an extension of the Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Act for a further six months. The limitations on payment of the bounty are to remain unaltered, but wherever it is relevant, “ dollars “ will be substituted for “ pounds “. This will mean that the bounty at present expressed as £4 a ton will be expressed as $8 a ton. Payment of bounty is limited to the sum of $900,000 annually and because the period of operation of this measure is to be six months, the limitation will be $450,000.
Senator O’Byrne led for the Opposition in this debate and contributions were made by Senators Cormack, Mattner, Marriott and Prowse. I am grateful to each honorable senator for his contribution. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber support the measure. Therefore the debate did not strictly cover the terms of the legislation but, to a degree, covered its wider aspects and implications. I was interested in and informed on certain aspects of fertilisation of the soil and the substitution of legumes, lt was also interesting to hear how payment of the bounty affected certain States. Senators O’Byrne and Prowse pointed out the advantages that follow from adoption of the method of payment of the bounty. By this means it has been possible to spread the cost across the whole of the community, to avoid a possible increase in the cost of the commodity, and to obviate the necessity of imposing a tariff to protect the industry and ils products. The industry has been given an opportunity to start, practically from taws, in its formative years, with a degree of protection calculated to enable it to improve our rural pursuits.
Senator Cormack referred to the terms of reference of the Tariff Board inquiry. The terms of reference have been drawn widely enough to enable the Board to inquire into the chemical industry generally. J fs inquiry will encompass a very wide field and will include the matters to which the honorable senator referred. Tariff Board Circular No. 40 of 1 7th April 1964 contains a list of tariff items within the scope of the inquiry. One of those is Item 403 which covers a fairly wide range of fertilisers. I point out that Item 403 was included in the old tariff schedule. If we look at the terms of reference set out in the Tariff Board’s 1964 report on nitrogenous fertilisers, we see that they include -
Item 403. Mineral or chemical fertilisers, including chemicals specified in this item whether to be used as fertilisers or not -
Other than liquid fertilisers -
Ammonium sulphate, whether or not pure . . .
Oilier fertilisers, not being liquid fer- t Misers; animal or vegetable fertilisers chemically treated - (4) N.E.I., including composite or complete fertilisers . . .
So, under the terms of the old tariff Item 403 there is a tremendously wide field for the Tariff Board to investigate in relation to the sulphate of ammonia bounty.
I suggest that the powers of the Tariff Board, which I do not need to elaborate in this discussion, enable it to call evidence with a view to becoming completely informed of all the implications of the pro duction of such a commodity, and I have no doubt that those matters will bc covered by the Board’s report which in due course will be presented to the Parliament and tabled in the Senate.
– Can the Minister say when it will be presented?
– I have not been told when the Board’s report will be presented, but I think it is significant that by means of this Bill it is proposed’ to extend for a period of six months the payment of the bounty. As honorable senators know, there is provision in it for a proclamation to be made declaring the bounty to be terminated if, for some reason or other, the report ispresented within the period of six months covered by the Bill and the contents of the report make such a proclamation desirable.
– But a similar provision is to be found in every such Bill, is it nol?
– That may be so, but the fact is that the period is to be extended for six months, and I think we are entitled to assume that it is expected that the Tariff Board’s report will be introduced and considered by the Government within that period.
– We are entitled to assume nothing in relation to the Government.
– I choose not to hear the honorable senator’s comment. Senator Cormack also referred to the 10 per cent, profit limitation. The fact that provision is made for such a limitation indicates that the bounty is intended to give an industry, or a group of industries, an opportunity to enter the field of sulphate of ammonia manufacture and to receive assistance during the period in which it is establishing a new plant for this purpose or setting aside a section of its existing plant. I think it is quite logical that (here should be a profit limitation of 10 per cent. It would be inconsistent with normal government practice and also with simple economics for the Government to be subsidising by way of bounty an industry which, in a free enterprise economy, was making a profit which was inordinate having regard to the capital funds invested. So I say it is proper that there should be such a limitation. This is consistent with the provisions of many other bounty bills, as honorable senators know.
I do not think I need say much more at this stage. It is true, as was stated during the debate, that only two companies received the bounty during the year 1965. I think it was Senator Mattner who referred to the actual amounts received. It is also true that at least two other companies were precluded from receiving the bounty because they had exceeded the profit limitation provisions.
– Because they were efficient.
– No. I think that is rather a critical comment. After all, the question of efficiency or inefficiency in an organisation is a matter of judgment. That is true of any undertaking. Surely it is not suggested that an organisation is inefficient if it does not exceed the 10 per cent, profit limitation. Many factors, including the factor of geography, must be taken into consideration in this respect. The principle underlying the payment of bounty is to encourage the establishment of an industry which, in this instance, will produce sulphate of ammonia for use in our great primary industries. We want to encourage such production, but it is prudent to impose a profit limitation so that when the companies concerned reach a certain degree of efficiency they will not need help from the Government.
In conclusion I thank honorable senators for their contributions to the debate. This is a good Bill. It has no other purposes than to extend for six months the period of operation of the bounty and, for purpose of administration, to substitute in the Act dollars for pounds wherever necessary.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- There are one or two aspects of this Bill to which I want to refer at the Committee stage. The first is the provision that the Governor-General may by proclamation within the period of six months cause the bounty to cease. There is something artificial in the idea that an industry can adjust itself to a variation of its arrangements with the precipitancy that is implied in those terms. Here we are at the end of the period of bounty provided by law and, on the very last day, making statutory arrangements for its continuance for six months. But it is not an assured six months period. I want the Minister to assure me that if the Tariff Board in its report should recommend discontinuance of the bounty and the Governor-General is minded to issue a proclamation that the bounty should cease, that will not be done so suddenly that the industry cannot adjust itself in a reasonably businesslike manner.
