26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Education and Science. I refer to the disastrous situation which has arisen in universities because of the drastic reduction in grants for post-graduate research. I refer particularly to reports that the Vice-Chancellor and other senior representatives of the University of Melbourne will be making strong representations to the Minister on this question and to a statement by Professor Buchanan, the Dean of Post-Graduate Studies at that University, that this cut will have an extremely bad impression on the intellectual climate of Australia as a whole. I ask: in view of the fact (hal this crisis arises from an unseemly wrangle between the Commonwealth and some of the States over how much and under what conditions each will contribute, is the Government content to allow the situation to deteriorate or can the universities and the community look for a quick and effective restoration of the full amounts originally proposed for postgraduate research?
– Provided the Opposition agrees, I propose to make a statement on this matter covering the questions raised by the honourable senator. Perhaps it would be better if I were to do that at the conclusion of question time today. For the moment I shall simply content myself with saying that it appears to me that a number of the statements made by the gentleman to whom the honourable senator has referred were not distinguished by strict adherence to the facts.
– My question which is addressed to the Minister for Education and Science relates to the Minister’s reported statement on standardisation of text books. He is reported to have made the observation that he prefers that major text books should ‘be standardised throughout Australia. Can the Minister say whether this process, if adopted, would be used to give every child in Australia an identical education or whether the process might be used for the purpose of promoting a variety of other text books to meet other needs? Does the Minister propose to initiate discussion with State Ministers of Education in this connection?
– The question asked by the honourable senator touches on a matter which is, I think, a problem in Australian education. It is that a number of Australian citizens - I suspect a considerable number - are disadvantaged at the moment regarding their children’s education because of the larger number of people now moving from State to State. Servicemen, public servants, employees of big companies and indeed individuals now move often more than once during the course of their children’s education. It appears that disadvantage is felt by the children because in many cases they lose up to a year’s schooling as a result. An approach to try to overcome this disadvantage must, I think, avoid any suggestion of giving every child an identical education or any suggestion of uniformity in education.
We should seek to find out whether there is some area in which there could be compatibility in broad subjects or in curricula as between the States. Perhaps we could utilise a core of text books, used in conjunction with other text books, which could be built according to the demands of a particular education system or so that a subject could be taught in the way that a teacher wanted to teach it. Compatibility is something that we must seek in an effort to overcome the problem to which 1 have referred. But the initial investigation into the possibility of compatibility really must come from the State education authorities, which are concerned primarily. I have already mentioned this problem to each State Minister for Education. I think the State Ministers are considering whether something on these lines could be done. All I can say is that if some suggestion which seemed to offer a solution of this difficulty came from that area, 1 would listen to it very interestedly indeed.
– Can the
Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the chamber whether a date has been determined for the holding of the proposed referendum on constitutional changes? There are Press statements to the effect that 27th May next will be the polling day and that, in relation to the Aboriginals question, it is proposed that section 51 as well as section 127 of the Constitution be altered. Are these Press statements correct?
– I am sure the honourable senator will understand when I tell him that the Prime Minister will make the necessary announcement at the correct time.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for National Development seen a statement to the effect that geologists have found deposits of the precious metal vanadium, estimated to be 100 million tons, near the Jamieson Range, 520 miles north-east of Kalgoorlie? Can he say whether that statement is correct? Is vanadium mined elsewhere in Australia? Is there a prohibition on the export of this important mineral?
– I read with a great deal of interest the statement to which the honourable senator has referred. To the best of my knowledge, vanadium is not mined in Australia and is in short supply throughout the world. If, as has been reported in the Press, the situation is that the quantity referred to by the honourable senator exists, then the discovery will be of tremendous interest to Australia and Western Australia in particular. I shall never cease to be amazed at the variety of minerals that have been found in Western Australia. Every day, it seems, new materials are found in that State. If the deposit is as good as the Press statements indicate - I have no further information on the matter - I am sure it will be of tremendous interest to all concerned.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister seen a Press report from Alice Springs which quotes a member of the Northern Territory Legislative Council as having said that the people of Alice Springs had been deceived about a multi-million dollar United States defence space project being built near the town? Mr
Orr, M.L.C., is also quoted as having said thai the co-operation of local people was sought on the basis that the project was a space research project but that in fact it was a United States defence project - a spy in the sky - and that it was the biggest outside the United States. He claimed that the people of Alice Springs were now concerned about its location in view of any future war. Can the Minister inform the Senate about the correctness or otherwise of these statements? What decision was made by the Commonwealth Government in respect of its location and operation?
– -I read the statement. 1 noted that it was made rather in a political context. I have no information about the arrangements that were made or who carried them out. I should think that they would have been made on a government to government basis through the Department of External Affairs, but I do not know at this stage whether that is so. The question is one of importance. I ask the honourable senator to put it on the notice paper so that I may obtain what information I can for him.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. Have any special arrangements been made by the Commonwealth Government through the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation to assist people affected by the recent fires in Tasmania to finance the replacement of burned out homes?
– Yes. This matter has been given very considerable thought and the Corporation has made special arrangements with approved lenders in Tasmania to assist borrowers who have been affected directly or indirectly by the recent fires. Lenders have been advised that they may give immediate relief in the form of a temporary reduction or postponement of repayments on insured loans to borrowers who have suffered an interruption to their income. Approved lenders have also been invited to consult the Corporation in cases where fire victims are seeking new insured loans and the lender believes that special conditions are warranted.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the Parliament what progress, if any, has been made with the inquiry into the Winton air disaster? Will the Minister also advise Parliament whether the findings of any such inquiry will be released to the public?
– I ask the honourable senator to place the question on the notice paper, in which eventI shall expedite a reply for him.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. My attention has been drawn to reports of very useful research being carried out in my State of Victoria at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. Can the Minister confirm the reports of research into the various types of cancer said to be being carried out at the hospital?
– It is true that research has been sponsored at the Repatriation Hospital at Heidelberg and that it has opened up some very interesting possibilities in relation to this dread scourge. It has been found that of two types of cancer one responds to a certain type of drug and another responds to a different type of drug. One of the important points which have been brought out is that the cancer cells are responding to certain specific types of drugs.
– I direct a ques tion to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Will the date of the next Senate election and the number of senators to be elected be decided as a result of the proposed constitutional referendum?
– I think I should get the information on that subject from the Department of the Interior. If the honourable senator will put the question on the notice paper I shall see what I can ascertain for him.
– Did the Minis ter for Customs and Excise see a report some time in January that three former
Australian policemen had been arrested in the United States of America on narcotics charges following investigations covering four countries and that United States officials had named Sydney as the centre of a worldwide multi-million dollar smuggling ring? Can the Minister say in particular whether the second part of this report is correct? If it is, would the Minister agree that his Department is in need of additional investigation officers? What action is the Department taking to attract additional staff and what steps is it taking to smash any smuggling ring of the type that has been referred to in the report?
– It is true, as the honourable senator indicated, that certain persons were before the court. As far as Australia is concerned they were not before a court in relation to that particular offence. They were before the court in connection with offences in relation to our immigration laws, as I understand the position. For that reason, I will not comment on the particular matter. In the circumstances, I would prefer to answer a question on smuggling in general rather than one in relation to a case that has been before the court or, if my memory is correct, is still before the court.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Was the Australian Government consulted before the United States Government made its decision to engage in naval action against North Vietnam? Is the Government concerned about this latest development? Will this development affect the Government’s policy on our commitment in Vietnam?
– This question relates to a matter of policy. I am sure the honourable senator will realise that it should be put on the notice paper. I believe that a question along these lines was put on the notice paper last week. I shall endeavour to obtain answers to both of them.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that a number of national service trainees, who had been on leave in Western Australia prior to their being posted to Vietnam and who left Perth by train to return to their camp at Enoggera in Queensland on 13th or 14th January last, were provided with sleeper accommodation as far as Kalgoorlie but from then on had to sit up all the way to Queensland? If that is so, will the Minister take steps to prevent a repetition of this parsimonious treatment of these young conscripts?
– First of all, 1 deprecate very strongly the use of the word conscripts’. These young men are national servicemen, lt does not help them or Australia to refer to them in terms that seek to denigrate the very important part that they are playing in the defence of this country. In reply to the question, I say that I am not aware of the matters stated by the honorable senator, but I will make inquiries. However, I assure him that what the Army does - in fact, what all three arms of the Services do when personnel are going on leave - gives them the best conditions that they can be given under the circumstances existing at the time. That is all I can say on that aspect. In regard to the other aspect, I will see whether I can obtain further particulars from the Minister for the Army.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. By way of brief explanation I say that previously in questions I have detailed what I consider to be the absurd practice of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department of inserting in its telephone directories entries for government and business undertakings in the form: ANZ Bank (see under Australia and New Zealand Bank)’. I have advocated the printing of the telephone number in all cases. That suggestion has not been adopted. I now ask: what attitude or action does the Postmaster-General’s Department intend to take to overcome a mistake on page 19 of the new Canberra telephone directory? We read on that page: ‘Bureau of Agricultural Economies’ and its number; then ‘Bureau of Census and Statistics (see under Census and Statistics - Bureau of)’; and then: ‘Bureau of Meteorology’; but the directory does not give any number at all for the Bureau of
Census and Statistics in the Commonwealth Government section.
– I will ask the Postmaster-General and let the honourable senator know.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the Parliament whether the Loder Committee report will be made available to it during the present session or during the life of this Parliament?
– I will see whether I can obtain the information that the honourable senator wants.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer had his attention drawn to an advertisement in today’s Sydney Daily Telegraph’ reading: ‘For Sale - Tax Loss Companies - Losses totalling $250 million - Clean companies wilh large loan accounts’, and giving a Sydney General Post Office box number? Will the Minister ask his colleague, the Treasurer, to examine the implications of such an advertisement and to ensure that the taxation laws of Australia are adequate to discourage the purchase and sale of tax loss companies, especially those in the quarter-million dollar bracket?
– I noticed the advertisement to which the honourable senator has referred. I remind him that recently we had before this House comprehensive legislation dealing with tax loss companies and that there was considerable debate on the kind of losses that could be used. However, the question is of such interest and importance that I shall refer it to the Treasurer. Apparently a company made a loss of $250,000 and someone seeks to take advantage of this by selling the company to another company which is making profits.
– I direct to the Minister for Customs and Excise the question that Senator McClelland was endeavouring to ask. Is Australia in fact an important centre in the worldwide smuggling of narcotics?
– I am grateful to Senator Murphy for asking the question. I think he will appreciate why I wanted to separate the two matters. If I might digress further, 1 had it in mind to ‘indicate to Senator McClelland that he should represent his question. I have read recent Press reports which suggested that the illegal possession and use of narcotics in Australia were on the increase. Needless to say, reports of this kind are disturbing to us all. However, my particular concern as Minister for Customs and Excise is that some of the narcotics consumed in Australia should’ have been imported through illicit channels. It is a matter of some pride to me that the preventive officers of the Department of Customs and Excise have prevented large quantities of narcotics from entering Australia either for consumption here or for trans-shipment to other markets overseas. This success has been achieved through their own vigilance, coupled with the continuing co-operation of the State authorities, international organisations and individual overseas governments. To answer the question that Senator Murphy posed, I would say that there is no evidence that Australia is the centre for a large international narcotics ring.
During the past twelve months, the Department of Customs and Excise has made some J 12 seizures of narcotics, involving, in part, opium in various forms, 38.7 lb; heroin, 3.1 lb; cannabis or Indian hemp, 29. 5 lb. Steps have been taken to recruit and train an even larger force of officers to counter smuggling of narcotics and other goods. This in part answers the question directed to me by Senator McClelland. We have recently started the biggest school for training preventive officers ever undertaken as a single enterprise by my Department. Further, the penalties provided in the Customs Act for those apprehended in the pursuit of this shocking traffic are under review. I am hopeful that because of the existence of a large and efficient preventive staff, coupled with the possibility of much larger penalties, the Australian public will be largely protected from the dangers associated with narcotics illicitly imported.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the
Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that Hong Kong will be inaugurating colour television in the colony before the end of this year? Is it a fact that no new single programmes are being made in black and white for the American television networks? Is it also a fact that Britain will have colour television in three years time? If these statements are true, will the Postmaster-General inform the House why Australia will be behind the rest of the world in the introduction of colour television?
– I believe that the record of Australia in respect of the introduction of television, having regard to the size of the country and the sparseness of the population in many places, is unique. The honourable senator has asked a question about colour television. This subject involves a technical matter and the question requires the attention of the PostmasterGeneral. Therefore I ask the honourable senator to place his questions on the notice paper.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army: why is it necessary to differentiate, in casualty lists printed in newspapers, between national servicemen and men in the Regular Army? ls it not a fact that these men all fight together? Why then should the lists differentiate between them?
- Mr President, I cannot give the answer to the honourable senator’s question that the Army might give, but I remind him that only last week in the Senate we were asked how many men were injured and how many of those injured were national servicemen. We are continually asked how many national servicemen are serving in our forces. Possibly the reason why the figures are given in the manner in which they are is to provide the public with the information in the form that we are asked for it here. It is quite true as the honourable senator says that national servicemen and members of the Regular Army are in Vietnam doing the same job.
May I give him my own experience in talking to some of the national servicemen. They said to me: ‘We are sure that you will not find any national serviceman here who, now that he is here, would be anywhere else*. That is the attitude of these men. The honourable senator is quite right in saying that national servicemen are doing the same job as members of the Regular Army. If the answer that I have given to the honourable senator in reply to his question is not the correct one, 1 will ses that the right answer is obtained for him.
– My question which I direct to the Minister for Customs and Excise follows on a question asked by Senator Murphy. I preface it by saying that over a number of years I have raised the matter of the smuggling of narcotics into Australia by persons travelling by air. On previous occasions the Minister has told me that it was not possible to detail the means by which smugglers are detected. I would like the Minister to inform the Senate whether consideration has ever been given to X-raying persons arriving in Australia by air from overseas.
– J indicated previously that I was not prepared, and I am still not prepared, to describe chapter and verse how seizures are made and the background of the seizures. I think the honourable senator and indeed you, Sir, and all other honourable senators, appreciate that that is the only answer I can give to that question. As to the question of the X-raying of humans, I take it, as well as baggage, because it is possible and it is indeed a fact of life that attempts are made to carry narcotics on the person, this is a matter that is under review on a world wide basis. I well recall that I sought some information on this particular aspect shortly after I became Minister for Customs and Excise. The use of X-ray for this purpose is not as simple as would appear on the surface. I understand that a study is taking place in the United States of America in relation to this matter. I am not in a position to give the honourable senator any further information about it. But there are quite a number of practical difficulties involved in the proposition for screening by way of X-ray everything on a person at the point of entry.
– I wish to ask a further question of the Minister for Cus toms and Excise. Some time ago 1 brought up with the Minister the matter of the understaffing of Customs officers on the wharves, particularly those engaged in searching for smuggled goods. Is the Minister in a position to explain the set-up and to indicate whether the number of Customs officers who are engaged in the search for narcotics has been increased?
– I am happy to say that the recent build-up of our staff has been the greatest that the Department of Customs- and Excise has ever had. In fact, we are nearer to our establishment as permitted by the Public Service Board than we have ever been. At the present time one of our biggest schools is being conducted in the port of Sydney. I point out that when we strengthen our staff we train the applicants in schools of this type.
– by leave - I have to inform the Senate that the Honourable C. R. Kelly, the Minister-designate for Works, was this morning sworn as Minister. This was made possible by the passage of the Ministers of State Bill through both Houses of the Parliament last week. The arrangements whereby Senator Gorton administered the portfolio and the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Mr Freeth, represented him in the other place now cease. As foreshadowed in my statement to the Senate on Tuesday last Senator Anderson, the Minister for Customs and Excise, will represent Mr Kelly in the Senate.
I also take the opportunity to inform the Senate that the Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr McEwen, left Australia on Saturday last, 25th February, on a brief official visit to New Zealand. He will return on Friday next, 3rd March. During the Minister’s absence, the Minister for Social Services, Mr Sinclair, will act as Minister for Trade and Industry.
– by leave - During the last triennium - that is during the three year period ending on 31st December 1966 - special capital grants to assist research being carried out in Australian universities and designed to be spent on the cost of equipment and running expenses were made. The total grant over that period totalled $10m made up of two components. One component was S6m given to university administrations for distribution by them inside each university for general research. The other component was $4m given to particular research workers for specific research programmes selected on their assessed merit and promise by a committee of academics known as the Australian Research Grants Committee. The Commonwealth paid half of each of these components and the various States paid half of each component for the universities established in their State.
For this present triennium - that is during the three year period beginning on 1st January 1967 - the total grant which the Commonwealth announced its readiness to support was raised to $17m. As in the last triennium this total grant was made up of two components, in this case $6m for general research and $1 Im for research projects selected by the Australian Research Grants Committee.
However, during earlier discussions some States queried the system adopted by the Australian Research Grants Committee of selecting proposals on their assessed merit instead of making a blanket grant based on post graduate populations of universities. Therefore, in announcing the proposed programme to the Commonwealth Parliament on 24th September last year the Government stated that it was prepared to pay half of each component of the grant as had been done in the last triennium, or alternatively that it was prepared to contribute $9m to the Australian Research Grants Committee grant but that in that case it would have to leave the financing of the general research of $6m to the States. This position was publicly announced last September and all Vice-Chancellors had the attention of their universities drawn to it. In the result every State has left it to the Commonwealth to pay all the $9m required for the Australian Research Grants Committee grants. Having done this the States of Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland, have told their universities that they will meet the full cost of the general research programmes in their universities.
The States of New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, on the other hand have informed their universities, not only that they will not meet the full cost of the programme of general research, but also that they propose drastically to reduce, as compared with the last triennium, the total grant made by them to universities for research.
In New South Wales, the State Government will reduce its total grant for research in its universities from $1,894,000 in the last triennium to $1,098,000 in this triennium. In the case of the University of Sydney this means that that State will provide, in this three-year period, only $564,000 as compared with $988,000 it provided to that university in the last triennium.
In Victoria the State Government will reduce its total grant for research in its universities from $1,280,000 last triennium to $824,000 in this triennium. The effect on the University of Mlbourne will be that the State will provide, in this three-year period, only $542,000 as compared with the $942,000 it provided to that University in the last triennium.
In Tasmania the State Government will reduce its total grant for research in its universities from $244,000 last triennium to only $90,000 in this three-year period. Indeed, if the Tasmanian Government met the full cost of the general research grants in its university, its total grant would still be $64,000 less than the grant it made to that university in the last triennium. While this is happening, the total contribution to research in universities will increase from the $5m of last triennium to $9m during this three-year period.
Each of the States has said to its universities, in effect: ‘We intend to cut out completely the amount we gave you for Australian Research Grants Committee grants last triennium and we do not intend to increase at all the amounts we gave you for general research last triennium’. If this makes it as difficult for the universities concerned as some spokesmen for the universities claim, then their remedy is to seek to persuade the State government concerned to provide in total at least as much as they provided in total during the last triennium. The Commonwealth’s increased contribution has been increased to its limit.
It may, however, be helpful to honourable senators for me to recall the origin and development of the grants recommended by the Australian Universities Commission for the support of post graduate training. The Commission’s report of October 1960 contained a recommendation for a special equipment fund of$1m for the 1961-63 triennium’ in ‘a realisation of the urgent research needs of the universities’. This amount was provided by the governments.
In its second report, the Commission recommended a sum of $10m ‘to help meet the expenditures required for effective research training, including the. purchase of major items of equipment’. In response, an amount of $6m was provided by the governments, as well as the $4m provided through the Australian Research Grants Committee. But it is important to note that, in relation to this recommendation to provide $10m, the Commission said:
The Commission has made the normal provision in its recurrent recommendations for the continuation of research activities supported from the general funds of universities, and expects that these funds will not be used for purposes other than research in. the 1964-66 triennium.
The Commission estimates that an amount of $7m was spent by the State universities on research activities from recurrent grants for the 1964-66 triennium. I emphasise that this expenditure was additional to that from the$6m provided separately for research training.
For the current triennium the Commission, in its third report, proposed a grant of $10m which has led to the present discussion. The amount which governments were prepared to provide was again $6m. But it is again important to note that in relation to this recommendation in its third report the Commission wrote that it expected that the universities would continue to allocate at least the same proportion of their recurrent grants to research activities as they have in the past. The amount to be allocated for research activities from the recurrent grants for the 1967- 69 triennium is essentially and initially one for each university to decide. The Australian Universities Commission has asked each of the Vice-Chancellors to advise the amount allocated in this triennium for this purpose in response to the Commission’s expectation. I will inform honourable senators of this amount as soon as it is made known to the Commission.
In the meantime it is fundamental to an understanding of the present discussion to appreciate that the finances available for general research purposes are not limited, as implied in recent reported statements by some Vice-Chancellors, to the amounts being provided to each university from within the sum of $6m. The substantial amounts that the universities should be using for this purpose from their recurrent grants must be added to these figures. Some of the reported statements by some Vice-Chancellors, which purported to show the entire sum available to them for general research, in fact set out only part of the sums available to them for general research.
