26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the mounting evidence that Australia is becoming a clearing house in the traffic of narcotics from Asia, does the Minister believe that the detection of drug trafficking offences should continue to be a sideline of the Department of Customs and Excise? Will the Government consider as an urgent measure the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Narcotics similar to that operating in the United States, which not only specialises in the detection of offences but also is charged with limiting the manufacture of narcotics and co-operates with all American States and foreign countries in the suppression of local and international abuses of dangerous drugs?
– The establishment of a new organisation such as the honourable senator has suggested raises a matter of policy and, therefore, is not a proper subject for a question without notice. I think the Australian people as a whole admire the way in which officers of the Department of Customs and Excise have carried out their duties and recognise that the country is indebted to them for the way in which they have performed the very difficult task of stopping this traffic - a traffic which we all abhor. The Department keeps this matter under close review. At this stage I could not agree with the honourable senator’s suggestion that an organisation better than that at present operating could be set up. However, as I have said, this is a matter of policy and one for consideration by the Government.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is it feasible for the Department to advise us in the not too distant future of details of the proposed expenditure on the roads which are to be developed with the aid of the new $49m giant announced yesterday by the Minister for National Development?
– The details of this programme will be worked out in conjunction with the Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia, the States concerned. At this stage, I can give no detailed information bc :cause the avenues of expenditure will be matters for consultation between the Commonwealth and the States. I am sure the Premiers will want to co-ordinate some of their expenditure on roads with this proposed expenditure by the Commonwealth. Co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth is very important, because some of the roads concerned will run into the Northern Territory as well as into Queensland and Western Australia. If the honourable senator is not satisfied with my reply to his question, I suggest that he put the question on the notice paper. If he does so, I will endeavour to obtain further information for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that on the 28th day of February 1967 the Minister for National Development presented to the House of Representatives certain documents, statements and letters concerning the agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Victoria relative to the disposal of natural gas? Are similar documents, statements and letters to be presented to the Senate?
- Mr President, I have no knowledge of the situation to which the honourable senator refers. I will try to obtain for him what information 1 can on the matter.
– I will put my question on the notice paper.
– Very well.
– I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral a question. Is it a fact that the
Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television pointed out in its report that programmes depicting crime, horror and violence have a harmful el:ect on certain children? In view of the fact that commercial television stations adopt an attitude that because it has not been conclusively established that these programmes have harmful effects on all sections of the community, they - the stations - need not be concerned with it, will the Government foster and assist research into the psychological and sociological effects of the present pattern of television programmes so that conclusions may be reached and findings made known?
– Yes, it is a fact that the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television was critical of programmes dealing with crime, violence and horror as they affect young people. The Government already is fostering and assisting research on the sociological effects of television through the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The Government will continue to do so. This research inevitably must be a long term programme. It involves a long range of study. According to the information supplied to me, research has not yet conclusively indicated that programmes dealing with crime and violence have lasting harmful effects on children. But I emphasise that this study is continuing.
– I ask the Minister for Supply: is it a fact that Britain is planning to reduce its contribution to the cost of running the Woomera rocket range and that such cuts could reduce the number of projects undertaken and result in the loss of jobs by technicians and scientists? Would such a situation mean that unless the Commonwealth can match the amount of any such reduction, the future development and operation of the Woomera rocket range would be jeopardised?
– The agreement between the Governments of Australia and Great Britain expires on 30th June of this year. The matter is now being renegotiated with Great Britain. At this stage, I am not in a position to give to the honourable senator further details regarding Woomera. When the agreement is negotiated, I will be able to give him some further information.
– My question is to the Minister for Education and Science. May I mention by way of explanatory comment that a claim has been made and issued by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Institute of Education that Australia is lagging behind in some fields of education. Has the Minister seen this report which says that Australia is behind in respect of the number of students who complete their secondary schooling? If this is so, can the Minister give any reason for these circumstances? If the further assertion in the report that in Australia only 22 per cent of students of school leaving age are still enrolled full time compared with 56 per cent of students in Japan and 70 per cent of students in the United States of America, does the Minister consider that .these percentages have any relevance? In view of the Government’s contribution to education, can the Minister indicate any steps that have been taken in connection with the matter?
– I have not seen the UNESCO report referred to and to my knowledge it has not been seen in this country. As far as I know the honourable senator, when he states that a UNESCO report has made a certain proposition, really means to say that a newspaper in Australia said that a UNESCO report had made a certain proposition. If that suggestion has been made it is clearly untrue. It must be either a misquotation or unlike things have been compared. I think that the UNESCO report last year indicated that in Japan 56 per cent of children who reached the school leaving age continued at secondary school for some time after that period, although they did not necessarily complete secondary schooling. School leaving ages vary in different countries and there appears to be no real basis of comparison.
But if the school leaving age is the age which is being spoken about, as it is suggested, then it is compulsory for children 4o stay at school until they reach that age. 1 would think that in Australia the number doing so would be more than 90 per cent of school children. If the statement refers not to that question but to the question of the completion of secondary education, which is a different matter, then as I say, a comparison would not be accurate. I point out to the honourable senator that some years ago there was an Australian Council of Education and Research report which stated that 23% of children who entered secondary schools in 1959 continued to the conclusion of that secondary schooling in 1963. But this may be quite different from another basis of comparison, and in any event the figure would now be out of date.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise whether the Government is aware of the statement by U Thant, the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, that in his opinion peace talks in Vietnam will follow almost immediately America stops bombing, and that this statement is supported by other world leaders? If the Government is aware of this, what action does it intend to take, or what advice does it intend to convey to our allies, particularly the United States of America? If such action or advice has not been discussed, will the Minister bring this matter to the attention ot the Government with a view to doing something towards attempting to bring peace to Vietnam?
– I am sure the honourable senator is aware that the matter to which he has referred is one of policy and should not be the subject of question and answer in the Senate.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. I refer to the Government’s intention to transfer the Commonwealth Clothing Factory in Victoria from its present site in South Melbourne to a site at Coburg. Can the Minister give an assurance that all factors concerned with the cost of the site, as well as the cost of operation and the benefits which would flow to the State, were considered before a decision was made not to relocate the factory beyond the metropolitan area? Does the Minister agree that if a decision had been made to relocate the factory beyond the metropolitan area it would have demonstrated the Commonwealth’s continuing interest in decentralisation?
– The matter to which the honourable senator refers has been the subject of investigation by two Ministers for Supply. Every aspect has been given very close consideration. In the final analysis, because of the huge staff which is empolyed by this factory and because of difficulties in obtaining in other areas the number of skilled staff required, the decision was made to relocate the factory in Coburg. For more than two years this matter has been th, subject of thorough investigation. For myself, I strongly support the decision that has been made.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I preface the question by reminding the Minister that on 28th February I asked him when the Loder report would be made available to the Parliament. The Minister said that he would endeavour to obtain the information, but no reply has been given. Why has not the report been tabled? Will the Minister use his influence with the Government to have the report made available to the Parliament so that it may be discussed before the end of the sessional period?
– I understand that this matter was discussed in another place only as recently as yesterday. The report which I read indicated that the Government, having considered the Loder report, does not think that it should be made public. I have not received any further information about it. I shall see whether I can obtain additional information for the honourable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the
Minister for Territories. Is it true, as has been reported, that Australian Rules footballs which have been presented to Papua and New Guinea football administrators by several philanthropic and enthusiastic supporters of the Australian national game in Australia are being held in bond by the Papua and New Guinea customs authorities until a duty of 100% is paid on them? The duty is said to be $10 on each football. These footballs are unsolicited gifts. Is it true that rugby and soccer balls are admitted to the Territory free of duty? It so, why is preferential treatment being accorded to the rugby and soccer type balls? Will the Minister have inquiries made about this alleged discrimination?
– I understand (hat (he Territory has its own customs arrangements. I shall certainly make inquiries to see whether what has been suggested is occurring. What puzzles me about the question is the differentiation that has been made between rugby footballs and Australian Rules footballs. I have played both games and I have not seen any difference between the balls used. If the honourable senator will let me know the difference in the measurements of the balls, I shall try to obtain an answer for him.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Education and Science. Now that the Department of Education and Science has been established, have any steps been taken to ensure that the responsibility for primary and secondary education within the Australian Capital Territory will come within the ambit of this Department, or is it intended to continue to allow this important responsibility to remain with the Department of the Interior?
– Inside the Australian Capital Territory the new Department of Education and Science will be responsible for all dealings at all levels with the independent schools. The primary, secondary and sub-tertiary technical areas of education in the Territory are tied in almost inextricably with the New South Wales Department of Education. The curricula are the same and the teachers are supplied by the New South Wales Department of Education. In my opinion, we have not yet reached the stage where the Australian Capital Territory could have a viable Department of Education of its own. That being so, the Department of the Interior will continue to deal with the New South Wales Department of Education as in the past. But the Department of Education and Science, in conjunction with the Department of the Interior, will have the responsibility of suggesting the provision of new facilities in schools in the Territory.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise been drawn to mainland Press reports which imply that poppies grown under licence near Devonport in Tasmania for the production of opium for medical and scientific purposes are at times readily available, in the form of plants growing an the roadside, for collection by passers by? Can any harm come if such poppies are collected in quantity by members of the public? Who is vested with the responsibility of safeguarding the poppies against public collection, if such restraint is desirable?
– I saw the Press article to which the honourable senator referred. 1 have asked my officers to raise the matter with the Tasmanian Government. Clearly, the responsibility in relation to the growth of the poppies lies with the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture in Tasmania. Customs control comes later and is in respect of the manufacture of the drug.
T would have some reservations about the magnitude of the number of poppies that would be available to any person passing by, because to my knowledge there have been discussions with the Tasmanian Government in the past on the question of controls. However, I am sure that, if there has not been adequate control by the Tasmanian Government before, there will be now as a result of this publicity. J can say categorically that the controls exercised by the Department of Customs and Excise in relation to manufacture are very stringent and conform to all the international conventions.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education and Science. Yesterday I asked him for some information on university quotas and the numbers of students excluded from the several Australian universities by reason of the application of quotas. The Minister undertook to obtain some information on quotas in the various faculties. I now ask him whether he is in a position to supply that information.
– I am willing and able to supply the information to the Senate now and give the honourable senator a copy of the document. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate the information in Hansard.
In the Universities of New South Wales, Monash, La Trobe, Queensland, Adelaide, Western Australia and Tasmania the following faculties do not have quotas:
(Question No. 20)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 37)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
In view of the financial difficulties presented to taxpayers in appealing or defending an appeal to the High Court on the decision of a Taxation Board of Review, will the Treasurer give consideration to the Government’s financing defence in appeals to the High Court when such appeals arc made by the Commissioner of Taxation against a decision of a Board of Review.
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The law provides that the costs of taxation appeals shall be at the discretion of the Court. It is customary for a Court to order the unsuccessful party to bear costs. The Treasurer has received representations from other sources that the Crown might bear reasonable costs where the Commissioner of Taxation is successful in an appeal brought by him against the decision of a Board of Review. Those representations are currently under examination.
Debate resumed from 2 March (vide page 266), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the following Address-in-Rcply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:
May It Please Your Excellency:
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.
– Firstly, I want to thank the Government for having given me the privilege of listening to a speech delivered in this place by an Australian-born GovernorGeneral. Now that the conservative parties have appointed an Australian as GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth, I hope they will not search the world again for somebody to fill this high office. I congratulate the two maiden speakers in this debate,
Senators Wilkinson and Poyser, on a very fine job. Honourable senators will have gathered from what they had to say that they will be forces to be reckoned with in the Senate as time goes by. Having said that, I. part company with the Government in respect of the Governor-General’s Speech. The address prepared for the Governor-General by his advisers was the most barren and uninspiring that it has been my misfortune to listen to or to read over a great number of years. 1 want to touch now on something that Senator Lillico had to say. I have never known the honourable senator to rise in this place and not make an attack on the workers and their wages or on the system of arbitration that operates throughout Australia. He did it again on this occasion. I remind the Senate that the system of arbitration was born out of the turmoil of industrial relations before the turn of the century. It was violently opposed by employing interests. In its earlier formative years, it was of considerable benefit to the working class but I think that the pendulum has swung full circle by now and the system of arbitration has become the instrument of the employers. But this is not the only thing that should be attacked, if honourable senators want to raise questions about costs and inflation. There is something very much wrong with the free enterprise system that is practised by this Government. I want to read some passages from a British publication ‘Sunday Citizen’ of 18th December J966 which refer to matters that could well occupy the minds of senators who should not concentrate on one section of the community. The article is very apt in relation to Australia although it refers to American business. We follow America as closely in our free enterprise policy - in fact there is more free enterprise in Australia than there is in America - as we do in foreign affairs. The article commences:
Polybius the Greek historian summarised a nation’s decline in a single sentence. He said: ‘At Carthage nothing which results in profit is regarded as disgraceful’.
That is the abandonment of all business ethics. I remind the Senate that (he Australian free enterprise system is fast approaching this stage. I intend to cite some things very shortly in connection with Australia but I shall read from this article what is thought of the pre-packaging system in America. Anyone who likes to walk through the stores of Australia will see similar things happening. They will see packages described as ‘ giant size family size ‘ and all that sort of thing. Purely deceptive labels are put on packets. There are deceptive packages to attract attention, with no benefit to the consumer at all. In fact, in many cases they represent robbery of the consumer. This is what is said about pre-packaging in America:
In a society whose principle is maximum profit for the longest possible period; in a society of borrow, spend, buy, waste, want; in a society in which the planned obsolescence of a deliberately shoddy product has become a renowned principle, the gates are wide open to chicanery, and it astonishes virtually no-one that a business community ethically so oriented misses no opportunity to filch dollars . . .
I remind honourable senators that we are in a dollar currency age. The article continues: . . from the pockets of the American consumer and taxpayer. Take a simple illustration: the shelves of the supermarket. Just go on a stroll down the aisles. A US Senate Committee headed by Senator Hart has listed these disadvantages in the prepackaging of goods: it deprives the customer of an opportunity to examine the product; it makes price and product comparisons difficult; it makes it virtually impossible for the retailer to guarantee the product on any personal basis; it tends to conceal price increases by encouraging manufacturers to cut weight instead of hiking price, and invites competitive use of non-standard and sometimes deceptive package shapes; it encourages the cut price deals that are often ficticious.
– Does the honourable senator think that packaging is useless?
– I am being critical of some pre-packaging. If the honourable senator could get away from his hillbilly corner for a little while and have a look around the country he would find that these sorts of things are going on. He does not have to go very far from where he is normally resident. I intend to quote instances of pre-packaging in Australian primary industries by the vested interests which the honourable senator represents here. I hope he will take note of them.
I address myself to the weights of canned fruits and vegetables. Apricots sold in tins with a net weight of 1 lb 13 oz have a product weight of 1 lb 14 drams and a liquid weight of 13 oz J 4 drams. This is simply water that we are buying. Bartlett pears in tins with a net weight of 1 lb 13 oz have a product weight of 1 lb 2 oz and a liquid weight of 12 oz 14 drams. Sliced peaches in tins with a net weight of 1 lb 13 oz have a product weight of 1 lb 1 oz 10 drams and a liquid weight of 12 oz 54 drams. Pineapple pieces in tins with a net weight of IS oz have a product weight of 8 oz 134 drams and a liquid weight of 7 oz 4 drams. Strawberries in tins with a net weight of 15 oz have a product weight of 5 oz 10 drams and a liquid weight of 9 oz 94 drams. Red cherries in tins with a net weight of IS oz have a product weight of 8 oz 34 drams and a liquid weight of 7 oz 14 drams. Loganberries in tins with a net weight of 1 lb have a product weight of 6 oz 54 drams and a liquid weight of 10 oz 54 drams. Blackberries in tins with a net weight of 1 lb have a product weight of 8 oz 84 drams and a liquid weight of 8 oz 4 dram. Fruit salad in tins with a net weight of 1 lb has a product weight of 8 oz and a liquid weight of 8 oz 9 drams. Asparagus pieces with a net weight of 104 oz have a product weight of 6 oz 124 drams and a liquid weight of 3 oz 13 drams.
Green beans in tins are produced in the area represented by Senator Lillico. He is always very critical of workers but is never critical of the people who prepare this deceptive material for sale. Green beans with a net weight of 154 oz have a product weight of 9 oz 34 drams and a liquid weight of 6 oz 54 drams. Green peas in tins with a net weight of 71 oz have a product weight of 4 oz 15 drams and a liquid weight of 3 oz 1 dram.
I will not argue that liquid is not required in tins of preserved fruits and vegetables, but when it is found that in most cases the liquid weight represents more than 40% of the net weight, and in some cases over 50%, it is completely deceptive packaging.
– How stupid can you be.
– The honourable senator uttered enough nonsense last night. I think he had better keep quiet today. I urge the Government, in pusuit of its free enterprise policy, to see that free enterprise gives the people a fair go - to see that the people, when they spend their money, get something for it, or at least are given an opportunity to see what they are buying. Then they would not be deceived. Goods could be packed in glass containers, not in tins. With tins, deceptive weights are hidden and the net weights shown on the wrappers are in such small print that they can hardly be seen. The housewife does not have enough time to examine all packages closely when she is trying to do her shopping.
– Would it not be more expensive to use glass?
– I am not concerned with that. I am concerned that people are getting only one-half of what they pay for and I am concerned also that goods are being manufactured in Australia with the express purpose of deteriorating rapidly. In these days one never sees any goods advertised to last a lifetime. They are not designed even to last for the time it takes to pay off the hire purchase debt on them. Honourable senators know this is happening under the free enterprise system. It is time the Government was honest with the people of Australia and did something to protect them.
We on this side of the chamber frequently raise the question of overseas investment in Australia and we are told that overseas capital is encouraged to come here because of our stability of government.
– Hear, hear!
– I thank the honourable senator for his interjection. It is said that stable government encourages overseas investment, and perhaps there is some substance in that contention, but for how much longer will there be stable government in Australia? I invite the attention of honourable senators to the political position in France shortly after the war. There were then seventeen political parties in that country, none of which could command a large enough majority to form a government. Coalitions between parties were formed. We have one in this country.
– It has lasted a long while, too.
– Anything will last while the fruits of office are available.
– Do they have water?
– If the honourable senator looked at a drop of water perhaps he might then know what water was. There were seventeen political parties in France and. none of them was able to form a government. Coalitions were constantly being formed and were constantly breaking down. Governments were lasting only for three, four, five or six months, so General dc Gaulle abolished the Constitution to give France stability.- We see the same kind of thing happening throughout the world. I invite honourable senators to consider the position in Germany today, the position in India - that great democracy in South-East Asia in which this Government pretends to be interested - and the position that is quickly arising in Israel. Most of these things are brought about by a multiplicity of political parties. I warned this Senate against the continued rise of political parties in Australia. In the Senate, four political parties are represented and there are also some independents. All the representatives of three of the political parlies are. for the sake of vested interests, opposed to the Australian Labor Party. But wc must have a look ‘at the number of political parties that endorse candidates for elections. In the future some or all of them may be able to get members into the Senate or another place. If this system continues, we could very shortly in the political sense be in a similar position to the countries that I have mentioned.
– The Australian Labor Party is the only Party that is dropping in strength.
– It is said that in a democracy the people get the Government they deserve. I often wonder whether the people of Australia deserve the Government that they have.
– Of course they do.
– I thank the Minister. It is his interjection, not mine.
– They appreciate it.
– I did not say anything about appreciation. The honourable senator is putting words into his own mouth that he cannot understand. Do not put them into my mouth.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! I do not think the honourable senator needs any assistance in making his speech.
– I wonder whether the Australian people deserve the Government that has been foisted upon them by public relations officers and the mass media of public information. Only the other day, I saw a report in the Press that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) had appointed two highly paid public servants to his staff. One of them was appointed at a salary of $8,500 per annum. I have no objection to the Prime Minister having as much staff as he thinks he requires. I think that the Prime Minister of this country deserves this sort of assistance. But I do not think that he is the only one who deserves this sort of assistance. I think the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) in another place and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Cohen) are entitled to more assistance too. But I do not think that this sort of assistance should be used for the purpose of misleading the people of this country to elect a conservative government. I think it is an indictment of the mass media of public information in Australia that it has only one line of thought, and that it is constantly brainwashing the people to that one line of thought. I ask honourable senators to consider whether in this context this is a democracy, when we have had a Government consisting of two political parties over a period of seventeen years the members of which hate the sight of one another.
– They hate the sight of one another.
– Speak the truth.
– This cannot be denied. One has only to walk around the streets and listen to them. It cannot be denied at all. The members of the Country Party would cut the throats of the members of the Liberal Party without any inducement, and vice versa.
– The honorable senator wants to do away with hanging?
– They would only have to do it in Victoria to be hanged and the same position could arise in South Australia if Tom Playford came back as Premier. But the members of these two political parties, despite their intense hatred of one another, still tend to hang together for the benefits and fruits of office. Factual evidence to support this statement surely exists. The members of hillbilly corner can read newspapers. They know what goes on. If they do not, I remind them that a green ‘how to vote’ card was issued in Western Australia, which created considerable embarrassment for both the Liberal Party and the Country Party. It almost caused a breakdown in the coalition. One highly placed member of the Country Party was put in the position of having to take the blame for the issue of the card. Otherwise, the coalition would have broken down. What a despicable stunt that was. The two parties which make up the coalition try to mislead the Australian people into believing that they are one in their efforts to govern this country in the interests of the people. That means all of the people, not just the section represented by hillbilly corner.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! There is no such place as hillbilly corner.
– We also know of the disputation which occurred between the branches of the Liberal Party and the Country Party in Queensland.
– Healthy competition.
– It was not free enterprise. This disputation in Queensland reached the stage where the Prime Minister had to intervene to save the coalition because a break-up of the coalition would have cost it the fruits of office. Then we have the peculiar position in South Australia and Tasmania where the members of the Country Party are fighting valiantly to establish branches and the members of the Liberal Party, even some in this chamber, are fighting valiantly to keep them out.
– Healthy competition.
– I would rather refer to it as an attempt by one group to fake over and, by the other, to continue the monopoly. In Tasmania the members of the Country Party went to the extent of embracing a man who had left the Liberal Party after a dispute with it and who had formed a separate party. The members of the Country Party hung on to his coat tail hoping to gain some advantage in Tasmania from the name of Lyons.
– You do not hear much of him today.
– Not a thing. His party is like the Country Party; it is nearly defunct. This same thing is happening in South Australia, which is the State from which Senator Mattner comes. The honourable senator and his colleagues would do anything to prevent the formation of a Country Party in that State. Let us consider what happened in the recent election for the House of Representatives. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) was running backwards and forwards across Australia like a yo-yo.
– I thought that a yo-yo went up and down.
– He was probably going up and down, too. Nevertheless, he was running from one side of Australia to the other accusing the members of the Liberal Party of stabbing the Country Party in the back. This is the sort of stability of government which we are told exists in Australia. The advantages that flow to the Country Party from its shaky alliance with the Liberal Party are evident in this Parliament. I make no reference at all to the personality of any member of any party in this Parliament, but I do direct attention to the advantages of being a member of the Country Party. In return for keeping the Liberal Party in government, members of the Country Party demand and get a great number of portfolios. They demand and get a fair share of representation on committees. They demand and get in both Houses the position of Chairman of Committees.
– They cannot be such hillbillies after all.
– The saying is that if you want to get on in Canberra you should join the Country Party. The Country Party has not enough members to go around all the available positions. So every Country Party member gets a job, whether he is qualified or not. I really do not want to attack the qualifications of anyone; I think that everyone here is quite capable of doing the job that he is appointed to. But the fact is that, whether they are qualified or not, because of the arrangement to keep the Liberal Party in office al) the Country Party members must enjoy this advantage. For very many years the Leader of the Australian Country Party has been the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.
– He is an outstanding man.
– For some decades the leaders of the Country Party have been very capable men. But like the rest of us, with every day that passes the leader gets older. Because of the pressure of work, before very long Mr McEwen will have to give up the job that he holds at present. He docs not seem to be as robust as is Sir Robert Menzies.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I suggest that the honourable senator should address his remarks to the Chair. He would be belter off if he did so.
– Very well, Mr Deputy President. I wonder whether the members of the Liberal Party will stand idly by and watch the heir apparent to the leadership of the Country Party, who holds a junior portfolio, become the Deputy Prime Minister. Will they be so subservient to those who hang on to them in order to obtain the fruits of office as to allow a junior Minister to step into the Deputy Prime Ministership of Australia? Does all this point to stability of government? Of course it does not. The Australian Labor Party, particularly in Western Australia, is so concerned about the development of splinter parties in Australia that it has tried, and will continue to try, to ensure that this country is governed as a democracy should be governed under a two-party system. This action on the part of the Australian Labor Party has hurt members of the Country Party. There are some seats in Western Australia that could be controlled by the Australian Labor Party. It hurts members o[ the Country Party so much that in order to gain preferences they are forced to vilify members of the Liberal Party who are supposed to be their colleagues and, in the interests of defeating Liberal candidates, they are forced to woo Australian Labor Party candidates for their second preferences. I have here a pamphlet issued by the Country Party during the recent election campaign.
– Does the pamphlet have an imprint: ‘Issued by the Country Party”?
– It was distributed by Bean and Birrell, the advertising agents for the Country Party in Western Australia. I want honourable senators to understand that this document does not seek votes for the Country Party but tries to take away preferences that the Labor Party has directed towards members of the Liberal Party. It says: ‘Do we have a preference?’ and ‘Has the ALP come to a Holt?’ It asks Labor voters not to elect a member of the Liberal Party. It says:
Crazy Isn’t It?
Either Jack Hallett goes back, or the Labor voters second preferences could easily pack the Liberal candidate’s bags for Canberra!!
This is the stability of government that we hear about! It goes on to say:
Do You Want to Elect a Liberal?
Of course not! Especially in preference to Jack Hallett, a man who for three years has worked tirelessly to protect all industries within this electorate, that assures your continued livelihood and well-being . . . and yet if your second preference goes to the Liberal candidate, a Liberal representing your needs in Canberra could become n self-inflicted reality!!
Do You Have a Preference?
Yes, you do! One that many fine Labor men have fought to preserve. If it is your wish or heritage to vote Labour (I) . . . Do so!
. but use your preference thoughtfully, and don’t be hoodwinked by confused sections of the ALP into assisting a Liberal into Canberra!
Unless That Is What You Want!!
That pamphlet was authorised by R. Green of 81 St Kilda Road, Riverdale, and printed by Dix Print Pty Ltd of 454 Murray Street, Perth. Copies of it were posted out and delivered in the Canning electorate by the home mail service. It is a complete indication of the stability of government that we have and the comradeship that exists between members of the Liberal Party and members of the Country Party! The untruth of that is completely exposed in that one document. I ask whether the people of Australia deserve the Government that they got in the last election.
– Can the honourable senator tell us the result? We are interested in it.
– Yes, the Labor vole was increased.
– In Western Australia the Australian Labor Party’s vote increased by between 3% and 4%.
– How many seats did the honourable senator say the Labor Party won?
– Under the gerrymander we cannot win more than three seats. The Country Party is a party to that gerrymander. I warn the Australian people about this sort of thing. This instability of government could quickly become a reality in Australia if someone is not very careful.
I turn now to the Governor-General’s Speech, in which 1 find the most profound statement that has been made in Australia since the turn of the century. Conservative parties have occupied the treasury bench in this Parliament for fifty of the sixty-seven years since Federation. Yet, only in 1967 does the Government find out that ‘drought experience emphasises the importance of water conservation in our programme of national development*. Kiddies in kindergarten have been saying that for years, but the Government has just found out about it. For years we have told the Government of the necessity for national development and water conservation.
– Where is all this water going?
– Most of it is in the honourable senator’s head.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– The Government did set up the Australian Water Resources Council. I suppose it goes a little further - actually I wonder whether it does - when it says in the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General:
My Government has announced its intention to set up a national resources development programme with the object of increasing water conservation.
So, firstly we find that the Government has just discovered that water is the answer to drought, and now we are to have a water resources development programme. I wonder what that means. If some of my legal friends were here I would ask them to give me a definition of it, because I am unable to unravel it or to find out just what it means. Apparently it is some programme for development. I invite the Senate to direct its attention to the preface in the 1963 Review of Australia’s Water Resources’, which states:
The principal objective of the Water Resources Council is ‘the provision of a comprehensive assessment on a continuing basis of Australia’s water resources and the extension of measurement and research so that future planning can be carried out on a sound and scientific basis’. In addition to the resources of waters in rivers and underground, a comprehensive assessment should take into account precipitation and the various ways in which water is lost, such as by evaporation. A thorough assessment of water resources involves a knowledge of the several purposes for which water is used and the current and future level of demand for water supplies.
Australia’s limited water resources will have considerable influence on the country’s growth and future development. The longer-term objectives of the Council include the definition of areas where water resources offer the greatest potential for population growth and areas where inadequate water resources may require the introduction of special measures to provide opportunities for development.
Is not that planning? Is not that a pro gramme? Yet we are to have another programme. I do not know whether it will be a committee or what it will be. That statement sets out the responsibilities of the Water Resources Council set up by this Government. Yet the Governor-General has told us that we are to have a development programme. Over the years we on the Opposition side have stressed that the population of any country is governed by the available water supplies. Population is what Australia needs most. In view of what I have read from the report on Australian water resources, what further programming is required? There might be some programming of priorities in development, but I do not know whether that function will be imposed on this development programme. I cannot understand what the programme is and we do not know who is going to direct it. I would hope that it would be directed by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. We on the Opposition side want to know when the Government is going to do something other than use the Senate for the exhaustion of hot air. That is all we are getting so far as the development of water resources is concerned.
