25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. When Commonwealth finance is granted for housing, is the allocation of the shares as between State Housing Commissions and co-operative housing societies entirely a matter for State decision, or is the Commonwealth able to influence such allocation? Can the Minister suggest how co-operative housing societies in Victoria can obtain a more adequate share of the financial allocation?
– The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement specifically provides that at least 30 per cent, of the moneys should be made available to the Home Builders’ Account. There is no further influence - I think that is the term the honorable senator used - by the Commonwealth, but I note that of the $15 million which was made available recently as added assistance, in my own State of Queensland 40 per cent, of the State allocation was made available to the Home Builders’ Account, and this must have been of great assistance to building societies. The second part of the honorable senator’s question was: How can the co-operatives get a better share?
– In Victoria, where they get only 30 per cent.
– My suggestion is that, in whatever State they may be, they make strong personal representations to the Premier of the State or the State Minister for Housing and put their case to him.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I preface my remarks by referring to newspaper advertisements inserted by the Department of Customs and Excise which I saw in some major newspapers in the week after Easter. These advertisements invite Australian importers to apply for quotas to import certain goods at special rates of duty from less developed countries. Would the Minister care to advise the Senate of the nature of these quotas which will be allocated by his Department?
– On 7th April the Minister for Trade and Industry made a statement relating to the Government’s decision to admit a certain range of products from less developed countries. In his statement he indicated that the details and necessary administrative arrangements and procedures would be handled by the Minister for Customs and Excise through the Department of Customs and Excise. The information that the honorable senator seeks is quite comprehensive and does not lend itself to inclusion in a reply at question time, but I propose to ask for leave of the Senate tomorrow and, if I get the leave, to make a statement on the procedures that the Department will apply in the application of this quite new and very important process in relation to less developed countries.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs be making a statement in the chamber today on the new diplomatic links existing between Australia and Yugoslavia?
– Assuming that leave is given to me to do so, the answer is: Yes.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy by referring to the editorial in the “ West Australian “ of 25th April which advocated that a naval base be established on the west coast of Australia. Has the Minister made any comment on the proposal? If not, will he state his views on it?
– The statement in the newspaper referred to was not brought to my notice previously. The best thing that I can do is to refer the question to the Minister for the Navy and obtain an answer from him.
– Can the
Minister representing the Prime Minister elaborate on the suggestion of the Acting Prime Minister that the Government should set up a national investment corporation to channel investments into national projects? Does this suggestion mean the introduction by the Government of capital issues control?
– I cannot elaborate, and would not endeavour to elaborate, on a newspaper statement attributed to the Acting Prime Minister. I am not aware of the terms nor of the report nor do I know whether the report accurately represents what was said.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that licensees of metropolitan commercial television stations were advised by the PostmasterGeneral that the Australian content of television programmes was to be increased to50 per cent, as from 18th January 1965? If this is so, will the PostmasterGeneral supply details to the Senate of the Australian proportion of programmes on each of the commercial stations in the various capital cities which received these instructions? What action will be taken against any commercial stations which have not complied with these instructions during the months of January, February and March 1966?
– The question clearly necessitates a reference to the Postmaster-General. It seeks information which it is not within my competence to give and I ask, therefore, that it be placed on the notice paper.
-I direct my question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. Before this sessional period of the Senate concludes will he endeavour to obtain replies to the 50 or more questions by honorable senators which still remain on the notice paper unanswered, and notice of several of which was given last year? What are the chief impediments to a more expeditious flow of answers to questions, particularly those which do not incur much research or the collation of figures? Is the customary long delay in the supply of answers due to an indifference to questions on the part of Ministers or the dilatory conduct of departmental officers or both?
– I will ask Senate Ministers who represent Ministers in another place to endeavour to expedite answers to questions which they have passed on to Ministers in another place. A Senate Minister who represents a Minister in another place cannot be sure that these questions will be answered promptly but I believe they do their best in this regard. There are of course a number of questions - not all - which require quite a considerable amount of research before answers can be given. I believe there is no indication, and there has been no indication, of indifference to questions on the part of Ministers in this place.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, by requesting that the reply be expedited because of the urgency of the matter. I ask: Will the Minister advise whether the report of the Committee of Investigation into Transportation Costs in Northern Australia - commonly known as the Loder Report - has been fully considered by Cabinet? If Cabinet has not completed its consideration of the report, when is it likely to be completed? If Cabinet has dealt with the report, when will it be available for discussion by Parliament and when will its contents be made available to interested organisations and persons in Northern Australia?
-I take it that the report was made available to a particular Minister. Is that correct?
– As far as I know, it was made available to Cabinet.
– It must have been called for from a Minister. I will endeavour to find out for Senator Keeffe whether the report was, in the normal way of reports, made available to a Minister, who the Minister is, and what the present position is in regard to its consideration.
(Question No. 797.)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Acting Prime Minister has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 803.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
The honorable senator may be aware that, in addition, a very senior and highly qualified physician from my Department’s Central Office visited Dr. Moller’s clinic in Kassel in July 1965, with the Department’s senior medical officer stationed in Germany, to study his methods of treatment. These officers undertook a thorough investigation and had discussions with Dr. Moller personally. They have confirmed the opinion that the efficacy of Dr. Moller’s oxygen injection therapy for peripheral arteriosclerosis is not proven. Although it may be of some value in certain cases, there is no available evidence to indicate that it is in any way superior to other, more orthodox, forms of treatment.
In the circumstances, I do not consider that there would be any advantage to be gained by inviting Dr. Moller to come to this country to demonstrate his methods of treatment.
(Question No. 824.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply - 1 and 2. It is known that “ natural science “ institutions, which are privately conducted, have been established in a number of countries, including England and Scotland. No such institutions exist in Australia. 3 to 7. Following claims by Mr. H. C. Ashton of Coogee, New South Wales, that “natural science “ is successful in the treatment of heart disease, arrangements were made for Dr. L. J. Wienholt, Commonwealth Director of Health in New South Wales, to interview him personally. During the interview, which lasted for several hours, Mr. Ashton was given ample opportunity tosubmit evidence in support of his claims. Dr. Wienholt duly submitted a full and lengthy report on the interview which was closely examined by other senior medical officers of my Department. All came to the conclusion that the methods of treatment which Mr. Ashton advocates have no proper scientific basis and are of notrue value in the treatment of heart disease.
(Question No. 858.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
The circumstances have altered a little since I put this question on the notice paper about a month ago.
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers -
-(Victoria; Minister for Works). - by leave - I am pleased to be be able to inform the Senate that the Governments of Australia and Yugoslavia have agreed to establish diplomatic relations and to exchange ambassadors. Yugoslavia occupies a significant place in the world because of its special relations and contacts with other countries in eastern Europe and because of the role it plays in many of the meetings and activities of uncommitted countries. It is also a country with which Australia has developed a number of practical contacts, particularly in the field of migration. We want to see the contacts between the two countries develop further.
The Australian embassy in Belgrade will be opened by a charge d’affaires, who is expected to arrive there with some staff in the latter part of next month. An ambassador, resident in Belgrade, will be appointed later. We look forward also to the establishment in Canberra of an embassy of Yugoslavia.
Debate resumed from 31st March (vide page 382), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
.- This Bill has been treated in the second reading speech of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) as consequential to the Judiciary Bill, which was dealt with by the Senate yesterday. The Judiciary Bill deals with matters affecting the. administration of justice generally throughout the Commonwealth, insofar as Federal and Territory courts are concerned. It covers matters such as the admission of legal practitioners, their right to practise, the discipline of such persons, and a host of other matters, such as the laws to be applied in the States and Territories when Federal jurisdiction is being exercised.
The particular amendment which was the principal object of the Bill dealt with yesterday concerned the rights of legal practitioners to practise in States and Territories, other than those to which they were admitted, and in Federal courts. The Bill was concerned not merely with the rights of the legal practitioners but also, and more importantly, with the rights of the citizen to have the legal advice and assistance that he might want wherever the legal practitioner was practising, provided it was in a State Supreme Court or Territory Supreme Court. The decision of the Senate yesterday was to ensure that no restriction will be placed upon a practitioner’s right to practise in the Territories. Such a restriction would, in effect, enable barriers to be placed around the Territories so as to exclude persons who were otherwise obviously qualified.
The Bill which we are debating today deals specifically with the Australian Capital Territory. Insofar as the Judiciary Bill gave certain rights to legal practitioners and certain rights to persons to avail themselves of the services of legal practitioners, the Senate has adopted the view that there should be no possibility of a barrier surrounding any Territory. The Judiciary Bill dealt in general with the Territories. The position in the Australian Capital Territory is covered by the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act. The provisions of that Act which relate to the matter I am discussing are to be found in section 40, which stales -
The parties in any cause or matter may appear before the Supreme Court either personally or by such barristers or solicitors as have the right to practise in any Federal Court.
That provision is to be noted for two important reasons. The first is that it properly deals with this question, not as a matter of the right of barristers or solicitors to practise, but as a matter of the right of the parties in the cause or matter to appear either personally or by barristers or solicitors. That is the first thing that the Parliament has recognised - that this is a matter of the right of the citizen and not primarily the right of the legal practitioner. The next matter is that up to this stage the Parliament has provided that the persons who could so represent citizens in this Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court were those who had the right to practise in any Federal court. We seek to preserve that position.
Those who supported the stand taken by the Senate yesterday did not want any power to be conferred which would enable some restriction to be placed upon that right. Such a restriction might have been placed on that right in a number of ways - either by cutting down the right to be admitted or by permitting persons to practise only if they were admitted in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. The second aspect is important, because even if a person were given the unqualified right to be admitted, this is not the same thing as the right to practise. A case might be coming on in the Supreme Court of the Territory, in a week or in a month or two months and a citizen, either inside or outside the Territory, concerned in the case might want the services of some legal practitioner from elsewhere. It is not enough to be able to say that that legal practitioner has the right to be admitted in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. The right to be admitted is not the same as the right to practise and, commonly, all sorts of notices have to be served, appearances have to be made before the Supreme Court and certain moneys have to be paid. There is generally associated with legal matters a considerable amount of red tape that has to be gone through before the right to be admitted becomes the right to practise and so, in plain terms, the citizen may not be able to avail himself of the services of the advocate he desires, because that person could not be admitted in time to deal with the litigation.
So far as the Territories generally are concerned we, in the Senate, have preserved the rights of the citizen. The rights have not been cut down. We have excluded from the complementary Bill the power which would enable such rights to be cut down. When we turn to this Bill we find that there is a change in the wording of the provision to govern the right of citizens to be represented. Section 40 of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act states -
The parties in any cause or matter may appear before the Supreme Court either personally or by such barristers or solicitors as have the right to practise in any federal Court.
In lieu of that section the Bill proposes to insert the following provision -
A party in a cause or matter may appear before the Supreme Court either personally or by a barrister or solicitor having the right to practise in the Court.
On reflection it seems to us that the amendment which was made to the Judiciary Bill by the Senate yesterday would prevent any restrictions being placed on the right to admission or on the right to practise which would exclude from practise in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court those who had the right to practise in any Federal court. I put it in these terms because, as has already been indicated, the Judiciary Bill is a very confusing measure
I think this was pointed to by Senator Wright. It seems to the Opposition that, in this confusion, the rights have been protected and it is not necessary to insist upon the preservation in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act of the existing section 40. In order to effectuate the scheme which the Government has proposed, of enabling admissions in the Territory, it would only be right, in any event, that some such provision as is in the proposed new section 40 be inserted because this is necessary to cover the persons who may be admitted in the Territory by the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. The Opposition does not object to that. As we envisage it the clause, as so phrased, would now operate in consequence of what was done by the Senate to the Judiciary Bill to preserve the existing rights which were incorporated in section 40.
It does seem to the Opposition, Mr. President, that the rights of the citizens conferred in the Judiciary Bill provisions are being properly secured in this Bill. If there is any doubt about that aspect, we would like to hear from the Minister as to whether or not his advisors consider otherwise. Subject to any suggestion that such rights were not being secured, we would have no opposition to the measure as it stands, it being merely consequential.
– in reply - This is clearly a Committee matter and I think we might go into the Committee stage of the Bill before any further discussion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Section 40 of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act 1933-1965 is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “40. A party in a cause or matter may appear before the Supreme Court either personally or by a barrister or solicitor having the right to practise in the Court.”.
In view of the fact that we have gone into Committee without hearing a reply from the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) to the matters raised in the second reading debate, may I say what I wish to say on this matter now? I have not given consideration to this Bill. It is a simple measure and is entirely complementary to the Judiciary Bill. The sole purpose of the Judiciary Bill, despite the fact that it ran over five pages, was, I think, to restrict the right of people in other parts of Australia to practise in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. Fortunately the Senate altered that Bill. The first thing I want to say in the light of that is that it seems to me that the Bill has no purpose of substance at all. This Bill is brought in to repeal the existing section 40 and to substitute a new section. The existing section 40 says -
The parties in any cause or matter may appear before the Supreme Court either personally or by such barristers or solicitors as have the right to practise in any federal Court.
If under the existing law you have a right to practise, then you have a right to appear for a litigant before the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. Clause 2 of the Bill now before us seeks to repeal existing section 40 of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act and to substitute the following section -
A party in a cause or matter may appear before the Supreme Court either personally or by a barrister or solicitor having the right to practise in the Court.
So the only effect of the Bill, in terms of language, is to substitute the words “ the Court “ for the words “ any federal Court “.
A former Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Owen Dixon, in a comparatively recent case threw some doubt upon the wisdom of the approach that is usually made to such matters. In a veiled suggestion, he said that you should not always treat the actual words that are used in print as having been meticulously prepared in order to express the intention of the Parliament. His Honour went on to say that perhaps not at all times when the Parliament alters language does it necessarily mean to indicate a substantial alteration of purpose. It is the usual approach for most judges, if they see an amendment such as is proposed to section 40, to find a meaningful difference. I do not think such a difference will be found here. I do not think it can be suggested that the draftsman can be understood to be speaking in the light of the amendment that was made to another measure last night. I do not think it can be suggested that the substitution of the words “ the Court “ for the words “ any federal Court”, if this Bill is considered in joint operation with the Judiciary Bill as passed last night, will alter the meaning of the section. I put my view on record because, if it later becomes necessary to deal with a claim as to the operation of this legislation, at least for my satisfaction there will be a record of the view that I take. I do not think that this measure achieves anything.
– In other words, it is meaningless?
– It is quite meaningless in substantial legal operation. The present law allows any practitioner who has a right to practise in any Federal court to practise in Canberra. Last night when dealing with the Judiciary Bill, we left proposed section 55b (1.) in the form in which it stood. It provides -
Subject to this section, a person who -
is for the time being emitted to practise as a barrister or solicitor, or as both, in the Supreme Court of a State; or
is for the time being entitled, under a law (including this Act) in force in a Territory, to practise as a barrister or solicitor, or as both, in the Supreme Court of that Territory, has the like entitlement to practise in any federal court.
So if the existing language stood, those same persons would have the right to practise in the Australian Capital Territory. New section 55d, of the Judiciary Act provides - (1.) Subject to this section, a person -
So, upon a combination of those two sections, those persons would have a right to practise in any Federal court and in any Territory. But taken in conjunction with the language of existing section 40 which gives a specific right to practise in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court to any person who has the right to practise in a Federal court, this in my view would ensure an unconditional right. The provisions of this Bill would alter the words “ in a Federal court “ to a right to practise in “ the Court “-that is the Court of the Territory - but that right is assured by the language I have read from the Judiciary Bill to persons who have enrolment in the Supreme Court of aState or a Territory.
So I would think the amending Bill is unnecessary. Senator Murphy has indicated a viewpoint regarding the amendment which has been circulated. I would suggest that each of them is unnecessary. Notwithstanding that, if the Minister’s advice is that the Bill is necessary and if he can assure us that its operation and effect will be no different from what I have attempted to state, I would not oppose it. I believe my view is identical with Senator Murphy’s interpretation of its operation.
– It is the common desire that the Bill be amended, if it be amended at all, to carry out the intention of the Senate which was expressed in relation to the Judiciary Bill and so as not to create any conflict between the two measures. No one would want such conflict. My view of the position is the same as Senator Wright’s. However, I have been handed a statement which came from the Parliamentary Draftsman and I suggest that one important consideration should be borne in mind. I refer to the position of a citizen who might want to understand what this legislation is about and the right of persons from elsewhere who might want a similar understanding. It does not seem right that such persons should look up the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act and find in it an expression which might mislead them. Proposed new section 40 states -
A party in a cause or matter may appear before the Supreme Court either personally or by a barrister or solicitor having the right to practise in the Court.
Reading that, one could well be left with the impression that a barrister or solicitor could not represent a client unless he had been admitted to practise in that court. It is true that if you knew your way around this confusing complexity of the Judiciary Bill you would know the answer, but it may be that persons would be confused by the previous provisions which gave the right to practise in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court to those who have the right to practise in any Federal court. That has been deleted and another provision inserted.
The commonsense approach is to express the position in clear terms, consistent with the other Bill, and to state what is no doubt the intention of the Government. That is, to leave what is now proposed in die Bill and insert after the words that appear there now - or in any Federal court or court of any Territory.
That would mean that persons looking at the Bill would know what the position was without having to undertake an investigation of the complex provisions of the Judiciary Bill which caused some confusion in the Senate yesterday. If that commends itself as a proposal which would meet what I understand to be the common desire, I move -
That clause 2 be amended by inserting after the words “ practise in the Court “ the words “ or in any Federal Court or in the Court of any Territory “.
– Is the honorable senator abandoning the amendment he foreshadowed earlier?
– Yes, I abandon the one which I circulated and 1 substitute the one which 1 have just moved, on the understanding that this merely preserves the position but makes clear what is the effect of the repeal and substitution of the present clause. It is a matter that goes to clarity. It does not, as we conceive it, produce any alteration in the substance of the law; but, after all, the substance is not the only thing to be considered. Clarity is also important - the understanding that it gives to a citizen and those who are required to know its provisions.
– The substance of the new amendment is, as far as I can discover, significantly the same as the substance of the amendment that was circulated. The Bill, as presented to the Committee by the Government, proposes to repeal section 40 of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act, which gives to anybody who has a right to practise in a Federal Court the right to practise in the Supreme Court of the Territory. The Bill proposes to make clear that those who can appear before the Supreme Court for their clients are those who have the right to practise in the court, and those who have that right to practise in the court are defined in the Bill passed yesterday by the Senate as those who are on the roll of any Supreme Court. The Bil) as it left the Senate gives to those people an unrestricted right to practise in the Supreme Court of the Territory. This Bill proposes to cross out what was thought to be ^ redundant section giving anybody who has a right to practise in a Federal Court the right to practise in the Supreme Court, and we have already said that those who have that right are those who are enrolled in a Supreme Court of a State or a Territory. That appears to the Government to go quite far enough and, indeed, to be all that is necessary to provide, as we have heard it suggested is necessary to provide, for clients a capacity to bring in representatives from outside to practise in that Court.
