26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– 1 ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister considered the fact that employees in the six State Railway Departments of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia have free travel rights in passenger trains within the States in which they are employed and interstate when on annual or long service leave? Will the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Railways consult the six Premiers concerning the matter of extending free travel on Commonwealth railways to all State railway employees when they are on annual or long service leave and at the same time seek similar free rail travel for Commonwealth railway employees? Before the Minister examines fully the proposition contained in this question will he discuss it with the Minister in charge of Tourist Activities?
– I will refer the matter to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and draw attention to the request made by Senator Benn that the Minister confer with the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities regarding this matter.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply been drawn to an item in yesterday’s Adelaide ‘News’ concerning a statement attributed to Mr Roy Mason, Britain’s Minister of Defence for Equipment, wherein he gave a firm indication that Britain would not pull out her missile development projects at Woomera and the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury in South Australia and that towards the end of this year or early next year very detailed negotiations will take place between Australia and Britain, as a result of which Mr Mason hoped a mutually satisfactory agreement will be reached? Can the Minister state where and when such negotiations will take place and, if successful, whether the negotiations will be of significance to the future of Woomera and Salisbury beyond 1972? Will the Minister be conferring with Mr Mason on his current visit to Australia? Will the Minister bear in mind that in addition to the importance of those two projects to Australia and the free world, his departmental installations at Woomera and Salisbury are the second largest employers of staff in South Australia?
– I noted the article to which the honourable senator refers. I read it with interest. Having planned the visit of the Minister to these establishments, naturally I am interested in the comments that he makes. The honourable senator mentioned that talks are to be held later this year. I have already indicated to the Senate, and to the honourable senator, who has been most interested in this project, that talks relating to a continuation of the project are to take place. At the moment we have an agreement that it shall continue for 1 year. In the meantime, we are getting down to discussions, and officers of my Department will be conferring in London. What will follow from there I am not yet in a position to say. I am glad to note that Mr Mason is very optimistic, as I have always been, because Woomera is a great range and one which I felt would attract continued support from the British Government. Although I shall be seeing Mr Mason when he visits here on Thursday, I shall not be conferring with him on this particular matter because it is at present under consideration by the officers of my Department and has not yet become a question for Ministers. 1 must say that I have learnt something which I did not realise. The honourable senator says that my Department is the second largest employer of labour in South Australia. I knew that it was a very important Department and was of some significance in that it employed a large work force, but I was not aware that it was the second largest employer of labour. This, of course, makes the project one of great significance not only to Australia, but to South Australia in particular, on the score of employment alone.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether he has seen a report which appeared in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 14th September last to the effect that the Australian Ambassador to the United States gave a dinner at Newport, Rhode Island, in honour of the King of Greece and his wife, and that amongst those present was the Federal President of the Liberal Party of Australia. In view of the fact that a number of heads of state, including the father-in-law of the King of Greece, the King of Denmark, have refused such associations with the King of Greece because of the present situation in that country, is this to be taken as an endorsement by the Australian Government of the present undemocratic military regime in Greece?
– Australia has complete diplomatic relations with the Government of Greece and with the Head of State of Greece and it seems extraordinary in those circumstances that a dinner given in honour of the King of Greece, or the head of any other state with which we have full democratic relations, should be the subject of a question like this in the Senate.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Does the Government Consider that wholly Australian owned and manned operators are capable of handling the prawn fishing industry off Australia’s coastline and that this industry promises to develop into a huge export earner for Australia? Were any decisions made at the conference of fisheries ministers held in Perth earlier this month to refuse permission to foreign owned vessels or vessels operating under joint foreign-Australian ownership to use any Australian port, slipping or general maintenance facilities, or any Australian prawn processing facilities, in an endeavour to retain as much as possible of this industry to wholly Australian owned operators?
– At this stage it is not possible to say whether there will be sufficient Australian capital available in the foreseeable future to develop the prawn fisheries to their full capacity. According to the technical advice available to the Government, it is expected that prawns will become a substantial export commodity.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether it is a fact that some poultry farmers in several States are adding water to poultry meat, by injection, to increase carcass weight and so gain a price advantage. Does this practice result in a weight loss approximating i lb in a 3 lb bird at the time of thawing out, with a further weight loss occurring at the time of cooking? Is any action to be taken by the Government to prevent this exploitation of poultry consumers? If so, what form will it take?
– I am not aware of the alleged practice referred to by the honourable senator. I will make inquiries of the Minister for Primary Industry to see whether the matters referred to have been brought to his notice. I will convey the Minister’s answer to the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister for Supply: Did the Australian Government offer any advice to the Australian company, Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd, when the major partner in the North West Cape project - the American firm of Paul Hardeman - pulled out in 1965? Did the Government suggest that a new contract should be negotiated? What action did the Government take to make sure that the interests of the Australian company were protected when the American firm failed?
– I do not have at hand the details to which the honourable senator referred. I would like him to put his question on the notice paper because it relates to a matter of great significance and I shall obtain the details for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. In view of the present situation whereby an ex-serviceman who has built a home on leasehold land and wishes to convert it to freehold land can do so only by relinquishing his entitlement to war service homes assistance, I ask whether agreement can be reached between Federal and State authorities so that this anomaly may be removed.
– The problem to which the honourable senator has referred arises mainly in Queensland and is presently receiving close attention in my Department. Therefore I think the information I am about to give may be of assistance to the honourable senator. Under the provisions of the War Service Homes Act, every advance must be secured by a mortgage to the Director of War Service Homes of the estate and interest of the borrower in his holding. Holding’ is denned in the Act and includes freehold land, but in relation to leasehold land from a State is limited to Crown leases in perpetuity. Many loans have been granted in Queensland on leases in perpetuity. Under Queensland law, there is provision for the owner of a Crown lease in perpetuity to convert his lease to a lease for 20 years with a covenant to purchase land by instalments over the period of the lease. These leases are commonly called freeholding leases.
We have had some requests from existing purchasers and borrowers under the war service homes scheme for consent to convert their leases in perpetuity to freeholding leases. However, in this case the amount of the outstanding advance would cease to be secured by a mortgage over a tenure of land which meets the requirements of the War Service Homes Act, and the Crown Law authorities have advised that as the Act now stands, the Director may not consent to such a conversion. The honourable senator will understand, of course, that as the Act now stands any alteration to it is a matter of government policy. If a purchaser or borrower is able to convert his lease in perpetuity to a freehold title, there is no objection to this action under the War Service Homes Act Difficulty arises only where he wishes to convert his perpetual lease to a lease for a limited term. If a purchaser or a borrower is able to arrange to pay in cash the purchase price for the conversion to a freehold title, consent can be given to the conversion and there would be no need for the purchaser or borrower to relinquish his entitlement to war service homes assistance.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Has the Minister noted that in the booklet dated 30th August 1967 setting out changes in defence forces retirement benefits, which I have here and which has been issued to members of this Parliament, the amounts set out are stated in pounds, shillings and pence, while the comments on each page state that the amounts are set out in pounds, shillings and pence because they are originally based on amounts determined in 1963 and before? Is it not desirable that in reports issued at present the amounts should be converted to decimal currency?
– I would think that, as a general proposition, what the honourable senator suggests is true. I do not know what special circumstances may have existed in this case. Perhaps the best course for the honourable senator to follow would be to put the question on the notice paper so that the Minister for Defence can give an answer to it.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the Senate of any progress made by the Department of Civil Aviation in extending air services to people in Victorian rural towns, particularly by means of the proposed commuter air services?
– From time to time the Minister for Civil Aviation has issued Press statements on the new commuter services that are coming into existence. The honourable senator now asks about Victoria in particular. I shall ascertain from the Minister for Civil Aviation the current position in relation to commuter services in that State.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the First Assistant Secretary (Controller of Supply) in the Department of the Navy recently admitted that the Government is still unaware of the final cost of spare parts for the first two Charles F. Adams destroyers and the Tartar missile system? Is it a fact that the price of spares for the two destroyers has already jumped by 200% and that further phenomenal increases can be expected? In view of the position that has developed in respect of the Fill aircraft and the soaring cost of the defence computer complex, will the Minister say whether the Government intends to seek firm cost plus estimates rather than continue to meet what appears to be an exorbitant cost plus system which already represents an intolerable burden on the Australian taxpayers?
– The evidence which I read was given by a first assistant secretary in the Department of the Navy, not in the Department of Supply. Therefore this question should have been directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. The honourable senator has raised the matter of the cost of spare parts for destroyers. As I understand the position, the Navy and the Government were eager to obtain the best type of destroyer available in the world at the time. That is what they have purchased. I understand that at the stage at which the destroyers were purchased some research and development work still had to be done on the destroyers and on the spare parts. If that is correct, it would not have been possible to arrive at a firm cost for this equipment until that research and development work had been done.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Defence aware that it is now more than 54 years since Admiral Henderson first recommended the establishment of a naval base at Cockburn Sound south of Fremantle on the Western Australian coast and that his opinion has been endorsed on many occasions in the intervening years? Can the Minister inform me of the progress, if any, that has been made by the authorities at present considering the feasibility of the construction of such a base; or will we have to wait another 54 years for the presentation and implementation of the report?
– I was not really aware that it was more than 54 years since Admiral Henderson first raised this matter; but I am acutely aware that it is certainly more than 7 years since Senator Tangney first raised it in this place. At least this result has come over a period of years: Investigations are being carried out in respect of what is involved in the conversion of Cockburn Sound into a naval base. As I think the honourable senator knows, the investigations have been going on now for some considerable time. I do not know when they will be completed and reported on. But at least that step has been taken.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will Premier Bolte’s plan to raise additional taxation revenue in Victoria alter the standard States basis upon which the Commonwealth Grants Commission determines the financial position of the claimant States of Western Australia and Tasmania? If the answer is Yes, will the Government take steps to preserve the position of the claimant States by such action as is necessary to have the new Victorian proposals discounted in this context?
– The Commonwealth Grants Commission does a great service to the State of Tasmania. The Commission uses a formula which is well known to us all. It endeavours to ensure that Tasmania does not suffer by having lower standards of living and administration than the standard States of Victoria and New South Wales. It is interesting to note that the two highly developed and wealthy States of New South Wales and Victoria are taken as the pattern when assessing the grants to be made to Tasmania. The Commission endeavours to bring the standard in Tasmania up to that enjoyed in the standard States, which is very well worth while for Tasmania. I have noticed from time to time that the Premier of Tasmania has not been backward in criticising the lower grant received by Tasmania because its revenue from taxation has not been as high as that charged in the standard States, but in most instances Tasmania benefits from having lower rates of tax than the two standard States. Whatever is the outcome of the proposal made by the Premier of Victoria - I do not know definitely what that will be - I am quite sure that Tasmanian senators, the Government of Tasmania and the State of Tasmania will be appreciative of what the Grants Commission has achieved in the development of that State.