– I move:
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 22 February (vide page 82), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I rise to continue my remarks in support of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General. When the debate was interrupted I was speaking of the splendid record of achievements of the Department of Housing. His Excellency, in his Speech, referred to the liberalisation of the homes savings grant scheme. It is a very proud fact that Australia has one of the highest percentages of home ownership in the world. I suggest that the activities of the Department of Housing since its formation in 1963 have resulted in a considerable increase in the number of people who have been able to acquire their own homes. Since the homes savings grant scheme was introduced in July 1964 various cases of hardship have been discovered. The Minister has found it necessary to reject applications, lt is pleasing to learn that the Minister will be given discretionary powers to deal with certain cases of hardship. Since the scheme was introduced 71,000 young couples have saved the requisite amount to enable them to be granted, generally speaking, the maximum grant of $500. A total of $32m has been given by way of these grants.
Another scheme which has proved to be of very great help to those endeavouring to purchase a home and being confronted with the gap between the loans that they can obtain by the usual means and the price of the home, is the housing loans insurance scheme which was introduced on 26th November 1965. To the end of 1966 the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation had insured 2,734 loans to the value of $21. 6m. It must be gratifying to the present Government to note the number of people who have been able as a result of these two housing schemes to purchase their own homes.
Reverting again to the homes savings grant scheme, it is gratifying to note that His Excellency in his Speech pointed out that legislation will be introduced to extend the scheme to widowed persons aged less than thirty-six years who have one or more dependent children. Much criticism has been offered in relation to the state of housing in Australia. I point out that a record number of 112,500 new dwellings were completed in Australia in each of the years 1964-65 and 1965-66. It seems that the record will be exceeded in the current year, because the number of commencements of new houses and flats in recent months has been estimated to be running at the rate of about 1 15,000 a year.
I turn now to education - another very important subject which was dealt with by His Excellency. We have been told that the grant to independent schools for science laboratories and equipment is to be increased by more than $2m. This will enable schools that have not received help in the past to obtain necessary assistance. His Excellency indicated that another matter which had been the subject of a great deal of criticism throughout Australia would be rectified. I refer to the announcement that a sum of $24m is to be made available over a period of three years for the construction and equipment of teacher training colleges. As was indicated in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), this money will not require any matching grants from the States.
We have been told that the newly established Department of Education and Science will take over the administration of Commonwealth scholarships and will also administer -Commonwealth university scholarships. In the current year a record number of 52,000 students are holding various Commonwealth scholarships, this being an increase of approximately 11,000 since . 1966. During the holiday period I met a great number of secondary school students who had received grants for the final two years of schooling, as well as technical school students and students who had been awarded Commonwealth scholarships to enable them te go to the university. Not only the students and their parents but also the schools have been gratified at the help that has been given to these promising young people. The development of Australia depends upon the education of our young people. It is with a great deal of pleasure that we note that, following debate in this House and another place quite recently, the Department of Education and Science has been established and a Minister has been appointed to administer the Department. I conclude by wishing the Minister well in the administration of this most important portfolio. It is with much pleasure and with full confidence in the future of this Commonwealth that I support the motion now before us.
– I listened with attention and interest to the Speech that was delivered by the Governor-General. I was pleased to see an Australian occupying this most exalted position. 1 recall the first appointment of an Australian to this office in the person of Sir Isaac Isaacs. When that appointment was made by the Scullin Government there was such a hue and cry in the Press that one would have thought that the whole Empire had been torn asunder. Later Mr McKell, now Sir William McKell, was appointed to this high office by the Chifley Government. On that occasion a great deal of hostility seemed to be engendered by the fact that an Australian was occupying the position. Now we on the Labor side are pleased to note that the present Government has appointed an Australian to this high office. As I said. I listened with interest to His Excellency delivering his Speech in this chamber on Tuesday last. He spoke with great feeling and expressed the concern shared by every Australian at the bushfire tragedy in Tasmania. We realise the magnitude of the disaster and we admire the great fortitude and spirit shown by the people of that State. Members of both Parliaments recognise the great work that is being performed at present. The Premier of Tasmania and his Ministers are to be commended on the way in which they are tackling with their people the task.
The programme outlined by the Governor-General is very limited, ft is almost a stay as you are policy. I suppose that after eighteen years in government the present coalition would not have many ideas and that is precisely the position. It is virtually without ideas and, in effect, without very much legislation. Vietnam and South East Asia figure in the Speech and later I should like to say a few words about those places. I am very concerned about the special links with Britain and America. The Governor-General said:
My Government has consistently fostered our special links with Britain, the Commonwealth and the United States of America and played its part in maintaining the effectiveness of Australia’s alliances. It will develop still further the close relationship with its co-operation over many fields between Australia and New Zealand. 1 asked a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) in relation to this subject, but he replied that it involved a matter of policy about which he could not give any advice in reply to a question without notice. Here was an opportunity for the Governor-General to give some advice on the question of policy. What are Australia’s future commitments? Over a period of months British spokesmen have been talking of the withdrawal of at least 10,000 troops from Malaya, Borneo and the Far East. How are we committed and how many of our troops are we committing to this area? 1 think it is about time we got some information on this most important issue. I hope that before the debate finishes we shall get some information upon this all-important matter.
The Governor-General referred to new mineral discoveries opening up a wider vista of national development. He said:
My Government favours an Australian participation in the ownership and control of these resources, lt looks to Australian investment and management being joined in these developments. lt is working towards new arrangements and facilities for the provision of capital for these purposes.
This is a very important aspect but 1 have grave doubts about what the Government will do and whether any changes will take place. I have no doubt that it will continue to sell out our heritage as it has done over a period, lt is interesting to know what is happening today in this field. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), who is the Leader of the Australian Country Party - your Party, Mr Deputy President - made a statement about selling out Australia farm by farm. You will recall a most important statement made by him to that effect. Each year a portion of our industry passes into foreign hands. Already many of our most important industries are under foreign control. Foreign control and equity in secondary industries average 25% to 30%. In the pharmaceutical industry, they amount to 90%: in petroleum refining and distribution, 95%: in motor vehicle manufacture, 95%; in oil exploration and production, 85%; in telecommunications, 83%; in bauxite and aluminium, 75%; in food processing, 50%. This is the most important aspect of the question of Australia’s development. It is the concern of every Australian. If the Government has a change of heart, we will be very pleased; but I and every other member of the Opposition have very grave doubts that it will do so. I have no doubt that, in spite of all the statements made by Ministers about the vast potential of Western Australia and other parts of this great continent of ours, anything that is found in this country will be given away, as has been the case in the past.
A very important statement on housing was made in the Governor-General’s Speech. The steps that are being taken represent very short steps along Labor’s road. Referring to what the Government proposes to do in respect of the liberalisation of the homes savings grant scheme, the Governor-General said:
The amending legislation will also extend the scheme to widowed persons aged less than thirtysix years who have one or more dependent children, and will raise from $14,000 to $15,000 the limitation on the value of the home, including land.
This is a matter on which the Government could go a great deal further. The Speech contains no mention of a number of questions. I hope that something will be done in this field. Only last Thursday I had a telephone call from a young lad whom I saw in the Vung Tau hospital in Vietnam. At present he is at Duntroon. He said that he had secured a war service homes loan of $7,000 but would have to borrow money on second mortgage at an interest rate between 7% and 10%. This is a very great tragedy. It is a matter that might well be looked at now, when this amending legislation is being considered.
I believe that the maximum war service homes loan should be increased to at least $10,000 and that additional money should be made available, if it is needed, at an interest rate of 3i%. Another matter that has been raised not only by me but by other members of the Opposition is the entitlement of ex-service women. During World War II these girls did a magnificent job for Australia. They volunteered to serve in any area, including areas in which Australians were engaged in battle. If they were not sent overseas, that was not their fault. Yet they are excluded from receiving this benefit. If the Government wants to do something for people who need help, here is an opportunity for it to do so.
Previously in this Parliament we have suggested that credit union savings should be eligible savings under the home-savings grant scheme. This matter was made the subject of an adjournment motion by the Labor Party prior to the last election campaign. I hope the Government will be prepared to do something along the lines that we have suggested. Another matter in which I have been vitally interested is the deduction of credit union payments from the salaries of Commonwealth public servants. Such deductions are allowed in the New South Wales Public Service. I hope the Government will agree to the suggestions that have been put forward by the Labor
Party in this Parliament, not on one occasion but on many occasions. In the field of housing the Government is going a little further, but not far enough. The most important point at the moment is to ensure that the Government does something more than has been suggested in the Governor-General’s Speech.
The social services measures are like crumbs that fall from the master’s table. Some of the matters that are mentioned were part and parcel of Labor’s policy. But the Government is not going as far as it should go in assisting people who are in need. It was announced in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech:
My Government has decided to introduce legislation to liberalise the means test for age, invalid and widow pensions . . . Legislation will also be introduced to expand the scope of the Aged Persons Homes Act. . . .
I believe that for the people covered by those references the defeat of the Australian Labor Party at the recent general elections was a great tragedy and something which the people of Australia will regret as years go by. The domestic policy of Labor includes the waging of war .on poverty. I know that a Minister in a television interview pooh-poohed the idea of there being any poverty in Australia, but the fact is that pockets of poverty extend far and wide throughout our land. The Australian Labor Party would have gone to the core of this problem and the people would have benefited a thousand fold if it had been returned to office at the elections.
I regret that the Governor-General did not refer in his Speech to many of the problems facing the nation. I am advised by top finance experts that unless there is a change in the pattern of investment in Australia from Great Britain and the United States, this nation could be in financial difficulties and suffer currency restrictions. It would not be the first time that this had happened under this Government. If one looks at the pattern of events since this Government was elected to office in 1949, it is evident that a new credit squeeze is almost due. The last one took place in 1961 on the eve of an election campaign and almost brought about the political demise of the Government. In 1951 the Government forced a double dissolution and then it introduced a credit squeeze. The election in 1955 also brought about a credit squeeze. Today the Government is not in so favoured a position, with elections either for the Senate or the House of Representatives coming along every eighteen months. This must give it cause for worry and concern.
There was no mention in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech of the further Budget deficit of $50m. The Commonwealth deficit this year is likely to be $50m more than the S270m predicted when the Budget was introduced by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in August. This means that the deficit will be about $320m. This deficit, in association with overseas investments which I have already mentioned, presents the Government with great problems. I would have liked to see a reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to what is likely to happen to the financial position of the nation in the next twelve months.
There is evidence of a difference of opinion between the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry. There have been great arguments about orders for Commonwealth Railways rolling stock being placed with Japanese contractors instead of with Australian suppliers. Last September T raised the matter of trade with Japan in the form of a question to which 1. am still awaiting a reply. My question has now been expunged from the Senate notice paper. In September 1966 I directed this question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry:
This affects defence contracts for the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. If we are not careful, Australia will be denuded of its armament manufacturing industry, including the small arms factory at Lithgow, the naval dockyards and aircraft factories. Supplies are being obtained from the USA and this is having an adverse effect upon Australian workers. The Government should examine the position.
I asked today when the referendum was to be held on breaking the nexus between the two Houses and also on an alteration of the Constitution to provide for Aboriginals to be counted in a census. According to the Press, the referendum is to be held on 27th May. Senator Cavanagh asked whether a rejection of the referendum proposal to break the nexus would have any effect on the number of candidates to be elected at the next Senate election. Of course it would have an effect, and that is why 1 believe the newspapers are correct in predicting that the referendum will take place on 27th May. If the referendum is defeated - the Government is not happy with its prospects - there will be an increase in the size of the Senate.
– The Government might not increase the size of either House.
– That is perfectly true, but the numbers in this House will be increased if the Government wants an increase in the numbers in the House of Representatives. The Government will not say anything about the referendum. Is it proposed to alter sections 51 and 127 of the Constitution, which class Aboriginals as second class citizens or indeed as not being citizens at all? 1 do not think the Aboriginals are so much concerned about matters of that sort as they are in getting a new and better deal. They want a better deal in our society, and that is what the Government should be trying to secure for them. That is the most important matter. The Government should be concerned with this problem as well as with wiping out of the Constitution something which is completely repugnant to every Australian and which could be removed without any difficulty. 1 turn now to the functions of the Senate. In this Twenty-sixth Parliament, the Senate could make a valuable contribution to the government of Australia. In taking a stand in objection to the Government’s policy on Vietnam, Senator Hannaford has brought about the position that the Government will have twenty-eight members in this chamber, with twenty-eight Labor senators, two Democratic Labor Party senators and two Independents. I pay tribute to Senator Hannaford for his courage. He has had long experience in the Parliament and has shown fortitude and high principles in matters in which he believes strongly.
The Senate is not highly regarded by the Australian people. The Labor movement recalls that in 1929 the Senate adjourned for months when the Scullin Government was trying to overcome the worst position that had ever faced the country. That was the time of the depression. The Senate adjourned for months, and people starved because it refused to deal with the question of the proposed fiduciary issue of $18m suggested by the Labor Treasurer of the day, Mr E. G. Theodore, lt is believed that if the Senate had granted authority for that fiduciary issue at the time Australia would have been the first country in the world to emerge from the depression. That is accepted today. The Labor movement remembers what happened at that time and the Senate is not held in high regard by it. If the Senate continues in the way it did during the last sessional period then I say it is no wonder that the Labor movement supports its abolition.
I remind honourable senators of what happened with the Repatriation Bill 1966 when it was introduced in the Senate. It was amended by the Senate in a constitutional manner and was transmitted to the House of Representatives. Almost immediately the Government introduced into that House the Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1966 which contained a money clause, in order to circumvent the Senate. The original Bill was shelved. If this sort of legislation is to be introduced times without number and this is to be the pattern of procedure there is not much place for the Senate as a house of review. If the Government can introduce into the Senate a bill which, when amended by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives, is scrapped by that House and substitute for it a bill that contains a money clause - this happened in respect of the Repatriation Bill 1966 - then it does not augur well for the status of the Senate as a part of this new Parliament.
– That applies to Customs Bills also.
– We must mend our ways. The Government must mend its ways regarding the position of the Senate if this chamber is to regain the respect that I believe every person within the confines of each House of this Parliament acknowledges is due to it. 1 have mentioned that I wish to say a few words on our foreign policy and particularly concerning Vietnam. I feel that there is no need for the Government to continue to conscript 20-year-old youths to serve in Vietnam. On election day I noticed a number of young people outside the polling booths working for the Liberal Party. Some young Liberals are parliamentarians who apparently support the policy of this Government strongly. I am sure that if the Government were to call for volunteers to be associated with its troops in Vietnam, it would be overwhelmed by the numbers of these people who would respond. I was stunned to find that so many people in the 20-year-old group were working on behalf of the Government and yet were not in Vietnam. Given the opportunity, I think they would love to be there. The Government ought to have another look at this shocking state of affairs because even in this situation conscription still operates. We of the Labor movement say that if conscription is necessary the whole nation Should be conscripted. Manpower, finance and all other resources of our Commonwealth should be used. This is the situation as we on this side of the Senate see it. It is shocking to have lads of twenty years of age conscripted and fighting in Vietnam at the present moment.
I also want to know from the Government what is being done to stop this war in Vietnam. The bombing of North Vietnam was suspended for a period and suggestions of a peace truce were heard. Throughout the world the hope was expressed that the bombing of North Vietnam would not be resumed. Appeals for peace went forth from many sources. Appeals came from U Thant, SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, His Holiness the Pope, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the President of France and the Prime Minister of India. I believe that any appeal for peace, irrespective of the person from whom it comes, at this present time ought to be aided and abetted. Australia should back every move at this time for peace. I am wondering just what in the hell the Australian Government is doing at the present time. I should like to know what steps it has taken to restore peace. What has been our attitude in the United Nations? What have we done there? Have we raised this issue in the United Nations? I have said in this chamber many times that if we had a spokesman in the United Nations today like the late Dr Evatt the position would be different. If Dr Evatt were alive today the United Nations would not transact any business until it had dealt with this problem. The Vietnam war presents a horrible problem. We must aid and abet its solution in every way.
I believe that we ought to be doing something about securing the admission of China to membership of the United Nations. With other members of an Australian delegation, I met the Prime Minister of Singapore last year. He said: ‘China has been humiliated in the eyes of the world. It is not costing China a great deal of money to keep the war going in Vietnam and it will make America pay for keeping it out of the United Nations.’ The Prime Minister of Singapore, who is a Chinese, said that China must be in the United Nations and it must be made to meet its responsibilities. The members of the Australian Labor Party believe very strongly that this is the case today. Why the hell should not Australia bc playing some sort of role in bringing China to the United Nations? Since 1960- 61 Australia has exported almost $100m worth of goods and commodities to China. Let me give the relevant figures. Tn 1960-61 we exported goods valued at $79,713,238 to China. In 1961-62 the figure was $131,911,458: in 1962-63 it was $129,288,736: in 1963-64 it was $168,190,298: in 1964-65 it was $135,633,490; and in 1965-66 it was $105,901,412. The exports included wheat, flour, wool, iron and steel plate and sheet, chemicals, passengers’ furniture and household goods.
We should be in the position of saying to China - indeed, demanding of China - that it should come to the peace conference tables. If China were a member of the United Nations, it could be made to meet its responsibilities. We would be able to talk to China and, in effect, try to do something to overcome the situation in Vietnam. I have mentioned earlier that I found in Vietnam that half the population was under the age of eighteen years. Eighty per cent of the people of Vietnam are illiterate, and very few medical services are provided to them. I asked a question last week on this matter. I had to put it on the notice paper because it was suggested that I was giving too much information in my question. I will give a little bit more information now. The question on the notice paper reads as follows:
Are the necessary medical supplies required for both soldiers and civilians in Vietnam by Australian expert medical and surgical teams now being supplied?
Let me tell honourable senators this: when we visited Long Xuyen hospital in July of last year we met the Australian surgical teams who controlled operations there. We were told that they lacked the simple drugs and that they could not treat effectively heart failure, asthma and skin conditions. The medical teams needed anti-tuberculosis drugs. They had cortisone but no calomine lotion. They had none of the simple drugs. 1 have asked this question in the hope that I will be told that these things are being supplied. I suppose that it will remain on the notice paper for the next six months. In all probability the Government does not know what is taking place in Vietnam at the present moment. Such is the situation in this unfortunate country at this time. We are sending kids - 20-year-old conscripts - to fight in that country.
In 1963 Vietnam exported 400,000 tons of rice. Last year the country imported 300,000 tons of rice. These figures illustrate the effect that this war is having, particularly in the Mekong Delta area. We were advised that three Chinese controlled 80% of the marketable rice crop. We were advised also that thirty-six Chinese who live in Chalon, which is outside Saigon, control 100% of the marketable rice crop. That is the situation that exists in Vietnam at the present time. I say that we have to do something to stop the war. The Government has done not one thing. It has taken no action whatsoever.
On my way back to Australia I read an article in the ‘Daily Mirror’ of 31st October 1966 which was headed: ‘It’s going to be a long war. Bid to woo Viet ends in failure.’ The article went on to say:
We have poured everything into Hoa Long, injected it with large closes of civil aid, including a $14,000 market, issues of clothing and food - but the people still distrust us.
We had hoped Hoa Long would provide us with a spectacular propaganda victory with the Australians acting the part of the good fairy.
But it wasn’t to be.
In recent weeks Vietcong activity in the area has increased and they have been getting bolder.
The facts are that this area, which joined the camp of the Australian forces, had been cleared and we had poured all the material into it, with the Australians playing the part of the fairy godmother, but the Vietcong had infiltrated the section and in an endeavour to push them out the circumstances I have outlined were found to exist. We might well ask: ‘How can you overcome a situation like this?’
When we were in Vietnam Air ViceMarshal Ky told us that this war could last another twenty-five years and, having regard to the kind of guerrilla warfare that is going on in that country, that could quite easily be so. That is why 1 say that this Government has to exercise every ounce of influence it has and back any peace move whatsoever in the hope that something will happen to put an end to this horrible conflict. I know that people in this part of the world say that life in Vietnam and in the Far East is not important. They say that life is cheap in those areas. I have said in this Parliament before today that life is no cheaper to those people than it is to an Australian family which loses someone close and dear to it. When I see mothers huddling to their breasts their husbands or their children I realise how they are affected by this war. It is about time we did something to make our voice heard throughout the world. It is about time we took a stand against becoming a mere puppet of America. It is about time we became really an ally of America and used every endeavour to guide and assist her in the many ways open to us.
On previous occasions I have mentioned in this place the aspect which I shall now raise. I do not think there is any harm in repeating it. Colonel Rouse, who would be the No. 3 man in the Australian Task Force under General Mackay and Brigadier Jackson, referred to Route 15, which runs for approximately 70 miles from Saigon to Vung Tau, where the Australian troops are located. He said that many miles of Route 15 were under Vietcong control. It was left open for oil tankers, which were permitted to continue their journey after they had paid the specified toll. If they did not pay the toll they were not allowed to travel on Route 15. There are almost one million men under arms in the area. They know about the toll and they know the villages which are controlled by the Vietcong, but nothing is done about it. Colonel Ted Serong, at one time Australian Army commander in Vietnam and now associated very closely with the Chieu-Hoi programme, told us in Saigon: ‘I can take you in fifteen minutes to a Vietcong controlled village’.