I understand, although I hope my advisers will make it clearer to me, that it would be possible, for example, for any Federal practitioner, that is anyone who has a right to practise in a Federal court - this stems, I understand, from being on the register of the High Court which in turn stems from being on the roll of the Supreme Court - to practise in Territory courts. But the reverse of this may not be true. Although I have not actually received Senator Murphy’s subsequent amendment, I have heard its terms. I understand he wishes to add the words: “ or in any Federal court or in any court in any Territory “. The Government would prefer the Bill to stand as it has been presented to the Senate.
.- I suggest to Senator Murphy that the form of his proposed amendment is quite dangerous in that he seeks to add words referring to a court of a Territory. Surely there is no doubt that the Supreme Court of any Territory is a Federal court. Therefore, if one refers to “ in the court “ meaning the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory or any Federal court one expresses what is proposed by Senator Murphy.
– I do not think that is the scheme of this Bill.
– What are the last words of the honorable senator’s proposed amendment?
– “ Or any court in any Territory.”
– We cannot have that. For instance a practitioner may have the right to practise only in a native court, a land court, a mining court or some other court of special appropriateness. We could not give him the right to appear before the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. I think what is intended is “ or in the Supreme Court of any Territory “. Surely no-one will suggest to me that a Supreme Court constituted in any Territory is not a Federal court.
– I think it will be suggested.
– My advisers suggest it is not.
– Would the Minister ask his advisers to refer me to the place where that definition is contained? I am not disputing what they say but, as usual, I want to pursue the light of knowledge.
– I think the answer may be found in the various provisions of the Bill we dealt with yesterday.
– Yes. If a court of a Territory is not a Federal court I still think the last words of Senator Murphy’s proposed amendment are surplusage, having regard to the language of section S5d of the Judiciary Act which provides that a person whose name is on the roll of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory is entitled to practise as a barrister or solicitor in any Territory. I am concerned only that in any amendment Senator Murphy succeeds in introducing there will not be such tautology as to make it look so devoid of reason that those who may wish to disagree with the amendment will have a whip which they may use with effect, not merely as a lash but as a lash with a barb. I am reminded of these words in the lovely poem by Kendall “Bill The BullockDriver “-
A whip-lash to him is as dear as a rose Would be to a delicate maid; He carries his darlings wherever he goes, In a pocket-book tattered and frayed.
That poem was written long before your day, Mr. Chairman. I have mentioned that poem only to show that in this country it has been possible for bullock drivers to become barristers. I have given a further opportunity for other people to think while I talk. I just thought that I would re-present the suggestion that the additional words “ or in the Territory “ achieve nothing but possible doubt. Having said that, I want to present again, particularly to Senator Murphy, the suggestion that the addition of the words “ or in any Federal court “ is not necessary. If the Minister is advised to pursue the Bill, which consists solely of the amendment to section 40 of the Act, despite the fact that I think it is unnecessary, because I always wish to defer to leadership - and I say this with no spirit of cynicism - in this case I would give my support to the leadership.
– May I, with the leave of the Senate, adopt the suggestion so very well made by Senator Wright, that my amendment ought to be more properly expressed by inserting the word “ Supreme “ before the words “ court of any Territory.”?
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The effect is that the provision will be restricted to the Supreme Courts. The issue should be very clear. The proposal of the Government is not objected to on the ground that it does not confer the right of appearance upon practitioners in any Federal court or the Supreme Court of any Territory. I understand that that right is conferred by the form in which the Judiciary Bill is now expressed. If this Bill were left in its present form, it would confer that right. Lt is a matter of clarity. The right given to citizens to have those practitioners represent them who have the right to practise in any Federal court has been repealed and the relevant words have been replaced by words which are capable of being misunderstood. The purpose of my proposed amendment is to make the position clear to citizens. I do not propose my amendment in the belief that the right is not conferred by those words. But the right ought to be, as far as is possible, set forth in the Act. No citizen should have to search through another Act in order to find what the words in this Bill mean. When one is dealing with the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act, and specifically with the right of appearances, the position ought to be made as clear as possible. If the addition of a few words would clarify the position, we should add them.
That is why I suggest that the words should be inserted which would preserve the right of those persons who have the right to practise in any Federal court. I understand that Senator Wright goes that far with me. As to the rest, he conceives that the Supreme Courts of the Territories are covered by the expression “ Federal court “. If that were so, I would agree with him that there would be no need to add other words, but as I understand the matter, within the meaning of the Judiciary Bill, the Supreme Courts of the Territories are not so covered.
– Accepting that, before the honorable senator moves on I point out that under section 55D(l.)(b) of the Judiciary Act a person whose name is on the roll of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory is entitled to practise as a barrister or solicitor in any Territory. That would include the Australian Capital Territory.
– Yes. I am not disputing that when one is able to spell out all of the enactments one gets to the right to practise. But, as a matter of clarity, the right should be expressed in the Bill with which we are dealing. When we repeal the right to practise in a Federal court, a person could well get the impression that the right has been taken away. This is a matter of clarifying the legislation in the interests of all who are concerned with it. As we understand it. the amendment expresses in clearer terms the right not only of those persons who are admitted in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory but also of those persons who have the right to practise in any Federal court or in any Territory to practise in the Australian Capital Territory. That right certainly is not conveyed in clear terms by the expression in the Bill as it now stands. One could not find that right expressed in the Bill as it now stands. One would have to search elsewhere. When one did that one would come to the conclusion that the right that I propose should be expressed in this Bill is actually covered.
Senator GORTON (Victoria - Minister for Works) [4.3 J. - I submit that the clause, as printed, is perfectly clear and perfectly precise. What it says is that any barrister who has the right to practise in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory may practise in that Court. If we ask: “ Who are the barristers who have the right to practise in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory? “, then we look at section 55d (1.) of the Judiciary Act which gives us this answer: People whose names are on the roll of barristers and solicitors of the High Court or whose names are on the roll of barristers, of solicitors, of barristers and solicitors, or of legal practitioners of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory. That seems to me to cover the people who have the right. It seems to me to be perfectly clear.
– As I understand the position, Senator Murphy proposes to add to proposed section 40 the words “ or in any Federal court or in the Supreme Court of any Territory “. I have followed the argument very carefully. I understood the Minister to say that proposed section 40 merely restates the position already set out in the Judiciary Act. On that count and accepting that position, as I do, I make the comment that the proposed section is quite unnecessary.
If the Minister says that it is convenient to do this because, when persons who are practising in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory have a particular statute devoted to the purposes of that Court, it is useful to be able to pick up that statute and find that the right to practise is defined in it. I submit, again on the ground of convenience, that Senator Murphy’s proposal would contribute to convenience. A person who has the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act before him will look at section 40 and say: “The people who may appear are those who have the right to practise in the Court.” Then he must ask himself: “ Who are those people?” The answer to that question is: “ Look at the Judiciary Act.” That Act may not be immediately available. It may be inconvenient for him to look at that Act. As the clause is designed for the convenience of people who look at the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act, why not spell out the other ingredients? I feel that the Minister has no objection to the inclusion of the idea that is implicit in the amendment proposed by Senator Murphy.
– In fact, what the Minister has said is that the meaning of the words in the Bill is the same as the meaning of the words of Senator Murphy’s amendment.
– That is right. The Minister claims that. My feeling is that in those circumstances it is purely a matter of convenience. A person who picks up the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act, instead of having to find out for himself who is entitled to practise by going to the trouble of discovering the Judiciary Act and looking at the recent amendments, would not be inconvenienced if the whole matter were spelt out in this Bill, as Senator Murphy proposes.
.- In reply to Senator McKenna, I point out that there is a danger in that the whole story would not be told. You do not state who is entitled to practise in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, in any Federal court, in the Supreme Court of a Territory or in the Supreme Court of a State. The omission of that would mislead people. Therefore, I suggest that the matter is better left in one form, either as it stands in the existing Act or as it is proposed in the Bill. Then the substance is clear. Especially in view of the Minister’s statement, I would counsel honorable senators, who have a duty of revision, to make amendments that are required - amendments of actual substance - and not to interfere with bills unless there is a substantial reason for doing so.
– I rise to oppose the amendment. Referring to Senator McKenna’s argument, I do not think the addition of the words that Senator Murphy proposes to add would add anything to the proposed section. Having discovered who has the right to practise in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory - that that right is given to a person who has the right to practise in a Federal court or in the Supreme Court of a Territory - one would still have to go elsewhere to find out who has the latter right. I imagine that if one were seeking clarity one would put some reference to the Judiciary Act in proposed section 40 and so pinpoint the exact place where the relevant provisions are. However, I have no objection whatever to proposed section 40 as it stands at the moment. I oppose the amendment.
-(Senator DrakeBrockman). - Order! The question is: “ That clause 2 be amended by inserting after the words * practise in the Court ‘ the words or in any Federal court or in any Supreme Court of any Territory ‘.”.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 20th April (vide page 463), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Senate take note of the following paper -
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 22nd March 1966.
– Mr. Deputy President, the statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) was presented to the Parliament on 10th March. It covered many aspects of Australian foreign policy, which the Minister stated were based on a proper concern for the security of our own nation and the belief that certain principles of international conduct must be preserved. The Minister placed great emphasis upon our own determination to support the resistance of free countries to external aggression aimed at the overthrow of their independence and our willingness to join in co-operative measures for the common security of the region in which we live. The Minister described the reasons for and the nature of the struggle in Vietnam. He referred to the involvement of the United States of America, and Australia’s participation in Vietnam and the justification for it.
Let me say at the outset that the war in Vietnam is one that everybody hates, with the exception of the Communists. It is referred to as a civil war, a local rebellion against an established government and a war of liberation. But as we all know, it is not any one of those three. It is a war of aggression waged by the Communists and directed by Hanoi and Peking. Liberation fronts and freedom movements are routine Communist policy. They are used as a screen behind which the Communists carry out their campaigns of guerrilla warfare, terrorism and conquest. The war in Vietnam has been described as a dirty war. Senator Withers said that all wars are dirty. That is true. But any defence against Communist guerrilla activity is confronted always by planned sabotage, murder and assassination. The Communists accept no rules or standards. They make the conditions under which free people must fight.
I would like to outline the conditions in Vietnam today. I will not go over the details relating to the division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel, which was made in 1954. My colleague, Senator Wright, mentioned those details last week. The only thing that I would like to say in this respect is that in 1955 the Government of South Vietnam asked for and received assistance from the United States of America in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Accords. Huge sums of money were diverted to what are known as economic programmes. An institute of public administration was established, and assistance was given to the South Vietnamese to help in projects of education and health. American doctors worked in teams in Vietnam. As a result of the economic assistance that was provided in Vietnam, in five years elementary school enrolments more than doubled; 8,000 classrooms were provided; universities were established and expanded; road construction was undertaken, and the per capita food production rose at the rate of 20 per cent., whilst in North Vietnam it dropped by 10 per cent. But as was expected, this did not suit the Communists.
From 1959 onwards South Vietnam has been subjected to a major campaign of terrorism. Cadres of guerrillas infiltrated from the North to the South with considerable quantities of arms, ammunition and other supplies. Provincial, district, village and hamlet officials were murdered in cold blood. Teachers were assassinated, schools were burned, anti-malaria workers were killed, hospitals were destroyed in order to get supplies, roads were mined, passenger trains were wrecked and bridges were burned. Honorable senators have had an opportunity to read the exchange of letters that resulted in a promise by the United States of America to increase assistance to defend South Vietnam against attacks which were in violation of the 1954 Geneva Accords and which were in violation of every principle of international law. It is significant that the three American administrations of President Eisenhower, President Kennedy and President Johnson have all been of the one opinion - that South Vietnam is the point of collision in the fight for the balance of power in South East Asia, and that that balance of power is critical to the whole world.
I now would like to turn to the question of the decision of the Australian Government to support our American ally. I want to be as objective as I can. Wars and rumours of wars strike terror into the hearts of all women. Many of them like myself are the wives or mothers - sometimes both - of men who have served in one and often two wars. Others are the mothers or wives of men who will be called upon to serve in the future. They are desperately worried by some of the extraordinary statements that have been made by responsible people in recent days, and also by attempts to divide the Australian nation by the resurrection of attitudes which may have been realistic in the first half of this century, but which certainly have no application today.
I congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) on his visit to the Australian troops in Vietnam. I believe that that visit has done much to counter the mischievous and unworthy statement that the Government is trading lives for arms contracts. The Prime Minister took the opportunity to tell the men who are serving in Vietnam with such distinction what are our objectives in Vietnam. I think they are worth restating this afternoon. I shall quote them as they were announced by the Prime Minister in another place. He said -
Our first objective is to help the Government of the Republic of Vietnam, at its request and in the light of our own assessment of the nature of the conflict in Vietnam, to resist the armed aggression of Communist North Vietnam . . . Our second objective is to free 15 million people of South Vietnam from the threat of oppression and terror which would be their lot under the domination of the Communists of the north, and help establish conditions under which they will be able to choose and develop free from coercion of any kind the forms of government and society which they themselves want.
Many people have been critical of the changes of Government in South Vietnam. But it must be recognised that these people have had few opportunities to engage in democratic government. Under the best of conditions, it would take them a long time to achieve their own form of democratic administration. But exposed, as they have been, to all the Communist propaganda that has flooded South Vietnam and which has exploited every racial and religious difference, the task of any government, no matter how able, would have been most difficult. The third objective outlines our resolution to honour our treaty commitments and our alliances. The fourth contains promises of encouragement for and support of the work of modernisation and progress. I was very interested to read in the “ Age “ a report by John Bennetts, a political correspondent who was in Saigon on 22nd April. Under the heading in large black type “ New Civil Aid Offer to South Vietnam by P.M.”, the report says -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Holt) today outlined to South Vietnam’s Prime Minister (Air ViceMarshal Ky) a plan recently approved by the Federal Cabinet for extending the civil aid activities of the Australian Army units stationed in South Vietnam. Australian troops are already engaged in a number of voluntary aid projects, including the construction of school facilities for Vietnamese children. The Defence Minister (Mr. Fairhall) and Senator Gorton, as Acting Minister for External Affairs, have been working out details of a more extensive formal aid programme.
I believe that in giving civil aid to South Vietnam the Government is demonstrating that it is determined to help the South Vietnamese towards a better life in the future than they have had in the past. The fifth objective is to avoid a widening of the war and to seek a peaceful settlement of the conflict. I believe that we should leave no stone unturned in our efforts to secure a peaceful settlement but, as the Prime Minister has rightly said, there can be no settlement that does not guarantee the independence of the South Vietnamese people. Many attempts have been made to reach such a settlement but, up to date, all invitations to negotiate for peace have been rejected by the Communist North Vietnamese in Hanoi and their supporters in Peking. On the other hand the Communists have sought to impose conditions that could not be acceptable to a free people or, indeed, to any of the people of South East Asia.
The President of China has laid it down that the two essential conditions for a settlement in Vietnam are the immediate withdrawal of all United States military forces and the recognition of the Vietcong - the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam - as the sole representative of South Vietnam. Does anyone believe that these terms are conducive to a just or lasting peace? What would be the result if such terms were forced upon the Vietnamese people? They have fought gallantly for the return of their own freedom and for the control of their own destiny. From I960 to July 1965 they suffered over 117,000 casualties, including 34,000 killed in action, and of course those figures would be considerably higher today. To commit the South Vietnamese into the hands of the Vietcong would be to secure peace on any terms and at any price. The United States has made it clear, over and over again, that the Americans are in Vietnam for one purpose only, and that is to help the South Vietnamese’ to maintain their independence. When Vice President Humphrey was in Canberra in February last, he stated that the United States was not fighting for territory; that it was not fighting for any reason except for peace and that the Americans were prepared for peace. In addition to that we have had the assurance from President Johnson that the United States will remain in Vietnam, ready and willing to move from the battlefields to the conference table, but will not yield, and on that resolution I believe the peace of the free world rests.
Demands for the immediate withdrawal of the United States from Vietnam are completely unrealistic. If such a step were taken without adequate safeguards, Saigon would immediately pass into the hands of the Communists and the Vietcong would extend its operations into Thailand, Malaysia, Burma and Indonesia, thereby creating a critical problem for Asia, and Australia could quickly find itself in a very vulnerable position. Some of our Australian
Labour Party opponents refuse to admit such a possibility. They refuse to admit it in this chamber, just as they always retreat behind their traditional policy of isolation, but I contend that in doing so they wilfully over: look the fanaticism of the Communist strategy. The present moves of the Communists are part of the strategy that has been used relentlessly in the subjugation of eastern Europe and parts of Asia and Africa and which is aimed at the final encirclement of the United States of America.
I come now to the important question of whether the Australian Government was right to commit Australia to assist in Vietnam. I believe, with all the conviction that I can command, that the Australian Government was right in the actions that it took. Australians have a vital interest in South East Asia. We live in the second half of the 20th century, when the emergence of Communist power, and more particularly of Chinese Communist power, has produced changed conditions which render obsolete much of the thinking of the first part of the century. Today Communist war is total war - economic war, psychological war, guerrilla war and then, if necessary, full scale military war. These are the means of conquest which have been used with success by the Communists across the world. Let us not make any mistake, world domination is their aim, so if we are to survive as a people we must accept the facts of Australia’s geographical position. We must accept the forms and methods of Communist expansion. The only threat to our security comes from Communist aggression in South East Asia. Liberation fronts are a main Communist export. Communist expansion recognises no national boundaries and no limits and each base secured by Communism is a base for further expansion. Every southern movement brings the threat nearer to Australia.
This brings me to a recapitulation of what I believe are the inescapable facts as far as Australia is concerned. We cannot escape our geographical position and, because of that position, we are under threat from Communism in South East Asia. We cannot guarantee the security of our nation by our efforts alone because alone wc are vulnerable. We must have powerful friends and allies. I believe that we should retain the confidence of those friends and allies. Perhaps even more importantly still, any action we take now to assist the free countries of Asia is in our own interests.
The Australian Labour Party has opposed the policy of the Government in Vietnam. Mr. Calwell has stated on a number of occasions that a Labour Government would immediately withdraw troops from Vietnam. But before Mr. Calwell or a Labour Government can do this there is one question that has to be answered by the Australian people. That question is: Do we stand ready and willing to play our part in a common cause; do we stand with our friends in the free world; or do we stand alone and wait for the day of disaster? When the Australian people face up to the alternatives and when they make their decision I believe that they will overwhelmingly support the Government’s actions in regard to Vietnam.
– It seems to me that what Senator Wedgwood has said in her concluding remarks goes to the root of the differences between the Labour Opposition and the Government on this question. As the Opposition has commented before, Senator Wedgwood and the Government see the situation in Vietnam and, in fact, the general overall political struggle, as a struggle requiring a military solution. The Australian Labour Party has consistently pointed out that Communism cannot be beaten by armed might. It has said that if the Government wants to beat Communism it has to apply economic, social and political remedies in the country concerned. We say in the Senate and to the Australian people, in other places, that this is the only way in which we can get a lasting solution. I have said previously, and I say again, that until the Government recognises this point of view - and only recently has it expressed any sentiments about this view - until it sees the struggle against Communism as one requiring social remedies, we will be involved in military campaigns, placing great burdens on the Australian community, particularly the ordinary people in the community, and more particularly on national service trainees.