What Australia needs now, not in the far distant future, is a development authority with an annual budget commensurate with the problems to be solved. Until the Government forms such an authority and gives it some money to spend, we will not develop the nation’s water resources. Droughts are a continuing problem in some parts of Australia. They should be tackled realistically, not just with words. I refer honorable senators to a statement by the late Sir William Spooner when, as Minister for National Development, he informed the Senate that the Government intended to set up a Northern Division within the Department of National Development. He said:
The Northern Development Division will consist of three branches. The first branch will be concerned with developmental proposals. Its task will be to evaluate such proposals, whether they conic from private enterprise or State Governments or emanate from the work of the Division itself. The second branch will bc a policy branch which will deal with big issues rather than specific developmental proposals . . . The third branch will deal with the natural resources of the north. Its task will be to co-ordinate, to examine and to search out ways of identifying and developing the natural resources of the area. That is the framework of the new Division.
Where are we going with the Northern Division, the Australian Water Resources Council and. now, a development programme? Sir William Spooner went on to say: 1 turn to the three branches of the Division. The new projects branch, I suppose, will in the’ nature of things attract the most attention, lt will have a very wide field to cover, lt will consider proposals, whether they come from private industry, from the Stales or from within the Division, relating to water supplies, power conservation, the pastoral industry, the agricultural industry, the mining industry, and other matters affecting the north.
Those were the responsibilities of what, I suppose, could loosely be termed the first branch of the Northern Division. While we on the Opposition side were not satisfied with the formation of a Northern Division, we were happy to think that the conservative government which had practically ruined northern Australia by its policies was at last attempting to do something to develop the north. We would have preferred to see created a Ministry for Northern Development, a special department wilh teeth and not with a director subservient to the Secretary of the Department of National Development. If this were done, we would get somewhere along the path to development. If we accept as sincere the stated intention of the Government to have development programming, it is pertinent to ask what has happened to the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. Has it collapsed since the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) left? We have not heard anything about it since that time. Is this another part of conservative policy that has been forgotten? The history books are full of proposals that the conservative parties put forward from time to time and forgot as quickly as they thought of them. They put the proposals forward only when they considered that they would be of political advantage.
If we turn to the second branch of the Northern Division referred to by Sir William Spooner - the policy branch - we find that this was intended to deal with freights, taxation, amenities, living conditions, markets and unused resources such as timber’. I have extracted those words from Hansard; they are the words that were used by Sir William Spooner. In this context, I address myself to the work of the Division with respect to freights. We find that another committee was set up. The Loder Committee was set up to examine transport costs in northern Australia. That committee presented a report to the Minister for National Development in September 1965, but we have not yet seen it. The former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, said the report would be presented to the Parliament but only yesterday the present Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) said that it was a confidential document. I wonder what the Loder Committee’s report contains. How embarrassing is it to the Government since the Government now wants to say that it is a confidential report?
– Has the honourable senator read the report?
– Not yet, but I hope to do so. I got a copy of the beef roads report, which also was confidential. With a little ingenuity, I might get a copy of this one. Public money is used to enable these committees to make their inquiries. The inquiries are supposed to be for the benefit of the whole of the Australian community and of special benefit to the areas they examine. But the reports become confidential to the Government. This is an absolute disgrace. Surely the Government does not accuse the Committee of being capricious in its report. Surely the Government does not accuse the Committee of making a report on false issues, of being dishonest. Surely if the Government does not do these things the report should be available to the members of this Parliament and to the community as a whole. The late Sir William Spooner had this to say about transport costs when he was referring to the Northern Division:
I have put to the Senate previously the view that transport costs are one of the largest single problems of the north.
Yet this Committee took several months to examine the transport problems of northern Australia, ft prepared and presented a report to the Government, and this Parliament will never know whether or not the Government acts on this report because the report will not be exposed to the view of this Parliament.
In fact, we have heard nothing from this second branch of the Northern Division on the matters that Sir William Spooner said would be referred to it. Certainly nothing has been done in respect of taxation. Zone allowances were supposed to be of benefit to this area but the boundaries which were drawn years ago remain as they were. This Government refuses at any time to reconsider them. On one occasion it increased the allowable deducation but it has not attempted to cure the anomalies that the drawing of lines so often creates. I know of no ‘amenities that have been provided as a result of the creation of the Northern Division. I do know that a school teacher in Darwin advised parents of primary school children not to send their children to a Darwin primary school. If this is one of the amenities created by the Northern Division or this branch of it, it speaks little for the branch. The third branch referred to by Sir William Spooner was never formed. 1 remind the Senate that water is the most precious commodity in this dry continent of our and that 72% of the water resources of Australia are north of the twenty-sixth parallel. South Australia has very little water than can be developed. Victoria, according to the Water Resources Council, has available for development approximately 3 million acre feet and New
South Wales has approximately 20 million acre feet. When we name those quantities we have almost exhausted the available water supplies in south-eastern Australia. Yet hundreds of millions of acre feet of water are going to waste every year in northern Australia. As our population grows, in order to produce the food that will be required by us and food for export to other countries that need it - considering that two-thirds of the world’s population go to bed hungrey every night it is incumbent upon us to produce all of the food that this nation is capable of producing - we shall need water, and that water is in the northern part of Australia.
We have a national duty in international affairs not only in relation to war and subversion. We also have a duty to underdeveloped countries, to under-privileged people, to provide them with the necessaries of life if we possibly can. The riches of this country should not be allowed to lie in idleness in the interests of conservative private enterprise development. This problem of water resources is so important that the Government could well do not with a programming committee but with a developmental authority charged with the responsibility to determine priorities in water development, and to develop water resources in accordance with those priorities. If the Government would sit down and do something of this nature it would be doing something constructive for itself, for the people of Australia, and for the people that will come after us.
Senator WEDGWOOD (Victoria) [12.27J - I desire to be associated with the expressions of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen contained in the motion of Senator Cotton for the adoption of the AddressinReply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General on the occasion of the opening of the Twenty-Sixth Parliament of the Commonwealth. In expressing his thanks to His Excellency, Senator Cotton mentioned the high regard with which His Excellency is held in Australia - and overseas, and the way in which he has always carried out his duties. As a Victorian - and I think this feeling would be shared by all Victorians - I was extremely proud when His Excellency entered the Senate chamber. Both he and Lady Casey have had a long association with our State. They have served it in a number of ways and the people have for them feelings of great affection and respect. They hold a very special place in our affection and I do not think that any better compliment could have been paid to His Excellency than the one by Senator Benn, an Opposition senator, when he said that in his opinion Lord Casey was the best GovernorGeneral that Australia has ever had.
I should like to congratulate the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Harold Holt, on his first year as Prime Minister of Australia. It was a most exacting year but the Prime Minister came through it more firmly established than ever as a political leader of capacity, energy and integrity. He travelled many thousands of miles. He had personal discussions with the leaders of many countries. He received in Australia the President and the VicePresident of the United States of America, the British Minister for Defence and Commonwealth Relations, and the Prime Ministers of Thailand, South Vietnam and New Zealand. He led the Government to an outstanding and overwhelming victory at the elections last year. As a result he enjoys a record majority in the House of Representatives.
As other honourable senators have already said, our sympathy goes out to the people of Tasmania for the loss of life and property they sustained during the devastating bush fires. We know that loss of life and suffering through injuries are beyond compensation, but I hope that every assistance will go to the Tasmanian people to replace what is replaceable and to make more bearable the loss which is irreplaceable.
As a Victorian I would like to mention the maiden speech of Senator Poyser. He referred to migrant hostels, the conditions in them and the proposed increases in tari irs. I wish to deal with some of the points that he raised and at the outset 1 make the very definite statement that all honourable senators, and in fact all true Australians, are deeply appreciative of the great contributions to Australia’s growth that migrants have made. The immigration programme, as we all know, was commenced by a Labor government. Tribute has been paid to it over and over again. The programme and the policies have been continued by Liberal and Country Party governments. Immigration has been always regarded as a bipartisan project of immense importance to Australia, lt has been the aim of all governments and of the Australian people to assist newcomers to become part of the Australian community in as short a time and with as little hardship as possible. In other words, Australia wants migrants. We welcome them wholeheartedly and we wish them every happiness and success. 1 come now to deal with the hostels and the conditions in them. No-one is more appreciative than I am of the difficulties experienced by people in communal living. Fortunately 1 have not had to contend with it. but I am aware of its problems and I am sorry for those people who find great difficulties in it. I think it essential to remember that hostels were never intended to provide permanent or semi-permanent accommodation. Their purpose is and always has been to provide temporary accommodation to allow people to settle into the community. Abount 400,000 people have been provided with transitory accommodation. Most of these persons might not have been able to establish themselves in the community had it not been for the fact that when they came to Australia they were provided with accommodation.
Migrants themselves do not regard hostels as permanent accommodation. This is evidenced by the fact that the present average stay in hostels throughout the Commonwealth is thirty-five weeks. In some places the stay is longer and in others it is shorter. True it is that a very small percentage of people seek to use the hostels for permanent accommodation but the average migrant is anxious to make a home outside a communal settlement and this is what many of them do.
Because of the movement in and out of so many people, the cost of upkeep and the rate of deterioration in this kind of accommodation are very high. Commonwealth Hostels Ltd has a regular programme of pest control in Victoria. The Flick Company treats the hostels monthly for the eradication of pests, rodents, vermin and termites.
– What about the suggestion of one tap being available for many people?
– I was about to say that last year a decision was taken to proceed with the building of two modern hostels in Melbourne and Sydney respectively, at an estimated cost of $8im. I understand that amongst the improved features of these new hostels will be separate toilets, and 1 should imagine there will be provision for better washing facilities. A start was made also with providing modern family quarters in existing hostels in Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland. In other words, the Government and Commonwealth Hostels Ltd are currently engaged on the provision of new modern hostels and the improvement and modernisation of existing ones.
Now I should like to turn to the proposed increase in tariffs. Senator Poyser referred to this as an unjust imposition. I found one of his arguments very hard to understand. He argued that the per head increase in hostel operational costs is 62c at most. Senator Poyser arrived at that figure by the simple expedient of comparing the actual average expenditure of $9.35 per head per week for 1965-66 with an estimated average of $9.97 for 1966-67. However, I would suggest to the honourable senator that an average annual cost per head has nothing to do with revising a tariff. An average figure merely spreads a total figure evenly over a period. When anyone is forced to set a new price for a product or a service, the relevant figures are the new high levels that are expected to continue. If, as the honourable senator has said, the estimated average expenditure for 1966-67 is $9.97 -
– Those are Commonwealth Hostels’ figures, not mine.
– The honourable senator used them, and I thought he would be interested to hear my view on how he arrived at his figure. Let me return to what I was saying, because I believe it is critical. If the estimated expenditure for 1966-67, as the honourable senator has said, is $9.97 per head per week, then the actual per head amount at the beginning of the financial year would have been much lower and the amount at the time the new tariffs were set would have been much higher.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended, I was speaking about migrant hostels in Australia and the proposed increase in tariffs in connection with them. At this point, Sir, I would like to mention a factor th’at must be taken into consideration in the fixation of tariffs in hostels. This is that the board and lodging of migrants at hostels is subsidised heavily by the taxpayer. 1 am not debating the merits or demerits of this fact. But the situation is that the migrant pays 60% of the cost and the Commonwealth Government or the taxpayer, whichever honourable senators prefer, subsidises the other 40%. A further factor to be considered is that costs do not take into consideration either capital or interest and, therefore, the taxpayer is called upon to subsidise these hostels substantially.
I wish to refer more specifically to the increases in tariffs that are due solely to increases in the cost of running the hostels. I wish to give a few examples of the new rates. These rates have been designed so that the burden of them will fall less heavily on the people less able to pay. One example is that of a man with a nominal wage of $32.80, which is the present basic wage, who has a dependent wife and three children two of whom are between the ages of five and ten years and the other between the ages of one and four years. His tariff has been reduced from $24.40 to $21.80. This is a reduction of $2.60 per week. The man with a nominal wage of $37.25 per week with a dependent wife and five children has had his tariff reduced from $26.20 to $24.25, a reduction of $1.95. In addition, a new table of concessional tariffs has been developed. All that people have to do to obtain this concessional tariff is reveal their nominal wage io the hostel manager.
Let me turn now to family tariffs in some age group in relation to the basic wage. These are proportionately less than they were in 1952 and they are certainly much less than they were in 1949. I have in my hand a table which shows the rate of tariff charges since January IS’49. It includes the proposed new tariff for 1967. Later, I will seek the concurrence of honourable senators to have this table incorporated in Hansard. I will quote only two sets of figures from this table at this time. In January 1949 the tariff for an adult was $5.25 a week and the basic wage stood at $11.90. The tariff foi a male proportionate to the basic wage was 44%. In respect of the scale in January 1967 we find that the relative percentage is 36% and it will be 39.6% after the increase is applied.
– What are the relevant figures? How much were board and lodgings, and how much was the basic wage?
– I ask Senator O’Byrne to wait.
– The honourable senator has said that she will give only two secs of figures.
– I found an extremely interesting figure in 1949 when considering the situation of a man with a dependent wife and three children. We find that at that time the percentage of the hostel tariff to the basic wage was 100.84%. In other words, the man with these dependants was asked to pay more than the basic wage.
– What year was this?
– This was in January 1949.
– I am just stating the facts, Senator O’Byrne.
– How could u man live if he had to pay more than 100% of the basic wage in tariff?
– I do not know. The Labor Government fixed the charge. That is all I am saying to the honourable senator. I repeat that in January 1949 under charges fixed by the then Labor Government a man with a dependent wife and three children was asked and required to pay 100.84% of the basic wage as his hostel tariff.
– Even the marines would not believe that.
– I do not know I am just giving these figures to the Senate.
In January 1967, the percentage was reduced to 66.4%. It has been reduced progressively over the years. At this point, Mr President, with the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate this document in Hansard.
Wc find also from an examination of the facts that from 1952 the family tariffs averaged approximately 75% of the then basic wage. The average today is between 60% and 66%. Senator O’Byrne, I listened to you when you were talking. Even when you say something that does not please me, I listen to you.
– I am shocked that the honourable senator would put into Hansard figures that she cannot substantiate. Like Senator Dittmer, I will not cop that.
– I have incorporated the table in Hansard. We will see whether the figures can be substantiated or not. Charges have been made respecting the increase in tariffs. I am quoting these figures to the Senate because the tables indicate what was charged in 1949, what has been charged since, the increases in the basic wage, the relative percentages that were paid by people in those years, and what is paid today.
– The honourable senator has made a very significant point.
– 1 think it is most important.
– Of course it is.
– After all, when people are called upon to pay an increase in charges that is related to an increase in costs, we have to look at the situation and judge the facts as we find them to be. Another significant factor is that since 1952 the tariff rate for the adult male breadwinner has been increased by only 35%. It has been increased by 29% for the non-working wife. At the same time, the basic wage has increased by 52% and substantial increases have taken place in margins. There have been no increases in tariff for non-working wives since 1959 and tariffs for children have not been increased since 1951. I think that I have referred to sufficient figures to indicate that the charges imposed by the Labor Government were higher proportionately than those charged by this Government. I would not have referred to these figures if it had not been for what I consider was a rather intemperate attack, to say the least, on the Government and on Commonwealth Hostels Ltd.
It has been claimed that a working wife is penalised by the increased tariff. Of course, this is not so. There is not a male and a female rate in private hotels and boarding houses. Men and women are charged the same amount. But in hostels the tariff for the working wife is rebated from the adult male tariff of $11.85 to $10.25. The tariff for a non-working dependent wife is further rebated to $7.50. So it is not correct to say that the working wife is penalised. She gets an income which she takes into the home, just as every working wife does, and the concession in allowing an additional rebate for a non-working wife follows the income tax procedure whereby a husband is allowed a concession for his non-working wife. It cannot be said that a working wife is penalised because her husband is not allowed the same taxation concession as is allowed for a non-working wife. To summarise the position, these tariff increases are due only to increased costs. 1 think that Senator Poyser, who is trying to interject, knows in his heart that that is so. Also, migrants are being asked to pay only 60% of the costs and the Commonwealth Government or, as I said before, the taxpayers, are meeting the other 40%. The Commonwealth subsidy to hostels will rise from $4m to $4.5m. In 1965-66, for an average occupancy of 22,156 residents, the expenditure on migrant hostels totalled $10,766,000. In 1966-67, for an expected occupancy of 22,000 residents, it is estimated that the expenditure will be $11,400,000.
I would now like to refer to the health problem that has been mentioned. I believe it would be most unfortunate if the impression were left in the minds of honourable senators and the Australian people, particularly the Victorian people, that the hostels were to be feared on health grounds. The fact is that since their Inception, hostels have never been subject to a serious epidemic of any kind. That is truly remarkable when one considers that it is communal living. That the record is so good is due to the excellent control measures that are adopted at the hostels. I have inquired about this matter and have found that hostels are inspected regularly by officers from the Commonwealth Department of Health. State and municipal health officers are invited regularly to carry out health inspections. It is up to them whether or not they accept the invitation. In Victoria - and I assure Senator Poyser that 1 am as interested in Victoria as anyone else - trained sisters from the State Health Department .provide a regular infant, service and the Department watches for health hazards. The report to which the honourable senator has referred will no doubt be examined by the Commonwealth Department of Health. But as a generalisation, there is no evidence to suggest that health standards in hostels throughout Australia are any different from those that prevail in the community at large.
Finally on the point of hostels 1 want to remind the Senate that practically all of these hostels were acquired or constructed in 1948 when, as every honourable senator will agree, materials and labour were in short supply. They cost $40m. and this Government has spent $18m on their maintenance and improvement. As I said before, two of the less desirable hostels are being replaced by new hostels and the other hostels are being improved. I return to the indisputable fact that when the Labor Government first acquired these hostels it charged much more proportionately for the accommodation than is charged at the present time. I feel that this statement must be made. I sincerely hope that in the interests of migrants whom we wish to attract to this country, criticism of hostels will be constructive and not mischievous.
I want to turn now to an entirely different matter. In his Speech His Excellency made a statement which interested me greatly. He said:
Shortages of skilled labour continue within industry, and my Government has fostered apprenticeships and promoted industrial training schemes in its efforts to overcome these shortages. These efforts will continue.
These shortages have been apparent in Australia for a long time, but to date and by comparison with other countries Australia has not exploited fully the potentiality of ils female work force. This was admitted by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) in a letter forwarded by him to the organisers of the ‘Women al Work’ Conference which was held iti Melbourne last year. Mr Bury stated:
The truth is that we can only achieve maximum potential growth by inducing more and mote women to enter the work force.
On 1st November 1966 the Department of Labour and National Service issued a very interesting paper entitled ‘Notes on Activities in the Labour Field 1950 to 1966’. On page 5 this statement appears:
A significant feature of the labour market in recent years has been the increase in the number of women seeking employment; they now comprise 30% of all wage and salary earners. Particular attention has been paid by the C.E.S. to the opening up of more employment opportunities for women and girls and to breaking down social prejudices which have in the past prevented the best use being made of their skills and abilities.
However, I believe that we are faced with a situation in which the proportion of women in employment is lower than in the United Stales of America, the United Kingdom, France, West Germany, Denmark, Sweden. Switzerland and Canada. From time to time reference is made to the remarkable increase in the proportion of married women in the Australian work force. But the proportion is substantially lower than in the United States, Great Britain and Canada. Last year, Dr Margaret Yates, a British personnel expert who was visiting Australia, said that British industry was begging married women to return to work and was spending a lot of money training and retraining them.
This tends to force one to search for reasons why married women in Australia ure not being attracted and encouraged into the work force as they are in the countries that 1 have mentioned, and why apprenticeship and training opportunities are so limited, ls it because of the affluence of the society in which we live? Or did Professor Haynes, head of the Industrial Arts Department of the University of Sydney, supply the answer when he said:
Contemporary industrial society-
He was referring to Australian industrial society - has not yet developed to a stage at which conditions of work and the work force itself ure so arranged that the dual, career of women is encouraged.
The next question that comes to mind is this: by what means do the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Canada attract and encourage women, particularly married women, into the work force?
During the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply on 16th March I960 - that is seven years ago - I drew attention to the dramatic changes that were taking place in the employment of women in other parts of the world and to the need for Australia to plan for similar development. I described at some length the objects and functions of women’s bureaus that have been working for years in the United States and Canada inside their Departments of Labour. I outlined their work and responsibilities, which were concerned with women in all fields of employment or seeking employment. These covered the girl in her first job, the older woman, the professional woman, and particularly the woman who was both a homemaker and a wage or salary earner. 1 mentioned also the Women’s Consultative Committee in the United Kingdom, which is composed of women with wide and varied public interests who are called upon to advise the Minister on matters of employment policy relating to women.
The Government did not favour setting up a bureau similar to the one in the United States of America, and I saw the reason for the objection. However in 1963 it set up a women’s section within the Planning and Research Branch of the Department of Labour and National Service. Mr Bury has stated that the women’s section operates in exactly the same way as does the Canadian bureau. But I ask this question: does it get the same results? I do not desire for one moment to criticise the work of the women’s section I believe that it has done very good work. But I still believe that it would be a forward move if the Government were to establish a consultative committee with wider functions and more specific responsibilities.
In reply to a question that 1 asked on 24th August last the Minister stated that women’s employment should not be considered in isolation. He said he believed that the setting up of a women’s bureau would separate the employment of women from a consideration of employment as a whole - a step which would work against the interests of women. Surely it has never been suggested that the bureaus in the United States of America and Canada or the Consultative Committee in the United Kingdom have isolated women from the total work force of those countries. From what I said earlier it would appear that they and the work done through them have had just the opposite effect. They have undertaken research of all kinds have channelled the information to the organisations and parties nterested, have provided vocational services, have encouraged the training and retaining of women, have co-ordinated services to make advice available to women undertaking the dual role of career and home and perhaps most importantly of all have sought means to stimulate the women of their countries to recognise that they should make their optimum contribution to the potential growth and development of their nation. I again ask the Minister to give earnest consideration to the suggestions that have been made by me on this occasion and previous occasions.
Before 1 conclude I would like to mention the recent visit of His Royal Highness ;:he Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, for the purpose of conferring with members of the Council and members of the various committees of the Third Commonwealth Study Conference, which will be held in Australia next year. This Conference, under “he leadership of His Royal Highness, will attract to Australia young men and women from thirty Commonwealth countries and will be a means of bringing together a group of people from which the leaders of the future will come. As a member of the Council. I express the hope that the Conference in Australia will be as successful as were the preceding two conferences and that those who are selected to attend and who join in the study tours of Australia will carry back to their own countries the impression of a country that is young in existence, virile in outlook, and mature in the consideration of matters that affect th« Commonwealth and the world as a whole, I join with the mover and seconder of th< motion for the adoption of the Address-in. Reply in expressing thanks to His Excel,lency, the Governor-General, for hil Speech. I support the motion.
– Like other speakers, I congratulate Senator Poyser, the new senator from Victoria, and Senator Wilkinson, the new senator from Western Australia, upon their maiden speeches. One is subjected to considerable nervous strain when one makes a maiden speech. Despite this difficulty, the two new senators acquitted themselves well. Senator Wilkinson’s studied and well thought out speech did him credit. As
Senator Cant said, he is a force to be reckoned with in this chamber. In my time in the Senate I have rarely, if ever, heard a better maiden speech than that of Senator Poyser. In my time here I have never heard a case put so thoroughly for the people who are living in migrant hostels. The case that he put was so telling and had such an effect hal Senator Wright, after congratulating him, said that the allegations that he made justified some reply by a responsible Minister. We have not yet received such a reply. But Senator Wedgwood, who has just resumed her seat and who comes from the same State as Senator Poyser - Victoria - has given a well documented reply. Obviously she has been well briefed on the matter.
The allegations and the reply show the difference between two honourable senators who represent all the electors of Victoria. One, Senator Poyser, made out a case for the people who are forced to live in migrant hostels. The other, Senator Wedgwood, justified the conditions that were described by Senator Poyser. If the Commonwealth is making some efforts to improve the conditions, where is the reply to the details that Senator Poyser gave of bad living conditions in migrant hostels in Victoria? Senator Wedgwood has told us that there is a vermin extermination campaign in the hostels. We have not been told that there is a sparrow shooter - a person who goes around the hostels and shoots the sparrows that flavour the soup during meal times. It is not so much a question of what the percentage increase in the charges is; it is a question of what people should pay to live under the conditions that Senator Poyser described. 1 know very little about the Victorian hostels. But, as Senator Wright said, allegations have been made and they call for some inquiry - not for a statement on what may happen in the future, such as that because of the Government’s concern about this matter it intends to build new hostels, including one at Springvale in Victoria. We need further information about this Springvale hostel. When will it be available for occupation? What will be the cost to the residents of it? I believe that the charges will be dearer than those in the existing hostels. How many will this Springvale hostel accommodate? My information is that it will accommodate up to 1,000 of the 9,000 people who at present are living in hostels in Victoria. Do we accept that as the solution of this problem? Will the conditions of tenancy at the new hostels be like those at the superior hostel in Queensland, where a resident has to sign a contract to vacate the premises within six months?
Is this good enough for our migration scheme? There may not be much sympathy for a person who has established himself in Australia and then, through neglect or because of his ways, is reduced to living in poor conditions. But are we to bring new residents to this country, after making promises of good conditions here, and, before they can establish themselves in our community, put them in hostels that are not satisfactory, according to the statements of residents in hostels? lt is all right for the Department of Labour and National Service or Commonwealth Hostels Ltd to say that the hostels are all right; but the people who have to put up with the conditions in them say definitely that there is no justification for the rentals that they are paying to live in them. 1 have had some experience of the Finsbury hostel in South Australia, which I believe is regarded as one of the best in Australia. At that hostel there are complaints about tedious repetition in the menu. Many of the residents will not eat in the communal dining hall, not because the meals are unwholesome but because of insufficient variety. At times there is a lack of catering for invalid people. This hostel is of the barrack type. lt. is impossible to live in its galvanised iron structures in the South Australian summer. People have to spend most of the night outside of their huts because it is too hot to sleep inside them in summer. There are still open drains running through the hostel. There are still community washrooms and toilets. People have to go down to the end of an avenue of huts to perform their ablutions. At Gepps Cross the conditions were so bad at one time that the position was rectified. Cooking and washing facilities were attached to each hut. But since then the huts of that hostel have been pulled down and the area now has on it brick homes constructed by the Housing Trust. Whilst we think of the money that we are paying to keep migrants in hostels, we do not seem to consider the contribution that migrants make to Australian life and government finances for years after they have been established in Australia. If these people are prepared to leave their homes and come to a new country thousands of miles away, we owe them the elementary rights of a job and a home - not life in a hostel. We should establish them in Australia and then let them go their own way.
The figures given by Senator Wedgwood were very revealing. She compared present day costs with those of 1949. As I have said before in this chamber, I have a liking for figures because they are like bikinis in that what they reveal is interesting but what they conceal is vital. The figures that Senator Wedgwood gave today certainly establish a case on the basis of the basic wage in 1949 and the basic wage at the present time. But there are many other factors. Instead of choosing one basis that suits a particular argument, we should compare the proportion that board and accommodation costs represent of average wages today with the proportion in 1949; that is if a comparison between 1967 and 1949 is fair. The question is: in view of board and accommodation costs in 1967, are the rates charged exorbitant or are rentals exorbitant? It is interesting to note that in the ‘Year Book’, a table headed Weekly Wage Rates: Adult Males, All Groups’ and ‘Weighted Average Minimum Weekly Rates Payable for a Full Week’s Work (Excluding Overtime), as Prescribed in Awards, Determinations and Agreements, and Index Numbers of Wage Rates’ gives a figure of $9.83 for 1939 and a figure of $39.62 for 1964. I do not know what the position is today. Senator Poyser made out a case that calls for an answer. Is it true that sparrows are flying through the dining rooms while people are eating? Are the ablution blocks as Senator Poyser described them? Are other conditions as poor as he said they are, and does the Government plan to rectify the deficiencies?
I live close to the Finsbury migrant hostel and my little girl goes to school with migrant children who live at the hostel. I know that when children’s parties are held in the district, mothers are asked to make in extra cake or to provide extra titbits so that they can be given to the migrant children who live in the hostel. The facilities that are part of Australian family life are not available in the hostels. In a communal dwelling place there is no chance for individuals i:o prepare particular meals or specialties nhat their children like. 1 agree with Senator Wright that in view of the number cf complaints that have been made, Senator Poyser has put a case that deserves a ministerial reply. The Government will be sadly lacking if it does not answer. If what Senator Poyser has said is correct, some remedial action is needed in these hostels to make life better for those who have to live in them.
I congratulate Senator Wright on the outstanding speech that he made on the rights of repatriated servicemen and the need for additional repatriation benefits. Senator Wright made out a strong case. He showed that the Government is failing in its obligations to those who are invalided home from war service. I was pleased to see that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) gave notice of a motion calling for the establishment of a committee to inquire into this matter. If such a committee is to be set up, this should be done soon so that it can make a thorough investigation and report to the Senate before the Budget session in August.