After we left Vietnam we went to Kuala Lumpur. When we arrived there we were asked by an officer of the Australian Broadcasting Commission the name of the hotel at which we had stayed in Saigon. I said: We were at the Majestic Hotel, Saigon’. He said: ‘That is a Vietcong controlled pub’. I thought he was acting the fool and I said to our High Commissioner: ‘Did you hear what was said?’ He replied: ‘That could quite possibly be the case’. Those are the circumstances in which boys of twenty years of age, Australian conscripts, are fighting in this unwinnable war. Our soldiers do not know whom they are fighting. They do not know the reaction of the people there. Of course, the reaction of the enemy is that the white man is not wanted there. I do not suggest that that is the view of the soldiers in uniform fighting with us, but because of the many defectors from the South Vietnam Army it might well be the case.
This war must be stopped. Australia must play its part in every peace move that is made, however remote and hopeless it may appear, and provide under United Nations control a peace offensive with civil aid in the forefront. Let me repeat the words of the late Dr Evatt. He said: ‘The difficult thing is that which can be done immediately; the impossible may take a little longer’. While it may be difficult for us to overcome some of the problems which now exist in the very remote areas of Vietnam, we should be exercising greater influence on the people of the world who really matter. We in Australia can do some work along those lines. I have mentioned our exports to China. That should be a basis for talking to the Chinese people. In fact, we should be talking to anyone who will listen to us. There is a great move throughout the world to bring about peace in Vietnam, and that should be the Australian Government’s number one priority.
– I support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, so ably moved by Senators Cotton and Webster. I am pleased to see a great Australian and a world figure in the exalted position of the Queen’s representative in Australia. I was pleased to see His Excellency with great dignity and decorum perform his first opening of an Australian Parliament in the traditional manner. Like other honourable senators, 1 extend my sympathy to the people of Tasmania who have suffered so much in loss of life and property in the recent bushTires. lt is notable how this kind of tragedy brings out the true Australian spirit of extending a helping hand to a fellow man in time of great trouble.
I believe that this, the Twenty-Sixth Parliament, will see a stepping up in the already fast rate of our national development. The Government has just received a huge vote of confidence from the people, lt has been in office since 1949, a period of nearly two decades, and it has retained the confidence and support of the people over that period. It has initiated great developmental schemes and has provided conditions suitable for the full employment and prosperity which we as a nation enjoy today. The decade of the 1950s was given up mostly to post-war reconstruction and to getting our migration scheme into full operation but the decade of the 1960s has turned out to be that in which we have seen some of the greatest progress in our history. The recent election result endorsed the Government’s actions in the matter of defence away from our shores and our attempts to stop the southward thrust of Communism, to prevent small nations from being overrun and to give them the opportunity to have the kind of life and government they desire.
We as a nation are taking our place as leaders in our part of the world - the south east Asian area. With the gradual withdrawal of European nations, the countries of South East Asia are coming into greater prominence. We have treaties with many of our neighbours in this area and have supported them in many ways. A classic example is the Asian Development Bank. We as a nation have now reached the point at which there must be an even greater acceleration in the rate of our development.
This could be one of the great achievements of the Twenty-Sixth Parliament.
At the present time lack of population is one of our biggest problems. A population of Him people is not nearly enough to permit the fastest possible development. People are Australian’s most precious asset today. Every effort must be made to maintain and step up our rate of migrant intake. The Governor-General referred to this aspect in his Speech. He said:
Currently, migration is contributing 40% of the annual increase in the work force … my Government aims to stimulate assisted migration from other European countries.
There is plenty of room in Australia for all the suitable migrants we can get, especially in the northern areas.
In the last couple of decades we have witnessed as a nation a great upsurge in industrial development. Secondary industries are becoming an increasingly significant factor in our export earnings. Both primary and secondary industries have increased greatly in efficiency over this period. Various forms of help are available. Advisory services and specialists in cost problems have played a very big part in increasing efficiency. It is quite obvious in many industries that there is room for such assistance. A section of a factory or farm may achieve a good turnover and may appear to be making a profit, but advisers have shown that sections thought to be the most profitable are not always the most profitable. Sound technical advice has played a big part in steering primary and secondary industries on the right track.
We must provide more and more research. We have to compete with other countries where research has played a big part in development. Research must be undertaken to contain the problem of ever rising costs. I commend the Government for its search for new overseas markets, particularly for secondary industries, for establishing the Export Payments Insurance Corporation and for setting up trade delegations and trade posts which have each helped to obtain new overseas markets.
This is a time of great change in advanced education. Today the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) made a statement to clear up misunderstandings in respect of university grants. The Commonwealth is playing an increasingly important part in education and has come to the party to the tune of $150m in the current financial year. We are informed that 52,000 students hold Commonwealth scholarships in 1967, an increase of over 10,000 in one year. His Excellency referred to expenditure of $24m over three years for the construction of teacher training colleges in the States. This will be of great assistance and is a big step forward.
We need more and more people with technical training. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Townsville University College for the conferring of degrees and the matriculation ceremony. The College is part of the University of Queensland. It is unique in that it is the only establishment of its type in the tropical areas of Australia. It is further north than any other large centre of education. The Townsville University College started about six years ago on a site in Pimlico, a western suburb of Townsville, lt is in the process of moving to a new site of 650 acres, given by the Townsville City Council, at the foot of Mount Stuart. It is a very suitable site and the College will be a big asset to the State. By next year it aims to have 1,000 students, and in two or three years to have complete autonomy as a university in the Australian university system.
It was mentioned yesterday at the ceremony that the College plans to introduce a faculty of tropical veterinary science, a very fitting course for that particular area. lt will be a unique course among Australian universities. The Townsville University College is also making its name in literary research and engineering - particularly engineering. Although the College has been operating for only six years, yesterday a post-graduate student received an honours degree, which is a major achievement. A faculty of marine biology is to be commenced and that, also, will be unique in that part of the world. These advances in education have been made possible because of Commonwealth participation and because secondary education is going ahead in a big way to provide the increased numbers of qualified people that we so badly need.
I want, now, to refer to transport both inside and outside Australia, by land, sea and air. We are witnessing and have witnessed very big changes in the post-war years. A new concept has come about in our railway system. The railways have become specialist carriers to meet competition. A national standard gauge railway which has been talked about for years and years - almost since we started building railways in Australia - has become a practical reality in the term of office of this Government. The completion of the trans-continental standard gauge railway is practically in sight. I believe that the railways are meeting competition by specialising, by increased efficiency, by dieselisation, by the bulk cartage of materials such as grain, coal and ores, and by the carriage of long distance passengers. This trend has become evident particularly in Queensland and Western Australia. Coal loadings in the Gladstone area have been stepped up six or seven fold, providing cheap haulage of coal to the seaboard on its way to overseas markets. 1 need not dwell on the progress made in air transport. That has become an accepted thing, lt is possible to carry freight and passengers half way around the world in two days. That is quite commonplace. We do not know how much more progress we can make in that field. 1 wish to refer also to shipping developments. In recent years a transformation has occurred in the nature of cargoes - from general cargoes to specialist cargoes. The move has been to bulk handling, particularly of grains, petroleum products, ores, sugar and coal. These materials are carried in specialist ships which are touching at fewer and fewer ports.
Containerisation looks like becoming a reality in the very near future. I hope that it will assist to stabilise costs. Practically all our exports go across the wharves and containerisation may help to reduce loading and unloading costs. Because only a limited number of big container berths will be needed for overseas shipping, our coastal shipping service may be revived. It has had quite a blow in recent years. The trend to containerisation may make it possible for coastal vessels to carry containers to a few central berths. 1 am not aware of the number of such berths that will be needed, but I believe that coastal shipping will be assisted.
Our road transport system has developed considerably. This is partly because of the existence of section 92 of the Constitution, although some people think otherwise. But when one goes to a country like New Zealand where road transport is almost nonexistent or is used only to a very limited extent, such as for the carriage of livestock, timber and beer, while most other things are forced onto the railways, one realises the importance of our road transport system which does not finish at the railheads but continues right to the factories. In common with the people of many other countries we are having trouble in keeping our road systems abreast of the increasing numbers of motor vehicles. That is not a problem which is unique to Australia, lt is something that we all have to face and 1 believe that we are facing up to it. The Commonwealth Government has come to the party by constructing beef roads which I believe could be of great assistance in a time of emergency in that they could be used for the carriage of troops as well as cattle and sheep. The beef roads are spreading out and are helping greatly communications in this country.
I am pleased to see in His Excellency’s Speech reference to tourism and a proposal to establish an Australian Tourist Commission. I might mention that at the weekend there was a meeting of representatives of the large tourist centres in Queensland. They decided to establish a similar commission or committee on a voluntary basis. As honourable senators know, my State has a lot to offer tourists. It has many facilities. There is the Gold Coast area which, as was headlined in the weekend Press, supports a $lm a year industry. Queensland has the famous Barrier Reef and all the coastal areas as well as many inland centres such as Mount Isa. We can offer a very large amount of sunshine. We in Queensland claim that as a result of tourism we will be one of the biggest overseas exchange earners in Australia in that field.
I turn now to the development of the mining industry. Recently we have seen bauxite, coal and iron ore developed in a way which is different from our usual method of mining. The export of coking coal and iron ore to Japan is making Japanese heavy industry increasingly dependent on Australia’s raw materials. But I believe that as this trade develops and expands it will lead to more and more processing in Australia. As the Western Australians now are exporting iron ore in pellet form, I do not think it will be long before one or two new steel works are established in Australia and a shuttle service is commenced, with ships carrying coking coa! to Western Australia and perhaps returning with iron ore to a steel works in Queensland. In this way we could export to Japan and other countries not raw materials, as at present, but steel ingots. I think that this development is inevitable.
I wish to mention briefly a great change which has taken place in the last couple of years in our everyday way of life. I refer to the change to decimal currency. We have had some teething troubles. I suppose they are inevitable in any change of such magnitude, but the transition to decimal currency has been reasonably smooth. I believe that eventually the decimal monetary system will prove to be a great benefit to Australia. There is a comment I would like to make. Our currency, whether it be notes, silver or other coinage, is accepted in good faith by everybody. Very few of us are capable of distinguishing a clever forgery. As the position stands today, any person who finds that he has ‘been given a forged note loses money to the value of that note. Unfortunately in most cases the sufferers are people on low incomes or pensioners.
There is no reason why an insurance fund could not be established to recompense people who lose money as a result of receiving forged notes. If the Note Issue Department of the Reserve Bank contributed a very small sum for each batch of notes printed, the fund would soon be sufficient to recompense people who had lost money in that way. Other types of businesses have similar insurance funds. I think that in most States the legal fraternity has a fund to insure against losses by clients through default on the part of legal practitioners. Real property offices in the various States have contributed to funds over the years to provide against mistakes or losses. I suggest that when we complete our changeover to decimal currency we must consider changing our weights and measures to decimals. Short tons and centals which are widely used now could be used as a beginning in weights, but measures, especially land measures, present much greater problems. However I do not think they are insurmountable. These are matters which must be considered in the future.
The Governor-General in his Speech referred to the easing of the means test by $156 a year. This represents the implementation of the Government’s policy to ease the means test progressively with a view to its complete elimination. The Government will continue to ease the means test and I hope that in the not too distant future it will be completely abolished. I was also pleased to see in the Speech reference to a proposed national water resources development programme. Far too little is known of the full extent of our water resources, much of which are in northern Australia. Until we know the full extent of our water resources, both surface and underground water, we will not be in a position to plan a great water development scheme or a water conservation scheme. To suggest such a scheme at this stage is to put the cart before the horse. We should ascertain immediately the full extent of our water resources. Then with an overall picture we would be in a position to see where we were going. In such a dry continent wc cannot afford continued failure to make full use of all available water.
The Governor-General also referred to the question of fisheries around the Australian coast, especially in the northern area. Fish of various types abound on our shores, especially in the northern areas. I have been assured by people who have spent their lives near the sea that tuna is to be found in very large quantities in the Gulf of Carpentaria and around Cape York Peninsula and other parts of nothern Australia. A cannery should be established in the north to utilise for ourselves this great natural resource. We should not allow somebody else to come and take it from us. 1 refer now to the recent discoveries of phosphatic rock in Australia. I believe that phosphatic rock exists in the Alice Springs area. There have been reports in the Press of discoveries in the Cloncurry area and more recently at Richmond, which is a little over half way from Townsville to Cloncurry. We must overcome the difficulty of high freight costs in getting this ore to the coast or to places where we can make use of it and so become self-sufficient in the production of superphosphate, which is vital to the development of our agriculture and pastures.
Despite Opposition claims to the contrary, the Government has led this country ably and well, has provided full employment and prosperity to all, and has raised Australia’s status in the councils of the world. The Speech delivered by His Excellency shows that this policy is to continue. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
– J rise to speak on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. We all know that the Speech was not prepared by the Governor-General himself but by his governmental advisers. Without any disrespect to His Excellency and with no apologies to his advisers, having listened intently to the Speech as it was delivered and having re-read it I rather liken it to an old time western that one might see on television - it has been seen and heard before, it is boring in detail, nonetheless it is bearable but is not worth wasting time over. Indeed, having given the Speech great consideration, all that one can say in its favour is that it was well read by a Governor-General who is an Australian and who in his capacity as Minister for External Affairs was once described by a former Labor leader, the Right Honourable Dr H. V. Evatt as being basically a man of goodwill in international affairs.
Throughout the Speech one notes such phrases as ‘my Government thinks’ and ‘my Government believes’. Surely the most ardent Tories realise that the Speech fails to face up to the responsibilities of government, to the needs and wants of the Australian people, and to the necessity to give a lead not only in matters of national importance but also in matters of great international controversy which are exercising the minds of the statesmen of the world and which, particularly in relation to SouthEast Asia, are causing concern about the possibility of a third and perhaps final world struggle. I shall return to this subject later.
A number of honourable senators opposite have had a lot to say about the results of the last election. We of the Labor movement, believing in democracy as we do, willingly accept the verdict given by the Australian people on 26th November last, even though we might disagree with that verdict. The election is now over and has taken its place in the annals of history. However, those who are interested in politics really know that the issues that were put before the people were based more on fear and fiction than on fact. The campaign that was conducted by the Government dealt more with personalities than with principles. We stated our case as best we could but I suggest that, if we bad been given as ample an opportunity and as fair treatment by those who control the mass media of communication as were given to Government spokesmen, the result might well have been different.
– Yes, but Labor still would not have brought the troops back from Vietnam.
– The honourable senator will have his say later; I am now having mine on behalf of the Labor movement. The campaign that was conducted by the anti-Labor forces, particularly against the then Labor leader, Mr Calwell, was one of the most vicious and pernicious that I have experienced.
– Labor chose the issue.
– We chose the issue all right, but we did not write your propaganda. Nor did we write the banner headlines and prepare the television commentary. The banner headline writers were at their very best. Every so called impartial radio and television commentator and editorial writer showed his bias against the Australian Labor Party during the election campaign. Almost every editorial that was written said that Chinese troops were knocking on the doors of Darwin and that great hordes were sweeping down towards this country. But conveniently the people were encouraged to forget that this Government was desperately trying to overcome its balance of payment difficulties by trading with China in wheat, wool, coal, steel and rutile to the value of approximately $110m a year. Almost everybody who opposed this Government’s policy was branded as being a Communist, a fellow traveller, a pale pink or, at the very best, a non-conformist. A great air of hysteria, created by the mass media of communication and fostered by the Government, prevailed throughout the election campaign. The position was such that almost every statement that was made by the Labor leader and by Labor candidates had a wrong slant deliberately placed upon it.
Despite all these things, we still see the light burning on the hill, to which the late Mr Chifley referred. Despite this heavy weight of propaganda, the smear and innuendo that were levelled against personalities of the Labor movement, and the McCarthyist attitude that suddenly developed throughout the campaign, the Labor Party received 40% of the votes cast. At least 40% of the Australian population supported the policies of the Australian Labor movement. The policies that we enunciated then we enunciate today. In short, we believe that all men are entitled to equal opportunities, that injustice should be met with justice, and that the happiness and contentment of mankind mean much more than the filling of the already overflowing coffers of the capitalist interests.
Having made those observations on the last Federal election, I return to some matters of international concern. My attention is drawn to His Excellency’s statement that bis Government will persist in the search for a just and enduring peace. I join with my colleagues of the Opposition who have already spoken in asking rhetorically what this Government has done at any time since 1954, when the Geneva Accords were signed, to secure a just and enduring peace. I am one of those who come from what is perhaps an old-fashioned school which believes that we cannot alter the minds of men by mere military might. I think His Excellency himself agreed with this when he was Minister for External Affairs in the Menzies Government. My colleagues and I believe that Communism, the very thing that this Government says our young men are in Vietnam to fight, thrives on poverty, misery, illiteracy and despair. While this nation as such is a party to destroying rather than building, while it is a party to the bombing of Vietnamese kids with napalm, and while the roar of bombers overhead is spelling out that this one, that one or the other is to be killed, maimed or wounded, I suggest that the Government is defeating the very object that it is supposed to be setting out to achieve, namely, winning the minds of men.
As one who has human blood in his veins and humanity in his heart 1 cannot possibly go along with the present policy of. the Australian Government. His Excellency, when he was Minister for External Affairs in 1954, rather agreed with the present attitude of the Federal Opposition. Upon his return from Geneva, after the Geneva Accords, when he reported to the Australian Parliament he had something to say on the South East Asian situation. Let me cite one or two passages from his speech in the House of Representatives on 10th August 1954, as reported at page 96 of Hansard. He said:
There is no doubt that the Viet Minh, though completely under Communist control, originally had a strong nationalist basis and continued to have nationalist elements in their ranks. On the other hand, the non-Communist regime did not have sufficient nationalist appeal of its own, with the result that large numbers of non-Communists remained neutral in the struggle rather than offering active resistance to the Communists.
What His Excellency the Governor-General had to say on .’that matter in 1954 is exactly the same as what members of the Australian Opposition were saying in 1966 and what they still say in 1967. This is rather confirmed by a Statement made by a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who recently visited Australia and who wrote an article in the South Australian ‘Methodist’. The name of the Buddhist monk was Tich Nhat Hanh. He is reputed to be a leader among Vietnamese intellectuals and one of Vietnam’s best known poets. He is devoutly antiCommunist and is also opposed to the military clique of which Air Vice-Marshal Ky is the leader. Bearing in mind the excerpt that I have just read from the speech of the then Minister for External Affairs in 1954, it is rather interesting to compare those remarks with the remarks of the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Tich Nhat Hanh, which read:
Genuine Communists make up only a small portion of the National Liberation Front, though they may dominate its leadership. The hold of the National Liberation Front on the peasants does not derive from their belief in Communism, but from the Front’s constant reiteration that it is fighting only the American imperialists and their South Vietnamese ‘lackeys’. The 90% of the population who arc peasants speak only Vietnamese and have no understanding of differences between the French and American motivations. They see white westerners (more Americans than they ever saw French) apparently occupying their country, controlling their politicians, bombing their villages and killing their people. Even when the Americans claim to be defending them against aggression is heard, it is much less convincing than the National Liberation Front’s arguments. Every day that the war continues, therefore, is advantageous to the Front so far as winning the support of the peasants is concerned.
We ask the Australian Government to adopt a more humanitarian approach to this problem. Certainly it must agree that from all of the reports which are receiving publicity throughout the world and which sometimes are appearing in the columns of the Australian Press at the very least great controversy and consternation concerning the solution of the Vietnam problem exist. Doubtless there are faults and stubborness on both sides, but surely the great question that has to toe answered by the statesmen of the world is how this holocaust is to be stopped. It is not sufficient for the Government merely to say that it is persisting with its search for the attainment of a just and enduring peace. It has to show manifestly to the Australian people that it has taken all possible steps to bring about a negotiated settlement of the problem which will put an end to the holocaust.
– Surely the efforts of the British Government convince the honourable senator of that.
– The efforts of the British Government certainly convince me that Mr Harold Wilson is doing all within his power to bring an end to this conflict. But I am not speaking of the British Government. I am not speaking of any other government than the Australian Government and I am referring to the Governor-General’s statement that this Government would persist with its search for the attainment of a just and enduring peace. I am saying that so far as my recollection is concerned, not since 1954 has there been one shred or tittle of evidence presented to the Australian people to show that this Government has done anything, either in the United Nations or elsewhere in the parliaments of the world, to secure a just and enduring peace in Vietnam.
Just let me continue with one or two other remarks made by His Excellency the Governor-General when he was Minister for External Affairs in 1954, to show that he agreed then with the case now put forward by the Australian Opposition. He was talking about the battle of Dien Bien Phu between the great French army at the time and the Viet Minh. He said:
Talk of intervention, particularly in the air, in order to save the situation, was being widely canvassed at that time. Our Australian view was that such intervention would be wrong for the following reasons: it would not have the backing of the United Nations; it would put us in wrong with world opinion, particularly in Asia; it would probably embroil us with Communist China; it would probably wreck the Geneva Conference, and it was most unlikely to stop the fall of Dien Bien Phu. These were the views that I expressed on behalf of the Australian Government to Mr. Dulles, Mr. Eden and other leaders at Geneva.
They were the views of the Australian Government, as espoused in 1954 by the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr Casey. If this Government is persisting with its search for the attainment of a just and enduring peace, we, on behalf of the section of the community that we represent in the Australian Parliament, want to know why members of the Government parties now go along with this policy of bombing and why nothing is being done by the Australian Government to secure a negotiated settlement.