– My question is directed to the leader of the Government in the Senate. Has his attention been drawn to a report in today’s Press that the accountant for the River Murray Commission, Mr Stephens, has suggested during a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee that people who had sold land for the Chowilla project might get their land back at a profit’ should the dam not be built? Will the Minister investigate this matter fully and take every possible action to prevent the premature acceptance of any proposition which will prejudice the normal resumption of work on the dam?
– I have not seen the report referred to by the honourable senator. However, I noted that a question about Chowilla dam was asked in another place yesterday. I agree fully with the reply given by the Minister in another place when he said that this project was being made a political football.
– Will the Minister answer my question?
– Yes, but I am just saying what happened when a question on the subject was asked in another place. The Minister said that the Chowilla Dam project was being made a political football by the Premier of South Australia. Statements in the Press have been attributed to the Premier of South Australia and I heard him say on a ‘Four Corners’ programme that the South Australian delegate to the River Murray Commission had to support the other delegates because the decision had to be unanimous.
– That is right.
– It is not right because there is provision for an umpire when the States are not in agreement. That umpire is the Chief Justice of Tasmania. However, the Premier of South Australia did not go so far as to say that. This subject has been made a complete political football, but it will not bounce.
The honourable senator asked also about land which was to be used for this project. I am not aware of what the situation is, but I shall inquire into that matter. The honourable senator wishes to ensure that people who have had their land taken from them shall not accept any proposals for the present. Is that the position?
– That is right.
– I understand that. I will see what information I can obtain for the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. Is it the Government’s wish that Australian organisations providing voluntary aid overseas should continue to assist people less fortunate than Australians? Has it been the Government’s practice to support this voluntary work by meeting freight charges on periodical shipments overseas of items such as used clothes? Is it the Government’s intention to vary its assistance in any way?
– I was not aware that the Australian Government had been meeting the freight charges on these articles. I understood that certain airlines, shipping companies and agents had been doing this as their contribution towards the aid. If the honourable senator puts his question on the notice paper I will endeavour to obtain further information.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation reply to my earlier question relating to the growing menace of air pollution over capital cities as a result of increased jet aircraft traffic?
– Yes. I have been supplied with the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Statements along the lines of the honourable senator’s question appeared in the ‘Australian’ on 23th July 1967 and I therefore have assumed that this article has given rise to the question. The newspaper was in error in attributing the content of this article to a statement made by Department of Civil Aviation officials as no such statement was made. The Department cannot therefore accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the article.
The figures published in the ‘Australian’ are thought to be a reporter’s estimate, based on some data recently quoted in the American Press. The meaning and validity of that data are open to question. The method by which it was adapted to the situation existing at Sydney and Melbourne Airports is not known so that the Department has been unable to verify the figures and considers little reliance can be placed upon them. lt should be noted that modern gas turbine engines, including jet engines, burn fuel much more efficiently than do piston engines. It is therefore considered that their effect on the general level of air pollution in major Australian cities is small, and likely to remain small, in comparison with known major sources of pollution such as road vehicles, smoking chimneys etc.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it intended to apprise honourable senators of the reasons for the sharp deterioration in Australia’s relationship with Cambodia? Has it been contended by responsible Cambodian authorities that certain remarks made by the Australian Minister for External Affairs are regarded as being unacceptable to Cambodia? Does the Government regard our relationship with that country as being of the utmost importance? If so, what is being done to retrieve the present unsatisfactory position?
– I think the best I can do is to direct the honourable senator’s attention to remarks made in another place yesterday by the Minister for External Affairs in reply to a question on this subject. They appear in Hansard and cover most of the points raised by the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Air. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to complaints which have been made by a number of people living near Perth airport, resulting from the considerable noise which apparently is caused by Air Force exercises over the airport, including what rs apparently an almost daily simulated strafing of the airport by jet aircraft? I appreciate that these exercises are important’, but will the Minister inquire whether some alternative arrangements can be made, possibly elsewhere in the State of Western Australia, so that this inconvenience and distress will not be caused to these local residents?
– My attention has not been drawn to the matters stated by the honourable senator. I am glad that he realises that these exercises are necessary. I suppose it is inevitable that somebody somewhere would be at some inconvenience because of these exercises. However, I shall convey the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Air with the suggestion he makes concerning the matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. I am sure that the Minister and the Senate regret the unfortunate fate that befell a married couple flying from Sydney to Broken Hill on Monday last who encountered a dense dust storm, the like of which can occur frequently and unexpectedly in the inland of this country. In view of the recent decision of the Department of Civil Aviation in relation to the extension of commuter passenger service licences to aircraft to operate in country areas with reduced blind flying equipment, will the Minister have a check made on the meteorological facilities that will be available to aircraft in areas where severe dust storms occur, with a view to supplying to pilots of aircraft information on blind flying conditions and a warning of the hazards of visual flying in dust storm conditions?
– Very naturally I concur in Senator O’Byrne’s expression of regret in relation to the tragedy that has occurred. Because the question is comprehensive and the Minister should have an examination of it made before a reply is given, I ask that it be put on the notice paper.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Air. In view of assurances that have been given to the Parliament that the F111A aircraft on order for the Royal Australian Air Force has survived its tests with flying colours, why are we not yet able to have a figure provided in relation to its cost? Is it correct that the cost of the FI MA is being loaded with the enormous expense involved in experimentation with the Navy version known as the FU IB, which may well be abandoned? Since Australia is not concerned with the FI 1 IB, what action is being taken to ensure that we are not being asked to pay for the mistakes made with this model by additional cost loadings on the FI IIA?
– It should be fairly clear to everyone by this time that the cost of this aircraft has not yet been established and therefore a figure cannot be given. If the honourable senator will put the remainder of the question on the notice paper 1 shall see if I can get an answer for him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. Will the Minister confer with the Administrator of the Northern Territory to ascertain what prompted the Administrator to depart from the pledge given to the Secretary of the World Protection of Animals Society to discontinue the spine wounding of buffaloes, a practice which was highlighted in a recent ‘Four Corners’ programme?
– This is a question which must be answered by the Minister for Territories himself. I suggest that the honourable senator might well decide whether the information he seeks would be better obtained by his putting the question on the notice paper or by my drawing the attention of the Minister to what he has said. I shall leave it to him.
– I will put it op the notice paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Does not the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declare the right of everyone to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers? Has any protest been made oy Australia against the apparent breach of the Declaration by the Soviet Union in continuing the lengthy imprisonment of two
Soviet writers for publishing criticism of the Soviet Union outside that country? Is there any procedure by which Australia may raise, internationally, breaches of the Declaration? If not, will the Government consider initiating a world wide extension of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which enables enforcement of certain rights under the Declaration against members of the Council of Europe?
– There are ways in which attention can be directed in the highest councils to acts which contravene the principles to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred. The honourable senator might recall that Australia took the initiative in one such case when before the United Nations it raised the infringement of the rights and the bad treatment of the Jewish minority by the Soviet Government, thus allowing that to become a matter on which world opinion could play. But enforcement by moving into a country to use force - that is what enforcement means - to see that that country adheres to the principles is a different matter.
– I mean legal enforcement, not military enforcement.
– Legal enforcement against opposition can take place only by the use of force.
– There are procedures under the Convention to which 1 referred for collective enforcement.
– There are no procedures which allow legal enforcement to become operative if the government of a country refuses to take notice of the legal proceedings. You then have to resort to the use of force. I know of no way in which that can be done except as in the case when the United Nations used force to prevent the imposition of the will of one country on Korea. But the matter can be ventilated in the United Nations.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Health seen reports of the statement made in the Parliament of New South Wales by Mr Jago, the Minister for Health in that State, that he favoured legislation similar to that operating in the United States of America which made it mandatory for cigarette packets to carry labels warning that the contents could be harmful to health? The Minister further indicated his agreement to refer the matter to the next meeting of Commonwealth and State Health Ministers. I ask the Minister what steps the Commonwealth is prepared to take to formulate a common policy with the States to secure the necessary action on this problem.
– I have seen in the Press the comment to which the honourable senator has referred. I shall inquire of my colleague, the Minister for Health, to ascertain the answer to Senator Cohen’s question about the Commonwealth’s altitude.
(Question No. 116)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– -The Minister for Defence has provided me with the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 240)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senators questions are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senators questions are as follows: 1 and 2. There are no such arrangements.
Sponsored students are provided with scholarships and fellowships for courses of training stipulated by the recipient government, and provision is made in advance for any practical work to be undertaken concurrently with the course of study or following the completion of a degree or diploma. A Colombo Plan scholarship may be terminated if a student fails to make satisfactory progress or for other sufficient causes before the student completes the requirements for a degree or a diploma.
Private students admitted to undertake a course of study at the tertiary level in which associated practical experience is an essential part of the successful completion of that course would not be refused permission to remain to complete the prescribed course provided satisfactory progress generally was being maintained.
An application by a private student to extend his stay to obtain practical experience after completing academic studies would be considered on its merits, bearing in mind the objectives of the student programme. As a general rule an extension of stay for a reasonable period would not be refused where the additional training sought is a necessary adjunct to the course of study or where it would add to the student’s ability to make the maximum contribution to his country’s need.
(Question No. 297)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
If he was not misreported will the Minister advise:
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 301)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
In view of statements made in debate in the Senate on 30th August will the Minister advise whether the United States of America has attempted to submit, or has submitted, the Vietnam issue to the United Nations?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
The Vietnam question was inscribed on the agenda of the Security Council of the United Nations, at the request of the United States of America, on 31st January 1966. It did not prove possible for a substantial debate to take place but the President of the Council reported on 26th February 1966, that there was a degree of common feeling among many members of the Council to the effect that:
there was general and grave concern over the continuation of hostilities and a strong desire for a peaceful solution; and
a feeling that the termination of the conflict should be sought through negotiations in an appropriate forum to work out the reimplementation of the Geneva Agreements.
Consistent with its refusal to recognise United Nations competence in the Vietnam problem. North Vietnam denounced the United States initiative.
(Question No. 214)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
The original approval was based on an estimate of $ 15.460m for equipment and buildings, and for maintenance, running costs and salaries over an introductory period of 6 years. The cost estimate was based on 1960 prices and salaries. A review made in January 1966 indicated that the total cost for the introductory period would be $27.410m.