I should think that if the recipients of this bounty are conforming to the spirit of the legislation, they will be bound to alter the prices of their products. From the point of view of economic programming, the farmer should know that that may happen. I think that at least six months notice should be given for adjustment. I should like to hear the Minister comment on that, and to have an assurance that the industry will not be unduly disturbed.
In view of Senator Cormack’s comments, I was interested in the provision that limits, profits. I should have thought that you could have either a profit limitation or a price limitation. To my way of thinking, a limitation of price would be more direct. I refer to the price at which the recipient of the bounty retails his product to the farmer. The Minister has been good enough to supply me with price variations in Queensland. Reference to one or two of the figures will illustrate my concern. On 9th March 1964 the price that was being charged in Queensland was £29 ls. 6d. a ton.
– At what point?
– I cannot say.
– That is the city price.
– I want to deal with the trend of the prices over a period. Therefore, I am taking a constant price. As I said, on 9th March 1964 the price was £29 ls. 6d. a ton. At that point of time the bounty was increased from £2 to £4 a ton. By 21st March 1966 the price had increased to £34 4s. a ton. That is a direct illustration of the way in which the benefit of the bounty can be eroded. To my way of thinking, legislation relating to matters such as this is insufficient unless we are assured that within the legislation there are mechanisms which enable the Department to satisfy itself that price increases are justified. In other words, any increase should stem only from extra costs that are charged directly to the industry. It should not be a case of an extra amount being taken from the farmer in addition to a bounty being paid by the Government. 1 am informed that the current prices for this commodity are as follows: In New South Wales £29 a ton, in Victoria £32 2s., in Queensland £34 4s., in South Australia £32 10s., in Western Australia £33 10s., and in Tasmania £24 4s. The present Tasmanian price is the same as the Queensland price in March 1964 that I mentioned earlier. I have been provided with a statement showing the amounts that have been paid by way of bounty to the four companies that have been mentioned. 1 shall mention only those which have been paid to the Tasmanian company, because I shall seek leave later to have the relevant table incorporated in “ Hansard “. The receipts of the Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australasia Ltd. were as follows: Up to June 1962, £17,888; to June 1963. £110,874; to June 1964, £111,018; and to 30th June 1965, £219.592. Those figures merely need to be studied to show that there is an imperative need to ensure that the bounty is not being paid for the benefit of the recipient but is being used for the purpose of keeping down the price to the farmer. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the following table in “ Hansard “ -
– I am grateful to Senator Wright for his comments. However, I cannot give assurances in relation to the proclamation. The honorable senator sees in the proclamation a danger which frankly I do not see. I think it is logical to have a provision which will enable the Government to consider the Tariff Board’s report when it is presented. If within the period of six months the Tariff Board’s report is presented, the Government considers it and it becomes Government policy, then as senators we all will have an opportunity to express our views in accordance with the forms of the Senate. In view of the fact that it might be desirable to terminate the bounty and give some other form of assistance, I think this is a logical provision to include in the Bill. I do not see anything more in it than that. In terms of policy, this Bill comes under the control of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). As the Minister who is in charge of the measure in this place I certainly could not give any assurances. It has always been the policy of this Government, with the support of the Opposition, not to do anything that was irrational or illogical or which would hurt an industry. This legislation has been designed to encourage, not hinder, the manufacture of sulphate of ammonia.
Senator Wright quoted some figures in relation to the Tasmanian undertaking, Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australasia Ltd. Surely those figures are proof of the argument I am advancing. It will be noted that the companies in question started with a small bounty because their production was small. Then as they built up their output over the years they attracted a greater bounty. The story is the same in regard to all the companies mentioned in the table. In 1962 they were receiving a very modest bounty. The bounty paid to the Tasmanian company jumped from £1.11,018 for the year ended in June 1964 to £21.9.592 for the year ended in June 1965. These figures show right across the board that each of these undertakings has been able to increase its output. In the first and second years, when the rate of bounty was constant, payment to the company jumped from £17,000 to £1 10,000. The honorable senator suggested that this matter might be handled more practically on the basis of price, as distinct from output.
– No, profit.
– By a profit limitation. I point out to the honorable senator that that presupposes that the Commonwealth would have some power over prices, which obviously it has not. It is true to say that only South Australia has some price control in relation to this bounty. The matter would be very difficult to administer on that basis. It is completely relevant that sulphate of ammonia is now admitted under the tariff duty free. That is itself a brake on local price movements. The simple fact is that if overseas interests could import a commodity into Australia and undersell the Australian industry, despite the fact that the Australian industry received a bounty, there would be an entirely different situation. The fact that importation of sulphate of ammonia is duty free has a steadying influence on profit. In addition, the fact that there is a profit limitation ensures that the bounty is not paid if the profit on the capital used in manufacture exceeds 10 per cent. With these safeguards, we can be satisfied that here is a bounty which will assist the industry to produce the commodity and, in turn, will help primary industry, which is an important factor in the overall economy of Australia.
.- I rise only to say that I cannot let go without comment this statement with regard to price limitation as distinct from profit limitation. I feared that those fathering the Bill had the idea that we in the Federal sphere should have a phobia against the very idea of prices control. We had great political contention over prices control, but it was just as much part of the theme that there should be no Federal control of profits as that there should be no Federal control of prices. The suggestion that I made does not presuppose any power to fix prices. We would simply provide as a condition of the receipt of bounty, instead of a profit limitation a price limitation.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 30th March (vide page 374) on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Senate take note of the following paper -
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial statement, 22nd March 1966,
– With the intervention of other business we have had a chance to reexamine the issues that have developed in this marathon debate on foreign policy. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said - I think it is certainly not in dispute - that we cannot turn back history. When we come to the stage of modernising our foreign policy, that is where differences of opinion appear to manifest themselves.