President Johnson has talked of staying in Vietnam as long as is necessary to win the war. But on past history and on recent statements that have been issued by military advisers, this situation could continue for at least a generation. If one tries to read newspaper reports objectively, one can see the great differences that exist in the minds of military men - not so much as to the length of time that will be involved in order to secure a military victory, but as to whether, having secured that military victory, victory in fact will have been achieved. As reported in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 28th December, the United States commander in Vietnam, General Westmoreland, told the world that the war in Vietnam would last for years and that more troops would be needed from the United States and from the free world allies. He said:
We must prepare ourselves for what the Communists call a protracted war.
The time involved is not measured in months; it’s measured in years.
– How long ago was that said?
– That was said on 28th December 1966.
– What do the Communists mean by ‘a protracted war’?
– The term certainly does not mean a war that will finish in hours, days or weeks. Obviously it means a very long war. If I know the meaning of protracted’, it means that the end of the war is far distant in point of time. It will be a long drawn out struggle in the future, as it has been in the past.
– The Communists are waging war. That is what the honourable senator is saying.
– I am putting my case. Senator Cormack may put his later. I am not saying that all of the faults are on one side. I am saying that the pros and cons are on both sides. I am pointing out that, on the evidence presented to us, Australian kids will be involved in this struggle for many years to come and that the generation that is being born now could well be in Vietnam in twenty years time. Only last Saturday, while I was watching boys of nine and ten years of age playing football, I could not help thinking that in a decade some of them unfortunately might be fighting and dying in the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam. As reported on 28th December last, General Westmoreland said:
The time involved is not measured in months; it’s measured in years.
On 29th December, the very day after General Westmoreland made his statement, the officer in charge of the Australian Task Force, Brigadier Jackson, said, among other things:
The Viet Cong now cannot win by military means in Vietnam.
It’s only a matter of time until the Communists are destroyed . . . but no-one could possibly predict how long that will take.
The longer the war drags on, the more damage will be done to Vietnam, the more casualties will be suffered and the harder it will be for this country to get back on its feet.
Therefore, whilst the Australians, the Americans and their allies might be winning the war militarily, they are creating conditions of poverty, misery, hopelessness, despair, death, devastation and destruction and are certainly sowing the seeds of the growth and resurgence of Communism.
All along the line, in statements that have been issued by this Government there seem to be nothing but inconsistencies, contradictions and confusions. Therefore, we as the Opposition and the Australian people whom we represent are entitled to know on what evidence His Excellency the GovernorGeneral based the statement that he made in his Speech:
My Government will persist with its search for the attainment of a just and enduring pence.
As has been said by previous speakers, we of the Labor movement want to see an end put to this fighting. We want to see the development of a healthy and really democratic government in Vietnam. We want to see the end of military juntas. We want to sec the end of extremes on both sides. Personally. 1 have yet to see any evidence at all that the Australian Government has in fact persisted with any search at all for the attainment of a just and enduring peace.
There are other matters that I wish to discuss in the short time that is available to mc. 1 believe that I have fairly put the case on behalf of the Opposition and that a spokesman for the Government, such as a responsible Minister, should stand up in this chamber and show us what action has been taken by this Government since 1954, when Mr Casey, as he then was, went to Geneva to represent the Australian Government, to secure a just and enduring peace in Vietnam. So much for the international scene.
I now wish to deal with one or two national issues that seem to have been hastily brushed aside as merely secondary considerations in the Speech prepared by the Government for His Excellency. They all are matters which are crying out for national attention and which have long been neglected by a series of conservative governments. For instance, the inadequacies and insufficiencies of the national health scheme have not even rated a mention in this Speech. Despite the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States, in 1967 we still have a situation in which public hospitals basically have to rely on a substantial amount of charity for their very existence. There is also the growing crisis in our education system, with overcrowded class rooms, temporary accommodation, shortages of teachers and all the other matters about which we who are so intimately connected with people who have children going to school know so much. No plan has been set out for the development of Australia’s natural or national resources.
No plan has been put forward to deal with automation. 1 was interested to hear in the Governor-General’s Speech that during 1965 the Government had initiated a conference of all interested parties on the waterfront to work towards a new and better era in employer-employee relations. His Excellency went on to say:
The progress being achieved should assist tha stevedoring industry to handle successfully tha introduction of new systems and methods.
That inquiry has now been under way for about two years. We still await the report. In recent times we have heard much about the new and growing method of improving the loading and unloading of cargoes - containerisation. In the last fifteen years tha number of registered waterside workers in all Australian ports has dropped by about 4,000. In other words, there are 4,000 fewer waterside workers in the industry today than there were in 1952. Despite that fact, thirteen million more tons of cargo has been shifted in twelve million fewer man-hours. Although the livelihood of men is affected by these new technological developments, not one word is said and no plan appears to be proposed by the Government to overcome these problems. Nothing has been said about enacting legislation such as the British redundancy act, which makes provision for redundancy payments in the event of men being dismissed as a result of the introduction of automation. Nothing has been said about increases in pension and superannuation payments or the problems involved in the retraining of workers who, of necessity, are dismissed from their jobs as a result of automation. Recently I read a report in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ in which an expert on this subject stated that:
In the near future it could well be that in tha lifetime of a working man he would of necessity have to be retrained three times to fit himself for changing techniques in industry.
This is a matter which affects not only managers but also messengers. It affects future educational curricula requirements, yet there is nothing in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to answer the questions on it that 1 have posed.
One subject that has been completely ignored and overlooked by the Government has been referred to previously by me and other honourable senators, especially since the Vincent Committee reported on Australian productions for television. It is the Government’s utter and abject failure to also assist in the development of an Australian film and television industry. It has been said again and again by Ministers in this chamber and by commercial interests that we do not have the talent or the skills to establish and maintain such an industry - that we do not have technicians, artists, writers or producers of the necessary standards. On the evidence presented to the Vincent Committee, the Opposition hotly contests these statements. In Australia today there is any amount of talent which, given the opportunity, could be utilised in the interests of the Australian people. About twelve months ago a forward looking Australian company, N.L.T. Productions Pty Ltd. produced a series of documentaries called ‘If These Walls Could Speak’. The series was produced with Australian capital, Australian cameramen and Australian technicians. All the company did in the way of using outside talent was to bring the well known American actor, Vincent Price, to Australia to narrate the series. The company took films in Australia and throughout the world to produce this series of thirteen documentaries. The series was then hawked round the Australian market but the company could not get one purchaser, not even the ABC. Then it went to the USA and sold tile series to an American network. Only recently the American network wrote to the executive producer of N.L.T. Productions Pty Ltd and stated:
We are beginning to appreciate more and mora the quality of the original thirteen shows as compared with the new ones which we have made. Ours have been lacking the excellent camera work of yours, and the editing has been less than brilliant. This leads me to ask if you would be interested in immediately producing the last thirteen episodes for us, and if so, on what basis.
Yet Ministers in this chamber and commercial interests outside say that we have not the artists, the technicians, the producers, writers and the other wherewithal to develop this industry. Fortunately, thanks to the energy, enterprise and ability of some very genuine Australians, some development of an Australian film and television industry is talcing place. It is moving along the ground, if not off the ground. It is interesting to note that in Sir Frank Packer’s Sunday Telegraph’ last week it was reported that Australian made television shows have won top daytime audiences in the first ratings survey made in Sydney in 1967.
Those who are actively engaged in this industry also have been making some dramatic programmes. Some of these are already on the air and others are in the course of preparation. Why has this come about after all the previous lethargy? Is it because there has been a desire on the part of the Government to assist or a desire on the part of commercial interests to develop a healthy Australian television industry? No, it is not. I suggest that it has come about merely because a deadlock has developed between Australian commercial stations and American television programme producers on the question of price. Up to this stage, Australia has been spending $19m a year on the purchase of imported programmes.
Last October the first world congress of the International Writers Guild was held in Los Angeles, USA, at which fourteen countries were represented. A list was presented showing the proportions of local television drama shown on television screens.
– Local television drama in their own countries?
– Yes. In the USA the programmes were almost 100% American. In Great Britain they were 85% British. In Canada, relating the survey to the English speaking portion of the community, the proportion was 50% Canadian. In Finland, with a population of only 4,500,000, 50% of the programmes were Finnish productions. In Japan 80% of the programmes were Japanese productions and in France 80% were French productions. In Czechoslovakia 70% of the programmes were produced in that country and in Sweden 50% were Swedish, but Australia presented only 2.8% Australian programmes. Compared with other nations, Australia is dragging the chain badly in discharging its responsibility to its writers, artists, producers and technicians. Indeed, a resolution passed at the congress in Los Angeles unanimously expressed strong censure of Australia in this regard and, while noting some slight advance in domestic television production here, deplored the continued depressed state of the industry. It went on to say:
In the amount of local drama and the payment for it, Australia is a dust bowl of television, a depressed area.
When the matter of price comes up and Australian commercial stations are asked to pay more for imported programmes than the cost of producing such programmes here, they decide to see what can be done with local programmes.
– Who owns the local theatre industry?
– I am not worried about that. I am worried about this Government not doing anything to encourage the Australian artists, writers and actors who might be engaged in this industry. The fact is, as has been shown, that something can be done when it has to be done. Something is being done now by commercial stations, but only because of the price war over programmes. Although the report of the Vincent Committee on Australian productions for television was presented to this Parliament in 1963, not one thing has been done by this Government to implement even one recommendation. The state of affairs in this industry is fairly typical of the malaise of the Government.
– Has the honourable senator any information to give to the Senate as to whether anything has been done for educational television in Australia?
– As I recollect a statement made by the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) last August, after a discussion with the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme) following a report to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and after the Board had considered the report and the two Ministers concerned had taken more time than the Board to consider it, it was decided that nothing would be done for the time being regarding the encouragement of educational television in Australia. If this is the Government’s policy on this matter it is only in line with the evidence relating to this apathy about the encouragement of another industry.
– The honourable senator will remember that we recommended that a special channel be reserved for educational television.
– If the honourable senator can tell me that anything has been done regarding this matter I will greatly appreciate having the information. Members of the Opposition know nothing of it. Under this Government there certainly is no feeling of great national fervour. There is no drive, no stimulus and no initiative from the top echelons of this Government. I believe that His Excellency’s Speech by its very wording condemns the Government for its inertia, for its lack of vision and for its business-as-usual slogan. We of the Labor movement will continue to strive for sound and effective national leadership from Canberra. I suggest that this will come only when the Labor Party occupies the treasury bench in this Parliament.
– We have listened with interest to some points made by Senator McClelland. As is quite natural and understandable, he began his speech with complaints regarding the results of the recent Federal election in which the Liberal-Country Parties had such a clearcut win. Several other honourable senators on the Opposition side also have commented on the result of this election. I believe that it is fair to say that when then Leader of the Opposition made his first statement after the election result, he implied (hat the Australian people were stupid and selfish. The Labor caucus made no statement on the election result but elected new leaders and deputy leaders for both Houses. So, new men displaying new vigor and vim but lacking experience are leading a broken Labor Party in this new Parliament. 1 noticed when I was in Sydney last weekend that Mr Colbourne had some comments to make regarding the reasons why the Australian Labor Party lost the last Federal election. The theme of his reasoning was that the anti-American and anti-President Johnson protests and the further protests that quite naturally flowed from them were the underlying cause that gave impetus to the distrust of the Australian people for the Australian Labor Party as the alternative government. That opinion, expressed by a man within the Labor organisation but outside the parliamentary sphere, is worth heeding. I say this for the benefit of Senator Keeffe: these words from Mr Colbourne to the effect that the anti-American protests were part of the cause underlying the shattering defeat of the Australian Labor Party are of interest to the Senate because the honourable senator, the architect of the protests, is a member of this chamber. In this Senate, he emphasised to the people of Australia his request for protests and demonstrations against President Johnson when he visited in Australia. The responsibility for what flowed from these protests could be put at the feet of Senator Keeffe. Perhaps one day the Australian Labor Party will wake up to a truism in political theory that the other main political parties have accepted, lt is: ‘Never have an organisational head inside Parliament and never get your organisational head from within the Parliament, Keep them poles apart and you will not get them into trouble making silly statements outside their spheres’.
I believe that there is throughout the Australian community a widespread admiration for the United States of America not only because of its efforts during the Second World War but also because of great, encouraging and useful business interests and personal relationships between both countries and their people as friends, allies and business partners. Because of the unbridled and unrestrained criticism of the United Stales that has come from people who the public say are not worth taking notice of or not worth following when looking for an alternative government, we saw the Australian people on 26th November 1966 prove two things very conclusively. The people proved that protests or no protests, television or no television, the image of a possible new Labor leader or the same old Labor leader, they considered that the government that had been in office for seventeen years was the one that they wanted. So, throughout Australia, people went into the thousands of polling booths to a free and secret ballot and chose the name of the candidate from the Liberal and Country Parties. They backed those candidates. They brushed aside the members of the Liberal Reform Group and candidates from other splinter groups. They showed that they had grown up politically and that they would make decisions because of the importance of their decisions not only to themselves but also to those who would follow them. That is the lesson to be learnt from the election.
As a result of the election we find in this Parliament many new men and the first woman member in another place for a number of years. The Parliament has been enriched by new men and new ideas. Everybody knows in business and in politics that the infusion of new blood and young people is of great value. Therefore I believe that this Parliament has commenced in a very healthy manner at a time when the economy of the nation is very healthy also. But this is a lime when we have grave problems facing us. We have grave problems regarding the management of the great opportunities for development that lie within Australia. We have grave problems regarding our position in the world, firstly, as one of the leading trading nations and, secondly, concerning trade with our Japanese partners. We have a great responsibility in my view respecting if, how, when and by what means we will trade with our sister Commonwealth country New Zealand. These are the problems that Australia, emerging as it has as a power geographically, politically and economically in this part of the world, has to face. I believe that Australia has the Parliament and the Government that will help it face up to and resolve some of these problems before it.
We have problems associated with defence and security. We have the problem of sticking up for our moral duties. There is the problem of standing by our word and remaining loyal to allies. Every man and woman in this Parliament wishes to work for a justifiable and honest peace in the area of the world in which we live and in which we could prosper so remarkably and so happily if the dove of peace would fly. I know that tonight we will hear a statement on foreign affairs by the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), who represents the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) in this chamber. In the near future the Senate will have the right, of which it will take advantage, to debate that statement. Therefore 1 do not propose to speak on this subject now.
The Senate is debating the AddressinReply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General when opening the new Parliament. 1 join with other honourable senators in saying that it was a thrill and a privilege to be here listening to and seeing Lord Casey, an
Australian-born Governor-General, who came to office after a record almost unsurpassed in variety and importance in the public life of an Australian-born man. As we all know, the Speech was composed by the Government. In reality it was the Government saying to the Parliament: “We will ask you to put into legislative form the promises that we made to the people of Australia in the recent election campaign’. So in the weeks that lie ahead there will be opportunities for us to address the Senate on matters relating to social services, education and the other important items that loom before us.
Another important subject which 1 believe is well worthy of debate, particularly in the Senate, is the Commonwealth Parliament itself and the relationship, powers and possible future changing roles of both Houses. A Parliament must change, develop and mould itself to meet the needs of the times. We do not want to be told what someone said in 1901 unless that opinion holds good in the changing times in which we live. As the Prime Minister has announced that legislation will be brought before the Parliament relating to a referendum concerning this Senate and another place, I will hold my views on some of the changes and improvements that 1 believe are necessary until that legislation is before us.
In the time at my disposal and without merely repeating what has already been said, I want to refer to the raging fires which exactly three weeks ago this afternoon were burning and killing people and destroying property and belongings in the southern part of Tasmania. A lot of publicity has been given to the fires and I, as a Tasmanian, feel very proud of the Australian people for the way in which they responded to the call for help, in what really was a time of great need, so that the people who had lost so much could be rehabilitated.
I think it is fair to discuss one or two major items associated with the fires. My home was less than 300 yards from where homes were burning. At half past three in the afternoon it was impossible from my home to see the intersection fifty yards away. The hydro-electric power had failed, telephone communications were out and it is honest to say that we did not know whether the fire had reached the next block, but in the hours from half past two on Tuesday afternoon and through the following night the people of southern Tasmania, and in fact friends, relatives and the people generally as far away as New Zealand, north to Cairns and Townsville and west to Perth, were being told not only of the damage and the losses suffered but also the names of those who were unscathed and those who had suffered bodily injury and even death. One radio station, station 7HT, remained on the air. The other commercial radio station had to go off the air because of the fire. I believe there is a lesson to be learned from what happened on this occasion. I believe that in future in areas of disaster it is better to have only one radio station making authoritative announcements and so on to keep the people calm. I pay a very sincere tribute to Mr John Howell of station 7HT and his staff. Honourable senators may have read about this in the Melbourne ‘Herald’. They did a remarkable job when the danger was greatest and when the people needed a little confidence to be instilled into their worried minds.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - The statement 1 am about to read is now being made in the House of Representatives by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck). Where the first person singular pronoun is used it refers to the Minister. The statement is as follows:
As this statement will lead to the first debate on international affairs in a new Parliament, following an election in which foreign policy was an issue, I shall attempt to range more widely over the field than I may have done on previous occasions. In doing so I emphasize two points: Australian political, economic and diplomatic interests are world wide; and, although we are urgently and vitally facing the crises that arise in the region in which we live, this Government has consistently maintained that the tasks of peace and welfare of mankind are global; that what happens in any region is of concern to all the world; and that the final security and the ultimate hope for peaceful progress of any region arc inseparably a part of a global problem. Too often people talk of ‘one world’ and then act as though the various continents had not yet discovered each other.
I shall begin with Europe and the North Atlantic. In matters affecting economic progress and security in all continents, Washington. London and Moscow are centres of strength, influence and decision, and from them diplomatic communications radiate to all lands. We watch with close concern and constant hope for the prospects of better understanding and co-operation between them. We all need to recall that the hopes for security and peace offered by the United Nations rest on the readiness of these great powers to co-operate to maintain the peace; and that any project to bring a better life for peoples in developing lands requires their help alongside that minority of countries, of which Australia is one, who arc significant in production and trade.
In this context I shall nol enlarge on our relations with the United States, but remind the House in passing that, while naturally preoccupied with the policies of the United States in the Pacific and Asia, we recognise, too, the enormous contributions that she has made and is making to security and the advancement of human welfare all over the world. A major consideration in Australian foreign policy is that understanding and co-operation between Washington and London should be firmly based on the closest possible consultation between them. We ourselves try to maintain the closest confidence of both.
Looking at Europe, wc have found some encouragement because in the last few years the rigidity of the Communist world has lessened and some diversity has appeared. An important recent example was the decision of Rumania to exchange diplomatic missions with the Federal Republic of Germany. A parallel has been a greater diversity of approach among the countries of Western Europe, to be seen for example in the changing character of the structure and activities of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Wilh the possibility opening up of wider areas of co-operation with the Soviet Union, it is conceivable that we may be able to begin to think again of Europe as Europe rather than of the two separate entities of Western Europe and Eastern Europe divided by enmity.
Since my own visit to Moscow in November 1964, when I had the honour to be the first Foreign Minister to be received by the new Prime Minister Mr Kosygin, wc have looked for opportunities for co-operation. In addition, my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) subsequently paid a visit to Eastern Europe. While at the United Nations I have sought opportunities for making contact with the Foreign Ministers of Eastern European countries. Recently we opened a new mission in Belgrade.
One can speculate on possible reasons for the change that has been taking place in attitudes of the Soviet Union. The former Russian feeling of encirclement has gone, at least as far as Europe is concerned; the achievements of the Soviet Union in outer space and in other fields have contributed to self-confidence and to a knowledge that the Soviet Union can hold its own in open competition with other countries; the rise in production and in standards of living has given the government and people of the Soviet Union a stake in the continued economic growth of the country, made possible only by continued peace; and, inherent in all the foregoing, the new generations have not been so directly shaped and scarred by pre-revolutionary and revolutionary times. Ways of thought and behaviour inside the Soviet Union have been changing. Similarly, on the non-Communist side in Europe, there have been changes in attitude and in possibilities open for building international accords.
We should not, or course, swing from one extreme to the other and conclude that basic differences do not persist. The Soviet Union remains a Communist state. It must be remembered, too, that the military expansion of the Soviet Union, and of the Communist states associated with it, was held back only because of effective resistance to aggression as demonstrated in
Greece after the Second World War, by the formation of NATO in 1949, and by the successful military resistance to North Korean aggression in 1950. The so called nuclear stalemate may also have quietened down anxieties. It is both realistic and necessary that proposals for disarmament should not weaken in any essential way the present strategic and tactical strength of either of the two great power groups relatively to the other. I recall these things, not to reopen old quarrels, but to remind the House of some of the necessary conditions if co-operation between all the Great Powers is to be developed. The cold war is not so cold, but, if I may paraphrase a recent phrase in ‘Pravda’, we would still like to see the icebergs start to melt.
Living under the shadow and indeed the protection of the nuclear balance between the eastern Europeans and the North Atlantic powers, it is natural that European states should sometimes be particularly conscious of the risks to that balance through incidents and hostilities elsewhere in the world getting out of hand. They, like the rest of us, are aware of the dangers of escalation, for example in Vietnam, which might bring the Great Powers into war against one another, leading perhaps to nuclear conflict. The temptations before Europeans are two-fold; either to detach themselves from what is happening in the Far East and to say that it is none of their business, or alternatively to say that almost no price is too high to stop the fighting in that region, remote from them. 1 believe that both attitudes arc wrongly based. There is inevitably going to be great change in Asia and the whole world has an interest in helping it to be peaceful change leading to security and economic development. In the past world wars have occurred over issues in Europe; today, with the rise of Communist China as a major power and with other Asian countries developing economically and otherwise, world wars could originate in this region of the world if aggression is not met with resolution and strength, but at the same time with restraint and a readiness to find just settlements which have a prospect of lasting. Neither detachment from affairs nor advice to the effect that China and its supporters should bc given what they want will bring lasting peace to the Europeans.