The feasibility study, based on approval for the project being obtained by mid-1960, had forecast that the Service systems would bs in operation by July 1965. However, approval was not given until February 1961, and the announcement of approval by the Minister for Defence on 19th March 1961 stated that it was expected the Service systems would be installed by 1966. Owing principally to staff shortages, delays in the provision of buildings and other facilities and to some unforeseen technical difficulties, completion of the introductory period could not be attained within 6 years of commencement of the project. The present position is that, for the Defence and Service departments, ten applications are in operation and two others are operating to a reduced degree. By June 1968 it is expected that there will be seventeen applications in operation including cataloguing, stock control, stores provisioning, service pay, service personnel administration, dockyard costing, ships’ allowances, and the control of ships refits by the programme evaluation review technique. By that time, it is now estimated that developmental costs, including equipment and buildings, will have reached $24.427m. There will then still be outstanding from the introductory stage one major application for the Navy, at present under active development, and some second priority Army projects. The estimate for completion of this outstanding work is $.430m, bringing the revised estimated total cost of the introductory stage to $24.857m.
Most of the cost increase is attributable to the maintenance and running costs and salaries for the longer introductory period and to price and salary rises over the period. There were substantial increases in cost over the original estimates for the special purpose buildings. The increase in cost of the equipment, which is all of normal commercial pattern, is of the order of 26% and has arisen from price increases and the addition of some extra items found necessary as the project developed. The armed Services EDP project was a completely new venture of imaginative concept and great magnitude. AU applications tor the introductory stage, when completed, will have entailed the design, construction, testing and bringing into effective use of about six million computer steps plus the extensive supporting networks for the capture and reporting of data to service an information base of some 3,600 millions of characters. A task of this size, according to reliable recently published performance data from overseas, could be expected to take almost twice as many man years to complete as will actually have b?en spent by the staffs of the Defence and Services EDP centres.
(Question No. 276)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
In view of the Minister’s general statement on migration upon his return to Australia recently and the follow-up field survey in other European countries not included in the Minister’s itinerary, when will a detailed statement be made to the Parliament covering the actual signing of agreements with countries visited by the Minister or his officers?
– The Minister for Immigration made a detailed statement which is reported in Hansard of Thursday, 7th September 1967 at pages 947-50. The only formal migration agreement signed by the Minister while overseas was with the British Government. It was signed in London on 6th June 1967. The new agreement covers the period to 31st May 1972, and its provisions are similar to those of the agreements that preceded it. Negotiations undertaken with other Governments are continuing. The results will be announced appropriately.
– Yesterday Senator Mulvihill asked me the following question without notice:
My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Can the Minister explain the basis of censorship which was applied to a film entered in the recent Sydney Film Festival entitled ‘The Private Right’, which was produced with the aid of the British Government National Film Corporation and which was based upon the war in Cyprus and its aftermath? In particular, since the film received an X certificate in Britain, could not any deletion applied in Australia have been limited to sexual scenes and not to other scenes which dealt with a prison interrogation sequence? Were the latter deletions based upon political considerations because of the various elements involved in this conflict? Finally, could honourable senators view this film in order to evaluate the censorship standards which have been applied in this case?
I am now able to give the following reply to the honourable senator:
Normal censorship treatment was given to all films imported for the Sydney Film Festival, including the film The Private Right’, in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 13 of the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations. After viewing the film the Film Censorship Board decided that a cut would have to be made in a prison interrogation sequence in accordance with its normal treatment of brutality and excessive violence. As the owner of the film would not agree to this cut being made, registration was refused. No political considerations were involved in the Board’s deliberations. The film has since been exported from Australia and is not now available for viewing by honourable senators.
– For the information of honourable senators I lay on the table of the Senate the following paper:
Vietnamese Elections - Report of the Australian Observer Delegation on the Presidential and Senate elections held in the Republic of Vietnam on 3rd September.
I ask for leave to make a brief statement on the same subject.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Australian observers visited Vietnam from 27th August to 16th September. Either as a group or individually they visited each of the 4 military corps areas and 12 of the country’s 44 provinces, almost entirely on inspections of their own choice. They had discussions with 6 of the 11 presidential candidates and with many candidates’ representatives as well as with province chiefs, officials and ordinary citizens. On polling day the team split up, with one member going to Hue in central Vietnam, one to Phong Dinh province in the Mekong Delta, and .-. third to the Special Capital Zone of Saigon and the neighbouring provinces of Bien Hoa and Gia Dinh. The fourth observer made an unscheduled visit to An Giang province, independently of the inspections arranged by the Vietnamese Government. In all, on election day Australian observers inspected 38 polling stations, 93 polling rooms and 9 counting places.
In the succeeding days the delegation followed the counting of votes in the Saigon national election centre, studied the complaints procedure, tested public opinion by a careful reading of the Press and by talking to ordinary citizens, and attended meetings of the transitional National Assembly when the voting results were discussed.
The report itself provides a balanced and careful assessment of the electoral processes, based on a comprehensive study of the relevant texts, thorough observance of actual voting procedures and detailed inquiry into charges of malpractice. Sections I to IV of the report make a survey of the constitutional, legal, political and social background to the elections, of the electoral campaign and of the conduct of the elections themselves as observed by the Australian delegation.
In Section V, a painstaking and objective examination is made of ‘allegations of malpractice’ by unsuccessful candidates and others. The report discusses in some detail charges of wrongful influence, wrongful voting, use of double cards, switching of voting boxes, intimidation and obstruction at the polls. The Australian observers noted some minor irregularities during the voting but found little or no evidence for these charges of malpractice. They were not able to reach final conclusions on the formal complaints lodged by defeated candidates, which are at present under study in camera by the Central Election Council. The Australian observers recognise that time and distance inevitably set limits to the personal observations and discussions on which their findings are based. At the same time they note that their collective conclusions were not markedly different from those of other foreign government observers and of many correspondents.
The main conclusions of the Australian observers are outlined in paragraph 82 of their report. In particular they concluded that the election laws had been drafted very carefully to fit Vietnamese conditions and to ensure, so far as laws can, that the elections would be genuine. Secondly, they found that the election preparations and actual voting and counting procedures had been thoroughly prepared with a system of checks at every level. Thirdly, they found that - with some exceptions - these arrangements had been properly put into practice and that the safeguards had been effective. The report continues:
We did see some minor irregularities and deficiencies. But taking everything together we concluded thai the elections were fair and free - indeed remarkably so - and that the irregularities and deficiencies were not enough, in their extent or importance to affect the general outcome of the poll.
I should also like to draw the attention of honourable senators to the final paragraph of the report:
Whatever the outcome of the transitional National Assembly’s deliberations upon the formal complaints, we feel we should not conclude our report without recording our admiration for the serious way in which the Vietnamese people approached these elections. We were much struck in this connection with their determination to make the elections a success, and their steadfastness and sense of responsibility both in registering themselves as voters and also in going to the polls - despite unfortunate memories of past elections under previous regimes, and in the face of Vietcong intimidation.
As the report indicates, the final results of the Presidential and Senate elections will only be announced when the transitional National Assembly has completed its study of the formal complaints lodged by defeated candidates and has voted on the validity and official results of the elections. The Assembly is to meet no later than 2nd October to take a final vote on these matters. The full electoral process will be completed when elections are held on 22nd October to the Lower House of the future legislature. At that point South Vietnam will for the first time enjoy fully representative institutions at every level of government from the hamlet and village councils, through the municipal and provincial councils, and up to the presidential executive and bicameral legislature elected under the terms of a constitution which was itself drafted by a directly elected Assembly. The whole process will have taken little more than 2 years and will represent a remarkable achievement for a nation at war.
The papers 1 have tabled comprise the main report of the delegation and copies of two of the appendices. The other appendices, which were too voluminous to reproduce or which had the nature of exhibits rather than of evidence, will be available for inspection on the table of the Parliamentary Library. I have arranged for the two senior members of the delegation, Sir Allen Brown and Mr Stuart Jamieson to meet the Joint Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament in order to give them further information. Speaking in the name of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) I take this opportunity to thank Sir Allen and his three colleagues for the thoroughness, care and impartiality which they have shown in the discharge of their mission, a mission involving long hours of work, frequent physical discomfort, and occasional danger. I commend the delegation’s report to honourable senators. I present the following paper:
– 1 move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present the following paper:
Housing Loans Insurance Aci - Third Annual Report of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation for the year ended 30th June 1967, together with financial statements and a report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– I move: ‘
Thai the Senate take note of the paper. 1 ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - Honourable senators have received the third edition of the Australian Senate Practice’ by the Clerk of the Senate, Mr J. R. Odgers. This work is of great value not only to the Senate but also to the Australian nation. As the President stressed in his Press statement, although this work is published as a parliamentary paper by order of the Senate, it is not strictly an official document. I believe that that enhances its value. Mr Odgers has brought to this work an entirely objective and impartial mind and the work will be of great value to all honourable senators, particularly new senators. It places on record the best of the experiences of the Australian Senate since federation. I take this opportunity on behalf of all honourable senators to congratulate Mr Odgers on this third edition, which I believe is even better than the previous two editions. Perhaps he would admit that there is nothing like experience and practice to enable one to improve as one goes. There is no question that the third edition of Australian Senate Practice’ is a work of great value. I am sure that the Senate will support me in congratulating Mr Odgers on its production.
– by leave - The Opposition joins the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty) in his congratulations to Mr Odgers on this valuable work which he has produced once again for the benefit of the Senate and the nation. I have been greatly aided by the previous two editions which have been used by all honourable senators. I only ask on behalf of us all that Mr Odgers keep on doing what he is doing, that he continue to gather material, argument and suggestions and incorporate them in yet another work in the fullness of time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - On behalf of the Clerk of the Senate, Mr Odgers, I thank the Leader of the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition for the expressions they have voiced.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 733), on motion by Senator Henty:
Thai the Senate take note of the following papers:
Civil Works Programme 1967-68;
Commonwealth Payments to or for the Slates. 1967-68;
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, for year ending 30 June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the service of the year ending 30 June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1968;
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1967;
Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics, for income year 1964-65;
National Income and Expenditure 1966-67.
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
At the end of motion add the following words: but condemns the Budget because;
it places defence costs on those least able to pay them;
lt fails to curb administrative waste and extravagance;
it defers and retrenches development projects; and <4) it allows social service and war pensioners to fall still further behind their fellow citizens’. and upon which Senator McManus had moved by way of amendment to Senator Murphy’s proposed amendment:
At end of proposed amendment add ‘: an.t the Senate is of the opinion that the Budget should be withdrawn and re-drafted to provide foi’:
increases giving justice to pensioners of ail kinds to compensate for higher living costs; and
no postal increases pending reconstitution of postal administration under a statutory authority”.