One of the things that we have highlighted in debate on previous occasions - and obviously the same observations must still apply - is that the Government’s point of view has been somewhat confusing. If one wants to find out what the Government thinks about negotiation, for example, there are a number of different statements on the subject. If you want to find out what the Government has in mind about social or economic remedies there are a number of statements, all of a different nature. Two years ago the Government gave some prominence to the question of economic aid. More recently, arising from trouble between the Catholics, Buddhists and other groups who were organising against the military juntas, and following the Honolulu Agreement, the Government recognised that there was a need to do something in relation to a democratic State.
I have pointed out before in relation to the subject of negotiation that the Government has been too slavish, lt has adopted, second hand, the point of view of other powers. I want again to state what the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said in 1965 in regard to negotiations. Honorable senators will recall that the Government was then considering whether it should negotiate because the Opposition had posed this as a most important question. The Minister for External Affairs pointed out on 25th March 1965, that before any negotiations should be entered upon there should be some final objective in view He said that we. should know where we were going. Almost at the same time we received a report from the United States of America that President Johnson had said that he was in favour of unconditional negotiations. The disposition to negotiate is very important. The Government says that there is no chance now of negotiating; the Communist powers have rejected all offers of negotiation and we cannot proceed with them, so we have to step up the military campaign. The Government also says that it cannot get volunteers to go to Vietnam, so it has to conscript young men. I suggest that this is quite wrong. We should be doing what Senator Kennedy suggested recently in the United States. The Government should be canvassing the area of possible talks. We should be trying to find out the possibilities of talking to people on the opposite side.
– Has not that been done?
– No, it has not been done. The South Vietnam Government has said that it will not hold talks with any representatives of the National Liberation Front. Our Minister for External Affairs, on the other hand, recently made the point that he thought it was possible that members of the Vietcong, or the National Liberation Front as it is often called, might take part in some negotiations. A statement made by the Minister for External Affairs on this question appeared in “ Current Notes on International Affairs “ of January 1966 and related to a Press statement he made in Saigon on 19th December 1965. He had been asked whether the Vietcong might be represented at any talks, particularly in view of the fact that they control at least half of the country. Mr. Hasluck then said -
So far as negotiation in the narrow term in which I’ve used it the view that has been taken hitherto is that if North Vietnam wants to include representatives of the Vietcong in its delegation, well and good. That is its decision. But the Vietcong has no international status - it is a rebellion, a subversive movement.
One should then turn to the views of the South Vietnam Government in respect to this question. I want to quote from a publication put out by the South Vietnam Embassy in Canberra. The publication was issued as a result of the statement made by President Johnson on 7th April 1965. President Johnson said; -
We will never be second in the search for such a peaceful settlement in Vietnam.
There are many ways to this kind of peace: in discussions or negotiations with the governments concerned, in large groups or in small ones; in the re-affirmation of old agreements, or their strengthening with new ones.
He inferred that this was our policy. Following that statement by President Johnson the Republic of Vietnam Government, on 11th April 1965, proclaimed its official stand in respect of negotiations. It said -
The United States of America desires to settle the Vietnamese problem in a common accord, and is willing to start unconditional discussions.
This docs not imply the acceptance of a ceasefire without preconditions. Certain preconditions, such as the withdrawal of Communist troops and cadres from South Vietnam, must be fulfilled if negotiations are to be meaningful.
The Republic of Vietnam Government has on many occasions reiterated its eagerness to see peace restored in Vietnam at the earliest possible time. It thinks that the only way to achieve this is to suppress the cause of the tension - that is, subversive and hostile acts by the Communists on the territory of the Republic of Vietnam in flagrant violation of the Geneva Agreements.
In fact, the success of eventual negotiations and the maintenance of a lasting peace depend on previous withdrawal of the Vietcong armed units and political cadres.
Once the preconditions set by the Republic of Vietnam have been fulfilled, its negotiators will meet with qualified representatives of the opposing side - but only with qualified representatives. The Government has never recognised, and is not recognising, the so-called National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, an instrument created by the North Vietnamese Communists to further their aims. . . .
That was the situation in April 1965, and it has not changed.
– Is that statement not of the same effect in substance?
– I suggest that it is not. The Minister for External Affairs has said that he is not opposed to a North Vietnamese delegation being included.
– Is that not what was said?
– I suggest it was not. This goes to the very root of the problem. The South Vietnam Government will not talk with representatives of the National Liberation Front.
– No, not as such.
– That is the real position. The South Vietnamese Government says that the North has to withdraw its forces from the country before it will talk. More than one half of South Vietnam is controlled by the Vietcong. That is a well established fact; I am not merely stating my simple point of view. I have seen areas where this state of affairs exists.
– It is controlled on what basis? By force?
– It is controlled by force - by government methods. That being the position, why should we say that we will not talk to any of these people?
– We have not said that we will not talk to these people.
– Let me continue my argument. The honorable senator will then see what I am driving at. What Mr. Hasluck said in Saigon in December was a little different from what the South Vietnamese say. 1 suggest that we should consider the notion that Senator Kennedy of America is putting forward. He says that we should be canvassing the possibility of negotiation and should not be putting me whole accent on military activity when we know that conditions in South Vietnam are unstable and that overall the people lean towards some form of political democracy.
– Will the honorable senator clear up this point for me: Does he mean that the Vietcong, or the National Liberation Front, contains a large number of South Vietnamese Communists?
– Of course it does. That is the point I am making. I have said that one half of South Vietnam is now controlled by the Vietcong. Many areas such as the Mekong Delta have been so controlled for many years. There is an established form of government there. I think I have said in the past that there is a joint smuggling of goods into the area and that two sets of taxes are imposed. The Vietcong exact taxes for maintaining control of these areas. Rubber plantation owners pay taxes to the Vietcong and also to the Government forces of South Vietnam. I have mentioned in the past, and it has been stated in broadcasts, that in the Can Tho area, for example, people go from the Red controlled districts to the town market casually and then return.
We say that, because of the existence of this state of affairs, we cannot negotiate. China’s attitude to negotiations is stated in the pamphlet entitled “Who are the Warmongers?”, which is an official publication of South Vietnam. This was Communist China’s official Government response on 9th April 1965 to President Johnson’s appeal for negotiations -
In proposing ‘ unconditional discussions ‘ on the problems of Vietnam, the United States aims to have the Vietnamese people lay down their arms and stop righting, letting American troops occupy South Vietnam at will.
Though proclaiming peace, the U.S. President persists in bombing North Vietnam.
Honorable senators will recall that in this place in the past I have quoted statements, including a statement made by Prime Minister Khanh, who was in control when I and my colleagues visited the country in 1964. He expressed the view that the war should be extended into North Vietnam. I suggest that the solution to this situation lies not in trebling our defence forces in
Vietnam but in working towards talks as has been suggested by Senator Kennedy of the United States.
We have always supported the military juntas, the 14 different administrations, of South Vietnam. We supported the view expressed by Diem in relation to the failure to apply the provisions of the Geneva Accords. Honorable senators will recall that one of the obligations imposed by the Geneva Accords was that the Government of South Vietnam should work towards the holding of free elections. This has never been done. Diem said that it was not possible because of the activities of the Communists in South Vietnam. The only election that the Diem regime ever held was a real racket; it was worse than a gerrymander. It was a restricted election. Almost all the candidates who opposed the nominated candidates of the Diem Government were disqualified. Only one candidate who was not a Diem supporter was allowed to run against each Government candidate. Even that opponent suffered some very awkward restrictions.
The then Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Robert Menzies, said at the time that elections could not be held because of unsettled conditions and that the situation had to be stabilised by military action. Then we sent a few advisers to South Vietnam. I have said before, and I now repeat, that those advisers played a very useful role at the time. They were not doing other than what a United Nations force might do. They were merely teaching the people to use arms. Then we increased the number of advisers and eventually formed them into an active battalion. Since then, while the political situation has grown worse, we have gone further. The whole edifice of administration was, and still is, bad. This state of affairs must be remedied on political lines. If the Administration of South Vietnam wants to fight some of the armed units from North Vietnam, obviously it cannot do so unless it has the population behind it. At the time I have been referring to, we said that we should not worry about the Geneva Accords. But now we have come back to the Geneva Accords. In the statement that we are discussing the Prime Minister says that he thinks it might be possible to conduct negotiations on the basis of the Geneva Agreements. We have the
Australian Government”, China and North Vietnam all saying the same.
Where, are we falling down? Are there any matters we could discuss that might lead to a peaceful solution of the problem? I think there are. I suggest that we should be canvassing the possibility of such talks. If we wanted to negotiate, we would have to take a very positive stand. Perhaps we would have to challenge the point of view of the Government of South Vietnam. I see nothing wrong with our doing that. Seeing’ that we are backing South Vietnam and are sending our young people there, we should be able to suggest the’ ways in which we think a solution might be achieved.
– In what particular way should we challenge South Vietnam?
– We should tell South Vietnam that it should adopt certain social and political changes. We have not been ready to say such things, but in the face of recent protests in Saigon and at Hue in the north we have come around to the belief that this is part of the struggle against Communism. Rather have we pointed out that Communist influences are now at work in the north of Thailand. The same remedies should be applied there. We are not going to help the Thai Government successfully with the establishment of broadcasing arrangements, roads and technical aid, which we are giving it, unless we can ensure also that the northern parts of Thailand are free from economic troubles.
When a stable political and economic unit is established, Communism presents no problem. This is the only way to defeat Communist activity. Yet we maintain this wrong attitude. We are trying to establish the prestige of Australia in South East Asia. We have good relations with Cambodia, a neutral country which is friendly to Australia although it is aligned against the United States of America because of an incident in which the Prime Minister, Prince Sihanouk, was nearly assassinated. We have set up municipal workshops in Phnom Penh with Australian machinery and have helped Cambodia considerably in that way. In Laos, the half brother of the Pathet Lao leader, Souvanna Phouma is in charge of the country and maintains links with the Communist forces because he has said: “ At some stage we will get them back into a coalition Government “. As Senator Mattner knows, in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, 100 members of the Pathet Lao including guards and representatives of the armed forces, have established head-quarters and a military link with the Pathet Lao. The Conservative British Government knew this and said it was a good thing. In these circumstances, how can we establish the prestige we seek while risking our position in military activity which will not be final and will never present a solution?
I leave that part of the argument on the basis that we have to take a stand on this question. My time is running out but I want to refer briefly to the Government’s policy towards China. Again, I suggest this presents some contradictions. While the Government claims that it is all right to trade with China because it is not dealing in strategic materials, the Minister for External Affairs has said that no solution will be lasting unless it takes China into account. To some extent the U.S.A. has adopted the same sort of proposition. Previously the United States was completely anti-China and did not even accept the. view that there were two Chinas, but now the Americans have said that they might be able to deal with China.
So according to the Government; we are carrying on a war in Vietnam to contain the downward thrust of Communist China but at the same time we are trading with China. This puts us in a contradictory position. Our trade with Communist China ls tremendous. The stores in our great capital cities are stacked with Chinese goods. You can go into any big store iri our capital cities and buy Chinese shoes, watches, transistors, clocks or clothing. At the same time we are trading with North Vietnam. Speaking from memory, I believe that iri “1965 our trade with North Vietnam totalled $67,000. We received $67,000 from North Vietnam for tallow. “We are using British, ships to carry this cargo to North Vietnam and landing it in a port.which the Americans are bombing. According to reports in the press today, American pilots who took part in a sortie against MIG aircraft over North Vietnam said that possibly those planes had Chinese pilots. Where do we end with this sort of brinkmanship? It is dangerous and does not offer a lasting solution.
My final point relates to the policy of the Australian Labour Party concerning Australian conscripts in Vietnam. National servicemen are being sent to that area. Let us make it clear that the A.L.P. does not agree with this and when in office will work out policies to withdraw national service trainees from Vietnam or stop them going there. We say this is the correct attitude because we do not believe there has been’ a proper approach to voluntary training. This matter poses several problems. For example, in another place yesterday the Minister . for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) was questioned about the repatriation rights of members of the Citizen Military Forces. I have not time to quote his exact words but in effect he said that national service trainees were obliged by Government decision to go to Vietnam and therefore they were entitled to repatriation rights but C.M.F. personnel had volunteered and because of this they were in a different situation or capacity. This is quite wrong. Recently I learnt that the former Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) addressed a meeting of employers at Port Augusta in. October 1965 and said that 50 per cent, of organisations were deliberately placing obstacles in the way of employees wishing to serve in the C.M.F. He said that some employers had even gone so far as to refuse leave of absence and had put obstacles in the way of employees including threats of loss of promotion. Obviously, this must have an effect on the volunteer system.
The Commonwealth Government took no action to discuss with the State Governments the rights of public servants of the States or the Commonwealth who might have volunteered for service . with the Citizen Military Forces. The young men concerned risk losing their status rights in the Public Service. In addition, they have to continue their contributions to theSuperannuation Fund .while they are in the C.M.F. Nobody can justify this to me. While we tolerate that situation, by Government decision we are forcing national service trainees to go to North Vietnam. Look at this against the background of the need to canvass solutions to these great international problems and against the background of instability within . Vietnam itself. Look, at it against the background of the area of influence Australia is endeavouring to establish in South East Asia. This influence is good in some of the countries I have mentioned but we are working on different policies in all those countries. I say that the policy of the Government is wrong and the Labour Party’s attitude is right.
Initially, the Government should consider what is to be done about men who would like to volunteer in the Citizen Military Forces but who want to be assured that their employment rights are protected and that they will not be prejudiced if they volunteer. We are convinced that the Government will not reach any solution by following its present policy.
– For many days the Senate has been devoting its attention to consideration of a Ministerial statement on international affairs submitted by the Right Honorable P. M. C. Hasluck, M.P. I believe it is appropriate and proper that this Senate, in common with the House of Representatives of our National Parliament, should devote as much time as possible to the consideration of what I believe is the paramount concern of the Parliament and the people of Australia today. The Party which I have the privilege to lead is in a position of being able to say that we have been forcefully advocating for many years greater defence for Australia and greater security measures as far as our foreign affairs are concerned. We get no satisfaction out of being able to say: “ Well, we told you so. When we were trying to induce the Menzies Government year after year to increase its appropriation for increased defence, for the introduction of national service training - which in my opinion should never have been abolished - and for other means of modernising our defences, we met a deaf ear.” The trend in world affairs, particularly in South East Asia, of which we are indisputably and undeniably a part, was patent to us and should have been patent to the Government, with all of the facilities at its disposal, but a deaf ear was turned to our repeated advocacy in this connection.
It was not until just prior to the 1964 Senate election, within a matter of weeks after a statement was made by the then Minister for the Army - a statement which the Minister had made on repeated occasions - that his Service heads had advised that national service training could not be accommodated within the military structure of Australia - no one can dispute or deny that that statement had been repeatedly made - that the then Prime Minister stated that national service would be introduced. National service has been introduced. Australia had a wonderful, unequalled record in the First World War, the Second World War, and - this should never be forgotten - in Korea from which battlefield the Australian Labour Party advocated the withdrawal of troops as it does now in the case of Vietnam. I mention that merely in passing. We are now in the pitiful position of being required to conscript a percentage of our national servicemen to make up the complement of 4,500 Australians to assist the United States >f America and other countries which are participating in the Vietnam war. I say that that is nothing to be very proud of, and someone must accept the responsibility for Australia’s being in such a pathetic position.
I have not any doubt that other people share with me and with members of my Party the belief that defence and security are the matters of paramount concern for Australia and its people at the present time. We have other matters, of course, to deal with, but unless we can say that we are, to the best of our ability, in a position, with the aid of our allies, to resist any aggression from Red China, Indonesia or any other country that might attempt to invade this country, these matters will not count for much. I feel confident that members of successive Australian governments in recent years must feel that they have been very lax and dilatory in the discharge of their duties in the matter of defence. As I said in. my speech on the statement to the nation by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), . if there is any misunderstanding or confusion in the minds of the people of this country today on our involvement in Vietnam, why we are there, and the necessity for the conscription of some of our national servicemen, it is because of the failure of the Government to inform the people of the issues involved and of their obligations as Australian citizens. When the former Prime Minister said, “ We are at war in Vietnam “, he had an obligation then to explain the issues at stake. A big percentage of our people are not yet properly informed in this respect. I. urge the present Prime Minister to avail himself, on his return to Australia, of every possible facility to inform the people of the true position in Vietnam. I heartily congratulate him on his decision to go to Vietnam - something that his predecessor avoided doing, for reasons best known to himself. I congratulate Mr. Holt and I feel sure that his visit to Vietnam has had a tremendous effect on the minds of the people of Australia. I feel certain, too, that he will return to this country with a good deal of first hand information and will be in an excellent position to inform the Australian public further as to our requirements.
Naturally, in the course of this debate emphasis has been placed on the Vietnam war. It is a war. It is not a civil war, as some of those who are opposed to Australia’s involvement would have the people believe. It is a war in which the freedom and liberty of this country and of other people who desire freedom, liberty and democracy, are involved. A lot of stress has been placed on the fact that at the base of all the trouble in South Vietnam is the failure of succeeding ‘governments to conduct a free election. Senator . Bishop, who preceded me in this debate, spoke about the failure of governments in South Vietnam to give the people a free election and claimed that for that reason, and. for that reason only, the people are up in arms against the present system. Surely Senator Bishop or any other honorable senator would not insult the intelligence of this Parliament by asking us to believe that the trouble in South Vietnam is due basically to the failure of the Government to give the people a free election.
Do the people of North Vietnam have freedom in the election of their Government? I have not any record that they have enjoyed a free election in that country. I know full well, as other honorable senators know, that there is no free election in Russia, that there is no free election in Red China and that there is no free election in any other country which is dominated by a Communist regime. So it is so much nonsense for any member of this Parliament, or for any individual for that matter, to try to hoodwink the Australian people, into believing that the trouble in South Vietnam is due to the people not having a free election. The trouble in South Vietnam is indisputably. the result of the activities of aggressive Communism which has undertaken, the terrorising of the people of that country and the imposition upon them of prohibitions which prevent them living the life of freedom and liberty they so dearly love and want.
It was because of that Communist aggression and the terrorising of the people of South Vietnam that the United States of America thought it essential to go into that country, not to annex it or to achieve anything for herself but merely to exercise some control and to act as a policeman. Believing that it was good enough for America to send troops to South Vietnam and to expend a good deal of money in the improvement of the economic and social life of the people of that country, Australia as a partner in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and as an ally of the United States of America, felt that it should make some contribution towards arresting aggressive Communism and giving some relief to the unfortunate people of South Vietnam.
It is true that the South Vietnamese have their conflicts, their differences of opinion and their little religious wars amongst themselves which cause some people to say: “ Are they worth defending? Are they worth helping?” I say without hesitation that even if we were to disregard the welfare and the wellbeing of the people of South Vietnam as a people, in our own interests we have a responsibility to stop the downward movement of Communism through South Vietnam into other countries in South East Asia and then finally into Australia.