Australia also has a traditional and continuing interest of a special kind with the United Kingdom. Perhaps we have been so long accustomed to think of Britain as the heart of the Commonwealth of Nations and as a world power that Australians have not been accustomed to thinking of her as also a nation in Europe. We trust that most Britons will also continue to see themselves primarily as being something more than one of the nations in Europe.
The Government is watching closely all matters associated with the British Government’s intention to seek membership of the Common Market. It is not possible at this stage to predict when or whether a new British application to enter the European Economic Community might succeed, or how essential British and Commonwealth interests will be safeguarded, as Mr Wilson has insisted they must be as a condition of entry. The economic implications for Australia are a matter on which my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, may be expected to make further statements at the appropriate time.
Australia’s concern is not only economic. Australia, like other countries of the world, has a very great political interest in the outcome of any British application. The European Economic Community is not simply an economic organisation; it has political associations and some common institutions, and membership may affect foreign policies, at least on certain matters. Australia would hope that Britain’s presence in the Common Market would exert an influence on Western Europe to make it outward looking and ready to play its part in the rest of the world, and that the progressive integration of Western Europe will add to its capacity to do so.
Australia would also want Britain to maintain its deep and intimate political association and historic ties with Australia and other members of the Commonwealth. Even today, as honourable members know, there has been consideration and continuing debate in Britain about its role east of Suez. The Australian Government has been glad to know from the latest British White Paper on Defence and from its own contacts that the British Government intends to continue the presence in the Far East which had previously been discussed with Australia.
There is sometimes loose talk about Australia taking over Britain’s role in the Far East. Such a conception is quite inaccurate. In Asia and the Pacific, Britain played a role that was appropriate to a particular historical epoch, but that epoch has passed away. Britain still has a great part to play in the region, but it is a different role from the past and will take account of the changing world. It will’ be a continuing discharge of Britain’s responsibilities towards a region whose present position Britain has done so much to shape and where Britain is still in a position to make a significant contribution materially and in other ways. Australia also has a role to play in the region. But this is our own role and it derives from our own direct interests, and is a different role from that played by Britain in the past and the role that Britain might be expected to play in the future. It presents responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities which we must not shirk.
I now turn to discuss events in regions nearer to Australia. As a preliminary observation may I suggest that we need to be careful in talking about Asia to avoid confusion over the meaning of the word. As a geographical term it covers countries from Turkey to the Philippines, a large part of the Soviet Union, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and half the shore line of the Indian Ocean as well as countries bordering the Pacific. It is inexact to talk simply of an interest in Asia or to identify one problem as the problem of Asia, or one opinion as the Asian outlook.
Australia has maintained a continuous and growing interest in the parts of Asia nearest to us since the first Australian missions were established in Japan, China and India twenty-five years ago. Two historic decisions in Australian diplomacy were taken, first, in 1951 when we took the initiative in forming the Colombo Plan organisation to help mobilise our own external aid and that of other countries to contribute to the relief and reconstruction of countries in Asia, and in 1963 when Cabinet decided to seek recognition as a regional member of the Economic Com mission for Asia and the Far East, having previously been a non-regional member.
Our activity in the continent is continuous through our own ambassadors in foreign countries and through their ambassadors in Australia. In the past three years since I was given my present portfolio I have myself visited most of the countries twice and some of them three or four times. In the same period I have arranged for six parliamentary delegations to visit Asian countries, and fifteen of my ministerial colleagues in this and previous Governments have made one or more visits to Asian countries. Under the auspices of ECAFE alone Australian officials and technical experts took part in no less than thirty-five conferences on practical problems of the ECAFE region last year. The Prime Minister himself visited a number of Asian countries last year and attended the Manila meeting of heads of government and. as announced last week, will shortly make a further lour. On special visits and by attendance at conferences many statesmen, administrators, and officials from Asia have been our guests in Australia. The Government will continue to promote these exchanges.
Dominating all regional politics and linking them unmistakably with world politics is Communist China. Bitter dissension now exists within the ruling groups in the regime. Probably many strands are intertwined: the struggle for succession to Mao Tse-tung, both between individuals and between groups backing individuals; the doctrinal Communist struggle over the roles of the peasantry and the urban proletariat; the desire of some to have perpetual revolution, and their doubts whether members of the Communist bureaucracy have retained the necessary revolutionary fervour; and traditional Chinese divisions based on regional pulls and regional interests. The rift with the Soviet Union has widened, and the Soviet Government has been criticised on both doctrinal and nationalist grounds.
The general approach of the Australian Government, as stated by me at some length in the House of Representatives on 18th August last year, remains unchanged, and I shall not reiterate it now. Indeed, the arguments have been reinforced by subsequent developments, such as the excesses of the Red Guard and the further testing of new nuclear weapons and missiles. In November the United Nations General Assembly declined to make any change in regard to Chinese representation. Several countries altered their position of the previous year in a direction unfavourable to Peking. An important element in the thinking of many governments was that in view of current events on the mainland and the international attitude of Peking, this is not a time for a fundamental change in the altitude of the United Nations. No-one could say with certainty that Peking’s admission could not lead rapidly to the paralysis or even the breaking up of the United Nations because of the policies that that regime would adopt in United Nations bodies towards the Soviet Union as well as towards non-Communist countries. Consequently many even of the countries generally sympathetic to Peking were of the view that the best course was to wait and see.
Whoever comes out on top in mainland China in the near future is not likely to have a fundamentally different attitude towards international affairs. The regime will still be dedicated to world revolution and to supporting the overthrow, by violence if appropriate, of regimes in countries which are not in line with Peking. This must represent a constant and direct threat to China’s neighbours in particular; but it will indeed be harmful to the interests of all countries, and a threat to them, if Communist China were to mount aggression against any of its neighbours, whatever the political complexion of that neighbour might be.
The Australian Government hopes that over a period of time the mainland of China will be accommodated within the international community. But diplomatic recognition of Peking or its admission to the United Nations is not a short cut to that objective. Essential elements in bringing about an accommodation include a continued willingness and capacity by China’s neighbours to resist direct or indirect attack, and in achieving this their own national efforts have to be supplemented by collective arrangements with other countries. Positive national and international programmes have to promote the economic well- being and development of the countries in the region adjoining China. The Australian Government does not see relations with China as an isolated problem in itself, but instead as something which is part of the bigger question of security and economic and political development in the whole region. Quite apart from what may be done directly in regard to China, progress in other fields can contribute towards an ultimate settlement of some Chinese questions.
There has been gradual but steady improvement in the military situation in South Vietnam, with the initiative now more firmly in the hands of the forces of the Republic of Vietnam and its allies. Although the enemy is maintaining a campaign of harassment, terrorism and sabotage throughout the country, allied operations and air strikes have so far prevented the launching of large scale offensives. While there has lately been an increase in enemy military activity in the coastal and western highlands and in infiltration activity near the demilitarised zone, the main Communist force units are generally tending to avoid major contact with troops.
On the civil side the Government of South Vietnam continues to consolidate and extend its authority. It has taken steps to encourage economic growth and to limit profiteering and corruption. It has made advances in its Revolutionary Development Programme for providing security and improving living standards in the rural areas. Substantial progress has been made in constitutional development.
Improvements in the military situation have made it possible to extend the zone of protection provided by Government forces, which are now directly engaged in the Revolutionary Development Programme. Hamlets and villages in many areas, but particularly in the central coastal provinces which were formerly controlled or exposed to attack by the Vietcong, have been brought under effective central government administration and given security and assistance. A Vietcong document captured some weeks ago estimates that some one million persons passed from Vietcong control to government control during 1966. The programme for training Revolutionary Development cadres is going forward. It has produced teams which are already at work in the liberated areas, restoring the fabric of village organisation, helping the inhabitants in their daily tasks, reopening schools, providing health and medical services and supplying tools and fertilisers. The Australian Task Force has been able to contribute directly to this programme by its own continued civic action work in Phuoc Tuy province.
The ‘Open Arms’ campaign under which the Government has offered a general amnesty to Vietcong guerillas has produced significant results. During 1966 over 20.000 Vietcong surrendered to Government control and were reintegrated into Vietnamese life. This is almost double the rate in 1965.
The new Constituent Assembly, which emerged from the successful elections held throughout South Vietnam last September, has made steady progress in drafting a Constitution which is designed to provide a Foundation for the development of representative institutions. A first draft has been completed and the Assembly is at present debating the draft articles. Up to 24th February, the Assembly had approved 77 articles out of a total which seems likely to reach some 110. It is expected to complete its task by the target date, 27th March.
The Australian Government undertook in the joint communique issued at the close of the Manila Summit Conference to provide continued support for Vietnamese efforts to achieve economic stability and progress. On 1st February the Cabinet reviewed Australia’s civil assistance to Vietnam and made further decisions to increase to S2m commitments in the current financial year. As a result of these increases on top of earlier decisions the aid in 1966-67 will be 70% higher than in 1965-66. The additional expenditure allows greater emphasis to be given to medical aid, Army civic action programmes, and municipal projects such as town water supplies. Also the assistance of experts has been offered by the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland to supplement the efforts of the Commonwealth Government.
The Government has also encouraged voluntary aid efforts through the agency of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid. A new senior position has been established in the Australian Embassy in Saigon to co ordinate all forms of Australian aid and to co-operate with voluntary aid services.
That is briefly an account of the situation, military and otherwise, inside South Vietnam. Things are getting better, but we must be prepared for a sustained effort over a period of time and against continued strong aggression. I shall now deal at somewhat greater length with the question of negotiations on Vietnam. There has been considerable public speculation about whether the North Vietnamese leaders may have modified, or may be ready to modify, their previously unyielding opposition to a negotiated settlement in Vietnam.
The Australian Government has given the closest attention to the statements and reports on which this speculation has been based, lt has also been in close touch wilh the various governments concerned, including particularly the Governments of the United States and South Vietnam. We have not been able to find clear evidence of a significant change in the North Vietnamese attitude to a negotiated settlement. Such movements as there may have been - any evidence of forward movement, however slight, is welcome - consists rather in a possible shift of emphasis concerning the conditions in which exploratory discussions might be opened.
Since April 1965 the North Vietnamese position has been based on the so-called four points of the North Vietnamese Prime Minister, Pham Van Dong, which may be summarised as follows:
To these four points has been added a fifth which has been stipulated by the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, namely, that the Front should be accepted and recognised as ‘the sole authentic representative of the people of South Vietnam.’
At least until quite recently, the meaning attached by North Vietnam to these points was ambiguous. The United States made clear its readiness to discuss these, together with other points, in negotiations for a settlement. Earlier statements from Hanoi had appeared to imply that the demands for force withdrawals and for exclusive recognition of the Front must be met even before negotiations could begin - that they were posed not simply as conditions to be satisfied in a settlement, but as preconditions to talks about a settlement. The statements, interviews, and reports that have been coming out of Hanoi in recent weeks, although still by no means free from ambiguity, at least appear to suggest that the four points of Pham Van Dong and the five points of the Front are no longer put forward as demands that are to be satisfied before there can be any talking at all, though they remain in the eyes of their authors essential conditions to be met in any settlement acceptable to Hanoi. While there has thus been no change at all in the substance of the position which Hanoi would take in negotiations, the North Vietnamese appear to be concentrating on only one point as a condition precedent to the opening of talks - that is, that the United States should end its bombing operations over North Vietnam ‘unconditionally and permanently.’
Here it is worth recalling that the United Stales has set no conditions at all for the opening of negotiations or discussions. The United States is on record with a standing offer to enter into unconditional discussions with the other side at any time, whether before, during, or after a reduction in the scale of the fighting. The seven nations represented at the Manila Summit Conference declared in the joint communique that was issued on 25th October 1966: ‘we are prepared to pursue any avenue which could lead to a secure and just peace, whether through discussion and negotiation or through reciprocal actions by both sides to reduce the violence.’ Australia, like the Republic of Vietnam and the United States, joined in that statement.
The North Vietnamese authorities have not come to the point of accepting these offers, nor have they yet given any assurance that a cessation of the bombing would be followed by talks. They have simply said that if the bombing were ended unconditionally and permanently, then there could be talks. They have not during this present phase stipulated any additional conditions for the opening of talks. On the other hand, they have said nothing which would debar them, once the United States had given up the bombing, from putting forward new demands as conditions precedent to the opening of discussions.
The United States Government, as the country which is providing the largest amount of assistance to the Republic of Vietnam, has been attempting in several ways to ascertain exactly what the North Vietnamese have in mind on either the procedure or substance of negotiations. In the absence of some assurance of some corresponding military diminution on the part of the other side, the United States, while prepared to begin unconditional talks at any time, has declined to end the bombing of the North unconditionally as a preliminary to talks. The need for insisting on reciprocity is underlined by recent experience. At the beginning of 1966, the United States ceased bombing North Vietnam for thirty-seven days in the hope that it would evoke some response from the other side. Throughout this period the North continued to move men and arms into the South at an accelerated rate and showed no disposition whatever to consider talks of any kind. Again, during the Lunar New Year truce, in the present month, Hanoi intensified its infiltration activities. Within the first 30 hours of the truce, water-borne traffic along the coast of North Vietnam between the 19th and 17th parallels exceeded 900 vessels, more than twice the figure during the last Christmas truce. More trucking and shipping activity occurred during the truce than in any previous one month period. All this occurred in a way that made it plain that the North had planned in advance to use the truce for undisturbed infiltration.
Consequently any hints of a more flexible attitude in Hanoi may well have been aimed not at moving towards a negotiated settlement but at winning a unilateral military advantage, and at putting pressure on the Americans and others by exploiting instincts of humanity and the longing for peace. I would suggest, too, that we need to consider critically various reports that may be made from time to lime about peace feelers, recognising that there is a great deal of skirmishing for propaganda that will not lend and was never intended to lead to talks. In this situation, and pending some clear indication that the North Vietnamese leaders are prepared either to enter into discussions or to consider reciprocal measures to reduce the level of the fighting, the United States has been obliged to resume its air and naval attacks against North Vietnam.
If and when we move into discussions or negotiations for a settlement in Vietnam, the negotiating process could be long and difficult. The North Vietnamese leaders will hope to achieve by negotiation what they have been unable to gain by force of arms. The hard, intractable issues which are now being disputed in battle will not disappear with a wave of the negotiator’s wand. They will not be resolved by the simple act of silting down at a table. They will be fought over just as stubbornly and bitterly in negotiations as in the field.
There is one hopeful new element in the situation. Until quite recently, the Soviet Union appeared unwilling to take any part in helping to achieve a peaceful settlement in Vietnam. The communique issued by the Prime Minister of Britain and the Soviet Union at the close of Mr Kosygin’s visit to the United Kingdom affirmed the view of both parties ‘that it was essential to achieve the earliest possible end to the Vietnam war’. In addition, the two Governments undertook to ‘continue to make a close study of the situation’ and to ‘make every possible effort with a view to achieving a settlement of the Vietnam problem and (to) maintain contact to this end’. In my view, this apparent change of attitude on the part of the Soviet Union is the most encouraging development in the direction of a negotiated settlement that has emerged from the welter of rumour and speculation over the last few months.
To sum up, the Australian Government would like to see an early end to the fighting and will work for peace. But, in the achievement of this, the Government attaches importance both to the procedures of negotiation and to the substance of what would be under negotiation. The procedures must not be such as to give a military advantage to the Vietnamese Communists. The terms of a settlement must not be such as would hand South Vietnam over to Communist rule, or prevent the people of South Vietnam from controlling their own destinies by means of their own choosing. Subject to that, many possible points are open to discussion. It would not be useful for me to go into them at present, particularly as the internal aspects are primarily a matter for the South Vietnamese people themselves. Some of Australia’s general attitudes have been stated on other occasions, including the communique of the conference in Manila last October.
I paid a short visit to Indonesia last month for the official opening ceremony of the new Australian Chancery in Djakarta and to renew and further the personal contacts which I had already established with leading figures in the Government. The political situation in Indonesia is in transition from the former experiment with Guided Democracy’ to a form of representative government more directly reflecting the popular will, and more in line with the provisions of the 1945 Constitution. The transition is not without difficulties, but good progress has been made over the past year. I found a feeling of confidence among leading Indonesians, inside and outside government, that the internal political readjustment can be completed in an orderly fashion well before the projected general elections in 1968. While Indonesia’s internal political arrangements are its own concern, Australia sympathises with the broad objective of the present Government in strengthening the role of national representative institutions in the formulation of government policy.
Indonesia faces huge economic problems. The present Government has adopted a realistic and pragmatic approach to them, and has sought the sympathy and support of friendly countries in going about the task.
The Government’s programme falls broadly under two heads, internal and external, internally, the most urgent tasks are to halt the chronic inflation which has characterised the economy over recent years and to restore the country’s run-down infrastructure, particularly its transport. To this end, a stabilisation programme has been drawn up with the assistance of the International Monetary Fund, and, while its implementation will present many problems, prospects in the basic fields of production levels and export income are encouraging. Externally, the new government found itself facing overseas debts of around $2.4 billion, lt has moved quickly and responsibly to secure the rescheduling of this enormous debt, and is hopeful of further assistance from developed nations over the coming years.
In the past few days those countries involved in the debt rescheduling have met in Amsterdam, together with Australia as a full participant and observers from Canada, New Zealand and several other European countries, to consider Indonesia’s economic situation and plans. These meetings were of a preliminary kind and will continue before the European summer. Their primary purpose is to identify precisely the best fields, the best methods, and the required volume of external aid to meet Indonesia’s acute foreign exchange crises.
In my discussions in Djakarta, 1 found that Australia’s name stands high with those who are currently shaping Indonesia’s political and economic destinies. Australia’s consistent desire, expressed in a variety of ways over many years, to place emphasis on building sound, long-term relations between Australia and Indonesia has been noted and appreciated. In particular, the Indonesian authorities welcome the constructive co-operation that has marked our contact with Indonesia in the Colombo Plan. This has involved a substantial student programme and important developmental activity in Indonesia. In addition to assistance from regular programmes, the Australian Government is giving emergency aid to Indonesia to a total value of $700,000. The Government will be considering in the coming months how Australia can most effectively give further assistance to Indonesia as a contribution to the fulfilment of the recovery plans that have been drawn up. I need hardly emphasise how important the development of a prosperous and united Indonesia is for Australia’s interest in this region. Apart from material self-interest, Australians also have a human sympathy for the people of their closest neighbour.
The recovery and economic development of Indonesia is not a matter for intergovernment dealings only. Already many personal contacts exist, for example through students in Australia and voluntary workers in Indonesia, and I hope that as stability grows and public administration renews itself in Indonesia, contacts will grow between the business communities in the two countries. I was fortunate in being accompanied on my visit to Indonesia by Mr C. G. McGrath, the Chairman of the Export Development Council, as well as by some departmental officers and the Commissioner of the Exports Payments insurance Corporation. Australia’s own bilateral relationships have been marked also by practical co-operative work in respect of the common frontier in New Guinea. Immediately after my visit, a team of Australian survey experts arrived in Djakarta to draw up with the Indonesians plans for placing permanent marks along the southern sector of the border. A similar joint operation has already been successfully carried out along the northern sector.
In Malaysia, the security situation has improved markedly since the ending of confrontation. This has enabled the withdrawal from East Malaysia of the Commonwealth forces which were deployed there to assist Malaysian forces in preventing incursions into Sabah and Sarawak. Malaysia is still faced with Communist subversive activity in Sabah, Sarawak, and the Thailand border area and is acting vigorously to counter these threats. High priority is being given to the development of Malaysia’s own armed forces, with particular emphasis on counter-insurgency capability. Australia is playing an important part in assisting Malaysia to achieve this capability.
In this and other fields our relations with Malaysia are close and productive. The Australian Government recently agreed to grant $3m for the construction of an eastwest highway in Sabah, which forms part of our continuing efforts to help Malaysia in carrying out its transportation programmes. Under the Colombo Plan about 500 Malaysian students are at present in Australia.
Singapore continues to present a picture of stability and economic progress. In view of its predominantly urban character, Singapore faces special economic problems, and is seeking to develop a range of industries designed to raise living standards and to contribute to the solution of a potentially serious unemployment problem, which is aggravated as increasing numbers of young people reach working age. Outlets for Singapore’s industrial products arc clearly vital to the success of this effort. An Australian delegation visited Singapore in August-September 1.966 for discussions on trade matters, and early this year talks were held in Canberra with a director of the Singapore Economic Development Board. Closer trade and business links between Singapore and Australia will contribute to the strength of our relationship and to the continued stability and growth of Singapore’s economy.
In consequence of its establishment as an independent republic, Singapore is beginning to develop small defence forces of its own. As in the case of Malaysia, Australia has been assisting in this task. Some 100 Singapore .students are in Australia at present under the Colombo Plan, and Australia has also undertaken to equip a vocational institute for the training of skilled tradesmen at Jurong, a new industrial development area. Twenty-four trade instructors for the institute, which is expected to be fully operational by 1969- 70, arc being trained in Australia.