The Governor-General’s Speech on this occasion was one of the poorest ever presented in this Senate. I refer not to His Excellency’s delivery of the Speech - that was exceptionally good - but to its content, which was meagre. The Speech revealed that very little legislation is to come before the Parliament, and most of the legislation referred to was machinery legislation. The only legislative proposals which have been praised by supporters of the Government in this debate are those relating to the attraction of tourists to Australia and those relating to housing. We on this side will readily support any move to advertise Australia and attract tourists, but we will not know whether the proposed legislation is good or bad until it comes before the Senate. Legislation connected with the homes savings grant scheme is to be presented, but I fail to see how supporters of the Government can get any satisfaction from the references to that legislation in the Governor-General’s Speech. It is proposed to liberalise the scheme to cover the increases that have occurred in the cost of land and housing construction since the Government provided a grant of £250 or $500 on savings of £750 under certain conditions. The value of a home on which the grant will be paid will be raised by $1,000 to $15,000, thus permitting payment of a grant on a house of a standard equivalent to that which attracted a grant when the scheme was introduced. The Government has thus recognised the increase in the cost of housing that has occurred in recent years, but people seeking homes would have derived greater benefit if some attempt had been made to peg land prices and construction costs.
The homes savings grant scheme is to be extended so that a grant of $500 will be available to widows with children. How can a woman on a widow’s pension benefit from this proposal when she has to save $1,500 in three years to get the grant? This concession will be merely a gift to wealthy widows. It will not help impoverished widows or those who get a cash settlement because of the death of the husband. I am reminded of a judgment that Mr Justice Murray gave in the South Australian Supreme Court thirty years ago, to the effect that anything received as the result of the death of the breadwinner could be taken into consideration when awarding compensation. The Government might well look into this aspect to ensure that the homes savings grant will not be considered a gift and so relieve wealthy insurance companies of some of their liabilities.
So little legislation is foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s Speech that it is no wonder the Senate will not be sitting next week. This bears on Senator Gair’s sarcastic references to the alleged overworking of members of Parliament. As the Leader of the Opposition said early in the debate, a great many important things need to be done in Australia, but there is no reference to them in the Speech. As he pointed out, we need re-development of our cities, better transport, a national overseas shipping line, better utilisation of water resources and reafforestation, among other things. The Government has no policy on important matters such as water, fuel and the utilisation of mineral resources. We expected to hear something about the future development of Australia but there was very little reference to it in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. One may be forgiven for gaining the impression that a government, with the huge majority that was given to this Government last year, could become arrogant and neglectful of its responsibilities. The Speech itself could be an indication that the Government is not taking the Parliament into its confidence, because this is possibly one of the shortest Speeches we have had and is the one most lacking in information. The attitude of the Prime Minister since the election could well indicate that, drunk with the power that he has achieved with a majority of thirty-nine, and with the support of the electors, he is not as democratically disposed to the Parliament as he was previously. I do not want to make a complaint about the concessions that his family obtains, but has a government without such a majority ever provided VIP transport, including air transport, for the members of a Prime Minister’s family? While the Prime Minister may make some attempts to justify it, I do not think that this action would ever be regarded favourably electorally; it would never have been done before an election but with the Government having such a large majority it has been done afterwards.
Senator Cant has spoken of the Loder report. The Loder Committee was set up by the Parliament and paid out of public funds to advise on one of the important elements in Australia’s development and possibly in Australia’s defence, and we are never to know what is in that report, although the previous Prime Minister said in September 1965 that he would eventually make it available to the Parliament. I do not think it could ever have been suppressed but for the election figures or the frame of mind in which the Government is at present. A government with such a majority has a great responsibility to see that it preserves a democracy that has been carried on for so long. The back benchers of the Government parties have a responsibility. Those twelve additional men who won for the first time seats that were not previously held by this Government cannot retain such seats if the Government loses its popularity in any degree, because their margins were so narrow and must necessarily be narrow in view of the composition of the seats. If those individuals are tumbled, other Government back benchers now holding marginal seats should also be tumbled. So those members, for their own preservation, have a big responsibility to see that the arrogance that appears to have been displayed by the Government since the election is not continued, and that we carry on with a sense of democracy and fair play for the electors.
In the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of 24th February is a report from Mr E. H. Cox on a statement by the Prime Minister. The report reads:
The Federal Government was facing a deficit immeasurably greater than that of all States combined’, the Prime Minister, Mr Holt, said today. The Commonwealth could not afford to surrender payroll tax to the States or any other of the Commonwealth’s existing taxing powers. Mr Holt said the answer to the States’ budgetary difficulties could be in the States developing new forms of taxation. Mr Holt said that he had yet to be persuaded that he would live to see the day when it had no longer become possible to develop new forms of taxation. His statement, at a Press conference, has reinforced speculation that the States may introduce a form of purchasing tax, to be superimposed on the Federal sales tax.
I ask: where would this statement have got the Prime Minister prior to the election? The Government collects income tax and in return has the responsibility to reimburse the States according to their needs. Last year the States complained of lack of finance and expressed the hope that they would get additional grants in 1967. Now the Government is shirking the responsibility to provide finance for the States and tells them to undertake the unpleasant task of imposing additional taxes in order to obtain finance for additional works. The Federal Government has the exclusive right to collect the only tax that can be equitable as between the various sections of the community to provide finance for the administration of the country. The Government will not provide additional finance for the States by increasing income tax or by a readjustment of income tax, but is throwing on the States the responsibility to increase other taxes in order to obtain revenue. In effect, the Government says: we have a majority of thirty-nine now. We are right for three years, and it is difficult to understand how we could be defeated in. three years. You must take the unpleasant and unjust course of imposing sectional taxes on particular’ sections of the community.’ The Federal Government has the ‘ responsibility -to provide finance for
State works and administration as we know them and for developmental works, and it should not shirk that responsibility. If I can, I want to answer the question whether the Government has a mandate to do anything and, if so, a mandate to do what. When the Ministers of State Bill was before this chamber, one of two senators who voted contrary to their consciences, said: While I do not agree with this, it was mentioned in the Prime Minister’s policy speech’ and the other said: ‘While it is against my belief it can be assumed, or it is reasonable to infer, that this is what the Prime Minister was saying in his policy speech.’ Why did the electors return the Government to power? What did they have in mind? Can it be said that it was because the Prime Minister included in his policy a proposal for the appointment of an additional Minister? This was possibly never one of the considerations of electors when deciding how they would vote. I think it is reasonable to say that there was not such a great hostility against the appointment of an additional Minister as to provide a reason for the people to vote against the Government, in view of other considerations. But if we say that there was no hostility to the Government and that the result was an endorsement of all that was in the policy speech, I think that we are fooling ourselves. Whether there was a mandate for anything is worthy of consideration, because the Liberal Party received only 38.9% of the votes and the Country Party received 9.54% of them. This gave the Liberal and Country Parties, the coalition, a total of 48.44%, less than 50% of the votes.
– What was the last figure?
– The combined Liberal and Country Party first preference votes totalled 48.44% at the last Federal election. I am indebted to the research branch of the Parliamentary Library which obtained the figures from the Commonwealth Electoral Office showing percentages of Party votes from September 1946 - the time of the election of the Chifley Government to office - until 1’966, a period of twenty years.
A study of .the voting, figures for the last election .shows that the Labor vote throughout Australia declined by 5.96%. The Country Party’s gain was .82% and the Liberal Party’s gain was 2.43.% So it becomes clear that the electors simply did not want Labor. They did not trust Labor. They voted reluctantly for the Liberal and Country Parties. The Liberal Party gained about 3% and Labor lost almost 6%. The people voted for any candidate who was prepared to stand other than a Labor candidate. The informal vote was the highest for the twenty-year period. It totalled 3.1% and it seems that the people who voted informally preferred to do so rather than vote for the existing Government Parties, the alternative to voting for Labor. I think it was Senator Gair who said that the people voted for the Government Parties because they had no-one else to vote for as an alternative to Labor. We have to make the admission that they were left with no alternative but reluctantly to vote this Government back into office.
I come now to the question of whether the people endorsed the Government’s policy on Vietnam; whether this was the issue that defeated the Labor Party at the last election. Senator Mattner became almost hysterical on this point. He said: ‘You picked the issue. You fought it and you lost it.’ Let us pay some attention to the voting figures to see whether that contention can be supported. Senator Mattner’s opinion may be shared by most honourable senators opposite but I hold a different opinion. I think my opinion is as worthwhile as that of anyone on this side or the opposite side of the chamber. We must attempt to establish the facts to see what actually happened. One of the reasons advanced for the antiLabor vote was Labor’s policy on Vietnam. One reason might have been the image projected by Arthur Calwell. Another reason might have been the over-generous policy speech presented by Labor and the ridicule cast on it by the Government Parties who said that someone would have to pay. I do not know what was the reason.
While there was an anti-Labor vote and the reasons for it seem to have been widely held, they were not deep-seated reasons as one would expect if they were held in opposition to Labor’s Vietnam policy. We concede that in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria the Labor vote dropped by about 4% . In South Australia the Labor vote dropped by about 10%, for reasons I will not fully go into now. I think the main reason for the greater drop in the Labor vote in South Australia was that Labor had been receiving a higher percentage vote in South Australia than in the other States. The South Australian Labor vote had been higher because the South Australian people were sick of a Premier who had held office under a gerrymander when he was not wanted. I think the additional adverse vote in South Australia could be attributed to State politics which do not come into this survey. It is reasonable to say that in the mainland States except Western Australia the Labor vote dropped by about 4% or 5% .
This adverse vote did not occur in Western Australia or Tasmania. Why should a feeling so widely held, if it was held with sufficiently deep conviction as to make traditional Labor people turn away from their organisation, not have an effect in those two States? Just before the election the Government refused to finance further the construction of an additional dam on the Ord River in Western Australia. In the last week of the sessional period a campaign was waged in the Parliament for a shipyard to be built in Tasmania by an overseas shipbuilding firm. That firm was prepared to establish a shipyard in Tasmania.
– Foreign investment.
– Yes. That was the issue that was raised and it received publicity in the Tasmanian Press. The reasons for the anti-Labor vote were not so vital when they came up against a local issue which possibly was important to a section of electors in a particular locality but was not important as a great national issue. In those circumstances people do not follow the trend on the national scene to vote for one particular party but instead vote against the trend. In Western Australia Labor increased its vote and practically held it in Tasmania. So we see that while the adverse Labor vote was for a widely held reason, it was not a vital reason that could not be counterbalanced by a parochial issue.
After the 1963 elections I said that some candidates gained votes although they were surrounded by Labor candidates who all had lost votes. I pointed out on that occasion that the candidates who had increased their majorities were those people who had been accepted as the more militant and more forthright members of the Labor Party. It was therefore easy to claim that had Labor’s policy been more to the left it would have been more successful in 1963. That claim cannot correctly be made in 1966 when again Labor proved to be unpopular and lost votes in the eastern States and South Australia. Some Labor candidates in those States increased their majorities, but they do not share common views. They can be described as left or right of centre and there was no regular pattern.
Among the Labor candidates who increased their majorities is the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). Each Labor candidate around him lost votes. The honourable member for Hunter is one of Labor’s most forceful speakers on Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. He fought the election on that issue. On the night before the election in the chief town in his electorate there appeared blown-up signs depicting atrocities in Vietnam. Not only did he increase his majority but he received 70% of the votes cast. This is possibly a record. The people of the Hunter electorate did not accept Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) - Oxley is a Queensland electorate - toured the States of the Commonwealth at the request of the anti-Vietnam Committee because the Committee knew that he, too, was outspoken on Australia’s involvement. He maintained his majority. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) - Wills is in Victoria - either maintained or increased his majority. He also is one of the main speakers against Australia’s involvement in the war in Vietnam. Where does the suggestion come from that the result of the election was an endorsement of the Government’s policy on Vietnam?
– The member for Batman, whose electorate is next door to the Wills electorate, did very well, too.
– Yes, the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) did very well, and so did the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Andrew Jones), who was unknown before the election, and most anti-Labor members. There was a swing against Labor, but there is no justification for saying that the swing occurred because of Labor’s policy in relation to Vietnam. That can be seen from the cases I have mentioned.
Honourable senators are aware of the history of politics in the Federal sphere but I should like to cite some figures which have been supplied by the Commonwealth Electoral Office. In 1946 the Chifley Labor Government received 48.5% of the first preference votes cast. In 1949, only three years later, we lost 3.46% of those first preference votes and the Menzies Government was returned to office in the enlarged Parliament. The Liberal Party received 38.5% of the first preference votes and returned fifty-five members, the Country Party received 10.61% and returned nineteen members and Labor, which received 45.06%, returned only forty-eight members. This trend of unequal representation based on the first preference votes cast has continued in elections since 1949, because Labor usually has received in the heavily populated industrial areas large majorities which cannot be transferred to the rural areas.
In 1951 Labor increased its proportion of the first preference votes by 1.69% and returned fifty-four members. In 1954, the year of the Petrov royal commission, Labor further increased its vote by 2.67%, achieving the magnificent total of 49.42% of the vo:es cast. This was a higher vote than the Government parties received in 1966, but Labor returned only fifty-nine members as compared with forty-seven Liberal Party members and seventeen Country Party members, with a combined first preference vote of 46.37%. After the defeat of the Chifley Government there was a build up of the Labor vote, despite the Petrov commission gimmick. This proves that the Red smear did not hurt the Labor Party. The Party built up the vote until it received almost 50% of the votes cast in the Commonwealth and became such a danger to the Liberal-Country Party Government that the newspapers started a campaign to get rid of Dr Evatt. The Press set out to destroy Dr Evatt as leader of the party, but he brought it a higher vote than had any other leader in that period of twenty years, higher than the vote that returned Chifley.
Then the Australian Democratic Labor Party was formed to overcome the danger of the Labor Party becoming the government. This reduced Labor’s vote by 5.5%. Labor’s loss was picked up by the DLP. The DLP received 5.2% of the votes and the combined Liberal Party and Country Party vote was reduced by .1%. In the 1958 election Labor lost a further 2.23% of the votes cast and the DLP gained 4.07%. In 1961 Labor increased its vote by 5.07%, to receive 46.76% of the first preference votes cast, and the DLP dropped .66%. In 1963 Labor lost 2.06% and the DLP lost 1.1%. Labor’s vote in the 1966 election was the lowest for twenty years and was possibly as low as it had been at any time since Labor contested Federal elections.
Following the defeat of the Chifley Government in 1949, when our prospects were very low, there was a steady growth in the Labor vote until 1954, when the Press started its campaign against Dr Evatt. This campaign reached its height in the 1958 election, following which Dr Evatt left the Party. In addition, a breakaway party - the Democratic Labor Party - was formed. In accordance with the wishes of the Press, we elected Arthur Calwell to the leadership and Labor increased its vote by 5.07%. In 1961 we came within one seat of winning the election. We then posed such a danger to the Government that the Press decided that Arthur Calwell had to be destroyed, and what an effective campaign was waged. At this point let me mention that the votes dropped by the DLP - they are dropping progressively - do not come to Labor. Labor will not recapture those votes, so we will have to look to another source in the future. But the DLP is not a threat to the Labor Party; it is more of a threat to the Liberal Party.
The campaign against Calwell was so successful that Labor was nearly annihilated in the 1966 election. We cannot deny that. We have now appointed another leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. No one can complain about the Press campaign since this recent appointment. It has been very generous to us. I think perhaps the Press was shocked when it found that its campaign against us gave the Government a majority of thirty-nine. All honourable senators can see the power that the Press has to determine elections. Can we say any longer that we have a democracy in Australia when the Press has such tremendous power and when it uses that power to influence the people of this country in the way I have described?
Mr W. Sprague Holden, Chairman of the Department of Journalism at the Wayne State University, Michigan, United States of America, came to Australia to deliver the 29th Arthur Norman Smith Memorial Lecture in Journalism at the University of Melbourne on 13th September 1966. He gave the history of journalism. Honourable senators will realise that the portion I am about to read is only an extract from his paper. He said:
Over the decades the newspapers won their right to free and uncensored publication, and then, somewhere along the way, a strange and rather incredible change occurred.
It became suddenly clear that readers needed their newspapers at least as much as the proprietors needed subscribers and advertisers - perhaps even more; and for a vital reason. Democracy has been called the most difficult kind of government to maintain because it demands that the people who live under it make their own decisions. They cannot make decisions without facts. In those early days the greatest single source of information had suddenly become the newspaper. Therefore, newspapers became indispensable to democracy; they began to have to perform a very difficult but absolutely basic function. And at that point, perhaps most remarkable of all, the newspaper ceased to be the sole property of its putative owners and became the shared possession of its readers.
This sets out clearly the responsibilities of the newspapers that have won their right to be free and uncensored publications. But if they betray the right that they have won, no longer can they be classed as the exclusive right of the private owner with a responsibility to the readers. If we are to preserve democracy, must not we do something about the power of the Press over the minds of the people of Australia?
Mr Holden goes on to say:
Our forms of government - the Australian and the American - would be in mortal danger without the kind of press each country has. By the same token each time the press wavers from its commitment it erodes and weakens the democratic society it serves. Each time it permits itself to be cheap it cheapens the democratic society. But each time it responds to the challenge of its commitment to defection it adds lustre to itself and strength to the democratic society.
We are the upholders of the democratic society. If we permit the Press to become cheap and to give other than the facts, we are weakening our democracy. This is important to the Government of the Commonwealth. I have given honourable senators figures in relation to Labor’s performance at various elections. I have told of the attacks by the Press on the leadership of the Australian Labor Party. The leadership of the ALP has built up until it has become a challenge to the Government. But then the Press has led to the destruction of the leadership because it has realised that the gimmicks of the Government will not be successful. The system adopted has been the assassination by the Press of those individuals who lead the Labor Party and the destruction of the Party through those same individuals.
– Mr Calwell was destroyed from within his own Party and not by the Press.
- Mr Calwell had problems within his own Party. These were possibly created by the thinking of members of the Party. This thinking was brought about by Press publicity. There was no destruction of Mr Calwell by his own Party members until they followed the line of the Press campaign. Possibly, this will happen to future leaders of the ALP unless we can rectify this attempt to destroy democracy in the way stated in the publication from which I have just read.
Let us see just how far the Press has played this role. On Friday, 25th November 1966, on the eve of the Federal election, an editorial appeared on the front page of the Adelaide ‘News’. This leading article was headed: ‘We must not run out on our allies’ and continued: ‘The Vote and You’. The editorial began:
Twelve vitally important hours tomorrow will decide the political path the nation will follow for the next three years.
Let me now read some pertinent points from this editorial:
And The News believes the answer is clear.
Australia needs a new Government, a new call to greatness. The Holt Government hasn’t stirred anyone to great heights, but it must go back.
There is no choice.
Fortunately, we believe, the majority of Australians will appreciate the terrible consequences which could follow if Mr Calwell took the reins and enforced his Vietnam ideas.
To say the least, it would be bad for Australia; it would be a national disgrace.
Here is a newspaper that has a responsibility to its readers to publish the facts and not to take sides on political issues. It comes out with the definite statement: ‘There is no choice.’ It says that Mr Holt is no good. It says that he has done nothing. But it continues to say that its readers must vote for Mr Holt because they cannot vote for Mr Calwell. Is that not an example of the Press cheapening itself? Is not that newspaper doing exactly this by entering into the field of political advocacy? Is not this newspaper, by so doing, presenting a mortal danger to the democracy that we are encouraged to preserve? Is not the preservation of democracy something that must be encouraged?
I went to some pains to bring to the Senate the figures showing the rise and decline in Labor voting. The Labor Party will gain in the next election because the Press will treat us better. Whether the Australian Labor Party ever becomes the Government and sits on the Government side in this Parliament will not depend on the followers of the Government in office. It will not depend upon the policies of the ALP. It will not depend upon the personalities of the ALP. It will depend solely upon the newspapers which are not on the side of the Labor Party today. Because this is happening, a dictatorship is being created. The position is being created where the Leader of the Government obtains such a large majority that he can become arrogant and simply ride roughshod over parliamentary democracy. I hope that I have raised the thought in the minds of some honourable senators that there should be an inquiry into this matter. Is there an obligation on the Press which it is not fulfilling? If so, should not we do something to see that the Press does fulfil this obligation?
– This Twenty-sixth Parliament has commenced in quite a unique and extraordinary way. In the first instance, it has met following an election which has been held in Australia and in which the Government parties have been returned with one of the largest majorities, but not the largest majority, in our history. The Senate is continuing the debate on the AddressinReply which follows the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General when opening Parliament. I for one am grateful to the honourable senators who have taken up this debate today inasmuch as the debate has restored to my thinking something of the atmosphere of the Speech delivered by His Excellency when opening the Parliament and also the requirements of an Address-in-Reply debate.
I sometimes wonder whether it would not be a better idea for the mechanics of the Parliament and the Government if the Address-in-Reply debate was limited to a few days immediately after the opening of Parliament and before the introduction of other legislation as foreshadowed in the Speech delivered by the Governor-General. Since the opening of Parliament, we have had a number of debates concerning measures which have been far removed from the nature of the debate on the Address-in-Reply. It seemed to me an anticlimax when we resumed the debate on the Address-in-Reply today. But I appreciate the contributions that have brought us back into this situation.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, * notable feature of this new Parliament is the overwhelming majority of Government members who were returned by the people on the 26th November 1966. This was a notable thing in many places but, speaking as I do now, I think it is particularly notable concerning the State of South Australia which I represent. Of the eleven House of Representatives seats that have existed in South Australia for a number of years, six have been held by the Australian Labor Party and five by the Government parties. Today, this situation has been reversed. Eight of these seats are now he’d by the Government and only three are held by the Labor Party. This fact bears considerable significance in the light of the speech that we have just heard from Senator Cavanagh. It needs to be placed on record that the seats of Adelaide, Grey and Kingston have been won by the Government very, very soundly. I am quite certain that these seats will be held by the Government for a continuing period of time.
Senator Cavanagh spent a great deal of his time presenting to the Senate a vast quantity of complicated figures which purported to show, for some reason or other, that the Labor Party might not have lost the election. But it lost the election and it did so verv soundly. Senator Cavanagh traced the figures back through the years to try to indicate that there was something wrong with the election that took place on 26th November. He used these figures State by State to try to put to the Senate that the election was not decided on the Vietnam issue; that it was something to do with Labor administration in South Australia, the Ord River and a variety of other things.
Having mentioned all those matters, Senator Cavanagh made a strong denunciation of the Press. At the conclusion of his speech he blamed the Press for the Labor Party’s defeat, and in South Australia he blamed the front page leader of the the Adelaide ‘News’ on the night before the election. We in South Australia will always remember the leading article in the Adelaide News’ on the night before the election. It is not without significance to mention that the ‘News’ is not always noted for its support of Liberal-Country League policies or politics. Indeed, on more than one occasion it has come out in opposition to the LiberalCountry League’s policies, platforms and performances. It is quite useless, wrong and I suggest almost stupid for anyone to blame the Press or a particular newspaper for an election result, and still more so to blame the Press for what Senator Cavanagh called - I may not be quoting him correctly - the destruction of certain Labor Party leaders.
Surely it is true to say that in the long period in which Sir Robert Menzies headed a political party in this country he was subjected to a great deal of criticism by the Press. He was not destroyed for the reason that the party supported him and he commanded support from the electorate. He was never in danger of being destroyed. Senator Cavanagh’s speech, in which he detailed all the figures line by line, has not convinced me regarding the cause of the Labor Party’s defeat. Rather, it has convinced me that Senator Cavanagh is seeking ways and means in which to confuse the issue so that the people may perhaps lose sight of the real issues on which the election was decided.
As Senator Cavanagh referred to figures, I should like to refer to one or two figures for the record. I turn particularly to South Australia because that is the State to which Senator Cavanagh directed a great deal of his remarks. In 1954 the Liberal-Country League in South Australia secured 46.39% of the votes. In 1955 it secured 48.77%. Moving ahead rather quickly, in 1961 it secured 40.23%; in 1963, 36.11% and in 1966, 54.27%. in 1954 the ALP secured 52.25% of the votes in South Australia; in 1955, 47.40%; in 1958, 47.52%; in 1961, 52.13%; in 1963, 53.15% and in 1966, 40.73%.
I direct attention to the final figures in one or two of the South Australian electorates to which Senator Cavanagh referred. In Kingston, which had been held by Labor almost continuously since its creation, the Liberal-Country League secured 35,041 votes and the ALP secured 26,764 votes. I also direct attention to the division of Hindmarsh which, as everyone who has any South Australian connection knows, is a strongly held Labor area. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) was so confident that he would win that he was absent from the State for a certain period. He told me personally that he had nothing to worry about. The final returns for Hindmarsh indicated that the Liberal-Country League secured 22,355 votes and the ALP 26,096 votes.
I mention these figures to indicate that it is ridiculous to assert that it was anything other than the area of argument which the then Leader of the Opposition chose as the battleground for this election which led to Labor’s defeat. I want to state firmly for the record that while certain opposition to the Labor Party’s policy in South Australia and certain local conditions undoubtedly had some influence on the election result, without any shadow of doubt the Australian people gradually became more and more, aware that if Labor were returned to office troops would be recalled and the whole defence programme would be completely toned down to the point where we could be left, as it were, exposed to an incalculable number of dangers.
Since the election it is apparent that the Labor Party has become aware of this fact. We recall Mr Whitlam’s contribution in the Four Corners’ television programme recently. He expressed a variety of opinions. He tried to cloud the issue by referring to various kinds of aid. He referred to the ANZUS Pact and the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. He tried to cloud the issue by talking in terms of social, economic, political and even cultural factors. When he was pressed concerning the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam he said: They are now committed; there is no question about this.’ There has been considerable public discussion of this matter. This has, indicated that Mr Whitlam has recognised the fact that the election was won and lost on the question of the international situation and Vietnam in particular. I mention this matter because Senator Cavanagh has sought to prove to the country that other factors totally unconnected with this issue influenced the election result.
Having said that, I want to turn to something on which we have more unanimity so far as the Address-in-Reply debate is concerned. I refer to the opening of the Parliament. I associate myself very gladly with, all honourable senators who have supported the motion moved by Senator Cotton for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. Although it is belated in the sessional period and perhaps belated even in my own remarks, as a member of the Senate I very sincerely congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) upon their appointments. I also congratulate the newly elected senators who through their maiden speeches have contributed to this debate. Several honourable senators have referred to the fact that Lord Casey came to us as an Australian-bora Governor-General. They expressed great pleasure at this circumstance. I concur in what they have said. I share their sentiments concerning this very distinguished man. The opening of Parliament always produces its little bit of pomp and ceremony which highlights in the minds of the people and in the Press something of our connection with the mother of parliaments in the United Kingdom. I hope that we will always be able to preserve our connection. I hope that as the years go by we will be able to achieve a blend of pageantry and tradition and realistic interpretation of these things in the Australian context. As His Excellency comes to us in his very distinguished capacity, he represents the person of the Queen and the Crown as a symbol.
I want to suggest in a sentence or two - perhaps there is a little more to it than that - that the office of Governor-General is a very important and distinguished office. It requires a great deal of dedication. devotion, and even just plain hard work. He who occupies the office needs to have many qualities. One of them is a sense of occasion. Another is the ability to say something that will be of encouragement, of value, and of educational benefit to the people. 1 think it was one of the earlier speakers this afternoon who said that when the Governor-General stands to speak he should be heard in very truth by the people. I am quite sure that all who were present at His Excellency’s swearing in some time ago and when he delivered his Speech here just recently will agree that Lord Casey has all these qualities. We trust that he will be able to display them for some time to come. I hope that those who have the important responsibility of recommending appointments to this office will bear all these things in mind so that the office will always have a lustre and will be regarded with respect and affection by the people.
I join with those who express pleasure at the fact that Lord Casey is an Australian. I put it to the Senate that there is something to be said for the appointment to this office of distinguished gentlemen who are not necessarily Australian born but who by reason of the length of their stay in this country and their length of service to it have become closely identified with Australian life. We South Australians derive special pleasure from the fact that his Excellency the Governor of South Australia, Sir Edric Bastyan, will be the Administrator of the Commonwealth in a few weeks time when Lord Casey goes abroad. Sir Edric Bastyan is a very fine Governor indeed. He is now a very fine South Australian.
Attention has been drawn to the Crown by the recent presence in this country of members. of the Royal Family in the persons of Princess Alexandra and her husband, and Prince Philip. His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, has put on record some very useful and pertinent comments. I suggest that he has infused some realism into the constitutional relationship between the -monarchy and Australia, into the relationship between the Crown- and our activities, and into the relationship between the Royal Family and British subjects who live in this country. I think we all Would agree with his assertion that we need to have a head of state - one who is apart from the political pressures of the day’.- I liked his statement that the monarchy was as good ah idea as any other for a head of state, provided it was of value to us. He said he was determined to make the monarchy of value. The purpose of his visit to Australia will certainly contribute to its value. We all appreciated his common sense approach to everything with which he had contact while he was here. Indeed, his approach evoked favourable editorial comment in most newspapers. His Royal Highness, through his comments, has encouraged us to adopt a calm, rational approach to this progressive institution, the monarchy, and has contributed to the wellbeing of our society.
I want to join with those who have spoken during the debate about the Tasmanian bushfire disaster. I was abroad when the disaster occurred and heard references to it on short wave radio broadcasts. I gathered with Australian friends in one or two places to ascertain just what had happened, because it was a major disaster with a heavy loss of life. Those of us who have an affection for our country and our countrymen were deeply concerned. During this debate references have been made to the response of the people generally. Our Tasmanian colleagues have expressed appreciation of the response that has been displayed in all parts of the Commonwealth. I suppose that in the normal course of events Tasmania is as subject to this kind of danger as is any other part of the country. Perhaps because of its rainfall and climatic conditions it is not subject to the danger in quite the same way as are other areas. But in all parts of Australia there is always a likelihood of a national disaster of this kind occurring. It is one of the facts of Australian life that nobody can foresee with certainty that which occurs when we have a combination of the most cruel elements to defeat even the best organised schemes of men.