Senator HEATLEY (Queensland) [4.10 - When the debate was interrupted last night I was discussing the subject of national development, lt is almost a year to the day since I advocated in this place a policy oi planned national development in accordance with priorities defined clearly after very close investigation. I have had no reason since then to change my attitude and I have been pleased .to notice that the Government is actually putting such a policy into effect - I do not imply that this has been done at my suggestion - in the field of water conservation which is of paramount importance to this country. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) has said that the Government will make available $50m over 5 years for water conservation works.
From what I have seen of recommendations from State Governments in relation to projects which may be proceeded with, [ am sure that a policy of planned development, after priorities have been denned, is being implemented. I know that in the case of Queensland certain submissions have been made by Mr Richter, the Minister for Local Government and Conservation in that State. He said recently that the State Government had submitted a case which would warrant the allocation to Queensland of §33.6m of the $50m Commonwealth grant. He listed the various projects which had been recommended. They included the Emerald irrigation project, the Kolan project to assist sugar cane production, a project in the Bundaberg-Isis area, a project further north in the Bowen River area and another project still further north in the lower Burdekin River area. The most important part of his statement is as follows:
The Prime Minister has made ii clear that the Commonwealth funds will bc made available to schemes on their merits which will provide drought mitigation and increased primary production and which cannot be undertaken from available State funds.
The phrase ‘on their merits’ bears out the Government’s statement that the projects will be carried out in order of priority. The Queensland Minister further emphasised this aspect by saying that the State Government considered seventeen projects before selecting this group. He went on:
Selection of schemes for national finance and for implementation from State funds was made after examination of the seventeen proposals on which investigations in substantial detail were available and which would provide a total of 650,000 acres irrigated and cost over $475m.
That indicates the importance of water and what could be done in Queensland alone if we had unlimited finance. Unfortunately we have not. Therefore. I believe that the Government is following the right policy by defining the order of priorities.
– The Government has done quite a bit. If the honourable senator read some of the statements put out by the Department of National Development and recent speeches made in the Capricornia by-election campaign I think even he would be surprised. As a Queenslander I, like Senator Dittmer, would wish to see the present rate of development accelerated but. as I have said before, I cannot for the life of me see the point in putting in a dam merely for the sake of saying that a dam has been put in. Projects must be studied by the experts so that when a decision is made there can be no recrimination about a lack of investigation. I know that one of the projects listed in the Queensland Government’s recommendations was rejected on three occasions by the State Government itself because the Bureau of Agricultural Economics could not agree with the proposal.
– Which one was that?
– The Emerald project. It was returned time and again to the people investigating it and now it has been resubmitted to the Federal Government. I hope that on this occasion it will be accepted and approved. Since this Government has been in office - that is, since Australia has had stable government - one could almost say that too much has been found too quickly in the field of national resources. I attribute this to the fact that we have had a stable government which has encouraged investigation and exploration. I do not think the Commonwealth Government has any fears about whether it can handle what seems to be too much too quickly because it is controlling matters effectively.
The discoveries that have been made cover a vast field ranging from pastoral to mineral. New minerals such as nickel and rutile have been discovered and, on the pastoral side, new breeds of cattle and sheep have been developed. There has been some criticism from the Opposition about the foreign investment which has been used to develop these discoveries. Let me be parochial for a moment and turn to Queensland. Enormous deposits of coal have been opened in Queensland over the past few years and foreign investment in this field has been of tremendous importance and value to the State. Coal landed at port sells at S9 f.o.b. Of that amount, S5 is spent on the labour involved in production. I point out that the employment factor is most important in Queensland. Rail freights account for $2. another big factor so far as Queensland is concerned. In addition, the Queensland Government receives royalties.
– Is the honourable senator suggesting that S5 is the wages component of the S9?
– That is the cost of production which relates mainly to wages. I do not think Queensland is doing too badly out of that one mineral. While I am on the subject of foreign investment I should like to pay tribute to Mount Isa Mines Ltd. In the 1930s the company was almost bankrupt until foreign investment saved it. At present it is creating huge employment and helping with our overseas balances. The school that it conducts for apprentices is one of the best such schools in Australia. I do not know of any other company in Australia which spends so much money in this direction. While on the subject of the benefit that we derive in the field of education from foreign investment I should like to refer to another example, on the western side of the continent. Western Australian Petroleum Ltd states that it tries to employ as many Australian geologists as it can. Recently I asked the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) whether more money could not be spent on the training of specialists such as geologists and geophysicists who are in such short supply in the mining industry today. His answer was that we could not distinguish between one industry and another in this respect. I accept that, but it is interesting to note that two of WAPET’s geologists who graduated from the University of Western Australia have recently returned from an overseas training trip.
One of them, Mr D. N. Smith, obtained his B.Sc. degree in 1951 and the other, Mr J. W. Burdett completed an honours degree in science in 1961. They were among many Australian scientists who decided to make oil search with WAPET a career. The company’s policy, as I said, has always been to employ, wherever possible, local staff but unfortunately very few of these people have had the opportunity to be exposed to oil search activity in areas where oil has been discovered. Over recent years, to complete this gap in their training, the company has by arrangement with its overseas participating companies, assigned geologists, geophysicists and engineers overseas for periods of up to 2 years to enable them to become acquainted with the application of the latest techniques of oil search in oil field areas. Here is another example of the way in which we are benefiting by foreign investment
Criticism has been voiced in respect of foreign investment in agriculture as well as in mining. I remember that when the British Food Corporation came to central Queensland there was no outcry that foreign capital was being invested in some of the richest areas of that State. There was no objection at all. What is more, there was no shouting from the Opposition when the Corporation - in my opinion, through mismanagement - failed to make a go of the project and had to give it up. Today, when we find our American allies coming out here to invest risk capital in what has been regarded until now as third or even lower class grazing country in Queensland and making it appear successful, at least at this stage - as I am quite sure it will be - we hear from the Opposition an outcry as to why this is allowed. Let me state quite clearly that in my opinion foreign investment is absolutely essential for the development of this country, particularly the northern half of it. Not only for mining but also for agriculture and in every other respect controlled foreign investment is a must. An important element of agricultural development by foreign investors is that they will develop the land and at the end of 30 years they will have to forfeit 10% of their leases. In addition they will provide certain areas of the land, partly improved, to their employees on far better rates and terms that any State or Federal government in Australia would even consider. In this respect, too, Australia is to benefit.
Senator Murphy said that he thought that the Government had abandoned its responsibility in relation to national development. He and Senator Dittmer, who has been interjecting, might well glance at a document published by the Department of National Development showing what has been achieved in Australia since this Government came to power. The Government could not be expected at any stage to undertake fully any developmental ventures. No levelheaded person would consider that it would be expected to do this, yet this seems to be the opinion of the Opposition and what it advocates. To my way of thinking, it is the Government’s responsibility to establish roads, ports, amenities and facilities for private enterprise to come in and develop. In addition it should help with the provision of finance, for instance, through the Bankers Refinance Development Corporation. This is being done very successfully not at the cost of the taxpayer but for the benefit of the taxpayer and of the nation.
I do not think that I need cover the mining industry particularly as Senator Scott dealt with it effectively very recently. When we talk about development we should consider the scale on which it has been undertaken. It was stated in another place recently that in north western Australia $1,63 lm was being expended at present on development. In northern Australia, I think, an amount of $2,000m was being expended. Since then other agricultural projects have come on to the table and today in the West Australian’ another bauxite development is listed. I have not the latest figures but honourable senators can see how vast is the demand for capital for development in Australia. I think that the Australian Government is directing its attention in the right direction, encouraging and creating incentive for private enterprise to go in with Government assistance.
I should like to refer to what I consider to be inept and weak criticism of the Budget, particularly in the Senate. On 23rd August 1967 Senator Murphy stated:
I return to defence. The Government has failed to learn the lesson that in the modern world the security of any nation cannot be based on the acquisition of military equipment from other countries. Security depends on industrial strength and industrial strength is weakened when a country’s resources are over-committed in order to purchase military equipment from other countries. Indonesia is weak because it spends a large part of its budget on military equipment. Japan is strong because it spends very little in this way.
Senator Murphy makes a fantastic suggestion that military weaponry must be based upon internal production. This is his idea. If we wish to arm our forces with light weapons, then we can produce and equip. But I think the practice now is to supply our armed forces not just with light weapons but with the best weapons that are available. In the case of the Army we want the Redeye missile and the Carl Gustav anti-tank missile, for the Navy we want the Tartar missile, and for the Air Force we need the F111C swept wing aircraft about which there is so much controversy at the moment and which carries a tremendous number of computers. We are not able to produce these weapons in our own country. The two analogies embracing Indonesia and Japan are two grotesque distortions of fact - nothing more and nothing less. To start with, Indonesia has no industrial base. Secondly, under various treaties Japan is not allowed to have huge armed forces. So the honourable senator was far from being factual when he referred to those two countries.
On 30th August Senator Cohen said:
I want to say in conclusion that if the next generation of Australians is looking for constructive national leadership they will not get it from a government that is capable of producing a Budget as poor as this.
This generation of Australians showed at the last election what it thought of the new ideas, the new proposals, put forward by the Australian Labor Party. Because of the hallucinatory promises that were made, people were fearful that someone would be brought to mat to pay for them. The ALP has since become even more divided and less sure about its future. This is evidenced by Labor’s statements about Australia’s participation in the defence of South Vietnam. Members of the Labor Party have become even more hopelessly bogged down on this issue than they were at the time of the last election.
On 29th August Senator Keeffe made a criticism which rather surprised me. He said:
I wish to point out now the hypocrisy that has permeated the debate on two matters of urgency which have been considered recently by the Senate.
Recently the word ‘hypocrisy’ was objected to here in the Senate, but apparently it is quite acceptable. I draw attention to the attitude of the Australian Labor Party in the last week of sitting when the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) moved that several matters of national importance be discharged from the notice paper and then claimed that we should sit for a further week to discuss those matters. I think he so moved without even notifying his own Party. I can only say that when Her Majesty’s Opposition in the Senate walked out of this chamber last night it displayed nothing less than hypocrisy. It was not prepared co vote either for or against the postal charges legislation; it simply abstained from voting. I only hope that the people of Australia, particularly the voters, will decide how worthless and how hypocritical was this action.
Let me say in conclusion that this Budget exemplifies the stability of the economy and provides for further stability and balanced development. I support the Budget and oppose the amendments that have been moved.