In a television programme in Brisbane last Sunday night, the Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party said that Australia’s freedom was not involved. How gullible can people become? Has China hidden the fact that Thailand is the next country to be subjected to guerrilla warfare? It is patent to me, as it must be to all honorable senators, that if Communism is successful in South Vietnam it will move into Laos and Cambodia. Cambodia is a country whose friendship we desire but it has declared itself a neutral country. I always become a little sceptical of neutral countries because, according to the Communists, neutralism is the first step along the road to Communism. However, I hope that Cambodia will realise the dangers inherent in the influx of Communism in the event of South Vietnam falling into Communist hands.
I repeat with all the earnestness at my disposal that we, as Australians, have an obligation to do the right thing in relation to South Vietnam. We owe it to the United States of America to play our part in the conflict and not leave the job entirely to her. For too long Australia has been relying on someone else to fight her wars and to assist in solving her defence problems. We looked to Great Britain over the many years when Britannia ruled the waves. But during the last war when Britain had its plate full, America came to our aid. We did not ask whether the soldiers who came to assist us to resist Japanese aggression were conscripts or volunteers. For years we have been saying: “ We will go along in our own happy way. We will do without national service training. We will do without making any military preparations. We will make the minimum appropriation for defence and security because if we get into trouble America will come to our aid.” That is not good enough.
We have grown up now. Australia is no longer a babe in world affairs. We are a nation and our nationhood has been won for us by men and women who played such a gallant and noble part on the battlefields of France, on the deserts of Africa and on the shores of Gallipoli during the First World War and, during the Second World War, in Tobruk and in the other theatres in which Australians distinguished themselves and caused the name of Australia to resound throughout the entire world.
I do not subscribe to the view that the patriotism of the present Australian youth is less fervent than that possessed by their fathers and grandfathers. I believe that Australian youth is equally as patriotic as those who have gone before and whose gallantry is recorded in the annals of history. However, I feel that a section of our youth today is misguided. I refer to the fellows who are burning their draft cards and receiving so much publicity in our newspapers and on television programmes - particularly programmes on the national stations. I believe that news reports of greater import should be shown to the people. These young fellows are treated like heroes because they are misguided or stupid enough to put a match to a draft card. It is the act of an irresponsible person.
Those boys are the victims of the propagandists who have been telling them for some time that the war in Vietnam is an unwinnable war - a filthy pit of slush and blood and everything else from which they could have no chance of returning in the event of their being sent to Vietnam. They are the vicitims of rotten, un-Australian propaganda which has been disseminated throughout the length and breadth of this country by people who are opposed to the interests of Australia. They are contributing in no uncertain way to the cause of the Communists and those persons who are prepared to be allied with them.
I am not a warmonger, but 1 have always endeavoured to be realistic in the field of politics, or in any other field to which I have devoted my time. I have said before, and it has been said by many others, that only fanatics want war. We are all peace loving people, but what alternative is left to us when we are faced with an aggressive foe who knows no ethics or standards and to whom human life means nothing. 1 am satisfied that had we used the proper approach to Australian youth, the recruiting campaign would have been successful in getting volunteers in sufficient numbers to avoid conscription. I believe that too much emphasis was placed on the materialistic side of military life. To be a good soldier, a man must know what he is fighting for. He must have a sense of value of the democratic institutions ‘which are involved in our democracy as’ otherwise he has no heart in the job he is required to do.
Last Sunday night 1 saw on television a film of our Australian boys at Tobruk. It showed the gallant and noble part they played in that seige. No Australian could fail to be stirred by that account. I suppose that, substantially, it was a true account of what took place at Tobruk. At least, it supported what I have read about Tobruk and the deeds of the Australians there in conjunction with the British army. I believe that had more publicity been given to such deeds of the Australian Army and an appeal made in the recruiting campaign to the patriotism of Australians, rather than emphasis being placed on the likelihood of recruits getting more in their pay envelopes by joining the forces than they would receive in civil life, many more volunteers would have been attracted to the Services. To stress the material side is all right up to a point, but it is not the ground on which I would like to see an appeal made. However, it is not of much use conducting postmortems on the failure of the recruiting campaign to attract volunteers.
Neither Senator Bishop nor any other member of the Australian Labour Party has the right to criticise the failure of the volunteer system, because the Australian Labour Party contributed more to its failure -than anybody else because of the propaganda it spread about the Vietnam war. The responsibility lies with the A.L.P. as much as it does with the Government, because of the. inept approach that it made to this important question. A great deal has been said about a statement by Mr. Calwell, Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party. He said that he wanted peace. We all want peace, but I hope we do not want peace at any price; Surely we have learned the, lesson that was taught us by Hitler and his Nazis. Everybody was stepping back from him when he was overrunning many countries of Europe, until he reached Poland in 1939. Then the Allies said: “ It is nearly time that we called a. halt.” The time was long overdue for them to have called a halt. .
Is it not indisputable that Communism has not been arrested up to the present? lt has overrun country after country and little or nothing has been done to stop its spreading. Let us hope that the attempt that has been made in South Vietnam to arrest the spread of Communism will be successful soon in the interests of the democracies of the world. I think the time has arrived for Australia to review its defences. If I remember correctly, the last review of our defences was submitted , to the Parliament in March 1964. When Sir Robert Menzies presented that review to the Parliament, he explained that there had been a; deterioration in our strategic position , since . the previous review of 19.63. I suggest that our strategic position has changed considerably in the last 25 months, and that it is high time that a further review was conducted iti the light of the changed circumstances. The visit of the British Minister of Defence’,
Mr. Denis Healey, and the new ideas he put forward are sufficient reason for an immediate review of our defences.
Another matter to which I wish to refer in connection with the South East Asian and Pacific position is the proposal that was put forward some years ago by the Australian Democratic . Labour Party for the creation of a Pacific confederation of Asian countries. At the time we launched that proposal we were laughed at, jeered at and ridiculed in the daily Press. The proposal was rejected outright. It appears that we were a little before our time, because in recent months there has been a spate of suggestions for the creation of a similar type of organisation. Had our proposal been given serious consideration when it was first advanced, much ground work and investigational activity could have been undertaken in the last five or six years. Once again the Government’s lack of foresight and forward planning has been demonstrated. However, it is not too late. I see no reason why this proposal for the formalisation of Pacific co-operation cannot be put forward by the Australian delegation for discussion at the full council meeting of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, which I understand is to be held in Canberra during June next.
Now let me refer briefly to publicity with, regard to Vietnam. I believe that we - when I say “ we “ I mean people who are concerned about the Vietnam position and who realise the danger that Communism constitutes to Australia-*- have a responsibility to counter propaganda that is in the interests of the people who are opposed to us. I believe that we do not stress sufficiently the obvious fact that the only countries which say that the United States and Australia should not be in South Vietnam are Communist countries and that, in the main, the only people in Australia who criticise our involvement in Vietnam are Communists and people who subscribe to policies similar to Communist foreign policy. The people of the free world, the people of the demo-, era tic countries, see the value of and the urgent need for doing something about South Vietnam.
That is why I exhort the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck)’ to see that the best ideas are incorporated in the production of the publicity material that is issued. We need these ideas. Our opponents have them. The Government has issued some pamphlets through the Department of External Affairs; but even in our most generous attitude towards the producers of those pamphlets we could not say that they were very attractively presented. Some of them were produced for scholarly readers and their distribution was limited. These pamphlets should be presented attractively, like those we received the other day from the American Embassy. They should attract readers. They should cause people to read them. They should not cause people to put them aside saying: “ This has no interest for me”. This aspect is very important in our publicity and propaganda campaign. The pamphlet that was issued to headmasters and other people last year was not very attractively presented by any standards. We have received pamphlets on the Vietnam issue from New Zealand. I believe that they were more valuable than the ones that we have produced in Australia. There must be some explanation for that.
I do not want to be unduly critical of the authors of our pamphlets and the people who are responsible for the preparation of them. But it is all-important that what we produce should be of the best value. After all, the Vietnam question is a very important one that greatly concerns the future of our democracy. During question time in the Senate recently Senator Gorton told us that a further pamphlet was in the course of preparation. I know that he will do his best to see that it is a good publication and that it is widely distributed. We cannot rely on the speeches that he and I make in this chamber or on the excellent pamphlets produced by Mr. Hasluck, because the distribution of such pamphlets and of “ Hansard “ is very limited and the number of people who listen to our speeches would not represent a very high percentage of the population. In the course of this debate we have heard some very good and informative speeches. I believe that the people who have had the opportunity to listen to or read them will benefit greatly from them.
I ask this question: Where does the Australian Labour Party stand on the Vietnam issue? There are university professors who study the ability of people to speak in divers tongues. They could very well turn their attention to Mr. Calwell, the Leader of the Party. He was reported to have said, at the Tasmanian State A.L.P. conference on 14th April, that if and when the A.L.P. became the Federal Government all conscripts serving overseas would be recalled immediately. He made no contradiction of that statement when it was reported. Then Mr. Whitlam, in an interview on television during the same week, said that any conscript would be given a free opportunity of withdrawing from active service. Perhaps those two policy statements are really not contradictory, although they appear to be. Perhaps the conscripts will be given the free opportunity and then, whether or not they decide to stay overseas, they will be recalled immediately. But last Sunday Mr. Calwell appeared on the “ Meet the Press “ programme and said that he would bring no-one home - recruits, volunteers or conscripts - and he would not think of withdrawing Australian troops from Vietnam while the Americans were there. So what is the policy of the Australian Labour Party on this very important question?
Let us face the facts. None of us likes conscription, as members of the Australian’ Labour Party call it. The Labour movement was opposed to conscription, but it has found it necessary in times of emergency to impose conscription. As I said in an earlier speech, it imposed conscription in the industrial field. Let us know where we are going. Let the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) know what his party stands for. We have heard from Senator Cavanagh and Senator Wheeldon in this chamber. In reply to my colleague, Senator McManus, who asked them directly and deliberately: “ Would you bring them back?”, Senator Cavanagh said: “ I would bring every man back from Vietnam “ and Senator Wheeldon, sitting behind him, said: “ And I would too”. Let us know just where the Australian Labour Party stands on this question.
– What is the Labour Party’s foreign policy today?
– The Labour Party’s foreign policy, unless it has altered of recent times, is almost identical with that of the Communist Party of Australia, section for section. The Australian Labour Party and the Communist Party went hand in hand on the question of a nuclear free zone, the refusal to allow America to establish a radio station on the north west coast of Australia, and on other matters. They are still hand in hand. The liaison is stronger. It is growing stronger and stronger every day, and will continue to do so while the leftists dominate the A.L.P.
– They had a win today, didn’t they?
– I do not know whether or not one could call it a win. However, that is not my concern. The members of the Australian Labour Party have merely demonstrated that their Party is a shambles.
In conclusion I come to the important question of Australia’s trade with Red China. This is something to which the D.L.P. has been opposed consistently all along the road. Time will not permit me to deal with this matter as exhaustively as I would desire. But I do sympathise with the Government because of the dilemma and predicament in which it finds itself. Government supporters speak of China and its great threat to democracy.
– What about the Government’s trade with Hanoi?
– I shall come to that matter later. At the moment 1 am dealing with Australia’s trade with Red China. Government supporters tell us about all the evils of Communism, and of Red China in particular, and its threat to Australia. The Prime Minister justifies our sale of wheat to Red China by saying that it improves our economic conditions and assists us in our war effort in South Vietnam. 1 am one of those who have sought unsuccessfully to ascertain the true terms of sale of wheat sent to Red China. I have never been able to obtain those details. The Government spokesmen tell us that it is a matter for the Australian Wheat Board, and the representatives of the Wheat Board say that the Board does not disclose the terms of sale. I suspect that Red China is buying. wheat from Australia on very favorable terms of sale. If there is any advantage to Australia, it is a very short term one. It is a short sighted policy for Australia to. have anything to do with trade with Red China today.
– Would the honorable senator hold the stocks in hand in Australia?
-No. By now I would have found alternative markets. 1 condemn the Wheat Board and’ those associated with the wheat industry for not having secured alternative markets for our wheat.
– Should not women and children - Chinese or otherwise - be fed if we have the food?
– Shiploads of wheat which have gone from Geelong have been sent to Albania and to other countries and have not gone to Red China at all. In any case, we can bet that the peasants of Red China get little or none of our wheat. The bellies of the soldiers certainly would be full. They would be well nourished so that they could carry out further mischiefs and continue to disturb world peace. There is an old saying that he who sups with the devil should have a long handled spoon. If one reads the history of China’s trade agreements with Burma, Japan and other countries, one finds that, when it has suited China to do so, it has withdrawn from the agreements, to the embarrassment of the countries with which it has been trading.
My time has almost expired and the sitting of the Senate is about to be suspended. I appeal to the Australian Government to give serious thought to this matter and not to adopt the attitude that Red China is the only market in the world for our wheat, because it is not. I am as humane as any man, but I think that charity begins at home. Why should not India get some of our wheat? Why should not our allies and other people who are well disposed towards us and who are not our enemies receive the advantageous terms of sale that Red China has enjoyed?
– They have not got the money.
– Senator O’Byrne says: “ They have not got the money “. I would go as far as aiding India- -
– Have we not . done that?
– In a very limited way.
– If we gave India all of our wheat, it would not represent much to 450 million people.
– That may be so, but let us give India wheat. It appears to be vital to some sections of the people. There is another saying, for which Lenin has been given credit, that when Communist countries can trade with capitalist countries that will be the day when the capitalist countries commence their undoing and their own destruction.
I again appeal to the Government to end its trade with Red China, lt must be a tremendous embarrassment to the Government. It is very hard to convince people that China is such a terrible country and that the Chinese people are such terrible people when we are prepared to trade with (hem and in so doing to build up their economic and military power and prestige. Sitting suspended from 5.47 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was dealing with the very vexed question of trade with Red China, to which the Australian Democratic Labour Party has been opposed for very many years. I have expressed my. sympathy to the Government for its embarrassment in the dilemma in which it must find itself in these days and I have endeavoured to point out the necessity for the wheat growers of Australia to find alternative markets and not to rely too much on Red China for the sale of their product. 1 want to draw the Government’s attention to a detailed analysis of our trading position and prospects made by a special committee appointed by the Australian Industries Development Association to inquire into the implications for Australia of the United Kingdom becoming a member of the European Economic Community. A publication entitled “ Trade with Communist Countries “ states -
One of the major findings of this Committee was that - “ Australia’s future lie in a wider spread of trade throughout the world “.
Although the Committee favoured talcing Advantage of “ obvious opportunities for i trade with China “, it warned that “ trading relations (for example) with China should .be handled with care to avoid any possibility of political pressures, should Australia become too dependent on one country s a market for any particular commodity”. Another warning was that “ excessive reliance on China as a major market could be politically dangerous “. The committee also found that “ Australia’s future as an independent nation necessitates the strongest possible economic defence against Communism in Asia.” 1 think that what I wanted to say is more than adequately covered by that statement. Red China is astute enough to know that if she can increase her trade with Australia the will be building up not only her eco nomic strength but also her military strength. If our people are so blind as to concentrate unduly on this market we will regret it, just as other people with whom Red China has had agreements have had cause for regret.
In the limited time remaining to mc I would like to deal with a point which has been frequently raised in the course of this debate; that is, the statement allegedly made by ex-President Eisenhower in his memoirs, with regard to South Vietnam. It has been stated by members of the Opposition that ex-President Eisenhower said in his memoirs that if elections had been held in Vietnam in 1956 Ho Chi Minh would have won 80 per cent, of the votes. But that is not an exact report of the ex-President’s statement. He has been mis-quoted on this point by a number of people, including Walter Lippmann. What ex-President Eisenhower said at page 372 of his book “ Mandate for Change “ was that if an election had been held as at the time of the fighting, meaning up to the time of the Geneva Accords of 20th July 1954, possibly 80 per cent, of the population would have voted for the Communist leader Ho Chi Minh rather than for Chief of State, Emperor Bao Dai, and that indeed, in an October 1955 referendum, Ngo Dinh Diem won well over 80 per cent, of the vote in South Vietnam in a contest with the former Emperor. It is safe to speculate that if the Communist regime had allowed really free elections in North Vietnam in 1956 the people of that part of Vietnam would have voted against it. The exact quotation from page 372 of “ Mandate for Change “ is as follows -
I am convinced that the French could not win the war because the internal political situation in Vietnam, weak and confused, badly weakened their military position. I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree thai had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly 80 per cent, of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Chief of State Bao Dai. Indeed, the lack of leadership and drive on the part of Bao Dai was a factor in the feeling prevalent among Vietnamese that they had nothing to fight for. As one Frenchman said to me, “ What Vietnam needs is another Syngman Rhee, regardless of all the difficulties the presence of such a personality would entail”.
That is the exact quotation from exPresident Eisenhower’s memoirs and it is a pity that people deliberately or inadvertently aim to misrepresent such a worthy figure as the former President. 1 was intent on making that correction and I hope, it is understood. I believe the South Vietnamese would not have wanted, the Communist leader but they felt that he was the lesser of two evils; that he was at least more progressive or more active than someone who had less interest-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
[8.81.-We have been debating intermittently for some time in the Senate a statement on foreign affairs made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). A great deal of that which we have talked about has, for very natural reasons, been concentrated on the requirement which foreign policy imposes on Australia to adopt courses that have not previously been adopted except in times of general war. That, in turn, has led to consideration of events in one particular area where Australia, because of its general approach to foreign policy, has been called upon to play its part. But although the debate has been very largely concentrated on this matter we should not entirely forget that this was not the sole content of the Minister’s speech. Throughout the speech we find not only a general statement of Australia’s approach to problems of foreign policy - particularly to problems of foreign policy in this Asian area - but also an understanding of and a willingness to accept the obligations imposed by our being part of this area and being prepared to contribute to the general economic development of the area and to help to improve public administration in the countries concerned. The statement as presented was not one concerned only with the need for military action in foreign affairs. It was one concerned quite largely with the need to take such action as we can take and exert such influence as we can exert for peaceful solutions of problems in this area and for the general improvement of the people in the area as a whole through co-operation. I would not like those aims to be lost sight of because of the very natural way in which we are concentrating on problems which, perhaps, strike .home more immediately.
What the statement has done is to present to this chamber, and to this Parliament and the. people of Australia, an approach to foreign affairs on behalf of the Government of Australia at this time, lt has done more than that. It has indicated the actions which the Government of Australia at this time is prepared to undertake if they flow from the statement of the general approach to foreign affairs by the Government. Rightly or wrongly, whether it is agreed with or not, what the Government is seeking to do is to state to the people of Australia what it considers are the proper actions, militarily, economically and morally, which ought to be taken in the interests - the present and long term interests - of Australia as a whole. Part of the actions about which we have been speaking flow from this approach.