I do not think that anyone would quarrel with the statement that we are involved in a battle of various ideologies to acquire the support of the masses of Asia. In this regard one serious aspect that has developed in this debate seems to be the sensitivity of Government speakers. When anyone questions any facet of our international policy, it becomes a question of disloyalty. When we compare other countries we find that elsewhere there seems to be a higher degree of sophistication. Let me use a cricket analogy. Whatever our loyalty to Australia on the cricket field might be if Richie Benaud at his top, as captain of Australia, bowled five or six full tosses on the leg side and 20 runs or so went on the board immediately, despite the fact that he was the Australian captain he would hardly get a burst of clapping when he finished his over. I think we would be realistic and say that he ought to bowl more accurately. Let me say at once that I do not remember any occasion when he did that kind of thing. I used his name only for the purposes of the analogy. The point I make is that the reaction I have mentioned would be expected. I do not doubt that in the board rooms, in the realms of finance or anything else, even one’s best friend occasionally would suggest that one was a little bit off the track.
So I make a suggestion that our misgivings on foreign policy are as to what will be the eventual outcome of some of the expeditions in which we have been involved. In that regard reference has been made to the policy of the Australian Labour Party. I shall deal with this in detail. Before I proceed to do so, let me say that nobody has convinced me that the countries that we are endeavouring to get out of a certain ambit have the unity of purpose that was evident in France and other countries in Europe, with their resistance movements against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. We cannot say that there is that will to “win in Vietnam at the moment.
One of the difficulties, of course, about all this is that although Australia - to a lesser degree of course, than the United States - has assisted in manpower and also in economic measures nobody, from the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and Mr. Hasluck down, has ever been able to give us anything clear cut such as we would get in the balance sheet of a company. What I mean by that is that we have isolated information. When the hamlet protection project of four or five years ago failed, we were told that we would do better next time, but we never hear of any guilty men being dealt with because of the mismanagement that occurred.
I do not like harking back to the past, but in any operation like the campaign in South Vietnam there must be some expectation of victory. One basis of criticism stems from the line that we have to do business with the Vietcong or some of those people who, for want of a belter term, are referred to as left wing nationalists. The moment this theme is developed, the question of whether people are, wittingly or unwittingly, putting forward a policy founded on what might be called unpatriotic motives, is raised.
Obviously in Vietnam the rights and religious privileges of the Buddhist, Catholics and other groups have to be protected. The parallel with the Europe of about 10 years ago is significant. I commend to honorable senators perusal of the book “ Strategy of Peace “ by John F. Kennedy. The authorship is sufficient recommendation. In referring to Eastern Europe he said -
Our best hope, and theirs, is rather in having more nations follow the example of Poland, Yugoslavia, and Finland in moving gradually, if cautiously, away from total Soviet political domination and in seeking greater economic independence as well. This process is hindered by woodenly lumping all Eastern European nations together under one label regardless of the differences in their aspirations or operation.
I do not deny the fact that ideological cores have developed in Europe over the past 10 years. They have not developed to the same extent in Asia. Al the same lime people are arguing that this is the be-all and end-all of world peace.
In an earlier debate 1 submitted that whatever the outcome is in this part of Asia, we have to realise that world peace will ultimately depend on the question of nuclear deterrents. 1 respect the various views that have been expressed on land forces in Asia. But I think that I am fortified in my belief by Major-General Ridgway, who was in command of the United Nations forces for a. period during the Korean campaign. He was insistent in saying that it was doubtful whether success in Asia would be achieved by land forces. Nearly 20 years ago, towards the end of the term of the Chifley Government, Field Marshal Montgomery had a similar conception of the situation and coined the phrase about the age of the push button war.
The point that J am making is that the problem that confronts our Government and other governments in the world is: As more nations obtain nuclear weapons, how can they be contained? During the confrontation between Kennedy and Khrushchev over the missile bases in Cuba, there were people in America who thought that Kennedy was going to be a bit soft. It is equally true to say that there were certain elements in the Russian praesidium who thought that Khrushchev was a bit lukewarm. I think that the mere knowedge of the risk of a nuclear war between the two powers was sufficient to convince the people of both countries of the danger of the situation. Of course, it may be argued at this point of time that Peking may not be so accommodating. But we are not dealing with that situation at the present time. We are trying to create in Asia the situation in which a complex of countries whose peoples have various national aspirations will act as a buffer state.
I think that Senator McManus made the point that the presence of the United Slates and Australian troops in Vietnam provided a sort of stiffening for the neutrals. He also referred to Cambodia and Laos. I know that it is difficult to define this degree of neutrality, but I think it will be conceded that those countries have hardly been enthusiastic regarding the ultimate future of South Vietnam. However, I think that one of the basic tenets of the Labour
Party’s policy is great concern about the fact that, after six or seven years in which the Australian and the United States forces have been fighting in Vietnam, a gradual rot from within has set in. I do not say that in a disparaging way. I think it will be agreed that the development is very serious. South Vietnam has already run out of 10 or 1 1 Prime Ministers, and there are two sizable elements in the community that are hinting, through demonstrations, that something is wrong with the government.
I listened carefully this afternoon to the statement read by the Acting Minister for External Affairs (Senator Gorton). In his usual lucid style he pointed out that the present Prime Minister, Air Vice-Marshal Ky, agrees that the conduct of elections to form a civil government is a question of timing, lt seems to me to be a matter of too little being done for too long. I do not know what the position will be if tomorrow one or two of the other people who make up this military junta governing South Vietnam oppose the Prime Minister. This is something for which we cannot blame America or Australia. I continue to develop this thesis. It could be that U Thant, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, might be able to call a further conference of the parties. I noticed in the recent speech delivered by the United States representative at the United Nations, Ambassador Goldberg, just a glimmer of hope. We might have to do business with these particular people around the table. My approach, and 1 think that of the Labour Party, is that we have a right to be concerned about the rights of the minorities, just as we have been concerned with the rights of the people in Formosa. They got their rights independently of the question of China’s membership of the United Nations. But I do not feel that we can be unduly rigid about the question of dealing with these particular countries at a given time. That is the reason why I believe that there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm on the part of Australians about the present position in Vietnam.