Australia’s relations with the other countries of the region continue to be good. Earlier this month Mr Son Sann visited Australia as the Special Representative of His Royal Highness Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, and a very successful and well attended exhibition was held in Sydney to illustrate the economic progress that has been made in Cambodia. Australian relations with Cambodia are very good indeed, based on respect for one another’s views and an understanding of the factors which enter into the policies of the two countries, even though on some points these policies differ.
In Laos, new elections have been held successfully. Australia continues to provide some economic assistance, to assist in maintaining the stability of the country and also helping its development.
Towards the end of next month I am to visit Japan, and shall subsequently remain for another week in Tokyo to lead the Australian delegation to the annual meeting of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. Australian relations with Japan are close and friendly at all levels. There have been many ministerial visits in both directions. I myself have had personal contact at least twice a year with the successive Foreign Ministers of Japan; regular talks between Japanese and Australian officials have been instituted; and there are also private contacts, such as the AustraliaJapan Business Co-operation Committee which is greatly valued in both countries. Japan, because of its advanced industrial capacity, can play an important part in economic development and co-operation in the region, and shares with other countries, including Australia, the desire to see the whole region an area of security and progress.
Thailand also continues to make steady progress, economically and in other ways, and its Government is playing a constructive part in regional affairs. Some subversive and terrorist activity is taking place in the north east of the country, linked with Hanoi and Peking, from which agents have returned to Thailand trained and equipped to conduct subversion and terrorism against the Government and people of Thailand. The situation is not out of control, but the threat has to be taken seriously.
At the other side of the region is the great Indian sub-continent, which is of the utmost importance to the whole area. India has suffered a series of grievous blows in recent years through the failure of the rain* in various parts of the country. Australia, which itself has often had experience of widespread droughts, knows what economic burdens they can cause. In a country like India where the margin above starvation is low, the human misery involved can be considerable and programmes of economic development are badly set back. The Australian Government has made several contributions in food to India’s needs. The regular five yearly general elections have just taken place in India, the first since the death of Jawaharlal Nehru. The results so far received indicate that the Congress Party’s majority in the Union Parliament will be much reduced and that there will be a number of state governments of a different political party from the centre. This must mean a considerable change from the situation which has existed since independence, in which the Congress Party had a dominant majority at the centre and controlled almost all state governments. Rut it is natural and understandable that new political forces should be at work in India, and it is the strength of a democracy that major political changes can occur in a peaceful and orderly way.
The Australian Government is also maintaining good relations with other countries of South Asia, and has been able to give economic assistance in varying degrees to Parkistan, Ceylon, Nepal, Burma and Afghanistan. The drought which has been so severe in India has also affected, to a lesser degree, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan continues to make good progress in giving effect to its economic plans. During the past year the Australian High Commission has been moved from Karachi to the new capital, Islamabad.
I shall not refer further to individual countries of the region. Australian relations arc good, both bilaterally and in international and regional associations. The Asian and Pacific Council - ASPAC - which came into being last June at the conference in Seoul, at which I represented Australia, has continued to acquire strength and vitality. Meetings are held in Bangkok of the ambassadors of the member countries, and I expect to attend a ministerial meeting in the second half of this year. The Asian Development Bank is now established. Other regional bodies are at work, and the regional co-operation goes ahead. The Australian Government does not see the development of the region and the improvement of ‘ relations there as something . to be sought through a single organisation or through all the countries achieving identity of policies. Real strength can be gamed from diversity in approach.
There is one country of the ECAFE region which has not in the past had the recognition of the Australian Government: that is the Mongolian People’s Republic, lying between the Soviet Union and China. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1961 and, though there have been informal contacts with Australia in ECAFE and bilaterally, formal recognition of the state has not existed. This has been an anomalous situation, and 1 take this opportunity to inform the House that it no longer exists and that Australia recognises the Mongolian People’s Republic and looks forward to continued contact with its representatives in international bodies.
The world scene as a whole is clearly reflected in the United Nations, which now comprises 122 members and provides the principal point of contact for Australia with many countries where there is no direct Australian diplomatic representation. At the session of the General Assembly in the latter part of last year, African questions dominated proceedings for much of the time, particularly the problems of southern Africa - Rhodesia, South Africa, South West Africa and Portuguese colonies - where a white minority is in each case dominant in a country in which the majority of the people are coloured. The question of apartheid in South Africa has been on the agenda of the General Assembly for many years and was considered once again. But two other questions were more pressing: Rhodesia and South West Africa.
The handling of Rhodesia in the Assembly was greatly influenced by the outcome of the conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London shortly before the General Assembly met. In the three months after that meeting ended, Mr Wilson attempted to reach an agreement with Mr Ian Smith which would have allowed a return to constitutional government in Rhodesia. He did not succeed and, accordingly, in pursuance of what he had said to Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London, Mr Wilson took the question in December to the Security Council, which, at the request of the British Government, determined on some mandatory prohibitions on trade with Rhodesia. Mr Wilson also announced that, now that negotiations had broken down,
Britain would not give independence to Rhodesia until there was majority rule there.
The Australian Government regards the objective in Rhodesia as a government which is responsible to all the people and gives equal rights and opportunities to all regardless of race or colour. The Australian Government wants to see this achieved by peaceful processes and believes a transitional period will be necessary. The Australian Government opposes resort to force. At the time when the Security Council resolution was adopted in December, the Australian Government was already applying nearly all the sanctions that were made mandatory by that resolution. Since then, further measures have been taken by us in order to comply with the resolution.
South West Africa presented another difficult situation. At the General Assembly some members, particularly some of the African states, wanted the United Nations to take over South West Africa and administer it, but that course presented both legal and practical difficulties. In the end, the General Assembly decided that the South African mandate over South West Africa was terminated and that henceforth South West Africa came under the direct responsibility of the United Nations. The Assembly established a special committee to recommend means by which the territory should be administered so as to enable the inhabitants to exercise self-determination and achieve independence.
The General Assembly also, after years of work, adopted some international covenants on human rights, which are now open for signature, ratification and accession. The Commonwealth Government has referred them to State governments for consideration and subsequent consultation, because many of the matters covered in the covenants are of direct concern to the States. In principle, the Australian Government favours the international promotion of human rights throughout the world. In regard to specific international conventions and international action, however, care has to be exercised to ensure that the definition of rights does not in fact limit rights that already exist, and also that possibilities for international interference are not opened up that could limit rather than extend or guarantee the human rights that already exist in Australia.
This leads me to mention a movement in the United Nations aimed at reinterpreting the purposes and principles of the Charter and redefining international law. For example, Communist and certain radical states, not necessarily pursuing identical interests, reinforce one another in an attempt to redefine such concepts as aggression’ and ‘non-intervention’ in a way that would legitimise so-called ‘wars of national liberation’. This interpretation would brand as aggressors those who come to the support of a legitimate government faced with the subversive activities of a people’s front’, support for the latter being regarded as not only legal but a duty under this new ‘law’. Other examples exist of attempts to redefine international law in a way that cuts across hitherto accepted concepts. Some want to ignore parts of the United Nations Charter, acceptance of which is a condition of admission to the United Nations.
The United Nations is not a static body. It changes in many ways, and so do the sorts of international situation with which it has to contend and also the international situation within which it has to work. The possibilities of action by the United Nations change from time to time, and the relative weight of different organs - the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Secretary-General - also vary. In the last few years special problems have arisen because of the large membership of the United Nations, some of whom are very small. Resolutions adopted by a simple majority of the members may carry little weight, and may in fact be an impediment to settlements, if the states directly concerned are not in agreement. This danger is fortunately apparent to many members. For example, at the last session of the General Assembly, though the Soviet Union made some strong attacks on American actions in Vietnam, and though these were replied to, no attempt was made to bring the question of Vietnam formally before the General Assembly. It was tacitly recognised that, at that stage of the Vietnamese conflict, the General Assembly was not in a position to play a useful role and that a General Assembly resolution might have been an impediment to settlement. The interests of the United Nations are served by keeping proposals within the terms of the Charter, and also by not trying to impose on the Organisation burdens Which it cannot bear.
In this statement I will not have time to cover the whole field of economic assistance to developing countries or Australian participation in various international conferences on trade and development. Perhaps an opportunity might bc found to give special attention on a later occasion to this important field of foreign policy. It is only one facet of the very extensive international co-operation that is now taking place throughout the world, both through the specialised agencies of the United Nations and through other international organisations, on a wide range of practical problems. Though we have not yet mastered the basic problems of peace and security the nations of the world are in fact working together for mutual advantage on a wide range of matters touching the daily life and industry of their peoples, and Australia is taking an active and influential part in this work.
In conclusion, I draw attention to the services being performed for Australia by officers of my own department and other Commonwealth departments both at home and abroad in the field of foreign relations and acknowledge personally and with appreciation the care, sense of dedication, knowledge and expertness which I have found in my association with them. I believe that Australia is well served by them. 1 commend this statement to the House both as an account of some of the more recent developments to be noted and perhaps as a basis for a thoughtful and constructive debate on foreign policy. We may differ about issues and about methods but surely we will not differ on the purpose of foreign policy to protect and advance the interests of Australia in the world. Hence we have to test the Tightness of what we say and do, not by asking whether it is of advantage to any person, group, faction, or party or whether it accords with a theory, but whether it is of advantage to the nation.
I present the following paper:
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 28th February 1967. and move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 143).
– When the sitting was suspended, I was referring to the disastrous fires that hit the southern part of Tasmania three weeks ago today. As I have said, one lesson to be learned from the disaster was the advantage of having one radio station - in this case 7HT - on the air as the one authoritative source of information. I can assure honourable senators that the well known, authoritative voices of the announcers of that station did a lot to disseminate news and maintain confidence. I pay tribute also to amateur radio operators who in war and peace do an amazing job. During this disaster they monitored the commercial stations, as did commercial stations on the mainland, and relayed messages regarding the safety or otherwise of people and townships. This news was broadcast to other parts of Australia and even as far as New Zealand. They did marvellous work.
The other lesson we learned three weeks ago tonight in southern Tasmania was that there is need for a well organised, properly known and efficient civil defence system. There should be some organisation to go into action immediately in case of disaster, be it through war, fire, flood or explosion. We did not have such an organisation in Tasmania at the time. I agree with Senator O’Byrne, who spoke on this matter last week. The honourable senator said it was time to stop bickering and take action. I do not know whether the fault lies with the Commonwealth Government or the State Government, but the word ‘bickering’ can be correctly used in this context. The civil defence preparations of all the States should be up to date and widely known. All that should be done in time of disaster should be clearly spelt out for the benefit of all, not simply for a few unknown officials who might have certain responsibilities. That was the lesson taught to us in southern Tasmania.
I emphasise the benefit that accrues to the people from instant action. The state Government in Tasmania took action immediately. It can proclaim its own achievements, but it is right that the Senate should know the role of the Commonwealth
Government in this disaster. Action was taken immediately with the appointment of a Commonwealth Minister, the Minister for Air (Mr Howson), to visit Tasmania and act for and on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. On his report, the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) visited the fire stricken areas. The Prime Minister at the head of any Australian government is a busy man. In this case, the Prime Minister had only just returned from an official visit to New Zealand. He went immediately to Hobart. The Prime Minister saw what had happened. He met the people. He came back to Canberra fully realising that further action was reqtired. So, the Minister for the Army (Mr Malcolm Fraser) came to Tasmania. The defence forces went into helpful action. We were fortunate in this regard. A big Citizen Military Forces camp had just started in an area close to the fire stricken section of the island. The Citizen Military Forces immediately broke camp and went to work.
The Commonwealth involvement in this disaster is very heavy and costly to the Australian taxpayers. This is particularly so with regard to instant relief. I believe that $250,000 was granted for instant relief. Very heavy losses were sustained by the Commonwealth respecting telephone communications. A quick announcement as to what would be done to help the State was made and a rehousing programme was instituted immediately. So, before the embers were cold and, unfortunately, before the known death rate was published, rehabilitation had started. It is well under way. The horizons are clearer now. But problems and hardships will still be suffered, particularly by primary producers. Committees are meeting, however, and action is being taken. The Commonwealth Government and the Tasmanian Government are working in concert for the good of the people. 1 believe that there is a lesson in this tragedy for the other States. They should watch and read about what happens in Tasmania. We in Parliament, should remember this disaster because Tasmania will not be the only State which will be hit by some type of disaster.
The officers of the Department of Social Services and the Repatriation Department were immediately in action as were the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service. Great help was given to people in distress. The Commonwealth will meet a lot of the expense suffered by this State in respect of schools and local government premises. The amount of the funds will not be known until the final figures are in and the completed plan specifying details of rebuilding is known also. The people of Australia and the people of other countries have responded magnificently with many gifts of money. We should remember that when a donation of $2 was given to the relief fund the Commonwealth Government lost almost $1 from income tax revenue because donations to the appeal are allowable deductions for income tax purposes. This is money that the Commonwealth had budgeted to receive. So, the involvement of the Commonwealth and the responsibility of this Parliament in this disaster are heavy.
But we in Tasmania look to the future. Some good will come of this disaster. I believe that quite a deal of prosperity will be injected into the economic life of Hobart - to the retail trades and the housing industry. Motor vehicles and farm equipment that were destroyed by the fire will have to be replaced. Industrial Australia will benefit because of the new materials that will be required, and the additional vehicles that must be manufactured, and transported to and sold in Tasmania. Approximately 750 new houses are built each year in the State. The Tasmanian Government will go ahead with its normal housing programme this year. So it should. But in addition, as a result of the fire, the housing industry, private enterprise, the Commonwealth Department of Housing and the War Service Homes Division will be more fully occupied also in replacing the 1,000-odd houses that have been burnt by the fire. There will be over-full employment in the housing industry and a strain will be placed on the supply of materials. It is to be hoped that rising costs will be prevented.
When this ends in a year or two years time, we shall be in a position where a necessary boom has taken place in an area where alternative employment is not readily available to artisans and specialists as are required in the building industry. I believe that the Commonwealth Government should keep an eye to the future of the building industry in Tasmania. It cannot be expected, nor would I ever ask it, to take action which would continue this boom. But I believe that it has for one specific reason a responsibility to help the boom reduce gradually. The one reason why it has a particular responsibility is that Tasmania, which is an island State, small in size and population, is disadvantaged with respect to the expenditure of Commonwealth funds. Little or no defence money and little or no developmental money are spent in Tasmania. There are very few Commonwealth office buildings in Tasmania outside the Post Office building in Hobart. A good job is done in the Postmaster-General’s Department for the people of Tasmania. Let us take Hobart alone into consideration regarding the boom that will be experienced. The Commonwealth Government has had premises in Hobart on which Commonwealth offices could be built since the 1940s. There is one building within 50 yards of the heart of the business and commercial centre of Hobart that is a slum in anyone’s language. There are buildings that have been redecorated and titivated up over the years as Commonwealth offices. But no money is being injected into the community. No action is being taken to give us Commonwealth offices worthy of the city which is the capital of the State.
I believe that what should be done by the Commonwealth Government now is this: it should start to get to the drawing board stage in planning and by the end of this year it should be ready to put projects before the Public Works Committee so that within eighteen months to two years, estimates having been made, it will be prepared to pour into Tasmania some of the money which rightly ought to be expended by the Commonwealth Government on Commonwealth facilities. I refer not only to the building of Commonwealth offices and buildings for the Postmaster-General’s Department. That Department has the slum-like building in Collins Street. I refer also to the offices of the Repatriation Department which are built of World War 1 timber. I do not believe that private enterprise would be allowed to maintain these offices as offices and have them staffed by as many people as there arc in them in Hobart. This building is a fire trap if ever there was a fire trap. The work of the Department of Social Services in Hobart under a Government like this cannot help but continue to expand. So, the Department of Social Services, the Repatriation Department, the Department of Works and the Treasury should get together, and plan the rebuilding of the offices that are needed. I do not want the Commonwealth to spend one cent that is not required. But as Tasmania has been left out on a limb regarding Commonwealth offices in Hobart since before the time I came into the Senate I believe that now is the time for the Commonwealth to prepare so that the boom can be let down lightly, thereby allowing private enterprise and the building industry to get back gradually to a healthy norm.
The other problem facing the Stale of Tasmania is that we need, in my belief, a new industry. In this respect, 1 consider, the Commonwealth Government must give more serious thought to the matter. Prior to the Federal election - and 1 do not think that this was a fertile time for the matter to be exposed - it was announced that the Commonwealth Government had refused to promise to subsidise a shipbuilding industry at Margate, in Tasmania. Margate, I say without any fear of contradiction, has everything required in connection with the erection of a shipbuilding yard. Many people have looked into the possibility of establishing another yard in Australia. They all agree that Margate has the potential. Although I am not prepared to say straight out that we should have a shipbuilding industry at Margate, I do say definitely that if another shipyard is required and can be successful Margate should have it.
Looking around the world of shipping we see that the P & O Orient company has just placed orders for seven container ships for use on the Australia-Europe run. Where are those ships being built? Six are being built in West Germany. Why? Because the West German Government was prepared to subsidise its dwindling shipbuilding industry to such an extent that no other country, Japan included, could compete when tenders were called by the P & O Orient company. For some reason, the company has given an order for one ship to a British firm. Anyone who has read about the shipbuilding industry in Europe and Australia cannot claim at present that there is a clear case for another shipyard in Australia. However, if the Australian Government were to make a clear cut policy statement in relation to an Australian based overseas shipping line, to the tanker trade and to the Australian coastal trade - I asked for this six months ago but not a word has been said by any authoritative source in the Government - and if it were to say that in the interests of defence and development this country needs its own shipping line, then I believe we would be able to advocate without equivocation (he establishment of another shipbuilding yard in Australia.
In my view, both the Commonwealth Government and the State Government were culpable in relation to the efforts made I-.. Verolme to establish a yard at Margate. 1here is no doubt that Verolme, a reliable and experienced shipbuilding company, went to great pains to prepare all the details for the establishment of a shipbuilding industry in Australia. It assessed the relevant details of industries in and around Hobart which would be part and parcel of a shipbuilding and engineering industry. Much money must have been spent on travel, accommodation and labour in preparing all the information which was gathered. From time to time - one can see the political reasons for this - the State Government issued statements or leaked information to the news media to the effect that the yard could be established.
Back in March of last year Verolme, on the advice of the State Government, asked the Federal Government for the promise of a subsidy on ships it built in Australia. The months went by and nothing was heard. Finally, pressure was brought to bear on the Government for a decision. The decision was given, and it was that a subsidy would not be paid, the reason being that the Government’s policy was founded on a Tariff Board recommendation of some years earlier that the four, I think it was, stipulated shipyards then in operation were the only ones to rate a subsidy. So the Commonwealth Government felt that it had every justification for knocking back Verolme’s request. I do not oppose that, but in fairness to everyone concerned 1 must ask why it took from March to October, which was the eve of a Federal election, to get the decision and why Verolme was being persuaded to go to Western Australia to establish a yard. Just prior to the Commonwealth’s long delayed announcement of its decision to knock back
Verolme’s application representations were made to the company to go to Western Australia.
My Labor friends have been critical of the Federal Government’s policy on foreign investment in Australia but, on the eve of an election, they were prepared to forget their opposition to foreign investment and to encourage the establishment of a new industry in Australia, an industry owned almost completely by one overseas family. Every penny which would have been invested in Australia would have been foreign money. We had a State Labor Government saying to an industry: ‘Get ready. Prepare your plans and then we will go to the Commonwealth Government and ask it to alter its policy.’ There is a lesson to be learned here. Surely the first approach, once Margate was decided upon as a suitable place at which to establish the industry, should have been to the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth Government should have been asked: ‘What is the likelihood of your policy being extended and developed? We want to go on planning but we want to know your policy.’ I believe that would have been the correct procedure, but it was not followed. The position now is that the Commonwealth, since the election, has repeated that it will not pay a subsidy. It has said that the Tariff Board will review the situation and report to the Government, and that the Government then will make up its mind. That may be too late for Margate. Verolme has yards in other parts of the world. It is a busy organisation and I do not think it can be fooled with by governments.
I do not think that the trade unionists employed by Evans Deakin and the other shipyards in Australia would be very happy if a Federal Labor Government said to a company: ‘Go ahead, bring in your foreign money and establish a new modern shipbuilding yard. Build a ship and we will pay the same subsidy as we are paying to the shipyards which were languishing and to whose rescue wc went to keep the men employed.’ I believe that if the greatest salesman in the world went to the moneyed people in Australia in the next three weeks he could not raise one dollar of Australian capital to invest in a proposed shipyard anywhere in this country, even if a subsidy were promised. 1 put my views on this in a nutshell. If there were a proper approach and a proper realisation of present and future requirements of shipbuilding in Australia, if we said that we intended to be in on the development of containers which is now taking place: if the Federal Government were to spell out a clear cut policy on shipbuilding and give private enterprise, which has carried on shipbuilding in this country but which is gradually being edged out or disappointed, a clear undertaking that in the future Australia will have its own overseas merchant fleet and an efficient coastal trade, then 1 think we could get a consortium of Australian companies interested enough to provide 51% of the necessary capital. We then could go to Europe and say: ‘We have 51% of the capital, Australian know-how and an Australian work force. Will you invest your added know-how and 49% of the capital necessary for this great project and help us to start a new, modern shipyard in Australia? This is Government policy. This is what we think of the requirements of the new era of containerisation, the possible redevelopment of the coastal passenger trade and other types of trade including the tanker trade, not only in oils and petrols but also in chemicals.’ 1 believe that a new shipping era could be established in Australia. Without string pulling or favouritism within Cabinet or the departments, with the position laid out clearly before this new company so that it could take its own unfettered choice, I sincerely believe that the choice would be Margate in Tasmania. That choice would bc made because of the natural resources available there. The potential is great. Hobart has the basic side industries that would be enveloped in an overall engineering and shipbuilding yard. I hope that something along this line can be done.
