26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development relates to the temporary curtailment of work on the Chowilla Dam project near Renmark in South Australia. As there is much concern in South Australia at the action of the River Murray Commission in recommending this course, will the Minister let me know the reason for the hold up, seeing thai the Minister for National Development is Chairman of the Commission, and state when and under what circumstances the work is likely to proceed?
– The Minister for National Development will be making a statement on this proposal in another place this afternoon. When we have dealt with a projected formal morion for the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a definite matter of public importance I will make that statement on his behalf in this House.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government. Tn view of the worsening situation of aged persons in our society, will the Government consider holding a public inquiry into their needs as was done by the Canadian Senate three years ago?
– The situation to which the honourable senator refers is under constant review by the Government. If he looks at the Government’s record in the provision of assistance to the aged and to pensioners generally, he will see that it is indeed a good record. The honourable senator suggests that some inquiry be made. A number of inquiries have been made by qualified individuals. I have read some of the reports with great interest. I should like to give some consideration to the suggestion and to put it before the Government.
– Can the Minister representing the Treasurer say what powers the Government has to control or prohibit the sending of moneys outside Australia?
– -I would like to refer the question to the Treasurer himself. We have an exchange control system, but I am not fully aware of. the working of it. I suggest that the honourable senator should put his question on the notice paper. I will then obtain an answer for him.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of strong protests being made by all political parties in Victoria against the call up of members of the Police Force for national service? Is it a fact that the Victorian Police Force is under strength and is being seriously handicapped by the call up of these men, who perform an essential community service? Is the Minister aware that police were not conscripted during the last world war? Will the Government give serious and urgent consideration to the requests being made for the exemption of police from call up?
– Yes, I am aware of statements which have been made by political parties in Victoria to this effect. Whether the Victorian Police Force, is being seriously handicapped as a result1 of the call up of forty-nine persons who are at present undergoing national service is a matter for individual judgment. Whether or not the call up of those mcn constitutes a serious handicap is open to question. It appears to me that no better case can be advanced for exempting police from call up than for exempting other categories of people in the community who readily spring to mind and who also have important duties to perforin. I remind the honourable send tor that it is within the province of any .member of the Victorian Police Force to exempt himself from being called up by ‘enlisting with the Citizen Military Forces. The fact that so many policemen have not chosen to do that indicates quite clearly that they are prepared to take the same stand as all the other people of their age throughout Australia.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for
Health been drawn to an article in the Brisbane ‘Sunday Mail’ of 23rd July which stated that ships’ garbage constitutes a plague threat and that dangerous garbage is being dumped, six days a week, within ten miles of the Brisbane General Post Office? Will the Minister draw the attention of her colleague to this fact and have the appropriate action taken?
– Order ! In asking a question an honourable senator may not quote from a newspaper report.
– I shall rephrase the question, ls the Minister aware that a statement has been made to the effect that ships’ garbage is being dumped within ten miles of the Brisbane General Post Office? Will the matter be referred to the Minister for Health for appropriate action?
– Yes, I have heard of the statement which the honourable member mentioned. I will be pleased to bring this matter to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Health.
– I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question which refers to the suspension of work on Chowilla Dam. Will the Minister urgently discuss with the Prime Minister and Cabinet the proposals contained in the unanimous resolution of the South Australian Parliament, which yesterday called for a recommencement of construction work on the dam and requested that assurances be given by the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian governments that adequate water will be available to South Australia during dry seasons until the dam is completed?
– I understand that work has ceased on the recommendation of the River Murray Commission. As I have already told the Senate, I have a statement on this subject which I shall make on behalf of the Minister for National Development. I shall make the statement at the first available opportunity during the course of this day.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for National Develop ment noticed in the Press a statement attributed to a Mr Harley, a delegate to the recent Labor Conference in Adelaide, to the effect that the exploiting of our iron ore deposits should have been carried out by the Government and the profits obtained reinvested in northern development? Can the Minister inform me whether the nationalisation of industry, distribution and exchange is still a plank in Labor’s platform? Can the Minister advise me-
– Mr President, I raise a point of order, I take the point that the question being addressed to the Minister is not one within the administrative sphere of the Minister and, apart from the distortion in it, it should not be asked.
– Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– Can the Minister advise me whether there are any Australian Government mines, State or Federal, that are at present showing profits? Can the Minister also advise me whether the Government shale oil industry at Glen Davis showed handsome profits? Is it a fact that the State owned charcoal iron and steel industry in Western Australia was run at a loss? Is it a fact that the State-owned hotels in Western Australia had to be sold because the State, as a publican, could not show a profit? In view of all of these unprofitable ventures, could a government expect to make profits out of a government owned iron ore industry?
– The honourable senator asks me a very long and complicated question. I answer it along the following lines: I do not think that we would have had an export iron ore industry if its establishment had been left to a government. I do not think that we would have been able, in competition with other countries, to secure the export orders for iron ore that we have obtained with an industry conducted by private enterprise. I was wondering why the Leader of the Opposition became so touchy about his Party’s platform. I always understood that the platform of his Party which he was required to follow provided for the nationalisation of industry, distribution and exchange. Correct me if I am wrong, but T understand that this is part and parcel of that platform. 1 do not see why the Leader is so touchy about this position. I know full well that at the present time an effort is being made to damp it down a bit so that it is not put before the people of Australia but I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that we shall bring this matter to the attention of the people of Australia however much the Australian Labor Party tries to damp it down. We shall bring the matter to the attention of the people of Australia at every opportunity because the people must be asked to judge a party on its policy and on its platform. It is futile for the Leader of the Opposition to be a bit touchy about it, because we shall disclose it to the people of Australia with the results that we have had at every election in the last eighteen years.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister seen statements made by authorities of the Department of Civil Aviation to the effect that airlines are discharging between 6 tons and 7 tons of unburnt fuel daily in the vicinity of Sydney and Melbourne airports? Since the use of jet operated aircraft in the next five years will increase this rate of discharge to 35 tons daily, what action does the Government contemplate to combat the growing menace of air pollution in our major capital cities?
– I ask the honourable senator to place his question on notice. I will get a reply from the Minister. But I would point out to him one fact which we should all appreciate: This is not a problem peculiar to Mascot or Tullamarine, or even to Australia; it is a phenomenon occurring throughout the world as a result of the type of aircraft being used. I am certain that studies of it are being made. I will be happy to get whatever information I can from the Minister for the honourable senator and for the Senate.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether he will discuss with the right honourable gentleman the question of reducing the number of standard times in Australia from three to two, so that there will be only an Eastern Standard Time and a
Western Standard Time. There appears to be in South Australia a large body of opinion in favour of eliminating the existing half hour difference between Eastern Standard Time and Central Standard Time. As I assume this question requires consultation with the State Premiers, can it be listed for consideration at the next Premiers Conference?
– This matter is largely one for the State governments themselves. The honourable senator referred to three different times but I understand that there will shortly be four because daylight saving is soon to be adopted in Tasmania.
– Is that a plank of the Minister’s platform?
– I would remind the honourable senator that the Government introducing daylight saving in Tasmania is a Labor Government so he should cheer up. I will bring this matter to the notice of the Prime Minister to see whether it can be listed for discussion with the State Premiers. I think the initiative should come from the State Premiers themselves as they are responsible to their respective States.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Can the Minister inform the. Senate about what precautions, if any, are to be taken to ensure that the thousands of American servicemen who will visit Australia on leave are free of contagious disease? Has the Minister for Health insisted that all visiting servicemen be held in isolation for at least ten days prior to leaving South East Asia for Australia?
– 1 am quite certain that sufficient attention will be given to the health of people Visiting Australia, as has been done in the past. I will place the honourable senator’s question before the Minister for Health and will get a reply for him.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister: Will the Government, in giving detailed and careful consideration to action to be taken :in relation to Aboriginal people, as stated in tha
Budget Speech, seek to improve the present poor housing, educational, working and social conditions of these people? Will the Government treat such consideration as urgent and present an early report on this matter?
– The honourable senator refers to the policy announced in the Budget Speech. The Government has given an undertaking to hold urgent discussions with the State governments to see whether we can get a clear overall policy on these matters, many of which are within the ambit of the States. Housing, for example, is a matter for the States and this is one matter which the honourable senator referred to. I can assure the honourable senator that the policy clearly laid down in the Budget Speech will be implemented as urgently as possible once we get the States into conference.
– 1 address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the Government’s great boast that the gross national product rose by 9% last year, and as the White Paper accompanying the Budget showed a price rise of 3% - in the past few months prices rose by 5% - can the Minister say what justification the Government has for doing nothing to assist more than 750,000 pensioners throughout Australia who, due to these increased living costs, greatly need financial help?
– The honourable senator seems to have got his figures a little mixed. He spoke about an increase of 9% in the gross national product. If I remember correctly, the Budget Speech stated that in real terms the increase was 5%. As I have told the honourable senator on previous occasions, all aspects of social services are given full consideration when the Budget is being framed with a view to giving all the assistance we possibly can. It is the Government’s duty, after considering all these matters thoroughly, to place them in some order of priority. We receive representations from a wide range of organisations connected with social services. All these representations are given the most careful consideration with a view to determining whether the various requests may be granted. This year’s Budget does give relief in certain quarters. The reasons for that relief are clearly set out in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether it is a fact that the Federal Government makes special act-of-grace payments in cases of multiple births in excess of two. As this has been done in the case of quadruplets born recently in Melbourne, can the Minister inform me whether it has been done where triplets have been born and, if so. on what date such payments have been made? Several cases have been brought to my notice in which triplets have been born but no payments other than the usual, maternity allowances have been made and in which a telegram of congratulation was received from the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies.
– I shall endeavour to get this information from the Minister for Social Services and forward it to the honourable senator.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate state whether it is a fact that a quantify of Barrow Island oil has been shipped to Singapore for refining? Is it in line with Government policy to have Australian oil refined overseas? Is it necessary for an oil producing company to obtain a licence to export crude oil from Australia? Has a licence to export oil been issued? If so, by which Minister was it issued? What quantity of oil is involved?
– I believe that a shipment of oil was exported from Barrow Island to Singapore for refining and I understand that the refined oil was returned to Australia. That information may be wrong, and it may be right. I suggest that the honourable senator should -put the question on the notice paper so that I may direct it to the appropriate Minister and get the information he requires.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether he is fully aware of the great concern displayed by country people who are requested by the Postmaster-General’s Department to support financially the erection and replacement of private telephone lines which require upgrading due to new communication systems being installed in rural areas. Is the Minister aware of the heavy and, at times, unreasonable contributions required of some country people? Will he give urgent consideration to making the cost of the installation of telephones a basic charge to all users of the Department’s services?
– I do not concur with at least one part of the question asked by the honourable senator - when he talks of extreme and unreasonable charges. If there is one thing the PostmasterGeneral’s Department does, it is that it evolves all these things in direct relation to the cost factor. As to the generality of the question, I will direct it to the PostmasterGeneral and get an answer for the honourable senator.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware of statements that have been made recently by Mr Charles Porter, M.L.A., and other prominent members of the Liberal Party in Queensland calling on the Liberal Party to oppose Country Party Ministers at the next Federal election? If this is the case, does this not indicate a serious split between the ranks of the two Government parties? If this is not the case, does this not indicate a serious split within the ranks of the Liberal Party itself?
– Mr President, I know that it is the urgent and earnest wish of the Opposition to divide the two great Parties - the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party - which form the Government of this country and have administered it so successfully over the years. I can assure the honourable senator that both the Liberal Party and the Country Party are well aware of the attempts and the machinations of the Australian Labor Party to divide them. We are aware of these attempts and I can assure the honourable senator that they will meet with no success. We will continue to be the team that we have always been. We will continue to operate in this country to the benefit of Australia just as we have operated as a team for so many years.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that a French Mystere twin-engine jet plane has been making regular flights over the Atherton Tableland? Will he inform the Parliament whether such flights are being made as a result of an unpublicised military agreement with France, or does the plane happen to be measuring increased radiation fall-out as a result of French nuclear tests in the Pacific?
– I am not aWare of the incident to which the honourable senator refers. If he will put his question on the notice paper I will see what information I can obtain for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer or the Minister for Repatriation, whoever be the appropriate Minister. I refer to the part of the Budget Speech made last night in which the Treasurer said that the inclusion in the provisions of the Defence Forces Retirements Benefits legislation of totally and permanently incapacitated veterans of Vietnam including national servicemen would entitle a married private soldier to a pension of $31.50 per week in addition to the present repatriation pension of $34.55 per week. I ask the Minister whether I am correct in understanding that the corresponding benefit for a widow in similar circumstances will be an additional pension over and above the present Repatriation pension of about five-eighths of the pension payable to an incapacitated husband.
– I do not know whether I am in a position to give a complete answer to the question asked by the honourable senator because, as he probably knows, this is a matter for the Treasurer and not the Minister for Repatriation as it relates to Defence Forces Retirements Benefits. The information I have is that in the age group of twenty-one, a private infantry man given a normal expectancy of life would receive from the Defence Forces Retirements Benefits Fund $29,000 together with a Repatriation and war service payment of $44,000, making a total of $73,000.
If he was a married man with a wife of the same age and with no children, the man would receive $78,000 for normal life expectancy. The amount goes up then according to the rank of the soldier involved. I have not the amount that would be due to the wife but I think it could well be within five-eighths of the figure of which the honourable senator spoke. I am not certain on that point.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Australian Government any observers in South Vietnam to study and report on next month’s presidential election? Has the Government taken any steps to verify the serious allegations, made by the civilian presidential candidates and others, of widespread fraud and malpractice in the interests of the military team of Thieu and Ky? As Australia is one of the few countries with armed forces in Vietnam, what assurance can the Government give the Senate that this election will provide a free and genuine expression of the choice of the people of South Vietnam?
– Senator Gorton will answer the question.
– As the honourable senator is aware, the Australian Government has diplomatic posts and diplomatic representatives in Vietnam. I am not sure on what he bases the second part of his question. I have not seen anywhere any indication that the eleven or so presidential candidates, apart from Thieu and Ky, are not engaging in full campaigning throughout Vietnam.
– They allege fraud.
– That part of the question seems to be based on a statement by Senator Cavanagh which is based on a statement by somebody else to the effect that these people allege fraud.
– In this morning’s Press there is a report of a statement by a former Prime Minister who is one of the candidates.
– The eleven or so candidates are engaged in campaigning throughout Vietnam. They are having their statements produced in the Vietnamese Press. I can find those statements for the honourable senator. The statements are critical of the present Government, as would be statements by people campaigning for an Opposition here in Australia. There seems to be no indication of these people not being able to appear on television, not being able to make statements in support of their candidature and not being able to take a full part in the campaign. That is about all I can say.
– I wish to extend the range of my knowledge by directing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Will he inform the Senate of the last election in which the President of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, was elected?
– I think the honourable senator will realise that en that occasion it was not possible for allegations of fraud to be made because it was not possible to have Opposition candidates.
– My question is also directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it not a fact that Air Vice-Marshal Ky broke his assurance to the Australian people that he would not be a candidate in the presidential election? Is it not a fact that’ several intending candidates in the election were prevented from standing? Is it not a fact that President Johnson indicated that a rigged election would cost South Vietnam the support of the American people? Has any similar warning been given by the Australian Government, or is it intended to use Australian troops to bolster up any kind of regime in South Vietnam regardless of any denial of the will of the people and democratic processes?
– The question asked by the Leader of the Opposition, as to whether President Johnson said that if something happened it would be bad, has nothing whatever to do with what is happening. The information that we have from our posts in Vietnam is that there are 11 presidential candidates and 480 other candidates; that they are campaigning throughout Vietnam; that they are appearing on television; that the Press is operating freely; and that all candidates have made television and radio appearances. It is up to those people who claim, or by innuendo seek to suggest, that there is something wrong in Vietnam at the present time to show that the candidates have not been appearing on television, and that in fact their campaigns, criticisms of the Government and suggestions as to why they should be elected are not appearing freely in the newspapers. If they are appearing freely, then let us have a little less of this denigration in advance of an election campaign which in itself must be almost unique. It is taking place in a country in which war is going on. The candidates for election are being threatened and murdered by the Vietcong, yet the people are carrying out an election campaign to elect a government.
– In addressing a question to you, Mr President, I would like to refresh your memory by reminding you that on 18th April last I asked a question concerning the tapping of telephones. I had received from the Attorney-General replies which in my opinion were unsatisfactory to the various questions I had asked. On 18th April last 1 asked you. Sir, whether it was not your view that if the telephones of senators - in particular those telephones within Parliament House or in the Commonwealth offices - were being tapped by any person or organisation it was a breach of the privileges and rights of senators. My question continued:
If you do agree, will you inquire whether this is being done?
Personally I have no knowledge of any lapping of telephones in Parliament House, but I will confer with the Postmaster-General to see whether that practice is being followed.
My question now is: What was the advice of the Postmaster-General?
– I will be making a statement on this matter at a later hour.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I have no doubt that the Minister and all honourable senators will be aware that daylight saving recently has been forced on Tasmania because of the need to economise on hydro-electricity. Will the Minister take the occasion to communicate on behalf of the Federal Government with the Premiers of the eastern States and South Australia to see whether there are in those quarters any views that daylight saving should prevail in the eastern States, to save not hydro-electricity but daylight?
– I shall give consideration to the honourable senator’s question.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the present wave of industrial unrest throughout the Commonwealth, can the Minister state whether such unrest arises from dissatisfaction of workers and trade unions with recent decisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? If so, will the Minister have an inquiry made as to whether ari industrial tribunal could be appointed so that through its just decisions it could obtain the confidence of workers and trade unions?
– If the honourable senator wants a question of that kind answered he should specify the particular incidents of unrest to which he refers. In that case he might learn from the statements of the people involved whether they were dissatisfied and, if so, why. It does not seem to me to be proper or in the interests of any section of the Australian community to cast doubts and criticisms, as the honourable senator did, on an arbitrator - an umpire - who is appointed to make decisions on these matters.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade land Industry say whether it is correct, as reported in the Press, that it is cheaper for ship owners to have their vessels travel the Cape of Good Hope route from Australia to the United Kingdom rather than via the Suez Canal, with consequent payment of canal duties? If it is correct, what justification is there for the recent increase in freights, allegedly brought about ; by the change of route to that via the Cape of Good Hope?
– By sailing round the Cape of Good Hope the lines concerned would, of course, avoid paying Suez dues but against this saving must be reckoned the higher cost of obtaining bunker oil in Capetown, the extra time involved in sailing round the Cape and the extra time taken for vessels serving Mediterranean ports to deviate into the Mediterranean from the Atlantic. I am advised that on balance there are additional costs associated with the Cape route as compared with the Suez route. The extent of those costs will be influenced by the extent to which the price of bunker oil in Capetown rises and the extent to which delays occur in Capetown resulting from port congestion. Such factors cannot be estimated in advance.
Exporters have agreed that freights will be increased by 31% but this increase is subject to a check of the increased costs which will actually be incurred. The cost figures will be produced by the shipowners and examined by accountants acting on behalf of exporters. Following this examination a decision will be taken on the time the surcharge will operate to enable the additional costs to be covered.
– Has the Minister for Education and Science seen a report that over 200 Australian schoolteachers are now bound for Canada to take up teaching duties in British Columbia following advertisements placed in Australian newspapers and teachers’ publications? Will the Minister agree that if this report is correct it indicates a great degree of dissatisfaction with the working and staffing conditions under which Australian teachers are being asked to instruct and educate the younger generation of Australians? Will the Minister further agree that with Australia’s growing population there is now a shortage of trained teachers in this country and that we can ill afford to lose to overseas nations people who have been trained in Australia for such an essential calling? Will the Minister not only look into this matter but also consider holding a full national and public inquiry into all aspects of education in Australia?