I am conscious of the Government’s dilemma about total mobilisation and that sort of thing, but the difficulty is that we cannot have the best of two worlds. On the one hand, reference has been made to our responsibilities to our powerful friends, the
United States and Britain. Some people have said that we have not the right to be flexible at all. Let me consider our two powerful friends. In doing so I am not criticising the motives of either of them. Britain is trading with continental China. The United States has placed a ban on the export of most strategic commodities to that country. The United States has land forces in Vietnam. Britain has no forces there. Our position is that we are assisting the United States on a military basis but at the same time we are trading with China. Earlier in the debate I heard what I thought was a reasonable interjection by Senator Webster. He implied: “Well, if you cut out this form of trade the action could have economic consequences in Australia if we are trying to preserve economic stability.” The Government’s popularity could be impaired if some loss occurred in purchasing power. If wa are prepared to go along with that line of thinking, we cannot expect the average Australian to feel that it is a real death or glory expedition in South Vietnam.
Reference has been made to demonstrations. They are part of the new society in which we live. For a long time we said that young people were not interested in politics. Three or four years ago it was remarkable that when one went overseas one saw mass participation, irrespective of tha country, of students in political organisations; but when one came back here one found that the people were virtually silent on a question by comparison with what was happening overseas. The point I am making about the changed outlook is that it is not a question of anybody believing that people are ready to get into the market square and sing “ Solidarity for ever “ or “ The Revolution has come “ and stage mass demonstrations. Demonstrations have become a cult. I am not disparaging or trying to play down the effect of demonstrations on the current issue. But it is not right to say that if we were not engaged in the Vietnam conflict there would be no demonstrations.
I know that I could engage in a lengthy discussion on democracy and how far people can go without committing traffic breaches and becoming involved in other things in our large capital cities. But the plain fact of the matter is that, in a sober situation, people are somewhat concerned about our future in the world and whether we could lose allies if there was a complete internal foldup in Saigon. I say sincerely that if it was good enough for the United States President to go to Honolulu and belatedly suggest to the President of South Vietnam that higher priorities should be given to social reforms in that country, I do not see why our own diplomatic representatives in Saigon or Mr. Hasluck could not indicate clearly in simple language what our Government has said to the South Vietnamese Government, lt is one thing to have troops in Vietnam, but we want some immediate reforms to be made. I am not speaking merely about democracy and the parliamentary apparatus. After all, T think that as a Socialist I had some misgivings at one time about the military junta in Pakistan. But 1 have questioned students very closely and I am prepared to say that if an army is used - and it has been used there - to combat some of the greedy merchants and to ensure that the distribution of food goes right down the line to the little hamlets and villages to fill the people’s stomachs, f am not concerned about the methods.
I do not think that anyone would question the generosity of the United States. In fact, one of the fears that I have often held is that if some of this generosity in the economic field is blunted by corruption in a particular Asian country, then the pendulum will swing the other way and a resurgence of what was pre-war isolationism will be experienced in the United States. When we assist to supply some of the gigantic economic requirements of a country, we are not only helping ourselves and being charitable to the people in Asia, who are not so well endowed as we are, but also strengthening the hands of people in the United States who have an outward, anti-isolationist conception of world politics. It is generally those problems which confront us.
Now J want to go a little further and deal with three other aspects. 1 know that many people say: “ If there are left wing governments in Asia, how will they react? Will they be lackeys of Peking or will they stand on their own feet and become like the Tito Government?” Of course, this latter event would not happen immediately. Noone has suggested that it would. I ask honorable senators to consider the bloody birth of Kenya. Kenyatta was once regarded in British circles as an unvarnished murderer, but I think it is now conceded that he has put his country on a pretty stable footing. British settlers are staying there. There has been no exodus. The people of Kenya realise that they need the agricultural know how of the British settlers. Kenyatta drove some very hard bargains with the British Government, but recently, when he felt that the Chinese Embassy was trying to dictate unduly to his Government, he gave three or four of China’s representatives their walking tickets.
My friendly adversary, Senator Cormack, and I have clashed repeatedly on matters related to early postwar Greece and Yugoslavia. Some years ago Britain had a Conservative Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, and in the course of about 18 months he was host, first to Bulganin and Khrushchev, and later to Broz Tito. I think honorable senators will agree with me that in many ways - not’ all ways - Macmillan had an enlightened conception of world politics. The point is that because of the sophistication of the British Conservatives, no-one accused them of becoming supporters of Karl Marx. I make that point in a friendly way. I am basing my argument in relation to postwar Europe on two points. When the war ended it would have been stupid to say that everyone in Greece who opposed the far left was a democrat. Many people who were eulogising the Greek royal family had never shed their pre-war Fascist background. The second point is that the British Labour Party and the British Conservative Party had some pretty blunt discussions with the Yugoslav Government at various times. Canada argued that countries such as Yugoslavia had to be enticed away from the monolithic structure that the Soviet Union had created, and the exercise was successful. Senator Cormack referred to the blood bath in Greece. People from all sides will admit that, in the early postwar years in Greece there was a tendency to label as Fascists people who were not. At the same time, there were many people who had a pretty bad record of collaboration with Nazi Germany. The point I am making is that Britain and the United States showed an enlightened attitude. They did not say: “ Yugoslavia still has a left wing government. Let the country take what is coming to it “. Instead, they gradually created a little autonomy externally, without undermining the internal position. As a result, when Tito found that he had to survive against the Kremlin he eased things with Greece.The moral of the story is that to get some form of stabitily we must make some agreement with people with whom we do not agree completely. I think that attitude is still valid. The most important thing is the thawing out process.