It is made clear, I think, in the statement that this Government proposes, as the spokesman for the Australian people, to be a Worthwhile and respected partner, subject to our limitations of size and ability, in international arrangements made for the protection against aggression of countries in the South East Asian area which, of course, include Australia. We do not propose to enter into general arrangements out of which we may expect to get but never give; but we are prepared to enter into general arrangements by which all of us can help the other to resist aggression, lt has been made clear that the Government, having decided that that is in the interests of Australia, is prepared to take such actions as are necessary to fulfil the obligations which flow from taking that position. We have made it clear, without, ambiguity or any changing of words, that we as a Government, on behalf of the Australian people, are prepared to honour and support the international treaties to which we are at present committed. We have made it clear that we believe that here, as in other places, aggression by one country against another, or attack by a part of one country on another part of that country will, if it is successful, grow in scope and size until it poses a problem, not only for us in this part of the world, but for the world in generaL Therefore we have made it clear that we believe the time to take action is when aggression initially takes place. These are clear statements of policy - clear statements of actions that we are prepared to take - which flow from the general approach to foreign affairs set out by the Minister for External Affairs in this Parliament.
In dealing with the particular question of Vietnam to which so much of our time has been devoted I have, on a previous occasion in this place, endeavoured to show, with documentation showing why. I so believe, that in fact aggression has taken place in South Vietnam and that the aggressors have been the North Vietnamese. J have quoted the report of the International Control Commission to show that that aggression took place up to two years before the Geneva Agreement was breached technically by South Vietnam seeking from the United States of America military assistance to counter that aggression. That has not been contradicted, Mr. President.
I pause at this point to say that the President of the United States who offered assistance to counter that aggression, as shown in the report of the International Control Commission, was no fire eater and was no rider of the whirlwind. He was the late President Kennedy. At that time, on mature judgment of the facts presented, the late President Kennedy decided that it was necessary to offer resistance to such aggression. That resistance has been continuing ever since. I have endeavoured in this chamber, before, to answer some other questions which have been raised, mainly in order to get them out of the way of the main consideration, and to show that there was not ever, as stated, some international agreement reached at Geneva which called for elections to take place in some particular way at some particular time. I have heard other of these minor criticisms - and I believe they are, relative to the whole grand, hurried march of these events - to the effect that the Government of South Vietnam is, in any case, not democratic. Of course the Government of South Vietnam is not democratic in the sense that we are democratic. It is, I would have thought, slightly more democratic than’ the Government of North Vietnam. But South Vietnam has been fighting for its existence for at least 10 or 15 years. How unreal it is to expect it to engage in full democratic processes when we remember that when, the United Kingdom found itself arrayed against the might of Nazi Germany for five years the United Kingdom1 found it necessary, in many ways; to suspend the normal democratic processes which in times of peace would be expected in that country. Indeed, if an election were held in the present circumstances in South Vietnam for a representative government, I would have thought that it would be one of the first occasions in history oh which a country in a state of siege, as South Viet- nam is, in the midst of the full clash of armies, had held an election for a representative government.
– Great Britain postponed elections during the war.
– That is inherent in what T was saying;* Great Britain also brought iri strong Press censorship. She put in gaol Fascist opponents of the government. She took a number of steps which one would expect in- war time, in a country in a state of siege.
– But the Government tells us that this country is not at war. ‘
– I hear from Senator Turnbull, to whose former remarks I hope to advert later, that this is not war time. I can only suggest that the, honorable senator, spend some. time in South Vietnam and see whether, or not the people in that country do not believe that they are in a state of war there. I do not speak for the Government of South Vietnam but I say there .is a state of war in South Vietnam and .if the honorable senator doubts it he should’ go there.
– But the Minister denied it.
– Do not be so stupid. I have never denied that South Vietnam’ is’ at war with North Vietnam. What develops from this situation? In order to be, as we said we would be, a worthy and. respected ally, now that the chips are down it is necessary to honour our obligations *o Vietnam just as we are honouring our obligations in a minor way, but in exactly the same way in principle, on the borders of Malaysia. To do what is being done by Australia in Vietnam’ arid Malaysia, it is necessary that we have a’ measure of conscription. The reason, why I suggest that it ‘ is necessary’ to have a measure of conscription is hot that there is a requirement for’ a” great number of men in bur armed Services but, paradoxically, that there’ is a requirement comparatively for only a few. It is not because a greater Army than we had is required for service overseas but, paradoxically, because only a small part of our Army is required so to serve.
We have entered an entirely new phase in our national history. In the past either we have been entirely at peace and have had no standing army of any kind except for a few regular officers .who were controlling what were virtually Citizen Military Forces units or we have been entirely at war in a world war situation in which the whole of our resources of men and material were thrown into the conflict and we were protected in the initial stages while we mobilised. But now and for some time past - now is the climatic time - it has been made clear to us that that phase of our national existence is past and that we must have a Regular Army. I am . speaking only of the Army at the moment. Such an Army is necessary to enable us to contribute to the international alliances upon which our safety, as much as the safety of others in this area, depends, to keep reserves in case of any incursions into parts of Australia or its Territories, and to bear the brunt of any shock should attack come closer to Australia’s shores.
To fulfil these obligations, that standing Army needs to be only relatively small. A large percentage of it is made up of volunteers. All that is required to keep it constantly at the level at which it should be kept is to call up democratically one man in ten of a particular age group. These personnel are not to be differentiated against but are to be integrated in the Army. In these circumstances, I do not believe that one could expect a person to choose whether he would be one of ten of a particular age group so required to serve. To expect that in a country which enjoys the affluence in which we live would be expecting too much. But I am sure it is not expecting too much to expect that all in a particular age group should be prepared - I believe they are prepared - to start with an equal chance of being required to serve and of being chosen in a way which is shown to be without influence, fear or favour. In my view, that is why it is necessary to adopt the method that has been chosen to keep our Regular Army at the required level. That is a statement of the principles upon which the Government approaches these problems and the action it has taken to implement those principles. We are prepared to accept the judgment of the Australian people on that action at the appropriate time.
What proposition has been advanced in opposition to that approach? We have heard in this chamber a certain view propounded by Senator Turnbull. He asked: “ What does it matter if the whole of South East Asia comes under Communist control, even if it is imposed by force and even if the whole of that area is activated by the present Communist Chinese philosophy? We can live here in the sun without fear, because they have not enough boats to get across here.” I can only suggest that each member of the Australian public should examine that proposition for himself and should ask whether it is not the sheerest lunacy to imagine that a country of our size, situated as it is, would not in any way be discommoded or threatened if the whole of. South East Asia were by force to come under Communist control, that form of Communism being that which has been adopted by the Communist Chinese. Unless we were to take note of the blissful euphoria that has been suggested by Senator Turnbull, at the very least it would impose upon this country a burden of defence merely to protect our own shores. If the honorable senator had his way, we would be forced to protect our shores by ourselves. This would cripple the proper development of this country.
– Did the Minister for External Affairs himself not ‘ say there would be no chance of their ever coming down?
– Are you sure?
– If the honorable senator knows so little about this debate that he thinks that the Minister for External Affairs said that it would not matter if the whole of South East Asia became Communist and that that would pose no threat for Australia, ail I can say is that I am not surprised that such lunacy as we have seen should have been displayed by him.
– Senator Turnbull did not interject in those terms.
– It sounded very much like it. If .he did not interject in those terms, then he was not directing his comment to the point. I do not know whether Senator Murphy, who is now interjecting, is directing his comment to the point. I do not propose to reply to him. He may say something about it later. The point I wish to make is that if there are, as there appear to ‘be, honorable senators on the other side who support Senator Turnbull and who believe that it would not pose any danger to this country if the whole of South East Asia came under Communist control -
– I said in the foreseeable future. I said within 20 to 25 years.
– If Senator Turnbull and others think that this would pose no danger to us in the foreseeable future, then let them make up their minds about bow good it would be if this country were left, as it would be, to cope with any such threat entirely by itself because it rejected the alliances and the regional support that we believe are necessary for all countries in this area. But this after all was only a stray opinion of an . individual and is worthy of comment only because it was made in a House of Parliament.
– It was sheer extravaganza.
– It was extravaganza if you like, but at least it was made in a House of Parliament and it should be considered by Australians when they are making their judgment on this matter. Until I heard the odd suggestion of support from members of the Opposition, I had not heard members of the Opposition themselves officially advance this view and that is why I was saying that it was advanced by a particular person.
– We do not see Communism in Asia as a possibility.
– That must be very comforting for you but other people do not necessarily agree. This was a single view; but what view is advanced on behalf of the Opposition officially in reply to the Government’s approach? It is clear that the Opposition, as a party, has not repeated in its platform a pledge to honour and support the international treaties to which we are committed. That was in the Opposition’s platform once but it is not there now. It has been replaced by a statement that our international treaties will be considered are in our national interest. We do not know there is a considerable difference on’ that point alone.
What is the proposition advanced by the Opposition? It is important that there should be an understanding of just where the Opposition stands on this matter, hot in an attempt to make political points out of it but because this matter quite possibly could go to the heart of Australia’s survival. There should be clear statements from both sides of the Parliament as to exactly what the approach will be and what the actions of the two sides will be. What do we find in relation to the action that is necessary to fulfil the obligations into which we have entered? Will conscription be continued or will it be abolished immediately if there is a change of government? I do not believe this has ever been stated by the Opposition. I have read a statement attributed to one spokesman for the Opposition that should the Opposition become the Government, it would immediately withdraw all our troops from overseas whether they were in Vietnam, Malaysia or anywhere else. : Senator Cavanagh.- All conscripts.
– I have heard other statements that all conscripts would immediately be withdrawn from overseas whether they were in Vietnam, Malaysia or anywhere else and that statement has just come by way , of interjection from an Opposition senator. I have also heard it stated by another spokesman for the Opposition - the first was the Leader and the second was the Deputy Leader- that this in fact would not happen and that instead conscripts who were serving overseas .in Vietnam, Malaysia or anywhere else would be given a choice whether they would be withdrawn or not. I have even heard the same individual - Senator Cavanagh - say on one occasion that all conscripts would be withdrawn and on another occasion say they would not be withdrawn; at any rate, not within a week or two after Labour took office until they found what the situation was.
– Senator Cavanagh said he would withdraw them all. -
– On one occasion I believe I heard him say that. On another occasion he made a speech which seemed calculated to get the headlines saying that conscripts would not be withdrawn. But let Senator Cavanagh argue that with himself because clearly there is a split personality here. What is more important is that there has not been a clear and definite statement on this matter on behalf of the Opposition. This is a matter of importance because, if we are engaged in carrying out our international obligations with integrated forces, we should know what would happen if the Opposition became the Government, and whether it would disrupt those forces completely by withdrawing infantryman A and leaving infantryman B, whether it would drag them out at once or in a month or two or whether it would leave them there. In another statement, the Leader of the Opposition in another place said he would not leave the Americans alone and I suppose he would not leave the British alone in Malaysia. But we do not know, and it is important that we should know just what is the alternative proposition in these matters.
If it is said that in fact there will be a backturn on all except volunteers, and if this leads to our being unable to supply contingents to a combined force to resist aggression, then we must face the fact that we will be advancing to isolationism in Australia. If we advance to isolationism, we will be in an extremely dangerous situation. Is this the policy that the Opposition is advancing? Is this, the policy it will carry out if it becomes the Government? I do not believe anyone knows because no policy has been clearly stated on behalf of the Opposition on these vital matters. I am not the only one who does not know what the Opposition’s policy is.
– This Government’s policy is leading us to disaster.
– If our policy is disastrous, at least the Opposition should advance one of its own and not a series of statements - pay your penny and make your choice.
– Your policy is ro shoot where you see a head and kick where you see a tooth.
– That is rather silly. Our policy is to take what measures we can to support international arrangements which we believe are right and which we believe are in our national interest. We do not know what the Labour Party’s international policy is, and casting insults is no substitute for advancing one’s own policy. It is essential that we should know, not for ourselves or for members of the Opposition, but for Australians who will be called upon to make up their minds on these matters at the next elections. They should know just what is the alternative to the policy the Government has advanced. No alternative policy has been put forward. There have been five or six different alternative policies sketched out but this is not good enough.
– Each one was better than yours.
– At least let us settle on which one the Opposition will stick to. Then and only then can a proper choice be made by the Australian people.
– The Opposition is on trial.
– I heard in interjection from my own side that the Opposition is on trial. This springs, I think, from a plaintive cry formerly heard from Senator Cavanagh: “ We are not on trial “. But both political parties are on trial when there is an election before the Australian people. They will be the jurors and the deciders and they are entitled to have from both sides a clear statement of what each is going to do. If they wish, as Senator Cavanagh, I believe, would wish, to withdraw all overseas troops, then they should say so.
– From Vietnam, yes.
– He wants to withdraw them all from Vietnam, but this is not the only point in a foreign policy. Does he wish to withdraw them all from Malaysia, too? Does he wish that they will not go anywhere else? Does he wish only to withdraw them from Vietnam? Will he let them go anywhere else or not? AH of these things will need to be presented to the Australian people in a coherent fashion if there is to be any alternative policy to that of the Government. Such a policy has not been so presented, and it is an insult to the democratic process and to the Australian people that it has not been. If members of the Opposition have now resolved the other differences between them, I hope that in the interests of the people being enabled to form a judgment they will resolve their former differences on this matter, too, so that a trial of both sides can take place.
For our part, Mr. President, I can only repeat once more that we believe that our safety depends on honouring the international obligations into which we have entered; that aggression must be stopped by collective action; that, flowing from that, we must take our part in the collective action; and that by so doing we shall prevent what we have seen happen more than once before in the world when action was not taken initially when aggression took place. We all remember these things. Vietnam is, we are told, a long way away. It is not, in fact, a long way away. It is probably a shorter distance from Darwin than Darwin is from Perth, but it is a country that is not known. It is a far away country of which we know little. These very words, “A far away country of which we know little “, were once used to excuse failure to oppose the German invasion of Czechoslovakia and what grew out of it. I have endeavoured to show what we believe in. I have endeavoured to show what flows by way of action from the principles that are in this speech, and I believe that it is only right and proper that at some time soon some alternative proposition will be put forward by those who oppose what we support.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 21st April (vide page 477), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill for an Act to amend the Aliens Act 1947-1965 was introduced in another place. It has been submitted to the Senate by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) . who represents in the Senate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman). The objective of the Bill is tq place beyond doubt the legality of two administrative reforms designed to make aliens’ registration a simple and efficient process’. It is not the intention’ of the Opposi tion to oppose the. Bill. The Aliens Bill 1965, which was introduced here on 4th May last year, determined that a register of aliens should be maintained in each State and that aliens should be required to register. Changes of address, occupation and marital status have to be notified, and the consent of the Minister must, be obtained before an alien may change his surname. The annual notifications of all of these matters are to take place between 1st September and 30th September each year. I am advised that this legislation has been a success. A schedule of information provided by the Department of Immigration shows that 315,660 aliens were registered at 15th April last. In fact, between 80 per cent, and 85 per cent, of aliens are now registered. This, I feel, is very satisfactory, and the Minister may say that that provision has been a success. I notice from the schedule that the percentage in Western Australia is down to 49.5 per cent. This is a matter that might be looked at by that State. The percentage in all of the other States is in the vicinity of 80 per cent.
Unfortunately, at ’31st December 1965 there still remained 213,750 persons under the age of 16 years who were not naturalised. The Australian Labour Party deplores this position and is ever ready to co-operate in overcoming it. The 1965 legislation also streamlined policy in order to save delays in clearing ships and aircraft on arrival” and to provide more accurate information about non-British migrants arriving here. A good deal of time and trouble is saved at points of arrival in Australia for migrants, ships’ ‘Staffs and immigration officers. Aliens visiting Australia for a stay of a year or less ,are now not required to be registered. Previously, registration was required for such aliens as a means of checking departure when their stay expired. Under the new “method, each incoming alien completes the usual -incoming passenger card. Instead of this being used solely for the Commonwealth Statistician’s purposes, it is placed in an alphabetical visitor .index. The departing alien visitor completes an outgoing passenger card and this also goes to. the visitor index and provides the necessary departure information. If no outgoing, card is received, inquiries. are made. This’ makes, it unnecessary to obtain additional alien registration forms from alien visitors.
The Bill contains eight clauses, the first two of which deal with the title and date of commencement. Clause 3 defines the exact ,time at which a person -is deemed to enter Australia. Clause 4 makes an addition to the legislation to provide - for an alien who has never been in Australia before, has completed only an application for registration when applying for his visa to come here, and has not been registered. Clause 5 empowers our officers overseas to receive applications for registration and to cancel them as necessary if aliens abandon plans to come here. Clause 6 exempts from registration aliens coming here for a year or less. At present the legislation exempts only those who are coming here for 60 days or less. Clauses 7, 9 and 10 provide for changes in penalties from pounds to dollars. Clause 8 safeguards against false statements in applications by persons coming to Australia.
The Opposition supports the Bill and hopes that it will further streamline the Act and thus benefit and assist new settlers in their adopted land.
.- I rise only to direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that over the last few years, indeed since 1947 or 1948, a bipartisan approach by the Parliament has developed in relation to the problems that are involved in immigration and the integration of immigrants in Australia. I have listened to Senator Fitzgerald’s remarks this evening with a great deal of interest. As honorable senators would expect, he displayed in his own tolerant approach to these problems that very bipartisanship which I have mentioned. We are indebted to Senator Fitzgerald for indicating that the Opposition does not intend to press any amendment of the Bill but to accept the machinery amendments which the Bill proposes. I do not want to add anything to that, except the final remark that I hope this bipartisan approach of the Parliament to the very great social problem that immigration poses in Australia will be continued in the future.
[8.50]. - In reply - On behalf of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) I should like to express appreciation of the reception this Bill has been given both by the Opposition and by my colleague, Senator Cormack, and also of the speedy passage which the
Senate has given it. As Senator Fitzgerald has well said, this legislation is designed to streamline the Act so that it will be easier for people coming to this country. They may, now fill in the application forms at the point of application for registration. I believe this will be an advantage. I thank the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 26th April (vide page 552), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– As the title implies, this Bill is a very limited one. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) stated in her second reading speech that the measure is designed to effect two amendments to the Migration Act 1958-1964 in relation to persons included in the complements or crews of vessels, and in relation to decimal currency. The object of the Bill is, first, to reduce as far as possible the documentation required in respect of persons included in the complements or crews of vessels, and secondly, to revise certain provisions of the Act relating to penalties consequent upon the introduction of decimal currency.
The present Migration Act provides that the master of a vessel must have in his possession an identification card in an approved form for each member of his crew. These cards must be produced when required and surrendered on demand. The Department is required to produce the documents in court proceedings to establish desertion. Seamen on all ships entering Australian waters are in possession of cards and documents of one kind or another. As the Migration Act now stands, these are not acceptable but, at the request of British companies, supported by the British Board of Trade, seamen’s discharge books will be accepted as complying with the Australian Migration Act. The other amendment relates to changes which have been’ rendered necessary following the introduction of decimal currency.
In the view of the Australian Labour Party this Bill will help to removered tape and will further streamline the process of immigration. The recommendationof the Immigration Committee of the Australian Labour Party is that the legislation be not opposed.