– I have seen the Press reports to which the honourable senator has referred. I was under the impression that the teachers who were taking up teaching positions in Canada came, for the most part, from Victoria but they may be coming from other States. In any case, I should . make it clear t.ihi the matter of teachers’ conditions has nothing whatever to do with the Commonwealth Government. It is completely under the control of the various State Governments which have differing opinions as to what a teacher should be paid. I think that is one point raised by the honourable senator. If I were forming a complete judgment on this matter I would want to know more along the lines of how many teachers were going to Canada for what could be the very laudable purpose of spending a year or so teaching abroad and obtaining experience which could be useful to their careers. I should also want to know how many were going permanently because they thought conditions there were better than they are here, which would be a different approach, and I should want to know the inflow of teachers into Australia from other countries. If there were a net loss of teachers because those going abroad permanently thought conditions here were bad then that, I admit, would be a loss to Australian education.
There are at present insufficient teachers in Australia to bring classes down to what has been declared by the educational conference to be an ideal size. This is one of the reasons why the Commonwealth Government is making available $8m a year in unmatched grants to provide more accommodation to train more teachers and to train them for a longer period than is now the case. The Budget presented yesterday is the first occasion on which such funds have been allocated.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate Who represents the Prime Minister - the head of the Government and the leader in control of the Minister for Air - relates to the secrecy surrounding the cost of maintaining the VIP flight, termed No. 34B Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, and the purposes for which it is used. Does the Minister realise the intolerable position in which honourable senators are placed when they cannot obtain answers to questions on this matter? Does he realise that honourable senators can obtain an answer to practically every question except one relating to this VIP flight? Has the Minister any idea of the security involved in the nature of the flights, the number of them and the cost of these particular nights?
– The honourable senator is quite wrong. I do not represent the Minister for Air, but I will endeavour to obtain the facts from him.
– I was not wrong. I addressed the question to you because I thought you were a responsible Leader of the Government.
– J will obtain the information from the Minister for Air.
– As our Australian troops are serving in the IV Corps area in South Vietnam, can the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs indicate what steps are being taken to ensure that the South Vietnamese in that area are adequately protected from the Vietcong so that their presidential election may be conducted in a free and legal manner?
– One of the objectives of the Vietcong has been to prevent not only presidential elections but the previous hamlet and local government elections being held. The Vietcong has even gone to the lengths of shooting people on their way to the polling booths, in an endeavour to terrorise the population out of casting a free vote. The presence of Australian troops there is designed amongst other things, to keep that terrorism away from the polling booths. I would like to add, in relation to the conduct of the elections themselves, that the Government of South Vietnam has invited observers from the United Nations and thirty-six other, countries with which it has diplomatic relations to go to Vietnam to observe the elections and the freedom with which they are held. That scarcely seems to be the action of a government which is endeavouring to run a bad election.
– Is the Minister for Education and Science aware of the grave shortage of facilities within Australian universities for the training of veterinary surgeons? Is he aware that the University of Queensland, which for some time has enrolled students from Western Australia and some other States in its School of Veterinary Science, has now informed those Slates that as from next year it will be unable to do so? Can the Minister inform the Senate as to the availability df veterinary science facilities in Au$tralian universities? Are any plans in hand ‘for an extension of these facilities?
– I have not those figures in my mind, but I will get them and give them to the honourable senator. The question relates to the numbers enrolled in veterinary science and to action alleged to have been taken by the University of Queensland. A veterinary school was recently established at the University of Melbourne. That school is only reaching the final year of its course this year. Students from South Australia, and I think also from Western Australia, attend that school. If the honourable senator wishes. I shall obtain for her the places at which there are veterinary science faculties, and the numbers of students who are enrolled.
– 1 direct to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs a question which follows from one asked by Senator Mattner. As a result of the invitation of «he South Vietnamese Government for those countries with diplomatic representation in South Vietnam to have observers to see that the elections are properly conducted, has Australia appointed such an observer? What facilities are made available for investigation as to the independent nature of the elections? Has such representative reported back to Australia? If so, could a copy of the report be made available to honourable senators?
– There is not a copy of a report available or even made, which is perfectly natural. All journalists, of course, are free to visit South Vietnam. As I said, the Government of South Vietnam has invited the United Nations -to appoint observers, and it has invited thirty-six other countries to appoint observers. We have in the country our own diplomatic post. Whether the honourable senator thinks that somebody else should be sent as well is another matter. There is again an innuendo in this question, that facilities might not be made available for these observers properly to see what was happening in the . election campaign. Can anyone believe that a country which asked representatives of the United Nations and representatives of other nations to go there would be so stupid, having invited them to go there and having got them there, as not to give them full facilities to look at the election campaign?
– On 6th April, Senator Cavanagh asked me if I could obtain, for the information of honourable senators, a copy of the new Constitution of the Republic of Vietnam drawn up by the recently elected Constituent Assembly. Later, Senator Branson asked me if I would endeavour to obtain a copy of the North Vietnamese Constitution. Copies of these documents have now been made available by the Minister for External Affairs and these will be placed in the Parliamentary Library (or the information of honourable senators.
(Question No. 46)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 104)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has suppliedthe following answers:
(Question No. 110)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 115)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Will the Government consider the proposition of raising the retiring ages of all ranks of the three Services to what they were in 1920?
– The Minister for Defence has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The question of extending retiring ages for the Services has been considered recently but, on the advice of the Services themselves, it has been concluded that this should not be done. Retiring ages are lower than in civilian life because the demands of service in the armed forces, particularly in the tropics, require a high degree of physical fitness. Operational service is the younger man’s task. All servicemen today are liable for overseas service and personnel in all ranks and musterings must be fit and ready for operational deployment at short, notice. This has been demonstrated in recent years by our involvement with little warning in operations in Borneo and South Vietnam.
Officers not normally engaged in active lighting operations - e.g. non-seagoing officers in the Navy and non-flying officers in the Air Force - retire at later ages than other officers of the same ranks. For other ranks the retiring age of 55 years is considered to be the upper limit.
(Question No. 118)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Regular Army Emergency Reserve personnel who have been discharged from (he Regular Army:
(Question No. 134)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers: 1 and 2 (a) and (b). The following table sets out details of ownership of the principal companies currently producing and/or processing iron ore in Australia and of companies who have agreements to supply iron ore to bothoverseas and local consumers at a future date. Each of or control of mining rights or leases and prothe producers listed has or will have ownershipduction of ore.
2 (c). Of the above mentioned producers the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd and Savage River Mines are constructing pelletising plants at Whyalla, Dampier and Port Latta respectively. Cliffs Western Australian Mining Co. Pty Ltd also has a project involving the construction of a pellet plant in the Pilbara. The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd is, of course, currently the only producer of iron and steel in Australia.
(Question No. 146)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: 1 to 4. During the Second World War the Commonwealth, and the State governments, did pay the superannuation contributions of their employees.
However, the reason for this wasthatpublic servants in the forces were, in most cases,suffering a marked loss of income and it was feltthat such a compulsory and statutory charge as superannuation should therefore be met by the Government. The present position as regards national servicemen is different, and consequently for a number of reasons the Government decided that Commonwealth public servants performing national service should he responsible for their own superannuation contributions. On call-up national servicemen receive adult ratesof pay, together with such loadings, allowances and benefits as to make the margin, if any, between the effective emoluments of the public servant and the national serviceman in this age group not generally significant. Some, no doubt - for example, those who achieve officer status - would receive pay and allowances in the Army greater than their public service salaries. In addition, it should be borne in mind that members of the Regular forces with whom national servicemen are serving are required to meet their own contributions to the defence forces retirement benefits scheme from their Army pay and, clearly,it would ‘be undesirable for one member to have his contributions to a superannuation scheme met by theCommonwealth whilst his Regular Army colleague met his from his own resources.
I am informed that the Tasmanian Government meets the superannuation contribution of its employees. The position in South Australia is somewhat different in that officers of the South Australian Public Service who are called up for national service are required to maintain their own superannuation contributions while in other than a combat area. However, contributions are met by the State Government as from the date of the officer’s embarkation for a combat area - at present this is limited to Vietnam - and closes from the date of disembarkation on his return.
(Question No. 148)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Because of the ever increasing activity of other nations in our fishing waters, and in order to expedite the establishment of an Australian fleet for the development of the fishing industry in Australia, will the Government consider extending the shipbuilding subsidy to the 80-90 ton class vessel?
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The shipbuilding subsidy was designed to assist the Australian shipbuilding industry to meet competition from overseas ship builders and thereby maintain a shipbuilding industry in Australia. It would appear that what the honourable senator has in mind is not assistance for the shipbuilding industry but assistance for the fishing industry by subsidising the building of fishing vessels. It is not certain that an extension of the shipbuilding subsidy would bc the appropriate way to achieve this end.
However, the honourable senator will no doubt bc interested to know that the question of a subsidy for building fishing vessels, together with a wide range of other proposals for expanding the fishing industry, was discussed at the Fisheries Development Conference held in Canberra in February last. The report of this meeting will be considered by Commonwealth and State fisheries officers and Ministers responsible for fishery matters at their next meeting, probably in September.
(Question No. 150)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
In view of the fact that private insurance companies will not cover the loss of property caused by fire duc to atomic action, will the Government give consideration to bringing into being an allembracing insurance scheme to cover property damage, similar to the War Damage Insurance scheme which was in operation in Australia during World War II?
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The only nuclear installation in Australia at present is at Lucas Heights, Sydney, and is owned and operated by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, a Commonwealth authority. The clause in insurance policies, under which loss of or damage to property is excluded from insurance cover if caused by radioactivity from any nuclear fuel, etc., therefore at the moment is to be related to damage arising out of the Commission’s operations, and the Commission would bc liable at common law for any such loss or damage. As the Commonwealth would stand behind the Commission to ensure its ability to pay, it is not considered that- there is any need at present for special legislation in this field. It should be understood, of course, that the radioactive contamination exclusion clause, as it is called, does not exclude from insurance cover damage arising from the use of radioisotopes, X-ray apparatus, particle accelerators and the like.
(Question No. 157)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
(Question No. 163)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
(Question No. 164)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
In view of the dreadful conditions prevailing in the drought-ravaged North Indian State of Bihar and the impassioned plea made by India’s Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, for immediate help, will the Government consider making a special effort to assist in alleviating the sufferings of the millions of people involved?
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government has been kept informed of developments in India arising from the drought and consequent shortages of food.
In recognition of the grave food situation in that country, the Government has made three large emergency food aid gifts to India since early 1965, amounting to almost $25m. In addition, Australia is continuing to provide India with aid for both technical assistance and economic development under the Colombo Plan. In aggregate Australian Colombo Plan aid to India now amounts to more than $30m.
In the Kennedy Round negotiations within the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff which concluded recently, Australia agreed to contribute annually for a period of three years 225,000 tons of grain, valued at approximately $ 13.5m, to a new international food aid agreement. Under this agreement, the details of which are now being worked out, Australia will be permitted to distribute its food aid contribution on a direct bilateral basis, if it chooses. Alternatively, it may be distributed through various multilateral channels. The Government will, of course, keep the situation in India under review in this context and consider sympathetically any further request from the Indian Government for additional emergency aid in the light of the requests it receives from the many other recipients of food aid.
(Question No. 167)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice:
Is it a fact that Nauru is to be granted independence on 31st January 1968?
– The Minister has now supplied the following answer:
The Governments of Australia, Britain and New Zealand have suggested arrangements for the future of Nauru under which Australia would exercise responsibilities for external affairs and defence but which would otherwise give the Nauruans full autonomy. In the time available before the Nauruan delegation left for the Trusteeship Council it was not possible for its members to consider these proposals fully. The Nauruans have just returned to Australia and it is expected that talks will resume shortly.
(Question No. 168)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
With reference to a recent announcement regarding a reorganisation of stevedoring work on the waterfront, the chief features of which were retiring pensions and permanent employment, has the Department of Labour and National ‘Service yet made a cost assessment of the proposals; if not, is the Department engaged upon such an assessment and when will the Parliament be informed of the assessment?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer:
I have made it very clear on a number of occasions that the Government attaches the greatest importance to the cost factor, including its! impact on freight rates. My Department is currently undertaking a study of the costs involved in the adoption of the proposals of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference.
(Question No. 175)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
With reference to the practice of certain private banks of forcing Australian tourists to do their travel business with the banks under threat of being denied overdraft or other facilities, will the Government take steps to stamp out this abuse by the private banks of their monopoly privilege under the Banking Act to gain advantage over other travel agents?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Alleged practices of the kind referred to are not considered a matter for regulation under the Banking Act. However, at my request, the Governor of the Reserve Bank has discussed the matter with the general managers of the trading banks. I am advised that not all banks conduct travel business, but banks generally have informed the Reserve Bank that it is not their policy to make the granting of loans for travel purposes conditional on their handling the related travel business.
(Question No. 177)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: 1 and 2. Alleged practices of the kind referred to are not considered a matter for regulation under the Banking Act. However, at my request, the Governor of the Reserve Bank has discussed the matter with the general managers of the trading banks. I am advised that not all banks conduct travel business, but banks generally have informed the Reserve Bank that it is not their policy to make the granting of loans for travel purposes conditional on their handling the related travel business.
(Question No. 179)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What were the annual amounts expended for each of the last 5 years for defence procurements in Australia for each of the defence Services?
– The Minister for Defence has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The annual amounts expended in Australia for each of the past 5 years are as follow:
(Question No. 183)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information:
(Question No. 188)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
With reference to a recent news item from Washington, in which the United States Central Intelligence Agency acknowledged that it had been secretly financing student and other organisations during the past 15 years, is the Government aware of any money flowing to Australian organisations from the Central Intelligence Agency?
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There have been published reports claiming that an organisation overseas, having an association with an organisation in Australia, has received funds from the Central Intelligence Agency. However, the Government has no information to this effect
(Question No. 195)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 200)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions: 1 to 6. The salary structure for technical and drafting grades in the Public Service was, on the application of a number of staff associations, the subject of an extensive investigation by the Public Service Arbitrator in 1963 and on the 4th and 10th February 1964 he handed down his determinations under the Public Service Arbitration Act
The Arbitrator’s determinations fixed new salaries for the various levels in the technical and drafting grades. The salary increases on the maxima of the various classification levels ranged from $168 to $864. The levels of margins fixed by the Arbitrator in 1964 were further increased from July 1965, following upon the decision of the Commission in the national wage cases 1965 and again increased in February 1967 as a consequence of the interim margins decision of the Commission.
On 19th October 1966 one of the staff associations, a parry to the 1964 hearings before the
Arbitrator, filed a claim under the Public Service Arbitration Act seeking a review of the salaries currently paid to the various levels in the technical and drafting grades. That claim was discussed between the Public Service Board and the staff association concerned on 24th February 1967. On 16th March 1967 detailed material in support of the claim was submitted by the Association to the Public Service Board.
The various aspects of the claim including a consideration of comparative rates being paid outside the Service for similar work are being investigated by the Public Service Board. I am informed that as soon as the necessary investigations have been completed and decisions reached the material will be discussed by the Public Service Board with the various staff associations having membership in the technical and drafting grades.
COUNTERFEIT $5 NOTES
(Question No. 201)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: 1 and 2. The Reserve Bank of Australia, which is responsible for the Australian note issue, has informed me that a report concerning counterfeit $5 notes was published in a Melbourne newspaper on 29th April 1967. Immediately the report came under notice the Commonwealth and Victorian Police were alerted for appropriate action. When publishing details of the $5 notes prior to their first issue on 29th May 1967, the Reserve Bank emphasised to the public in a series of advertisements the main security features by which genuine decimal currency notes may readily be identified.
(Question No. 207)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers:
There are no plans for retrenchment of any permanent parking staff who will be needed for other airport duties, such as traffic control. The Department expects a better net return from concession parking. As a condition of any contract let, the concessionaire would not be permitted to charge parking in excess of those approved by the Department. To ensure high standards, any contract let would he restricted to three years.
(Question No. 208)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 211)
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
La Trobe University has commenced studies of the breeding biology of the dibbler in co-operation with the Department of Fisheries and Fauna of Western Australia. This research may provide ultimately some of the knowledge which would be central to any attempt to manage successful colonies of the animals in suitable selected areas outside its present range of occurrence.
(Question No. 216)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 218)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following; answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There is a number of different organisations in Australia which are actively engaged in education, publicity and treatment in the field of alcoholism. However, questions related to alcoholism and its problems are matters which principally fall within the province and responsibility of the States, where the provision of financial support in each case can best be considered.
(Question No. 219)
Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 220) Senator WILLESEE asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Is it a fact that fares are paid to war widows covered by the Repatriation Act when they travel for medical treatment, but not to war widows covered by the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act? If so, will the Minister examine the matter with a view to eliminating this anomaly?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Yes, there is an apparent inconsistency in that under existing legislation fares are payable to war widows covered by the Repatriation Act when they travel for medical treatment but not to war widows covered by the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. The matter is under examination,
– I have received from Senator McManus an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance, namely:
The necessity for action under the Crimes Act and/or other applicable legislation against persons in Australia proposing to solicit and send aid for the National Liberation Front of Vietnam.
Is the proposed motion supported? (More than the number of honourable senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– I move:
That the Senate at its rising, adjourn nil tomorrow at 2.30 p.m.
I do so for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency, namely, the necessity for action under the Crimes Act and/ or other applicable legislation against persons in Australia proposing to solicit and send aid to the National Liberation Front of Vietnam. I begin by thanking those honourable senators who rose to support me in calling for this debate. This subject is one which concerns freedom of opinion and freedom of discussion and I thank those senators for their support for the principle of free discussion.
The issue of Vietnam has, of course, been for some years a highly controversial one in this country. In accordance with our democratic principles we have allowed free discussion of the issues involved on both sides and we have freely allowed the right to demonstrate within the limits, of course, required for the maintenance of civil order. There has been no suppression of debate. There was a notable instance of that last Sunday night when on a widely observed television programme called ‘People’, conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, a man who was declared to be an overseas authority upon napalm bombing was given the opportunity to express views strongly opposed to those of our Government on a session which is provided for out of the public funds. He was allowed to express those views without any opponent to question what he had to say. That, I think, is sufficient evidence to show that there is no suppression of dissent in this country. I may say that I propose to investigate an allegation that the man concerned is a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Scandinavian country from which he comes and that he is a European authority on causes with which the Communist Party is associated. But whatever his views, he was allowed to express them on a television session for which the Government provides the funds. As I said, that is sufficient answer to any claim that in Australia dissent is suppressed.
Of course, we now have a completely new issue. Up to date we have allowed debate in Australia for and against the Vietnam war and we have allowed the right to demonstrate. But now in Australia there is this move to obtain a completely new civil right - the right to aid the enemies of one’s country; the right to send assistance to those who are fighting against Australian soldiers abroad. Those soldiers were sent abroad by the Government in accordance with the will of the Australian people as expressed at a Federal election. As honourable senators know, in that election the over-riding issue related to foreign policy, defence and the commitment of Australians abroad. By an overwhelming majority the Australian people determined that that involvement should be supported. Now there is an attempt within Australia to assert, as a civil right, the right to give aid to the enemies of our troops - the right to assist people who are trying to kill Australian soldiers.
It is ironical, I think, that this move should come from students at a university which bears the name of Australia’s greatest soldier of World War I. The move began at Monash University, lt then spread to the Melbourne University; then to the Australian National University and now efforts are being made to bring about a similar campaign in other universities. This move is confined to a minority of the students. I pay tribute to the fact that the great majority, the overwhelming majority of students in our universities would not be associated with it. It is sponsored by a small, vocal, and in my opinion, politically sophisticated group associated with what are called the Labor clubs at these universities.