In March 1964I spent three or four weeks in Slovenia. I know Senator Cormack may say that is one of the more enlightened sections of Yugoslavia and therefore does not provide a real test, but 1 want to deal with a ticklish question that I know people baulk at. This would apply in Vietnam, with its different ethnic and religious groups. 1 had the pleasure of staying with a Yugoslav family which spoke excellent English and I. was intrigued to see on one wall in the lounge room a photograph of Tito and on the other a photograph of the former Pontiff, Pope John. 1 can assure the Senate that those photographs were not merely a front. I know enough about human nature to know when people are putting on an act. The family concerned was in the 35 to 45 years age group. They conceded that unquestionably there were postwar faults with the reigning government, but like a lot of other people in Europe they did not feel that accepting Communism meant they had to revert to the exploitation that was rife before the war. President Kennedy in his book referred to the situation in which the Irish peasants found themselves. He referred to sheep without a shepherd when the sun shuts out the sky. That is one of the problems in Europe. The people in Yugoslavia were confronted with it. They had the German Fascists breathing down their necks and of course the partisans exploited the situation. It has taken a long time for things to thaw out. To say that persons opposed to Communism are necessarily democrats is wrong. Anyone who adopts that attitude may find himself with very strange political bedfellows.
In the statement by the Minister for External Affairs there is a reference to some of our banking commitments with Asian countries. In the war years there was in Britain a Ministry of Economic Warfare. I do not know the ramifications of our Treasury, but it seems that it could well act in some ways as that Ministry acted. When we are making loans to Asian countries, I do not think we are interfering unduly if we insist that the money be spent on the most effective projects. We are tied up with one or two world banking organisations. I have in mind the island of Haiti in the West Indies to which one of those organisations made a loan. Senator Gorten told me how much had been spend on that island. The Government there was so corrupt and brutal that the United States Government cut out all economic aid, but we found that we were committed to build a highway into the centre of the island. It really served only as a means of communication to the home of the dictator. It was a convenience for him. 1 think the only other convenience he has are dungeons where he inflicts torture on his political opponents.
– Was that a World Bank loan?
– I think it was. It may have been a loan by a subsidiary. I do not have the exact information here, but I will get it for the honorable senator when the debate is over. I know there was grave concern about the country’s ability to repay the loan. In Sydney and in other capital cities one hears talk about private investment in housing and about hot money coming from Hong Kong.I believe that the governments of Asian countries should exercise sufficient control to ensure that available funds are put to beneficial use in those countries, and should not allow them to come to a country like Australia which is relatively well off.
I want to deal now with the Australian Labour Party’s foreign policy, to which certain honorable senators opposite have referred. On page 25 of the book “ Australian Labour Party Federal Platform Constitution and Rules “ is a section headed “ Foreign Affairs “. After the preamble the following appears -
While the Commonwealth of Nations continues to exist Australia must always remain an integral part of it.
That is the nub of the matter. In the British Commonwealth - I am purposely confining this to what is known as the while members - there is no unified voice. Canada has some reservations about happenings in
Asia. Canada is adjacent to the United States. Some people say to us: “ You give lip service to the Commonwealth of Nations, but you do not follow it through “. The point that I am making is that I cannot see that any flexibility shown by the Australian Government or by the Labour Party means that we are rocking the boat.
That also applies to paragraph (b), which refers to giving “ paramount loyalty to the United Nations “ and also refers to the United Nations Charter. That may raise the question of peace keeping forces. Even in the arbitration and conciliation field in Australia we have numerous disputes that drag on. Often we expect almost perfection in Australia. I think Senator Cavanagh will agree that in Australia we have disputes between employers and employees. Perhaps I am digressing slightly. The United States has industrial disputes, too. In fact, two of its industrial disputes lasted for about two years. The employees were locked out for that period. There was an impasse. But nobody said that the American society was collapsing. Mediation can be achieved only gradually. In respect of some of the brush fire wars that develop, some people might ask: “ Of what value is the United Nations to us?” I think we all would agree that if the relatively small dispute between the United Arab Republic and Israel was allowed to flare up and if the Moslem world became involved in it, war could spread right over to Indonesia. I realise that if the big powers cannot reach agreement people ask: “ What good is the United Nations?” I believe that it is a bridge and a means of achieving some degree of agreement between the various ideologies.
In relation to the right of nations to differ with their betters, for want of a better word, I refer to the United States and Great Britain. Senator Cormack has an excellent knowledge of world history. I think he will agree that in World War II the Australian Government under John Curtin was right when it insisted on having the final say on the deployment of Australian troops. History has proved that it was right. The Curtin Government did not for one moment disparage Churchill as a world leader.
– Before the honorable senator entered this Parliament, I praised Mr. Curtin for his decision.
– Good. That ls vindication of the ability of an Australian government at a given time to evaluate a situation by saying: “ That is what Washington thinks; that is what London thinks; that is what Moscow thinks; this is what we think “. Of course, the Government should not overplay its hand. That is all that the Labour Party is suggesting. There is no question whatever of the abdication of responsibility.
In another place one or two interjections were made; but my leader, Mr. Calwell, quickly corrected some of the misconceptions that might have existed. Let me refer again to the matter of peace initiatives. On page 26 of our “ Federal Platform, Constitution and Rules “ we say -
Australia must take the initiative for the maintenance of peace and good relations between itself and its neighbours and in the whole South East Asia area.
In regard to Indonesia, I hope that the Government will be more positive in what it tells us. In spite of the game of musical chairs that has been played in Djakarta, I do not see why it would be infra dig. for the Australian Prime Minister or Minister for External Affairs to go there in the near future and meet the members of the Indonesian Government in order to remove a few misconceptions. I heard one honorable senator opposite refer to possible border disputes in New Guinea. I do not think such a visit would cause Australia to lose face.