In addition to the assistance that has been provided for rehabilitation, one of the best responses to this Tasmanian disaster that we can display is to make quite sure that in both country and town areas we are equipped not only to combat fires but also to prevent them. We must, according to our circumstances, support in such ways as are open to us those avenues of research that are being followed in an effort to overcome this grave problem. This is one of the ways in which we can develop a sense of community responsibility. In South Australia there is a Bushfire Research Committee, lt has been claimed that it is the only one in the Commonwealth. However 1 do not think that that is strictly true. 1 have been told that within all manner of agencies and departments in the various States there are groups, committees and organisations whose special task and assignment is to undertake bushfire research.
Mr David Cowell, a .member of the Bushfire Research Committee of South Australia, went to Tasmania quite recently. Upon his return he drew attention to the fact that exactly the same thing could happen tomorrow in South Australia as happened in Tasmania. He was emphasising the fact that there was an acute danger in certain areas of South Australia. His mission, he said, was to seek ways of avoiding a similar loss of life and property if the same set of circumstances occurred in South Australia. After seeing what was left of the homes on the heavily wooded slopes of Mount Wellington, he came to the conclusion that people living in certain wooded areas in the Adelaide Hills were in a region which, to use his words, was designed for disaster. He pointed out - perhaps it is not pointed out with sufficient frequency - that the eucalyptus tends to be regarded in Australia as being a sacred cow. We all are aware of the beauty and great value of the eucalyptus. However, it needs to be emphasised that in certain circumstances, such as those which I am sure existed in Tasmania when this disaster occurred, the eucalyptus becomes highly inflammable and that it presents problems which all the researchers, despite the preventive and combative measures that are adopted, can do nothing about.
I wish to go into a little detail on this matter because in this debate comments have been made to the effect that over the years the Commonwealth and State governments may not have been as vigilant as they might have been in the field of bushfire prevention. Those comments lead me to refer to the fact that certain movements are well and truly under way in this urgent national matter. I refer to the Australian National Bushfire Conference, which was held in Adelaide towards the end of last year. It was held there because it was, sponsored by the Committee that I men- tioned a few minutes ago - the South Australian Bushfire Research Committee, of which Dr Melville of the Waite Institute in Adelaide is chairman.
On the eve of that Conference Dr Melville, speaking to the representative of a South Australian journal, said that its purpose was simply to arrange for the sheer exchange of ideas, as he put it - I heard him say that - in the hope that perhaps every two years a similar conference might be held. It was recognised that, as I said earlier, many departments have divisions concerned with this matter. But the Conference in Adelaide brought together a group of people, including rep-r ^esentatives from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the South Australian Woods and Forests Department, the New South Wales Forestry Commission, the Forestry and Timber Bureau here in Canberra and the South Australian sections of groups concerned with this matter - fire fighting organisations and similar grours of people. So there was a complete coverage of the scientific, theoretical and practical sides of this urgent matter.
After the Conference Dr Melville described it as a complete success. It arranged for the regular distribution of research information. It sought to establish, co-operation between the Commonwealth, the States and private enterprises leading to, a comprehensive and integrated programme. It looked into a wide range of research projects. There was an appreciation of existing gaps in certain areas of study. There were further studies of the effects of fire on different types of vegetation, fire behaviour, fire causes and, of course, meteorological aspects and protection measures.
This does not extinguish or prevent fires: but at least it alerts a wide Tange of people. The South Australian Committee has claimed that since the Conference and, the disaster in Tasmania there has been a greater awareness on the part of the community with which it is in contact. Literature and advice have been sought because people have become alerted to this danger, in our community. Perhaps this is not of much comfort to people who have suffered :in the way that our unfortunate friends in
Tasmania have. In our community processes tend to be slow. They speed up only when some danger or crisis occurs. But I believe, it needs to be said that government agencies and associations have been moving in this matter and are continuing with the process of educating the people and spreading knowledge in relation to the prevention and handling of such a major disaster as the, Tasmanian bushfires. Yesterday the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn),: in referring to the forthcoming meeting of, the Australian Forestry Council, said that( one of the items for discussion will be improved fire protection in the native forests of Australia.
His Excellency, later in his Speech, referred to the diplomatic missions of our country, and to the ‘steady growth in the range of countries in which we have diplomatic missions’. This is a new subject for me to talk about. As I mentioned earlier in my remarks, I made a short private visit overseas during the last recess. Any honourable senators who have been overseas will have had the same contact with diplomatic missions, ambassadors, consular officials and high commissioners as I had. When one does this for the first time, without having been involved in external affairs before, it opens up an interesting field of Australian activity and one becomes appreciative of the importance of this aspect of Australian governmental work. I was particularly appreciative of this, and I propose to devote a minute or two of my contribution to this debate to this matter. I pay my tribute to Our ambassadors and others who represent us, sometimes under considerable difficulties. I wish we could improve their lot more quickly than we seem to be able to do.
This section of our Department of External Affairs has grown enormously in comparatively recent years. The year 1935 may be thirty-two years ago, but in the course of history that is not a very long time. In that year Australia had no overseas posts. Today we have overseas twenty-nine or thirty ambassadors, thirteen high commissioners and fourteen other missions, consular and military posts and related agencies. Those figures take no account of the Department of Immigration, the Department of Trade and Industry or any of the other departments that have officers abroad. From the diplomatic point of view we have missions of one kind or another in fifty-six places. From my own observations in certain places, I believe that these people carry a major responsibility. Amongst other things, they are required to convey to the country to which they are appointed the politics and viewpoints of the Australian Government and to advise the Australian Government of the politics and viewpoints of the country in which they are stationed. They must do that before they start to look after any Australians who may be passing through. It is a constant round.
I have been interested in where the people who are appointed to these situations come from and the kinds of people for whom the Department of External Affairs looks. So I was interested to read in the May 1965 issue of ‘Current Notes on International Affairs’ an article on our diplomatic service. Towards the end of the article a few lines are devoted to the qualifications required for officers called upon to undertake work in the Department of External Affairs. It goes without saying that a sense of an Australian purpose is required, as are a good general knowledge of Australia and its interests, a willingness to live abroad, often for long periods, familiarity with what are called the basic disciplines of history, economics, political philosophy, international relations, law and, to some extent, general science. A knowledge of languages is surely an essential tool of trade. The article goes on to say:
Periods of experience both at home and overseas are necessary before an officer can be regarded as trained. . . The Department seeks not only intellectual ability, reflected by the prerequisite of a good university degree, but other qualities, such as a wide background of cultural and intellectual interests, suitability to represent Australia, and ability to stand up to the pressures of diplomatic life abroad - -
I would think that those are real pressures: a physical and mental balance which will ensure perspectives are not lost under the influence of environment, discretion, judgment and a capacity to accept responsibility.
A further point is made in these words:
Certainly it is true that when an Australian External Affairs Officer is pitted against a Soviet diplomat at the United Nations or a Communist Chinese diplomat in a struggle to influence the Government in an Asian capital, he will be up against a highly trained and resourceful professional diplomat.
Australia seems likely during the next decades to continue to face a wide range of challenging problems in the external affairs field. If so, the role of the Department of External Affairs in meeting this challenge is likely to assume increasing importance.
My observations show that our officers abroad are of a very high standard and meet these requirements so far as it is humanly possible to do so. I would plead with the Department to ensure a continuity of this standard. As 1 say this, I am aware of some of the great difficulties that an organisation like the Department of External Affairs is up against, for there are in Australia today a great many enterprises and interests - private, financial and educational, and in the professional and commercial worlds - which can pay salaries higher than the Department can match and which can provide opportunities for advancement. So the Department is really in a highly competitive field in seeking good men. We have good men at the top and good men are coming up. I hope the Department will be able to arrange its affairs so that the standards abroad are maintained. It is only when you go into one of the overseas capitals, Sir, that you realise the high importance of maintaining our diplomatic standards. The necessity for maintaining these standards is not always appreciated by the lay person. After all, diplomatic representation is expensive. It costs money, not only to pay salaries but also to meet the cost of the services provided and the calls that are made upon our people in overseas posts.
My other comment in this connection is that I hope that when new posts are opened up every possible effort will be made to see that as much provision as possible is made before the ambassador arrives. I know there are difficulties in this and that the problem has many ramifications, but it is impossible for an ambassador to carry out his work when his office is a hotel bedroom, as I have seen myself in one European capital. I know that before the ambassador arrived the Department in Australia and the charge d’affaires at the post had worked day and night to get living accommodation and offices, but there still did not seem to be much prospect of providing them. I realise the difficulty that confronts officers who have to work in this way, and I hope that not too many posts will be opened like this, with the ambassador, his family and his officers all in one big hotel.
– Where was this?
– In Belgrade. As honourable senators will appreciate, there was some local difficulty on that case, but even in Dublin it was some time before accommodation could be found for the ambassador. Let us appreciate that communication has to take place between the overseas capital and Canberra. We have to get the best value for our money in terms of property and the most suitable establishment, but I hope that as we develop our diplomatic activity ways and means will be found to overcome these problems in a more practical and realistic way.
– Did the honourable senator form any opinion as to whether we should own or rent property?
– There is value in renting property because circumstances change from government to government, from country to country and from year to year. On the other hand, it was put to me in one country where the Australian Government purchased an embassy that this was one of the best public relations gestures possible. It meant that we had established a little piece of Australian soil, that we were there to stay and that we took sufficient pride in our relationship with this country to invest in property.
I turn now to a reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to immigration. This is related to the total development of our country in terms of population. Immigration should ‘be considered not only in terms of people - men and women, boys and girls. It also involves hearts, souls and feelings, and the building up of a national character. At the same time it contributes, as every honourable senator knows, to our economic development in no small degree. His Excellency said that the immigration programme had contributed 40% of the annual increase in the work force. He talked about the valuable flow of migrants from Great Britain and of the programme in hand for the stimulation of assisted migration from other European countries. Great Britain still continues to provide the bulk of our assisted immigrants. It is gratifying that so many seek to make their homes here, but we do not want to take that entirely for granted. Dealing with the interest in Australia on the part of people in the United Kingdom, let me say that during my visit to London at the beginning of January the officers of the Department of Immigration stationed there arranged a meeting in the Seymour Hall near the Cumberland Hotel. Notices were sent out and advertisements were published in various newspapers, and the hall holding 2,000 people was packed to the doors. Some 500 were turned away. This does not indicate that all the 2,000 people in the Seymour Hall will migrate to Australia but it does indicate that there is widespread interest in migrating to Australia. I was present at the meeting and took part in it briefly. I heard the questions asked and walked around the counselling area in the foyers where people were inquiring about a wide range of subjects. They were asking about domestic, educational, professional and industrial matters - in fact, almost every facet of life in a new country about which an immigrant might inquire.
I sat in briefly on an interview and talked at some considerable length with officers of the Department. We have people attached to the Department of Immigration who are not only sympathetic, understanding and helpful but also are firm. I have every confidence in them. They draw attention to the many advantages of coming to Australia but they do not project a false picture. The difficulties of translating from one country to another, from one climate to another and from one set of living standards to another all produce reactions. These are mentioned in warnings by the immigration officers to those who would migrate to Australia. This work is made more important by the fact that we are not the only country in this field today. Canada, which is closer geographically to Europe, has looked critically at its immigration procedures and has been sponsoring meetings of the kind that I have just mentioned. South Africa is rather short of this type of migrant and has been offering fairly generous free grants to people who qualify for assisted passages. It has made no secret of the fact that it is anxious to increase the flow of European migrants. It is important to observe that the increased financial assistance announced last year, particularly to the International Committee for European Migration and other volun tary agencies in respect of family reunions, is all part of the Government’s firm intention to promote increased immigration to Australia, thus not only increasing our population but also contributing to total development.
In addition to the position in the United Kingdom, I took the opportunity to look at two or three European countries. I pay my tribute to men like Mr Clark in Vienna, Mr Lewis in Belgrade and Mr Nulty in Greece, who are working extremely hard on behalf of the Australian people and the Australian nation to secure a good flow of migrants for Australia. I saw men interviewed and I saw selections being made in Austria amongst Serbian Croats, who had gone out of Yugoslavia as guest workers into Germany and Austria and who for a fairly obvious reason did not desire to return and were seeking to migrate to this country. This is a matter which has to be carried out with great care and skill, and indeed with great sympathy and great understanding. I think that the Senate can rest assured that we have very good officers in this particular centre. I should think that Mr Nulty, in Athens, is a most dedicated man not only to the cause of migration but also to the people whom he would persuade and encourage to come to Australia.
Mr Nulty showed me ICEM at work as it carried out a crash education programme for Greek girls who were about to migrate to Australia. We are a great contributor to this organisation. These were girls who had had a very limited education, who had come from what we would call a peasant background in Greece, and who required a certain quick education programme not only in speaking English but also in certain elements of sophisticated ‘life before they could be embarked or flown out here.
– What were the elements of sophisticated life in the crash programme?
– These were to educate young ladies who had not had a sophisticated life to enable them to take their place in the Australian community. This was very well done. I wish to refer more particularly to instruction in English. I would hope that an improved way of educating people whose standard of education already is not high, in terms of basic
English conversation could ‘be found. My worry -was that they were in classes where a phrase that we would use in ordinary conversation, or that they would use in conversation, was written on a blackboard and they were encouraged to repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it parrot fashion, and even when the phrase was changed and their attention was drawn the other way it was repeated again. I know that if one is to instruct people in some basic elements of a language in a few short weeks it is crowded with incredible difficulties, but I am concerned for these particular migrants who arrive out here and find that they are cast among people who, of course, speak every phrase of English, when the only phrases that they know are a few related to domestic service or such as they may find in use in industry. However, this is the job that these people are doing. From the contribution that migrants have already made to our life, I am sure that the job is being very well done indeed.
I listened to the remarks that Senator Poyser made concerning migrant hostels. It is appreciated that ‘hostels are not as desirable as one’s own home. I have been looking at the statement made in another place by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) as to cost and conditions, and I think that at this stage of the debate it would be pertinent for me to quote from the Minister’s statement. He said:
The cost of running hostels can be roughly apportioned as 40% wages cost of a direct charactre, 30% food costs and 30% administration and other costs. Every time the basic wage is increased all these costs increase with varying time lags and the increases flow through to other sectors. Over the years the proportion of hostel charges which has been borne by the taxpayer has increased.
So it is evident from this and from other references that the Australian taxpayer is carrying a fair proportion of the cost, and it is not unfair to suggest that with increased costs of maintaining a Commonwealth hostel there should be some increase in tariffs. The Minister acknowledges that the hostels do vary in quality. I suppose that some of them are not as good as we would like. The newer ones, of course, are better than the older ones. But I think it should be pointed out, as has been done earlier today in the Senate, that a hostel is purely a transit place where people can at least have somewhere to go on arrival rather than a place for them to stay for a long period. We sympathise with the situation in relation to the hot weather and the difficulties concerning amenities, but I think it can be said that the Government, and indeed the Department and the Minister, constantly have this matter before them and under review so that people do not suffer inconvenience and discomfort unduly. The policy always is to urge and help these people to move through to other sets of circumstances, to other employment, and ultimately to their own homes.
Finally, I should like to deal with the reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to the conservation of water and the Water Resources Development Council. This, as every honourable senator knows and as has been agreed during the course of the debate, is one of the major factors and one of the major needs of Australian life. It assumes great proportions and great emphasis during periods of drought when rainfall is light and conditions are bad. But any water conservation, any water development, any water resources programme must move slowly; indeed, it is possible for it to move only slowly. The Australian Wa’.er Resources Council, formed some years ago, has been carrying out its many objectives on a continuing basis and has been assessing Australia’s water resources. I quote from a document which comes from the Department of National Development:
The Council has been vigorous in pursuing its objectives . . . has brought about the first official comprehensive assessment of Australia’s water resources,; the results of which were published in 1965. … As a direct result of Council recommendations the Commonwealth and State Governments have accepted commitments to accelerate programmes of surface and underground water investigations. For surface water the programme envisages increasing the basic stream gauging network from 1439 stations in 1963 to 2,838 stations (almost double the original number of stations) in 1974. For underground water a series of urgent projects, in many cases filling gaps in Australiawide coverage, are to be completed or started in the five years commencing 1964-65.
As far as South Australia is concerned, our major interest in this matter is through the Chowilla Dam. I have spoken of this matter previously in the Senate. Most honourable senators are aware that the dam is under construction by the River Murray Commission and is located some six miles downstream from the Victorian and South Australian border. It. will back up water as far as Wentworth, some 120 river miles. For the record, it might be useful to mention that the dam will be forty-eight feet above the flood plain and that its length will be over three miles. Its capacity will be some five million acre feet, by far the largest in Australia. It is important to note that it will benefit not only New South Wales and Victoria but also South Australia. It will mean that South Australia’s entitlement of River Murray water under the River Murray Waters Agreement will be supplied from Chowilla instead of from Hume Reservoir. This means that New South Wales and Victoria will be able to make maximum use of the Hume Reservoir water. With the advent of the dam the River Murray Waters Agreement has been amended so that the three States will, in periods of restriction, share equally in the available water. Rather than the proportions of 5:5:3 whereby we in South Australia were entitled to receive only threethirteenths of the available water, we will retain a much larger share of the water. In periods of restriction we will be entitled to a share of five-fifteenths.
I have emphasised this matter because some criticism has been made, even today, of the Government’s policies on water conservation and research. Every one of us would like to see this programme accelerated to a greater degree, but I think an undertaking can be given that these matters are receiving top priority. One of the questions arising in the area to be served by the Chowilla Dam, an area called the Upper Murray by South Australians, is that of salinity. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) was kind enough to answer the other day a question I raised in the Senate concerning the future of the irrigation area in that part of Australia. Indeed, the Minister for National Development referred to the subject in another place recently in reply to a question by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). Both Ministers pointed out that many reports which have been circulated concerning salinity are perhaps exaggerated. In fact, there is no great danger for the irrigation areas or the towns served by the irrigation areas in the Upper Murray region. It has been pointed out that on the completion of the Chowilla Dam there will be greater opportunity for reducing salinity in the River
Murray. The Minister for National Development said in the House of Representatives on 7th March last:
In the meantime we arranged yesterday-
We’ refers to the River Murray Commission - to hold a reserve of water in both the Hume Weir and Lake Victoria in order to ensure during the construction of Chowilla, that if the salinity in the River Murray does rise higher than it should be an immediate amount of water will be ready to flush this out.
The Government is pushing ahead as fast as it can with its programme of water conservation and development of water resources. We hope that it will push ahead faster and further because water is of such great importance to the Australian community.
I have commented on a few matters referred to in the Supeech of the GovernorGeneral. A study of water leads to other studies. I have been reading with a great deal of interest a survey of water desalination methods and their relevance to Australia. On a future occasion this matter could well be discussed further. Although the survey does not deal specifically with salinity in a river system or irrigation areas, it deals closely with the overall water problems of Australia.
We have endeavoured in this debate to touch upon a wide variety of matters involved in Australian life. His Excellency’s Speech was a very good one. It reflected something of the Government’s proposed measures to be placed before this Parliament in the near future so that the great majority which the Government obtained in the election to which I referred at the outset of my speech will be justified. The people who placed their confidence in the Government on 26th November last will be pleased that they did so. I support the motion moved by Senator Cotton and seconded by Senator Webster on the opening day of this sessional period. We thank His Excellency for coming to the Parliament and addressing us.
– Like Senator Davidson, I think that His Excellency’s Speech was a good one. However, I suggest that when it is analysed it is clear that it does not contain any new features. It does not contain the sorts of things the Opposition wants for the Australian people. I think that it is a studied explanation of what the Government has done. Because of time limitations I will move as quickly as possible to the matters which I think are important to the Opposition, particularly to me as a South Australian senator.
Senator Davidson discussed with Senator Cavanagh the reasons why the Labor Party lost seats at the last election. I shall refer to that subject and also to the question of electoral support for the Labor Party in South Australia. The honourable senator gave figures from 1954 which showed that the Labor Party had received in the vicinity of 47% to 60% of the votes cast. I remind him that in that period the Playford Government was in power and although we had a majority of support in South Australia it was not sufficient because of the gerrymander to put us into office because over all those years we could not dislodge the Playford Government even with the support of the majority of electors.
It is possible, as Senator Hannaford has reminded me, that there could be a balancing up in the States. In a Federal election it is possible that people vote as a balancing measure against the State Government. This might have been a factor, but I am inclined to agree with Senator Cavanagh that the real reason for the defeat of the Labor Party was the trend in the Press. I am not making a reference but am referring to the general trend in the Australian Press. The basis for the trend, it seems to me, was the great Hollywood stunt of bringing President Johnson to Australia. His tour was described on the wireless, films were shown on television and reports appeared in the Press. People remembered our alliance with America in World War II and the assistance we had from that ally. It was a great political stunt. I do not know who thought of it. It may have been the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) or another member of the Government. It was a most effective move. Had the Press continued to evaluate our South East Asian commitments in the way it had done before the visit of President Johnson, I have no doubt that it would have supported the stand of the Labor Party. It is the same today. If we had had then the opportunity of listening to Senator Robert Kennedy there is no doubt that the Australian electorate would have been in a different mind about our South East Asian commitment. Australians responded with emotions stimulated by wartime memories which do not truly reflect the values of 1966-67.
– It is a pity that Australians do not read the New York Times’.
– Yes. It is a pity that Australians do not have access to important overseas journals. More particularly, I think it is important that the Press should have continued its examination of the progress we are making with escalation of the war in Vietnam. I and other honourable senators - some on the other side of the chamber - have referred to the importance of de-escalation of the war in Vietnam. That is still important. Time does not permit me to continue this argument. I have raised it on previous occasions. I believe that the Australian electorate finally will support the position of the Labor Party and that the real truth of the situation lies in our policies. We will have opportunities on other occasions to discuss this matter.
One of the points which strikes me about the Governor-General’s Speech is his opinion that most of the indicators point to rising economic development. I cannot see any evidence of this. I would like to remind the Senate that the unemployment figure is the highest since June 1962. At the end of June 1962 the number of unemployed throughout Australia was 93,128. At the end of June 1963 it had dropped to about 81,000, but it has gradually risen to the present high figure of 88,965. The Government has explained that this is not important. We heard the same argument at the time of the slump in the motor car industry last year. At that time we asked the Government to take urgent action to help the motor car industry. Government supporters said: ‘What about it? Let it develop.’ We pointed out that the State governments were in financial difficulties and we were told by the Minister that they should get out of their own troubles, that they had to cut back on public works.
Because of this, some of the States’ indicators give a worse picture than they otherwise would. Let us look, for example, at the housing position. The Government frequently talks about a recovery in the building industry but in all States, and in some more than others, people normally engaged in the building industry are out of work. It was reported yesterday in the Canberra Times’ that the trade unions had advised that in Canberra there were 200 building workers out of a job. People interested in the housing situation, like the Housing Industry Association, have made comments in contradiction of the Government’s view that the housing position is improving.
The Government tells us: ‘We believe that home ownership is a good thing, and we will continue to assist couples’, but we know that the measures the Government is adopting are not effective. Although the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation and, to some extent, the homes savings grant scheme are giving some assistance to people seeking homes, the fact remains that homes of their own are out of the reach of the majority of young couples. The Government must make some financial arrangements on an Australia-wide basis to assist them. The Housing Industry Association advances what seems to be a very good suggestion as to what should be done. It claims: lt requires an increase in the flow of loan moneys for housing to correct the situation - not only an increase in the total supply, but an increase in the limit of the standard loan from institutional lenders.
Only today the Association made a statement following a recent survey that it conducted. The Association stated:
Housing activity was showing encouraging signs, but commencements were only now approaching levels of three years ago, whereas they should have been considerably higher.
There is ample unused capacity in the industry, both in manpower and materials, to sustain a substantial lift in home building, and high liquidity in banks could sustain an increased rate of lending.
I have mentioned the level of unemployment in the building industry, which is causing concern to trade unions. Let me support my case by referring to the January 1967 issue - the latest one available to me - of the ‘Treasury Information Bulletin’. Referring to houses and flats under construction, it states:
At the end of December 1966 there were 53,073 houses and flats under construction. This was 2,039 less than the number at the end of September 1966 and 1,046 less than the number at the end of December 1965.
In relation to new dwellings commenced it states:
During 1966 as a whole commencements of new dwellings numbered 110,512 compared with 114,903 in 1964 and 111,060 in 1965. Compared with 1965, there were increases in all States except New South Wales and South Australia, where decreases of 8% and 10% respectively were recorded.
There is no reason to believe, despite the reports we receive from the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), that there is any indication of a boom.
Turning to a document prepared by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics relating to building approvals in all States, we see that in January 1965 total approvals numbered 7,412. In January 1966 there were 5,933 approvals and in December 1966 there were 8,914. However, in January 1967 the number dropped to 7,349. The value of all building approvals in the States totalled $80.258m in December 1964. In December 1965 this amount had dropped to $52. 896m and in December 1966 there was a further drop to $42.017m. The so-called recovery in the industry resulted in the value of approvals rising to $61.242m in January 1967. We can see that there is good reason for the crash programme that is claimed to be necessary in the field of housing. Housing and income earning still remain the great problems confronting the Australian community, apart from any external commitments of service. We must face up to those problems.
I shall touch briefly upon Senator Henty’s reference to the rise in the consumer price index in South Australia. He tried to make some political capital out of trends in that State by taking a very narrow, short-term view and comparing quarter with quarter. That was a good political move, but a fairer comparison will be obtained if one compares the position which existed when the Playford Government went out of office with the present position. I have made comparisons from the same table as that used by Senator Henty. I note that the weighted average of the six State capitals shows an increase of 5.7%. Sydney increased by 5.5%, Melbourne by 5.4%, Brisbane by 6.7%, Adelaide by 5.9%, Perth by 7%, and
Hobart, the capital of a State which has a Labor government, recorded the lowest increase, 4.6%. lt may suit the Minister’s political convenience to make certain comparisons, but these things must be evaluated on the correct basis. There is no reason to think that the South Australian Government, just because it is a Labor government, has had an adverse influence on prices in the State, except perhaps that it has recognised the need to increase standards. The increasing of standards does to some extent impose extra costs upon industry, but in reality the increases are not general, lt is argued that South Australia has prices control, but there is only a minimum of prices control in the State.
– lt was not a Labor State; it was a price controlled State.
– We have a minimum of prices control in South Australia. In fact, it is the smallest degree of prices control one could get. Senator Henty’s comparisons do not seem to me to prove anything. Indicators must be looked at over a long period, not in the short term. I have never tried to make comparisons only on a basis which suits me.
I want to make another reference to South Australia. People are constantly referring to the problems of the State Labor Government. The State Government has problems because in the short period it has been in office - since May 1965 - it has had to catch up with standards which have applied in other States for many years. Let me mention briefly some of the things the State Labor Government has done. It has granted service pay to every government worker in South Australia, something which was in operation in other States but which we could never get from the Playford Government. The Labor Government has granted workers’ compensation cover while employees are travelling to and from work - something else we could never get from the Liberal Government. The Labor Government has required electricians to be licensed to prevent shoddy work being done. It has granted female teachers equal pay. This is costly to the State because it means that the cost of education services has increased. The Labor Government has altered the industrial code, and this has improved things for workers and unions.
This also has cost the State money. It has provided payment for members of conciliation committees who are required to attend meetings as union representatives, and this year has given children school books free of charge, which is something almost revolutionary. Those are some of the things the Labor Government of South Australia has done.
I move now to another matter which seems to me to be important. We have mentioned overseas investment in Australia and the increasing overseas ownership of Australian companies. There will be other opportunities to raise these matters, but many people in Australia are concerned about them. I am concerned about the provision of equipment for our Services. At present much of this equipment is being manufactured overseas. This should not be permitted. I raise this point because there is mention in His Excellency’s Speech of a research and developmental programme to produce an efficient defence production organisation. It seems to me that what we should be doing is not as was outlined in an answer that was given to me by the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) when 1 questioned him recently on this subject. I asked him a question about electronic equipment, rockets and missiles that are being manufactured in the United States of America and in other countries over which we have no control at all. We are given the know-how of how to repair these items, but we are not in the know as to the development of missiles. Yet, our defence Services are entirely dependent upon these missiles. This situation should be changed. Australia should be in the position of having its own industry geared to make this equipment with our own engineers. Besides being able to produce the equipment, we should be in full possession of the techniques required so that we can build these items without any inhibitions.
The Minister for Supply in reply to my question said:
The position is that when we buy from the United States or elsewhere overseas we are buying the hardware and the data to enable us to operate it. We do not buy the ‘know how’ or rights to the development of the equipment. When equipments are purchased from the United States, the US Government ensures that access is available to all information which is necessary to assess the servicing problem. In the case where support is to be provided locally and in depth, it is necessary then to buy special test equipment, have personnel trained and perhaps documentation prepared by the US contractor at a negotiated price. In the circumstances, it is not proposed that the Government should take any special further action.
I suggest that we knew this. The Australian Press knew it. We ought to do something about it. It is not many years since the same matter was raised regarding the manufacture in Australia of mobile equipment. I refer to such things as vehicles, generating plants, trailers, and earth moving equipment. Last year, Australia gave an important contract in this field to an overseas firm. This action was unnecessary. We could have handled it here. This Government ought to make sure that the Australian manufacturer is able to make the items upon which we are dependent and that he is given favourable opportunities to manufacture it.