I know, of course, that these Labor clubs are not associated officially with the Australian Labor Party or with any other political party. In my day as an official of the Australian Labor Party we refused to associate with these clubs. We also refused to supply them with Labor speakers although I understand that this is not the case today. The Australian Labor Party and the Democratic Labor Party are not responsible for these groups. A person can become a member of one of these Labor clubs whether he has Labor views, Communist views, or no political views.
– Or Liberal views.
– I understand that on occasions people who claimed to be Liberals have joined these organisations. However, the groups have no official association with any political party so far as I know. Not all of the members of these clubs are merely crazed mixed up kids of whom we should not take much notice, as has been suggested. They themselves have pointed out that that is not the case. One of the spokesmen for this group. Ray Drew, was reported in the ‘Canberra Times* last week as having said:
People who voted on the decision cannot be dismissed as ‘little girls or boys’. Members of the Australian National University teaching staff were among those who voted approval.
I want to make it clear that the Labor clubs at the universities do not consist merely of students; they also contain members of the teaching staff. I do not suggest that all of them are as suspect as some of them are. I believe that in the membership of some of these Labor clubs - first of all they contain small groups of idealists who have been indoctrinated to a degree that they have foolishly and misguidedly accepted what they have been told - there are some who are involved in this particular campaign because of the search for excitement. They find in this campaign the same sort of emotional release that they got ten or twelve years ago by playing cowboys and Indians and cops and robbers. But it is the members of the third group who are the subject of my chief condemnation. I refer to the politically sophisticated people who have been trained in the Eureka Youth League and other schools of the Communist Party to influence other students in directions which induce them to become associated’ with this kind of campaign.
Whilst I say that some are idealists and some are just excitement chasers, I do not agree with those people who say that because they are young they are to be regarded as not being responsible; for their actions. If we as a Parliament say that young men of that age can be compelled to join the armed forces of this country and go abroad to fight under almost intolerable conditions, can we then turn round and say that men of the same age, safe at universities, are to be regarded as not being responsible for their actions? This particular group appears to have many spokesmen.
In ‘Fighting Words’ last week, one of their spokesmen said that they had completed arrangements to send the aid through Algiers. In the newspapers this week, another spokesman said they had arranged to send it through Cambodia. A university student rang me this morning and informed me that he had learned from inquiries in Melbourne that they had arranged to send the aid to Saigon and that at Saigon sympathisers would transfer it to the Vietcong fighting outside that city.
Then we have other stories as to the nature of the aid. Some have sought to pretend virtue by saying that they will be merely sending medical aid. Surely if they send anti-malarial drugs that is military aid. If anti-malarial drugs will keep on their feet soldiers who will otherwise be out of action, what is the difference between that and military aid?
– That is a very callous approach.
– Senator Cavanagh says my approach is callous. It is not as callous as that of those who would support the shooting of Australian soldiers with bullets paid for by Australians. I have not heard a word from Senator Cavanagh in objection to that being done. Some people - I regret to say they include some in high places in this Parliament - have suggested that only a small amount of aid is involved and that action might well be taken if it increased to any considerable degree. As a matter of principle, it is just as objectionable to me if one or two Australian soldiers were killed as a result of moneys collected in Australia and forwarded to the Vietcong as it would be if 1,000 were so killed. I object to any suggestion that this thing should be overlooked because some people think that these students might not be sending a great deal of money. We are faced with a campaign which is not being conducted by a few immature children who do not know what they are doing or who are just out for excitement. We are faced with a campaign that is being waged by people who are politically sophisticated. As for the groups in the background, especially the adult groups to which I referred as being associated with these clubs, this is a carefully organised campaign designed to achieve an end which they regard as essential for their particular political ends.
Let me emphasise that Mr Bowen, the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, who probably has sources of information that honourable senators have not got, stated at the week-end that he was satisfied that there were some persons associated with this campaign who were not perfectly honest. He said secondly, he was satisfied that it was an organised thing and, thirdly, that he was looking at the Crimes Act to see whether it should be applied in this particular case.
The object behind this campaign is very clear to anyone who has observed the activities of the Communist Party in this country over the years. The Communist Party realises that the amount of money to be collected by a campaign of this sort, although reasonably large, may not be very significant in the view of many people in a war where so much money is being expended. What it has in mind is another gain. It is seeking to promote the morale of the National Liberation Front to ensure that its members will fight on, that there will be no peace and that they will fight to a finish. That was made clear in a discussion at the University of Melbourne last week in which Mr Francis James, a Sydney editor, was one of the participants. Mr James is not an immature schoolboy or an immature student; he has been over the course a few times. He had this to say:
The very first thing that we can contribute is the passing of this resolution tonight - : -
To aid the National Liberation Front - because, don’t fall, I beg of you, for this materialistic nonsense that it is the big battalions with all the guns and all the money and all the resources, aircraft facilities and what all, that wins.
The little thing in wartime, which he knows as well as I do, and which he has experienced, and it has got damn all to do with what ammunition you have got, what your signals are like and anything of that sort, it is a little thing called morale and it matters first and it matters last and it matters all the time. . .
Now this is the first thing we will do when we vote this resolution for the National Liberation Front.
Mr James went on:
If this House tonight by a substantial majority accepts the resolution brought forward and if wo send a copy to NLF whose postal service I can assure the House from my own experience is much superior to that of the Ky Government, then we are sending aid to NLF and it would be disingenuous for me not to make it quite clear that that is what is involved ultimately in your vote tonight, because speaking for my own part
I shall see to it that two days after tomorrow the content of this resolution and your vote will be conveyed to the NLF.
What these people aim at is not so much the collection of a sum of money but the strengthening of the morale of the National Liberation Front so that no overtures for peace will be accepted. Their aim is to strengthen the morale of the troops against whom our men are fighting.
Let me say that one of our own officers emphasised, in yesterday’s ‘Telegraph’, the fact that morale was of importance in the case of our own troops. When referring to this campaign to aid the National Liberation Front, he said he hoped the Government of this country would do something to assure our troops that we were as anxious to stand behind them as they thought we were when they went away. It is all very well to say that it is only a little thing, that they are only a few boys. If we allow it to go on, it will be said all over the world that Australia sends troops to fight then allows money to be collected by Australians to be used for killing those troops. That lowers the image of this country in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of our allies, and no government in this country can afford to tolerate it.
I believe and I have the evidence in the number of communications that I have received from citizens, that the opinion of this country is almost entirely against this action. I might say that when I first heard of this matter I was in no hurry to intervene in it as I thought that it was one of those stunts that would not be heard of. Then it spread to another university and then to another university. Finally we reached the stage where these people assured us that they were out for two things. The first was to send aid; the second was to send messages which would strengthen the morale of those fighting our soldiers. I do not believe that any member of this Parliament who has a conscience could stand for a situation of conscripting men, sending them to fight in Vietnam and then turning around to allow people to collect money in this country for the assistance of those who are fighting against our men in Vietnam. Any member of this Parliament who would be prepared to support those people is unfit to be a member of the Parliament.
The next question - people feel strongly about it - is of course: How should the
Government act? I decided after an investigation that one appropriate move could be through the Crimes Act. In the Melbourne ‘Age’, Mr Gordon Bryant of the Australian Labor Party condemned my proposal. He said that my proposal was against the whole tradition of Australian democracy. Mr Bryant is a little late in coming to that decision. If he was a member of the Australian Labor Party in 1949 tie should have been of that opinion then because, in 1949, two notable convictions for Communist sedition were obtained under section 24 of the Crimes Act, in each case by the Chifley Government.
– And tried in the Senate.
– In the first case, Gilbert Burns, a member of the Queensland State Committee of the Communist Party, was sentenced to six months imprisonment for making the following answer to a question asked at a public meeting -
If Australia was involved in such a war it would be between Soviet Russia and American and British imperialism. We would oppose that war. We would fight on the side of Soviet Russia.
– What date was; that?
– That was in 1949. Gilbert Burns was prosecuted under the Crimes Act and sentenced to six months imprisonment as a result of action taken by Dr Evatt who was Attorney-General in the Chifley Government.
– He was a Labor man, was he not?
– I would s’ay so. In the same year, the Chifley Government took action through Dr Evatt again. In the second case, L. L. Sharkey was found guilty by a jury under the same section of the Crimes Act for stating:
If Soviet forces in pursuit of aggressors entered Australia, Australian workers would welcome them.
I would like to point out that the offences of these two persons was not really as serious as the offences of the people who are collecting this money. They merely referred to a purely hypothetical case. They did not actually do anything. But in this case the people concerned at the three universities say that they are going, to do it and they have collected the money. They say that they have collected $500 at Monash University in the first week. What these people are doing is much worse than what
Burns and Sharkey were imprisoned for doing under the Chifley Labor Government. Frankly, what I want is the Holt Government to be just as firm and strong in stamping out treason in this country as the Chifley Government was.
How is the Government to act? There is a provision in the Crimes Act about which these young men who have a regard for their own safety, which contrasts oddly with their lack of concern for the safety of Australian troops in Vietnam, have let it be known that they went to the trouble of getting the very best legal opinion to ensure that up to the present they would be safe. Section 24aa (1.) of the Crimes Act provides that it is treachery for a person to assist by any means whatever, with intent to assist, a proclaimed enemy of a proclaimed country. It then goes on to provide that where a part of the Defence force is serving abroad, it is treachery to assist any persons against whom that part of the Defence force is or is likely to be opposed and who are specified or included in a class of persons specified by proclamation. Where they claim that they are safe is in this regard: they say that until the Government proclaims the NLF as a foe of this country, as an enemy at war with this country, they are quite safe in carrying on with what they are doing. 1 am not going to get involved in a legal discussion on whether this point or that point applies. I am going to suggest that the Government proclaims the NLF and then it will be in a position to deal with these people. I realise that they -may even say: ‘Well, we will remove our campaign from the NLF. We will collect for the Vietcong or some other body.’ I realise that there are loopholes which would need to be stopped up. Therefore, I have referred in my motion to the possibility of using other laws which could be examined by the law officers of the Crown. But if the Crown does not feel that there is a satisfactory law available, I urge the Crown to do what Dr Evatt and Mr Chifley did when there was opposition to the erection of the Woomera Rocket Range. They saw to it that new legislation was prepared which would shut up all the loopholes. I ask the Government to do that if it finds that the Crimes Act is not properly or easily applicable. I am not impressed by suggestions that we use the currency regulations or other Acts to stop money going out of the country; that kind of thing is easily evaded. I believe that action which the Government must take must ensure that individuals will be dealt with if they attempt to raise money for this purpose.
Now, of course, anybody who has been associated with or seen the activities of Communists in this country over the years can easily work out the background behind this whole thing. The Communist Party over the last two or three years has stimulated one campaign here, one campaign there and another campaign somewhere else against the war in Vietnam. In this case, the Party decided to force the pace. It decided that it would try to establish the principle that there is a new civil right, the right to send aid to the enemies of one’s country. Naturally, the Communist Party worked out a blueprint. It decided that it would start its campaign in one spot and see how it went. In other words, it is an exercise in brinkmanship to see whether the Government will react. If it does not react, the Communist Party has established a precedent. If the Government takes no action, then, instead of the universities, next week the Union of Australian Women, the women’s organisation of the Communist Party, runs a fund to aid the NLF. The week after that, some other organisation such as a peace conference runs such a fund. What is going on at the moment is an attempt to try out the Government to see how far these people can go.
It is understandable that the Party started at Monash because it realises that in anything that is done in a university there is the inestimatable advantage that if anybody tries to step in the cry of academic freedom can be raised. There appears to be a lot of moral cowardice about today because, as far as I can see, people apparently are to be permitted to engage in everything from pornography to treason; and some people suggest: ‘Well, as long as you say it is academic freedom, it is all right’. These people therefore have set to work to establish a precedent in the same way as they established a precedent when they stopped the ‘Boonaroo’ from carrying supplies to Vietnam. They successfully established the precedent that Australian workers could refuse to supply Australian troops abroad. Now, here is the next stage - to establish the precedent that money can be collected in this country to aid the enemies of this country. I say therefore that this is not a precedent which any government worthy of its salt would accept. I call upon the Government of this country to act.
Before I leave the students, as I have referred to the question of academic freedom, I think it is necessary to look at the frame of mind which some of them have. Tony Baker wrote a letter to the ‘Canberra Times’ last week. He explained how he came to be the mover of the motion to send aid to the National Liberation Front at the Australian National University. He wrote:
It is entirely explicable thai university students should have sponsored the motion. We are freed from the demands and inhibitions of a job, as the community has instructed us to devote a few years purely to study. From this point of isolation we have a duty to advocate -what we have learnt, even if it be unpopular with many in the community.
That is the attitude of a young man who says: ‘The world owes me a living. The community has sent me here for a few years to study’. In the typical tone of academic freedom, Mr President, he says that during the period for which he is isolated from the community he can do things that you and I cannot do, because he is a university student. Some people today are trying to twist the principle of academic freedom in all kinds of strange and weird ways.
I am pleased to see that the Council of Monash University does not believe in that kind of academic freedom. According to a Press article, Professor Andrew, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of that University, notified students that no University facility could he used or any collection taken up on the campus for funds directed towards any combatant or political group of the National Liberation Front, and official notices to that effect were posted around the University. He said that students who disregarded the order would face disciplinary action; that they could be fined up to $100, suspended or expelled from the University. Of course, students can still do these things outside the University. But, if the University thinks it should take that action, I hope that the Government will do something in that direction.
A few comments which rather surprised me have been made in regard to this matter. The Melbourne ‘Age’, in a leading article in which it elevated me to the High Court bench, suggested that it was entirely wrong for a member of parliament to suggest in parliament legal action against people. I have not been able to find! any parliamentary authority who can confirm that. On the contrary, I am informed1 that the kind of action that I am taking has been taken by members of parliament for centuries. Mr Rohan Rivett suggested; that the students could not possibly be charged because the Commonwealth Government was sending wheat to China and it would have to be charged, too. I do not know that that analogy is entirely valid. I merely say that it certainly does not apply to members of my Party because we have been the only party to oppose the sending of wheat to Communist China. That is still our attitude. We have always been consistent.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
-^- The first point that I wish to make in this debate is that I disagree with the leading article that took Senator McManus to task because he dared to raise this matter in a house of parliament. I agree with his contention. It is not that a house of parliament should take action against somebody for a criminal act; it is that any member of a house of parliament, who sees a situation developing in which he believes that a law should be applied or a law is required, has the right to raise that matter for debate in the house of parliament to which he belongs: The second point that I wish to make is that, although this is the occasion for a debate on this matter, this is not the first occasion on which the Government has directed its mind to the problem and all its implications. I would not like it to be thought that until now the Government has not devoted attention to what is implied in this latest development in Australia. J say ‘latest development in Australia’ because this is a development that has not occured here before.
Before I go on to discuss this development, I point out that universities and university students have figured fairly prominently in this debate and in the Press reports leading up to it That is only natural.
But it should be made perfectly clear that the vast bulk of university students and universities themselves as organisations are not involved in this matter. Sometimes I become very annoyed because whenever there is a noisy demonstration in .which young people are involved the newspapers seem automatically to say that they are students, without any proof whatever that they are students or that they are attending a university. I believe that the vast bulk of the people who attend our universities as students are hard working, sensible and good citizens of Australia. In many ways they are better than the university students of the time when I attended university. So I hope that the Australians who have resentment against the action which is the subject of this debate will not allow that resentment to wash over into condemnation of university students as a whole.
What are the numbers involved in this action? As I understand the position, in the Monash University Labor Club thirtythree students out of a student body of about 8,000 voted in favour of this action. In the University of Melbourne Labor Club forty-five students voted in favour of it In the Australian National University Labor Club the vote was fourteen to eight. So this is not the action of university students as such; it is the action of a minute particle of a small section of university students. That does not make it any the less significant. As Senator McManus said, if it is permissible for one small group to collect money to buy bullets to kill Australian soldiers, then it is permissible for other small and large groups to do so. Once that principle is supported or defended, it is supported or defended for groups of all kinds and sizes. So this is not a matter to be dismissed because so far only a small number of university students, being manipulated from outside and being used as guinea pigs, are collecting a small amount of money for these purposes.
Let us isolate what is at issue here. It is not a question of freedom of expression or freedom of speech. Every honourable senator will appreciate that in this country, in the present state of undeclared hostilities with North Vietnam, those people who wish to change the Government’s policy are being given all facilities to persuade the
Australian people that that policy should be changed. They are able, as they should be, to put their views over radio and television and in the newspapers. That is not at issue. That is not the question before us at all; nor, in my view, is the collection of money by people who, for humanitarian reasons, have compassion for suffering humanity and wish to send medical supplies of one kind and another, although I believe that the use of the statement that the collections are being made for those purposes is an act of deceit by the people making the collections. I say that because money has been collected before in Australia for the International Red Cross to forward medical supplies to people who were hurt or rendered homeless in North and South Vietnam. The Red Cross has stated that it is not allowed into North Vietnam; that it made application to enter North Vietnam and was refused permission by Hanoi on the ground that North Vietnam was not a signatory to the Geneva Convention. So the suggestion that the money now to be collected would be distributed through the International Red Cross in giving aid of that kind is deceitful to those people who know the facts.
A suggestion has also been made that the World University Service might be involved in helping in North and South Vietnam in non-warlike ways with the funds collected. The suggestion has inspired a letter to me by the Australian President of the World University Service in which he has pointed out how grossly the position of the Service has been misrepresented by the Students Representative Council at Melbourne University, and that the Service was not allowed to operate and would not operate in North Vietnam. He has pointed out in his letter that there is no World University Service committee in North Vietnam and that no projects are therefore supported there by the Service. He disassociates himself not only from the request of the Students Representative Council at Melbourne University for medical aid, but also from what he terms the lunatic efforts of the university clubs at Melbourne University and later Monash University to collect money for other than medical purposes. That is a reference to the possibility of aid being provided in that way. I would not at present take issue with people of compassion who would collect money for medical aid to be given through the International Red Cross, if it were possible for that scheme to work. But the collection of funds for purposes other than that - to be given to the political arm which has troops in the field fighting Australians and for purposes which do not exclude military actions - gives rise to a situation in this country that we have not seen before. Further, the funds are collected knowing that to be the case. Mr Price, a student at Monash University - although many of the members of the Labor Club there are not - was under no illusions about the purposes for which the funds might be used. He made the statement that it would be unfortunate if an Australian conscript was hit by a bullet with ‘Monash University Labor Club’ on it, but he said: ‘We do not see any way out of this’. I suggest that it would be equally unfortunate if a member of the Australian Regular Army as a volunteer was hit by a bullet with ‘Monash University Labor Club’ on it, or if the head man of a South Vietnamese village and his wife and family were lined up against a wall and shot as an act of terrorism with bullets with Monash University Labor Club’ on them. So that funds are being collected knowing that they may be distributed and used for purposes of that kind. I take the view that it is intolerable for that to happen; that no government should permit it to continue; that ways must be found to stop the collection and the dispatch of money to people who, in a legal sense or otherwise, are shooting at Australian troops as their enemies.