As has been said repeatedly in this chamber, Australia is the major white nation in the Asian sphere. I have been a little disappointed that the Government has not suggested that in the very near future it will meet the leaders of Indonesia. Whatever has happened in the past in relation to the Indonesian Communist Party - the P.K.I. - and other groups, the plain fact of the matter is that the Minister for External Affairs, in the preamble of his statement, said that we cannot change history. In the early postwar years there were protests about Australia virtually taking the side of Indonesia against Holland. But Indonesian independence had to come. Whatever the birth pangs were like, the situation would have been much more serious if there had been the same kind of trouble as there has been in Algeria, Cyprus and many other countries.
In conclusion I say, first of all, that J do not. think the ultimate solution in South Vietnam is a major matter in terms of world peace. I believe that an effective nuclear deterrent will be the only solution when China and other countries obtain nuclear weapons. Secondly, with all due respect to the situation in Vietnam, 1 believe that wc have an equally important stake in Indonesia. I hope that during the next parliamentary recess the Government will make some positive moves in this respect. Perhaps it will give a lead to the countries that are regarded as ex-colonial powers. I hope that members of the Government will visit Djakarta and try to reach some’ agreement with the Indonesian leaders. That certainly does not mean any squandering of Australia’s own territorial possessions. 1 believe that Australia’s image is one of a country without extensive colonial possessions. When 1 say that, I. am conscious of the statement which was read in the Senate this afternoon and which said, in effect, that Australia is not unaware of the winds of change that are now blowing in New Guinea. I hope that some effort will be made to improve our political relations with Indonesia, particularly as spring cleaning has been done in that country.
– I want to refer to a few of the stupidities, as I call them, in the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). 1 begin not on Vietnam, to which I will come later, but on our diplomatic activities abroad. I believe that it is high time the Government took cognisance of the fact that we have variations in our diplomatic representation abroad, but that we have no set means of assessing the value of our representatives and the value that should be credited to them. I understand that a public service inspector goes around the posts and decides the salaries and rents that should be paid. The various local factors are not taken into consideration at all.
For example, in Paris at the present time the first, second and third secretaries are all being subsidised to the extent of £40 a week in respect of their flats. That is due partly to the stupidity of the Treasury in refusing to agree that it is better to buy property than to rent it. When we buy property, at least it will appreciate in value. Property invariably appreciates. So we gain an asset. However, because the Treasury does not want to spend large sums of money, we adopt this rather silly practice of paying rent and subsidising our diplomatic representatives. On the other hand, I have noticed that one of the junior officers in Paris has a far better flat than I have. In that, case the reverse proposition applies. If a businessman went around our posts he would see that such an officer did not have such a big flat when he had no need for it. When I asked this officer why he needed such a big flat, he said that he had to entertain. But I doubt that a third secretary would need to have a flat as big as this one.
In Athens our Ambassador, Mr. Gullett, has had to live for almost a year in one of the most expensive hotels in the city. He rents a suite and two extra rooms. I think. He certainly rents one extra room. It costs nearly £800 a month solely because the Treasury would refuse to buy a property for use as a chancery. We have leased a property for 10 years and have paid in advance. The cost of that was equal to the capital cost of building the property.
– Where is this?
– In Athens. In other words, the Australian Government could have built this property for the amount that it has had to pay for a 10 year lease of it. At the end of that period, obviously the rent will rise. So because we do not own the property we will have to pay more rent. A further stupidity in Athens is the fact that the builder said to us: “ I will build this property for you according to your specifications, with the space that you require and dividing the rooms as you require.” But we have leased four floors of this five floor building. We could have used the fifth floor had we wanted to, but we did not. So it has been let to the Swiss. That fifth floor could easily have been used as the Ambassador’s residence, had the necessary alterations been made. But no. We have people with little minds going around, not looking into the future. The cost to Australia in this instance was far greater than the cost of buying suitable premises. Washington and Fiji are other examples. No one would be seen dead in Washington in August, the hot part of the summer, but our representative there has nowhere else to go. This is a case where a little extravagance would not hurt anyone. Our representative could be provided with a swimming pool so that he could get a little comfort during the hot months. In some instances a little extravagance would do no harm, but in other instances we are giving far too much.
Then we come to the final stupidity - the United Nations. I have lost all affection for the United Nations in the last few years. The Food and Agricultural Organisation and the World Health Organisation are doing good work, but I do not think we do any good at all by our representation at the United Nations. People at the United Nations admit that it is all a question of being one up on the Jones. If some other country has a Minister, we must have two, and so on. We have an Ambassador to the United Nations in addition to an Ambassador to the United States. We have a Minister to the United Nations in addition to a Consul General in New York. We have six Councillors, as I think they are called. What is this huge group at the United Nations doing? Nobody can ever tell us what they are doing, what effect they have or whether they have raised the prestige of Australia. We have those eight in our team. But what of the others? If we believe in the United Nations, for heavens sake let us do something for the poor unfortunate lower downs who have to work there. I think that at present we have about 22 people working in a space no bigger than one of the party rooms in this building. It is absolutely shabby to ask people to work under such conditions. I believe that Sir Roland Wilson, whose Department is responsible for renting or purchasing properties for our overseas missions, has not been there to see the conditions. He has been asked to see them, but he is having such a wonderful time in New York that he cannot find time to do it.
– He went down there for half an hour.
– I was told the other day that he had not been to the offices at all.
– Yes, I saw him there.
– The honorable senator must have been in New York after me. I was there six weeks ago and was told he had never been to the offices. The Government should do something about this. 1 think it should send a business man - not a Public Service Commissioner. The Minister himself could go there to find out what should be done.