One of the effects of this state of affairs is the impact made on our trading position by goods manufactured for us overseas. The position at the end of December 1966 showed that the value of imports from America had increased to £3 89m. Each year the value of our imports is increasing. The Census statement from which I am reading has this to say about our growing imports from the United States of America and the falling off of imports from the United Kingdom:
The only category to show a significant increase was munitions and war stores. The value was £72.4m, compared with £21. lm in the same period of 1965.
I suggest that we ought to be looking at the situation that I have mentioned. I know that in recent years some Australian manufacturers have been receiving contracts for the supply of motor vehicles used by the Services. We should be making sure that we do not cease to provide these opportunities or that they are not cut down.
I wish to deal very quickly with a matter that is of great importance to South Australia. I refer to the question of beef roads. Since 1963, the Government of South Australia - first, the Government led by Sir Thomas Playford and now the Labor Government led by Mr Walsh - has made application to the Federal Government for financial assistance for the construction and maintenance of beef roads. Since the first application, the Commonwealth Govern ment has made a number of grants for beef roads to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland. But it has consistently refused to answer the requests from the Government of South Australia and also questions asked in this Parliament about the examination of the claim by South Australia for financial assistance for beef roads. On two occasions last year, I asked questions about this matter. The Government replied that it had inspectors from the Northern Division of the Department of National Development looking at the position in South Australia. These inspectors had held talks with the South Australian Government. The Government said that it was not in a position to determine what it would do about the matter. Only today, as Senator Drury has reminded me, the Government announced proposals for special grants to other States for beef roads. There is some reason why-
– South Australia was included in that announcement.
– Was it included in the amount of $49m provided?
– I did not think it was. I thought the Government was continuing the policy that has applied since 1960. I have referred to this matter before but I wish to mention the point very quickly again. In 1960, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics presented a report on the transport of beef cattle in the Northern Territory. It referred to the great savings that could be made in the time that would be saved by transporting beef cattle by road. I will not repeat the details, but it amounted to a vast saving. This would have been achieved if, after examination of the case, the Government had given assistance to the establishment of these beef roads.
I turn now to the position of the Northern Territory railways. Questions have been asked of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) and his representtative in the Senate, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), on this matter. Examinations have been made by the railway unions and the Commonwealth Railways regarding the railway track in Northern Australia. Honourable senators will probably remember what has been happening in this regard. There have been seven derailments as a result of the new Japanese ore traffic on this line to Darwin. The railway unions are objecting to carting these heavy loads on the existing track of the Commonwealth railways. I have noted the reference in the Speech delivered by the Governor-General to what has been done concerning standardisation of railway gauges. But nothing has ever been done about standardisation in the Northern Territory. Nothing has been done to relay and strengthen the railway track in the Northern’ Territory to meet the new heavy traffic.
Some of the railway track in the Northern Territory has been down since the last century. For instance, in one case the track was put down in 1897. In 1889 a track of 145 miles was laid from Darwin to Pine Creek. The track between Marree and Cowards Springs was laid in 1888. Much of the railway track in the Northern Territory, although it was all right for use in those days, has never been converted for modern traffic. The result is that drivers are required to hold the new trucks on the line. They are coming off. It has been suggested that not only should a re-laying programme be undertaken but also that the Commonwealth Railways should co-operate with traffic operators and the unions to see what can be done to improve the position at this stage. Unless the Commonwealth Railways will meet the railway unions and talk this matter over with them, there will be a disruption of rail traffic between Frances Creek and Darwin. The export trade that is dependent upon this transport will be disrupted also.
I wish to deal now with a subject that has received some consideration. It is the building of new railway workshops at Port Augusta. I have raised this matter on a number of occasions. The Commonwealth Railways has made some extensions to the workshops now. But I point out to the Senate that most of the heavy rollingstock that is used by the Commonwealth Railways is produced outside the establishments of the Commonwealth Railways. At one stage, Australia was importing large sleeping cars from Japan and Germany. I wish to know from the Government whether the last order for fifty-nine cars has been let and to whom it has been let. The situation is that the South Australian Railways has not received any orders. I am concerned that these orders may be placed outside
Australia. One of the unfortunate things about the situation is that in Port Augusta, the main railway workshop, the intake of apprentices is very slow. This is because of the size of the workshops. These workshops ought to be able to produce in the same way as the workshops at Islington produce. Because of the size of the workshops, it is not possible to handle large contracts that are let overseas and to some private firms. In 1965, only eighty-nine apprentices were employed by Commonwealth Railways. So, when I see reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to the Commonwealth Railways programme, I am reminded that I would like to see the work I have mentioned undertaken by the Commonwealth Railways Department.
I conclude very briefly, because of the limitation of time, with a reference to immigration. There are areas in South Australia where 80% of the population is made up by immigrants. If there is a slump like that of 1966 in the motor car industry everyone in the community will be affected. Many of our new settlers have been committed to great expense as they have come out to Australia without the necessary finance to buy a home. We find that because jobs are not available great hardship exists. I know that in the Elizabeth and Morphett Vale areas community groups are doing good work in helping migrants to overcome this situation.
I turn to one or two other matters that I have in mind. In the areas of Morphett Vale and Christies Beach, members of the community are carrying out work which ought to be carried out by social workers from the Department of Immigration. For instance, by appealing for donations of furniture these people have been able to establish furniture stores. When new settlers arrive in this country often without assets, the community groups provide this furniture for the new homes. The new settlers are confronted with domestic and employment problems and the community groups have told me that they would like to see social workers appointed to Elizabeth and Morphett Vale areas. But in addition to social workers, I suggest that representatives from two important departments ought to visit these areas. I refer to the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service and the State Department of Labour and
Industry. I know that representatives from these Departments carry out routine work. They suggest places where employment might be available for new settlers. But in fact no specialised attention is given to these two areas, and it ought to be given. I suggest that the Department of Labour and National Service in conjunction with the State Department of Labour and Industry should provide an employment service in the Elizabeth and Morphett Vale areas.
In conclusion I point out that on 7th March I placed a question on the notice paper concerning the need for a national emergency service. Senator O’Byrne placed a similar question on the notice paper on 8th March. I notice that since the questions were placed on the notice paper, Dakota aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force have been used to service the Northern Territory. There seems to be no reason why the armed Services and the Department of Civil Aviation should not engage in an organised plan to provide emergency services in national calamities. Not only would that overcome the problem of lack of communications and lessen the hardship in the community, but also it would give the Services a great deal of experience in their own country, which would be to their advantage.
– I do not want to waste time on preliminaries in my speech in the Address-in-Reply debate, but I would like to refer to the distinguished record of His Excellency the Governor-General, Lord Casey. I know that honourable senators and members of the House of Representatives are pleased that we have an Australian Governor-General and one with such a splendid record behind him. I was very pleased when his appointment was announced. When he entered the Senate recently to carry out the important task of opening this Parliament, I am sure that there was a glow of pleasure throughout the whole assembly because of the fact that we had in Lord Casey a man of great integrity with a fine record of service behind him. We all can be proud that he is Governor-General of Australia.
I had a short acquaintance with Lord Casey when I was in New York as long ago as 1959. At that time he was Minister for External Affairs. Senator Hendrickson and I were two of the delegates who attended the General Assembly of the United Nations in that year. My opinion of Lord Casey was enhanced at the time. I know what a splendid representative he was for Australia on that occasion, and I think that Senator Hendrickson would agree with me in that regard.
I would like to touch on the subject of the Tasmanian bush fires. A great deal has been said regarding the tragic events that occurred in Hobart in particular. Of course fire is a wonderful friend but a terrible enemy. Our sympathy goes to the Tasmanian people and to the State of Tasmania for the losses that have been sustained. It must have been heartening to the Tasmanian people to learn that people not only in Australia but in other parts of the world had responded to their plight and had come substantially to their aid. I feel that in a tragedy such as the Tasmanian bush fires we all ought to remember the great need for fire protection. Senator Davidson and other honourable senators have referred to the very comprehensive programme of fire protection on the mainland which has stood us in good stead. We remember the tragic fires in Victoria in 1939. Similar tragedies have occurred in South Australia.
My wife and I visited Tasmania towards the latter part of November last. While we were travelling from Launceston to Hobart on a hot but not excessively hot day we were struck by the pillars of smoke that seemed to be rising from many parts of Tasmania. That was on a Saturday. We were in Hobart on the following Tuesday, which was another hot day. On a tour of Hobart’s environs we were particularly struck by the number of fires that were burning. All of them could not have started by themselves. At that time the pastures were extremely green and would not have burned. But of course the trash in the forests would burn. During a short tour down the Huon Valley we noticed fifteen to twenty fires. I said to my wife at the time: ‘These people over here seem to have no regard for the terror of fire.’ That can easily be understood in a State such as Tasmania. I think that following this recent tragedy in which human and property losses were sustained there will develop in Tasmania an attitude something akin to that which has developed in the mainland States where fire has been our principal enemy.
I do not want to continue on this subject. My purpose in rising to speak in this debate is to deal with a matter of very great importance to me, and I am sure it is of interest to honourable senators in the chamber at the present time. I refer to my recent decision to occupy a place on the cross benches after approximately seventeen years on the Government side. I want to make it quite clear that this was not a hasty decision. It goes back to June of last year when I first declared that I was not in favour of the Government’s policy of intervention in Vietnam or of sending conscripts there. I continued to support the Government but I felt that continuation of that course might give the impression that I was condoning the policy on Vietnam, and that I will never do. I can assure honourable senators that the night prior to making my final decision to break with the Government Parties was one of torment to me. But having made the decision I felt that I had to go through with it. On the Tuesday morning before the opening of the Parliament I went along to Senator Henty and explained my position. I showed him the letter that I had written to my Party organisation in South Australia. I was treated very sympathetically by Senator Henty. I pay him that tribute. He was very fair minded. He said: ‘Where it is a matter of conscience I would not try to influence a member who has made a very serious decision’. He acknowledged that it was a serious decision. So I became an independent member of this Parliament.
I do not want to convey the impression, Mr President, that I desire to wear a halo around my head for the action I have taken. The response to my action has been of some embarrassment to me. A lot of the letters that I have received flatter me for taking a stand. I have received a tremendous number of letters. Naturally one would receive a lot of mail after having taken such action. One is unable to determine from which side of politics those letters have come, although some of the writers declare that they are Liberals and that they disapprove of the Government’s policy on Vietnam. In the main the writers of the letters have indicated that they admire me for taking a stand on this aspect of Government policy. I appreciate those letters. I appreciate the people who have seen fit to write to me. The writers of only two of the letters have indicated their disapproval of what I have done. Let me assure you, Mr President, that those letters were couched in no uncertain terms.
– Two out of three isn’t bad.
– I would like the honourable senator to pay for the stamps that I have had to buy for the replies to those letters. I know that that interjection was only a little facetiousness on the part of Senator Scott. It has been indicated to me quite clearly that, despite the result of the last election, there is a great body of inarticulate opinion in Australia which is opposed to Australia’s intervention in Vietnam and to the sending there of twenty year old conscripts. I have no hesitation in using the word ‘conscripts’. There is no other way in which to describe the sending of youths to Vietnam, in most cases against their will. It must have been against their will; otherwise they would have volunteered. As I have said, of all the letters I have received the writers of only two were violently opposed to what I did. One other was neutral. I have been unable to determine whether he was in favour of my action or otherwise. All this indicates to me quite clearly that I am not alone in my stand. I know that I am not alone on this side of the chamber, of course. But in regard to Liberal thought, my action has been approved by quite a body of opinion.
– By public opinion.
– I shall not go as far as Senator Cavanagh has gone. But I am quite satisfied in my own mind that as an independent member I will have a heavy responsibility in representing - I feel inadequate for the task - that section of the community which feels as I do about Australia’s policy on Vietnam.
I want to refer to His Excellency’s Speech and in particular to the paragraphs which relate to Vietnam and China. As I said earlier, over the months I have maintained that my protest is directed specifically against Australia’s military intervention in sending twenty year old lads to South Vietnam to fight, and perhaps die, for that country. I am the only person on the Government side to have dissented. The fact that almost 100% of the supporters of the
Government are behind the Government’s policy certainly makes one feel humble. It would be presumptuous of me to suggest that I know more about this matter than does anybody else I have viewed the matter simply from my own standpoint. I have given it a great deal of thought and consideration and in accordance with my conscience I have taken my present stand. I have not changed my politics in the general sense. 1 am still the same Senator Hannaford, or Clive Hannaford as you know me. In general there has been no vendetta against me. My colleagues on both sides of the House have continued to treat me in exactly the same way as in the past, and for that I am extremely grateful.
The Vietnam issue is very much wider than the fighting that is taking place there. It is the policy of the United States of America which has been pursued down the years by different Administrations and with which I disagree that is the crux of the matter. I am not so presumptuous as to suggest that because I disagree with American policy it is wrong. I simply say that I believe that it is wrong. Over the years it has been based on an obsessive fear of Communism. That cannot be denied. I have been in America and have heard discussions in the United Nations and elsewhere about what I have described as this obsessive fear of Communism. I am not a Communist. I am as much opposed to Communism as is anybody else in this chamber. What we must realise is that Communism is not, and never has been, a monolithic structure and of great similarity in various countries. Communism exists in various guises throughout the world. We know of the division that exists at the present time between China and Russia, which are the two chief proponents of Communism. That division is a perfect illustration of the fact that Communism is not the monolithic structure that we are led to believe it is.
– But its aims are always the same.
– That might be so. Socialism has a somewhat similar aim in different places.
– It is an international ideology.
– Communism is an ideology as far as I am concerned, and it will remain an ideology. Yugoslavia has a different form of Communism from that of Russia. Albania has a form of Communism which is supposedly the same as that of China. I suggest that we should look at this matter objectively, that we should realise that Communism is an ideology, and that we must co-exist with it. The fact that we must do so is inescapable. As I indicated earlier, I am rigorously opposed to Communism. Despite the fact that some members of the Labor Party are more leftist in then- tendencies than others, I believe that no-one can point a finger at anybody in this Parliament and say: ‘There goes a Communist’. I have never taken that attitude and I never will. The propaganda in regard to Communism that has been used over the years has been used for purposes of political advantage. I do not think anybody would pretend that we have not used Communism to seek political advantage. We have. That statement can readily be backed up by reference to the events that have taken place over the years.
Talk of the danger of Communism or the thought of Communism in Australia is a bit ridiculous. One has only to look at the figures that come from the polling booths to see the number of Communists who lose their deposits. That has happened over the years. References are made to the power that Communists exercise in trade unions. They do exercise a certain amount of power there. But that may not necessarily be because they are Communists. It may be because they are militant and very often achieve results for the people who back them in the trade unions. That has been my interpretation of the reason for the success of some of these people. Most of them are put into their positions because they are pretty able men.
Another fallacy, as far as I am concerned, is this so-called domino theory about which we hear so much. We hear that there is the threat of Communist China and that inexorably it will spread down through South East Asia. The domino theory is that one country will fall after the other. I refer to what I said about the forms of Communism. I suggest that a form of Chinese Communism may not necessarily apply in any of the states that occupy the land area of South East Asia. I do not think for a minute that Ho Chi Minh wants to see the spread of Chinese Communism into his area; nor does Laos or the other adjoining countries.
I do not differ with the point of view that a risk is always involved in this ideology, particularly when we are dealing with people who are living in an undeveloped condition and whose plight is pretty acute. It takes a very acute plight to make people go Communist. There is always the risk that people will adopt, as a last straw, a form of government that will enable them to improve their lot. I believe that that happens throughout the world. It could happen anywhere in the world. But I do not support the theory that because Ho Chi Minh leads a Communist government that will facilitate the downward thrust of Communism to the borders of Australia. I do not look upon the conflict in South Vietnam as a security risk to Australia. I never have, and I never will.
We have singled out China as our great enemy. In this regard we have followed the American line. In my opinion it is deplorable that we have done so. We should not adopt a policy under which we look upon China inevitably as our future or potential enemy. All countries are potential enemies. Why single out Red China? We know of the convulsions that are taking place there at the present time. Incidentally, they have been taking place wtihout a great deal of bloodshed. A readjustment is going on in that country. I believe that in the course of time, in the evolutionary process, China will change to a certain degree. In my view, to single out China as our great enemy, as the enemy of the Western world or as the enemy virtually of mankind is a wrong policy and one which I will never follow.
Who are we to say who will be our next enemy, if we are to have one? In my comparatively short life I have seen yesterday’s enemies become today’s friends. We see that today and it will happen again. One may say just as reasonably that Japan is the great threat to us. At least one could back up that statement with a certain amount of reality, because Japan is a great maritime power and has all the technological knowledge that a modern country requires in order to go to war. It could easily be our enemy in ten years time.
– The Japanese lack breathing space.
– Japan has a vast population and, as Senator Toohey says, lacks breathing space. In my opinion, it is the dynamic nation of the East. It is just as reasonable to say that Japan is our great enemy. I would deplore the fact if we did say that; but we have to be realistic in these matters. While there is rivalry in trade and competition for trade on the Asian mainland, in the space of a comparatively few years Japan could easily be on the other side of the fence.
Let me assure honourable senators that, as far as my knowledge of Japan goes - I have never been there, but I have read a good deal about it and have talked to many people who have been there - there is no great love for the Westerner there. In fact we see evidence of that in demonstrations against American bases in Japan. So I suggest that to single out China - a country which we value as a trading customer, which absorbs a tremendous quantity of our wheat and whose purchases of other commodities will probably increase) over the years - as our inveterate enemy is not conducive to the maintenance of peace in this area. I have no hesitation in saying that I deplore as much as anybody does the anti-American statements that are emanat-ing from China - the constant propaganda about American imperialism and the great Western enemy that America represents to the Chinese. But we have to be a little understanding. China has adopted a new form of government over comparatively, recent years. Some of the statements that emanate from China are exaggerated propaganda and really have no meaning to anybody who gives any thought to the matter.
In relation to South East Asia we hear much about aggression. The word has become a catch word. It is said that we must prove to the aggressor that aggression does not pay. I think we should give the matter a little thought and decide what is meant by aggression. I do not think it can be denied that in a large part of the world the American policy would be described as one of aggression. I am not being heretical in saying that. It is the opinion held in European and other countries. When there is a force of some 400,000 Americans in Vietnam, a South East Asian country, intervening in a difference of opinion or a cleavage between two sections ot the community in that country, is it not reasonable to suggest that a tremendous part of the world looks upon America’s actions in Vietnam as aggression?
– A tremendous part of the world does think so.
– It all depends on the way you interpret these things. I have heard it said over and over again by speakers on the Government side that we must do something to prove that aggression cannot pay. They refer to aggression by North Vietnam against South Vietnam. We are inclined to forget that only a few years ago Vietnam went through the tribulations of war with a former colonial power. We looked upon Vietnam then as one country. It was only subsequent to the Geneva Agreements of 1954 that there was a real division of Vietnam, with the regime of Ho Chi Minh in the north and successive governments in the south. I think there is a political-religious background to all this, and that it is not emphasised enough. I do not want to go into that particular question or to make reference to it other than to say that the whole situation has become extremely complex.
– You suggest that the position in South Vietnam is the result of action by the Roman Catholic Church?
– I am not making any such suggestion.
– That is what the honourable senator said.
– I said there was a political-religious background to the situation. Are there not such people as Buddhists in Vietnam? I do not appreciate Senator Cormack’s interjection. It was hardly fair. I make no attack on the Roman Catholic Church. That is the last thing I would do or would want to do. Many of my best friends are Roman Catholics, and I honour them because of that. My religion, if any, may differ from theirs, but I do not judge them on the basis of whether they are Roman Catholics or otherwise. It is undeniable that religious factors come into the question of Vietnam, and nobody with any sense would say otherwise. This outside intervention in Vietnam has been of such a nature - I refer particularly to its magnitude - that probably it has caused much more misery, bloodshed and destruction than ever would have been the case had the differences between North and South Vietnam been left to be resolved by the people of Vietnam themselves. I say that without hesitation. I am opposed strongly to American policy, and I have no hesitation in saying so.
I know that the United States of America is our great ally. We value her as an ally. But do we have to spend our wealth on despatching military forces to Vietnam to gain the support of the United States of America in the future? If we believe that we have to buy American support, I suggest we ale underrating the morality of the American people. We do not need to do this sort of thing. I am certain that had we decided to remain neutral in this matter, and had we supported the Vietnamese people economically, we would have done more good for ourselves; we would have given ourselves a measure of protection against the ill feeling of these people. That would have stood us in better stead than the despatch of troops to the area.
It is all very well for me to stand in my place in the Senate and say these things, but do not think for a moment that I have not given this matter a lot of thought. I have read incessantly about the problem of Vietnam and its implications, and I have come to the conclusion that we would have been much better served had we remained out of this struggle. That is my decision, and it is irrevocable. I am also opposed to sending our lads to Vietnam. I say that without equivocation. I do not agree with sending our twenty years olds there. I do not view volunteers in quite the same way. If the nature of the war in Vietnam had been such as to inspire the youth of Australia, we would have had no problem in maintaining a volunteer force there. But such is not the case. We had to conscript these lads, and they now comprise a proportion of our troops in the area. I do not say that they are not doing a good job. Australian troops have always done a very good job and I am proud of their record, but I cannot go along with Government policy in this regard.
One hears of the terrible happenings in this war. There are human tragedies that will be remembered for many years lo come. Some of the errors Chat have been made have had terrible results, and the sufferings of the Vietnamese people must have made a deep impact on the world at large. That is why I have had such a response to the stand I have taken in this matter. I h:;ve never been over impressed with Australian foreign policy in many respects. That attitude goes back over a number of years. However, 1 remained silent because 1 felt it was incumbent on me to do so. My knowledge on these matters was less than that of other people and 1 thought I might easily be wrong. But I have never been inspired by some of the actions that have been taken. I think back to the days when Suez was in the news in relation to the action of our former Prime Minister. 1 strongly disapproved of what took place then.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I made reference to certain misgivings that I have had over the years in regard to Australia’s foreign policy. I want to qualify that statement to some degree because - to be fair - there have been certain elements of Australian foreign policy which reflect great credit on those who have been in charge of it. I think that the Indonesian situation was handled with great forbearance. It was a very difficult problem. We have been faced with the problem of confrontation of Malaysia by Indonesia. Despite the fact that I feel that some people might even term it weakness, nevertheless I have been wholeheartedly in support of looking at this particular question sympathetically, and we can see that it has reaped very good dividends, particularly now when we find ourselves in a much happier frame of mind in our relationships wilh Indonesia.
What I was referring to in particular when I expressed some concern, some misgivings over foreign policy was our attitude towards the Suez dispute. I do not want to go into any detail on this matter, for the simple reason that it happened quite a while ago and I do not think any really good purpose would be served by raking up the matter at this stage. However, one thing that struck me at that time was that the handling of the situation as far as Australia was concerned was left in the hands of the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. I have never overlooked the fact that the then Minister for External Affairs was Mr Casey, who had been in that position for a number of years and who had really distinguished himself, not only in that position but also as the British representative in Egypt years ago and in Bengal, and more latterly in Australia. I feel that what was done in relation to Suez was a tragic mistake as far as our policy was concerned. 1 did not agree with what was done in the form of naked aggression against certain civilians in the Suez area. There was a merciless bombing of a practically undefended and defenceless Egyptian people.
In spite of the fact that the Egyptians had broken an agreement in regard to the control of the Suez Canal, I think it can bc generally conceded that they had that right. lt was their land, their territory. They had the right to take over the Suez Canal. That was admitted by the people on our side and by the British Government even. The tragic event of that Suez business was the closing of the Canal, the very thing that the people on our side said they wanted to prevent. In spite of all of the protestations we found that the Suez Canal was taken over by the United Arab Republic. I travelled through it a few years later and 1 was informed that it was a much better canal even then, only a few years after the event, than it had been under the control of the old Suez Canal Company. The by-passes were made larger, it was being managed effectively, there was a terrific flow of tankers through it, and all that had been said regarding the grinding to a halt of British and European industry as a result of the lack of oil was nothing more than moonshine. That vindicated my private opinion at that time. I regret that it was private. I should have expressed it, but we are all cowards at heart sometimes when it comes to expressing these things and running counter to one’s own official party policy. I must plead guilty to that fault on my part for not coming out in protest against the handling of this situation by the then Prime Minister of Australia. I have never had a terrific regard for his handling of foreign affairs questions. Great as he was - undeniably he was a great man in many respects - I never approved of, nor did I have very much confidence in his handling of foreign affairs. That was borne out by an incident that took place at the United Nations. I cannot remember the actual details, but following his speech, in which he acted as spokesman for some of the big powers-
– Nehru castigated him.
– Leave me alone. I know what I am talking about. Mr Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, took him apart in no uncertain terms. I think that he can be held responsible for part of the policy that we are carrying out in regard to Vietnam. So I have had very little confidence in the former Prime Minister’s handling of foreign affairs. I do not want to sound too condemnatory of Sir Robert Menzies because I appreciate the fact that in many other fields he was a giant intellectually and he had a splendid record in national affairs generally, particularly as they related to the advancement and welfare of Australia. I just introduce that element because I want to make it quite clear that I think we must have our own private opinions. We have to make up our own minds on these important matters of national policy, and that I have tried to do. Whether I am right or whether I am wrong, only the future will tell. I have every confidence that the cause that I espouse in regard to our foreign policy in South East Asia will be vindicated, but that is a matter for the future to decide.
As far as national service is concerned, I have always felt that it was important and that it should be supported, but I make a qualification and I make it in spite of the fact that I supported the old National Service Bill that was responsible for putting our fellows up there. I will never forgive myself for that. The qualification is this: I believe that national service is justified in an emergency but is not justified in an undeclared war, in which an emergency has never been shown to me clearly to exist. That is the situation in which I find myself at this stage.
I do not want to close without making reference to some of the tragic events that have taken place. I do not want to enlarge on them because we all know them. We pick up our newspapers and read the tragic story of the Vietnamese people, both in South Vietnam and in North Vietnam, and the hideous bombing that has taken place.
– Who is responsible for it?
– I would not expect the honourable senator to agree with me after what I have said. He would be diametrically opposed to everything that I have said; I know that. But that does not mean that I am wrong or that the honourable senator is right. I do not think that this issue can be judged on the result of the last election. I want to say quite unequivocally that I have never viewed the issue in that light. I rely very much on gallup polls. They have rarely been wrong. I am not saying that they are infallible, but they are rarely wrong. It is said that the policy on Vietnam of the present Government was vindicated by the magnificent majority that it won. It was a great victory, but it does not necessarily indicate that it was won by the Government’s policy on Vietnam.
A gallup poll conducted shortly after the last election showed that the matters of paramount interest in that election were social services, hospital services and other bread and butter questions. The number of people interested in those issues far exceeded the number of people who placed Vietnam in the position of paramount interest. Only 21% of the people irrespective of party affiliations, looked upon Vietnam as a key issue of the election, despite the fact that it received the greatest amount of publicity in the Press. For that reason I take the view that while the victory could be construed as vindication of the Government’s policy on Vietnam, the fact remains that only 21% of Labor and non-Labor people viewed Vietnam as the paramount issue.
So I suggest to honourable senators that factors other than Vietnam won the last election for the Government, or at least they played a much greater part than Vietnam. I rather despair that so many people take so little interest in the frightening questions raised by Vietnam. It happens so often that people go about their daily business as though nothing has happened. It is business as usual although men are fighting and dying on the fields of a foreign country, a South East Asian country. That is why I am so terribly concerned at the attitude of so many people to what is happening is South East Asia, which could have an enormous effect on the future welfare and safety of this country. I have never looked upon the war in Vietnam as a security risk for Australia. I never will view it from that angle. I think it is important for us to maintain our good relations with these people. We will achieve a lot more by helping the Vietnamese people in other ways than by sending a task force there in support of an American policy which I claim is against world opinion.
I wish to quote one or two letters that I have received. Senator Scott made a rather humorous interjection - I will put it that way - regarding the number of letters 1 have received. Today I received a letter from Senator Scott’s home State of Western Australia. It has quite a number of signatories so that if I counted the number of signatories as representing separate letters, it would be a fair assessment of the situation. 1 do not think that the people who have signed this letter would mind my quoting it. lt states:
May wc congratulate you on your courageous affirmation of principle before party advantage.
All the signatories are women. The letter continues:
As women voters, we greatly respect and admire any politician who has an overriding regard for justice and humanity, and is prepared to stand fast by his conscience, at whatever personal disadvantage.
Six Western Australian women have signed the letter.
– Read out their names.
– I have no objection. The signatories are M. E. Calder-
– I do not think this is fair.
– I know the people who have signed this letter would not mind my mentioning their names. They have written in good faith and I do not think that I am breaking a confidence by doing so.
– I withdraw my request.
– M. E. Calder has not given an address. The other signa tories are D. V. Hodgson, 376 Mill Point Road. South Perth; Norma C. Connell, 93 Moreing Road, Attadale; Freda M. Summers, 20 Gull Street, Marmion; D. M. Boyle, 32 Park Road, Mount Lawley; A. Hope Rankin, 59 Esplanade, South Perth; and C. Baxter, 15 Westborough Street, Scarborough. They are authentic signatures and the letter is open for inspection by any honourable senator. Any letter t have received is open for inspection by any honourable senator. I am prepared to allow anybody to see the correspondence and to let him place his own interpretation on what has been written.