How can this situation be stopped? As Senator McManus has pointed out, difficulties arise in the use of the Crimes Act. I do not say that it is impossible to use the Crimes Act, but there are difficulties in its use which could lead to changes in the suggested purposes of the collection of funds, every time that a particular organisation - the Vietcong, the National Liberation Front or the North Vietnamese Government - was proclaimed. This oddity, this difficulty, of preventing such action is something which has been brought to notice for the first time. Of course, the same thing could have happened when Australian troops were engaged against guerillas in Malaya, had there been at that time sufficient disloyal Australians, because no declaration of war was made against guerillas in Malaya. Had sufficient Australians been willing to supply munitions to be used to shoot other Australians at the time when Australia was engaged in Korea, the same thing could have happened, because no official declaration of war was made against Korea., But it did not happen then because .there were no people prepared to say: ‘It will be unfortunate if what we do results in the shooting of Australian soldiers, but we cannot help that. We will just have to put up with it’. But it is happening now and it is intolerable. Every existing avenue open to the Government must be examined most carefully to see whether it can be ‘used effectively so that the end desired is attained. If it appears that existing facilities cannot be used effectively to make sure that the end desired is attained, then a look must be taken toward effecting an alteration which will make that result possible, How.ever this is not a matter that can be accomplished overnight. So far no crime has been committed by any of the people who are collecting funds for munitions for Vietcong soldiers. It is intolerable that that should be able to continue. I dissociate completely myself and my Party and the Australian Country Party from the statement made by Mr Bryant, a leading member of the Australian Labor Party, that attempts to prevent the collection of funds for such purposes are a negation of the democratic system.
– His Leader disagrees with him.
– I would hope so, and I would hope that more people oil the Opposition side than his Leader disagree; but I do not believe that there is none on the other side who continues to agree with Mr Bryant. That is the nub of this matter. Yes, it is intolerable that it should be possible for it to continue. Yes, it will be necessary to devise means to ensure effectively that it does not continue. One of the methods which would help to prevent this kind of excess by these impressionable students who are being used as guinea, pigs would be for those people so closely associated with them politically to exercise some responsibility in the debates which take place. I know that Mr Whitlam has dissociated himself and the Labor Party from the Labor Clubs in the universities. I know that the Labor Clubs in the universities are different from the ALP Clubs in the universities and are not affiliated with them. But all through July at the Melbourne University Labor Club who were the people speaking in the debates? On 3rd and 4th July at the debates Dr Cairns, Senator Wheeldon-
– I did not.
- Senator Keeffe-
Sena’.or Wheeldon - I did not speak to the Melbourne University Labor Club in July.
– All right. Senator Wheeldon can have his say later.
– I ask for a withdrawal. I was not present at a meeting of the Melbourne University Labor Club in July or at any other time.
– I am not withdrawing until later when I have some proof of what the honourable senator has said.
– Senator Wheeldon has asked for a withdrawal of a statement which he considers is untrue and I would ask, Mr Deputy President, ‘that you require a withdrawal.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! When an honourable senator asks for the withdrawal of words that he states are not true, the Chair must assume that the words complained of are not true.
– On the basis of your interpretation or assumption, Mr Deputy President, I withdraw. But one thing still remains true - that there are members of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria who are closely and constantly associated with these Labor clubs, and that without in any way stopping the expression of an opinion which members of those clubs hold they still would be able to prevent this kind of thing if they wanted to do so. In any case, it must be prevented.
– The honourable senator addressed the Monash University Labor Club on 17th October last year.
– Mr Deputy President, I am asking for another withdrawal. Senator Gair said that I addressed the Melbourne University Labor Club on 17th
October last year. I have never addressed the Melbourne University Labor Club and I ask you to direct Senator Gair to withdraw his statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
Senator Gorton has the floor.
– I did not say Melbourne, I said Monash.
– Then I ask for a withdrawal of that statement. Some honourable senators are laughing. I do not find this amusing.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The point is not upheld. I call Senator Gorton.
– There is only one other point with which I wish to deal. Senator McManus said that certain commentators in this community have stated that they can see no difference between selling wheat and wool to China and the action of university students in collecting money for munitions to kill Australian troops. Even in the aftermath of the Korean War the United Nations was able to draw a clear distinction between things such as wool and wheat and strategic materials of war. There is a clear distinction.
– What about tallow?
– Can the honourable senator not see the distinction in the items I have mentioned? He does not answer me. If he can see the distinction, that is fine; we are all of one mind. However, I am talking to the point Senator McManus said was raised by a radio commentator. I point out that apparently all of us here can see the great distinction between trading with another country in wheat and wool and providing what can be actual munitions of war for use against Australian troops in a third country. If there is no distinction in the mind of the honourable senator who is now interjecting, then obviously he would allow both.
– If the Minister’s information is so accurate let him give us more information about the Melbourne University Labor Club.
– I suggest the honourable senator approach Dr Cairns who knows all about that club and other Labor clubs as well. Irrespective of whether the honourable senator was at the meeting of that Labor club, irrespective of whether he addressed that Labor club, the fact still remains that there is an association between some Victorian members of the Opposition Party and those Labor clubs and they could use their influence to prevent action of the kind now under discussion. That is the point I was making.
– No it was not.
– Yes it was. That is the point I was making and that is the point I make now. We know that there are people in Australia - a minority, not many - who believe that the action being taken by the Australian Government in Vietnam is wrong. We know that a majority of people in Australia, voting on this subject, indicated that they believed that the action of the Australian Government was right. The majority of people in Australia having so expressed themselves and the Australian Government having taken action to implement its policy in that way, surely no-one with any pretension to democratic principles, either in that majority or in that minority, can say that those who disagree with the Government’s policy should be allowed to collect money for munitions to be used by those fighting against us. This is a very dangerous precedent and it is one to which the Government will give consideration.
– I can give no details or indication.. The Government will consider ways and means of stopping effectively action of that kind.
– This motion and the support it has received from the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), who is supposed to represent in this chamber the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) also set a dangerous precedent. The motion is a disgrace to the Senate. That the Senate should discuss a motion, the substance of which is that action should be taken under the Crimes Act against certain persons, is something that should never be entertained. Senator McManus did not stop at suggesting that legal action should be taken against persons. He did not merely say that he thought those persons should be investigated. His attitude was that they , were already guilty. He expressed himself in terms which indicated, that there was no doubt whatever that they were guilty and should be punished by imprisonment. That is something which should never be permitted in a chamber of this character. This is not a magistrate’s court ‘ and it should riot be turned into one.
– He said action Should be taken against persons who were guilty of certain activities.
– 1 heard what the honourable senator said and I noted it. He said: ‘Their offence’ - referring to Burns and Sharkey, men who were convicted and served terms of imprisonment - ‘was not as serious as the offence committed in this case. This is much worse than the offence for which Burns and Sharkey were imprisoned’. Here is the Senate, a legislative chamber, having material put before it by Senator McManus the implication of which lis that people are Communists. He said that not only should some action be considered but also that they are so guilty that they .should be serving a term of imprisonment because their offence is worse than that of people who have already been convicted and served a term of imprisonment.
The attitude of my Party in this matter is clear. We do not support the attitude of those, in the clubs. Our Party is, in no way connected wish the Labor clubs at the universities and I thank Senator McManus for not endeavouring to suggest, as Senator Gorton did, that there is any connection. We are in no way connected. We never have been connected. The Australian, -Labor Party has no more connection with these clubs than has the Australian Democratic Labor Party. They are no part of lis. Wc disagree with their attitude and! their decisions, and we have said so publicly. The executive of the Australian Labor Party has resolved this matter and the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party has today issued an announcement in connection with it. There can be no question on that aspect. The processes of the Senate should not be abused in this way. Suppose these persons are guilty, as Senator McManus has said.
– He did not say ma
– He said that the offence committed by Burns and Sharkey was not as serious as the offence committed in this case. What is that but saying that they are guilty. If they are guilty he has prejudiced them.
– Only a court can say that.
– Of course only a court can say that, and it is one of the rights of every free man to be tried by a court. This Parliament has . endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To be tried by a court is a right not only of every senator but of Mr Price and those other people who have been named - some of them in specific terms, some of them by implication. They and everyone else have basic civil rights. A person charged With a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law at a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
Senator McManus comes in here not saying, as he would be entitled to say: ‘Let us agree to a motion that steps or procedures ought to be taken to prevent the raising of moneys’. He says that his proposal is based on the necessity for action under the Crimes Act, that this is in effect a Communist conspiracy, that these people are guilty. He then goes on to say, virtually, that they ought to be sentenced to imprisonment because it is more serious than a certain offence committed by men who were sent to prison. What is. that but trying them in this .Senate, where they cannot be heard and where they have no public trial, finding them guilty and saying. what sentence should be imposed. If this can be done to them it can be done to anyone else in this community; there ; is no doubt whatever about that.
– The honourable senator is making a disgrace of the Senate.
– It is a disgrace to the Senate that these expressions should have been used. If the senator wanted, to raise the issue of support being given to the Vietcong and to North Vietnam let him do so, but let him not come in here “and say that action should be taken under the Crimes Act. We witnessed Senator
Gorton, who is supposed to be representing the Attorney-General, rise and support Senator McManus, when the very man who has the authority under the Crimes Act to institute action, if action is warranted, is that same Attorney-General. If ever a man insulted a person whom he was supposed to represent, Senator Gorton did so today. The Attorney-General himself has the authority; it is he who has to consent to a prosecution.
Has Senator McManus, as was his right, gone to the Attorney-General and asked him to take action? Has he, in terms of the Crimes Act, procured the issue of a warrant? Has he sworn out any information? If he says that any of these people are guilty of an offence let him take the appropriate action. Either these people are guilty Of an offence or they are not. if they are innocent it is wrong for Senator McManus to come here and traverse this matter in the way he has.* If they are guilty of an offence it is even worse, because he has done his utmost to prejudice the trial of those persons. He himself said that at the weekend the Attorney-General was considering action under the Crimes Act. What more prejudicial steps could be taken than those he has taken in this chamber, if those persons are brought to trial?
– Did he say that?
– Senator McManus has informed the Senate that the AttorneyGeneral said at the weekend that he was contemplating action under the Crimes Act.
– He said that he was not sure at the moment whether action should be taken.
– He said he was not sure whether action should be taken or not. We have the Attorney-General saying that he .is hot sure whether Or not action can be taken; he is contemplating action. Here we have Senator McManus saying that these persons are guilty, that in effect their action is part of the Communist conspiracy and is a most serious offence - more serious than the one for which Burns and Sharkey were sent tq gaol. I have no objection at all to the Attorney-General saying that he is contemplating action. My objection is that, if the Attorney-General was contemplating action, Senator
McManus should come into this chamber, propose his motion and say the things he has said and that Senator Gorton, who is supposed to represent the Attorney-General, should get up and support him with this kind of inflammatory and . prejudicial statement.
Whether the persons concerned were entitled to do what they did is one thing. We in no way approve of what they say. We disapprove of it as a political matter. We disapprove of their attitude and their decisions. In no way are we condoning what they are doing, But that does not give honourable senators any right whatever, especially when the Attorney-General is contemplating action, to come into this chamber and start to canvass the matter and say all sorts of things, many of which might be entirely inadmissible in a court of law but which are being broadcast all over Australia. It shows the danger of this very proceeding
I regret very much that it has been done. I am sure that the Senate will regret it too when it considers the matter further. To do Senator McManus justice, I feel sure that when he reflects on what he has done he will realise that he has done a very grievous wrong.
If he wanted to raise this matter, if he wanted to ascertain whether proper action should be taken to prevent the raising of moneys in this way, there are other motions which could have been proposed or other things which could have been done. Never should a motion in ‘these terms have been proposed and never should it have been supported by a Minister of the Crown.
– It is only because of the complete distortion of a valuable principle to which Senator Murphy has given expression that I rise in this debate. I submit that Senator Murphy must be fully conscious of the fact that he was addressing himself to the people’s court where a sense of perception of principle would go unperceived. Senator Murphy suggests that Senator McManus proposed his motion on the basis that any person in this country may be adjudged by us, or assumed by anybody who hears us, to be guilty of an offence.
Surely no adult member of this Senate who listened to the speech that emanated from Senator McManus would ever dream of giving to it an understanding other than that the fundamental assumption of it was that the law should be enforced. How should it be enforced? lt should be enforced, first, by a responsible investigation of the facts by the executive arm of government, which should carry a reputation for integrity and efficiency, and which usually has a reputation for impartiality in the investigation of crime. Then if the executive arm commits itself to the opinion that there is a prima facie case, the basic assumption of Senator McManus’s proposal is that that case should be presented in public court to be adjudicated upon by the appropriate tribunal, be that a judge or jury, and after a complete opportunity for defence on the part of everyone concerned a conviction or acquittal should be registered.
The idea that I should sit silent’ in this Senate when it is implied by the leader of one of the parties that, when one member of the Parliament puts forward the point of view that in the public interest and in the interests of the security of the Commonwealth and its defence forces action, should be taken to enforce the law, that we are adding evidence of guilt against any person or are depriving that person of an impartial and free right to be tried by a British court, fills me with disappointment. I did not think I should hear this from the Leader of the Opposition, from whom I sometimes hear with pride a defence of civil liberties. As Senator Murphy acknowledged, Senator McManus ‘ most fairly acquitted the Australian Labor Party, which Senator Murphy leads in this chamber, of any complicity with these people, and then went on to say what a previous Labor Government had done in a case merely of seditious words, not followed by action.
That was the point that Senator McManus was making in distinguishing this case from that of Burns and Sharkey. The Government of 1949 prosecuted Burns and Sharkey for seditious words applicable to a hypothetical occasion, If aggressive Soviet forces came to this country they would be welcomed, said Sharkey - according to my memory of his seditious words. But there Was no chance of Soviet forces coming to this country. We had no troops on the coast to resist them. There was no suggestion that Sharkey had raised a fund and would be there to welcome them in something like the way that Casement was on the Irish coast, according to the judgment of the courts, to receive German arms, to bring them and to apply them against British forces.
The distinction that Senator McManus was making between this case and that of Burns and Sharkey was that they had simply uttered seditious words, applicable to a hypothetical occasion. But here we have a situation where our troops are in hostilities engaged with people who are at war with our troops. It is an undeclared war but nevertheless this Parliament has taken the responsibility - I have said here on former occasions that it is one of the most searching responsibilities that any member of the Parliament can take - of passing laws for the compulsory military service of our men there. In this situation it is suggested and publicised that people are not merely using words. Those words I have not seen but I listened in a stunned fashion when I heard Senator McManus shy that one person had said that he was indifferent as to whether or not a bullet that killed an Australian soldier had the badge of his club on it because his money had bought it. That is the substance of the words as I understood them.
Those alone are words, but then if there is activity of a concerted nature among groups to get together money to buy materials, it is far from contributing to the disgrace of the Senate for a senator to stand here and draw the attention of the Government to the use of words of that sort in relation to Australian troops facing an enemy in Vietnam and action to contribute to material that might be used against our troops. The Government’s attention ought to be drawn on the floor of a House of the Parliament to that situation. That is why people elect us to represent their views. There should be no hesitation whatever in the proper application of the law to the situation, first by police investigation. The police are trained to sift evidence in many ways. If in the judgment of the responsible law officers there is a case to go before a court, it would be beggaring Parliament to suggest that anything said in a parliamentary debate should prejudice a trial. It will be dealt with by our courts and by our juries, unprejudiced.
– They are guilty already.
– What nonsense. A member of Parliament, when he knows of a possible contravention of the law, discharges a duty in the public interest by bringing it to the Parliament for discussion. Irresponsible discussion, the purpose of which is to prejudice the impartial trial of the individuals concerned, should be deprecated on the floor of the Senate. So, Mr President, I have risen because whenever I go from this place 1 will go cherishing a memory that I have stood on many occasions to defend the individual right of people to be properly tried according to British traditions both for criminal matters and’ for civil matters. I rise to express my deep disappointment that an attempt has been made to distort this debate by an implication that the very fundamental basis of it is to convict the people concerned.
The proposal is that we should discuss a matter of urgency, namely, the necessity for action under the Crimes Act and/ or other applicable legislation - that is, action under the relevant laws of this country. Against whom? Burns, Sharkey, Smith, Jones or Brown? No. lt is against persons in Australia proposing to solicit and send aid for the National Liberation Front of Vietnam. The proposal does not even mention an individual. It does not name an association. It refers to persons who are engaging in activities that are described objectively, persons who are proposing to solicit and send aid for the National Liberation Front of Vietnam. Action should be taken under the laws of the country for the purpose of applying the laws of the country, and is there anybody in this chamber who is so weak as not to listen to that with a stimulus to his pride, realising that to take action under those laws against anybody who was endeavouring to subvert the efforts of our troops would be acting in the required defence of our troops? I hope that the Senate will now deal with the subject matter on its merits, unprejudiced by the implication that we are to judge any particular persons or to debate any other matter than this, a proposition that it is appropriate for the Government to address its attention to the matter immediately, to take action first by way of investigation and then to put the matter to the courts for trial.
– Senator Wright claims that
Senator McManus said only that the law in regard to this subject should be enforced. One wonders which law Senator Wright thinks should be enforced. I wonder whether he is referring to the law set out in section 24aa of the Crimes Act which provides, in sub-section (2.):
Where a part of the Defence Force is on. or is proceeding to, service outside the Commonwealth and the Territories not forming part of the Commonwealth, a person shall not assist by any means whatever, with intent to assist, any persons -
against whom that part of the Defence Force, or a force that includes that part of the Defence Force, is or is likely to be opposed; and
who are specified, or included in a class of persons specified, by proclamation to be persons in respect of whom, or a class of persons in respect of which, this subsection appies.
Sub-section (3.) provides:
A person who contravenes a provision of this section shall be guilty of an indictable offence, called treachery.
Penalty: Imprisonment for life.
Presumably that was the law to which Senator Wright was referring when he said that the law should be enforced. If he did not mean that section of the Crimes Act, then it would have been very helpful to the Senate if he told us specifically which law it was that Senator McManus was seeking to have enforced. I do not know whether Senator Wright has recently read section 24aa of that Act. If he has not done so, and would now do so, he would find that sub-section (l.)(b) having referred to a proclaimed country, sub-section (4.) states:
In this section - proclaimed country’ means a country specified by proclamation made for the purpose of this definition to be a proclaimed country, and includes any colony, overseas territory or protectorate of that country, or any territory for the international relations of which that country is responsible, . . .
And: proclaimed enemy’, in relation to a proclaimed country, means an enemy -
Sub-section (5.) goes on to provide:
A proclamation shall not be made for the purpose of the definition of ‘proclaimed country’, or for the purpose of the definition of ‘proclaimed enemy’, in the last preceding sub-section except in pursuance of a resolution of each House of the Parliament passed within the preceding period of twenty-one days.
Of course, this has not been done.
– The honorable senator should proceed with his argument on the basis that 1 had the section before me.
– I am glad that Senator Wright now has this section of the Crimes Act before him. If those were the sections to which he was referring when he said that the law should be enforced then I have no doubt that he would know that no such proclamation has been made; that no countries are within the category specified in section 24aa and that whatever he thinks of the merits of this proposition, in fact no law is being breached. But if Senator Wrght believesthat in some way section 24aa, or the other relevant sections added to Che Crimes Act by the amending act of 1960, do apply, then clearly Senator McManus had the remedy in his own hands because of what is contained in section. 24ac of that Act. That section states: (1.) Proceedings for the commitment for trial of a person, or for the summary conviction of a person, in respect of an offence against any, of the last three preceding sections shall not be instituted except by the Attorney-General or with the consent of the Attorney-General or of a person thereto authorised in writing by the AttorneyGeneral.
That means that a private person may apply for the permission of the Attorney-General to institute those proceedings. If Senator Wright does not believe that the sections to which I have referred are the applicable sections, but that there are some other laws of the Commonwealth which apply and under which proceedings can be brought, then I would also refer him to section 13 which provides that:
. any person may -
I suggest to both Senator Wright and Senator McManus that if Senator McManus had wished to see the law enforced, then all he needed to do was to lay information and institute proceedings himself against the persons who have been accused by him of having committed these offences.