I come now to the other stupidities contained in the statement. We have been told often in debate that we went to Vietnam at the behest of the South Vietnamese Government, yet in his speech the Minister said, with regard to the conflict in Vietnam -
We are not in it at the behest of any nation or group of nations. We are in it by our own choice and our own decision because the result is a matter of crucial importance to us.
I do not know whom to believe. I presume that the Minister meant what he then said. But if what he said is correct, then every interjection from the Government side of the chamber to the effect that we are in Vietnam at the behest of the South Vietnamese Government is so much rubbish.
– I think the ambiguity there is that the Minister was using the word “ behest “ in the sense of direction. He does not deny that we are there at the invitation of the Government of South Vietnam.
– Which Government of South Vietnam invited us? That is another question. When we boil it down to the facts, we were told by the United States: “ Come in, or else “. Let me say straight out that I am completely in favour of national service training. On the other hand, I am completely and irrevocably opposed to the sending of national service trainees to Vietnam. In the course of his speech the Minister said -
The danger to Australia’s security is twofold. There is the danger of global war.
Who is giving rise to the danger of global war? No country but the United States, which is escalating the war in Vietnam further and further every month, with the risk of bringing China in and causing a global war. Later in his speech the Minister told us that a more direct danger is presented to Australia by active and belligerent Asian Communist imperialism. How the Communists must love to hear that. For centuries, the imperialist nations of the world have been the European noncommunist nations. So why sneer at these people because they happen to be Asian Communists? Great Britain was the greatest imperialist nation one can think of in the past few centuries. We are told that we must do something for the security of Australia, but when we ask Government senators how events in Vietnam affect our security, we do not get an answer.
– Then the honorable senator must be very deaf.
– I have not been deaf. If an answer were given to the question it probably would be that as Communism has spread over the whole of South East Asia it is a threat to us. Why is it a threat? It must move from there before it becomes a threat to us. The Government is still trading with Communists, so why are they a threat to us? If people in Asia want to be Communists, let them be. Who is imposing something on the people of South Vietnam?
– Would the honorable senator like half of Australia to be Communist?
– No, because I nm totally opposed to Communism. But I say that if the people of Australia voted Communists into this Parliament, we would have no right to do anything about it.
– Would the honorable senator be happy about it?
– I would not be happy about it, but it would be the will of the people. Government senators talk about democracy - the will of the people - and say that the North Vietnamese are forcing themselves on the South Vietnamese. Or do they say that? I do not know really what they say. One minute they talk about the North Vietnamese, the next minute about the Chinese and then about the Vietcong. Where is the democratically elected government of South Vietnam? The Minister cannot answer, because there is no democratically elected government there. Ky is kept in office by the United States, just as the last ten governments there have been. There have never been elections there, yet this statement contains all the kafoofle thai Senator Cohen so ably pointed out. There is childish talk about the free democratic will of the people of South Vietnam, but I am certain that when they have an election and we get out of South Vietnam - it may be some years before we do - they will revert to Communism, and all our purpose in being there will have dissolved in the end. I asked a question on this subject this morning and did not get a reply - I do not suppose I really expected one.
What is the position in Vietnam today7 The Government says it is a matter of the free will of the people, yet we have two factions there. No one will come out into the open and acknowledge that there are terrific religious differences of opinion in South Vietnam - Catholicism against Buddhism. This is part of the background of the dispute. We are siding with one faction. The only people who can be educated in South Vietnam are those who enter the mission schools, 95 per cent, of which are Roman Catholic. Therefore the educated clique in that country must be a Roman Catholic clique. The Buddhists say straight out that they want nothing to do with the Vietcong, but if they keep up their agitation to overthrow the Ky Government wc will call them Communists also, because they do not want to have any truck with the present government. It is only since the Honolulu Declaration that any effort has been made to institute reforms in South Vietnam. I have said before and will say again that unless there is agricultural reform in that country the peasants will always want to become Communists. This is the biggest thing we have to fight and spend our money on. I ask the Government whether we are at war or not. Could I get a simple answer to that question? Honorable senators opposite will interject when they think they have something, but they will not interject when they have nothing.
– All right. What difference does it make?
– It makes a lot of difference whether we are at war or not. At least a moral principle is involved. The Government says that we are not at war. Government supporters say: “ What does it matter? Let us go and fight.” Are we to go and fight everywhere that the Government says there is aggression? Are we to go everywhere that Government supporters say democratic rights have not been upheld and there are not freely elected governments? Why do we not attack Spain, or Thailand? Thailand is not at all a democratic nation. A military junta governs Thailand. Admittedly its King and Queen are doing a pretty good job of work and there may even be a revolution to give the reins of government back to them.
– Where is the aggression in Thailand?
– I was referring to free elections, not to aggression. Thailand does not have a freely elected government.
– In South Vietnam there is aggression from outside, which is a different thing.
– Now that the Minister is interjecting, I ask him to interject again and answer my question: Are we at war or are we not at war? If we are at war, this country will support the Government right to the hilt. Thousands of volunteers will be prepared to go and fight for this country if our security is endangered. However, everybody knows that the security of this country is not at all in danger. That is why the Army cannot get volunteers to go to Vietnam.
– Why should they go?
– I do not know why they should go, but . if the security of Australia is in danger, every man Jack of us should be going.
– Would the honorable senator go?
– I would if I were young enough, but I happen to be 57 years of age, so I can talk. But I am fit enough to go, and I would go. The point is that if the security of this nation were in danger, as Government supporters contend, there would not be one single or young married man who would not go forth to fight to protect this country. Do honorable senators opposite agree with me?
– Would the honorable senator say that again?
– If we were in danger, sufficient of our people would rush to the colours to fight for Australia. Do Government supporters hold so bad an opinion of Australians that they believe that they would have to be driven like cattle.
– Why did you bring conscripts into World War II?
– For Heavens sake! We were at war and our security was at stake.
– As never before, I should have thought. That was the time that a Labour Government believed conscription was necessary.