.- I rise again to give further expression to my gratefulness at the tolerance and the bipartisan approach which Senator Fitzgerald has displayed in putting the Labour Party’s point of view on this Bill. I say this in all sincerity because it is obvious that if there were any inhibiting factors in the legislation the Labour Party would have dealt with them.
I think the observation should be made that this Bill provides an interesting departure in the documentation required for seamen on ships entering Australian waters. The British Board of Trade, for example, has never required, as so many other countries and organisations have required, that seamen carry passports. This Bill is a ratification of a practice which the United Kingdom has adopted in relation to its seamen over many years. A seaman normally carries his discharge book and papers which are in fact his record of service on a vessel and a means of identification. As Senator Fitzgerald has mentioned, in the past the Act has required a captain who finds a seaman has absconded to appear before the courts and to prove in a complicated kind of way that the seaman has absconded. Ships are rather expensive things to operate, as we all know, and this is a factor which affects the Australian economy to a substantial degree. This Bill enables the ship’s agent, who holds the records of all the seamen who have been on board the ship, to appear before the court and represent both the master and the owners of the vessel and identify the seaman who has absconded.
I cannot pass from a discussion on this Bill, however, without telling the Senate a story about the great change that has taken place in relation to absconding seamen. I live in western Victoria and in the 1850’s, the goldrush days, the practice of seamen when ships were anchored at Portland was to cut the cables and allow the ships to run on to the beach. The ship ended up on the beach and the seamen ended up on the gold fields. This was probably the start of immigration in Australia. Today many seamen abscond in Australia. I do not know whether there is any gold rush. Sometimes if we listened to the Australian Labour Party, we would almost believe that the country was going to the dogs. Apparently a great number of seamen do not believe that it is.
With that short interlude, I revert to my previous remarks. I think it is very sound practice that both sides of the Parliament should acknowledge that there are administrative loopholes that should be, closed. This Bill will do just that. I am grateful that the Opposition supports this Bill without raising any objections to it.
[8.57]. -in reply - I am pleased that both sides of the House have accepted this Bill. I thank the Senate for the speedy passage it is giving the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative. - Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 26th April (vide page 554), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.-This. Bill has been closely studied by the Immigration Committee of the Australian Labour Party. In fact, it received closer consideration than did the original Bill which was introduced into the Parliament on 30th September 1948 by the present Leader of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Arthur Calwell, who was then Minister for Immigration and Information. In introducing the Bill, he made this statement -
This is an historic occasion in the life of our nation. The Bill which I have the honourto present this evening seeks to establish for the first time the principle of Australian citizenship, while maintaining between the component parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations the common bond of British nationality.
On that occasion Mr. Calwell made a worthy contribution to the debate, such as he has proved himself quite capable of making. No person in Australia today is more qualified to speak on immigration matters.
I was very touched by the remarks made by Senator Cormack in- referring to our complete co-operation in expediting the passage of this legislation. Today *‘e are giving much greater consideration to the issue of immigration than was given to it by members of the present Government when they were in opposition in the House of Representatives in 1948. At that time, the then Acting Leader of the Opposition, Sir Eric Harrison, who was the honorable member for Wentworth, and Mr. McEwen, who is at present the Acting Prime Minister and Leader of the Australian Country Party, opposed the Bill introduced by Mr. Calwell. 1 do not wish- to go into detail,but I think it is important for us to remember the attitude taken by the Opposition at that time. Sir Eric Harrison said -
The Empire should not be ‘ disintegrated. The new citizenship legislation may well give an impetus to a secession movement ‘ ‘in some dominions, where sentiments towards the Mother Country are undergoing a change.
In the course of Sir Eric Harrison’s speech Sir Josiah Francis interjected -
They ‘ are pulling down ‘ the Union Jack..
Mr. . McEwen’s contribution to the debate contained similar remarks. Tonight it has ‘ been stated that both sides of the chamber are giving earnest consideration to immigration matters. I think this is very important, because, some very human problems::. are related to immigration. In 1947, the Labour. Government of that, time introduced immigration legislation under great difficulties. Today members of the Opposition are as concerned with the problems that .face migrants as is any member of this Parliament. .Anybody who states .that the Opposition is not concerned with immigration matters is obviously very mistaken or- very; dishonest. .
We believe that this Bill represents a genuine attempt to improve the immigration legislation. We do not intend to oppose the second reading of this Bill, but’ in Committee we shall propose an amendment that the oath or affirmation of allegiance as’ contained in the Second Schedule in’ the original Act should be retained. We shall vote against clause 11 which provides for the renunciation of all allegiance. We shall be proposing certain amendments to clause 12, in addition to voting against clause 11. The amendments to clause 12 that we shall propose relate to the deletion from the proposed forms of oath or affirmation of the words “ renouncing all other allegiance “ twice occurring.
The Bill contains 13 clauses. Clause 3 amends the definition of an Australian Consulate and. is necessary because of the legal effects of the’ registration of birth of Australian citizens born abroad. The amendment places the definition beyond doubt. Clause 4 amends section 10 of the Act which relates to children born in Australia of fathers who are here as members of the diplomatic or consular staff of other countries. Clause 4 also takes into account the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which seeks to end the present situation whereby all staff of diplomatic missions have the same immunity from suit as the heads of missions. This situation is covered by section 10 (2) (a) of the present Act.
Clause 5 refers to section 11 of the Act. Its purpose is to amend section 11 in order to assist Australian citizens living abroad who fail within a reasonable time to register the birth of their children whilst they are abroad. We will deal with clause 6 at greater length later. Clause 8 is associated with the Minister’s statement that a person born abroad prior to the commencement of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1949, who was a British subject in 1949 and whose father was born or naturalised in Australia, becomes an Australian citizen immediately on entering Australia: Under section 25 (3.) of the Act, even if he has become naturalised in ,a foreign country between 1949 and the date of entering Australia, he still becomes an Australian citizen automatically on entering this country. Clause 8 inserts a further provision that a person in the circumstances I have quoted must have remained a - British subject up to the time of entering Australia.
Clause 9 amends section 26 of the Act to, allow alien wives to acquire the same national status as their husbands by making application to the Minister for ‘Immigration and by taking a simple oath of allegiance as prescribed by clause 12 of the Bill. Clause 9 is also necessary because of Australia’s ratification of the Vienna Convention. Clause 10 is a minor amendment in relation to the legitimation of children. As I have said, we will vote against clause 11, which proposes the addition of the words “ renouncing all other allegiance “ to the oath taken at a naturalisation ceremony. Clause 13 contains amendments in relation to decimal currency. Clause 12 will be dealt with at the Committee stage.
Clauses 6 and 7 provide for important amendments to section 15 (4.) of the Act which empowers the Minister to grant naturalisation to the spouse of an Australian citizen without any of the usual statutory requirements being met. In practice, and as a matter of policy, concessions under this section have been made in relation to the residence and language requirements. In relation to residence, where a husband or wife is qualified but the partner is not, the eligible party is granted naturalisation and the non-qualified partner, as the spouse of an Australian citizen, then becomes eligible for naturalisation without completing the normal five years residential qualification. Broadly, the same procedure operates in respect of the language requirement except that the concession is granted only to the wife. Our nationality law does not provide at present for a married couple in either of such cases to be naturalised together. One has to wait until the other has completed all of the formalities and then attend a separate ceremony. The Government has decided that in these circumstances a man and his wife should always be entitled to become naturalised at the same ceremony. It is considered desirable that a couple should receive their Australian citizenship together. Clause 6 makes that possible.
Clause 7 ensures that an unqualified partner does not take the oath of allegiance before a qualified partner. A second important amendment relates to the present practice of requiring applicants for naturalisation to renounce allegiance to their former countries before swearingallegiance to our Queen. The present form of renunciation is a prominent and separate part of the naturalisation ceremony. . Clause 11 provides that the essential words of renunciation should now be incorporated as part of the oath of allegiance to the
Queen. A candidate for naturalisation is called upon to renounce his allegiance and take the oath or affirmation at naturalisation ceremonies. He is asked to repeat the following words after the person conducting the ceremony, a few words at a time -
The oath of allegiance is in the following terms -
The affirmation of allegiance is in the following terms -
At present the renunciation of allegiance is a separate part of the naturalisation ceremony. This amendment does not remove the renunciation requirement; it simply writes it into the Act by including it in the oath and affirmation. This is a complete departure from the present position. At the present time there is no provision for renunciation in the Act; the renunciation is. merely a part of the naturalisation ceremony.
It is interesting to recall the history of the renunciation of allegiance. It was first introduced by law in 1917, mainly as a wartime measure. It was terminated in 1921 for legal reasons. Since that time it has remained only as a matter of practice. Why do we seek the deletion of this section of the naturalisation ceremony? I shall make our attitude clear to the Senate. Renunciation is not required in the United Kingdom or New Zealand. A citizen of Great Britain does not lose his citizenship until he makes a formal renunciation. In those circumstances it can hardly be claimed that there is an anti-British sentiment in our opposition to the Government’s proposal. In the United States and Canada renunciation is necessary. In the United States the lav* demands absolute and entire renunciation of previous allegiance. In Canada the. requirement is not statutory. It is about the same as our own requirement.
In addition, many countries do not recog-. nise renunciation. For the information of the Senate I will list the countries which do not recognise loss of nationality by a citizen who becomes naturalised elsewhere. Information furnished to the United Nations by the - governments of various countries reveals that, of the European countries from which Australia- has received numbers of migrants, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Roumania, Switzerland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Yugoslavia have provided in their laws that their citizens do not automatically lose their citizenship upon acquiring another nationality. However, citizens of those countries may apply to their governments for release from their original nationality. In those circumstances, a provision for renunciation by law, when such renunciation is not recognised by many of the nations involved, appears to be useless and unnecessary.
The Labour Party is not alone in its attitude on this question. Many new settlers’ organisationshave indicated that the renunciation of allegiance should be removed from the naturalisation ceremony. In fact, for some time there has been pressure to remove it. This matter received great prominence at the 1965 Citizenship Convention in Canberra. I feel that I should mention a few of the comments that were made by notable citizens who represented organisations at that Convention. First, Sir John Allison, who delivered a paper at the Convention, said -
I should like to suggestthat among the reasons
That is, the reason why at that stage about 250,000 people had not bothered to be naturalised although they were entitled to be naturalised -
The delegates to these Citizenship Conventions are divided into discussion groups. One by one. the chairmen of the groups make their submissions to the Government and to the Immigration Advisory Council which keeps the Government advised on what is required and what it wishes the
Government to do. These Conventions cost $100,000 each. If no notice is to be taken of them, I think they should be scrapped. At the 1965 Convention, the chairman of the first discussion group, Rev. Father M. J. Rafter of the Federal Catholic Immigration Committee, in his report, said -
It was suggested that the naturalisation ceremony should be simpler and more informal. It was thought also that the leaders of the national groups should be encouraged to be present at ceremonies. It was emphasised also that everyone present should stand when the Oath of Allegiance is being taken. The group felt strongly that the Oath of Renunciation should be done away with.
The chairman of the second discussion group, Mr. Albert Monk of the Immigration Planning Council, reported -
A very strong case was put forward, particularly by some of the new Australian representatives, that renunciation of former allegiance should not be a condition to naturalisation.
The chairman of the third discussion group, Rev. C. J. P. Mackaay of the Australian Council of Churches, reported -
The group suggests to the general assembly of the Convention that the Oath of Renunciation, as required at naturalisation ceremonies underthe present rule, should be deleted.
The fourth discussion group, which was under the chairmanship of Mr. Ferrier of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, did not make a similar recommendation. Mr. Ferrier reported -
The group felt that the requirement of renunciation of allegiance was not a major factor inthe reluctance of migrants to seek naturalisation.
He was the only one of the five discussion group chairmen who made other than a submission to the Government along the lines that we are now suggesting. The chairman of the fifth discussion group, Dr. Una B. Porter of the Young Women’s Christian Association, reported -
The standard of a dual loyalty to Australia and to Britain is confusing to newcomers. Those from Republican countries have no interest in a monarchy and feel too much stress is placed on this. Some are reluctant to renounce their former sovereign, and whilst respecting our Queen see no necessity for changing their allegiance.
I could spend the next half an hour telling the Senate what various delegates said in the general assembly of that Citizenship Convention. So, we are well supported by most reputable people in making the submissions that we are making to the Government in respect of this Bill. I understand that the Immigration Advisory Council has recommended the elimination of the renunciation. As I have said, the Citizenship Conventions cost the Australian people $100,000 annually, and we believe that their recommendations not only should be seriously considered but also should be put into effect by the Government.
The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), in introducing this Bill, made a submission on the problems that she believes affect people who are required to perform the act of renunciation. Referring to clause 1 1 , she said -
The change will simplify and shorten the naturalisation ceremony and enhance its dignity and will also, 1 believe, eliminate the emotional disturbance felt by candidates due to their natural and rightful love of their homelands.
As I have pointed out, at present there is a huge number of people who have not been naturalised although they are entitled to be naturalised. The Minister for Immigration, in answer to a question, has stated that it is estimated that, at 31st December 1965, 213,750 persons over the age of 16. years were eligible to apply for naturalisation but had not lodged applications. I believe that in these circumstances the Government should give serious consideration to. our submissions. I ask: Why introduce, this provision regarding renunciation by a back door method? No one wants it to be introduced in this way. The Australian Citizenship Conventions, to. which 1 “ have referred, have made statements on this, matter. Migrants, in taking the oath of renunciation, feel that they have to some extent dissociated themselves from loyalty to the country of their birth. I repeat that renunciation of all former allegiance is not required in England, New Zealand and the other countries to which I have referred.
Migrants who retained their original nationality under the Nationality and Citizenship Act after naturalisation in the year ended 30th June 1965 numbered: Albanians, 30, Bulgarians, 43, Czechoslovakians, 234, Hungarians, 1 ,703-
– Where do these figures come from?
– I am referring to submissions that have been made in this connection. The countries of which I am speaking do not recognise the renunciation of allegiance by migrants. They do not tell citizens before they leave that such renun ciation will be acceptable. I am giving details of people who have become naturalised in Australia during the past 12 months, but who have retained their original nationality. Poles numbered 2,572, Roumanians 107, Russians 693, Yugoslavs 2,775, Greeks 4,145, and Danes 192, making a total of 12,440. Of the 32,600 who were naturalised during that year, some 38 per cent, retained their former allegiance. We are opposing the renunciation of all former allegiance, as proposed by the Bill. We will vote against certain clauses at the Committee stage. Other clauses in the Bill will be dealt with by. speakers on this side, of the chamber. In conclusion I point out that the Labour Party does not intend to oppose the second reading of the Bill, but it will vote against clause 11 and seek to amend clause 12 - Third Schedule.
.- I rise, to support this Bill which seeks to amend the Nationality and Citizenship Act. That Act contains the rules under which Australian citizenship may be acquired. It is five years since the last amendment was made to the Act. In that period- a great many” migrants have arrived in Australia. ‘ A considerable number of migrants has arrived in Australia since the introduction of the Migration Act, to which Senator Fitzgerald referred. I am very glad indeed that ‘the Opposition supports the greater part of the’ Bill, but I am extremely disppointed that it does not support clause 11 and that it intends to move ah amendment regarding the renunciation of former allegiance.
As I have said, the number of migrants who now form a part of our national life is ‘very considerable indeed and their welfare is constantly the subject of grave consideration by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman); the officers of his Depart-“ ment’ and the voluntary organisations, such as the Good Neighbour Movement and the various churches which take such a lively interest in the process of the assimilation of migrants. I wish to draw the attention of honorable senators to a statement made by ‘the Minister for Immigration on 11th February 1966. He quoted figures which had been published by the Commonwealth Statistician showing that in 1965 the highest number of settlers came to Australia from’ overseas since the two years of Australia’s’ heaviest intake when so many displaced persons had come here from Europe. The figure given for 1965 was 147,511, which was greater than that for 1964 when the intake was 134,464.
When we think of the migrants who come to our shores we naturally think of the homes that, must be provided for them, the employment and the schooling which must be given to them and all the other amenities which they require. These matters, I suggest, have been the constant concern of the Commonwealth Government, and also of the State Governments. We think, too, of the homes .which these people wish to establish. We think , of the young people who come to our shores and who marry people from another country, and also people from Australia. The marriages have been extremely happy, and I think I am correct in saying that one in every four children born in Australia is the child of a’ marriage between a migrant and an Australian. Not only do we think of the homes that these people will require, but we also recognise, as has been stated so many times, that the basis of Australian life is the family unit. We think of the family as a unit, and we concentrate, I hope; on- maintaining the .unity of the f amily. So it was with very great interest that I read clauses 6 and 7 of the Bill, which I suggest will help to preserve that feeling of unity,
Under .sub-section (4.),of section 15 of .the Nationality and Citizenship Act the Minister is empowered to grant naturalisation to the spouse of an Australian citizen without any of the usual statutory requirements having to be. met… In a case where a husband or a. wife has .resided in Australia for five years and the other partner has .not, that spouse becomes eligible for naturalisation because of the other partner’s qualification. The same procedure is followed regarding the language requirement but only insofar as the wife becomes eligible because the. husband, meets the language requirement: This provision, was brought, about, I think, :as a result of. the statement often made, by migrants that they were not seeking naturalisation because they wished to be naturalised with their ‘ wives, and in many cases the wives found it most difficult to acquire the English language. This is , a very .wise and humane provision which enables a wife to be naturalised with her husband. I suggest that attention could, perhaps, be given to reversing the procedure and making the husband eligible if the wife meets the language qualification. I suggest that the husband finds it very much easier than does the wife to acquire the language, because he moves” around day by day, talking wilh Australians at his place of employment and elsewhere, while the wife stays within the home.
Clause 6 of the Bill enables both the husband and wife to become naturalised at the same ceremony and so there is not a period between the naturalisation of the husband and that of the wife which might cause a sense of division in the family. One partner has not to wait until the other has’ completed the formalities and then be naturalised separately. The big step of adopting Australian citizenship will now be able to be taken by both partners together
Clause 7 is just a machinery provision which stipulates that the unqualified partner to the marriage must not take the oath of allegiance before the qualified partner does. I consider that the naturalisation of the husband and wife at the same ceremony will bring about a stronger feeling of unity and remove any suggestion that one is an Australian citizen for a time while the other is not. 1 would like now to refer to another matter which affects our immigration policy and family life. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) iri his statement on Government policy on 8th March said -
The Government has been making a review of the restrictive aspects of our immigration policy.
This is an indication- that our Government is aware not only of the changes, that are taking place within Australia - it is dealing with them in the measure before us tonight - but also of the developments affecting Australia so. far as overseas contacts, are concerned. It is an indication that the Government is aware of our growing and closer contacts with Asian countries. Not only are Asian students numbering well over 12,000 now being educated at all levels in Australia, but also we are trading with the Asian people and ‘are establishing many contacts with them. I welcome the statement by the Minister for Immigration on 9th March, in which he outlined the Government’s decision to make it possible for non-Europeans who have been here” for long’ periods or those who are likely to be allowed to stay here indefinitely, to apply for citizenship after five years residence instead of IS years residence. This will enable many families that have been separated for some years to be reunited much sooner than would hitherto have been possible. All those who are interested in our immigration policy will agree that the separation caused by the IS years period has often been disruptive of family life.