– The only possible means-
– If I may say so, Mr President. I listened to Senator Wright in silence, although my patience was slowly being exhausted. Even though 1 may be exhausting his- patience 1 ask that he allow me the same silence. If the only’ purpose that Senator McManus had in mind was to see that some persons who have committed some offence were brought’ before the courts, then a way was available to him to have this done. He could have instituted proceedings himself. If he believed that at the present time the provisions of the Crimes Act, as amended in I960, were nol adequate to deal with the particular matters lo which he was referring, because no countries had been proclaimed, then there was nothing to stop, him from merely moving that certain areas and certain persons be proclaimed as enemy areas and enemy persons. But none of these things have been clone. - Although Senator’ .Wright said that Senator McManus mentioned no persons by name, that is not the fact. The name of one, Tony Baker, and the. name of Mr -Francis James have been mentioned in this discussion. One can only conclude that if people believe. What Senator McManus said, then his statements would be of the . utmost prejudice to the persons concerned if they were brought to trial.
Senator McManus has adopted what seems to me to be a. rather curious- approach to this whole question. He said that he came along here to defend freedom of -speech. He said how fine it was that in this democracy a man whom he described as an international authority on napalm was allowed to speak on ‘ television. But Senator McManus -went on to say that he was investigating the background of this man to see if he Was a ‘ member of the central- committee of some European Communist party. One would have thought that a man so dedicated to freedom of speech as Senator McManus claims to be,’ would have completed his “investigation before coming along here and saying what he said.’ I will be interested to know when Senator
McManus will be reporting back to us. I will be interested to hear the result of his investigation.
– 1 will ask the honourable senator. He will be able to tell me whether this man is a Communist.
– Senator McManus says he will ask me and that I will be able to tell him whether this man is a Communist. We are now seeing the real Senator McManus, the real- champion of civil liberties. His only contribution to the public life of this country is to smear people.
– The honourable senstor is npt doing any smearing, is he?
– I am not doing any smearing at. all. 1 am referring precisely to what the honourable Senator said today. He said that he was going to investigate whether this man was a member of the central committee of some Communist party. One would have thought that before such a statement was made in the Parliament and broadcast to the people of Australia,. Senator McManus would have completed his. investigations.
Senator McManus went on to speak about the aims of the Communist Party. He- said that it was one of the Party’s aims to create such activities as are at present taking place at Monash University and elsewhere. In order to prove that this is the case what did .the honourable senator do but to quote some statements made by Mr Francis James. In -order to prove that the Communist Party has certain objectives in mind about the morale of the Vietcong and of members of the National Liberation Front, did he quote a member of the Communist Parly?. No; he quoted Mr Francis James. -.
Senator McManus said that certain people are so cowardly that they are afraid to stand up and be counted in the same way that others have to stand up. He said that they lurk behind some claim lo academic freedom- that they should be able to say things which other people are not able to say. I know some people who lurk behind parliamentary privilege in order to say things that other people are not able to say. When’ Senator McManus accuses these people of lurking’ behind claims to academic freedom, I would like to know whether he is going to lurk behind parliamentary privilege or whether he will say outside this chamber what he said about the visiting Scandinavian scientist and what he said about Mr Francis James. Until Senator McManus does this I do not think he is in a position to criticise any person for lurking behind academic freedom or lurking behind anything else.
Senator McManus referred also to Doctor Evatt. It is rather curious how Dr Evatt’s name came into this discussion. We are told that in order to vindicate the arguments that Senator McManus put forward we should refer back to what Dr Evatt did in 1949 when he was instrumental in prosecuting two members of the Communist Party. I would have thought that was a most curious authority for him to quote. As I recollect the position Senator McManus and the members of his Party based most of their political fortunes on accusations that Dr Evatt himself was a Communist or a representative of the Communists. Apparently, now that he is dead, he was not a Communist at all but was there fearlessly exposing the Communists and bringing them to trial. I do not wish to spend a great deal of time on what Senator McManus had to say because this is a political stunt. He is not seriously interested in obtaining a prosecution. All he is interested in doing is smearing certain individuals who do not have the same opportunity as he has to reply. For example, he links Mr Francis James with the Communist Party and says about him in this chamber things that I do not think he will be saying outside the chamber. He then says if the action of these students is successful the Union of Australian Women or the Seamen’s Union will do something. He mentions not only people who are supposed to have done something already; he mentions people who he says will do something if the designs of Mr Francis James and the other presumed Communists are carried out. This is put to us by Senator Wright as a serious effort to have the matter brought before the courts. I would like to ask Senator Wright how the references to the Union of Australian Women and the Seamen’s Union become relevant to the proposition that proceedings should be taken against certain individuals under the Crimes Act.
Senator Gorton spoke about offences which have been committed, whether in a legal sense or otherwise. He idly brushed the matter aside. Virtually, what he said was this: ‘Does it matter whether there is an offence in the legal sense or not? Let us not worry about the law. An offence has been committed, whether or not the law prohibits the alleged offence.’ Then he proceeded to give us a most inaccurate .survey of all the developments that have; taken place. He stated that I spoke to the University of Melbourne Labor Club in July of this year. I do not wish to call the Minister a liar, but I would say that whoever informed him that I spoke at the University of Melbourne Labor Club in July of this year is a liar. I have never spoken at the University of Melbourne Labor Club’ in my life.
– Order! The honourable senator may not refer to what the Minister said. The Minister withdrew that remark, and the senator may not raise it again.
– Very well* I was referring to a reference which was made to me. I think the point has been; made that inaccurate statements have been made by the Minister in support of a general proposition. The position is that an Offence either has been committed or has not been committed. If an offence has not been committed then what we are seeing enacted in the Senate today is a complete farce. We are seeing people falsely accused of having committed an offence which in fact they did not commit - that is, if no offence has been committed. If an offence has been committed then what we are seeing is something which is much more serious indeed.
Senator Wright has referred to people’s courts. What we are seeing here is lynch law. What we are seeing is persons and organisations being named, and before they have the opportunity to be arraigned .before a court or to prepare any defence their names are dragged into this Parliament. References have been made to all sorts of other organisations, all sorts of other activities and ali sorts of other offences, real and imagined, as well as to all sorts of instructions which allegedly come from the. Communist Party to Mr Francis James, the Union of Australian Women and other organisations.
It is not within the authority of this Parliament to usurp the functions of the courts. Nor is it within the ambit of the duties of senators to come into the Senate and make wild statements about what they think ought to be done with regard to legal prosecutions. If Senator McManus or anybody else thinks that somebody ought to be prosecuted, the procedures are available under the existing legislation. If the Government has not proclaimed as enemies those people which it should have proclaimed, then that is a censure of the Government and the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) himself. What Senator Gorton, the Minister representing the Attorney-General, was doing today was in fact censuring his own Government. The Opposition is completely opposed to this proposition. We believe it has nothing to do with the Senate.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– After nine years in this place one should never admit being amazed, but T am amazed at how adept the members of the Opposition are at getting themselves out of political trouble.
– We were never in trouble.
– The Opposition is in trouble.
– Is the honourable senator supporting the proposal?
– I am supporting the proposal. Senator Murphy found- himself in a spot, and what did he do? Instead of debating the matter that is before the Senate, he engaged in a tirade. He made a vicious, unwarranted and illogical attack on Senator McManus. He did not offer one word in debate of the subject matter which Senator McManus has put forward or as to whether the actions of these university students were right or wrong.
In my view, Senator Wheeldon wasted a great deal of his time in dealing with irrelevant matters. Finally, because there was some time left to him, he got around to debating the question in the last few minutes of his speech. I am just wondering whether Senator Murphy was bothered by his conscience in discussing this matter. Was he in a spot? Was he perhaps casting his mind back to last Sunday week, to the Hiroshima Day protest march in which the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party took part and in which its members were accompanied by university students carrying Vietcong flags? Perhaps his conscience was troubling him a little. I do not know. I leave his conscience to him.
– I rise to order. Senator Branson has referred to my conscience. I do not know what he wishes to imply, but I ask him to withdraw his references to my conscience.
– -Order! I do not think there is any need for a withdrawal. Nothing offensive was said.
– Senator Branson said that my conscience should be troubling me. That is offensive to me. My conscience has nothing to do with this debate and I ask that the remark be withdrawn.
– Order! I will not call on the honourable senator to withdraw the remark.
– Although I rise to support the proposal I am very sorry that the Senate has to debate such a matter, because the handful of people concerned may feel as a result of the debate that they are important people. We might be giving them a false sense of importance. I support the proposal because of the mothers and fathers of the sons who have already been killed up in Vietnam. At least we owe it to them to give this matter some sort of public airing. I support what Senator Gorton has said. If the present powers contained in the legislation are insufficient, then it should not be beyond the wit of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) to produce some form of legislation to deal with situations such as this. Before the debate started I thought that such legislation would have been supported by the Australian Labor Party. After today’s effort. 1 am quite sure we would not have its support at all.
– Not in convicting a man but in producing legislation that would cover cases such as this where people of this country are aiding, abetting and helping the enemies who are killing our Australian soldiers today. That is just what they propose to do.
– The Attorney-General is looking at it. It is sub judice.
– What is sub judice?
– This matter. The Attorney-General is examining it.
– It is not sub judice. It is not before a court. The honourable senator knows that as well as 1 do. I would like the bush lawyer to tell me how this matter is sub judice. I am not a lawyer, but I say it is not sub judice. One of these young men had the hide to say to an active footballer from Essendon who had just returned from active service that the Australian troops, sitting in a ditch firing at people, could not know what the war was really about. Fancy a young man who has all the security and protection of a deferment, and who is attending a university, going to a man who has served his country in Vietnam and saying to him: ‘You would not know what it is all about*. I suppose that the name of this silly young man should be mentioned. Grinberg is his name. It has been mentioned in the Press. He maintains that he knows in the security and comfort of the Melbourne University more about a war being fought thousands of miles away than the men who have been fighting there and who have done their stint there to support this sort of individual. A lot more was said by some of these young men who came home yesterday. Most of their remarks sum up very briefly and to the point what the soldiers who are doing this job feel about it. A 22-year old soldier who has done his term up there said: ‘I would like to meet some of these eggheads in an alley.’ I am sure that that is the feeling of a number of the young men serving up there.
– Would the honourable senator substitute that for trial?
– I am not substituting it for trial at all. I am giving the honourable senator the opinions of the young men who have been up there doing their bit to protect these very individuals who turn around and say: ‘We will supply the bullets to kill you with, if necessary.’ That is just what they are saying. If the honourable senator believes that is right, then he should get up and defend the Monash University students.
– Would the honourable senator-
– The honourable senator will not get up; do not worry about that.
– No. He will’ not get up, probably because his Leader will not let him get up. The other boys said: We all talked about it on the way home. We know what we would like to do.’ This was unanimous amongst the sixty-three men who were involved.
– We read it in: the papers.
– I hope the honourable senator did read it. It may be that some people listening to this broadcast today have not read this. They may like to hear interjections such as that from the honourable senator and to know where he stands on this matter. He should stand up and be counted and say whether he agrees that what the students are doing is right or wrong. I say categorically as a serviceman for six years in the last war that this is wrong. A person - my son or even the honourable senator’s son - should not be put into uniform and sent to these areas where in some cases he is defending what we believe is our first line of defence if aid is given to the very enemy who is out i there to shoot him. If the honourable senator believes that is right, let him stand up. be counted and tell the Australian people where he stands on the matter. Do not hide as Senator Murphy did. Senator Murphy ran away from this debate by attacking Senator McManus-
– I rise to order. Mr President. I ask that those remarks be withdrawn. I stated quite clearly that we. were opposed to what was decided: that we thought it was wrong and that we did not condone it. I ask the honourable senator not to misrepresent me and say things that are offensive to me.
– Order! Senator Murphy, if you claim that you have been misrepresented, I will give you the opportunity later to raise the matter.
– I will say more1 than that. The honourable senator is using an offensive expression by saying that il ran away from things.
– Order! The honourable senator will have the right to make a personal explanation after Senator Branson has concluded his speech.
- Mr President, if Senator Murphy had debated the matter before the Senate I would not have had occasion to say this. But he did not. All he did was attack Senator McManus on the basis that his motion was incorrect and that he had turned around and convicted these men out of hand. Senator McManus did not do that at all. I think Senator Wright explained this to the Senate very clearly.
– The honourable senator should set an example and debate the matter before the Senate.
– I have been debating it. What I want to know is who is behind these silly young men. Senator Gorton pointed out that this handful of young men numbered ninety-two - that is, if we take the numbers from the three universities - out of some thousands of young people who are at our universities. Only ninety-two are concerned in this matter. Who is behind them? That is the important factor to bc answered. I wonder whether these people have not been given some solace respecting their ideas as to what should be happening in this country by virtue of the fact that about the time this matter first arose the Australian Labor Party adopted certain policies concerning Vietnam which were almost identical with the terms that Hanoi had put up for a settlement of the war. One of these was that the bombing of North Vietnam be stopped.
– So it should.
– All right. The next was that the National Liberation Front be recognised.
– Does not the honourable senator agree with that?
– Then the war was to be changed into a holding operation and the use of napalm was to be stopped. Those are the conditions that the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr Whitlam) says would have to be agreed to. If they were not, he would pull our troops cut of Vietnam. Does not this sort of thing encourage these impressionable young people to believe that they can take these actions and get away with them?
– It is a good policy, is it not?
– It is an interesting one to this extent, at least, that Mr Calwell when he was Leader was completely honest and went to the people at the last Federal election and said: ‘I am going to bring the troops home.’ The Australian Labor Party is now saying: ‘We will bring them back unless the conditions are complied with.’ But the Australian Labor Party knows full well that these conditions cannot be agreed to. The ALP should contest its policy at the next election. It knows what happened to it at the last election.
– Get back to the matter before the Senate.
– I will come back to the matter before the Senate. But some of these young men must wonder what their effort was for in Vietnam. Those still fighting there must wonder also because they are protecting today the type of young men who are saying exactly what this handful of university students are saying - that is, that the war is wrong and consequently they will help the enemy. How does aiding and abetting the enemy help to stop the war from being wrong.
The Minister for Works, Senator Gorton, gave the Senate a quotation from one young man. I wish to quote a second thing that this young man said. Senator Gorton told the Senate that this young man said:
It would be unfortunate if an Australian conscript was hit by a bullet with a Monash University Club on it. But I do not see there is any way out of it.
The interesting factor is that the young man who said that also said:
We try to base our living together on the old Paris communes. We govern ourselves and the majority rule.
These are five young students living in a flat. He continued:
None of us are Communists, but you could say I am a Marxist.
Does this not tie in a little with the theory that Senator McManus put forward? To me it does. I think it is quite important. These students do not say: ‘We are Communists’. They say: ‘We have a Marxist philosophy and this is what we believe’.
– The honourable senator can have them whatever they are.
– I do not want them.
– I think the honourable senator does.
– I want them stopped from what they are doing. That is saying that they will supply ammunition and arms to use against our- soldiers who are serving up there. If. these students are so keen to stop suffering and all of these types of things, why do they not put their energies to raising money for the International Red Cross? Although the use of this money might be restricted in North Vietnam, it could be used in other parts of the world. If “the students . are genuine and dinkum about aiding ‘ people why do they not do this?: Why do they not subscribe their money to the International Red Cross?
I think the remarks of a Western Australian soldier are worth quoting. I refer to an article from a newspaper which says:
Australian soldiers in Vietnam are reported to be seething over the moves by Monash University students to support the Vietcong.
A National Serviceman from Western Australia wrote to his father from his camp at Nui Dat.
The reaction from the guys here was, 1 suspect, something similar to the atmosphere of a lynching mob,’ he said.
Perhaps that is where Senator Wheeldon got his expression from.’ The soldier continued: lt doesn’t do the morale any good at all when we think the work we are doing here is beneficial to our country and then we -hear of idiots like these.
I only wish I could have them with me up here for a month to show them where their money would be going,’ he wrote.
I am quite sure that after seeing the things the Cong do they wouldn’t - be quite so cocky about their argument.’
These are the words of a National Serviceman. He is twenty-one years of age. He is still up there. He is driving an armoured personnel carrier in the war zone. He has been in Vietnam for six months.
I listened with interest to the statement from Senator Gorton that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) is looking at the Crimes Act.. If it is not competent to deal with these people under the Crimes Act I hope that legislation will be brought down as a matter of urgency’ to deal with them. 1 feel now that the Democratic Labor Party would support the Government in this move, or that such a measure would go through.
– We would initiate a private member’s bill if the honourable senator would support it.
– The honourable senator would what?
– We would initiate a bill.
– That really docs start to put us in a spot. 1 would Sooner the Government did it than the honourable senator. On a matter as big as this - an action which would be treasonable in wartime - 1’ would Hope that there wotild .be a unanimous vote in this chamber, not a division. If we were at war, this action would be treasonable and there would be no need for this debate.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– r wish to make: a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable senator claim. to have been misrepresented?
– Senator Branson has misrepresented what I put to the Senate. He may not have been present at the time. On behalf of the Australian Labor Party and on my own behalf, I made’ it quite clear that we disapproved of what was being said and what was proposed’ - to be done by these students in the Labor clubs. I made it quite clear that we thought it was wrong. They have not, and never have had, any connection whatever with trie Australian Labor Party. I claim that the honourable senator misrepresented what I put to the Senate. I said firmly - I now repeat it firmly- that we disapprove of what they are doing and we consider it to be wrong.
– It is not clear whether Senator McManus and those who are supporting him on this matter are directing the burden of their attack at the students who are guilty of this irresponsible conduct, at the Government or at the Opposition. But, whatever Senator Branson may think about the issues in this debate, I remind him that the Senate is not discussing the policy of the’ Australian Labor “Party on Vietnam. It is discussing a’ motion moved by Senator McManus. The attitude of the Australian Labor Party on the issue of Vietnam has been stated clearly on many occasions. Whatever one may think about that policy, in favour of it or against it, it is not an issue in this debate. Senator McManus and other people who have supported him have conceded that there are wide differences of opinion in the community on the issue of Vietnam. It is quite absurd for Senator Branson to look at members of the Labor Party, which has a clearly stated policy of opposition to Australia’s participation in the war in Vietnam, and by some, sort of innuendo to blame our Party for what these students are doing. That is nonsense. It is ridiculous.
One wonders why this motion has been brought forward at this time. From what has been said not only by Senator McManus hut also by Senator Gorton, who led for the Government in this debate, it is perfectly obvious that this matter has been directed to the attention of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen). Apparently that did not satisfy Senator McManus. So what is he seeking to do in moving this motion? Last week he blazed away in print in the Press, apparently without ever having read the Crimes Act. He said: ‘Charge these students with treason’. That was the great headline in the Melbourne Press, at any rate. Then he retreated a little and said: What we should do is make certain proclamations under the Crimes Act’.
Finally, although the Attorney-General said over the weekend that he had looked at the matter and was continuing to keep it under his attention, that did not appease Senator McManus. He wanted to make a big show in the Senate. He wanted to involve the Government. He has succeeded in doing that. He has involved the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gorton), who represents the Minister for External Affairs and the Attorney-General, in an attack on the Attorney-General. That is what Senator Gorton’s speech amounted to. Either he was lending himself to an attack on the Attorney-General or he was admitting that the Government is completely unable to deal with situations in terms of its own law-enforcing armoury and competence. In other words, his speech was a confession of failure on the part of the Government.