– We are getting towards the end of the Budget debate. We have followed pretty much the same pattern that is followed in Budget debates. Over the last few years the Government has developed a system for throwing out a big scare; it has said that it would have to increase taxes and that all sorts of things would happen - scaring particularly the business community. Then when the Budget was introduced, the position proved to be not as bad as the Government said. We have got fairly used to this sort of thing over the last 15 or 16 years. But this year, because of the newspaper strike, the Government’s attempt did not go down quite so well. Its comments did not make the same impact as its comments had made in the past.
As on former occasions, everybody has attempted to name this Budget and to describe the benefits that it offers. I think that only one person has been completely honest in describing the Budget. Indeed, he is getting quite a name for honesty if not for diplomacy. I refer to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). When speaking in Melbourne, he said quite bluntly: This is a businessmen’s Budget. We did this for the businessmen and for the investors.’ He made no bones about it. And he has made no bones about other statements recently. As I said earlier, he has a name for honesty if not for diplomacy.
Quite obviously over the last couple of years the Government has been trying to avoid the financial consequences of its action in Vietnam. Last year it pushed the consequences on to the States, lt did the unforgivable thing in abdicating leadership in the field of taxation and in forcing the States to levy a form of taxation which reacts unfairly on the lower income earner. At least when we make a direct income lax charge we can drop it on the shoulders of the people in the community who are best able to bear it. But when we force the States to increase rate charges, the increase falls as heavily on the widow with children as it does on the most wealthy man living in the same suburb. The same amount of rates is levied on both properties. The same thing happens in every area where the States have power to levy taxation. This year the Government has decided to increase the charges made by the Postmaster-General’s Department. The Government has the right to review such charges from year to year, but it has not the right to charge for the services rendered more than is necessary for the running of the Department concerned.
In spite of all that Senator Heatley has said, undoubtedly the Government could have moved further into the developmental field. Instead, it has cut back expenditure on development. The Government has not taken the stand that it should have taken at this stage in our history; ii has not diverted money into northern development and development generally. What we are witnessing is natural development. We are now finding deposits of iron, bauxite and nickel in the normal course of prospecting on the pan of big companies. But the Government is saying: ‘Look at what we have done.’ One would think that the Government had created all this bauxite and iron and nickel. I repeat that the Government is not moving into the field of development when it is provided with the opportunity. Of course, this is the characteristic Liberal approach. Having voted for a Liberal-Australian Country Party coalition at the last election, the people must expect to see this kind of approach.
The Government has brought down a Budget to help the investor and the big businessman. It does not move into these northern areas where there is not a great voting power. It does not move forward in this comparatively peaceful era and display the drive and dynamism which it ought to be displaying. There is no doubt that the Government has met the cost of the war in Vietnam first by pushing part of the responsibility on to the States, then by increasing postal charges, and now by cutting back on development. As I said a moment or two ago, the Government is not displaying the initiative and drive in relation to development that it ought to be displaying.
I turn to the field of taxation and point out that the concessional deductions are graduated to help the wealthy person. I note that at long last, after a lapse of 10 years, the Government has had a look at dependants’ allowances and has decided that a wife is now worth $26 or £13 a year, or 5s a week, more than formerly. I ask any fair-minded person whether the allowances cater for men with families and responsibilities and are keeping up with the inflationary trend. Of course the answer is completely in the negative. The Government has not looked at the question of families and the inflationary trend over the last 10 years. For the Government to say that the Budget is a family one is laughable. The situation could be reached where a man did not pay any tax because of large family commitments and hospital costs. The deduction for his wife is worth nothing to him that year because it is a concessional amount. I would like to refer to figures taken from the ‘Taxation Bulletin’. A man with two children, on $80 a week, saves S24. But a man on half that salary saves only $9. That is psychology in reverse. It seems a peculiar way to alleviate the plight of people in need. The Government gives more money back to a man on a very high income than to a man on a very low income with heavy commitments. In certain years of adversity the odd situation could be reached where a man paid no taxation. The Government would say: ‘The man paying 50% more tax will receive 50% of that back for his wife. The person paying nothing will receive nothing at all.’ The Government would give such a person nothing.
The one part of the Budget that I attack particularly, the part that the Government cannot defend, is the increase in the concessional deduction for insurance. Is the Government honest in saying that people in the community who can pay $24 a week into insurance should receive the benefit of this concessional allowance? What normal person could afford that amount? The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), the investors, the businessmen, the top civil servants, the politicians and the Government Ministers may be able to afford to pay that amount, but certainly the vast majority of wage earners cannot. Perhaps it is only the big businessmen who can afford to pay $24 a week in insurance. The Government will tax the rest of the community to give them this rebate. The Government would not give a rebate to anyone who paid $2 or $3 a week to a building society or a bank for a housing loan. The Government is trying to show the people how to invest their money, lt says: ‘Unless you put money into our big financial backers, the insurance companies, the taxation proposals will not be used to assist you. We, the Government, are going to show you the way to invest your money.’ A far more sensible approach in this period of history would be to devise some way to channel this money into developmental funds. Then the Government would be reimbursing people who were putting money into developmental ventures. The result of the increase will mean more big insurance company buildings around the cities, not development in the areas where Australia ought to be developed.
The Government should say to the insurance companies: ‘We are going to help you, but you have to come to the party and give assistance to the Australian people who need assistance in the realm of housing.’ If it did so, I would have some sympathy for the Government. Over the years borrowing for housing from the insurance companies has not become easier. It has become much harder and they have grown much more pin-pricking in their attitudes. I have had two or three young men in my office recently complaining about this. If you approach an insurance company about a housing loan for a young man the answer you receive is: ‘Yes, we will have a very careful look at him and if he is pretty well insured and his family has a history with us, we will give him $10,000 but we demand that he be insured for the full amount of that $10,000.’ His repayments immediately are increased by $5 or $6, depending on his age. What risk does the company take? The moment the foundation is laid the company has a stake. If it were not paid back lc it would still have the house, which is capitalising. There is capital accretion every minute it stands on its foundations. Finally the company says: ‘You cannot use any of this money to buy a block of land. You cannot take $300 or $400 out of the $10,000.’ The company does not lend the money until the final tile is on the roof. The company says to the young man: ‘We are prepared, after examining you closely, to lend you $10,000 for 25 years, but we are not prepared to lend you the money for 25 years and 3 months. During the 3 months that the cottage is being built you must go to the money market to borrow.’ What is the rhyme or reason in this? Perhaps the aim is to drive people away from borrowing money from insurance companies. If the housing situation is becoming worse and worse, the insurance companies are causing half the difficulty. Yet the Government is prepared to help the insurance companies. The increase will result not in development in the outback of Australia, but in more big insurance company buildings in the cities. Such rebates should have been channelled towards the developmental field. The previous rebate of $16 a week was fair enough. To increase that amount is completely unnecessary. The Government does not give an estimate of how much the increase will cost in revenue. It is merely a handout to people who are good to the Government at election time. When one comes to the question of child endowment, the Budget proposals are almost amusing. The Opposition has criticised the Government for so many years, and now finally the Government has done something with which I agree. It has given an increase to the larger families. After giving the increase the Government turns around and says: ‘Look at the position of a person with 9 children/ I do not know why it did not take the analogy further and say: Look at the position of a person with 25 children. Look at all the money he will receive.’ I wonder what percentage of married couples in the community have 9 children. A rather clever journalist, writing in a’ Perth newspaper said that one good thing about the Treasurer becoming a father was that child endowment had increased. When he became a pensioner pensions might increase. I do not think the Treasurer has ambitions to have 9 children.
I would say that the greatest amount of cynicism has been displayed in the field of pensions. The Treasurer, in almost the opening remarks of his Budget Speech said:
The economy responded much as we intended. The year 1966-67 was one of strong and varied growth. On the demand side, public authority expenditure led the way. With a much better season, rural output and incomes both increased notably. Consumer spending, comprising normally about three-fifths of all expenditure, also revived. While building and construction for commerce and industry and private spending on plant and machinery tended to fall away, there was a considerable lift in dwelling construction.
For 1966-67 as a whole, gross national product rose by 9%. After making full allowance for price increases, there was an increase of between 5 and 6% in national production in real terms. This achievement was close to the best of recent years. Plainly, there must have been some good gains in productivity.
A little further on he said:
Domestically, therefore, supply and demand seem to have been pretty much in balance.
Wage rates have increased strongly: Over the year to June, minimum weekly wage rates rose by about 7%. As to prices, the consumer price index rose in the first three quarters of 1966-67 at an annual rate only a little above 2%. However, in the most recent quarter, the rise approached an annual rate of 5%.
In the first part of the Treasurer’s speech he points to prosperity and says that things are working out the way the Government wanted them to work out, that we are living in a prosperous community. In the latter part he makes lt plain that prices increased considerably during the year. The Government says to the pensioners: ‘We are living in a prosperous community. Prices have increased. Your pension cannot buy what it did 12 months ago, but the Government will not give you an increase.’ Those words when analysed are full of cynicism. In fact, this is the most cynical part of the Budget. In my view, the worst feature of this Budget is the indication it gives of the way in which the Government is neglecting development. The Government just does not seem to Be able to face up to its responsibilities in connection with the development of northern Australia. It just will not foster this development for the simple reason that there are not enough votes in the north. It is because the Government’s policies are governed by the number of votes involved that the Government favours insurance companies in Budgets such as this and ignores the need for developing the north. It is not sufficient for the Government merely to sit back and say: ‘Look at the iron ore; look at all the bauxite which has been discovered up there. What bright boys we are because this has happened.’ As I have stated previously, to hear honourable senators opposite talk, one would think that instead of being something provided by bountiful nature these rich resources were manufactured by Government.
An instance of the Government’s indifference towards development is its proposed passenger service charge on airlines. Here the Government advances the same glib theory that it has put forward with relation to the Postmaster-General’s Department and other undertakings, lt says, in effect, that the travelling public ought to be paying for the air services. But that policy is not adopted in connection with the railways; nor is it followed in undertakings such as the State Shipping Service of Western Australia. The cost of operating transport such as air services which feed the outback of Australia ought to be shared by all the Australian people. This proposal to impose a passenger service charge is just something more which will destroy the incentive for people to go into the outback where there are not roads, bridges or other surface transport facilities.
The Government’s attitude to commuter air services is interesting. I am wandering how, when we are next debating civil aviation, the Government proposes to reconcile this development with its two airlines policy. I wonder, too, how the Government can continue to refuse the proposal put forward by IPEC. Although it has said that there should be only two airlines carrying the people of Australia, it now proposes to allow the establishment of commuter services and this in turn must inevitably lead to the establishment of other air freight services.