– I agree with Senator Wright. I do not wish to agree with him about anything else, but I agree, with him on that point.
– The honorable senator asked a question but he will not wait for a full answer.
– I agree with Senator Wright. He is referring to Senator Mattner’s interjection about World War II when conscripts were sent. I agree wholeheartedly, because our security was at stake, but it is not at stake today.
– The honorable senator said that if the country were in danger, all Australians would flock to the colours to volunteer.
– And so they would.
– What about 1917?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order!
– I have made the point that if the country were in danger, everybody would volunteer. I reiterate that this country is not in danger, irrespective of whether Vietnam is Communist or nonCommunist.
– Was it vital to Great Britain to protect Czechoslovakia?
– Yes. It was vital. Great Britain did not do it but it should have done it.
– Exactly. Short sighted people like the honorable senator cannot see the parallel.
– Let us accept, then, that all South East Asia has become Communist - Thailand and the other nations. I have said before and I wish to repeat: Then what? What happens next? Somebody has to move to Australia.
– The honorable senator will probably be driving a pedicab.
– All right. I will be driving a pedicab. At least I am fit enough to do it. Let us get back to the point of accepting that they are all Communists. What happens next? Would somebody answer me?
– 1 shudder to think about-
– The honorable senator is just plain stupid. 1 ask honorable senators opposite to answer my questions by interjection, but not to make stupid remarks all of the time. If the whole of South East Asia becomes Communist, what will be the effect on Australia? What will happen? They cannot move until they move to Australia.
– Does the honorable senator wish to fight it in Australia?
– No. I did not say that at all. I am saying that there is no danger to us if South East Asia goes Communist, because they will not come to Australia until they have a strong enough navy. They must have a merchant navy, a war navy and an air force.
– So we will wait until that time and then fight in Australia, will wc?
– The honorable senator should not be silly. Do Government supporters say that we arc to take this stand with other countries? Indonesia is talking about attacking us. Should we not attack Indonesia now? lt is the fault of this Government that: Indonesia is now in New Guinea. Because the Americans would not help the Government, it let the Dutch down. It follows from what Senator Wright has said that that was the time to attack Indonesia. The Indonesians say that they own this country and they are coming down. According to Senator Henty’s thinking, this is the time to attack Indonesia and not to lend or give that country $200,000.
I want to return to this blatant horse trading in which the Government is indulging at the moment. The Government is offering the lives of our young boys for the sake of commercial profit in this country. That is the point of view of Government supporters.
– That is the Minister’s point of view. He is entitled to his point of view and I am entitled to mine. Until we had offered to increase our forces in Vietnam we did not hear a thing about American procurement in this country. Now it is in the newspapers every day that we are waiting for the Americans to come and buy our goods. The decision to send our young boys to Vietnam is made not by young people, but by us old people. We are all old. We do not have sons in the 20 years age group, but we have interests in commercial ventures which can make profits. Honorable senators buy and sell shares because they are in the group that is old enough and wealthy enough to be doing so, but we do not have boys of 20 years of age.
– Who said that?
– I said it.
– The honorable senator is wrong.
– I withdraw, if I referred to all honorable senators. I should have said that the majority of us do not have sons in the 20 years of age group. I apologise to those honorable senators who do have sons in that age group.
– The honorable senator said that my sons should go because I believe this is a righteous cause.
– The point is that if I believe strongly in something, I assume that my family will agree with me. They may not agree, but they would be the first people to volunteer if they agreed.
– I claim the same right for my sons as the honorable senator claims for his.
– My sons are allowed to make their own decisions. 1 do not believe that the safety and security of Australia are involved in Vietnam.
– Then the honorable senator should not let his sons go to Vietnam.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - -Order! Senator Mattner will cease interjecting.
– If Senator Mattner thinks that our security is involved in Vietnam he should encourage his sons to volunteer. Apart from the blatant horse trading in lives, we have heard so many arguments about what is going on in Vietnam that I think the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) should ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) upon his return from his trip to send to Vietnam a delegation representing all parties in this Parliament - five or so from each side - in order that they may have a look at the situation for themselves.
– Should they be conscripted or should they be obtained from volunteers?
– it may be necessary to conscript them. I do not think it will be a pleasure trip. The party may even be bombed while it is there. Nevertheless, I feel that the Minister should take to the Prime Minister a request that arrangements be made for a few parliamentarians to visit Vietnam and have a look at conditions there. The Prime Minister will go there on a governmental basis and will not have as good an opportunity to see what is going on as other members of the Parliament would have. I should also like the Minister to ask the Prime Minister to send a delegation of parliamentarians to China. If that is done I think it will be found that we are being brainwashed every day, as the Chinese are being brainwashed. The sooner we get together and find out what is going on in each other’s country the better it will be for us.
My final point concerns the commercialism that has crept into our relations with China and the support it has been gaining from the Opposition. In this respect, although the Government says that China is the aggressor in Vietnam, it is dealing with China. Why does it deal with China? It is because our economy might suffer otherwise. Are we at war or are we not? If we are at war, why do we help our opponents? The Government will continue to do so, of course, because its god is gold. lt deals with these people because otherwise some of our country people might suffer in the sale of their wheat and their wool. I believe that this is the worst thing that has happened, and the Government should be censured on it. Therefore, I propose to move an amendment to the motion that the Senate take note of the paper. I move -
At the end of the motion add the following words - “ but the Senate censures the Government for its lack of principle in having commercial dealings with the People’s Republic of China whilst it maintains that that Government is! the main aggressor in the Vietnamese conflict “.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Since no honorable senator has seconded the amendment, it lapses.
.- All I wish to say at this stage is that there is no problem that Senator Turnbull cannot solve in terms of money. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present the Twelfth Report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Senator Henry) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 20th April at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 3.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 March 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660331_senate_25_s31/>.