Horrifying events are taking place in North and South Vietnam. 1 refer to the bombing of, in many cases, defenceless people, lt is indiscriminate bombing. Tt is of no use saying that it is directed at military targets, because military targets encompass a wide range. Many thousands of people are being killed by indiscriminate bombing. I say ‘indiscriminate’ because it cannot be otherwise.
– Not many thousands.
– I say without hesitation that many thousands of people are being killed. Senator Mattner must have seen some of the films that have been shown on television programmes and elsewhere of the horrifying wounds and burns the Vietnamese people have suffered from napalm.
– Where were the films laken?
– How do I enow? They were taken up there in the area. Who else is bombing? That is what I would like to know. I wish to quote also from an article in a Western Australian newspaper. I think it will interest people. 1 do not want to go right through it. It is a state.11ent made by Dr M. A. Jaspan, head of the Western Australian University’s centre for Asian studies. He describes the bombing of Cambodia - not North Vietnam or South Vietnam. He refers to the bombing along the border of Cambodia where people have been bombed mercilessly by American planes. Very recently we have read reports of two unidentified planes bombing an area adjacent to the border, or it may have been just over the border, of Laos. About 90 or 100 people were killed and many hundreds were injured.
– By only two planes.
– That is so. This ghastly bombing is going on indefinitely, it seems, and we are doing very little about it. 1 feel that we can do more. We are doing very little about negotiations for which there is a crying need at present. We need initiative to bring about negotiations which will end the wicked business in Vietnam. I feel that there is a tremendous body of opinion throughout Australia in agreement with that view. I have cut out Press reports from time to time. Groups of people have put their names to pleas to the Government to promote negotiations to end the war in Vietnam. They have come from people and organisations throughout Australia, including Catholic Church organisations and groups of other denominations. They are not confined to a particular Church as these people belong to virtually all the Churches. The Council of Churches backed to the limit a ten point plan endorsed by the Methodist Church in Victoria, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in South Australia and a whole host of academicians whose names I have listed here. This list was published during the election campaign. Incidentally, they are Catholic people who are appalled at what is going on in Vietnam. That is the reason they have placed their names on the list. I do not know how many academicians are listed but the best part of thirty from Melbourne have supported Pope Paul’s plea for negotiation to bring about the end of the war in Vietnam.
Senator Mattner is interjecting. I seem to dismay him. He has dismayed me on more than one occasion. Because we have a difference of opinion, there is no need to bring animosity into this discussion. I certainly will not do so. I feel very deeply on the subject and I reject anything in the way of personal recrimination over it. Differ from me if you like, as much as you like and as heatedly as you like, provided you have good reasons to support your argument. Let us discuss this question in the interests of Australia and try to see some light through the cloud that hangs over us as a people.
I conclude by saying that that is the sole reason why I have changed the location of my seat in the Senate chamber. I have no regrets politically at this stage. It is not easy to sever one’s relationships with persons who have been one’s political friends over the years. I know I have retained the friendship of many of my erstwhile Liberal colleagues.
– Hear, hear!
– I am very glad to have that assurance from Senator Wright. I said earlier in my speech that I am no different now from the person I was a year ago. I still think of these things. I bottled them up inside but I gradually reached the stage at which I knew 1 would have to take the step that I did take. Having taken that step, there is no retreat for me on this question. I will support the Government, as I have always done, on general economic policy. Rightly or wrongly, my personal view is that the Government has done a good job in the economic field. I do not reflect on the patriotism, or lack of patriotism, of anyone in this chamber. I believe we are here to do a job for our country, and in that light I have taken my stand. I accept the consequences. I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
– I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 4th April at 3 p.m.
Reports on Items
– I present the report of the Tariff Board on the following subjects
Man-made fibres and yarn
Tyre cord and tyre cord fabric and interim report under the general textile reference on:
Man-made fibres and yarn
Tyre cord and tyre cord fabric
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Board has recommended assistance to the basic products of this industry by way of tariff and a bounty. The Government does not accept the recommendation of the Board that assistance should be in part by bounty. The Board’s report does not advise the Government as to the levels of protection that should be accorded the industry as a whole if bounty is not one of the elements of assistance for the basic products. In these circumstances the Government has not accepted the report and has referred the question of assistance to the industry to the Board for further inquiry and report. lt is desired that in such further inquiry and report the Board should give due regard to the terms of reference.
Pending receipt of the Board’s report, the question of temporary protection to those products to which temporary duties currently apply, and which under the Tariff Board Act must be terminated on 23rd March 1968, has been referred to the Special Advisory Authority. The reference covers also the question of whether temporary protection is necessary on nylon and polyester staple and tow and tyre cord and tyre cord fabrics. This question has been held in abeyance for some months pending receipt and consideration of the report now tabled.
– by leave - I move:
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– In supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply I take the opportunity to speak on several subjects covered by the Governor-General’s Speech. Firstly, I should like to congratulate the Government on its proposal to extend the ambit of operation of the Aged Persons Homes Act. In his Speech the Governor-General said:
Legislation will also be introduced to expand the scope of the Aged Persons Homes Act by making local governing bodies eligible for subsidy.
That is particularly interesting to me. In the early days, before the Commonwealth Government came into this scheme to house aged persons, local government bodies played probably the most important part, or a very important part at any rate, in providing homes for these people. Having had experience of local government in Queensland, 1 know that many municipalities in that State set about providing homes for the aged. Senator Gair, a former Premier of Queensland, will remember that the State Government generously contributed towards the cost of constructing such homes on a £1 for £1 basis, matching the contribution made by councils from either loan funds or revenue funds.
In those days the question of providing homes for the older people was not so much in the forefront of our minds as it is today. I can well remember during my time in local government embarking on such schemes and providing comfortable homes for these people. I am very pleased to see that local government has now been brought into the Federal sphere. Some time ago, when the Commonwealth introduced the scheme, 1 spoke about this matter but the Government did not see fit to bring local government authorities into it. The present proposal is a change very much for the better because 1 do not think it is fair to expect church and charitable organisations, in the main, to provide these homes. For that reason, the Government’s proposal to get behind the local government authorities in the provision of homes for aged people is a very good one. It is probable that with the continued support of the various State governments whose funds help very materially - at least this is the case in my own State of Queensland - more and more homes will be provided for the people who need them. My own State led in this way many years before the Federal Government came into the scheme.
I feel that this is one of the most human aspects of legislation that we have seen. The Commonwealth Government in providing these funds over the years has done a wonderful job in this regard. The thing that we must remember is that everybody, if he or she lives long enough, becomes old. Therefore, we must think of the people who are aged. Who knows when the time may come that somebody will be very glad t be provided with a home as is provided under this scheme. It is not always a matter of people being short of funds and so on.
There are other aspects concerning the homes. They provide the opportunity for old people to live together where they have friendship and fellowship with people who are of similar age.
One of the greatest tragedies of old age is the loneliness. When travelling home on Friday after the parliamentary sitting I read one of a series of three articles in the Sydney Morning Herald’ on the problems of aged people. I read about an elderly lady. The accompanying photograph of her showed a face, deeply lined, and full of character. She instanced how the kindness of certain people made life much better and more worth while. Her case was tragic in the respect that she had a married daughter who never bothered about her. The article instanced the good that organisations do in making these old people better off. It is the simple things that play a very important part in the lives of elderly people. I read that she said that one of the nicest things that happened to her each day was that a nurse who lived down the road came in to see her and talk to her. That was a great moment to her each day because she was lonely.
The other thing that really made her life worth while was the service provided by the Meals on Wheels organisation which visited her every day. These two events in her day made her life worth living. It impressed on my mind, in the case of loneliness and old age, that little gestures which we may not think very much of can be very important in the life of an old person who is alone. Therefore, I feel that the provision of more and more of these homes not only provides old people with good accommodation but also gives them the opportunity to be closer to other old people. They have a feeling of companionship. They talk together. They see other people. It is the very fact that this happens that makes life much more enjoyable for them.
I remember discussions about the possibility of putting an old people’s home on a piece of land in my own city of Mackay. As a matter of fact, the church asked me whether I would consider donating it for this purpose. I would have donated the land provided everything was all right. But I discussed the matter with a man who was an expert in this field. He said: ‘It is too far out. These people want to be close to where other people live. Sometimes relatives neglect old people. If these old people are surrounded by homes owned by other people, a kindly neighbour may come along and say “Hello” every now and then. These are the great events in the lives of old people.’
I am delighted to see that the Government is taking this matter a step further in the human aspect and providing old people’s homes and also bringing local government into the scheme. The former Premier of Queensland, Senator Gair, will correct me if I am wrong but, to my knowledge, this is the first occasion the Commonwealth Government or any Commonwealth authority has joined with local government in such a scheme. Generally the Commonwealth regards local governments as State Government instrumentalities. We all know that there are three forms of government in this country - the Commonwealth Government, the State governments and local government. Local government is the oldest form of government. Sometimes it is overlooked. But it plays an extremely important part. It is an activity of government that is closer to the people than any other form of government. I am delighted that the Federal Government has seen fit to take this very forward step in giving support to local government and so providing homes for old people. This is one of the finest pieces of humanitarian legislation that has ever been put on the statute book of any Parliament.
Another aspect to which the GovernorGeneral referred in his Speech relates to the proposal by the Government to set up a water conservation authority. This is a very important step. I am sure that everyone will agree that the conservation of water is one of the most vital and important requirements of this country. Australia is said to be the driest continent on Earth. Certain parts of the Commonwealth generally speaking have a copious rainfall. This rainfall is heavy at certain times. This means that there is quite an extensive run off. So, the water is lost. If the Federal Government goes about the matter in this way and if the matter is handled strongly and properly, this would certainly be the best and probably the most efficient way of dealing with this matter of water conservation.
If the authority that is set up is one that is imbued with the idea of a true national purpose for the benefit of this country, I think that it could transform Australia in many respects. It is a fact that where water is available it makes the difference between almost drought and a really vigorous growth in the matter of production. I have seen places where water has been conserved. It has made the standard of living better because of the much higher production from the soil. It has made for a general standard of prosperity in the area. I know that there are all sorts of arguments used as to whether it is an economic factor here, there or anywhere else. I think we have to take into consideration that this is a continent which we hold. There is a challenge to us to develop it in all respects as quickly as we can.
I know that we have not the population to do all that we would like to do. But I do think that there is a need to disperse such things as these water conservation projects. They should not be concentrated in one or two small areas of the Commonwealth. Sometimes although it may be more economic to establish such a scheme in one place rather than another, this is not to say that the place where it is not so economic should not be given consideration. My own feeling is that we have a challenge so far as the northern areas of this Commonwealth are concerned. It is a very big challenge. But we also have a requirement upon us to do something about it.
I feel that the time might well come that, if this is not done other people might say: ‘Australia is not prepared to do certain things in certain parts of the country. Why should Australia be allowed to hold the country?’ We know that we are in a very strong changing world so far as relationships and the demands of different countries are concerned. 1 think that it is useless for us to say that we will develop one portion of the Commonwealth and leave another because there are other people who may have hungry eyes on the areas which we despise or neglect. Therefore 1 believe that the Government is taking a forward step in setting up this water conservation authority. If the authority is comprised of people who will take a broad view of the Commonwealth generally, I feel that some thing very fine for this nation should come from its work.
I have heard certain people criticising northern development. Recently I noticed in one of Melbourne’s newspapers a review of a book by a man named Davidson. Reference was made to the necessity to subsidise certain farmers in order to encourage production in the north. In many cases Australian secondary industry is subsidised by the people of this country. They are paying high prices for goods which could be imported for less. People who live in the northern regions where i live do not harp on this matter. We realise that Australia’s industrial development is essential. In many instances the primary producers and the people who live in remote areas have to pay higher prices for Australian produced goods. But they are prepared to do so because they know that it means the development of this country. That is a subsidy from the individual purse. There is no argument about that.
Motor vehicles are manufactured in the southern parts of Australia. Brisbane is the most northern point at which motor vehicles are manufactured. What do we find today? Japanese cars can be landed in the northern regions of Australia at a cheaper price than they can be landed in the southern ports. Because Japanese vehicles come by ship direct to the northern ports, people can save the money which it would cost to bring them from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane. As a consequence, northerners can buy Japanese cars at a cheaper price. But the argument has gone forth that protection must be given to our Australian industry. So we will find that the cars that the people in the north and probably also in the west can buy more cheaply than in the south, will be dearer because of the tariff imposition necessary to protect our Australian industry. The people in remote areas will have to pay more for Japanese cars.
This is the situation in Australia. We are Australians and we say: ‘Well, this is just the way things are. If we want secondary industries we have to support them.’ In many instances we have to pay a higher price for articles in the northern part of Queensland and in other northern areas because of the need for secondary industries in this country. Therefore in thinking of northern development we must remember that while some people believe there is need for a subsidy, a broad conception must be taken of northern development. I am quite sure that if we do not make strong efforts to develop the north somebody else will take the opportunity to do so.
There is another matter that 1 do not think is mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech but 1 know that it was mentioned in the Government’s policy speech. I. refer to beef roads. The Government has already moved in this matter. I noticed this morning in a Brisbane newspaper a report to the effect that a considerable amount of money will bc provided for my own State for the construction of beef roads over a period of years. Western Australia and the Northern Territory have been receiving a subsidy in this regard for some time. I think that probably the late Mr Ernest Evans who was Minister for Main Roads in Queensland and his Department first made this suggestion, through the Queensland Cabinet, to the Commonwealth. This has been a very forward move because I think that beef roads are essential to the people living in the western and far distant north western regions of my own State and in other parts of northern Australia.
I believe that when the beef roads scheme ultimately is complete it will serve a first class purpose. It will allow the transportation of stock and of goods required by the people who live in these areas. I believe that it is up to the people living in the much more comfortable coastal areas to do whatever they can to make life worth while for the people who live in sparsely populated regions. They have to endure many difficulties that people living in Canberra and the other capital cities could not envisage. The people in these country areas play a very great part in the development of this country. The export of the goods they produce earns overseas credits. These people experience adverse conditions, such as the recent drought. Many of them probably lose almost everything they have when there is a drought such as the one which we have just experienced.
Therefore I believe that the beef roads scheme which the Commonwealth Government has commenced is one of the best things that has happened in the sparsely populated areas of the Commonwealth where sheep and cattle are run. With the beef roads scheme and the establishment of a water conservation authority, 1 hope that the future will be a bright one. I believe that with water conservation we can save a valuable asset. When a drought occurs the loss of stock means the loss of a very valuable national asset. Although the cattle and sheep belong to individual persons, very often they are an exportable commodity. If stock is lost it means not only the loss of a national asset but also the loss of a very important export which we require to bring in overseas credits. When huge stock losses take place because of shortage of water in a drought, the nation is struck a blow and it takes a very long time for it to recover.
Senator Bull, who unfortunately is indisposed at the present time, made a speech in this chamber in which he spoke of the period of time it takes to recover from a big drought. His story on that occasion was a most impressive one. It indicated very clearly that we should do all we can in the provision of roads, in water conservation and so on to minimise losses as much as possible during trying periods such a droughts. The introduction of these measures is of real value not only to the people who own properties but also to the nation generally.
I was delighted to see the following reference in the Governor-General’s Speech:
My Government intends to introduce legislation to establish an Australian Tourist Commission to co-operate with State and other bodies. This Commission will undertake the promotion overseas of Australia’s tourist attractions, and will work to stimulate increases in the already substantial (low of tourists to Australia and the consequential foreign exchange earnings.
As one who has spoken on this matter since entering the Senate in 1949, I am delighted that the Government intends to take this step. I think that it will be a real step forward in the development of what can be an extremely important industry for Australia. As I have said, one of the most essential requirements of t-his country at the present time is an increase in our overseas earnings. This is a very important matter to us. Let us think what it would mean to Australia if we could overnight eliminate our adverse overseas balances. Obviously the tourist industry is an industry which with increased promotion could be extremely important to this country. Therefore I congratulate the Government on taking this step. I hope that the people who are appointed to the Commission will have a sound knowledge of how to go about promoting Australia and that they will be able to do this in a much more vigorous way than is the case at the moment. It is very important for the Commonwealth to ensure that they have sufficient money to promote Australia properly.
After this Government assumed office in 1949 it paid a subsidy to the Australian National Travel Association of, I think, £25,000 a year. Over the years, as a result of agitation, the Government increased that allocation until, if I remember rightly, it is now about $920,000. I said in 1949 that we ought to step up the contribution to half a million pounds. We have not quite arrived at that figure, but we are not far short of it. We aim in a little while to make it £lm or $2m. In 1949 a sum of half a million pounds seemed a lot of money. But if you want to advertise a country you must go about it in a strong way so that you can get sufficient penetration to impress people and so they know that the country exists. Advertising is like the rain. If the rain is light it will not bring up much growth, or at the most will bring up just light growth. But if it is heavy, you get a good response; you get rich growth. If this country really wants to advertise overseas, it must spend money.
I have said time after time that Great Britain is much closer to the larger populations of the world than we are. Great Britain has historical appeal, and the appeal of entertainment and scenery. It is close to Europe and it enjoys many advantages in attracting tourists from countries like the United States of America and Canada. For years Great Britain spent more than £stg1m in advertising its attractions. I have not the present figure in my mind, but it is much higher than that. The result is that Britain has built up a very large tourist industry. It is of no use for people to say that Britain has these attractions and it is only natural that people should go there. People have gone there because Britain has advertised and has let them know about its attractions.
I have mentioned before that Mr Alf Cole, a former Director of the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau, who unfortunately was killed in the Fokker aircraft crash at Mackay, once showed me a book which was written by a person who stated that the aim of Great Britain was to build up a tourist industry worth £l00m a year. When that idea was conceived the tourist industry was so small that it seemed fantastic. At the time it almost made one gasp to think of an industry of that size being established. Actually Britain has gone far beyond that point. The tourist industry is now one of the major industries of Great Britain. It is bringing in badly needed funds from overseas.
Only by concentrated advertising and publicity spread over a great area can we attract people to Australia. I am amazed that the Government has not approached this matter in a much stronger way in the past. With the country under new management - under the direction of the present Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt)- it is refreshing to see a new forward looking policy. If we advertise we will get a response quickly. As one who has been in the tourist industry for years, I know what I am talking about. If we were to start advertising in the United States today, we would have people coming here in greater numbers in a month’s time and dropping their dollars in this country. The response would be as quick as that, because there are always people who are going on holidays. We have a wonderful opportunity.
To give the Senate an idea of how people spend money, let me mention what happens on the little island of Bermuda. In my home city of Mackay there is a gentleman who was a nurseryman in Bermuda. He decided to retire in Mackay. He came to see me. He told me that Bermuda spends the equivalent of $A2im a year on advertising the island. This island has an area of less than forty square miles. He told me also about Barbados Island and a few other places which have a tremendous tourist industry.
– They have a big population not far away.
– Yes, but they advertise. If you do not advertise your wares it does not matter how close you are or how much you have. In those circumstances nobody knows what you have. This man said that the sugar industry was the main industry on Barbados. Then because of fluctuations in the price of sugar difficult times were experienced. So the people there promoted a tourist industry and now they have stability and prosperity. If a place like Bermuda, which is less than 40 square miles in area, can spend the equivalent of $A2im a year on advertising, Australia should be able to do so. Here is a lesson for us. We should set our sights much higher than we have in the past and should spend a lot more money on advertising. 1 am not berating the Government for not having done this. Over the years it has raised its contribution to the tourist industry considerably. Possibly the members of the Ministry, not knowing the tourist industry as well as they might, think that they have made a magnificent gesture. When we see what is being done elsewhere, we should realise just what a grand opportunity we have to improve our tourist industry. If we let people know what we have, they will come here. 1 was a member of a delegation to Mexico and South America which was very ably led by Senator Gorton. On the way home I investigated the tourist industry in various places. I stayed at Miami, the great tourist centre in the United States. As one drives along the ocean road there one secs huge buildings which have been erected for tourists and which extend not just for one mile but for miles. It might bc argued that the United States has a bigger population and that this centre of attraction is situated within the country. But if Miami had not let the people of the United States know of its attractions, it would not be as big as it is today. As one travels through this centre one sees building after building, hotels and motels, not two storeys high but twenty-two storeys high. There are luxurious buildings as well as buildings for people of ordinary financial means. One is amazed when one realises the value of this industry.
– Is it as good as Surfers Paradise?
– Surfers Paradise, which is situated in my own State of Queensland, has been developed along similar lines. Over the years people have done a very good job there. Many people have invested money in the area and it is growing continually. Honourable senators who took advantage of the opportunity last night or tonight to see the film that was screened in this building saw a fifty-five minute picture which depicted the Gold Coast of Queensland. On my way back from overseas I looked at places such as Los Angeles and San Francisco and then stopped off at Hawaii. There a new hotel of 500 rooms is being erected. Last year a similar hotel was built, and in the year before that another was erected. Senator Dittmer was in Honolulu when I was there. He stayed at one hotel and I stayed at another.
– You could not agree even there?
– The accommodation centres were full. The hotel at which he stayed was one of a chain of five huge hotels which accommodated hundreds of people, it was being doubled in size. Its owners would not have been doing that if they were not making a profit out of the chain. Each year new hotels are being built there. One huge hotel which had been opened only twelve months earlier was full. As 1 drove down the main boulevard in Honolulu, I saw that in spite of opposition another big hotel was being built by American interests and two more were being built by Japanese interests.
So there is a forward movement in the tourist industry even in the places that are well developed already. The reasons for this are that society generally is becoming more and more affluent and it is easier for people to travel. There is quicker transport today than ever before. At one time a person could not go outside his own country on his annual holiday. But today an Australian can go to Japan, have a holiday there and stop off at Manila, Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong in his three weeks annual holiday. Because of the development of faster means of transportation it is very easy for people to travel. The tourist industry is gathering momentum not only because of the increase in the population but also because of the development of the means of transporting people to and from places. In Honolulu, despite the fact that the amount of accommodation has increased over the years, hotel after hotel is still being built. When 1 was reading one of the travel trade magazines recently I had to rub my eyes when 1 saw that another big hotel, of which construction had not even started when I was there, had been completed. That shows how things are moving.
In Hong Kong new hotels are being built. Last year one with SOO or 600 rooms was opened. The year before another one was built. Now another one is being built. Some timid people doubt whether they will be filled; but they will be, because the tourist trade in Hong Kong is bounding ahead year by year. There is a real lift in this industry. Over a period of years Switzerland has developed a tremendous tourist trade. Our next door neighbour, New Zealand, was much more vigorous than we were in developing the tourist industry in the early years. The result is that it has developed a very good industry. New Zealand is very close to Australia but it gets not only a lot of Australian trade but also a lot of trade from other countries. It has been spending much more money than we have spent on promoting the country. The quality of its publications is excellent. It really went after the tourist industry.
Today South Africa is promoting itself. In roy experience in the industry I have never seen better tourist promotion publicity than that which comes out of the South African Tourist Board. It is really first class. I do not know what South Africa is spending, but it is certainly doing a good job. From what I can gather, despite the apartheid problem, because of which some people will not go to the country, its tourist industry is expanding.
So, if we want to develop this industry into a really big income earner we have to spend money in order to let people know that Australia exists and what it has to offer. Do not tell me that everybody knows everything about Australia. That is not so. Sir Eric Harrison, when he arrived back in Australia on one occasion during his term as Australian High Commissioner in London, said: ‘Goodness gracious me, even businessmen in England ask me what language we speak in Australia’. People come back from other countries and say that people there do not know much about us. We have the opportunity in this new authority that the Government proposes to establish. If we make available sufficient funds to enable it to provide a really vigorous drive, we can transform this country’s international tourist trade.
The tourist industry plays a very important role in many respects. Many people, when they speak of this industry, speak of it as ‘tourism’. I never do. I speak of it as the tourist industry because it is an industry. The sooner the Government declares it an industry the better it will be for the trade. Let me refer to employment. On the basis i:hat a hotel employs one person for every three guests, a hotel accommodating SOO people will employ 166 people and a hotel accommodating 1,000 people will employ 333 people. That is just in one building. That is a pretty big business.
Because the people who work in the hotels live in the community they spend money in shops and in various other ways, homes have to be built for them, transport has to be provided for them and so on. They must pay for these things. They are spending money in the butcher’s shop, the baker’s shop, the grocer’s shop and everywhere else. It is like a snowball. Thousands of people ate employed in the big tourist cities. Many more people have to be employed to cater for the people employed directly in the tourist industry. When those people are employed, more people have to be employed to cater for them. So it has a real snowballing effect. This is a wonderful opportunity.
During the Second World War Mackay was the rest centre for the Fifth and Thirteenth American Air Forces. A Mr Eadie, knowing that I was interested in the tourist industry, wrote to Petersburg in the United States and obtained information for me from the Chamber of Commerce. That information was amazing. Contrary to what people might think, the great tourist cities of the United States - not the great industrial cities such as the motor car manufacturing city of Detroit - have the highest per capita income in the country. In addition, the property valuations in the great tourist cities are higher than those in any other part of the United States.
The beautiful thins about this industry is that it is the cleanest industry of all. There is no smog, grime or dust, as there is in secondary industries. It is also the only industry I know in which one sells his products, such as scenery and features, but retains them after the tourist has paid for them and gone back home.
– Something for nothing.
– That is right. The tourists come and drop their dollars into our coffers and help to develop our country. That is an indication of how valuable this industry can be. Some years ago the United Nations used to put out a monthly magazine. We used to receive copies of it. I think it was referred to as the bridge of the tourist industry. It pointed out many aspects of the industry, including the fact that it was worth more than the great wheat industry on a world basis.
Many people have the idea that when a tourist comes to a place all he pays for is his accommodation. We hear people say that tourists do not spend anything apart from paying for their accommodation. 1 ask the honourable senators how many of them have ever travelled and not spent anything apart from paying for their accommodation. Of course they spent money, whether it was to buy a daily newspaper, to buy something that they wanted in a shop or to pay a bus fare or a taxi fare. It is amazing how the spending of the tourist goes right through the community. I am not a smoker or a drinker, and I am a bachelor, but T have never been able to travel without spending money. The percolating effect of money spent by tourists is remarkable. Tourists pay for accommodation in a hotel, but it does not end there. They eat butter, bread, meat, sugar and fruit - things which are produced here. So the tourists engender a demand which extends to primary producers. These are details that few people think about, and that is why I am speaking in this detailed way.
If thousands of people visit a country, it is amazing what they consume. Every time a tourist turns on the electric light in his room he is indirectly a customer of the local electricity authority. This means that he is an indirect consumer of coal produced from our mines. I have heard doctors and lawyers ask what the tourist industry means to them. The fact is that it is more important to them than they admit. The people who are employed in hotels and other places looking after tourists are possible clients of the professional people. Shops might not supply tourist hotels directly, but the employees of the hotels arc their customers. So we can see how far reaching are the effects of the tourist industry. Consider big hotels like the Qantas hotel in Sydney. Hotels of that sort cater for tourists from throughout the world. A lot of work is entailed in building them. It means employment for bricklayers, concrete workers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and others. I point this out because so many people think the tourist industry affects only the wealthy. In fact it affects the working man in a very important way, because the building of hotels can take a long time. This means employment for the workers. When you consider the tourist industry in detail you find out how important it is to the internal economy and to the ordinary person in the community. When a hotel is completed, it requires furnishings and carpets. This creates more work and business for those who manufacture carpets and furniture. The money paid in wages spreads throughout the community, more employment is given in more industries and the country benefits.
The tourist industry provides revenue for those who operate transport services. People who travel go by road, air and rail. Those who operate these services and those who run hotels and motels at a profit pay taxes to the Commonwealth Government. So the bigger the tourist industry, the more the Commonwealth will make indirectly through taxation. The Government will probably get more than its money back. Expenditure on the tourist industry will pay the Commonwealth good dividends. Think of the excise duties that will be paid by tourists who smoke cigarettes and drink liquor. The tourist trade has wide ramifications of interest to the Government. From the Government’s point of view it is a good business proposition to set up an organisation like the proposed tourist commission. If the Government spends $2m a year on building up the industry it will more than get its money back from the profits of those who operate the industry, and in excise. I am sure the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) will agree with me on that point.
There are great opportunities before our eyes in the tourist industry. Recently there has been a reduction in overseas air fares.
Travel agents have been to Australia from the United States of America and other countries, gathering information about the tourist attractions of Australia. With package tours, which are completely planned for accommodation, transport and so on, we will get more people from places like the United States. As fares are reduced on international airlines, there will be an increasing flow of overseas tourists to Australia. This will be only the beginning. By about 1970 there will be jumbo jet aircraft on international services carrying 450 to 550 people on each flight. The airlines will be looking for places for the passengers to visit. If the Government seizes the opportunity and lets people know that we can offer tourists something worthwhile, the airlines will spend money to build up the flights. These operations with big aircraft are only three years away. We should aci now and saturate the minds of people overseas with information to prove to them that Australia is the place to spend a holiday. With the introduction of the jumbo jets, people will come here in numbers which will astound us.
It is pleasing to see good class hotels and motels going up in the capital cities and generally throughout Australia. If the Commonwealth Government is alive to the situation and makes a strong effort in relation to overseas advertising, and if it secures the co-operation of the States, more and more money will be invested in the industry. We always get the doubting Thomases. There is always somebody who says that we can’t do this or that we have not got that. They are the sort of people who carry fences around with them so that they can jump over them. They cannot see the vision splendid or the opportunity. Senator Gair will remember that when I first started the Great Barrier Reef tourist industry in my own city of Mackay people at the Rotary Club and elsewhere said: ‘You will never get a tourist industry. You will never do this and that.’ Recently we had a meeting of our development organisation and when the graphs went up the No. 1 industry in the city and district of Mackay, which is the largest sugar producing centre in Australia, was the sugar industry. No. 2 was the tourist industry, the industry that they told me could not be established. It displaced the cattle industry, the dairy industry and the timber industry, lt rose from away down at the bottom to No. 2 position, and we have not even scratched the surface. I believe that in Australia generally we have not scratched the surface. Do not let us be dragged back by the doubting Thomases.