There must obviously be a tripartite approach to northern development. There must be co-operation between the Commonwealth Government, and the Governments of Western Australia and Queensland. Proposals have been put forward by both State governments, but the Commonwealth has been fobbing them off for a long time now. The Commonwealth just must adopt a new broad thinking towards this problem. For too long now it has adopted a completely conservative attitude. It talks about developing the north but it refuses completely to recognise that there are special features connected with the development of this part of Australia. For example, the Commonwealth Government does not seem to realise that the rapid growth that we are experiencing at the moment in turn gives rise to many problems. It does not seem to appreciate that when towns are developed as fast as they are being developed in Western Australia today the State Governments have cast upon them problems relating to the provision of hospitals, roads, water supplies, schools, communications and so on. These problems are posed to the State governments because they obviously are more sensitive to them than is the Commonwealth Government. In order to meet these additional responsibilities, the State governments are forced to divert money from other avenues. This is a completely cockeyed approach to the whole matter.
The Government has been pushed to the edge on this problem several times, but each time has been able to dodge neatly away. We thought at one stage that we were getting somewhere. I refer to the time when the Labor Party said that if it were elected to government it would set up a separate ministry for northern development. The Government came half way to the party by promising to establish a northern division in the Department of National Development. After hearing that promise, the people of Australia and the Stale governments, in all decency, sat back and waited to see what the Government proposed to do. But, as usual, this promise was no more than a neat confidence trick. The Government had no intention whatever of doing anything about the matter. It was just another example of the Government’s old tactic of throwing something out and saying: ‘We will wait until this bomb disappears before we go on to the next one.’ The Government has followed this course in connection with many matters. A notable example is the Ord River scheme. This is not an undertaking that would benefit the State only. The dam would back the waters of the Ord into the Northern Territory. I do not want to adopt the narrow, parochial approach, but I remind honourable senators of the brilliant speeches made about the Ord by the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. He said that no greater things were happening anywhere in Australia than at the Ord. So the eyes of the nation were turned to this great developmental project, but the Government has neglected its responsibility. It used the Ord River scheme to further its electioneering campaign in an effort to win the Kalgoorlie seat.
From the economic point of view, I cannot understand why the Government does not proceed with a more vigorous policy for the development of northern Australia. Both Queensland and Western Australia enjoy a surplus of exports over imports as compared with the surplus of imports over exports in the more populous States of New South Wales and Victoria. Surely it is only good business to develop further the export trade from Queensland and Western Australia and so build up overseas balances. It must be obvious to everyone that without the exports from the north, the southern States would not be able to import the things that they do now.
The reason why the Government does not do more about developing the north is that this would not suit its big supporters in the cities. I venture to say that if these big city boys suddenly became interested in northern development and if the development of the north meant more votes for the Government, it would adopt a more vigorous attitude towards that development.
Only when the Commonwealth Government takes an active interest, only when it decides that it will not leave the northern areas to depend on nature for development and only when it gives the lead to the State governments concerned will we start to get anywhere with this great venture.
Senator Heatley spoke about foreign investment. I did not quite follow his point but I would like to outline briefly just where the Labor Party has stood over the years on this question. We have never said that Australia does not need foreign investment. We realise that we cannot generate within Australia the amount of capital needed to develop this land properly; but we have said that it is essential that there be some tag attached to foreign investment as is done in other countries. There are plenty of precedents for retaining some control over foreign investment. We say that it is wrong that foreigners should be allowed to exploit our mineral resources to the stage where we are left only with holes in the ground and all the wealth derived from them has been taken out of Australia. We say that partnerships ought to be established; that Australian investors, both big and small, who have pride in their country, should be given the opportunity to invest in these ventures. Unless we do this, then, should there be a recession throughout the world, we shall be no more than something just slightly above hewers of wood and drawers of water. Senator Heatley spoke about employing Australian technicians. If foreign people are controlling our activities, they will employ foreign technicians. That is only human nature. All of us would do it if we were managing a mine in America and wanted to give somebody a break. But we want to be something very much better than hewers of wood and drawers of water. This is Australia’s heritage and it ought to be protected by this Government. Let us have foreign investment by all means, but let us control it so that we shall know exactly where we are going.
Towards the end of his speech, the Treasurer asked a series of questions. Instead of asking questions he should be giving answers in his Budget. I think that even the most devout Liberal will begin to query the soundness of the Budget if he examines honestly the matters I have raised. In the last paragraph of the Budget speech, the Treasurer said: . . there are many questions we should ask. Our work force is growing and gaining in competence. Is it growing fast enough for all the tasks now crowding upon us?
We have had some very strong debates on education. I do not think anybody is satisfied with education in Australia, whether it be technical, tertiary or anything else, especially in view of the challenge that comes not only from the internal work that we will have to do but also the external work that we shall need to do in helping other countries gain their feet. We cannot help those other countries by making millions of people or countless millions of dollars available to them; but we can offer them the skills and technical knowledge of a young country if we have a sound basic education system. We can help them in those things that we can do well, such as in the building of harbours, roads and so on.
The Treasurer went on to say:
Management has a critically important task to fulfil, ls management everywhere doing the job national greatness demands?
I say that it is not and to support that I point to the number of companies which have failed in this growing and expanding country. I remind the Senate that we have had a series of failures which have robbed many small investors of their life’s savings. I point also to the jittery stock exchange. Theoretically, the big industrial companies ought to be sound investments for both big and small investors but everyone is wary of investing in them because we all have seen companies fail which had no right to fail, they went bankrupt merely because of bad management. The answer to the Treasurer’s question is that Australian management is not up to scratch as is evident when investors are allowed to lose their money in various schemes and in various businesses which had no right to go bankrupt. They will not work because we have run out of manpower at the management level in Australia. The answer is obviously no. Government supporters should be asking what the Government intends to do. That quetion is not answered in this Budget. The Treasurer asks:
Are we mobilising the capital we are accumulating and allocating it to the right uses?
I have pointed out that the Government is not putting it to the right use by giving a bonus to insurance companies and ignoring developmental projects which should be moving ahead. The Treasurer asks:
Are we sufficiently conscious of the critical necessity to control costs of production?
I thought a Liberal Government would be the last government to ask that question. The Opposition has moved motions on this subject and has pointed out how completely the Government has ignored the effects of inflation. Immediately a wage increase is granted today people say that it must be added to the cost of goods, lt is accepted that increases in costs have to go on. The Government has never stepped in to stop the cycle and to provide an incentive to the business community, so that year after year spiralling costs have resulted. When the bottom wage earner is lifted so that at least he can eat properly and have some of the ambitions of a normal person, costs have to be multiplied by X and again the cost structure is affected. The situation cries out for action and that action should have been taken in this Budget. The Government has never given a lead on the question of costs. The Treasurer went on:
The Budget will help us achieve our central aim, which is to strengthen the economy and give greater scope for private spending.
A Labor government would not follow the lead of this Government which lets things run along and says: ‘We will get by. Sure, we are going to develop at this rate.’ The Treasurer has said that the central aim is to strengthen the economy. We would ask whether it is being strengthened to its capacity. Is the Government acting while there is still time? We can never be far away from another world war. I do not want to be pessimistic but any student of the world situation today knows that the sword of Damocles hangs over our heads ready to drop at any time. The Government should be acting to develop the whole of Australia, irrespective of the location of voters. Australia will not be made great by concentrating on the cities. We have natural resources and a great people. We lack only a government to grasp the God-given opportunities. Tremendous ingredients for progress are being found by a solid and united people who take for granted the background of this country. Other countries arc bedevilled by a lack of natural resources.
We need a government with qualities of leadership that looks beyond its friends, the businessmen and investors referred to by Mr McMahon. The whole of Australia must be considered while time remains to do so. There is time still for Australia to play its obvious role in this part of the world in the years ahead.
– I wish to speak in support of the Budget and to oppose the amendments moved on behalf of the Opposition and the Australian Democratic Labor Party. It seems to me that the cardinal issue involved in this debate is the placing of emphasis, on the one hand by the Government and on the other hand by the Opposition. In the structure of the Budget the Government has suggested that the emphasis must be on the private sector. The Opposition has said that emphasis should be on the public sector. This clear division of thought is illustrated by what was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in another place. He said:
Few Budgets in recent times have so firmly drawn the line which distinguishes the approach to the development of this nation as between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. The fundamental difference between us is about the proper role of government.
The Government believes that the future progress, development and welfare of this country are to be found through emphasis on the private sector. Quite clearly we will live or perish by our productivity and productivity, in essence, will find its force, power and drive in the private sector of the community. Australia has a prosperous and stable economy because of the sweat and effort of our people in agriculture, oil winning and the production of ores and minerals, and indeed, the efforts of our manufacturing industries. So it is in the private sector primarily that employment is found for our people, where goods are produced for sale on the markets of the world. Our export trade is the key to our economic security, lt is quite true that we need a public sector, and an official public sector. They have important roles to play, but to suggest that emphasis should be placed on the public sector seems to me to be ar other enlargement of the Socialist doctrine. I see it as a sterile and dangerous philosophy to be adopted by an Opposition which aspires to be the government.
The Budget cannot properly be judged in direct ratio to payments to be made from the National Welfare Fund. That impression can be gained from the speeches that have been made here and in another place. It is to be gained from the words and form of the amendment moved by the Opposition. The Budget is our annual, national stocktaking. It is the sum of a series of proposals to draw the picture of our economic stability. The picture deals with the past, present and future. It is in fact a document which should not be taken in isolation as is done by the Opposition. It draws together all the facets of government. It is the most delicate and yet the most comprehensive instrument of management that is conceivable.
Social service benefits paid from the National Welfare Fund and repatriation benefits are important, but it is wrong to think that the economy depends entirely on such payments made by the Government. Since the Government has been in office social service benefits have been paid in justice to the community. Payments made by the Government from the National Welfare Fund will stand or fall by the efficiency of the economy. If the economy is not viable or efficient it is fruitless to produce advocacy in relation to the National Welfare Fund. The record of this Government in respect of the National Welfare Fund is a good one. It can continue to be good only so long as we maintain and develop an efficient economy. The Government has said that this can be done effectively only in the concept and practice of a free enterprise economy.
I wish to remind honourable senators of some of the aspects of the Budget a* they concern the National Welfare Fund. For instance, in the fields of repatriation and health expenditure will increase this year by $50m to a total of $l,332m. That is quite a significant part of the total Budget expenditure. It includes new benefits in the fields of family endowment and assistance to mentally retarded people and deaf pensioners. The special provision for deaf pensioners is quite new. The Budget provides added assistance for deserted wives and war orphans and also new entitlements under the defence forces retirement benefits scheme for servicemen on full time duty for between 1 year and 6 years. The permanent soldier who is eligible for a total and permanent incapacity pension will receive a defence forces retirement benefits pension of $31.50 a week in addition to his repatriation pension of $34.55. Th.it is a significant contribution in the field of repatriation.