In his statement the Minister also dealt with qualified people of non-European origin who wish to settle in Australia. He was referring to persons with specialised technical skills for appointments for which local residents are not available; persons of high attainment in the arts and sciences; persons nominated by responsible authorities or institutions for specific important professional appointments which otherwise would remain unfilled, and executives, technicians and other specialists. All the persons coming within those categories can now apply to settle in Australia and each individual application will be dealt with in the light of the applicant’s suitability as a settler, his ability to integrate easily into the community and his possession of qualifications useful to Australia. If granted permission to come here those persons will be able to live in Australia on temporary permits and then after 5 years make application for resident status and citizenship. My point is that they will now be able to bring their immediate families with them when they arrive. There are in Australia many people of non-European origin who are already naturalised and many who were born here of parents of non-European origin. They, too, have made outstanding contributions to the trades and to the professions. All these people in the categories outlined by the Minister of Immigration will be given the privilege of living in Australia and giving service to our great country.
I would like next to deal with the question of the oath of allegiance. I have been present at many naturalisation ceremonies, and have found that they are always solemn occasions. Those who are about to acquire citizenship have a great dignity of bearing and it is obvious that they are fully aware of the solemnity of the occasion and the seriousness of the step they are taking. I am sure that they regard it as a very great privilege that they are about to acquire a new nationality - that of Australia. Clause 11 deals with the oath of allegiance and the act of renunciation. At present it is necessary for all those who are about to take the oath of allegiance, first, after announcing their names, to renounce allegiance to their former head of state. They must do this before taking the oath of allegiance to our Queen. Now the act of renunciation will be incorporated as part of the oath of allegiance and I am sure this will be a great relief to all those taking part in naturalisation ceremonies. It will shorten the period of tension. Tension and emotional strain quite often shows in the faces of those I see taking part in this ceremony.
I disagree strongly with the Opposition’s suggested amendment which seeks to remove from Clause 12 the words “renouncing all other allegiance “. To my mind naturalisation is a most important step. It is necessary to make a migrant aware that he is acquiring a privilege and is in fact renouncing allegiance to his country of birth - when assuming the proud position of a British subject with Australian citizenship. We in. Australia are very proud indeed to have been members of the British Empire, which then became the British Commonwealth and is now the Commonwealth of Nations. We are proud that we owe allegi-ance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and I feel that it is necessary to give those taking part in naturalisation ceremonies the same feeling of pride and to imbue them with the desire to be British subjects owing allegiance to Her Majesty. So I contend that it is in order to make quite clear in the minds of these intending citizens what they are renouncing. They will use the words “ renouncing all other allegiance”.
Clause 3 of the Bill dennes the term “ Australian consulate “. Apparently there has been some doubt as to the legal effect of the registration at an Australian Consulate of the birth of an Australian citizen born abroad. This Bill defines the term “ Australian Consulate “ as meaning -
Part 2 of the clause goes on to state -
An office of the Department of Immigration at which a register of births was kept at any time before the commencement of this section shall, for the purposes of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 or that Act as amended, be deemed to have been, at that time, an Australian Consulate.
This then provides full protection for the infant whose birth has been registered.
Clause 4 of this Bill amends section 10 of the Nationality and 1 Citizenship Act in relation to children born in Australia of fathers who are members of the diplomatic and consular staff in Australia of other countries. A child born to a migrant father locally employed should not be debarred from citizenship. This clause protects the citizenship of such a child. Clause 4 is also worded so that if Australia becomes party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations no further consequential amendment of section 10 of the Act shall be necessary. Clause 5 of the Bill again deals with the registration of births of children of Australian citizens who are living abroad. It amends section 1 1 of the Act which states at present that within one year of the birth of a child such birth must be registered but if for any reason the parents neglect to register the birth within that year the Minister may allow an extended period in which to do so under special circumstances. Clause 5 of this Bill states that a further period shall be given by the Minister and this, I suggest, should leave ample time to allow registration of the infant.
Clause 9 of the Bill deals with the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women. Australia -.acceded to this Convention in 1961. The fact that Australia did take this action was welcomed by many women’s organisations throughout Australia and also on the international level. The clause ensures that the alien wife of a British subject without citizenship shall be registered as a British subject without citizenship. Another part of the clause makes it possible for her to acquire Australian citizenship together with her husband. Clause 10 of the Bill contains measures to ensure that section 34 of the Nationality and Citizenship Act as it stands will not restrict the possible wider application of sections 89, 90 and 91 of the Marriage Act 1961 in relation to the legitimation of children.
Returning to the question of the amendment indicated by the Opposition, it is a fact that the Citizenship Convention held the year before last, I think, did bring forward this suggestion that renunciation of allegiance was not necessary. The Minister undertook to bring this question forward and I know that it has received much earnest consideration. In my experience, and the experience of many of the people with whom I work in my own State of Victoria, I have not received any indication at these naturalisation ceremonies that there is strong feeling in this regard and that the present requirement is, in fact, deterring migrants from applying for naturalisation. I hope that honorable senators read from time to time the reports put out by the Department of Immigration which set out the number of naturalisations which occur year after year. I think the figures given in those reports would impress honorable senators greatly.
In conclusion, I would like to say that we read very often with grave concern of the falling birth rate in Australia and the fact that our population is not increasing rapidly enough. We realise that the number of migrants who come to Australia do make a contribution to our economic well being. We must regard them, also, as people who are coming to live here - people who are bringing their families. Members of those families will, in turn, marry and establish more homes and bear more children. These people are making a very important contribution to our nation so far as our population is concerned. In order to develop our country, to hold it in allegiance to Her Majesty, we need a population which will enable us to carry out the responsibilities which fall upon us all. I suggest that this Bill should be supported in its entirety because it seeks to further the well being and happiness of migrant husbands, wives and families. I have pleasure in supporting the Bill.
.- The measure before the Senate is a Bill to amend the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948-60. It may be of interest to honorable senators if I recite the words contained in the second reading speech of Mr. Calwell when introducing the first Bill on this subject on 30th September 1948. He said -
This is an historic occasion in the life of our nation. The bill which I have the honour to present this evening seeks to establish for the first tune the principle of Australian citizenship, while maintaining between the component parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations the common bond of British nationality. The importance of the measure lies in the fact that it marks another step forward in the development of Australian nationhood.
I believe that our whole migration programme has borne out those words. Our migration scheme has not only marked a step forward in the development of an Australian nationhood, as the then Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration, Mr. Calwell, said, but if we had not had such a scheme, and if the numbers involved in the scheme had not been kept up as they have, we would be in a very parlous position as a nation today. In his second reading speech the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) spoke about the details of the proposed amendments. In my view his approach is timely, if not overdue. The purpose is to remove some of the anomalies that exist in the present Act. I am very pleased indeed that the Minister has seen fit to alter some of the less desirable features of the existing Act. Having embarked upon an immigration scheme on such a grand scale without any previous experience, we have done very well indeed not to have experienced major disagreement on our immigration policy. Perhaps we erred on the side of caution when we inserted certain provisions relating to this new sector of our population. lt is of great interest to note that in 1961 we brought in 61,000 migrants, in 1962 a further 62,000, in 1963 an additional 72,000, in 1964 a further 99,000, and in 1965 no less than 105,000 If that steady flow had not continued, by the middle of next year the population of Australia would have started to decline. To prove my point, I point out that in the five years to which I have referred the natural increase dropped from 151,000 to 123,000 per annum- In 1965 the migrant, intake of 105,000 almost matched our natural increase, there being a difference of only 20.000.
– I referred to the period from 1961 to 1965, but I mentioned specifically the year 1965 in which 105,000 migrants entered the country and in which we produced only 123,000 new Australians of our own.
– I expect that the population has increased due to the honorable senator’s efforts.
– I did my share. The decline in our birthrate indicates where we would have been as a young nation with a tremendous responsibility to develop our natural resources, to create employment opportunities, to do all the big jobs that need to be undertaken, and to establish our right to control the destiny of the nation. The arrival of migrants has been of great advantage to Australia. We have attempted to establish standards for our own Australian people. Our education facilities are taxed to the limit and there is overcrowding in many of our schools. The States are experiencing difficulty in providing for our own children. The children of the migrants are imposing an additional burden on the education system.
– The same difficulty is being experienced by independent schools as by the State schools.
– I am speaking of the direct responsibility of the States. On the other hand, we have been extremely fortunate in receiving a number of skilled people of working age. The Dutch migrants, quite a large proportion of the German migrants, quite a number of Polish people who came to assist in the hydro-electric project in Tasmania and the Snowy Mountains project, quite a considerable number of Greeks and Italians, a smaller proportion of Spanish people, and some Norwegian, Swedish and Danish people have brought to us skills which have been of great, immediate economic advantage. We can pay a tribute to our migrants for having accelerated our developmental plans to an extent (hat would have been impossible in other circumstances. It is quite easy to understand that when migrants come to this country they pass through a certain period of bewilderment, novelty and perhaps even homesickness. It is our responsibility to do whatever we can to help them over that period of uncertainty when, having come to a new hemisphere, they are confronted by a strange language and different customs. The Immigration Act and the efforts of the Good Neighbour Council have been directed towards assisting these people to become assimilated in the quickest possible time.
The Minister has pointed out two changes that are comtemplated in the Bill. Under section 1 5 (4.) of the Nationality and Citizenship Act, the Minister for Immigration is empowered to grant naturalisation to the spouse of an Australian citizen without any of the usual statutory requirements being met. In practice, and as a matter of policy, concessions under this section have been made in relation to the residence and language requirements. Having drawn attention to these facts, the Minister for Immigration said, when delivering his second reading speech in another place -
As regards residence, the situation is that where a husband or wife is qualified but the partner is not, the eligible party is granted naturalisation and the non-qualified partner, as the spouse of an Australian citizen, then becomes eligible for naturalisation without completing the normal five years residential qualification.
The giving of power to the Minister to make that concession was a very important step. The Minister said further -
Much the same procedure operates in respect of the language requirement except that the concession is granted only to the wife. Our nationality law does not, however, at present make provision for a married couple in either of these cases to be naturalised together; one has to wait while the other has completed all of the formalities and then attend a separate ceremony. The Government has therefore decided -
The Bill seeks to enact that decision - that in these circumstances a man and his wife should always be able to become naturalised at the same ceremony. It is much more suitable that the couple should receive their Australian citizenship together.
The point I make is this: The Minister has the power to make concessions, and where he believes that the circumstances warrant such action he may depart from the normal procedure of requiring five years residence or the passing of the standard language test before a person becomes eligible for citizenship. We should be looking- more ‘closely into the reasons why a great number of eligible immigrants are not seeking Australian citizenship. Last year between 250,000 and 270,000, or 34 per cent, of eligible immigrants who had been in Australia for five years or more, had not exercised their prerogative to apply for citizenship. Not enough research has been conducted into the reasons why they do not apply to become Australian citizens.
I have attended many naturalisation ceremonies, and those who receive their certificates are as good Australians as one could imagine. Many of them have adapted themselves very rapidly to Australian conditions. They drive to the ceremony in their own cars, dressed in normal Australian clothes. Some of them speak the English language quite well. Generally the immigrants from northern Europe such as the Dutch, Germans, Norwegians, Swedes and Danes learn our language more quickly than do the southern Europeans. Often you find that they have set themselves up in a small business or have become contractors. In some cases they employ Australians. Often they have been established for three or four years before they become Australian citizens. Any barrier to applications for Australian citizenship should be examined so that the greatest percentage of immigrants might be encouraged to apply.
Under this Bill, provision is to be made for a man and wife to be naturalised together and other concessions are to be made, but in my opinion the statutory residential period of five years before an application can be made for naturalisation is too long. The Act should be amended to give the Minister for Immigration the option of granting naturalisation at any time after 12 months’ residence in Australia. Some immigrants who arrive in Australia are already fluent in English. Some have relatives here. They bring with them capital or a high level of. skill and they should have the option to apply for citizenship within a period less than five years. Before these migrants come to Australia, they are thoroughly screened. They have to undergo a rigid test including an examination of their health and their mental qualities. They are closely screened for their political affiliations. They must be fairly substantial citizens in their own country before they are permitted to come to Australia and then they must live here for at least five years before we allow them to apply for Australian citizenship.
A big concession was made to members of the Polish army who fought with Australians at Tobruk and in the North African desert during the Second World War. As a concession and a compliment to them, they were given Australian citizenship immediately it could be arranged. I remember attending a mass naturalisation ceremony for these people in Tasmania. Many of them are now successfully established. They have become integrated into the community and are valuable citizens. The fact that they did not have to wait five years for naturalisation did not make-any difference in the long run. Possibly it set them on the path towards becoming what they are two or three years sooner than would have been the case otherwise. This principle could well be applied to more immigrants now to encourage many of the 250,000 who are eligible but have not sought naturalisation.
As to the language test, perhaps I am broadminded when I say that in our present stage of population and development, we have to plan ahead. A generation or more ahead is not too far to plan. At this stage of our development we could easily project ourselves one generation ahead. The average new Australian family which has come to the relative peace and security of Australia has children growing up. From the moment those children go to school, they associate with Australian born children and in no time at .all it is very difficult to tell whether their parents come from Australia, England or the Continent. It does not matter whether their parents speak English fluently or not at all. The children become one people with one destiny. That is what makes our immigration scheme so exciting and so successful.
We have learnt a great deal since the original legislation was introduced 18 years ago and we should look at it now with wider vision. I believe that the time has come when the Minister should have more discretion as to when a person is eligible for citizenship, and the mandatory period of five years should be reduced.
I have attended many naturalisation ceremonies. Mostly, they are most impressive. I pay a tribute to the public spirited mayors and wardens of towns and municipalities in this respect. I include Senator Turnbull. During the time when he was a mayor, he put ‘on a very good ceremony]
I understand that mayors and wardens not only give up time but are also put to some personal expense in performing these ceremonies. They do it as a public service and no praise is too great for the manner in which the ceremonies are conducted. But formal naturalisation ceremonies should not be the only way in which people may become Australian citizens. Recently, I had occasion to speak on this matter, when I equated the naturalisation of a person from another country with marriage. Some people have a long preparation for marriage. They make plans a long way ahead. The bride prepares her trousseau. The husband saves, or he used to; now everything is obtained on hire purchase. The day comes. The bride wears a long flowing veil and a beautiful bridal frock. The husband, in his white tie and tails, must as Senator .Toohey says, get to the church on time. All, of this lives in the memory of people who have been through a ceremony on that level.
Others do not want to engage in such an expensive and dramatic type ‘ of ceremony. The. .parties arrange with their spiritual advisers and, in ordinary lounge, suit and short frock, they walk into the church and the necessary vows are exchanged. There may be a little ceremony at home, and they are effectively married. Others may .even like to go along to - a registry office. They do not have the tie’ and tails, but they have a wish to become, man and wife and the marriage is registered. My point is that people have an option of various kinds of ceremony. 1 believe that a person taking Australian citizenship and becoming virtually married to this country, too, should have a similar option. If he wishes to attend a ceremony, at a town hall, he may go through the normal channels. There is no shadow of doubt that the officers of the Department of Immigration are as ‘ conscientious and kind a group of people in .dealing with these matters as could possibly be found: In no case have I found that they have not tried their very best to bring the fullest dignity to these ceremonies. But it is more difficult for people .to arrange to. have private naturalisation . at an office of the Department or in some of the far flung towns and villages of the nation.
It is expensive to travel long distances tq a naturalisation ceremony. Some of these people could set Us an example in saving money. They watch every penny, and the loss of wages for a day or two in travelling to a centre where a naturalisation ceremony is held, plus the cost, perhaps, of extra clothing to take part in the ceremony on a proper level, could be a barrier. I think it is a barrier to the taking of citizenship. It is then only a matter of becoming accustomed to not having citizenship. They get into the rut, as I would describe it, of not bothering at all and they go on and on. They constitute this 34 per cent. - 250,000 or 260,000 persons - who are eligible but have not applied for naturalisation.
The measure before us makes an attempt to clear up the less desirable features of the Act. I should like to have a few words on the matter of renunciation of allegiance. Incorporation of renunciation with the oath of allegiance seems to me to be redundant. If one makes a will, that will automatically cancels all previous wills. If one makes allegiance to a country, to its Queen, this cancels any previous allegiance. It is unfortunate that persons are required to stand and renounce publicly something that was born in them. I shudder to think what my feelings would be if everI had to renounce allegiance to Australia, yet we make public renunciation a prerequisite to citizenship. If the amendment to delete provision for renunciation is carried, we shall have a much better and more attractive ceremony. I shall support the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Fitzgerald.
– This Bill is an addition to a number of measures by which Australia’s immigration policy has been liberalised over the past 20 years. In some ways, I feel, it is a matter for regret that we are doing this liberalisation in a piecemeal sort of way. I have sometimes thought that it might be better if we had a commission of this Parliament to inquire into the full scope of our migration laws, to liberalise them and to humanise them in a way that would make them more acceptable. Then again, I have wondered whether, in view of the difficulties that are faced with public opinion on this matter, the Government may not be, perhaps, advancing at as reasonable a rate as could be expected.
– I suggest that patient judgment is the course to be adopted in a matter of this sor t.
– Senator Wright apparently believes that patience is to be recommended in this matter. I am glad that the Government is regularly examining our immigration laws with a view to their liberalisation, because there is a tendency at times to accept too lightly the story that our restrictive immigration laws are readily accepted and understood abroad. I still think there are forces in the world which would like to attack Australia on its restrictive immigration laws. That opinion is confirfirmed by something I quoted six or seven months ago in this chamber from the report of Mr. Albert Monk, Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, following the International Labour Organisation conference at Geneva in June 1963. On page 35 of his report Mr. Monk said -
I had been informed by some of my own trade union confreres from Asia that following the attack on South Africa for its apartheid policy, Portugal would be the next country singled out for attack by the African nations and that Australia would be similarly attacked at a later stage on the grounds that we pursued race discrimination particularly regarding Papua and New Guinea and the white Australia controversy and the aboriginal controversy.
Mr. Monk, in conclusion, said very significantly ;
I did not speak at the conference on the South African situation as I felt we would be vulnerable to attack on these same issues.
– How many months ago was Mr. Monk’s statement made?
– I said it was following the I.L.O. conference in June 1963.
– Does the honorable senator not think it is relevant to consider the comparative development of South Africa and the other African states to which he has referred from that date until now?
– I merely want to say that that is the view of one who is regarded as a sound observer of overseas opinion, and that it is a view that we in Australia ought to take into consideration. For that reason I am glad that we in Australia are looking at our immigration laws with a view to their liberalisation. While naturally we have the same right as have other countries to determine immigration policy, we are entitled to take world opinion into account, and where it can be shown that our laws are not as liberal as they should be we should take action to liberalise them.