– The wet blankets.
– The wet blankets, as Senator Gair says. We have certain features. There are things that we have in this country that people will enjoy seeing. There are certain features with which we can draw people. They are the first drawcards. We have several features that will tickle the mental palates of people who will come to Australia to see them.
– Not every country has the tropical setting that we have from Mackay northwards.
– That is right. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the great wonders of the world. There have been difficulties in relation to bad weather and so forth but these things are being overcome with the placing of floating pontoons on the Reef and landings by helicopter. These difficulties are only challenges to overcome. Difficulties are only challenges at any time, if we are strong enough and big enough to meet them. I believe that the Great Barrier Reef will be possibly our No. 1 drawcard from an international point of view. It is the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s greatest barrier reef. When we speak of it we must not speak of it as the barrier reef. That is the type of reef that it is. There is a barrier reef in Noumea and there are barrier reefs elsewhere. This is the world’s greatest, the Great Barrier Reef. It is a very precious asset to my own State of Queensland and one which will be very precious to the Commonwealth of Australia in encouraging tourists. We must have mental ticklers to bring people out here and that is one of them. Another one, I believe, is the red centre of Australia - Ayers Rock and the surrounding area. I believe that there is a great opportunity there. It is a very colourful area. With its great colour and with proper accommodation and transportation it would appeal to the American people. There is a combination that will attract people. We must have some points of attraction. I believe that the very outback itself has an imaginative appeal to people from overseas. They want to see the outback with its great sheep stations and things of that nature. A very important asset that we have, which most of us do not appreciate, is sunshine. The first Director of the Australian National Travel Association, considered that the sunshine of Australia was one of our great tourist attractions to people from other countries where sunshine is not nearly as prevalent as it is here.
Then we have our native trees, the eucalypts, and other forms of vegetation. Senator Gair, the former Queensland Premier, has pointed out that in Queensland we have an intermingling of tropical vegetation with the usual Australian vegetation such as eucalypts. In Victoria we have some magnificent gum forests which are most impressive, which one sees driving in the Marysville district. Do not tell me that people are not interested in Australian trees. When we were in Mexico and in the five South American countries - Peru, Chile, Argentine, Uruguay and Brazil - eighteen months ago with the Commonwealth delegation, what did we find? I wonder what those people would do for trees if they did not have Australian trees. As I said to someone, 1 saw millions of Australians in those countries. They said: ‘Fancy’. I said: Yes, Australian gum trees.’ When I was buying a little jewellery ornament in a shop in Buenos Aires in the Argentine, a young lady showed me an article and said: ‘This is made from a tree. There is only one variety in the world and there is only one country in which it grows.’ I said: ‘What is the name of the tree?’ Being Spanish, she spoke English with an accent and she said something that sounded like ‘Eucalypt’. I said: ‘Eucalypt? That is our Australian gum tree. Goodness me, if I take that home and tell people that the tree grew only in the Argentine they would think I had taken to drink.’ But she really believed it. because the eucalypt is such a famous tree there. If Senator Gorton were here, he would agree that as we went through Uruguay we drove through beautiful avenues of eucalypts. Out in the country there were groves and forests of them. They are a most valuable tree. I have not been to Israel and Egypt but these trees are even in those places.
When I was in Los Angeles, a negro chap who was a commentator on a tour pointed out some trees and said: T had better not say anything about these. They are Australian eucalypt trees and Senator Wood knows a lot more about them than I do.’ In some gardens in Los Angeles and around the homes of some of the film stars our paper bark trees are grown. Australian trees are unique and so are our fauna. These things have an appeal. If people overseas want to see our trees in their own areas, they will want to see them growing in their native state. Our trees grow better over there as the people do not put them in the worst soil, as we do in Australia; they give them the best soil. Wherever one goes, one finds these things. We get the slick sophisticated authors coming back from overseas telling us not to talk about our koalas and our gum trees, that they do not mean a thing to people overseas, but everyone is not a sophisticated author. Most people are ordinary like ourselves.
We had little kangaroo badges that the Department gave us and we were nearly knocked over by people who wanted them in South America and Mexico. I remember that I was getting a bit short of them in Mexico City and I handed one to a lady who oohed and aahed. I said: ‘Do not say where you got it from’, but she held it up and the staff in the shop ran over and I got out because I thought that the boss might be on my track. In Mexico City, at the hotel at which we stayed, what was the name of the room in which we had our coffee? It reminded me of the Gold Coast, where American names are copied. When we walked into the coffee room of this magnificent hotel we saw that it was called the Koala Room, yet people tell us that these things are of no interest. Take it from me that our Australian trees and fauna have a great interest for people overseas. Despite what some people say, we have many features. Apart from the strong international drawcards, we have beautiful country along the New South Wales and Victorian coasts.
– And the Blue Mountains.
– Yes, we have the mountains in various parts of the country. I was in Tasmania in October and November, when the flowers and native vegetation were delightful. I am quite sure that we have in this country sufficient variety to entertain people and to give them a very happy holiday.
– Have they any red kangaroos in those overseas countries?
– I did not see any red kangaroos, but I agree with Senator Mulvihill that we have to take some steps really to preserve a considerable amount of our native fauna so that people can see and enjoy them, because I believe that they have an increasing attraction so far as the tourist is concerned. Apart from attractions, I believe the Australian people can play a very important part in encouraging tourists and developing the tourist industry to an even higher peak. The friendliness of our people can have a snowballing effect on the tourist industry. It does not matter who you are. If you go to a place where people are friendly, you feel a warmth. In those circumstances people come back home and say: ‘That is a great place to have a holiday. It is nice to see the features of interest and the people are wonderful. They are friendly.’ That is a most important factor. People can play a great part. Girls and men working in offices, restaurants and hotels - no matter where - can help. We should inculcate in our people the necessity to be friendly to tourists and make them realise that tourism is their bread and butter. Then they will play an increasingly important part in encouraging more and more people to this country. Wc are all human beings. If we visit a country where people are kind to us it can make a marvellous difference to a holiday. I believe we have a great country to sell to the tourists.
– Which part of it does the honourable senator think has the most tourist appeal.
– 1 think the honourable senator was out of the chamber when I said that from an advertising point of view certain features can be made to have tourist appeal. They are the foretastes that encourage people to come here. When they are here on a package tour, the other features are included to fill in, and I am sure that they will be pleasing to them. Senator Lillico comes from Tasmania. I have referred to that beautiful State. However, I think the number one attraction of Australia is the Great Barrier Reef, followed by the red centre of Australia. Senator Wedgwood comes from Victoria, where there are magnificent forest areas which any tourist would want to see. There is some lovely country in Victoria. 1 have spoken extensively on the tourist industry because to me a milestone has been reached in its development. Over the years the Australian National Travel Association has played a very important part. It has done a wonderful job in promoting Australia although because of shortage of funds it has not been able to do all that it has had in mind. The organisation was started by a Victorian Commissioner of Railways, Sir Harold Clapp, and over the years it has done a wonderful job. It is a tribute to the memory of its founder that it has worked so well over the years.
Now the Government is approaching the subject in a proper way by setting up the Australian Tourist Commission. I sincerely hope that it will be supplied with sufficient funds to make it really worthwhile and to bring about results of which we can be proud. In simple terms, if you shout loudly enough and long enough people will know about you, and what you have to offer, and in the result you will get the returns. Things are on the move. International air fares have been reduced. Jumbo jets are likely to operate in the near future. Magnificent international ocean liners operated by P & O Orient, Lloyd Triestino, Flotta Lauro and Chandris Lines are coming to Australia. I think we are set for a great flow of international tourists, provided that the matter is tackled in the correct way, as I believe the Commonwealth Government proposes to tackle it. After the Commission has been established and has set about its tasks, in a few years we will see what wonderful progress has been achieved. A geat industry will be built up making Australia wealthier as a result and overseas credits, one of the most important needs of Australia, will be established.
I now wish to discuss the Senate. A lot has been said about the Senate in recent times because of the proposed referendum on the breaking of the nexus. I think we should take a look at what has been achieved over the years by the Senate. I believe that the Senate today is a much better House than it was some years ago. Since I entered the Senate in 1949 it has lifted its standards greatly. It is a dignified chamber, which I think is appropriate to Parliament. The standard of debate is high because honourable senators keep to the subject; that is why it may seem to people that a debate is a little dry. I believe it is considered that the debate in the Senate on the Estimates is of a much better standard than is the Estimates debate in another place. Honourable senators really take the Estimates apart. They want to know why appropriations are made. I think we can be proud of that. In the main, the Press ignores the Senate, but that does not worry us from the point of view of conducting ourselves in accordance with the highest parliamentary traditions.
A tribute should be paid to a certain member of this Parliament for the existence of the Senate in its present form. Years ago senators were elected by a different type of voting with the result that very often it was a lopsided Senate. When Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin entered the Senate there were thirty-three Labor senators and only three non-Labor senators. Tt is obvious that it was a very lopsided House and not of much use. I can remember another time when there were thirty-five senators on the Government side and only one Labor senator - Jupp Gardiner. Under the system of voting there was bound to be a swing one way or the other.
I want to pay a tribute to the man who brought about the proportional representation system. I refer to Mr Arthur Calwell who, as a member of the Chifley Government, was responsible for introducing the proportional representation system by which senators are now elected. Since that time we have had an almost evenly divided Senate, without a great majority one way or the other. For that reason I believe that it is a much more interesting House. Under the present system parties are aware that number one and number two on the ticket are certainties. An opportunity is given to them to select well qualified men for those positions and so improve the standard of their party representatives in the Senate.
As Mr Arthur Calwell is probably serving his last term in Parliament, in the other place, I would like to pay a tribute to him for what he did for the Senate. I believe it is the greatest thing ever done for the Senate, other than its initiation. I think that tribute should be paid to him, and should have been paid before now. There has been a great deal of criticism of Mr Calwell, but I believe that we owe him a great debt. When he retires from Parliament, whatever else may be said about his setting up of the immigration programme, I believe his true mark on Parliament will be the great improvement that he brought about to the Senate in his term as a Minister in the Chifley Government. I offer that tribute to him for what he has done. I have taken the opportunity to direct the attention of the Senate to various aspects of the Governor-General’s Speech. I join in supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wedgwood) - I call Senator Cormack.
– Another stone-waller.
– I rise to support the motion moved by Senator Cotton for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. I heard Senator Murphy say that I was rising to stone-wall. I am brought to my feet by the fact that at an earlier hour we had the benefit of hearing Senator Hannaford’s apologia pro vita sua. I told the honourable senator that I intended to address myself substantially to some of his remarks. Unfortunately he is not in the chamber at present. Nevertheless, I feel impelled to take some time to reply to his remarks.
Senator Hannaford obviously has become deeply involved in the problem of South Vietnam as he sees it, but I think it is fair to say that he probably does not understand the problems associated with a change of allegiance such as he has made. Honourable senators will acknowledge, of course, that Parliament as a source of power derives its sanction from the electorate. The electorate specifically returned a majority of Government candidates in the election for the House of Representatives when the issue was Australian involvement in South Vietnam. It is useless for Senator Hannaford to produce a long list of specious figures and to try to show that South Vietnam was not the issue at the election that took place prior to Christmas 1966. Tn fact, it was the issue between the two contending parties. The then Leader of the Opposition in another place said that he would challenge the Government to go to the people on the question of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam and the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) accepted that challenge. The electoral opinion, expressed in the number of Government supporters returned to another place, showed in the clearest and most conclusive way that the electorate understood the problem of South Vietnam and supported the Government’s action in relation to it. 1 said that Parliament derives its sanction as a source of power from the electorate. lt is also true to say that those who are elected on the Government’s platform and policies are duty bound to support the Government when they come to this place. Bui Senator Hannaford has chosen to move from the Government benches - no-one will offer any marked objection to that - to acknowledge that he does not support the Government on the question of South Vietnam, and to resign from the Party which first brought him into politics as a successful candidate in a Senate election. He was chosen by the electors of South Australia to represent them in matters affecting that Stale. They felt it was just and proper to expect certain things of him. If anyone has such feelings of conscience that he can no longer support the party which elected him, in my opinion the proper course for that person to follow is to resign from the Parliament and either contest the election as an Independent candidate or refrain from contesting it. 1 move now to examine some other aspects of the situation. This evening Senator Hannaford had a substantial audience of members of the Opposition, who encouraged him when he attacked the Government’s policy on Vietnam. I want to direct the attention of the Senate to the difference between the attitude of honourable senators on this side of the chamber and the attitude of members of the Australian Labor Party in another place. When a dissident member of the Australian Labor Party expressed views that were contrary to its stated policy, he was drummed out of the party.
– I am referring to Captain Benson, the member for Batman. The Batman seat had been held by the Aus- tralian Labor Party almost since Federation. Captain Benson went to the electors as an Independent candidate and the electors returned him to the Parliament as their representative. He is not back in the Australian Labor Party. Although the Opposition was encouraging Senator Hannaford this afternoon when he referred to Vietnam, it was not genuinely applauding him. The Opposition hopes that Senator Hannaford’s presence in the corner seat will give it an opportunity to defeat the Government’s policy on Vietnam, notwithstanding that the policy was endorsed by the electors only nine weeks ago.
It is my duly now to examine some of the remarks made by Senator Hannaford. He stated clearly that his defection or his move to the other side of the aisle was due to a matter of conscience. By implication, therefore, no honourable senator on this side has any conscience in relation to the Government’s foreign policy. Therefore, for the strongest possible reasons, I am impelled to comment on certain aspects of Senator Hanna,ford’s speech. When one comes to this place and participates in the focus of power, one must accept the responsibilities that go with that power. It is true that by constitutional devices of one kind or another, oral and written, we accept limitations on the use of that power, but when a problem of this kind is discerned members of both this place and another place, who were chosen to represent the people, are involved in the moral problem of deciding whether to sustain the sanction of power or to move away.
Senator Hannaford ranged back to the p.riod of the Suez crisis and condemned in retrospect the Government which he was elected to represent on the steps it took following the unilateral action of the dictator of the United Arab Republic in seizing the Suez Canal. Senator Wheeldon interjected at the time and said that international law allows a country to take, without notice, the property of another nation. 1 do not know in what section of international law such a proposition can be found. The dictator, now the President, of the United Arab Republic seized the Canal quite a lengthy period before the expiration of a solemn agreement between the Egyptian Government of those days and the Suez Canal Company. He proposed to pay no compensation whatsoever for the seizure of the Canal in defiance of the contractual arrangements between his country and the Suez Canal Company.
– The Egyptians were perfectly entitled to do that under international law, were they not?
– I suppose the honourable senator is just as entitled to advocate that banks should be nationalised without payment of any compensation. That, in effect, was what President Nasser was doing. Senator Murphy is entitled to advocate the nationalisation of property without any compensation because this is a basic philosophy and is the point of view of the honourable senator.
– We would not be able to do this under Australian law but the honourable senator would concede that the Egyptians under international law were entitled to do what they did.
– But not by law. The Egyptians seized the Suez Canal Co. without notice and on the basis of no compensation. It is interesting to see what has happened to Egypt and what has flowed from the seizure of the Suez Canal Co. I wish to allude now to certain matters raised by Senator Hannaford in this context and the situation that exists in that part of Arabia at the present moment. After the seizure of the Suez Canal Co. the United Arab Republic entered into a contractual arrangement with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This followed discussion of one sort and another with, and some disappointment in relation to, the United States of America. The United Arab Republic had attempted to blackmail the United States into financing and supporting the Upper Aswan Dam. The USSR, playing pure politics, supplied the capital and technical resources to build the Upper Aswan Dam for Egypt. The Soviet also supplied to Egypt - the purchase price was high - an enormous quantity of arms including aircraft, tanks and small arms.
Since that time, the economic situation of Egypt has deteriorated to such a condition that the country has defaulted on repayments of the loan to the USSR in respect of the Upper Aswan Dam. Egypt has also defaulted in its interest payments to the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Po- land for arms that it obtained from those countries.
For the last five years, and until recently to my knowledge, 38% of Egypt’s deficiency in grain has been supplied not by the USSR and its satellites but by the USA. In other words, the grain that must be provided in order to keep the people of Egypt on as high a nutritional level as possible has been supplied by way of free gifts from the USA. When Senator Hannaford talks of the USA as a brutal aggressor, I merely quote that example to him in passing - he may read it in Hansard if he wishes - to show that the United Arab Republic has been kept from starvation by the beneficence of the USA.
I said that disastrous things have flowed from the original seizure of the Suez Canal and the erection, support and sustenance of the dictatorship in the United Arab Republic. At the present moment, not by invitation but in association with what is described as a national liberation movement, the Egyptian Army of 50,000 troops is in Yemen. It is carrying out the most terrible bombing raids. There is substantial evidenttiary matter to show that poisonous gas is being used. Yet, the Vietnam situation is such a curiosity that such an adventure as the Socialist dictatorship which the United Arab Republic has produced in Southern Arabia attracts no word of condemnation from a single person in Australia in a public place or in any reading matter as far as 1 can see. This situation is passed over completely as having nothing to do with Australia. Yet, it has in fact an enormous amount to do with Australia because Australia today depends upon the free movement of oil to it from the Persian Gulf area.
A terrible war is raging in Yemen and not one voice is being raised about it in the United Nations. The Yemen operation is an overt operation. The United Nations is ignoring the subvert operation that is taking place as terrorists financed from Cairo murder people here, there and everywhere. The obvious intention of the United Arab Republic is to establish a hegemony over the whole of the southern Arabian Peninsula and incorporate into the entity that it hopes to achieve the trucial States. Finally it hopes to include the rest of the Arabian Peninsula to the north. At that stage, the position of the Commonwealth of Australia will be prejudiced in relation to the maintenance of its industries. It will have no access to oil. Yet, as I have mentioned, there is this complete preoccupation with Vietnam to the exclusion of other menacing events in which Australia must be deeply involved unci of which we must take some cognisance. Therefore I suggest to Senator Hannaford that if he wishes to make a speech condemning the action of the Australian Government of the day in relation to ils support of the United Kingdom, France and Israel over the Suez Canal issue, he should adduce for the benefit ot honourable senators the results which have flowed from this action and which 1 have attempted to describe to the Senate tonight.
The second thing that Senator Hannaford said - 1 have forgotten the order in which he mentioned these matters - was in relation to a question which has already been raised in another place, namely, that Australia has not used its resources, either the Government or agencies of the Government, to attempt to find a solution of the problem in South Vietnam. I reject this claim. J reject it on two grounds. They are: firstly, one has to find the place where one can exercise one’s influence. Therefore, the first place that conies to my mind as to where this influence could be exerted is the United Nations. Yet, every attempt to get the South Vietnam matter before the United Nations has been rejected by the General Assembly. The United Nations as an organisation will not touch this problem. From time to time, the Secretary-General, U Thant, enters into it. So I suggest that it is at least unjust to the Australian Government to say that it has not made any attempt to approach the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations in relation to the South Vietnam problem.
I can say from my own experience as an observer from this Senate and an alternative delegate from the Commonwealth of Australia to the United Nations at the nineteenth Session that the problem of obtaining peace in Vietnam was a constant preoccupation of the delegates who represented this Parliament at the United Nations. An honourable senator from the Opposition side who was my charming companion in this matter can verify that constant attempts were made at the level at which these attempts were only proper at that stage to put the Australian opinion in relation to South Vietnam. Moreover, I can say to the Senate without, I hope, any contradiction, that I attended by invitation many meetings as one of the Australian delegates in company with officials of the Department of External Affairs. Thos© meetings were attended by representatives of all members of the United Nations to see whether it was possible, within the ambit of that organisation, to attempt to bring some pressure to bear in order to obtain peace in South Vietnam.
The major forces involved in the North and South Vietnam situation are the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America. Let me speak firstly about the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom as co-chairmen of the 1954 Geneva convention. How dare any member of this Parliament say that no attempt has been made through channels that are readily open to us in Australia to the United Kingdom to attempt to achieve (he modus operandi by which peace can be obtained in South Vietnam? To say this would not be true. The other major elements of power in this context are the Chinese People’s Republic, and the United States of America.
There is enough evidentiary material for those who care to look and read to indicate that any attempt to persuade the Hanoi Government to acknowledge the need for peace in South Vietnam is resisted by the Chinese People’s Republic. An examination of the broadcasts from Peking, for example, which are available to any honourable senator will indicate in the clearest terms that the Chinese People’s Republic is exerting every possible means of pressure on North Vietnam to deter it from making any concession by which peace might be obtained. It is true - this is also within the public domain and not from Government sources - that on at least a dozen occasions the United States of America has made representations in Warsaw in an attempt to get the major warring parties to the conference table. Every attempt that has been made by the United States of America to obtain peace in South Vietnam where this war has been waged for so many years has been rejected and resisted by the pressure of outside powers. lt is evident also to any honourable senator that the Chairman of the Presidium, the Premier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, has indicated to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr Wilson, that he has reached the limit of the amount of pressure that he can bring to bear on Hanoi to stop the war. But the only conslant thing that Hanoi requires is that bombing should be stopped. 1 am prepared to say that bombing is a terrible weapon. As Senator Hannaford said, I am quite sure that a great number of innocent people are being killed. Perhaps this may be an immoral argument, but I have never heard the argument advanced that the terror that is unleashed on South Vietnam by North Vietnam should also be stopped. The price that is required to be paid is that the United States of America should stop bombing the installations and that it should leave South Vietnam.
– The Americans did stop bombing for six days.
– They did stop bombing over the lunar New Year. There is the clearest possible evidence, which I shall adduce when the debate takes place on foreign affairs, to indicate the quantities of ammunition and supplies and the numbers of troops that were moved into South Vietnam when the truce was in operation.
The Prime Minister of Australia (Mr Harold Holt) attended the Manila Conference, which was an attempt by the nations living in the South East Asian area to see whether it was possible to obtain the means by which peace could be brought to South East Asia and particularly to South Vietnam. As honourable senators will recollect - and I remind Senator Hannaford of this fact - the Conference was attended by the Prime Minister of Australia, the President of the United States of America, the Premier of South Vietnam, the Premier of the South Korean Republic and the host, who was the President of the Philippines. They sat in Manila and attempted to find a solution. They were quite unanimous in the view that the pressures that exist in South Vietnam from the North, from militant Communism, had to be defeated. I refer to the statement which the Prime Minister made in another place on 27th October. He said:
The Government of the Republic of Vietnam wishes to forge what is described in the Com munique as a ‘social revolution of hope and progress. Even as the conflict continues, the effort goes forward to overcome the tyranny of poverty, disease, illiteracy and social injustice’.
Senator Hannaford went on to involve himself in a common sort of attack - an unthinking one which is made quite often by Opposition senators - in which he said that the United States of America is doing nothing except waging war in South Vietnam. I have here in my hand a report which contains 800 pages. It is described as the ‘Supplemental Foreign Assistance Fiscal Year 1966 - Vietnam’. It contains evidence taken by the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate. This Committee took evidence and examined the amount of financial assistance that was given for the 1966 fiscal year. It is the latest copy that I have been able to obtain, lt is devoted to showing the aid that the United States has given in money and technical terms to South Vietnam. There is no point in quoting figures. The amounts run into millions and millions of dollars. They are meaningless to me and they would be meaningless if I mentioned them to the Senate, because there is obviously a money term equated to the technical assistance of one sort and another that is provided. But the interesting thing is that never once have I heard from the Opposition in this chamber any reference to the obligation that the nonCommunist world owes to the United States of America. Honourable senators opposite always speak in condemnatory terms. There are some 387,000 American troops in South Vietnam at the present time. They have been invited there by the South Vietnamese Government. America is pouring in its enormous treasure as well. It has poured an enormous treasure into Egypt to keep the people from starving. It has poured millions and millions of dollars into India to keep the people from starving. This is never acknowledged by those people who have an ideological hatred of the United States. I have no such hatred. If it was not for the United States Senator Hannaford would not have had the privilege of sitting where he has been sitting tonight because it was the might of the United States of America that defended this country from 1942 until the tide of the invasion was rolled back in New Guinea.
Senator Hannaford went on to speak about the domino theory. That is what led me to read the evidence taken by the Com mittee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate. I came to page 447 where General Maxwell Taylor was being examined before the Committee by Senator Sparkman. The sub-heading on page 447 is Domino Theory’. With the permission of honourable senators I would like to read this evidence.
– What was the date of the evidence?
– It dealt with the 1966 fiscal year. General Maxwell Taylor was the Chief of the American General Stuff. He is a man of great philosophical outlook which sometimes happens with soldiers. It was of such an order that he was sent to South Vietnam as the Ambassador of the United States of America. As honourable senators know, an Ambassador going on appointment abroad from the United States of America has to be approved by the United States Senate. General Taylor’s appointment was approved without any dissenting voice. That meant that not only was he sent to South Vietnam by President Kennedy, but that the action of President Kennedy was endorsed by the United Slates Senate without any hesitance whatsoever. . 1 shall go on to deal with this particular piece of evidence. It is as follows:
Senator SPARKMAN. Now, General Taylor,I notice in your statement that you do not subscribe to the so-called domino theory, but you do admit, do you nol, that Communist success in Sou th Vietnam would have a tremendous effect on other nations around there?
General TAYLOR. I certainly do. I don’t like the domino phrase, because it suggests an automaticity–
The Americans get their words the wrong way round, but I think he is suggesting an automatic event: the neighbour goes down next.
Then he qualifies it. The evidence continues:
Senator SPARKMAN. Yes
General TAYLOR. It may not be the neighbour. We may well have serious difficulties in Africa or Latin America, for example.
Senator SPARKMAN.In your opinion, can we win in South Vietnam?
General TAYLOR. Senator, I always ask, when asked that question first. I want to say what I mean by ‘winning’. I think the word ‘win’ tends to mean Appomatox, Yorktown, the signing of a peace on the deck of the battleship ‘Missouri’. That doesn’t mean that to me at all in this kind of situation. To ‘win’ means to obtain our basic objectives, the ones which I underlined in my prepared statement: namely, the ability to offer freedom and self-determination to South Vietnam.
That is why Australia has troops in South Vietnam. They are there so that the people of that country may assert for themselves the form of government they wish to have and the form of society in which they wish to live. But, of course, that is not accepted in all quarters.
Senator Hannaford said that we have to live with Communism. What is meant by the phrase ‘living with Communism? It always seems to me that the people who live farthest from it are those who pontificate longest about the need to live with it. If I may put it on a mathematical basis, I should say that such opinions are as empty as a square based on the distance that one is placed from Communism. How do we achieve peace in South Vietnam in the face of what Senator Hannaford has referred to as aggression? He did not define the term. Aggression in South Vietnam can be indicated. I wish to quote from a document that was handed to the International Control Commission on 30 May 1962 and which had a wide circulation amongst the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. The directive contained in the document states:
In regard to the foundation of the Peoples Revolutionary Party of South Vietnam. The creation of this Party is only a matter of strategy; it needs to be explained within the party–
That is, the Vietcong or the Communist Party - and to deceive the enemy, it is necessary that the new Party be given the outward appearance corresponding to a division of the Party (Lao Dong) into two, and the foundation of a new party, so that the enemy cannot use it in his propaganda.
As was mentioned by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) in another place last week, one of the difficulties experienced in the United Nations is the constant attempt by Communist countries, and some African nations that are members of the United Nations, to redefine aggression in terms that are different from the definition in the Charter of the United Nations. The reason why they do this is that they have found a new method of aggression. They have started what are called wars of national liberation. This means that if you have a secret army inside a country and that army declares itself to be a national liberation army, its activities become acts of nonaggression and may be referred to as a spontaneous rising of the people against their own laws. This was demonstrated in the remarks of Premier Khrushchev at the 1963 meeting of the Russian Presidium. He said:
We forsake all forms of aggression except wars of national liberation.
Senator Hannaford made no allusion to that. He said that Communism is changing.
Let me quote what has been said by General de Gaulle, the President of France. 1 think he is one of the great men of the twentieth century. I base my opinion on his sheer intellectual ability and, of course, his known courage. I do not agree with very much of what he does, because to a substantial degree it is directed towards the rehabilitation of what he refers to as the glory of France and therefore tends to be turned inwards towards France rather than outwards towards the needs of the world. Butputting that aside, I think that he is an extraordinarily interesting man. He has a mind that is first class and is of great clarity. He has defined Communism, not in the way that I have heard it defined by various senators on the other side of the chamber and certainly by Senator Hannaford, but in these terms:
Communism is a system.
It is not an ideology:
But it is a system organised by the conspirator and armed and sustained by the swordsman.
That is what Communism is in South East Asia. It is a system worked out by conspiracy and armed and sustained by the swordsman. In the view of those whose opinion is as empty as a square based on the distance from where these events are taking place, Communism is losing its character and quality and is becoming mellow. In my opinion, that is total nonsense. The fact of life is that over the last twenty-five years Communism has never come to power in any country except at the instance of the conspirator and without being sustained by the swordsman.
– It has never come to power without there being poverty and misery in the first place.
– That is not so.
– That is a lot of rubbish.
– There may be poverty and misery in Australia–
– Not in Australia.
– Did not a conspiracy exist in Australia in 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949 when the whole of industry in this country was thrown into chaos? Was there no conspiracy in Australia then? This is a country in which there was no want and where wages were high.