Senator Willesee referred to education. We all know that only in very recent times has the Commonwealth entered this field. And it has done so dramatically, although there is no doubt that the States still have the constitutional responsibility in it. Acknowledging that, I believe that it is worth recording that a fourfold increase has been made in the Commonwealth contribution in 4 years. This year the contribution will be $194m, or S51m more than last year’s contribution. It is proper that in the fields of repatriation, social services and education the Commonwealth should make contributions consistent with the needs of the community. But such contributions are possible only to the extent that we have an economy of full and gainful employment and satisfactory productivity and overseas markets. If we have not such an economy the arguments that are put on these other matters must surely fall to the ground.
I wish to talk about overseas investment. It has been referred to by almost every speaker in this debate, including Senator Willesee who preceded me and Senator Heatley who preceded him. I refer to the argument that we hear time and time again from the Opposition. Senator Murphy, in his contribution to this debate, talked about the Government allowing the resources of Australia to pass into foreign hands and allowing Australia to become an economic colony. In the limited time available to me I will try to demonstrate how idle, how barren and how illogical that argument is. In the 18 years that this Government has been in power it has encouraged overseas investment not only because of the added resources that such investment will bring to Australia - they are tremendously important - but also because of the concurrent advantages in gaining technical skills of which a relatively young country such as Australia is so desperately in need. The Government will continue to encourage overseas investment. Investors have shown their confidence in the Australian economy, the Australian Government and every aspect of Australia to the extent of investment of the order of $4,500m.
We are rich in natural resources, but we are short of population. Because we are short of population we are short of capital. If Australia as a developing country is to grow faster than the supply of naturally generated savings available to it, as we all concede it must, then of necessity it must have overseas capital investment. If all of the available funds in Australia were invested there still would be a shortage of capital to do the things which we want to do, which we are doing in a hurry and which our self-preservation demands we should do. Overseas investment in Australia has created new assets. It has added to our output and our rate of growth. Very little of this capital has come to Australia purely for the purpose of acquiring existing assets and enterprises. About 75% of the assets of organisations and companies in Australia are Australian owned. Only 25% of them is represented in overseas investment. Of that 25%, 12% is from the United Kingdom, 8% from North America and the other 5% from other countries.
The present United States Ambassador to Australia made a significant point when, in dealing with the question of overseas investment in Australia, particularly from North America, he said that the practical day to day management and control of this overseas investment was in Australian hands. Only one country applies a higher percentage of its gross national income to capital investment than Australia does. That country is Japan. When we hear talk of Australia being an investment colony of other countries and talk of selling Australian assets, we should always remember that income tax takes 42i% of the profit on this investment and that the rate of tax on profits repatriated overseas after income lax has been paid is 15%. In respect of some countries the rate of tax on repatriated profits is 30%. When we remember those facts, the argument begins to look a little thin, a little shallow, a little superficial and highly political. When we take the Labor argument that investment should be in the hands of Australians to its logical conclusion, we come to the Socialist theory of the conscription of capital and then to the theory of bank credit.
– And the conscription of labour.
– Yes, the conscription of labour and all the other theories which 1 suggest are completely anathema to the Australian philosophy, certainly to the philosophy that this Government practises and to everything in which the individual Australian believes. Quite frankly, the arguments that have been advanced in relation to the investment of overseas capital are quite spurious and sterile. They are in absolute contradiction of and fly in the face of the tremendous success story of the development of Australia over a short period by Australian capital in collaboration with overseas capital.
I propose now to deal with a few isolated cases to point up the arguments that are exercising our minds this afternoon. Australia is rich beyond our dreams in undeveloped natural resources, but until those resources are developed with risk capital, and of necessity it would have to be risk capital, they are of very little value to us. Perhaps I could describe this situation in a couple of ways. I am reminded of the story of the man who was walking across the Sahara Desert in a sandstorm. He was at least 1,000 miles from the nearest habitation and he carried with him two buckets of diamonds. Those diamonds were not worth anything to him - they were completely valueless. He would have been much richer if he had had two buckets of water. That is the sort of situation in which we find ourselves while we have this great wealth of minerals and oil in the ground but do nothing about developing them. If we accept the argument advanced by the Labor Party in its resistance to overseas investment we reach that point.
Perhaps we should think also of the story of the talents. As I remember the story a master who was going away gave his three servants talents. To the first servant he gave five talents, to the second he gave two talents, and to the third he gave one talent. On his return he called upon his servants to account for their stewardship. The servant who had been given five talents said that he now had ten talents and he received high praise from his master. The second servant who also had doubled his number of talents also received high praise from his master. But the third servant’ had buried bis talent and left it In the ground. He was regarded as a slothful servant and was cast into darkness where there was weeping and the gnashing of teeth. This seems to be the philosophy of the Labor Party which proposes that we should not develop this country until such time as we can do it with our own resources. If it proposes to leave all this great wealth lying undeveloped in the ground, surely in the eyes of the Australian public it will be regarded as a slothful servant. If we are going to survive as a nation of 12 million people in a very troublesome world we must have employment for our people. To provide this employment we must have overseas investment, and to encourage overseas investment we must have productivity. We will not have these things if we are prepared to say perhaps we have bauxite, perhaps we have iron ore and perhaps we have oil but we are not prepared to develop those deposits until such time as we have the resources within Australia to do so. I make the point that overseas investment has been wonderful for Australia under the guiding hand of this Government.
Let us consider quickly the story of oil. At present we need to import $2 13m worth of crude oil and $18m worth of refined oil each year, that is, we are paying out $23 lm each year to overseas interests for the oil that we import. In 1957 the Government provided subsidies under the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act for geophysical surveys and exploration and this encouraged risk capital to come to Australia to make the search. This favourable Government attitude has induced overseas companies to come to Australia to search for oil. Surely nobody would suggest that we could have made such progress or spent so much money on exploration if we had been left to our own resources. What we have achieved has been brought about by the encouragement given by this Government. The result is that S369m has now been spent on the search for oil. Of this amount $293m has been provided by investment capital. Oil and gas are now being found in Australia. Hardly a month or even a day goes by without some new prospect of a find being announced. It has been estimated that we are now providing 10% of our crude oil requirements. It is conceivable and it has be;n predicted that by the middle 1970s, as a result of the conscious act by this
Government, we may well be in the position of not having to pay anything to overseas interests for oil but will be able to provide crude oil from within Australia.
I turn now to developments at Hamersley Range where overseas investment has been introduced by private enterprise. There has been a capital investment of $76m in Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd and the annual production capacity of ore exceeds 1,000,000 tons and the production of processed ore exceeds 2,000,000 tons. On present planning the company will reach its full export capacity by March 1968. The Hammersley company is owned to the extent of 60% by Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia Ltd and to the extent of 40% by Kaiser Steel Corp. of the United States of America, but Australian shareholders own 14% of Conzinc Rio Tinto. By 1970 employment at Hamersley will have reached and steadied at about 340 people at the mine and 670 people at the port, making a total employment of more than 1,000 people. Is anybody going to suggest that the tremendous new development at Mount Tom Price and Dampier is not in the very best interests of Australia? It is true that overseas investment is involved, but is anybody going to suggest that what Australia will earn in overseas balances, what we will achieve by providing living areas in the north-west of Western Australia and what we will achieve by being able to develop Western Australia beyond our dreams because of these developments is not a good thing, even if overseas investment is involved? Nobody would be prepared to say that. But still we hear these glib arguments about overseas investment and suggestions that we are allowing Australia to become a colony for overseas investments.
I now turn to the aluminium industry at Gladstone in Queensland where there has been a capital investment of $115m. The designed production capacity provides for an initial annual rate of 60U.000 long tons, a rate which was begun in March. The planned expansion of the plant will enable a production of 900,000 tons. The export earnings for Australia will be $25m, based on the value of approximately 500,000 tons of alumina. In this instance we have the consortium of Kaiser Aluminium and Chemical Co. of the United States of America owning 52%, Alcan
Aluminium Ltd of Canada owning 20%, a French company owning 20% and Conzinc Rio Tinto owning 8%. Does anybody suggest that what has happened in Gladstone is bad for Australia?
– It is good for Gladstone.
– It is wonderful for Australia and it is more than wonderful for Gladstone. It has provided employment for our people in that area and the township of Weipa has been created out of nothing. But this aluminium is being produced in Australia mainly because of overseas investment in Australia. I suggest that consequent upon that investment there will be development and employment in the area. There will be new housing and improved water supplies, and employment at the plant for staff. This industry is associated with the coal which is to be found in the hinterland behind Gladstone and it will require the production of 250,000 tons of Queensland coal per annum.
Those are some of the things that are happening in Australia which could never have happened if we had had to depend on our own financial resources. We are providing employment for our people; we are establishing a situation in which Australia will be strong and be able to encourage more people to come here, and we are giving Australia a degree of security that it has never enjoyed before.
New let me turn to the other end of the continent - the Savage River in Tasmania. Total capital investment in the Savage River iron ore project is $27m and the annual designed production capacity is 2,250,000 tons. It is expected that exports will commence late in 1967. The Tasmanian lease will be for 30 years and the State will receive a royalty of 15c for each gross ton shipped. There is an overriding royalty of approximately 56c. I have been to the Savage River and no doubt Tasmanian senators have been there also. Here is a project which would not have been conceivable for a very long time if it were a matter of development by Australia alone. In fact the project was looked at a long time ago, and because of the low grade of material available, it was considered an uneconomic proposition to mine it. The Northwest Iron Co. Ltd, which comprises three international corporations, has a 50% interest in the pro ject and the Dahlia Mining Co. Ltd, a Japanese organisation has the other 50% interest. There is an arrangement whereby Australian capital will be brought into the project during construction. More than 1,000 people will be employed and when the project is completed there will be a new community of over 500 people at the site. Another new community will be established at the sea port.
I have mentioned some of the things that are happening in Australia. I could talk about General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd and about a dozen other developments in the manufacturing field where overseas investment is providing great opportunities for Australia which would not have been open to us in other circumstances.
– Even in the field of agriculture.
– That is right. Senator Heatley dealt with the agricultural side very effectively. It should never be forgotten that Australia shares in the profits made by these companies and in this regard I have already mentioned the taxation aspect. Neither should it be forgotten that in every undertaking there is employment, security and housing for our people and the development of areas in otherwise undeveloped parts of the continent. We are establishing a climate in which our great migration programme will be able to continue. All these things are being done by a government under the umbrella of a political philosophy of free enterprise. That must be weighed against the philosophy of the Opposition which believes that the emphasis should be placed on government; that government should do everything from its own resources. That flies in the face of history. It is completely foreign to the character, approach and mentality of the Australian community.