For the benefit of people such as Senator Branson who will continue to make the innuendo, we have to make it clear - as my leader, Senator Murphy, did a minute or two ago - that we do not support the action of these students; that we as the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party have dissociated ourselves from it; and that our Party in Victoria has made it perfectly clear that it is in complete disagreement with what is being done by these students.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– At the suspension of the sitting I was referring to the necessity to make it clear that the policy of the Australian Labor Party in respect of Vietnam is not involved in this debate. What is involved is the action of some students, and further to that, there is involved an attempt in this chamber to magnify for political purposes the actions of student’s in two universities in Melbourne and in the Australian National University.
– That statement is not correct.
– Every statement that I make, unless I am corrected by something that I am prepared to acknowledge, is correct. I am saying that this is a political stunt. I do not want to see the spirit of the late Senator McCarthy coming into the Australian Senate. I do not want this kind of debate to go off on the wrong premises.
– There is no suggestion
– The Minister will have an opportunity to speak later. I want to make sure that honourable senators opposite and Senator McManus take care that the means they are using here are appropriate to the ends; that they are not using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. In another place this afternoon the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), while saying the things one would expect him to say in defending the position of the Government, and while being very critical of the students, nevertheless said:
I personally have not wished to magnify this matter out of its proper proportion . . .
It is a very sensible statement to make and I cannot find for it anything other than agreement. I only wish that the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) who spoke on behalf of the Government in this debate, had exercised the same degree of temperance about the matter. I wish also that Senator McManus in dealing with this question had not drawn the long bow so much. The Senate will not try these students, nor will it determine their guilt or innocence. Certainly the Senate is not to determine whether they should be hanged, drawn and quartered or merely burnt at the stake. The Senate should behave like a House of Parliament. It is not the function of the Senate to heap iniquity upon iniquity and decide upon what young people in Victoria or elsewhere have done. 1 am simply saying that we will not allow the Senate to be turned into a place where any senator can say ‘I accuse’ and point an accusing bony finger at somebody outside this Parliament who cannot speak here in his own defence. Of course, not only is an accusation levelled against people outside this Parliament; it is levelled snidely against the Opposition. But primarily, it is levelled against the Government and the Government should not be behaving as though it had nothing to answer for. It is a Government which gives tacit support to Senator McManus’ motion. It is a government which thinks nothing of making China one of our largest customers for wheat and wool. It is a government which at one time was prepared to allow the export of tallow, a vital material, to North Vietnam. It is complete and utter hypocrisy for Senator Gorton or anybody else who is speaking on behalf of the Government to adopt in this chamber a holier than thou attitude and to point the finger at a few students who have obviously acted -in a silly and irresponsible way. I would hope that all honourable senators would speak on this matter as responsibly as I do on this occasion.
The suggestion was made by Senator McManus - and I think Senator Gorton said that he deplored this fact - that he would anticipate in advance what we might say about what the Melbourne ‘Age’ commented in an editorial on the proposal we are debating.
– Anticipate in advance? What is the honourable senator talking about?
– The honourable senator was anticipating that we would quote from the Melbourne ‘Age’ in support of! the argument we are putting on this occasion. He attempted to meet our argument in advance by brushing it off as though it were a light matter that the ‘Age’ had something critical to say of him. He said that as usual the ‘Age’ had missed the point of the debate. I think it would be salutary for the Senate to appreciate the criticism levelled by1 the Melbourne ‘Age’ at the proposal which, the Senate is now debating. Senator McManus has said that he is grateful to the ‘Age! for elevating him te the High Court. The article is headed ‘Mr Justice McManus’, and it states:
Senator McManus, the junior member of. the Democratic Labor Party’s brace of Federal politicians has succumbed to the delusion that Parliament administers as well as makes the. law. He is proposing to move in the Senate a procedure that would - if the Government was foolish enough to take any notice of it-
I would be grateful to Senator Gorton if he ceased interrupting. The article continues: find its end in a treason trial or two. He wants some members of university Labor clubs charged under the Crimes Act because of their plan to send aid to Vietnam’s National Liberation Front. Whether, as the senator suspects, this plan is treasonable seems to be a point scarcely worth debating. A few students are guilty of an extremely misguided essay in juvenilia. It will probably die a quick death. Meanwhile, the students will no doubt enjoy their notoriety. Why flatter them with the crown of public martyrdom?
If the students do rats such grand treatment, that is not a matter for Parliament to decide.
On that point I echo what my Leader, Senator Murphy, has said. The editorial continues:
It is one in which any action should be initiated by officers of the law and in which judgment should be delivered by a court Senator McManus has a right to accuse the Government of neglecting its duty. He should not move to have Parliament subvert the proper processes of the law. Authoritarians would have a field day if, every time a politician suspected a crime. Parliament abetted him by moving for a prosecution. If only qui of pity for a man obeying the eccentric dictatorship of his conscience, Senator McManus’ colleagues should let him speak his plaintive piece.
– Did the honourable senator write the article, or did Senator Murphy?
– I would be proud to. have written it because it seems to me to be such common-sense. The article continues:
But. by refusing to support his preposterous scheme, they should also make it clear that they will not abuse their authority.
Mr President, I do not wish to complain, but there is a terrible babble of noise. I cannot imagine a better statement of the principle involved in this case and the basis upon which members of the Opposition say quite definitely that we are not prepared to support this motion than the article I have read.
– But the honourable senator wants to support their action.
– I ask for a withdrawal of that statement, Mr President. I have said three times already in my speech today that we dissociate ourselves from the action of the students. 1 find the interaction of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) offensive and I ask for its withdrawal. The Minister said that I want to support the action of the students. If that is not a plain contradiction of what I have been saying, I do not know what is. I ask that the implication be withdrawn.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - I will not call on the Minister to withdraw that statement.
– 1 can only say. with respect, that this afternoon when another Minister made a statement that was not true-
– Is the honourable senator objecting to the ruling of the President? If so, he should put his objection in writing.
– No, I do not wish to dissent. I have too much respect for the President to do that. I do not want either to waste the valuable time that I have in this debate. The Minister for Repatriation is continually anxious to try to throw me out of my stride. He is a member of a Ministry which appears to be, if its own case is correct, derelict of its duty. Honourable senators opposite cannot have it at both ends of the candle. They have to decide whether they will resist the motion or, if supporting it. accept their share of the responsibility. The whole idea is preposterous. -. 1 hope these young students will see the error of their ways. I do not agree wilh what they have done, and the Australian Labor Party does not agree with what they have done. I do not think they have done any special service to those who have tried successfully to formulate a coherent case against the Government’s Vietnam policy. That is what the Labor Party has been doing in recent times and that is what we will continue to do. We do not need their advice. As I have said, we do not agree with what they have done. However, we think that the methods which have been adopted in the Senate on this occasion are out of all proportion. We do not believe that the Parliament is the place to try these issues.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I listened carefully to the speeches made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). They ran away completely from the essence and the spirit of this debate and launched into a personal attack on Senator McManus who introduced this matter. They made no case. They merely made a personal attack on the honourable senator for doing his duty in bringing this matter before the Senate for debate.
The Government’s attitude is quite clear. Today in another place the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) said:
I think it would bc fitting for me to remind the House and the country of the origins of the so-called National Liberation Front. We have previously said that it is not national in any true sense, nor does it propose to liberate in any true sense as we understand that term. The plan to form a liberation front in South Vietnam was formulated at a congress of the North Vietnam Communist Party in September 1960. The National Liberation Front is a creature of the North Vietnam Communist Party and does not constitute an organisation of internal revolt independent of Hanoi. It is an instrument of external aggression and subversion and. together with the regular forces of North Vietnam, is directed from Hanoi. That being the character of the organisation, any Australian who would knowingly give material aid to this body, and do so at the hazard of Australian lives, deserves the utter condemnation of this Parliament, and from this Government should expect appropriate action both to prevent material aid going forward and to deal appropriately with these activities wherever they are engaged in.
There could not be any clearer enunciation than that of the Government’s policy and of where we stand. 1 was interested to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition say that the Labor Party’s Vietnam policy is not involved in this. I want to deal with that situation shortly because I think the Labor Party’s Vietnam policy is involved in this. [ think that the objective of the university Labor clubs and the policy of the Australian Labor Party run side by side. They are parallel. They are both directed towards raising the morale of the Vietcong and keeping the Vietcong fighting. Let us look at Labor Party policy on this aspect. The Labor Party would tell the United States to stop bombing North Vietnam, to recognise the National Liberation Front as a representative negotiator of the Vietnamese people, to change the war into a holding operation and to stop using napalm and other objectionable weapons in Vietnam. If the Americans did not accept the Labor Party’s policy the Labor Party, when it came to office, would pull Australian troops out of Vietnam. That is what the Labor Party has said and there is no question about it.
– Mr President, I raise a point of order. Standing Order 64 (2.) states:
In speaking to such Motion eyer Senator shall confine himself to the one subject in respect of which ‘the Motion has been made.
I make the point that Senator Henty is now discussing a subject completely away from the motion before the Senate.
– Order! The point of order is not upheld. I might say that the discussion on this subject has been pretty wide and. I do not propose at this Stage to bring it right back to the terms of the motion.
– Might I say that if Senator O’Byrne had to confine himself to one subject he. would never, make a speech. . I was saying. that if the United States rejected the Labor Party’s ultimatum the Labor Party would pull Australian troops out of South Vietnam. That has not been contradicted by anyone, except, by one or two queasy boys. Do not believe for one. moment that Mr Whitlam does not agree with that policy because on ‘Four Corners’ he said this:
If I were representing Australia 1 would be putting-*-
That is, to the United States- and other allies - all (hose things in the .policy carried by the Conference.
Those are the things 1 have just been mentioning. He went on:
If the war is still going on in the present circumstances at the time of the next election, 1 would put these proposals! to our allies. Then, if they fail to take this action, we would then consider that we had no alternative than to withdraw our armed forces.
Do not make any mistake about the fact that Mr Whitlam accepts that policy. Of course he will do what the Federal Executive tells him to do. What nonsense it is to say that the Labor Party has done, away with the thirty-six faceless men. The only difference is that it now has thirty-six faceless men and ten men with faces. Of course Mr Whitlam will do what he is told. Senator Keeffe is president of the show. He knows that Mr Whitlam, if he wants to continue to be the leader of the Labor Party, x y ill do exactly as the executive tells him. I do not mind that so long as the Labor Party tells the people of Australia what Labor’s policy is and what the Labor Party, as the alternative government, would do. I remind the Senate that the previous Leader df the Opposition, Mr Calwell, said quite frankly (luring the last election campaign what he would do. Labor is attempting to hide its ,policy and to confuse, the people. It .must be made plain to the people of Australia that if a Labor government under Mr Whitlam ever comes to office it will pull Australian troops out of Vietnam unless our allies accept the ultimatum which1 Australia will deliver. 1 say deliberately that this is the same policy as. Labor had during the last election campaign. The only difference is that the Labor Party is now trying to hide that policy.
I agree with, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition., and other speakers that we should not magnify this thing at the present time. The students are only looking, for a bit of publicity; but make no mistake - they are quite unwittingly the tools of a sinister organisation which is engaging in psychological warfare. That organisation is directing them’ from behind.
– What is’ the Minister talking about?
– These boys are the tools df an organisation-
– What is the Minister talking about?
– Order! Senator Cant’s interjections are out of order. In any case you are interjecting from .a scat that is not your own.
– The Opposition wants to hide its policy. I know honourable senators opposite do not like what I am saying but that will not stop me. I was saying that there is a sinister organisation behind this small number of duped students in the university Labor clubs which, as I understand it, have nothing to do with the Australian Labor Party although the Australian Labor Party has been a long time denying any connection with them. The Australian Labor Party has been a long time finding this out. This University Labor Club has been going on for years and years. This is the first time that I have ever heard any member of the Opposition say that the University Labor Club was not connected with the Australian Labor Party. Never mind, they said so today. Both the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have said so. I am prepared to accept their statement, belated though it is.
Nobody would do other than encourage any organisation which collected funds for medical aid in Vietnam. If such funds were collected no one would have any objection to their being sent through the International Red Cross. Perhaps if the funds were big enough the International Red Cross would be able to get into North Vietnam. At the present time it is excluded. The North Vietnamese do not want anybody in there to sec what is going on. Funds collected for medical aid should go through the International Red Cross. If that was the purpose of the university students no one would object to it. But this fund is being raised for unspecified purposes other than for medical aid. One of the people who are associated with it - he should be forever ashamed - has said: ‘It would be unfortunate if an Australian conscript was hit by a bullet with “Monash University Club” on it, but we do not see that there is any way out of that’.
Sena:or McManus - Who said that?
– One of those university students. I do not like to . mention names. I have the name here. Everybody knows the name; it was in the Press. I do not make personal attacks; I attack policies. I will attack the Labor Party on this up hill and down dale and do anything I can to make people understand what its policy is. For any Australian boy, protected by these men who are fighting in Vietnam so that he may finish his university career, to say; “ ‘lt would be an unfortunate position, but we do not see there is any way out of it’-
– It is a shame. The man who said that ought to be ashamed of himself for saying it.
– Why does the Government not stop it?
– The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has already stated that we are now examining the means dealing with this action. What is more, if existing legislation is not sufficient we will introduce legislation to see that the matter can be dealt with effectively. It will be very interesting to see where the Australian Labor Party stands if such legislation comes before this House. The matter will be dealt with and dealt with very shortly.
We have to remember that these boys in Vietnam are fighting Communist aggression to maintain the independence of a small State. They are fighting on our front line. These boys are prepared to go there and fight for us, and no government can condone the raising of funds to purchase what might be, as this lad has said, bullets to kill our own boys fighting in this area. We want these boys who are fighting to know that this Government is behind them, that it supports them and that it knows full well that they are carrying out its policy. This policy was put to the people of Australia who returned us to office with an overwhelming majority. We did not put forward a policy, as did the Australian Labor Party, of pulling out troops; our policy was. to go there and defend this small country of Vietnam; to stem Communist aggression, and to show that aggression does not pay. The sooner we make this understood, the sooner we will get peace in this world.
I have made the position of the Government quite clear. Nothing is more heartening to the Vietcong than to have, on the one hand, the University Labor Club collecting funds and, on the other hand, to have the Australian Labor Party’s policy so shaped that they know that if ever the Labor Party got into office in this country it would pull our troops out. This is what is sustaining the Vietcong. The longer the Vietcong are sustained the more lives of Vietnamese, Australian and American servicemen will be lost. They are sustained by these unthinking dupes who are ruled from behind by a sinister organisation which is carrying out psychological warfare in Australia.
- Senator Henty has demonstrated in clear terms that he cannot sustain the stupidity of the Government in allowing this motion to be proposed today. He has obviously tried to get Senator McManus and Senator Gorton off the hook on which they have got themselves. After all, who is on trial in this debate? The Government itself is on trial. Senator McManus produced statements that have been reported in the Press, without any substantiation of their validity. We will accept them as being valid statements. We will take it for granted that he heard them uttered or that they were correctly reported.
– I will let the honourable senator have copies.
– I have seen copies in the newspapers. I would like to know whether or not any of our security people were present at the university and heard these statements made. If they were, what are they doing? After all, we have a very big team of security men in this country, and they are supposed to be watching these things.
– Is that not a good idea?
– Yes. I understand it is one month since this University Club made these statements and started off this collection.
I was impressed by an article by Tipping in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of 29th July. He said:
Ratbags or Just Good Fun? Why do they DO these things? Why is it that some undergraduates seem forever determined to do the wrong thing in terms of the accepted norms of sensible behavior and public opinion? Why do they persist in attitudes which inevitably result in university students so often being branded, generally, as a bunch of ratbags? These are age old questions which are being debated all over again in the light of the goings on at Monash and Melbourne Universities in the past few days.’
He finished up by saying:
And I think it’s consoling to reflect that some of our outstanding judges, surgeons, business leaders and top academics were among iti: most notorious undergraduate ratbags in their student days.’
I think the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) put this matter in perspective today when he said: ‘We are blowing this thing up out of all proportions.’ Senator Henty has compounded the stupidity of the Government by addressing the Senate m the way that he did tonight. We realise of course, that he has been placed ina very difficult position because now the thing has blown up in his face and in Senator McManus’ face.
The charge that these students are guilty of treason is a very serious one; it is one that we are not used to hearing lin this country during hostilities. In the past people have been united, in the efforts of the country in time of war. It is a reflection ‘on the Government itself that the issues of Vietnam are so confused that on one side of the spectrum there are people who want ‘to drop thermo nuclear bombs on Hanoi and Peking straight away to finish the war, and on the other side of the spectrum we have university students and ratbags, or whatever you like to call them, wanting to send aid and comfort. It is a reflection on the Government itself that this state of affairs is Showing up in the. community when our country is involved in war. lt shows that the war itself is creating grave doubts in the community as to its morality. I believe, that it is an immoral war.
– All wars are immoral.
– I believe that they are. But when we were fighting Fascism we knew what we were fighting. When we were fighting Germany and when we were engaged in other wars throughout history, I believe we had just causes. But this war is an immoral war for the simple reason that we were sucked into it by a statesman of the United States.
– For dollars.
– Not dollarsDulles. We were sucked into putting observers into Vietnam, then gradually increasing them, and then bringing in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation pact, which was not supported by all of the signatories of SEATO. Little by little- he that con.tendeth small things falls little by little - this country and the United States fell into the position in which they are today. Therefore, there is this confusion in the community as to whether or not we should be in there, whether or not we should be suing for peace, whether or not we did the right thing in not trying to persevere with the United Nations, and whether or not we should have referred the matter back to the Geneva powers, which in the final analysis were responsible for the line of demarcation and will probably still have to handle the matter when peace eventually comes in this war torn country.
Here today we are having blown up out of all proportion the actions of some people. Someone has said that ninety-two persons were involved in this. As was mentioned in the ‘Age’, these people themselves are pro- bably bathing in the notoriety - to think that they can have a full dress debate in the Senate. I . have heard of university students commandeering a. tram. I suppose that to the transport department it is a great crime. It is a great inconvenience and’ it is a stupid thing to do, but then the tramways people get over it. In the same way, ‘ Australia is big enough to realise that this is another act of stupidity by university students. Names have been bandied around and reference has been made to people being charged with treasonable activities. It is said that these persons must be arraigned on these charges. If what Senator ‘McManus says is true the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) must have had his attention drawn to this a month ago. If Senator McManus was able to come into possession of these facts about this university club activity; so must the Attorney-General have had these facts. He has been examining them, according to Senator McManus’s argument. Is he not our responsible person in these matters? Why does Senator McManus have to go over his head? Does he not trust the Attorney-General? Does not Senator Henty trust the Attorney-General? Does not Senator Gorton trust the Attorney-General? There is sufficient legislation on the statute books of this country to put anyone who acts in a treasonable way in gaol for life. As a matter of fact, if the books were to be searched enough it would probably be found that these people could be put against a wall and shot. Yet with all of that legislation to back up the Government no action at all has been taken. The Government is saying, to support Senator McManus: ‘We will bring in something. We will introduce legislation. We will put the Labor Party on the spot.’ The Labor Party is not on the spot at all. We made our position quite clear. We are not associated with the university labour clubs. We disapprove of their actions. - -
– ‘Why is the honourable senator opposing the motion?
– We are pointing out that this is one of. Senator McManus’s McCarthy stunts. He is a McCarthy ist at heart. Ali of his form in the Senate for as long as he has been here shows that he is a Red chaser, thinking that there is a Red under the bed or lurking around. The Government itself is falling for this, lt is easy in a time of war or a time of fear for many of the things that we hold dear in a democracy to be eroded away by actions like this. A matter can be blown up but of all proportion. As was mentioned earlier by Senator McManus, many of these ninetytwo people may just have been fooled into it. They may just be idealists who went along: but Uley are being indicted on this charge before the Senate today.
– i-So they should be.