Too often the tendency with those who oppose liberalisation is to suggest that one wants to bring into this country a flood of people who would not be easily assimilated. No-one suggests that there should be a flood, but what is suggested is that our immigration laws should take into account the strong feeling throughout the world against racial discrimination andthat they should not contain anything which could be branded before the bar of world opinion as an injustice.
– What is the honorable senator’s view on thedanger of building up in Australia the problem with which America is now threatened?
– I believe such a problem would not be built up even under a reasonably liberal immigration policy. There is too much of a tendency to point to what is happening in the United States to prevent Australia taking a reasonable attitude on this question. I agree with a good deal of what has been said by other honorable senators on the particular provisions of the Bill, but I want to express particular pleasure at clause 8, which is in these terms -
Section 25 of the principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (3.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: - “(3.) A person -
I am particularly pleased because I have been surprised at times at the manner in which our immigration laws have operated against the children of Australian citizens. I had a case before me some years ago of an Australian citizen resident abroad who sent his two children of Asian race to Australia for education. He contacted me because he had received word that the children, having completed their education. had to leave Australia although, as I have said, their father was an Australian citizen.
– What year was that?
-This would have been seven or eight years ago. I approached the Minister and I am very pleased to say that he recognised the situation and gave the children of that Australian citizen a conditional permit to remain in Australia from year to year. To me it seems remarkable that that kind of thing could have been happening. I particularly welcome this clause because it will remove that anomaly.
I have before me the case of a lady who came to this country for her education. Her father was an Australian citizen. She was educated in Australia and she is a person who could be assimilated quite easily as she speaks perfect English, but she was unable to obtain naturalisation because a provision such as the one now before us did not exist at that time. She had lived in Australia for years and her father was an Australian citizen yet she was denied Australian citizenship and could remain in Australia only under certain restrictive conditions. As I have said, I am very pleased that the Department of Immigration has taken action to remove that anomaly. I think that anomalies which affect the children of Australian citizens should be removed.
I am also very pleased at the provision relating to a husband and wife being naturalised together. In conversation with representatives of the Department I have learned that this was one of a number of similar matters about which they have had their own opinions, and I am pleased to see that their opinions are now being reflected in legislation.
I want to refer finally to the proposed amendment relating to a person who is being naturalised. Previously he was called upon to repudiate his allegiance to his former country and then to take the oath of allegiance to his new country. The Department proposes now that there shall be one statement in which the person being naturalised will say that he renounces all other allegiances and then pledges his allegiance as an. Australian citizen. This is a matter regarding which considerable opposition has been expressed by our migrants from overseas. I have discussed it with many of them and they have told me that they resent it because they feel it is wrong. We have had evidence presented in the Senate tonight that in many other liberal minded countries they are not called upon to renounce their former allegiance.
– Is it the prevailing opinion then that there is dual nationality?
– No, there is not dual nationality. The attitude is that when these people take the oath of allegiance to the Queen of this country they then, by taking that oath of allegiance, discard all former allegiances.
– Why do they object to stating it?
– They object to stating it because, as has been suggested, to many of them, particularly the older people, the taking of the oath of renunciation appears to them to be a repudiation of their native land. If they are not called upon to do that in Britain I do not think they should be called upon to do it in Australia. I do not think that the people of Britain are any less loyal than we are in this country. At the Australian Citizenship Convention many of Australia’s best known citizens expressed the opinion that this repudiation of former allegiance was unnecessary. I agree with them. As late as tonight I have contacted a number of representatives of migrant organisations in my own. State. They have informed me that the opinion of their people is overwhelmingly that, when they take up this new allegiance, they regard it as discarding all other allegiances. To those persons who may say that we are forcing them to repudiate the old allegiance because they might not be honest in taking up the new allegiance, I say that if they are dishonest people they will take a dozen oaths of repudiation of allegiance which will mean nothing to them.
In my view, nothing is gained by this provision and harm is done to the natural feelings of loyalty to the native land that many people have for their old countries. I must say that I was pleased to learn that the Australian Labour Party has now suddenly realised that there is something in national sentiment. About six months ago, when I was speaking in this chamber on the natural feelings of migrants, members of the Australian Labour Party strongly attacked me and suggested it was time we got away from the old national sentiments. It was said to me that these were days when we should adopt an international outlook and that the old national feelings would cause only trouble and dissent. Honorable senators will remember the manner in which Australian Labour Party senators said: “ Let us brush aside these old nationalisms. Let us adopt an international outlook.” I am delighted to find that I have converted members of the Australian Labour Party to the realisation that there is something in national sentiment and national feeling. I see no reason why we should include quite gratuitously in the oath of allegiance which our migrants are to take a statement that they repudiate all other allegiances. If they are honest people, they know that taking the oath of allegiance to this country repudiates all other oaths of allegiance. If they are dishonest people, the renunciation of allegiance will mean nothing to them.
Therefore I propose to support this amendment. The purpose of the amendment was supported at the last Citizenship Convention which was attended by representatives of the Australian people and representatives of almost all groups interested in migration. It was supported almost unanimously by persons who are entitled to the respect of all Australians. I refer to leading persons in every section of the community. I therefore believe that there is every reason why it should be accepted. For that reason, the Democratic Labour Party will support the proposed amendment.
– We have been listening with considerable interest to the various expressions of opinion put forward in this debate. Senator McManus has put forward what purport to be arguments in favour of an amendment which is to be placed before the Senate in due course. Before dealing with that, I would like to discuss the Bill as a whole and devote my attention in particular to one or two of the provisions that are occasioning public interest and interest in this Parliament. All bills, of course, are important and the Bill before the Senate has its own degree of importance to the Parliament, the nation and the people. It has this importance because it deals with citizens and families, and eventually it must deal with national outlook. Because of the nature of its provisions, it also deals with emotions.
In presenting the Bill to the Senate, the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) who represents the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) iri this chamber, said that the Nationality and Citizenship Act is fundamental to our national status. From it stems the concept of Australian citizenship, as well as the rules under which our citizenship may be acquired. Perhaps some of us may have overlooked the importance of the word “rules”. No nation can act without set guide lines or rules. This Bill deals with some rules, and those provisions have occasioned some comment.
Some of the amendments proposed by the Bill are of a machinery nature, but two of them represent what the Minister described as positive and desirable changes. These two positive and desirable amendments are the ones with which I shall mostly concern myself. They relate to naturalisation ceremonies. Changes are envisaged in this legislation, and changes in respect of naturalisation have taken place over the years in immigration legislation. Indeed, a great number of words have been spoken on the subject in another place about such changes, and something was said on the subject in this chamber earlier this evening. Certain basic principles remain, but over a period of years it is natural and desirable - indeed, it is almost unalterable - that certain changes should take place in opinion and application.
Some, of the words which, have been quoted this evening were spoken almost 20 years ago. We have all amended our thinking in the last 20 years. Tremendous changes have taken place in world situations, power structures, population movements and other related factors.. It would be a strange thing indeed if there had not been some changes of opinion. Our affluence in this country has meant that more and more people have a much wider and more intense picture of the world and everything in it. This has changed our climate of opinion. This legislation introduces, changes in . our immigration, procedure sp that.it will be rather different from the procedure of 20 years ago. It introduces changes when compared with the procedures of even five or ten years ago. The changes are not so much remarkable, in my opinion, but more to be expected and natural. They are evidence of our ability to appreciate needs and opportunities in nations like ours from time to time. This legislation will give us the capacity and place us in a position to make the necessary changes. I hope that 20 years from now when this Parliament will be dealing with various forms of population movements and citizenship there shall be opinions and legislation which will reflect a change that is ‘responsible and capable of meeting the demands of the day.
There is always an element of change in matters of an historical nature. Immigration, no less, has an historical background. Our development as. a nation has made necessary a programme of -immigration. It has been said that our immigration programme has been probably one of the greatest single developmental projects undertaken in our history since World War I. As a nation, we faced a great change in our national thinking on migration. The Australian people became aware that there, was such a procedure and that it was necessary for a nation to grow. We saw it then, I believe, for the first time on a nationwide scale. With the close cooperation of the. British Government a programme of migration from the United Kingdom was introduced. Some migrants came from southern Europe. For about a decade, the Australian people were involved in a programme of immigration. Then, as we all are aware, the depression years came in the 1930’s. There. was almost a complete cessation of immigration, but after. 1933 it began to assume reasonable .proportions, again. By 1939 immigration had become what was described at the time as a feature of. the economy. .The rest is very well known to us all.
When we stand at a naturalisation ceremony, as every, member of. this Parliament has done on. many occasions - -I have attended ceremonies at which from 2 to 200 people have been naturalised - we are not participating, in .a post-war phenomenon, as immigration is sometimes described. On the contrary, on those occasions we are involved in something which has been part pf . our history, which has been flexible . with our history in that its interpretation has changed with our history, and which also has contributed to what is described in the second reading speech as our national status. This Bill reflects, again, the fact that the Government is alive to the needs of migrants and is prepared to make necessary and desirable changes for the welfare of our migrant population. Because the Government is making these changes for the welfare of bur migrant population, it is making them for the welfare of the Australian population. Dealings with migrants, people and citizens are the basis of this Bill.
One matter about which’ I wish to say something is the provision of the Bill which, as I read it and as has been said on a number of occasions, enables a husband and wife together to become Australian citizens and British subjects. That is a very good phrase because it incorporates our . contemporary thinking and reflects our historical associations and connections. I hope that this phrase will remain in naturalisation ceremonies. I return to the desirability of this opportunity for husband and wife to receive their naturalisation certificates on the same occasion, under the same auspices and in the same circumstances. Everyone appreciates the value of that. It has overtones of family life and of people being able to do things together. I am quite certain that it will help many more people to make up their minds to apply for naturalisation much earlier than they otherwise might have done. It will also help many more people to make up their minds more easily. Everybody knows that when a family is able to do something together the decision is made the more readily, the more happily and the more easily.
– To which provision is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to clauses 6 and 7 of the Bill which, as the honorable senator will have seen, provide the opportunity for a husband and wife to receive their naturalisation certificates on the same occasion.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that that has not been possible previously?
– Under this .Bill, the Minister, having issued a certificate in respect of one spouse,, will be able to issue a certificate in respect of the husband or wife, as the case may be, in spite of the fact that the husband or wife may not have been resident in Australia for the required period. I think all honorable senators will agree that that provision has many desirable features. It is not good for a husband and wife to have different backgrounds in many spheres. It is worse if they are of different nationalities and citizenships, particularly if the difference is. occasioned by the fact that one of them is required to wait for a certain period before applying for naturalisation.
I commend the Minister for Immigration for looking at this matter and bringing forward this provision in its present form. I am sure that the Senate will give wide endorsement. to it. We are pleased with this change, and I believe that people who have the opportunity to preside at naturalisation ceremonies will be pleased with it. The Australian born friends of candidates will also be pleased with it. I suggest that it reflects creditably on the people who make up the migrant population of Australia. The Government has every confidence not only in the system but also in those people responding to this new set of circumstances, which will enable them to apply for naturalisation earlier than they otherwise might have applied.
The other matter in this Bill which has provoked considerable discussion is renunciation of allegiance. Much has been said about this. Statements by a number of people have been quoted. All of us who have taken part in naturalisation ceremonies have experienced a wide range of feelings as we have watched people perform the act of renunciation. I guess that there is not one honorable senator who has not endeavoured, in his own mind and heart, to decide how he would react if he were placed in the position in which these people are placed. We have watched the expressions of emotion. We have thought about this matter a great deal. Whilst I have been very sensitive to all these things and have examined the matter closely, I have never held the view that the renunciation should be abolished.
I have considerable reservations about statements that the inclusion of the renunciation slows down our naturalisation programme. I do not accept that because I believe that there are other factors,, all of which have been mentioned in one way or another tonight. In some instances, the language problem slows down our naturalisation programme. A man may not apply for naturalisation until he feels better able to communicate - until he can master our language in conversation and until he has established himself in a job and is able to understand his fellows and to be underStood by them. All of these matters play a significant part in enabling a man to make up his mind about when he will approach the authorities for naturalisation. I do not think for one minute that the inclusion of the renunciation in the naturalisation ceremony slows down our naturalisation programme.
I make my point strongly because 1 believe very firmly that citizenship is not something to be taken lightly, to be given easily, or to be handed out freely. It is a matter on which there should be some discipline at some point. Earlier in this debate, Senator O’Byrne devoted a great deal of his speech to marriage ceremonies. He went through three or four different kinds of marriage ceremony, from the elaborate right down to the simple. He mentioned every detail and highlighted every important point. The point that was common to every one of them was that at some , stage in the ceremony the parties had to take vows which required discipline on their part. I believe that the same may be said of naturalisation ceremonies.
– The point that I was making was that the form of marriage ceremony is optional and therefore it should be optional for new Australians to go to an office of the Department of Immigration or to a ceremony in a town hall to be naturalised.
– The honorable senator did make the point that the form of marriage ceremony is optional, but I am also making the point that there is a factor common to marriage ceremonies and naturalisation ceremonies; that is, the vows which are equally important and require, equal discipline. I repeat that I do not believe that citizenship should be conferred lightly or easily. The steps leading up to it should not be made more simple, and the steps through it should not be made more simple. That applies not only to new citizens but also to us, as Australian citizens born here, living here and belonging here. We do not and should not take our citizenship lightly. Therefore, we should never convey to new citizens the impression that there is simply nothing to it. After all, whilst new citizens acquire all kinds of rights and’ privileges, they are reminded at naturalisation ceremonies that they have responsibilities. They are also enabled as new Australians - if I may use that term- to enjoy all the protections that we enjoy and all the benefits we enjoy. Therefore I feel very strongly that naturalisation should nol be granted without some cost and without some discipline. Citizenship will never be valued unless there is some kind of discipline attached to it. We could make a mockery of our naturalisation ceremony if there were not some act of symbolism or some token of cost attached to it. I do not think this is an unkind or unsympathetic view. Some people may regard renunciation of former allegiance merely as a form of words or say that it is not legally recognised in certain other countries of the world, but at least it is a token and a sign, and to Australian citizens who watch naturalisation ceremonies it has all the elements of a covenant.
It is not an uncommon experience for all of us to be involved in such a declaration. If we seek to become members of some organisations, societies or fraternities - perhaps a religious or semi-religious order - vows are taken. We pledge ourselves to renounce certain habits, and, if we are serious, we value this discipline. As I understand it the history of the act of renunciation goes back to 1917, when it was introduced as a wartime measure and it has been retained in its present form for many years. It is true that no act of renunciation is required in the United Kingdom or in New Zealand, but I question whether the situation in either of those countries is totally comparable with that in Australia. However, the act of renunciation is required in the United States of America, and is not theirs a situation similar to ours? The act of renunciation required in America is far more stringent than ours. The United States Nationality Act, in section 337 states -
A person who is a petitioner for naturalisation shall, in order to be and before being admitted to citizenship, take in open court an oath, firstly to support the Constitution of the United States of America and, secondly, to renounce and abjure absolutely and entirely all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, State or sovereignly of whom or which the petitioner was before a subject or citizen.
If the United States requires a stringent oath of that kind I think our system has about it an element of generosity in regard to which we can feel satisfied and which I think we ought to retain. Therefore, the proposed form finds great acceptance with me. It meets the needs of people who have certain sensitivities and I think it meets the needs of those who, like me, feel very strongly about the retention of the act of renunciation. Clause 1 1 will alter the second schedule of the Act to read - .
I, A.B., renouncing a)] other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors according to law. and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
So. for the reasons I have stated and others which I think are apparent, I ask the Senate to retain this provision in the Act so that to both migrants and Australian citizens the discipline and cost will be apparent and the value of citizenship will not be lost on any one of us. For much the same kind of reason I lean towards the retention of a specific period of residence before naturalisation. There has been some debate on this question. The period is now set at five years, but if it could be shown to my satisfaction that a period of three years was suitable I would agree to that. The fact to be remembered is that it is not so much a period of time that is important as a capacity to integrate into our community and this has a variety of expressions and circumstances. It may be language or communication; it may be the ability, or lack of ability to settle down to get a job and a house, and all the other things that relate to final settlement of a migrant. Integration cannot be accomplished quickly, but if a period of residence shorter than five years can be shown to be enough well and good. If not, the present period should be retained. It may be that a three year period would be acceptable, but in my view it should certainly not be any less than that. I remind the Senate that the average period between the arrival of a migrant in this country and his seeking naturalisation runs to between seven and eight years, so it takes a while for people to make the necessary adjustments. I do not think we should make the acquiring of citizenship too easy or make the qualifying period too short.
As I survey the measure I pay tribute to our migrants. They have done a magnificent service to this country. Every one of us has been present at naturalisation ceremonies and watched these people take their places with their friends gathered round them. All of us who take part in community affairs know that these people have not only come here to help populate and develop Australia but have also brought’ their skills, their personalities, their culture, their music, their colour and all the other things which give dimension to our community life. We pay a tribute to them and express our appreciation of the fact that they have selected Australia in which to settle. Many of them have done so well and enjoy such good standards of living that they have become some of our very best citizens. I think that those seeking naturalisation will respond gladly to the provisions of this Bill.
We record also our appreciation of the officers who preside at naturalisation ceremonies. I join with Senator O’Byrne in thanking the chairmen of district councils, the mayors of municipalities and all the others whose duty it is to preside at these ceremonies and who have given time and attention to detail so that the ceremonies can be performed with dignity, understanding and sympathy. We also thank all the other people who gather round to help - groups like the Good Neighbour Council, the Country Women’s Association and the Returned Servicemen’s League who have helped in so many ways. I had opportunity to take part in a naturalisation ceremony in a Good Neighbour Garden at Brighton, in South Australia, in which trees had been planted by various migrant groups, reflecting various European countries. On that occasion, on a beautiful afternoon, the naturalisation ceremony was a very impressive function. All of this is part of the total picture of our immigration programme and of the things that go to make it work so well for the Australian community.
I ask the Senate to reject in due course the amendment which has been foreshadowed. I commend the Bill to the chamber because I believe that as it becomes law it will reflect not only a robust immigration programme but also the sympathy and understanding of a Minister and of a department.
– I rise to speak in support of the amendment that has been foreshadowed by my colleague, Senator Fitzgerald. The theme of the discussion on this measure has rightly been centred on the tempo of naturalisation. When we debate this subject we hear about the backlog of migrants intending to become naturalised, the number of migrants registered as aliens and the cause of their delay in seeking naturalisation, but in order to get a proper picture one would have to find out what occupations the migrants followed in the early years of their residence in Australia. It is obvious that migrants living in big cities, and particularly those who have professional leanings or a professional background, have a greater incentive to become naturalised. Conversely, migrants working perhaps on the Snowy Mountains project and other big public works or in mining camps and living a barrack life have an arduous existence and give up many pleasures and sports. Although they may get big wages for a time, in that atmosphere there is obviously not the opportunity for them to get into the main stream of Australian life.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 April 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660427_senate_25_s31/>.