– That was because of industrial conditions.
– Then you subscribe to the theory of the Chinese Chairman about agrarian Communism as distinct from industrial Communism? They are only two parts of the same system.
– You are splitting hairs. That is a lot of rubbish.
– It is easy for the honourable senator to say ‘rubbish’. The honourable senator made a series of allegations here tonight but did not sustain them by adducing evidence. I have taken time to rebut his arguments and to support what I have said with evidence. I pass now to another aspect of the Governor-General’s Speech. I hope what I have to say will be followed with interest by honourable senators from Queensland. I refer to the problem of Papua and New Guinea. In common with many other honourable senators and members of another place I have made journeys to Papua and New Guinea, because I am concerned about what will happen to the eastern part of this great island and the other islands that are situated in the area.
We have assumed the responsibility of turning the Territory, firstly, into a viable political society and, secondly, into one that is sustained by a viable economy. In addition to undertaking aid programmes for underdeveloped areas and in addition to sending wheat to India and providing aid to South Vietnam and so forth, we are involved in the problem of providing $750m over the next ten years as direct aid to Papua and New Guinea. I have the terrifying feeling that, in spite of having poured this vast sum of money into the Territory in the next ten years, the viability of the economy will hardly be noticeable. In addition, at the end of tcn years we will be faced with a demand for political independence from a rising group of people in the Territory. My belief is that it should be given political independence. 1 believe that the demand for independence will begin to arise in about 1976. At that stage the Commonwealth of Australia wilt be confronted with the situation with which other nations have found themselves confronted, such as the United Kingdom in Africa and the Caribbean and France in Africa.
What will we do when that situation arises? In my opinion, we will have in Papua and New Guinea the classic African situation. The forced development of education will produce a semi-educated so-called elite who will demand, as their African equivalents do, all the paraphernalia of power and all the privileges that go with power. Just as there is a gap between what are known in the United Nations as the developed nations and the less developed nations, so the Territory will have, as there tends to be in Africa, a gap between the new elite who have taken possession and control of the country and the mass of the people who are then reduced to a state little above a subsistence level. 1 suggest that this will pose for the Commonwealth of Australia problems of enormous complexity. Nobody espouses the cause of Senate committees more than Senator Wright does. I agree with him. I believe that Senate committees should be set up on matters that lie within proper Senate surveillance. The Senate itself, instead of being involved in partisan debates, might very properly, over the next few months or the balance of the autumn session, devote a week to a discussion of the future of Papua and New Guinea.
I do not think it can be discussed with any degree of certainty and accuracy unless the Senate is apprised of a big problem that exists in relation to it. In the 1870s or the 1880s - I forget precisely when it was - the sovereign State of Queensland extended the normal, acknowledged jurisdiction that the colonies had prior to Federation as colonies of the United Kingdom. Instead of the ancient concept of three miles to seaward being the extent of the jurisdiction of the States, Queensland proclaimed jurisdiction over an area of sea bounded by a line that runs out to the north-east from one corner of the Great Barrier Reef, swings to the north-west as far as Bramble Cay, near the mouth of the Fly River, and then proceeds in a westerly direction until at its most westerly point it comes within a mile and a half of the coast of Papua.
One curious thing that is heartening and sustaining some of the indigenous people is the prospect of discovering oil. When I asked them how they thought they would be able to finance the operation of an economy in Papua and New Guinea, they said: ‘From oil’. Where is this oil to be found? Drilling permits have been given by the Commonwealth of Australia - and I assume, by the State of Queensland, because the title is shrouded in cloud - for people to drill for oil in an area which since the 1880s has been claimed as part of the sovereign State of Queensland. For general purposes, it includes the whole of Torres Strait. The Commonwealth Constitution says that the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth to seaward extends beyond territorial limits; but the territorial limits of the State of Queensland reach to within a mile and a half of the coast of Papua. If oil or gas is discovered in this area, as it may well be, and it is within territorial limits - not out in the middle of Bass Strait where the Commonwealth has the rights to 40% of any discovery - the Sate of Queensland will claim that the oil or gas belongs to it and the Legislative Council and people of Papua and New Guinea obviously will claim that it belongs to them and not to the State of Queensland which unilaterally seized jurisdiction over this area in the 1870s or the 1880s. This seems to me to be a matter of substantial importance in relation to Papua and New Guinea, which should be examined by the Senate apart from the matter of the time that should be chosen for Papua and New Guinea to become an independent country.
I conclude by saying that not only are we involved in the problem of the future independence of Papua and New Guinea but we will be involved in the enormous problem that will be created by the United Kingdom eventually succeeding in doing what it is desperately struggling to do at the present moment; that is, move out of its high commissionership of the western Pacific. A vacuum condition will be created in the great island of Fiji and the Solomon
Islands. This problem will be dropped fair in Australia’s lap before very long. I am afraid I have trespassed on the generosity of the Senate in according me time to speak, so i now conclude my remarks.
– I have very much pleasure in speaking in this Address-in-Reply debate. In common with other honourable senators, I derived a great deal of pleasure from hearing the Speech delivered by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral a few weeks ago. When Senator Cormack rose to make his speech, I could not help being struck by the sight of the newly elected Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) interjecting with the words: ‘Another stonewaller’. I thought how much at variance that was with the courtesy, decorum and dignity that we saw over the years from the former Leader of the Opposition.
– The honourable senator deserved it.
– Here he goes again. He has made another interjection. I suggest that no one can hope to lead a party unless he can command himself. I believe that the present Leader of the Opposition has a very rocky road in front of him.
The Governor-General, early in his Speech, said that the Government’s policies were directed towards the maintenance of economic stability. This is but a continuation of the policies that the Government, which has been in office over the last seventeen years, has pursued with very great benefit to people of this country. It is very pleasing to see in the Speech mention of the continuation of those policies. The Government that is in office at the moment has provided stable government of Australia for seventeen years. In doing so, it has brought down on itself the admiration of very many countries throughout the world. That is one of the reasons why overseas investors have been ready and willing to invest in Australia provided the circumstances in their own countries permitted them to do so. The stability that I have mentioned and the knowledge that no wildcat government was in charge of the reins of government in Australia have encouraged them to invest here.
I believe that any fair minded person considering the economic growth that has occurred since this Government took office would say that, for a young country such as Australia, there is only one word that can be used to describe it, and that is phenomenal’. I go along with that. I believe that it is comparable with that of the United States at a similar stage of development. The economy of that country has developed into the tremendous state in which it now is. The prosperity of the people of Australia has never been higher in spite of the Jeremiah cries of some people.
Railways: Carriage of Ore from Broken Hill to Port Pirie - Business of the Senate.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally pui the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– On 7th March Senator Laught asked a question regarding a dispute between the South Australian Minister for Railways and the Broken Hill mining companies over freight rates for the carriage of ore over the railway between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. I undertook that I would get some information for him. By a misundertanding, the question was not put on the notice paper. Apparently that was because I did not specifically ask for it to bc done. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) has supplied me with the following information in reply to the honourable senator:
The Commonwealth Government is aware of this dispute, but it is a matter to be resolved between the Broken Hill mining companies and the South Australian Government. The Broken Hill mining companies were represented by counsel and expert witnesses before the South Australian Royal Commission into transport last year, and presented evidence, including a long written submission, for a reduction in the freight rate for the carriage of Broken Hill ore to Port Pirie. Based on the evidence submitted, the rail rate proposed by the
Broken Hill mining company for this traffic was a maximum of 1 . 24c per ton mile.
At the present time, approximately 800,000 tons of ore are railed each year from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, of which approximately 300,000 tons are processed at Port Pirie and approximately 500,000 tons are shipped to Tasmania and Canada. In addition, approximately 150,000 tons of ore are railed each year from Broken Hill to Cockle Creek, near Newcastle, for treatment. The mining companies are desirous of increasing the quantity of ore exported from Australia, by mining marginal grade ores at Broken Hill, but this expanded output is dependent upon, first, a satisfactory rail freight rate between Broken Hill and the seaboard, and secondly, a satisfactory sea freight rate between either Port Pirie or Newcastle and Canada.
The freight rate per ton mile paid by the South Australian Government to the Commonwealth Railways for the carriage of coal from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta, including shunting charges at Leigh Creek and Port Augusta, is 0.71c. It is understood the freight rates paid by the Broken Hill mining companies for the transport of ore from Broken Hill to Port Pirie at the present time are as follows:
The Commonwealth Government is closely in touch with the position but, as already indicated, is not in a position to intervene in the determination of these freight rates. It is understood discussions are still proceeding on this matter between the Broken Hill mining companies and the South Australian Government.
– The question before us is that the Senate adjourn in accordance with the sessional order relating to adjournment. The Opposition opposes the motion. Since 21st February the Senate has been discussing a motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. As honourable senators know, this takes precedence over General Business even on General Business night. If it were not for the Address-in-Reply debate discussion of the General Business items before the Senate would have commenced at 8 o’clock this evening. That is the occasion when non-government business is dealt with. There are certain important matters to be debated. One is conceived to be important by the Opposition and the other is conceived to be important by Senator Gair, the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party. In the ordinary course, these matters would have been discussed. However, Standing Order 14 provides:
No business beyond what is of a formal character shall be entered upon before the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Opening Speech has been adopted.
This means that if the Address-in-Reply debate can be prolonged, consideration of the setting up of select committees and other General Business items which are on the notice paper can be delayed indefinitely. The Government can put up one speaker after another. They can talk for up to one and a half hours on the motion without an extension of time. Since the time for General Business is normally from 8 p.m. to 10.30 p.m., less than two speeches can occupy the whole of the normal time of a Thursday evening.
The Opposition has been co-operative. I have indicated that we are not going to oppose in this place for opposition’s sake. But there should be a fair go. By that, I mean that understandings should be adhered to. It was clearly understood between the Government and the Opposition - I regret that Senator Henty and Senator Gorton are not here - ‘that General Business would be proceeded with and that the motion in respect of post-graduate research would be dealt with, lt was intimated that if that motion were dealt with, the Opposition would be satisfied. I might say that if the Address-in-Reply debate had continued to such a stage that the motion of the Opposition could not have been fairly disposed of, we would not have complained; but the dogs are barking in the lobbies that it is the intention of the Government to delay General Business coming on, not only this evening but in the weeks to come. What has been done this evening will be persisted with on other evenings.
I should like an indication from the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty), who has now taken his place, that this is not so and that General Business will be able to go on. 1 should like an assurance that (here wilt be no stonewalling tactics, because they are contrary to a fair deal. It is a discourtesy to the Governor-General himself if what has been said is correct - there is plenty of material to bear it out - and the Address-in-Reply debate is being used by the Government as a device to prevent General Business from coming on. 1 am not concerned so much about this evening, but the indications around the place are that this device is to be used, lt is said 1 hat if we rise now the AddressinReply debate will be placed on the notice paper again, and when we come here on Thursday in the week commencing 4th April no General Business will be dealt with. As far as we are concerned, this is not a fair way of dealing with the matter and 1 would like the clearest intimation from the Leader of the Government that on the next occasion when the Senate meets consideration of general business will bc commenced at 8 o’clock and that this motion in respect of education, the motion of Senator Gair, and the motions in my name for the appointment of select committees will be dealt with, and dealt with fairly, so that the Senate can carry out its proper functions. It is not of much use to talk in lofty tones about the functions of the Senate, as some honourable senators opposite have spoken and as some honourable senators on my own side have spoken, unless these principles are carried out in act-ice. I ask for an intimation from the Leader of the Government that the AddressinReply is not to be so used, and if that intimation is not forthcoming it is our view that the Address-in-Reply debate ought to be continued now until it is concluded and the Address adopted so that it may be presented to His Excellency.
– My leader, Senator Henty, has not had the advantage of hearing all that Senator Murphy said. I want to speak only in relation to the management of the Senate tonight. No doubt my leader will then have more time to deal with the long term discussions to which Senator Murphy refers. 1 want to make this perfectly clear: there is a list of names of Government senators and Opposition senators who wish to speak in the Address-in-Reply debate. There is no suggestion such as is implicit in what Senator Murphy says that there has been stonewalling. I myself have not yet spoken in the debate and it has clearly been my intention to do so ever since we have had the message-
– Order! Senator Anderson has already spoken on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate and he is not in order in speaking a second lime.
– I do not know at this stage how many honourable senators wish to speak. I am not aware of how many have spoken tonight or how many on either side of the Senate desire to take part in the Address-in-Reply debate. As I understand it. the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) wants an assurance as to how the business will be conducted when we return. That is the position, is it?
– I cannot give any assurance at this moment as to how the business will be conducted. First, we do not know what legislation will be with us from the other House when we come back.
– Can the Leader of the Government give us an undertaking that General Business will proceed at 8 p.m. on the Thursday of the week in which we come back?
– I cannot give any undertaking at this stage as to what the position will be when we return. At that time we will review the position as to legislation and what remains of the AddressinReply debate. If it is possible, after reviewing the situation when we come back, I will give an undertaking. Certainly we will see whether it is possible to proceed with the Address-in-Reply debate and have it finished so that we can have General Business on the first Thursday night after we come back. I will examine the position. I cannot at this stage give any undertaking. It is an undertaking that I do not think we should be asked to give. That is the best I can say at the moment to the Leader of the Opposition. The situation is unknown to me.
– The Minister did give me to understand that it would be dealt with tonight, did he not?
– No, I did nothing of the sort. The Leader of the Opposition said: We should try to clear it up tonight.’ That was the only indication given. We have not been able to, because honourable senators on both sides of the chamber who wish to participate have not yet spoken in the debate. No indication whatever was given to the Leader of the Opposition. The only comment made was that we would be dealing with the Address-in-Reply tonight and that we should try, the Leader of the Opposition said, to clear it up tonight.
– There seems to be a measure of confusion and a lack of honesty in relation to this matter. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has formed a definite impression, and everyone knows that he is not one to be confused easily. He has the impression that he had an assurance that general business would be discussed. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) says that such is not the case. It is up to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, to put it crudely, to come clean and say that he will provide opportunities for honourable senators to discuss the matters that are listed under the heading ‘General Business’. He will not come clean, so we are entitled to assume that he has no intention but to frustrate the Leader of the Australian Demo cratic Labor Party (Senator Gair), and certainly the aims espoused by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
I was misled tonight. I know that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) did not intend to mislead me, but I rose to my feet so that the Chair would know that I intended to speak. The Minister then said: ‘There is nothing here in relation to the adjournment’. I suspected that it was a motion that the Senate would assemble on 4th April, but through the Minister’s statement I was misled. Perhaps it was my fault for being too trusting, as usual. I got up and walked out. The next thing was that the motion was carried that the Senate adjourn until 4th April.
Frankly, we have been here three weeks and in the first week almost nothing was done. In the second week we sat for two afternoons, two nights, and one full day. Similarly, in the third week, ls it any wonder that there is a widespread sense of discontent among the people of Australia with regard to the functioning of Parliament and particularly of the Senate. Now, through the machinations of the Government the Senate is to rise and nothing will be done. We will assemble on 4th April. We may be here for only three weeks before we rise until the Budget session, That will make a total of six weeks, for only five of which will the Senate have functioned with real effect.
The Government has a responsibility, more particularly as there was bestowed on it on 26th November last tremendous confidence by the electors, the people who voted at that election. However, I cannot see why that should confer on the Government justification for treating Parliament with a great measure of contempt. Surely when the Government realises the responsibility of the tremendous majority it has in the other place it will act differently. Incidentally, I know that it is placed in a difficult position in the Senate. It is anxious that the Senate should not sit any longer than it can permit it to sit, either by open endeavour or by underhand machinations.
The point is that if the Government is to inculcate in the Australian public a sense of responsibility for the functioning of Parliament, it behoves the Leader of the Government in the Senate and all Government supporters to be extraordinarily frank so that respect may be held for Parliament. The Opposition has met the wishes of the Government on almost all occasions in respect of adjournments or postponement of sittings, I suppose we have been the most co-operative Opposition this Government has had. J. never knew this procedure to be adopted by the previous Leader of the Government in the Senate and he was tough enough. He was always fair and he had a great regard for the place that Parliament should occupy in the minds and hearts of the people. 1 am sure that the purpose the Leader of the Government had in mind in adopting this mean and miserable approach was to frustrate the Opposition, but I can assure him that so far from accomplishing that purpose, he is frustrating the wishes of the people who elected the members of the Labor Opposition as well as the wishes of those who elected the representatives of the Democratic Labor Party and the independent senator from Tasmania.
– Where is he?
– I suppose he is interviewing some of his electors. That is his concern. He probably knew that the Government proposed to adopt this miserable approach and therefore left in disgust. I do appeal to the Leader of the Government, through you, Mr President, to think seriously over this matter again. There are on the business paper certain motions relating to matters of important general business and the Leader of the Opposition was under a definite impression that he had been given an undertaking by the Leader of the Government. As I have said, he is not stupid, but, if he was confused by the words of the Leader of the Government, then it is up to the Leader of the Government to make the position clear. I suggest that the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply should not be dragged on indefinitely. It has never been dragged on for this length of time on any previous occasion that 1 can recall.
It is evident from the attitude adopted by the Leader of the Government tonight that he proposes to prolong this debate in order to frustrate discussion of the worthy causes espoused by honourable senators on this side of the chamber. The Leader of the Government has been here long enough now to become a senior member of the Ministry. He is a member of the Cabinet.
He has entrusted to him the responsibility of leading the Government in this chamber and it surely behoves him to act more in accordance with the responsible position he holds. Surely he should give us an assurance tonight that the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply will be concluded by the first Thursday after we reassemble. It would seem to me that it is his intention perhaps to carry on that debate for the three weeks for which we shall probably sit after we come back with a view to frustrating the wishes of everyone on this side of the chamber. That is not decent of him. It does not become the gentleman that I once knew him to be. He has deteriorated. His standard has declined, and in my view he is not doing this Parliament any credit.
– I was not very impressed by the injured innocence of the two Ministers who tried to explain away the conduct of the Senate tonight. After twenty years in this Senate. I have more than a fleeting knowledge of political devices. The stonewalling which went on tonight was not coincidental at all. It had a purpose and the implications of it are something with which we should come to grips. Standing order 14 reads:
No business beyond what is of a formal character shall be entered upon before the Address-iii-Reply to the Governor-General’s Opening Speech has been adopted.
The purpose of that is to prevent the subversion of the normal rights of the Senate, such as conducting general business on a Thursday night, by the adoption of the procedure we have seen tonight. I do not think Senator Hannaford knew that he was participating in a stonewall. I do not know for sure whether Senator Wood knew it, but when I saw the stonewallers being brought into the fray I certainly realised what was going on. I have been concerned about it.
We heard earlier in the week about the prestige of the Senate. I think we are mature enough to observe the decorum and forms of the Senate without resorting to devious methods. If the Leader of the Government and those who sit behind him want to make this a rough and tumble affair they should remember that their job is a difficult one. We are sitting on the sidelines. The numbers in the Senate are even, and unless there is trust and some kind of agreement between the parties to allow the business of the Senate to proceed the Senate can become a place of great turmoil. The use of devices such as this only encourages and invites the rough and tumble that can be practised in the future as it has been practised in the past.
I was given to understand that one of the conditions precedent to the Senate adjourning at 10.30 tonight was that we would sit again next week. Earlier this evening a motion was agreed to providing for the Senate to adjourn until Tuesday 4th April. This means that some rather interesting devices have been used during today’s debate. I hope that all honourable senators are now aware of the position. I hope that the party leaders in the Senate will very quickly get their heads together and tidy up the present position so that we will know where we stand and so that the Senate’s business will be conducted in an above board manner.
I think Senator Henty has adopted this view since he has been Leader of the Government in the Senate. He has informed the Senate of the programme to be followed. It is in his interests to have the Senate running smoothly, but inherent in the kind of procedure we have seen this evening is a departure from that practice. If that comes to pass, he can expect to be confronted with the opposing devices that are in our power to direct against the Government although I, for one, would rather avoid using them.
– I was one of the speakers who made a lengthy speech this evening. Coming from the northern part of Queensland, 1 took the opportunity to direct attention to various aspects which are of great importance to me and my area. The conservation of our water resources, the construction of beef roads and northern development generally are of great importance from my point of view. I went to great lengths tonight to expound on the tourist industry. I know it from A to Z so I thought I would lay it on the line because this is the first time the Government has had a Minister directly concerned with the tourist industry. I wanted to set out clearly what this industry involves so as to help the Government to realise the great mportance of it. During the course of my speech 1 was given the tip that my time was nearly up. Perhaps I do not look at the time as much as I should.
Last night the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty) accused me of taking a few extra minutes on the air, when we were discussing a very important constitutional natter concerning the nexus between the Senate and the Mouse of Representatives. Despite the length of it, there were one or wo other things I wanted to talk about. I would like to refute Senator Hannaford’s statement that the Vietnam war issue did not ;play a great part in the last election, lt does not have to be a matter of 20% of ::he people who were influenced by that issue; it would be important if 5% or 10% were influenced. From that point of view L would have liked to have spoken longer. I would have liked to pay a glowing tribute to Senator Ken Morris for the magnificent job he did in publicising the tourist industry when he was Minister for Labour and Tourism in Queensland. He did do a good ob. He gave tourism a standing for the first time, from the governmental point of view, when he was a Minister. These are “he sort of things I wanted to mention. Whilst the speech 1 made might have seemed to be lengthy, there were other things 1 would have liked to mention. I want to assure honourable senators that I was doing a job from my own point of view as a Queensland senator living in the north of Queensland.
I believe that the General Business of the Senate should be permitted to proceed whenever possible. On Thursday nights, whenever possible, General Business should be allowed to come forward so that the Senate can function in its truest sense. I think every honourable senator knows that 1 have been right in the forefront in holding i:hat the Senate should be a good House, and 1 always will help it to be so.
– 1 join in this debate to support the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), Senator Dittmer and Senator O’Byrne. I am concerned, as are all my colleagues, not so much with the statement that stonewalling has been going on in this chamber this evening on the part of Government supporters, as with the statement of the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty), the Minister in charge of the House, that he cannot give an undertaking that on the first Thursday night after the Senate resumes we will be able to get on with General Business. That means that for at least another month very important matters affecting many thousands of Australians will go undebated in this Parliament. The manner in which Ministers are treating the representatives of what is a minority section of the Australian community for the time being is one of near contempt.
This Parliament has been sitting only for three weeks, and in that lime some seventy-two questions have been placed on the notice paper. Only three or four of those questions have been answered. If this procedure is allowed to continue we will find that not only will the General Business section of the notice paper become enlarged but also that questions on notice will remain unanswered. I believe the Government has a responsibility not only to the Opposition but to the Australian people to ensure that General Business is proceeded with on the first Thursday night after we resume.
– Mr President, I am amazed at the accusations of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) about honourable senators carrying on with stonewalling. When Opposition senators were speaking today they spoke for as long as. or for longer than, any Government supporters, with the exception of one. It was interesting to note, as an onlooker, that Opposition senators speaking earlier today were taking almost an hour. When Senator Bishop spoke on behalf of the Opposition, within the first five minutes of his speech he used the words: with the short time at my disposal’. I want to remind honourable senators of standing order 407a which states explicitly that the period allowed for speaking in the AddressinReply debate is one-and-a-half hours and that with the permission of the Senate a further thirty minutes can be allowed. No honourable senator has spoken for oneandahalf hours, although one Opposition senator did speak for a long time. It was interesting to notice also as a casual onlooker that the names of Labor senators were withdrawn from the list of speakers.
The Address-in-Reply debate is the most important debate of the year. What do we see? We see the Australian Labor Party running away from it. I think that this is an insult to the Governor-General. I do. I think that it is-
– That is scandalous.
– I rise to order. I submit, Mr President, that, as Senator Cohen has interjected, that is a scandalous statement, lt is offensive to the Opposition. I ask that it be withdrawn and that Senator Scott confine his remarks to other than matters that are part of the AddressinReply.
– Order! I ask Senator Scott to be much more moderate in his remarks. I ask him to withdraw the remark to which Senator Murphy has objected.
– In deference to the Leader of the Opposition, I will withdraw the remark that is offensive to him. But there arc certain facts that remain. The names of honourable senators from the Opposition have been removed from the list of speakers that I see frequently. This is not very nice, particularly when the first speaker today spoke for an hour and the last speaker had about a quarter of an hour. At least honourable senators on the Government side were consistent. The Opposition has accused us of forcing speakers to take part in the debate. No-one was forced to speak at all. In fact, there are at least five or six more speakers on the Government side who are anxious to participate in this debate in deference to and to honour the great Australian who opened this Parliament. In those few remarks I hope that 1 have cleared up some of the objections of the Labor Party. I advise the Opposition that we are nol filibustering. We have not breached any standing order. Therefore, we are amazed at the attitude that the Opposition has adopted in this debate.
– Mr President, I rise because I feel that I may be one of the guilty individuals referred to who spoke this afternoon, but let me inform the Senate that I abbreviated my. final remarks because of a rumour that was going around that stonewalling speeches had to cease and that the Address-in-Reply debate would have to be concluded in order to allow for the consideration of General Business. Had I been permitted to continue my remarks, the Senate would have been much wiser. Now, unfortunately, it is so much poorer as it has not heard the wisdom of my words.
It has been said firstly that there is a real fear on the part of the Opposition concerning this matter. In this debate and on most other questions the Opposition has matched the Government speaker for speaker. Opposition senators have spoken during the whole period of various debates. At times the Opposition has gone out of its way to supply speakers. But on this occasion we heard a rumour around the lobbies that the Address-in-Reply debate was not to be concluded for the purpose of excluding debate on General Business. Those with the responsibility of leadership of this Party panicked over this rumour. 1 do not think that there was any question of disrespect to the Governor-General. But we of the Opposition have a responsibility to those oppressed people who are not receiving justice today.
In this regard, I refer honourable senators to the notices of motion contained in today’s Notice Paper. Some of the matters that we wish to debate include the inadequate finance for post graduate research in the universities, our condemnation at the existence and extent of the quota system in the universities and our concern at the inadequacies of the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme. Also, there is the motion for the appointment of a select committee of the Senate to inquire into and report upon all aspects of repatriation. We have heard how returned servicemen are suffering as the result of their service to their country. We know that they are not getting a fair deal from Australia. It is more important to the Opposition to strive in this place to see justice done to our exservicemen than it is to rehearse policy speeches and propaganda speeches, notwithstanding that the debate on the AddressinReply permits us to speak on any subject. There are many important issues about which we are concerned. I cannot recall one occasion in the five years that I have been in the Senate on which we have discussed general business. We have here an
Opposition which wants to take up the cudgels on behalf of the less privileged people in our community. If it was only a rumour that went around today, it was given credence by the hesitancy of the Leader of the Government to give the assurance that we sought tonight. If Government supporters want to continue the debate tonight we will give them an audience as good as we gave this afternoon. We could continue this debate all night if they like. Alternatively we can get an assurance from the Government that after the recess we will sit late until we deal with the accumulated business that may come from the other place. Let us say that we will come back with a determination to clear up the notice paper by the Thursday night of the week we resume, or at least finish the Address-in-Reply debate. It is not too much to ask the Leader of the Government to give that assurance, particularly when there is a suspicion in the minds of Opposition senators that Government speakers have been guilty of stonewalling. In view of this suspicion the Government has a responsibility. It does no credit to anybody to attempt to ridicule the Opposition for its efforts to have injustices rectified a:nd to make the Senate work as it should by making our voices heard in initiating debates, f remind the Senate that by raising a ad initiating debates on matters of urgent public importance we could take the business out of the hands of the Government at any time. We have been fair. If the Government will not reciprocate it will find many obstacles placed in its path in the future by the Opposition.
– I ask leave of the Senate to make a statement.
– Order! Is leave granted?
– Order! Leave is not granted.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - by leave - I regret that leave was not granted to Senator Henty to make a statement because he had intimated to me that he was now prepared to give an assurance that unless something extraordinary occurred on the Thursday of the week we resume, the Senate would proceed to general business at 8 p.m. and deal with the motions that were set down on the notice paper. I am prepared to accept that assurance. I am satisfied that the Leader of the Government means that to take effect not only in the letter but also in the spirit. It was with that objective that J ros.P to oppose the motion to adjourn. We have achieved the objective which we set out to achieve. I thank the Leader of the Government for his assurance and T. withdraw the opposition to the motion to adjourn.
– In view of what the Leader of the Opposition has said, perhaps the Senate could now grant me a moment or two to make a statement. I ask for leave to make a statement.
– There being no objection, leave is-granted
Senator HENTY (Tasmania - Minister for Supply) - by leave - I confirm what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has said. I am surprised at the suspicion which is obviously in the minds of honourable senators opposite. We have five speakers left in the Address-in-Reply debate. I do not know how many speakers the Opposition has left. I was hesitant at first to give an undertaking because, firstly, 1 did not know how many speakers we had left and, secondly, i did not know what legislation had been passed in another place and was coming to this place. I have that information now. I can see nothing arising - unless it is an extraordinary matter - which will not allow us to deal on the Thursday night of the week we resume with the first item of General Business which is the ministerial statement on university research expenditure. I have given an undertaking on two things. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will agree that we may have to sit late on the Tuesday and Wednesday nights of the week we resume to finish the Address-in-Reply debate. I do not propose to pull any speakers out of that debate. We will sit late on those nights so that we can deal with General Business on the Thursday night.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1.1.17 p.m., till Tuesday, 4 April at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 March 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670309_senate_26_s33/>.