-Well, then, the Government has to go to the rest of the university students, put them all in gaol and clean them all out, if it is to take the matter to a logical, conclusion. We have to . be terribly careful where, we are going in these matters. For . instance reference was made here today to the sending of wheat to China. 1 suppose if we extend this argument to its logical conclusion the Federal Government is aiding and abetting .China by supplying it with food, and wool, , helping its economy and . helping it to support the National Liberation Front. The Government is trading with the enemy.
– Would the honourable senator stop the sales?
– No, but I would like the Government to be consistent. It is making a great show .about these few ratbags who want to send something to the National Liberation Front. How will they get it there? Who will hand it over? What form will it take? No one knows anything about that. But on a large scale an important part of our economy is based upon the sending of wheat and wool to China. The Government is so inconsistent about this.
– No-one has ever killed anybody with wheat yet.
– Wheat is a sinew of war, and so is wool and so is tallow. Tallow is used for explosive purposes. The actions of the students have been described as juvenilia’ and I believe that this is a very good description of them. There is no yardstick by which to measure the nonconformity of university students. They will do anything at all.
– I know one who is a Liberal.
– There are plenty of them who are Liberals. The Government is showing itself up in a very poor light in taking this matter seriously and suggesting that it is a Communist conspiracy. One can stretch the imagination to a certain degree but the Government falls down on the job if it tries to play up into a Communist conspiracy this incident involving juvenile university students. It is running the risk of creating in this country a war fear that can grow out of all proportion. Then anyone who dissents, anyone who expresses an opinion that is against the Government’s policy, anyone who may feel that he has a conscience about this wicked war, can come under the surveillance of the Security organisation. It has happened before. Hitler did it and Stalin did it. It can happen wherever one sees fear that can come from what one can almost call a guilty conscience. I believe that this Government and many people throughout Australia and the United States have guilty consciences about this whole thing. I believe that that is why they are so sensitive about it and are taking this matter so seriously. They know’ that they have been sucked into something that is immoral and they are trying to find excuses and trying to bluster their way out of it.
– Does the honourable senator defend the action of these people on these grounds?
– I dissociate myself from their actions. I said that at the start. That is the object of the exercise, to try to say that we are defending their actions. We are not defending them. We ate saying that Senator McManus, for his own publicity and for his own kudos, after being warned in the Press of this country that he should not bring the matter up, after being told by the Attorney-Genera) that the matter was under consideration and that it was being looked at, has raised the matter here. The Government itself, I understand from what Senator Henty said, probably even discussed it in Cabinet. Yet with the knowledge of all that, Senator McManus wants to make great play-
– He has a right to do it, too.
– Has he the right to run a trial? He tried these people in the Senate today. He found them guilty and prescribed that the sentence should be more than it was in the case of the Communist Sharkey in 1949. We have seen in the Senate something which I believe has degraded the Senate. I believe that there are better things to which we could apply ourselves.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Mr President, at the outset I desire to commend my colleague Senator McManus for his excellent submission today in support of his resolution. His statement was fair and temperate and was documented in every possible way. It is a matter for great regret that in this great young country - a democracy which gives to its people unlimited freedom and liberty - we have elements in the community which are willing and prepared to serve the; interests of those who are opposed to this; country and who are at present engaged in killing Australian soldiers. It is hard to understand why such people, who make such loud claims about our democratic system of government, are so slow to recognise that the privilege of living within the boundaries of this great democracy has accompanying obligations and responsibilities.
The chief of these is, I believe, the obligation of patriotism - the spirit of mateship. This is a strong characteristic of the Australian. Australian men have been forced to go to Vietnam and engage in warfare against people who, by a campaign of terrorism, are seeking to force their will upon an innocent section of the Vietnamese people. Yet there are those amongst us who are prepared to betray Australia and its interests. We have people who are not prepared to recognise a democratically elected government.
– Where is this democratically elected government?
– Here, in Australia. I could expect Senator Cavanagh to be slow to recognise democracy because he has shown beyond doubt that he subscribes to ideologies which are not truly Australian in character.
– I certainly do not subscribe to Senator Gair’s ideologies - if that is what he means by Australian.
– 1 am happy with that relationship; very happy indeed. I am quite content with it. But I say very definitely that people who claim liberty and freedom must also recognise their obligations. Last November the people elected this Government to control the affairs of Australia. The Government was elected with an overwhelming majority. The people gave the Government their approval for the programme it had undertaken in South East Asia. The people gave the Government a mandate to pursue its programme in the interests of the suppressed people of South Vietnam. Yet a section of our people say: To hell with the Government, to hell with patriotism and to hell with the Australian soldiers who are fighting and dying in the interests of this country’.
It is said that we should take no notice of these people; that we should allow their actions to pass as incidents perpetrated by some irresponsible students at a university. That attitude seems to me to be the same as saying: ‘Don’t touch them or you will make martyrs of them’. This discussion in this Senate today was prompted by the fact that. Senator McManus and I felt that our reaction to these people was the same as that of every decent Australian. This course was taken for the purpose of galvanising the Government into action. It is true that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) made a statement on this matter today. He should have made his statement three weeks ago instead of waiting until the day that this urgency motion was proposed. The only statement I have seen in connection with this incident was one by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) which was reported in, I think, the Brisbane ‘Telegraph’ of 26th July. I think that the Prime Minister should have made a statement indicating that this was intolerable conduct which would not be tolerated by the Government of this country.
Senator McManus instanced the Chifley Government’s action in gaoling Burns and Sharkey. Dr Evatt thought it was necessary to introduce special legislation to protect approved defence projects because he feared that the Crimes Act might not be adequate. Senator McManus was fair enough to say at the outset of his speech that this Labor Club which we are discussing was not affiliated with the Australian Labor Party. I have listened to speeches made in this place by members of the Labor Party today and each and every speaker has said: We do not condone this action’. But not one of them has said that they will stop it or help to stop it, and that is the important thing. Not one of them said that the Government should do something to stop it and that they would aid the Government in this respect. I have waited in vain for a declaration along these lines from the Labor Party but none has been forthcoming.
– It is not within our power.
– I know it is not within their power. They would have to go to Joe Chamberlain and the Federal Executive in order to get approval for any decision or for any statements in this connection. Senator Wheeldon took strong exception today to a statement that he had addressed the Labor Club at a university. Melbourne University was mentioned, but I will correct that statement. It was at the Monash University in Melbourne that Senator Wheeldon addressed the Labor Club. He addressed that body on 17th October 1966. The subject of his address was ‘Australia since Confrontation*. That was the topic on which he addressed the Labor union at Monash University, and I have given the date of his address. I cannot do more than that. On 19th September 1966 Mr Gordon Bryant, M.P., spoke at the Monash Club. On 17th March 1967 Dr Cairns addressed the Monash Club. The Australian Labor Party has gone to great pains to divorce itself from the Labor union and the conduct of these people-
– Labor union?
– The honourable senator knows more about them than I do. I am not familiar with them. Therefore 1 might be excused for giving them the wrong title. Although the members of the Labor Party want to divorce themselves from these clubs now, you know as well as I do, Mr President, that the people who have been involved in this matter are the same people who took part in demonstrations and’ conducted campaigns during the visit of Air Vice-Marshal Ky. You know also that they were encouraged and prompted in their demonstrations by no less a person than the then Leader of the’ Opposition in another place, Mr Calwell. They were supported also by some of the people who have spoken here today. Is it any wonder that they carry on as they are doing when they have the example set for them by such people? 1 was not present and did not hear the addresses to which I have referred, but 1 am sure that at least they were not addresses requesting these people to act responsibly as young people in a grand democracy that is giving them a great deal more than the young people in most other countries are enjoying. These young people are aiding the enemy who has already been responsible for killing 134 Australian soldiers and wounding 645 others, making a total of 779 casualties. They have the effrontery and the cheek to seek to justify the collection of funds to aid the very people who have carried out this campaign of terrorism against their fellows in Vietnam because they will not submit to Communist rule. lt is interesting to note that in Canada recently gifts for Hanoi were seized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at a border crossing forty miles south of Montreal. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police seized parcels which were destined for Vietnam and sent by American pacifists who had been refused export permits by the United States Government.
– And the Canadians are not engaged in the war.
– That is so. Therefore it is fair, is it not, to expect that the Australian Government should recognise an obligation and responsibility to the people of this country, particularly those whom they have conscripted to fight in Vietnam? I am sure that the Government will not be recreant to its trust and its obligation and that although it has delayed doing anything so far, it will now take some ‘action. I trust that the Attorney-General’s Department will not evade its responsibility on mere technical grounds. If the existing law is not adequate to meet the position let us follow Dr Evatt’s example and introduce new legislation to meet it.
– The Labor Party would vote against it.
– Then we would see just where the Labor Party stood. Today it has been most embarrassed, really.
– Order! The Honourable senator’s time has expired.
– When the debate opened, the matter under discussion was the Government’s inaction in connection with the activities of certain students at the Monash University. As the discussion developed, the Vietnam situation became the major issue and the Australian Labor Party became the main target. I propose to deal with both those subjects. Let me deal first with the request by Senator McManus that action be taken under the Crimes Act. After hearing the speeches by Senator Gorton and Senator Henty, both of whom are senior members of the Cabinet, and the synthetic support those gentlemen gave to the accusations made in which no dates , or anything else were stated, one might have expected Senator Gair to reply to those speeches. He did not take advantage of this opportunity. This, to my mind, is indicative df how insincere he is.
– Examine your conscience.
– My conscience will stand examination. I do not know whether the honourable senator’s will. Let me return to the subject under discussion. lt would be a sorry day indeed if, in a moment of passion, some extreme action Were taken under the Crimes Act. I remind Senator McManus of the fact , that history has proved that the action taken at one time against an honourable member for Kalgoorlie was harsh. I do not intend to canvass that incident any further, but I think it will be agreed that the Commonwealth Parliament went a little too far on that occasion. Let me deal now with the student organisations. We are living in an age of demonstration; people prefer to demonstrate about Vietnam. I remind the Senate that during the last State election campaign in New South Wales the meeting at which the then Labor Premier, Mr Renshaw, opened his campaign was disrupted by young Liberals. I do not complain about that. That is part of the development that is taking place.
There have been many references’ to what various Labor men have said at different times. Here it might be interesting to refer to an article in ‘International Newsweek Review’ which contains a statement by ‘that maverick of the Liberal Party, Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes. I do not question Sir Wilfrid’s right to make these statements, but nobody will convince me that some of his utterances about Rhodesia are not completely out of lune with everything for which the British Commonwealth of Nations stands. I do not object to his having the views he expresses, but 1 emphasise that no member of the Labor Party ever claims that the views expressed by him represent the views of the Government.
I come now to the Labor Parly’s attitude on this particular issue. The members of the Labor Party have no apology to offer for the reservations they have about the Government’s attitude on Vietnam. Reference has been made to the last election. T refer honourable senators to statements published in ‘Time’ magazine over the last twelve months wherein Senator Fulbright, MOnsignor Fulton Sheen and other people have argued that it is time further negotia- tions for peace were entered into. I mention also that anyone who carefully examines the Labor Party’s policy will admit that we stand for the de-escalation of the war. I also point out that during his last visit to Saigon, Defence Secretary McNamara ‘asked why there were not more South Vietnamese in the Army. The thing I regret is that Australian and American soldiers are in fact fighting for the South Vietnamese. As any missionary will agree, a society of prostitution and food racketeering has developed up there. I want to see a better society created. Just as towards the end of World War II we saw the Beveridge scheme for Britain, and a host of other plans, so I would like to see plans for a better society in Vietnam. But we cannot have this better society there unless we can provide more effective economic assistance than is being provided now.
I say in all sincerity to Senator McManus that I would be much happier if I could be satisfied that every time an Australian battalion went to Vietnam it. was helping to create a new and better society. What I object to are the merchant groups who are fattening on this war and for whom Australians are. giving their lives. I do not think it is unpatriotic for the Labor. Party to ask whether we are really having enough say in the overall prosecution of the war. I would be very much happier, and I think the Government would too, if the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) were to say that we are not doing enough to create a better society and that perhaps we should review our policy. We would find very quickly that . Air Vice-Marshal Ky would execute a few more of these merchants living off the blood pf Australians. That is what the merchant class , is doing and the Government knows it. The Government knows that prostitution and food racketeering are taking place. What is the Australian Government doing about this state of affairs? lt should threaten certain reductions in aid if a better society is not established. This is something that is worrying a number of Australians of all denominations.
There is no need for me to recapitulate what Senator Murphy has said about some of these student groups. After all, we find lunatics of the right as well as lunatics of the left. If a war situation developed tomorrow,’ the first thing that the Government would do would be to ask senior members of. the Australian Labor Party to join it in a coalition party, the same as was done in -.1940. That is what the then Government did. The American nation today - and I regret this - has had to face incidents such as those which recently occurred in Detroit because of the cessation of civil aid. It is regrettable that these and other city problems have arisen. These have been due largely to a siphoning off of economic resources outside America and that situation in miniature form can develop in relation to housing and other things here. I emphasise the word ‘miniature’. I do not like to laud it over the Government but the Government knows in its own heart that every time the Minister for External Affairs comes back from overseas he says: We have turned the corner in South Vietnam’. We have not turned the corner. The Government knows it. The same thing happened during World War II. The Government backed Chamberlain up to a stage. When Churchill took over, the Government had to jettison its ideas. When President Johnson makes a change regarding certain things the Government will have to get on side. Again, I do not laud the situation to the Government, but this is history.
However, I do say this to the Government in conclusion: No party has a monopoly on patriotism. I think that the vindication of the attitude of the Australian Labor Party, if we want to put it that way, can be found in the fact that Dr Evatt as Attorney-General did not take seventytwo hours to do the thing that Senator Gair suggested. Probably, the issues were different. But it amazes me that the mover of this resolution did not direct’ his action at the Government, as he might have been excused for doing, but directed it at the Opposition. Therefore, Mr President, I move:
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– by leave - In 1962 the River Murray Commission investigated a proposal to construct a dam on the Murray at Chowilla with a capacity of approximately5m acre feet. Its investigations showed that without this dam all States bordering the Murray would be subject to water restrictions in drought periods but that the construction of Chowilla would result in a very considerable reduction in the frequency and severity of these restrictions. The estimated cost of the dam was $28m and the Commonwealth Government and the Governments’ of the States of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria - who all would be contributing equally to the cost - gave their approval to proceed with the project.
After detailed site investigations the design of the dam was completed by the constructing authority - the South Australian Government - and tenders were called in October 1966. The estimated cost at that time was $43m. On receipt of tenders in April 1967 it became apparent to the Commission that the actual cost of the dam would be in the vicinity of$70m. In view of this greatly increased cost the Commission decided to reassess the. benefits to be gained from Chowilla, taking into account the changes in basic data and operating procedures that had occurred since 1962.
Major alterations in data or procedure which were considered in this study included:
Very complete studies were carried out using a newly developed computer programme which gives a month by month simulation of the river system for the last 50 years. The studies showed that benefits equivalent to those received from the proposed dam could be derived from a smaller storage at Chowilla or possibly some other site in the Murray basin.
In these circumstances the River Murray Commission at its meeting on Friday, 11th August, resolved that: . . having regard to the changed relationship between costs and benefits of the Chowilla project since it was previously assessed in 1962 the River Murray Commission recommends to contracting Governments that the project be deferred pending further investigations. Further, in view of the fact that the South Australian constructing authority is holding tenders for this work, it be asked not to accept any tender currently held and arrange to reduce all expenditure on the Chowilla project to a minimum as rapidly as possible.
The Commission is pursuing urgently its studies to provide the best solution to the problem of River Murray regulation. These will include further consideration of a storage at Chowilla in conjunction with other potential storages in the river basin. In conclusion I should mention that the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) received representations by telephone on this matter from Mr Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, on Monday, 14th August. He then asked Mr Dunstan to set out his views in writing and assured him that they would be thoroughly considered when received.
I present the following paper:
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia)
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I ask for leave to make my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– On 18th April 1967
asked me the following question:
Is it not your view that, if the telephones of senators, in particular those telephones within Parliament House or in the Commonwealth offices, are being tapped by any person or organisation, there is a breach of the privileges and rights of senators? If you do agree, will you inquire whether this is being done? If it is being done, will you take appropriate steps to protect the rights of senators and to prevent the practice of which I have complained occurring in the future?
I reply that the interception of telephone communications is strictly controlled by the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act 1960. From my inquiries it appears that the Parliament purposely did not make any exception in favour of the telephone services of members of the Parliament, and I doubt whether any action taken under the legislation in respect of communications passing over the telephone service of a senator would constitute a breach of the privileges of the Senate. The further matters mentioned by the honourable senator, therefore, do not arise for comment.
– by leave - I make the following ministerial statement on behalf of the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty). Where the singular pronoun in the first person is used it refers of course to the Minister for Supply.
On 18th May this year Senator Laught asked me during question time in the Senate what forward planning was being done by the Department of Supply to preserve for the Commonwealth Service the skills of the many hundreds of highly trained scientists and technicians working at Salisbury and Woomera. This question was asked at a time when there were many rumours of a lessening of work from overseas for the Woomera Rocket Range. At that time the Government was renegotiating the Joint Project, which is the agreement between Australia and Britain in relation to the operation of certain resources of the Weapons Research Establishment, including the Woomera Rocket Range. The Senate is aware that this United KingdomAustralia Joint Project has been conducted for more than 20 years in accordance with a series of partnership arrangements.
I am pleased to announce that the two governments have confirmed their intentions to continue this partnership in the Project. The detailed arrangements to apply for the current financial year will be the same as have applied since 1962. The arrangements to apply beyond June 1968 will be discussed early next year, but the negotiations will be on the basis that the partnership relationship will continue for several years. As I advised the Senate previously, the current project work load, which extends to 1970, is heavier than has applied in the last year or two.
The Senate may be interested to know that only last weekend the main body of a joint service trial unit arrived by charter aircraft in South Australia to join advance elements already there. The unit is to carry out at Salisbury and Woomera a service evaluation of the Rapier low level air defence guided weapon system developed by the British Aircraft Corporation for the United Kingdom Ministries of Technology and Defence. About half of the strength of the trial unit is from the British Army, a quarter from the Royal Air Force and a quarter from the Australian Army.
The members cif the Australian Army have been in Britain for about 6 months receiving advanced technological training at various British establishments and field training with other elements of the unit. The unit and contractors’ support team, together with their families, will make an addition of some 200 people to the Salisbury and Woomera areas. The arrival of the Rapier trial team follows an established pattern in which British service teams carry out evaluation trials of British developed weapons systems at the Weapons Research Establishment.
– by leave - The following ministerial statement was made by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in another place today. Where the first person personal pronoun is used it, refers to the Treasurer.
I informed the House on 11th May last that the Government was examining the question of life insurance and other matters affecting the fighting Services and that the decisions reached would be announced in the Budget. Honourable members will recall the suggestions which have been made that a government sponsored life insurance scheme should be introduced. Generally this proposal has been advanced in the context of the benefits available to servicemen arising from war service and has frequently been associated with claims that there are double standards in assessing compensation; that is, a superior standard in common law and an inferior one for war service. ,
There are difficulties, of course, in comparing repatriation benefits, which provide pensions and a wide range of other assistance, with lump sum awards; but I suggest that such comparisons as have been made are not supported by an adequate ‘survey of the facts. I have had some calculations made of the present capital values of repatriation -pensions and allowances. The amounts are substantial. They range’ up to about $15,000 for a married general rate war pensioner, without children, whose disability does not in fact preclude him from working though it may well reduce his earning capacity and prospects. In the ca£e of a married pensioner, without children, who is totally and permanently incapacitated, the amounts range beyond $50,000. I :should emphasise that these calculations take no account whatever of the repatriation benefits payable in respect of children, ‘non-cash’ benefits such as medical and hospital treatment - which could represent a considerable sum over the life of the beneficiary - or the increases in rates and values of benefits certain to occur over the beneficiary’s lifetime.