I may be able to introduce this company to the Australian Government, but not until a policy in respect to it is clearcut. It is of no use any Minister saying: ‘Go ahead and in 1968 the Tariff Board will have a look at it’. I will not blame the Government if it refuses to alter its policy because I do not want anywhere in Australia a mushroom shipbuilding industry to arise followed by unemployment such as has been suffered in the shipbuilding yards in Scotland, England and Ireland and, for all I know, throughout the shipbuilding yards of
Europe. We do not want that type of industry if we are sincere. If we were simply trying to make political capital out of it, we would go on pegging for the venture. I am not. I believe the possibilities are there, but I do not know whether we can get the Commonwealth Government to realise its responsibility and to make a decision.
I want now to deal with a new appointment to the Ministry following the general election. I refer to the appointment of the Minister for the Navy and, under the Minister for Trade and Industry, Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities (Mr Chipp), whose duty it is to consider and advise on the development of the tourist industry in Australia. I believe this to be a wise move. Australia has great tourism potential but I believe that in many respects each State will and should have its sovereign power in respect to its tourist industry. However, we have to look at the Commonwealth and a Minister of the Commonwealth Government, co-operating with the States, could, I believe, be of great assistance.
About eighteen months ago in a debate on the Budget I suggested that appointment should be made of a Minister for State Relations. The usefulness of such a portfolio has been clearly indicated by remarks I have made earlier in my speech. When the disastrous fires hit southern Tasmania the Commonwealth Government immediately appointed Mr Howson to liaise with the Tasmanian Government and the relevant instrumentalities, both Federal and State. His ability and quick action have been remarkably good. I believe that if there were within the Ministry a Minister with the responsibility to talk with the Slate governments in respect of any particular problems they might have, and any idea of development in which they felt the Commonwealth could lend a helping hand, or even play a leading part, he could act with great advantage. At present there does not appear to be a Minister other than the Prime Minister who is suitable to approach in this respect.
A channel has been opened in respect to tourism and I believe that it could be very effective. I am a little worried about how effective it will be in helping to develop the fantastically wonderful tourist potential of Tasmania, because, quite frankly, the Tasmanian Labor Government is not really interested in the development of tourism. It is halfhearted. That is not party political talk; it is a known fact throughout the business community of Tasmania that the State Government is not sincerily interested in properly developing the tourist industry.
I do not think all responsibility for tourism should rest on governments. I think private enterprise should play a leading role. .If ideas flow from the new Commonwealth Minister and he can make no headway in getting Tasmania to co-operate with the Other States in respect of tourism, I hope that he will let it be widely known. I support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) 1.9.26]- I want to join with my Leader and previous speakers from this side of the chamber in this debate and to support their remarks, including the complimentary comments that were made in various directions of various people. I want to refer very briefly to some of the points that have been raised by the advisers to the Governor-General. Then, perhaps, by a series of questions, I want to find out on behalf of the Australian people what the Federal Government proposes to do during the currency of this Parliament. The Governor-General referred to the ending of Indonesia’s confrontation of Malaysia and went on to say:
My Government is assisting developing countries by working towards the removal of impediments to their trade . . . Under the planned expansion of the Government’s defence programme, the strengths of the forces will continue to increase. . . .
At this stage I merely wish to refer to these points. I shall enlarge on a number of them later. The Governor-General referred to legislation to govern exploration for oil and natural gas. He also said:
My Government recognises that if desired rates of growth are to be attained without undue restraints or balance of payments difficulties, Australia’s export income must greatly enlarge over the next ten years. To this end, it will intensify its existing programme of export promotion. . . .
The Territories of the Commonwealth continue to advance. My Government is greatly encouraged by the prospects for further expansion of production in the Northern Territory and in Papua and New Guinea. . . .
My Government believes that home ownership is in the interests of both the individual and the community.
These are all important facets of our social structure, but before I make more detailed reference to them I would like to say that I was uninspired by the remarks of Senator Marriott on behalf of the Government. I am sorry that he has now left the chamber. He was having a two-way bet on the shipping industry by endeavouring to obtain additional shipbuilding facilities and by then saying that he supported the Government. I was surprised at his attitude when he appeared to be seeking better conditions lor politicians and then had his own personal shot at me for holding executive and parliamentary positions. If the honourable senator cares to read my speech in Hansard tomorrow he may be reminded that that is not solely the prerogative of the Australian Labor Party. If he cares to study the history of the Australian Liberal Party he will find many prior examples of it. Then Senator Marriott referred to the tourist industry and the appointment of a Minister to control it. Finally he said he thought that private enterprise should play a prominent role in developing the tourist industry. 1 suggest to Senator Marriott that with some exceptions private enterprise is not playing a very important role in the development of the tourist trade in this country.
I wish to refer to the tragic bush fires that occurred in Tasmania a couple of weeks ago. On a recent fairly extensive tour of the area 1 saw almost all of the damage that had been caused by these disastrous fires. I am aware, of course, that people, with the aid of the State Government and with voluntary financial support from other Australian States and other countries, did a great deal to make recovery possible, but it is significant to note that the civil defence organisations seem to have broken down completely. In another place the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) asked a question in these terms:
The Prime Minister replied, in part:
However, in view of what the honourable member has said about experience in the countries named, I shall personally investigate to see whether we can learn from it something that would have useful application to our own needs.
I hope that this is not the last that we shall hear of the request, but I am afraid that this will be the last occasion on which we will hear anything from the Government regarding it. There needs to be proper co-ordination of the civil defence organisations because it is perfectly obvious that in facing a test of the magnitude of the Tasmanian bush fires they just did not live up to expectations. I hope that this matter will be kept in mind by the Government and by the respective State governments in places where disasters of this nature could occur. In my own State of Queensland bush fires cause a tremendous amount of damage each year although there is seldom any loss of life associated with them. Floods, particularly in the northern and western areas, cause a lot of damage. This could happen in any State.
I refer now to two statements that were made by Senator Cotton when he moved that the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech be agreed to. They are to be found on pages 18 and 19 of Hansard of Tuesday, 21st February 1967. 1 refer to them because they are significantly associated with things that 1 shall say later on. Senator Cotton said: ) believe (hat we will see a dynamic period of growth in this country. That is what I would be working for. 1 am sure that the Government is working for it.
We all hope that this is true. Later he said:
The ability of the States and the Commonwealth to work together in solving our problems is of paramount importance. That must always be borne in mind, lt is no good saying on some occasions that the States want too much money. It is no good saying on other occasions that the Commonwealth docs nol do enough in this or that field.
I wish now to proceed to other very important matters. The Australian people want to know what this Government intends to do in building up a stable economy and in maintaining some semblance of full employment. Recently in this chamber I heard the statement made that the unemployment situation at the moment is not serious. According to the latest figures available on this subject, the number of registered unemployed persons is almost 90,000. This is in spite of the fact that a number of school leavers in New South Wales who would normally have been included in these figures have not been included because of a change in the education system.
– There were 12,000.
– I believe that is the figure. I wish to refer to an article which was written by one of the financial writers for the ‘Australian Financial Review’. It appeared on 15th February 1967 and stated:
Employers are rigidly opposed to any increase in the basic wage and their tactics so far suggest that they are equally determined that no decision on the unions’ general margins claim should be handed down this year.
It is all right for the Government to approve of increases in prices; it is all right for support to be given to the action of the Queensland Government recently in removing price control from certain basic commodities; there is never any criticism when profit margins rise; but if it appears that the employee will get an extra 5c or 10c it is said that he is being disloyal or unfaithful to his country. The statement in the ‘Financial Review’ continued:
At the Arbitration Commission level employer applications could well prolong the current Winter margins inquiry.
Following the united front presented to Federal Government by employer organisations in Canberra on Monday -
That is the Monday preceding 15th February:
The National Employers policy committee yesterday attacked the unions basic wage claim of $7.30.
The article continued:
Employers have already lodged an application for the introduction of a total wage, which they want heard with the basic wage claim.
It is perfectly obvious that there has been a strengthening of forces aligned against the ordinary workers, the tradesmen and all those who have to receive an adequate wage in order to be able to meet the requirements of day to day living, lt is equally obvious that this Government proposes solidly to back these organisations in their opposition to the claims. As Australians and as members of the Australian Labor Party, we want to know what the Government proposes to do.
Honourable senators will recall that I referred to the passage in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech which dealt with developments that will take place in this country. We want to know whether during the life of this Parliament the Government proposes to carry out any major national development schemes. I make a particular plea on behalf of Queensland. Does the Government propose to do anything with the Snowy Mountains Authority or does it intend to allow the Authority to disintegrate and its experts to scatter to the four corners of the world? Will the Government give to our State in particular, with its potential for water conservation, Commonwealth money without strings attached for development purposes?
Reference has been made to the sugar industry. What is to happen to this industry which today supports thousands of people? Sugar prices are depressed on the international market and there is a lack of export markets for processed sugar. Quite frankly, the money that the Commonwealth Government made available by way of a loan - and I propose to deal with this matter in more detail later in this sessional period - has in fact not reached the farmers to whom it should have gone. This view was expressed recently at a meeting that was held in north Queensland. The farmers claimed that four-fifths of the money had gone to one set of people, that the other one-fifth had gone in another direction. It was said that the only person who appeared to have derived any benefit from the loan were the millers and the bankers. The farmers who thought that they were to be relieved of their financial obligations until they were able to overcome the problems associated with the present marketing position, and to receive help in feeding, educating and clothing their families and developing their properties, have not received those benefits.
We have had the recent visit of Air ViceMarshal Ky. Is the Government going to bring here Air Vice-Marshal Ky and people of the type who associate with him as a further campaign to popularise its private war in Vietnam? Recently in this chamber Senator Murphy very adequately, I thought, detailed our attitude to the Vietnam war.
Does the Government intend to expand its conscription programme? Does it intend to continue to disrupt the lives of the twentyyearolds of this country? I have received a number of applications for assistance from lads who are in the process of being called up or who have been called up and who have been trying to establish a career for themselves but who, because their civil associations will have been severed for two years, will not be able to establish themselves in civilian life as they otherwise would. Will those who have been wounded and will the dependants of those who have been killed be properly treated during the currency of this Parliament? I recently asked a question on this subject, but the President saved the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) from embarrassment by requesting that that question be placed on the notice paper. If the Minister is interested in his job he ought to have these answers at his fingertips. If there is any need to do any covering up, for heaven’s sake let him come out into the open and say so. The figures that were sought were made available the following day. It was significant that they were published in the daily Press in a comparison with our casualties in Korea.
On behalf of all Australians, I ask the Government whether during the currency of this Parliament it intends to ensure that the road carnage is reduced. I note that quite recently the Government agreed that the introduction of safety belts in motor cars should be made compulsory within a stipulated period. The Government has suddenly seen fit to take this step, which allegedly will save approximately 800 lives a year. But why was such action not taken three or four years ago? Why has the Government refused to agree to the introduction of other safety measures? Is it afraid of the motor industry? Has the motor industry some sway over the policies of this Government? Any safety measure that will save lives or which will save people from being injured and from being put out of production ought to be introduced without fear or favour.
Does the Government intend to do anything during the life of this Parliament to alleviate the conditions of Aboriginals, not only in the Northern Territory but also in other parts of this country, who live in depressed conditions? The Brisbane ‘Telegraph’ has published a statement made by Mr Withnall, the member for Arnhem :n the Northern Territory Legislative Council, to the effect that Aboriginals doing skilled work in a sawmill are getting only $6.90 a week. How anybody can expect human beings who receive a weeky wage of $6.90 or £3. 9s. to rear a family is beyond all comprehension. People whose skins are black are entitled to the same standard of living as are we whose skins are white. I venture to say that the wage I have mentioned is more than double that which is being paid to many Aboriginals.
In the latter months of last year a deputation including Captain Major and Dexter Daniels, who were associated with the North Australian Workers Union, came to Canberra. These men were told by the Minister whom they interviewed that there was nothing wrong with their conditions and that they were merely being stirred up by bad agitators. That was a reference to people of high repute such as Mr Paddy Carroll, the Secretary of the North Australian Workers Union. These people, who are members of the Party to which 1 belong, believe that the Aboriginals should receive a form of justice far ahead of that which allegedly will be given under a court award. Those people who struck in an effort to get better conditions and wages in the pastoral industry ought to be supported by members of the Government as well as every other member of the community. But they will never receive such help.
The advisers to the Governor-General have drawn attention to the state of our export markets. During the life of this Parliament does the Government propose to establish alternative and effective export markets against the long range possibility of Britain entering the European Common Market? As far back as 1959-60 members of the Australian Labor Party in this House and in another place directed attention to the possibility of Britain entering the Common Market and thus terminating a very lucrative market for Australia’s primary products. But we have not seen any real overall plan to obtain alternative markets for our primary products. Time is running out. If efforts are not made to obtain alternative markets, we will be faced with a shortage of markets for beef, sugar, grain, possibly to some degree for wool, and many other primary products.
Does the Government intend to continue to turn this country into a quarry for the benefit of other countries and organisations and firms outside Australia? I refer to the sale of iron ore, oxide, coal at a ridiculous royalty, and many other minerals. Experimental loads of sand from the region of Cape Flattery, which is north of Cooktown, have gone to Japan with a view to determining whether the deposits can be exploited for the manufacture of glass. This Government ought to be looking to the future with a view to our preserving some of these deposits for our children, our children’s children and their children too. If we intend to continue to sell our raw materials in the manner in which we are now selling them, we can look forward to only a quick turnover for the present with no lasting benefits for the people of Australia. The protests that have been voiced by the Labor Party in this place have been echoed in another place by prominent members of the Australian Country Party. I have not heard their colleagues in this place make any reference to the subject.
A few days ago a pamphlet produced anonymously was placed in the boxes of at least some members of this House. The pamphlet pointed out the dangers of continued trade with Japan. It seems that a disgruntled member of the Liberal Party, whilst vaguely approving the policy of the Government, set out to criticise the Government fairly strongly. If honourable senators looked at the pamphlet they would have seen a reference to the build up that is taking place in Japan. We have heard all sorts of catch-cries and threats uttered by supporters of the Government to the effect that we could be invaded by China or attacked by Indonesia. Indeed, if no such threat from any country exists, these people dream up a country that might attack us. It is very significant that nobody has raised the possibility of Japan being the first country to invade Australia. Some of us have very vivid memories of the problems that we had in relation to Japan only twenty years ago. In spite of that, the Government continues to build up a very strong friendship with Japan and to denigrate other countries which possibly have been very friendly to us. If any country has expansionist ideals, that country is Japan. Indonesia has been presented as being a big red bogy. But even the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has said that we have no problems there. He was reported in the New York ‘Times’ some months ago as having said that ‘five hundred thousand or so so-called pro-Corn Indonesians had been bumped off’. I raised this matter on a previous occasion because I thought that it was not very dignified language for a Prime Minister to use. Because no-one in the Government parties disagreed, I assumed that all were in complete agreement with what he said on that occasion. They back him up on all his statements of this nature.
Does this Government during the life of the Parliament intend to do anything about the development of Papua and New Guinea? There are problems associated with the development of the copper mines in the Solomon Islands, in regard to which there has been some concession on the part of the Government. Now the Government seems to be in further trouble. I do not see the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) issuing any forthright statements on how this problem is to be overcome. Is the Government to let the Police Commissioner interfere with the police association in Papua-New Guinea? Is it to continue to allow him to have a free hand in deciding who is to control the trade union associated with the police in the Territory? Does Une Government intend to continue, as appears if the reports are true - and I believe that they are true - to give him the opportunity to transfer people whom he does not like to remote areas so that they will not be associated with trade union organisation? Is the Government to continue to see that depressed conditions remain while some people wax fat on the profits that they are making in Papua and New Guinea at the expense of the local people? This is a very significant thing, because if that sort of attitude is to persist under the present Minister, who apparently is supported by the Government, it will only be a matter Of time before there will be bloodshed in that area. If that does not worry the Government, I suppose it is obvious that this set of circumstances will continue. A debate was started here almost two years ago on the World Bank report on Papua and New
Guinea. Why has not a full scale debate on the problems associated with the Territory been continued in this chamber? Is something likely to be said of which the Government is afraid or does it feel that silence is golden and that this matter ought to be kept under the counter for as long as possible?
We want to know what is to happen with the development of the oil and gas industries of this country and of Queensland in particular. It would appear that there is a very great smell, and it is not a gassy smell, lt smells like a racket going on in regard to the inability of the Government to do anything at all about the development of the gas fields. However, the Labor Premier of South Australia put the pressure on and was able to get some Commonwealth money for the development of the gas industry. Sir Henry Bolte, who is an expert in the field of hanging and also an expert in development his way in Victoria, was able to put the pressure on the Government for some assistance in relation to the development on the gas and oil fields there. In answer to a question some months ago it was stated that there had been no request from the Queensland Country Party-Liberal coalition for assistance in the development of the Queensland gas fields. In terms of commercial quantities this is, I suppose, one of the greatest gasfields that has been located anywhere in this country to date. But apart from a small quantity that is being used in the Roma power house, this gas field has not been exploited in any way. Because of the dullness of the Queensland Government and the fact that the Commonwealth Government has no desire to assist development, the situation will remain as is for the period of this Parliament.
There have been many complaints in recent times regarding postal services in this country. I trust that the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, or someone else on his side of the chamber, will convey to the Postmaster-General that Australians are not satisfied with the postal services in operation today. I have in my possession an envelope that was posted in Townsville on Friday of the week before last and was delivered to me at 3 o’clock last Thursday. I am not blaming the workers in the Post Office, because 1 believe that they are doing their best under most difficult circumstance’s. If a shortage of staff is bringing about these problems, the onus is on the Government to see that postal services and telephone services are maintained, that sufficient capital is made available for development, and that sufficient money is made available for the expansion of staff where such is considered necessary.
What does the Government intend to do in the field of education? So many protests have been heard in recent times in relation to the reduction of money for education that it is too tragic even to think about in a country of this size. We are crying for higher education but we have a Government that is too parsimonious to make sufficient funds available. What does the Government intend to do about all the reports that it has in little pigeon holes - the Vernon report, the Vincent report and the Loder report? One is not game even to ask what is to happen about the Loder report. To a question that was asked today there was not even an answer. To the people of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia the Loder report is a very important document. What is the reason for the secrecy about it? What is contained in it? ls the Government afraid to bring it up and show it to us? Are there some recommendations in it that do not fit in with the aims of big business? It is a very important report and 1 hope that at some time during the life of this Parliament we shall be able to hear something about it.
I have mentioned the Vincent report. The way in which television stations can get away with a content of Australian productions in their programmes below what is required by law is really shameful. Why is the Government not doing something about this? The matter has been raised by members of the Government parties as well as by members of my Party. If one cares to study some of the programmes one sees that the Australian content is so small that if it were not so serious it would be laughable. What does the Government propose to do about housing during the life of the Parliament? Does it intend to make available additional funds? Does it intend to tidy up with legislation, as it promised to do, the rackets associated with housing loans to young people? There are so many borderline cases in which people miss out on the $500 grant. Does the Government know that building contractors - in most instances, at any rate - have already increased their prices so that they may absorb the grant of $500 as additional profit? The Government has a moral responsibility as well as a legal responsibility to see that every young person who desires a home is able to purchase one on reasonable terms. At the moment much higher deposits are expected so that many young couples are placed completely outside the deposit range and have to borrow a certain amount of money on second mortgages, crippling themselves by incurring liability for repayments which are beyond their capacity to make. I know that Government supporters have on many occasions blamed the pill for the declining birthrate. Let them have a good look at their own house. If they make facilities available for young couples to purchase homes they will remove, in many instances, the necessity for wives to go to work in order to supplement the family income. That is the way in which to improve the birthrate of the country. Give the young people a decent standard of living and the opportunity to own homes without having to exploit the services of wives to add to the family income.
What does the Government intend to do during the life of this Parliament about repatriation? ls it to continue to ignore the soldiers of World War I, the few survivors of the Boer War and the many survivors of World War II? Are they to be treated parsimoniously again when the Government brings down the Budget this year? Will the Government refuse to increase pensions not only in this field but also in the social services field - age pensions and invalid pensions - to a level that is consistent with the requirements of today’s social conditions? Does the Government intend to adopt the attitude that it adopted in the Budgets last year and the year before of refusing to provide medical assistance for Boer War diggers and diggers of World War I, the cost of which would not have required a great sum of money? On those occasions some honourable senators opposite said that they supported our proposal in principle and voted for it the first time, but they came running back when the whips were cracked and finally voted against it. We hope that at some time - preferably in the next Budget, but if not then certainly iti the one after that - the Government will adopt a more humane attitude and see that these people receive the treatment to which they are justly entitled.