A case where a serviceman who was injured, rendered quadriplegic, and was awarded §82,000- actually $81,055 - at common law has been referred to on many occasions as indicating in itself a need to review the level of repatriation benefits. That award included over $11,000 for loss of wages and hospital and medical expenses incurred prior the court’s award.
As the soldier injured in Vietnam is kept on full pay and provided with all medical treatment by the Army until repatriation benefits commence, the amount for comparison with repatriation benefits would be $70,000. On a conservative estimate, the present value of repatriation benefits, if payable in this particular case, would have exceeded $70,000.
The Government has carefully reviewed the benefits provided under repatriation arrangements, which include a comprehensive system of compensatory pensions, medical treatment and related benefits, and a wide range of other assistance. We have concluded that the arrangements are working effectively and that they make appropriate provision for those who suffer incapacity due to war service and for the dependants of those whose deaths are caused by war service.
So far as personal life insurance is concerned, I have previously informed the House of advice received from the life offices that they will insure a permanent serviceman or national serviceman at normal premiums up to the date he is actually posted for service overseas in a battle zone or combat area. As stated by the former Prime Minister on 30th November 1965, there is, however, no uniformity of practice regarding the type of policy which may be obtained or the maximum sum which may be insured. Some companies will only issue endowment insurance contracts under which the sum insured is payable at the end of a fixed term of years or on prior death; other companies have no restrictions on these aspects. During World War II it was customary for war clauses to be inserted in new policies issued during the continuance of that conflict. Frequently, however, the limitations imposed by such clauses could be reduced or removed by payment of an extra premium at a rate varying with the risks involved. During the 1950’s, similar conditions applied in the case of servicemen who were under notice of posting to Korea or Malaya and the position is substantially the same today in the case of servicemen proceeding to South Vietnam.
The matter of life insurance for servicemen has been examined on several occasions and the Government of the day has concluded that having regard to Australian conditions, adequate provision was made under legislation to meet the immediate and future needs of dependants of personnel killed on active service. After further close examination, we are satisfied that this conclusion remains valid today and we have therefore decided against the introduction of a Government sponsored life insurance scheme.
The Government has decided, however, as I announced in the Budget Speech, to seek an amendment of the legislation governing defence forces retirement benefits to admit to the benefits of the scheme certain categories of servicemen who are now excluded because they are enlisted for periods of less than six years. This extension of the scheme will give cover to national servicemen, who are enlisted for two years. If any of these servicemen now to be covered is discharged through invalidity or dies, he or his widow and children will receive the same pensions or other benefits as permanent members of the forces. On normal discharge, they will receive a refund of contributions.
As I pointed out in the Budget Speech, servicemen are, in addition, covered by the repatriation legislation whilst serving in special areas such as Vietnam. Thus, for example, a married private soldier totally and permanently incapacitated as a result of war service will receive a pension of $31.50 per week under the defence forces retirement benefits legislation, together with a basic tax-free pension of $34.55 per week under the repatriation legislation. In addition, of course, further repatriation benefits are provided in respect of children and by way of medical and hospital treatment. The details of the extension of the defence forces retirement benefits scheme are now being settled and the legislation will be introduced as early as possible.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to inhibit the activities of the so-called ‘pirate’ stations that may be established beyond the territorial waters of Australia, but close enough to the coastline to direct their programmes to Australia. Broadcasters of the type we are considering are indeed ‘pirate’ in that they operate outside the law and make unauthorised use of radio frequencies. By international agreement, the assignment of radio frequencies in each country is controlled by a Government licensing authority which, in the case of Australia, is the Post Office. Uncontrolled use of frequencies, as in the case of ‘pirate’ stations, represents a challenge to the lawful control of radiocommunications generally, including broadcasting, and such uncontrolled use can upset the good order essential to ensure that a service is available to the thousands of lawful users, free from interference. Lawful uses of radiocommunic.ation services include not only authorised sound broadcasts and television but also such essential services as air and marine navigation- aids, police services, fire protection services and other important uses.
The radio frequency spectrum ‘is public property and the public is entitled to feel assured that adequate control of its use is being exercised. The spectrum is extremely congested due, particularly, to the growth of new’ needs in recent years. For example, a multiplicity of new frequency requirements has been created by the developments in space exploration and space satellite communications. The assignment and use of frequencies cannot’ be undertaken lightheartedly, lt is a complex’ matter which requires careful study to ensure that all services operate with a rninimum of interference. This objective can only be achieved by giving expert attention to the proper technical standards and characteristics of equipment to be used.
Radio waves do not respect national boundaries and. it has therefore been necessary to set up a good deal of regulatory control of r’adiocommunication on an international level. Australia is a signatory to the International Telecommunications Convention and the associated Radio Regulations which lay down the broad principles to be followed by countries, their obligations and the use to which particular frequencies may be put. One regulation, “in fact, specifi cally prohibits the establishment and use of broadcasting stations on ships, while another lays down that no transmitter may be established or operated without due authorisation from the government of the country concerned. Thus, special coordination arrangements are necessary to ensure that frequency assignments made to1 individual stations do not give rise to interference to other services. This objective cannot be met if individual private interests are permitted ro select a frequency at random without a complete knowledge of the characteristics of the other services in use.
Unlike some overseas countries, ‘pirate’ broadcasting “has not previously been a serious problem- in Australia. Our well established dual system of national and commercial broadcasting provides an adequate base on which to develop the service needs of the community, and the very existence of a commercial service removes iti once the most powerful reason for setting up a pirate station. Over the lest few years there have been several abortive attempts to establish unauthorised transmitters- off our coast, more recently in the Gold Coast area. Following a -public inquiry, and report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, a licence was issued for a broadcasting station in that area. There were’ suggestions that an attempt would be made- to establish another transmitter to service the sarin: area, from a ship outside territorial- waters. Since these amending legislation proposals were introduced in another place, the threatened pirate operations in the Gold Coast area have not eventuated. Nevertheless, the need for effective control over frequency usage has not diminished,- and it is- desirable that the legislation seeking to outlaw pirate broadcasting- activity still proceed.
Clause 4 of the Bill proposes that; it shall be an offence to establish, maintain or operate a transmitter” for unauthorised broadcasting purposes from a ship in waters adjacent to’ Australia. It will also be an offence to’ give’ any assistance or tq rentier any services- for the operation of the ship or the transmitter. In order that “the new provisions may be adequately enforced, clause 5 extends the jurisdiction of the several courts of the- States and Territories to cover offences- arising from :the foregoing activities. I should ‘point’ but that the Bill is, by far, less comprehensive than the legislation which it has been necessary to introduce in other countries, for example, Britain. In spite of this, however, it is expected that the Bill will be adequate to deal with any pirate radio situation likely to arise in the Australian environment. Needless to say, the matter will be kept under close study, and the Government is prepared to consider more comprehensive measures if necessary. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McClelland) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain the approval of Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia for the provision of financial assistance to the State towards financing the construction of a pipeline to carry natural gas to Adelaide from the GidgealpaMoomba region in the north east of the State.
Some few months ago, the South Australian Government approached the Commonwealth Government for assistance in respect of difficulties the State was experiencing in obtaining finance for a natural gas pipeline from the newly discovered fields at Gidgealpa-Moomba to Adelaide. The cost of construction of the pipeline was estimated’ at $35m. The State Government declared its intention of setting up a semigovernmental statutory body to construct and operate the pipeline, but faced a difficult financing problem in bringing the project to fruition over a comparatively short term of years from normal sources of semi-governmental finance. The State Government considered that it would not be possible for the pipeline authority to raise any more than $20m during the period of construction and decided to approach the Loan Council for permission to borrow that amount. The Commonwealth was happy to support the application to the Loan Council.
At its meeting in February last the Loan Council agreed to the South Australian Government’s request for approval of borrowings in respect of the pipeline up to $20m during the period ending 30th June 1972, such borrowings to be additional to the normal South Australian semigovernmental programme. The Loan Council also agreed that borrowings under this special authority could, if desired, commence during the 1966-67 financial year. To bridge the gap between these borrowings and the estimated cost of construction, the Commonwealth indicated that it would be prepared to lend the State during the construction period such additional sums, up to a maximum of $15m, as may be needed to complete the project in accordance with the construction timetable. A condition of the Commonwealth’s offer is that the State accepts responsibility for financing any short fall in semi-governmental borrowings over the period to 30th June 1972, below the figure of $20m, and also for financing any increase in actual construction costs above the estimate of $35m.
Agreement has now been reached between the Commonwealth and State Governments on the terms and conditions on which the assistance is to be provided. The loans made by the Commonwealth to the State will be repayable half-yearly over a period of eight years, the first instalment falling due on 15th December 1972 and the last instalment on 15th June 1980. The sources of funds for repayment of the Commonwealth loans will, of course, be a matter for the State. We expect, however, that these will include the normal South Australian semi-governmental borrowing programme and receipts by the pipeline authority from its operations.
The agreement provides that interest on the Commonwealth loans to be made to the State will be payable half-yearly on 15th June and 15th December at the maximum rate authorised by the Loan Council at the date each loan is made for private borrowings by semi-governmental authorities for a period of eight years. The agreement
Includes the standard provisions relating to such matters as advance payments to the State and the supplying of audited information about expenditure.
In conclusion, I should like to say that the Commonwealth Government is happy to be able to provide South Australia with the assistance necessary to allow this project to go forward without delay. We accept the State’s views as to its technical soundness and as to the contribution it is expected to make to the development of the State’s economy generally. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 22 August, at 3 p.m.
– I oppose this motion. In the ordinary course we would meet tomorrow to deal with the business of the Senate. No reason has been advanced by the Minister who proposed this motion to justify the Senate not sitting tomorrow. We have had a very long recess interrupted on one day for an important matter of Senate business. During the recess there has been an accumulation of many public affairs which need attention by the Senate. Why should we come here on Tuesday, hear the Budget Speech read, sit on Wednesday and then not sit on Thursday when there is a great deal of work to be done?
– I thought the arrangement was made at the request of the honourable senator’s Party so that his Leader in the lower House could initiate the debate on the Budget.
– Senator Wright intervenes with a not. very helpful and not very accurate suggestion. He suggests that by not sitting tomorrow it will help my Party. I assure the honourable senator that the arrangements made for the debate on the Budget to be conducted in a civilised manner and after due consideration apply not only here but also in the House of Representatives. The ‘ arrangement’ there is that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr
Whitlam) will speak on Tuesday next but it does not follow that the business of the country therefore must come to a standstill. The House of Representatives continues to deal with many matters which concern it. As I understand the position, the HoUse of Representatives has sat today and will sit tomorrow to handle the business which confronts it, notwithstanding the arrangement that has been made. The same thing should apply in the Senate.
There is not the slightest reason why the Senate should not go on to deal with the various matters on the notice papen We would all be interested to hear what Senator Lillico still has to say about international affairs, and the other senators who would follow him. There are other mailers such as self-government for the Australian Capital Territory which remain to be discussed. No doubt Senator Gorton is anxious to bring back the Scholarships Bill, which he took out of the Senate recently. I myself have an interest in a number of motions under ‘General Business’. There are matters relating to the Commonwealth scholarships scheme. There is a motion to appoint a select committee to inquire into medical and hospital costs in Australia, and in particular to examine the operation and administration of the hospital benefits schemes. There is a motion by Senator Cohen that a standing committee of the Senate, to be called the Standing Committee on Television, be appointed to inquire into and report upon such aspects of television as the Committee thinks fit. Honourable senators will recall that a select committee of the Senate sat for a very long time and presented a valuable report on television to the Senate. So far that report has not been acted upon. The setting up of a standing committee would be a valuable way to carry out many of the recommendations of the Select Committee on Television. Surely the Senate ought to be given the opportunity to consider whether those committees should be set up.
There arc other motions on the notice paper. There is a motion by Senator Cohen that a Standing Committee on Science be appointed. There are the orders of the day. They include the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’s annual report and the Tariff Board report which remain to be dealt with. There is a ministerial statement on Bass Strait’ gas and oil discoveries. There is the report of the Australian Honey Board. A debate on the failure of the Government to make such arrangements as would ensure adequate finance for post-graduate research in the universities stands adjourned. Debate on a motion relating to the quota system in the universities has not been concluded. Senator Cohen proposed that matter. Senator Marriott was in full flight when the debate was adjourned.
– The honourable senator was hoping the debate would be stopped because the Opposition was getting a belting.
– I am pleased that Senator Marriott has made such an inaccurate observation. If there is one thing that is clear, it is that the Opposition has been prepared to push matters to a vote in this Senate. Not only Government senators but certain others constantly rise and say: ‘Why do you not stand and be counted?’ They are not prepared to let us stand and be counted when they have the opportunity. I think Senator Marriott would get on better if he kept quiet.
Debate on the ministerial statement on Common Market negotiations was adjorned. Senator Cohen was speaking at the time and he is prepared to proceed. There are other matters on the notice paper. There is the extremely important matter on uniform literature censorship, which has been on the notice paper but has not been discussed at all by the Senate. There is the motion relating to the extension of television services in which Senator Branson would be interested.
Very many matters of great concern to the public and which the Senate has considered to be of sufficient importance to put on its notice paper remain to be discussed. Why then should the Senate, after a lengthy recess, not proceed to the despatch of its business in the ordinary course and according to its sessional orders? We decided that we would sit during these days. We sat for only a short time on Tuesday, but that was inevitable. We sat today. Why should we not sit tomorrow and deal with our business in the ordinary course? What is the justification for not sitting tomorrow and what reason does the Government rely upon for passing over tomorrow? Is Thursday some holiday about which we have not heard? Is Thursday a feast day? Is there some special reason for not sitting? Is there some great turnout or something of which we are not aware? Why is Thursday not to be a working day? Does the Senate feel that, because of the industrial stoppages arising out of alleged inadequate wages in the various parts of Australia, it should stop its business on Thursday? What is the reason? The Minister has advanced no reason whatever.
– Give us the reason why the Opposition applied the gag when we were debating subversive activities within this country, and I will be pleased to support you.
– Mr President, you have allowed that irrelevant objection, so perhaps I might be permitted to answer it. If the honourable senator had been watching the time he would have seen that there were only about two minutes to go when the gag was moved by Senator Mulvihill. He was entitled to move it. He had been invited to move it by those who proposed the original motion and who said again and again: ‘Stand and be counted’. After the debate was exhausted, and with only two minutes to go, we gave those senators, including the mover of the motion, the opportunity to stand and be counted. He was not prepared to stand and be counted.
Here we are after a very long recess. Honourable senators have had plenty of opportunity to enjoy their vacation, to travel around Australia and to take in the delights of the various parts of the country to which they travelled. Surely the time to work has arrived. Tomorrow is an ordinary working day. We are here to work. We think the Senate should work. Therefore, we oppose the motion.
– I desire to support the motion. In doing so I say that I had hoped the House would have been spared the exhibition of hypocrisy to which we have just listened. Senator Murphy, like other members of his Party, is itching to get away from Canberra. In pursuance of the new look, which we are told comes from a new - Opposition, he stands here tonight and pretends that he is panting to work tomorrow. He suggests something that is entirely untrue.
– Senator Murphy has been handed his air ticket.
– The suggestion has just been made by a senator that he saw Senator Murphy being handed his air ticket. He would hardly have ordered his air ticket if he hoped to work tomorrow.
– I think the honourable senator has it al] wrong. Let him vote with us and we will be here tomorrow.
– 1 suggest that it is most, peculiar for a senator who is panting to bring the Senate back tomorrow to work to have ordered his air ticket so that he may get away at the first possible moment tomorrow morning.
– J have ordered no air ticket. The honourable senator, is quite wrong in saying that.
– J support the motion. I have not received my ticket to go home. 1 am prepared to stay here and work tomorrow. Between ourselves, 1 rather resent the suggestion of Senator
Murphy that senators will all go home tomorrow and that no parliamentary work will be done.- 1 am a member of the Committee which is inquiring into the introduction of the metric system of weights and measures. If we do not meet tomorrow in this Senate I and .other senators on that Committee, will be engaged all day listening to evidence about the metric system. Other senators, including some who are sitting behind ‘ Senator Murphy, could have told him .that. Other honourable senators who are members of the Committee that is considering the establishment of container ports will be meeting tomorrow, provided we do not meet as .a Senate. The suggestion that senators are all .going to rush away and leave is entirely untrue, and I am surprised’ that Senator Murphy has not sum. cient knowledge of what is happening in his own -Party to have been aware of the fact that those senators propose to work tomorrow if the Senate does not meet. I am one who will be here until Friday. I think that there is a little too much of these -attempts to secure a - cheap parliamentary advantage by pretending that one is dying to stay here when, in actual fact one is dying to go home. All I can hope is that Senator Murphy will stay here until Friday and that he will find some useful parliamentary work to do. If he gets away in the morning on the air ticket which he ordered at ti time when he pretended he wanted to stay! here, I should like him to remember that the honourable senators whom he criticised will be working here while he is away having a good time.
– After the contribution made by Senator McManus I. hardly need to answer the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), but I would remind him that we have just completed the putting down in the Parliament of the Budget Speech and, in the tradition that is based on the sheer logic of the thing the Leader of the Opposition in the other place and the Leader of the Opposition here took the adjournment of the debates. It is a fact that the Leader of the Opposition in the other place will not speak in the Budget debate until 8 o’clock on Tuesday night next.
– That has been the custom for a long lime.
– It is only customary because it ..is calculated to give to the Opposition, the alternative government, ah opportunity to study and evaluate the most important document in the fiscal policy and the management of the Commonwealth of Australia. I should have thought that Senator Murphy, leading the Opposition as he does in the Senate, would have been grateful for the opportunity to have an adjournment tonight which would not envisage a sifting of the Senate tomorrow, so that he could do his homework and be more competent and more capable of putting the Opposition point of view in relation to the Budget when it is debated here next week. 1 have made second reading speeches on two Bills which will ,enable us to have Government business to attend to when we ‘ come back here on Tuesday next. The honourable senator rattled off with great gusto all of the items on the business paper. We all know that the Senate rose on 19th May, apart from the, extraordinary meeting that we had in June. We all know - it is a pity that those who are listening in do. not appreciate it-that, whenever a matter is put down, for the purpose of convenience, anyone who -may Want to speak is given an opportunity - to take the adjournment of the debate. The honourable senator mentioned a whole series of matters which, if we had had a proroguing of the Parliament, would have been removed from the business paper altogether. I do not think there was any validity in the argument he produced in relation to the various matters that are found on the notice paper. As Senator McManus suggested, the Leader of the Opposition was in fact being quite consciously grossly unfair to the members of the Senate, not only to Government supporters, members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the independent senators, but also to his own supporters, in the assumption that when this place rises their work ceases.
– I did not say that.
– He said it clearly by inference, as anybody could hear. The inference was clear that when the Senate rises as a result of the decision that is about to be made everybody will pack up and go off on holidays. The suggestion that the period before we came here was a holiday was grossly improper. Who will acknowledge that from May until now he has been on holidays? I do not know what the honourable senator does when the Senate is not sitting. I know what Government supporters do. I know what I have done in terms of work, both as a backbencher and as a Minister. Most frequently one works a jolly sight harder when we are not in session than when we are in session. Today we heard great talk from the Leader of the Opposition about liberties, yet he comes here tonight and absolutely degrades the character and performance of honourable senators on both sides of the chamber. I think he ought to be ashamed of himself.
That the motion be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 August 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670816_senate_26_s35/>.