While there is a war on Government supporters are banging drums, waving flags and saying how delightful it is to see all the young fellows going off to war. I know that some honourable senators opposite took part in the two world wars. Today Government supporters are doing the same thing in respect of the people who are being forced to go to Vietnam and the volunteers who are there in the Australian Regular Army. They are banging drums, rattling cymbals and waving flags. But is the Government looking after these people when they are maimed in battle? Is it looking after the dependants of those who have lost their lives? I venture to say that it is not doing that, adequately or in the manner in which it should be doing it. I hope that that will be rectified during the life of this Parliament.
When will the Government have an inquiry into the air disaster that occurred at Winton last year? I recall that at about the time it happened the responsible Minister made a statement in which he said how dreadful it was that twenty-four people had lost their lives. He said that a full public inquiry would be held. Why can we not find out something about this? Is the Government trying to wear the Australian public down? Is it hoping that members of the public will not fly too often in aircraft? When this inquiry is held and when the coroner has to go into all the gory details there will be a repetition of the sorrow. I know that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) lost a relative in that tragic crash. Why should it be almost six months before the Australian public knows anything at all about the crash? Why cannot these sorts of things be brought out into the open? I realise that there are technical requirements and that certain procedures have to be carried out in detail. But surely to goodness this period of time should not have to elapse before the Government can expose something to public view. 1 am very disturbed about the attitude that is being adopted by this Government and the Press of this country. It is significant that when we had demonstrations against the policies of the American Government in relation to Vietnam the numbers of people present were played down, lt cheers honourable senators opposite to say that the demonstrations were against President Johnson, but they were not and honourable senators opposite know they were not. The same thing also applied when Air Vice-Marshal Ky was here. It is significant that the stage was prepared so that the most favourable publicity was given to the little warmonger from Vietnam. 1 am not blaming the working journalists. I feel sorry for them. They have to write a story and then see it chopped to pieces by subeditors and editors. The Press barons of this country fit in with the thinking of the Government. lt is very disturbing today to see the improper reporting of events that are happening overseas. One can buy newspapers from other countries which report in detail things that we do not see reported at all in Australian newspapers, or if we see them reported the reports are somewhere near the comic strips so that people are not likely to notice them unless they are in the habit of reading the comic strips. So members of the Liberal Party would be likely to pick up those news items. 1 believe that this is a very dangerous development in this country - a so-called democracy. Is it the Government’s desire to see some sort of dictatorship established here in the future? One could be pardoned for believing that that is likely to happen within the foreseeable future.
Members of the Government parties are on top of the world at the moment because they were able to win a few seats from us at the last House of Representatives election. I assure them that the life of the Labor Party has not ebbed because of that. The Labor Party will come back fighting during the next three years and, at the end of that time, will have acquitted itself well and will be showing the Government the way it will go the next time we go before the people. I believe that the matters I have mentioned are important to the people of this country, although I have not necessarily mentioned them in their order of importance. We want to see what this Government will do during the next three years. Will it sit back as it did over the past three years? Will it let the economy of this country continue to run down? Will there be a continuation of the brawls between the coalition parties, which are not leading to strong government at all? 1 hate to think what will happen in Queensland this year in respect of the Senate election. Somebody will be unloaded. It will be Senator Morris, Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin or Senator Heatley. There will be a real scramble for the first two positions on the ballot paper because there is to guarantee that the Government parties will have three senators elected.
– What about your Party in New South Wales?
– The honourable senator made his speech. He spoke like a bishop. It was impossible to listen to him. So 1 suggest that he make his speech at another time. I believe that the matters 1 have mentioned are very important and that we should keep our minds on them. I hope that the Government will do that.
– 1 rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, which was moved by my friend, Senator Cotton, and to associate myself with the expression of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen. The Speech delivered by the Governor-General, Lord Casey, was probably the best speech I have heard delivered in this chamber by a Governor-General. His very clear, cultured and resonant voice was pleasant to listen to. One could hear every word he said. 1 intend to deal with several matters in the Governor-General’s Speech - not necessarily in their order of importance, but in the order in which they appear in the Speech. Before I do that I must make some comments on what the Federal President of the Australian Labor Party, Senator Keeffe, has just said.
He spearheaded his attack on the Government - this shows how devoid he was of any real attack - by questioning the unemployment in this country. I am not sure, but I think the unemployment figure is between 1% and H% of the work force. How can that be considered unemployment when it is a well known fact that in a country with twelve million people and with seasonal work, such as we have in Australia, M% of the work force are unemployed and also, according to Mr Monk, it is desirable to have people who oan do seasonal work and move from fruit picking to shearing and other occupations? Senator Keeffe was pretty devoid of criticism of the Government when the only point on which he could really attack it was unemployment. I mention for his information the fact that in my State of Western Australia today a person who wants to buy white Calsil bricks has to wait between three and four months to get them because the plant that produces them, although it is capable of working three shifts, is working one restricted shift because it just cannot get men to work in the industry. They are just not available.
– We will send over some men. We could send bricklayers, too.
– I am afraid it would be a little costly to bring men over from South Australia, but I thank Senator Cavanagh for his offer. Senator Keeffe eulogised Senator Murphy for the statement that he made in this chamber on Vietnam. But I noticed that Senator Keeffe did not pursue that too far. In fact, as far as I am concerned, that statement was in complete contradiction of what the minority Leader of the Labor Party, Mr Whitlam, said on Saturday night on ‘Four Corners’. I think we will hear more about that, perhaps after tomorrow’s caucus meeting. Time will tell. I will have a little more to say on that matter, at the appropriate point in my speech.
Senator Keeffe went on to make unsupported attacks on some civil servants and business people in New Guinea. He did not do anything to justify the statements that he made. He just made unsupported attacks on these people.
– Then why is the honourable senator answering them? They must have hurt.
– No, they did not; but my job is to answer the unsupported statements that the honourable senator made, to stand him up and to say what he did not tell us.
– Watch your blood pressure.
– I will not suffer from blood pressure. Do not worry about that. Senator Keeffe, the Federal President of the Australian Labor Party, might have been said to suffer from blood pressure when he was talking about the demonstrations against Air Vice-Marshal Ky. I was in Canberra when Air Vice-Marshal Ky was here and I saw the ragtag and bobtail mob that was supposed to constitute a demonstration against him. It came from the Hotel Canberra to Parliament House.
– There were some members of the Liberal Party in it too.
– They were probably the ragtag and bobtail of the Liberal Party, if that is so. The demonstration failed completely. This must have hurt Senator Keeffe greatly because to my knowledge, he was one who advocated that there should be peaceful demonstrations against Air Vice-Marshal Ky. This one fell Hai on its face. Air Vice-Marshal Ky acquitted himself in Australia with dignity, and I am sure his visit did a great deal to relieve the minds of people who were disturbed and perhaps unsettled by our dispatch of troops to Vietnam.
– Was the honourable senator invited to the dinner?
– Yes, 1 was invited, but not as a senator. I was invited as Australian President of the Asian Peoples Anti-Communist League.
– What is that?
– I have told the honourable senator - the Asian Peoples Anti-Communist League, which had its headquarters in Saigon for a number of years. 1 was invited in that capacity.
– The honourable senator should read the report we had tonight from the Minister for External Affairs.
– I have read it and will have some pertinent comments to make on it. The Governor-General referred in his Speech to tourism. I cast my mind back to seven or eight years ago when Senator Nancy Buttfield tried her hardest to get a select committee of the Senate appointed to inquire into tourism. She stepped on the corns of some people and such a committee did not see the light of day. One of the things we wanted then was the appointment of a Minister to take charge of tourism. Senator Marriott touched on this matter. The appointment of a Minister will be of importance in areas where the Commonwealth Government has certain functions which override those of the States in tourist matters. As an instance, I refer to functions in relation to passports and visas.
I was interested to note that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) recently stated that his Department would make a series of trials to facilitate the passage of travellers through customs. This is an excellent move. The Press release stated that the innovation would be confined at first to air travellers but that if it worked well it would later be extended to ship passengers. 1. hope the Minister will watch the arrangement closely and, if it works well with air travellers, immediately extend it to people who arrive by ship.
I pay a tribute to Mr Basil Atkinson, Director of the Australian National Travel Association. When he took over the job the ANTA was virtually an organisation in name only. I do not say that was the fault of the people running it, because their funds were restricted. When Mr Atkinson took over he did a fine public relations job and persuaded the Government to increase the money it was making available to quite a large amount. If my memory serves me correctly, the grant is now about $800,000. The Commonwealth Government, in my opinion, could make even more money available to the Association and so further the work that Mr Atkinson is doing for tourism. The Governor-General, referring to water resources, stated:
Recent drought experience emphasises the importance of water conservation in our programme of national development.
I am in complete agreement with this statement. On many occasions I have stated in the Senate that one thing which will limit Australia’s capacity ultimately will be a shortage of water. Even if we dammed the whole of the water resources in Australia, we would still be short of water. Certainly this might not be in our lifetime but in another sixty to 100 years water will be a factor limiting our development. 1 have also advocated relaundering water, as they are doing in parts of Taiwan successfully and cheaply. We are pouring water into the sea from factories and other industrial plants, and it just disappears, lt could be relaundered at very low cost. 1 read an interesting article about water by Sir John Cockcroft, who will be well known to honourable senators because he was for a period in the Australian National University. He is a man for whom I have great respect and admiration. Sir John, writing of Australia, stated:
Water supplies could be a limitation on the development of the economy; especially water supplies for industrial and agricultural use, since requirements are likely to double in the next twenty years. The future of Asia, Africa and Australia could bc vitally affected by water shortage, and even in some parts of the United Slates, this is becoming a problem. Desalination of brackish and sea water may help in some areas of the world, especially if combined wilh less wasteful methods of using water for agriculture and the development of plant varieties which require less water.
In other words, Sir John Cockcroft was referring to drought resistant plants. He continued:
While actual costs will depend on local site conditions, financing arrangements and fuel costs, present indications are that desalination plants producing about 10 million gallons per day by flash distillation processes associated with power production and using fossil fuel can produce desalinated water at about 13c per metre cube (50c per 1 .000 US gallons).
Of course, this cost is out of proportion, lt is loo high and could not be considered. Sir John continued:
This is coming more into the realm of possibility. In conjunction with desalination there would be produced from the nuclear power plant 1,000 to 1,500 megawatts of electricity at a cost comparable with fuel costs today. Sir John Cockcroft then stated:
So, if water usage per acre can be reduced, there may well be application to agriculture in regions where sunlight is abundant but fresh water scarce.
That applies in Australia very definitely.
– Did he deal with underground water when talking about these limitations?
– No, he did not refer to it specifically in making assessments of water resources but 1 would imagine that a man who had lived in Australia as he has done would take that into consideration. Water is a limiting factor, but it is interesting to note that he commented also on energy that is available in Australia. Senator Keeffe touched on the export of coal. I am not very happy about the export of coal unless we have unlimited quantities. 1 have seen the coal fields in Queensland. I believe the coal we are exporting from these fields is for a specific purpose related to steel production. Referring to energy, Sir John Cockcroft stated:
Energy requirements of the world are likely to double in the next twenty years from about 5,000m tons of coal equavilent lo 10,000m ions of coal equivalent, but we are not likely to be restricted by energy supplies. The proportion of the energy supplied by liquid fuels and natural gas is likely to rise. The oil technologists assure us that the proved reserves of oil and natural gas continue to increase, in spite of the great increases in consumption. The proved coal reserves of the world are over two million million metric tons -
These figures rather confuse me as they probably confuse you, Sir, but from this statement we see that the coal reserves of the world are over two million million metric tons. But we find that this is:
So. although these colossal reserves are present, they really represent only 100 years in respect of what we will be needing by 1980.
– ls it anticipated that there will be more industrialisation in the developing countries?
– Yes, I would think so. India is a classical example. What we are trying to do in countries of Asia today illustrates the point. This is the sort of thing that we will be fostering. We want to increase their capacity for secondary industries and fossil fuel production. Sir John Cockcroft continues:
However, we are now bringing into use a fourth fuel - nuclear fuel.
This is why I. referred to it in respect of water. He continues:
This is becoming competitive with fossil fuels in Britain and the United States for electricity production in reactors of 500/600 megawatts output and above. 1 wish to say something about this in relation to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme in a moment. The quotation continues:
The Central Electricity Generating Boards in Britain have shown that, on the basis of competitive bids for a 1,200 MW. 2 Reactor Power Station at Dungeness to be completed in 1970. electricity -
This is important: . . from this station on base load should be nearly 15% below the cost of electricity from a fo-sil-fuelled station on the same site. Similar statements have been made by the Jersey Power and Light Company in the United States for a 500/600 megawatt power station whose generating costs are likely to be . . . more than competitive with a coal-tired station on their site.
This brings me to the fact, that we need to consider putting in a nuclear power station in conjunction with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme to be used for pump storage during the off-peak periods. The water stored could be used during the peak period in conjunction with the plant. I believe that this is a matter which we should examine.
In his Speech, the Governor-General mentioned the expansion of production in New Guinea. I was there recently. When 1 went up to the Markham Valley I was most impressed with a cattle station there. I wish to pay a tribute to a young man from Queensland, John Robertson, who is running this station. He is the manager; in fact, he is everything. He had six or seven native boys working for him and he had two j ackerroos also when I was there. He moved in and took over some 20,000 acres in the Markham Valley. In a matter of only a couple of years he raised 4,000 prime head of cattle on those 20,000 acres. I saw the cattle. I have no doubt that he is right when he says that given a couple of years he will be running 8,000 to 10,000 head on the area. In any man’s language, this is high capacity running of cattle. John Robertson has done a terrific amount of experimenting in breeding. After using twenty different strains, he finally bred cattle which could stand the intense humidity and also the diseases that were prevalent. I venture to say that if we were looking for some way in which we could help expansion in New Guinea, we should examine the possibilities of the production of beef. I believe that New Guinea could quite well produce all the beef that Australia would need and still have some left over for export.
– These cattle are bred there?
– Yes. This man tried about sixteen or twenty different breeds. Senator Prowse was with me on my trip. If he has not spoken in this debate already he will probably add something to what I have said on this subject.
We would start this medical faculty at the university and supply all the materials and everything else required. We could put the students through their course and take them to the places of opportunity within their own country. We could extend this scheme further regarding engineering and subjects that are being taught in our technical schools today. I think that it would be better to teach the subjects in the countries in which the students live. We would pay for all the teaching done there instead of bringing the students to Australia and accustoming them to our way of life. It must be pretty difficult for overseas students to go back to their respective countries after having lived in Western world conditions for five years. From what I am told, the students do not fit in very well when they return and some almost feel they are outcasts when they resume living among their own people.
– That would be the end of the Colombo Plan.
– No, it would not. I see it in a different light. We would still spend the same amount of money and we would still carry on the same type of work. But instead of transporting students to Australia to our already over-crowded universities and technical schools, we would take the education to them in their own country. Do honourable senators know that in Western Australia the influx of young into the technical schools is such that, if it is decided to open up a school on Monday for registration purposes, young people take a rug and a thermos flask and queue up on the Sunday night in order to ensure that they will be able to enrol. No, I would not do or suggest anything to disrupt the Colombo Plan. I am offering this only as a suggestion to which honourable senators on both sides of the chamber might give attention. We should consider what we are irving to do for the students from overseas and see whether we are going about the matter in the right way.
The other subject to which I wish to refer is dental health. This is not something that I am mentioning because it happens to be in the news at the moment. Some eight years ago I raised it as a matter of urgency. 1 did not coin the phrase - although I think it is an apt one - that we in Australia raise complete and utter dental cripples. At the 1 8th Australian Dental Association Congress in Melbourne recently Dr Harold Hillenbrand, who has been the secretary of the American Dental Association for twentyone years and who is not a man whose opinion is to be discounted lightly, had certain things to say with regard to dental health. A newspaper report of his remarks reads:
Too many governments were ignoring dental disease, hoping it would just go away, the secretary of the American Dental Association (Dr Harold Hillenbrand) said yesterday.
– That is, that the teeth would drop out
– Yes, and that would be the solution. But it is not the solution that I see. For a long while I have been advocating to this Government that dental health should be brought under the medi cal health scheme. 1 know that it cannot be brought in overnight. First of all, we would not have the number of dentists who would be required to operate the scheme. But it could be introduced gradually. The scheme, to begin with, could deal with children from one to five years of age; it is interesting to note that children under one year do require dental attention. As our capacity grew, we could extend the operation of the scheme.
– 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.
– Late last year the Government appointed an Ambassador to Yugoslavia. Many of us felt that that was a forward step and that a natural corollary would be the conclusion of an immigration agreement between Australia and that country similar to those that we have with a number of other European countries, notably Italy and Greece. Over recent weeks I have detected in a number of leaders of the Yugoslav community in Sydney a growing impatience that this has not come about. I know we have an excellent Ambassador in Belgrade and I feel that blame for the delay cannot be placed at his door. This morning the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) announced in another place that the Australian Citizenship Convention would not be held this year, so I feel the time is now opportune for the Commonwealth Government to indicate what stage negotiations have reached in this particular field.
We are aware that there has been a contraction of the large infusion of foreign workers into the West German economy. Some of the foreign workers, including Yugoslavs, will be going back to their homelands. I know that, following certain industrial changes in that country, there is a potential work force to be tapped. There are people who can be absorbed into our basic industries, particularly in those sectors which from time to time require an injection of additional workers. That is the first point I make.
In the absence of an agreement of the kind to which I have referred, we are getting some migrants from displaced persons’ camps in Europe. I make the observation that it is better to get migrants from a country with which we have an immigration agreement than to get them from reception camps where sometimes what I will call, for want of a better term, malcontent minorities give a wrong impression of and create certain misconceptions about the country to which migrants go. On those grounds alone, the sooner this matter is rectified or brought to a concluson the better.
I want to make an interim criticism independent of my broad request. Over the last few weeks I have been informed in very strong terms of the circumstances which prevail when a private migration agreement is reached between individuals from Yugoslavia and the Australian Government, particularly the fact that travel documents are endorsed ‘ship travel only’. I compare these circumstances with those which apply to migrants from other European countries. I know that private charter flights can be arranged to bring people in a group to Australia. Why do not these conditions apply to Yugoslav migrants? ] understand that one British charter company - I think it is Eagle Airways - has already complained to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) about this.
However, I do not believe in leaving a matter in mid-air. I understand that the endorsement in question has something to do with quarantine regulations. I believe the question of foot and mouth disease has been raised. The World Health Organisation should be the yardstick applied in matters of hygiene. I have been informed that foot and mouth disease, which I thought would be a factor, has not been manifest in Yugoslavia for over five years and that the World Health Organisation takes the view that the Australian Government’s attitude is quite unnecessary. 1 would be the last person to attempt to circumvent existing quarantine regulations, but I pose these questions to Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin: ‘Are we to assume that this disease is not manifest in those European countries from which there are charter flights carrying migrants?
What yardstick do we apply? Do we disregard the World Health Organisation?’ I do not want unduly to delay the Senate. I think I have crystallised the issues on which I am hoping to obtain an answer for the Yugoslav community in Sydney.
[10.35] - I think all honourable senators appreciate the interest that Senator Mulvihill has taken in this chamber for some time in the problems of the Yugoslav people. My colleague the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) has supplied me with some facts and figures which I hope will answer some of the honourable senator’s questions. For several years Yugoslavs have been eligible to receive assisted passages to Australia from countries in Western Europe. The majority have applied in Austria and Italy. After arrival in Australia, Yugoslav migrants have been able to sponsor their relatives still living in Yugoslavia for entry into Australia as unassisted migrants. Until 1961-62 less than 2,000 Yugoslav settlers arrived in Australia as unassisted migrants. [ would like to give the figures for the period since that time. In 1961-62 there were 2,151 Yugoslav migrants; in 1962-63 there were 3,023; in 1963-64 there were 3,021; in 1964-65 there were 3,573; and in 1965-66 there were 5,509.
The Australian Embassy was established in Belgrade in the middle of 1966. Until that time the British Embassy and the British consulates in Yugoslavia dealt wilh migration applications on Australia’s behalf. As Senator Mulvihill rightly said, our own Embassy was then established, lt is expected that the accommodation arrangements for the Migration Section of the Australian Embassy in Belgrade will be finalised soon. Then all Australian migration activities will be taken over from the British authorities who, up to this point in time, have been carrying out that work.
Senator Mulvihill referred to a migration agreement with Yugoslavia. There is no migration agreement with Yugoslavia, nor have any proposals for such an agreement been put forward by either the Australian or Yugoslav authorities. It is intended that when the Australian migration activities in Yugoslavia have been taken over completely by the Australian Embassy in Belgrade, this will provide an opportunity for the development of closer migration understandings and relationships with the Yugoslav authorities.
The honourable senator was quite correct in saying that migrants approved for entry into Australia are normally free to choose sea or air travel. The only restriction relates to countries which are recorded by the Australian Department of Health as having foot and mouth disease in their territories. Migrants who come from rural areas in those countries receive visas which restrict them to sea travel to Australia. This restriction applies, as honourable senators are aware, because of the time factor. They are not permitted to travel by air because of the risk of possible introduction of the disease to Australia. Yugoslavia is regarded as a foot and mouth disease area and for that reason the Department of Health has advised the Department of Immigration that Yugoslav migrants should travel by sea. This safeguard is vital to the interests of our primary industries and I am sure that honourable senators will agree that it is indeed very important to Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 February 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670228_senate_26_s33/>.