In this Budget the emphasis has been placed on the private sector. I picked up one of the major newspapers yesterday which reported that secondary exports had risen by 21%. The climate in Australia is one of security and progress. Within that framework the Government is providing from the National Welfare Fund all those benefits which the country can afford to provide and which in justice should be provided. I believe that this Budget should receive the support of every honourable senator in this chamber. It is paradoxical that the Labor Party, which professes to have the interests of the working community at heart, should expound and propound a philosophy which operates against the working community. The achievements of this Government which I have listed provide the work, comfort and security that the working community needs. It is paradoxical that the Opposition should advance an argument which flies in the teeth of the interests of the working community.
For those reasons I believe this Budget should be supported. The Government has produced a good Budget; a Budget which will provide security, prosperity and full employment for our people. When the vote is taken on the amendments which have been proposed I hope that all honourable senators will recognise the point of view that I have put on behalf of the Government.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) because I believe that it puts the Budget debate on a solid foundation. I was rather interested to hear Senator Anderson refer to national development. It was most noticeable that he made very little, if any, mention of northern development. One would have expected him to pay some attention to that aspect in view of the fact that there will be a by-election in Queensland in the very near future.
– He mentioned Gladstone.
– That was the only reference he made to Queensland. Probably he does not want to make the same error in relation to Capricornia as the Treasurer, Mr McMahon, made in his hit and run attack on the Labor candidate in the election. Senator Anderson was very careful to keep off that particularly slippery wicket.
The Minister also mentioned the Savage River project. I admit that that is a good thing for Tasmania but I make the point very strongly that if it had not been for the pressure brought to bear on the Federal Government by the Reece Labor Government in Tasmania the Federal Government would not have interested itself in the project. Admittedly, the Commonwealth
Government has made money available and has assisted the State Government in the development of the project. Nevertheless all credit must go to the Reece Labor Government.
I listened to the Budget speech with a great deal of interest. It was the eleventh Budget I had seen introduced into this Parliament. Without any shadow of doubt I believe that it was the worst of the eleven, because previous budgets gave some benefits and concessions. This Budget contained very few benefits and very few concessions. Admittedly there are one or two minor concessions but they do not assist the family man or the pensioner to any extent. The Government stands condemned for its callous disregard of the requirements of pensioners in the field of social services. The Government is allowing the living standards of pensioners to be reduced almost beyond the point of endurance. One can only form that opinion from the protests that have come from pensioner organisations right throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth since the Budget was introduced. I would go so far as to say that the Government’s attitude can be regarded as almost a criminal approach to pensioners.
As a result of the Budget the Government and the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) have lost considerable popularity. Only a very short time ago a gallup poll revealed that the leader of the Australian Labor Party had gained in popularity to a greater extent than the Prime Minister. This was recognised by the Liberal Party when it met in Canberra recently. It was made known per medium of the Press that the President of the Liberal Party, because of the Government’s loss of popularity, wanted the Government to defer the Senate election until some time early next year. Naturally, the Prime Minister came out and stated that he would fix the date. The Federal President of the Liberal Party had put Mr Holt in a cleft stick. If Mr Holt had agreed to defer the election until early next year he could have been charged with accepting outside influence. He did not want to be accused of this. Why? Because acceptance of outside directions is a stock-in-trade accusation made by the Government against the Australian Labor Party.
In my opinion this is the worst Budget that has been presented to the Parliament since I have been a member of it. It was pretty well summed up by the Hobart Mercury’, under the heading ‘Uninspiring Budget’, in its editorial of 16th August 1967 in these terms:
The Federal Budget, the second Mr McMahon has brought down as Federal Treasurer, is uninspiring and appears as the work of a tired Government which ran out of ideas years ago and is perfectly happy about it all. That Mr McMahon referred to it in advance as a ‘good Budget’ confirms the impression; the highest praise it deserves from even strong Government supporters is that it is not bad. lt is not bad insofar as it does not increase taxation, that is, taxation according to the Government definition. In tact, the rise in Post Office charges means that taxpayers will pay another $64m a year to meet, costs of capital works which have already been paid for. Mr McMahon refuses to view this as taxation: the public will see it otherwise.
Under a sub-heading ‘Few Benefits’ the editorial continues:
But the family taxpayer might rightly have expected more. He pays direct taxes for himself and all the indirect ones for himself and his family. And Mr McMahon admitted that it is 10 years since family allowances were increased. Yet the best he can do is to allow a miserable extra $26 a year, exactly the same amount that Sir Arthur Fadden allowed in 1957-58. in spite of the greatly changed value of money in the meantime.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– The pensioners have been treated in a cavalier manner in this Budget. Many pensioner organisations in Tasmania and on the mainland have approached members of the Federal Parliament about the matter. Some of the organisations in Tasmania have seen fit to forward a circular to business houses in Hobart and its suburbs requesting store.ke:pers to make some concessions to pensioners in the price of foodstuffs. It will be recalled that some time ago quite some prominence was given in the Press to the fact that pensioners proposed to wear black armbands bearing the words ‘Give us this day our daily bread*. The editorial in the Mercury’ of 16th August further stated:
By now pensioners must be so used to taking crumbs from Hie rich man’s table that some of them will be pleased to know that in future they can earn an extra SI26 a year without reducing their pension, if they are capable of work and can find it.
The newspaper made a very pertinent point in the final clause. This extra benefit will not extend to invalid pensioners, because to qualify for a pension they must be incapacitated. It would be almost impossible for age pensioners 70 years of age and over to obtain work. So the extra allowance of $126 a year can be disregarded in the case of pensioners in that group.
From time to time consideration has been given to the abolition of the means test. At its recent conference in Adelaide the Australian Labor Party affirmed its policy to abolish the means test within a particular period. If certain countries which have abolished the means test applicable to their social services schemes can afford to do so, there is no reason why the means test cannot be abolished in Australia. To varying degrees moves have been made to abolish the means test in Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and even the United States of America.
One of the aspects of our social service legislation which has given me a considerable amount of concern over the past few years is the absence of worthwhile provision for unmarried mothers. 1 have taken this up with the Department of Social Services. Certainly a small sum is payable prior to confinement, a small amount of assistance is available after confinement for a short period, and child endowment is available. I claim the indulgence of the Senate to read a letter from Mrs Lucie C. Barnes, who is the Honorary Secretary of the Australian Woman’s Charter in Sydney. She has written to the Australian Labor Party in the following terms:
I would like to draw your attention to some of the difficulties experienced by unwed mothers who wish to rear their baby.
Judging from the people with whom our organisation has had contact there seems to be two outstanding problems, the financial and the personal.
To take the financial position: - The Federal Government will provide approximately $18 a fortnight from six weeks prior to the birth until six weeks after birth, then the Stale takes over and pays a similar amount with some milk and food allowance. From what I have been able to find out, never quite enough food to be sufficient. Incidental handouts from the Slate Welfare are important but not enough to assure security for a girl without a home and parents to make up the difference. we have been informed, by those in a position to know, that the girl who surrenders her child or loses it in some other way is more likely to become pregnant as compared with the girl who accepts her responsibility and grows with the child.
Since the incidence of the unwed mother and her child Ls assuming an increasing importance in the community, members of the Australian Woman’s Charter think that there should be a fresh approach to our attitudes.
We claim that every effort should be made to make these girls secure, financially, and by attention from trained Social Workers helped to develop into mothers who can give their child the attention that it needs.
I now wish to bring to the notice of the Senate a very sad case which I had to deal wilh recently. A woman had the misfortune to lose her husband, who was the breadwinner for the family. There was one child of the marriage. After the death of her husband this woman became associated with a man who she thought was single. She lived with him and became pregnant. Some time after becoming pregnant she found that he was a married man with six children. She bore a child to this man. When the child of her earlier marriage reached the age of 16 years she ceased to receive a class A widow’s pension and was paid a class B widow’s pension. The social service assistance to this woman was reduced considerably. She has a 12-year old child attending high school. Parents know that quite an amount of money is required to keep a 12-year old child at high school. 1 bring the matter to the notice of the Government because I believe that the social service provisions should assist in some way or other the people in this category. In addition to having a child to keep this woman is very sick, having had four or five major operations. She has been faced with very high medical costs over a period of time. I do not know how she will keep going and manage to care for her child.
One thing that probably could bc said in favour of the Budget concerns the hearing aid service which will be made available to pensioners. 1 have advocated this service for quite a number of years in this Parliament. Whilst I appreciate that on this occasion the Government has seen fit to include some provision for hearing aids for pensioners who need them, the legislation in my opinion does not go far enough. On a number of occasions I have pointed to the high cost of the aids which pensioners may need, particularly artificial limbs and wheelchairs. A wheelchair is one of the most expensive artificial aids that one can imagine. I have advocated - and I still put forward my views on this - that the Government should set up a factory to manufacture these aids and make them available to pensioners on a loan basis. In Tasmania today only one factory manufactures artificial limbs. That factory is operated by the Repatriation Department. Ex-servicemen must be given priority for the artificial limbs manufactured by the factory. 1 have no argument with that. An ex-serviceman is entitled to an artificial limb if he needs one. By the same token I cannot understand why the Government has not extended the factory so that it can provide more artificial limbs for the people of Tasmania. If that condition applies in Tasmania it roust also apply in the other States. The cost of artificial limbs is very high. Again I direct the matter to the notice of the Govermnment.
I deal now with another aspect of social service benefits, and that is telephones for the blind. The Labor Party has received correspondence on the matter asking it to request rental free telephones for blind people. Time and again many speakers in this place have pointed out that very often a telephone is the only means of communication which blind people have with the outside world. Again I bring the matter to the notice of the Government and hope that at some future date rental free telephones will be provided for blind people.
One other matter to which I wish to refer is that of dependants allowances referred to in the Budget. The allowances have remained unchanged for quite a number of years. The permissible deduction is to be increased by $26 per year, or slightly more than $2 per calendar month. When one takes into consideration increased wages and costs, the increase of $26 per year is insufficient. The Government, in its attitude to this particular problem, has written down the wife of every married taxpayer throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. If the allowable income tax deduction in respect of a wife can be increased by only $26 per year I believe that the Government has placed a very low value on wives in the community.
One other aspect of the Budget to which I wish to refer is the increase in the permissible deduction for life insurance and superannuation. For many years the ceiling was S800 a year. Now it will be lifted to $1,200 a year, or approximately $23 a week. It would be utterly impossible for the ordinary working man to pay an amount of S23 a week for superannuation or life insurance. Therefore the increase in the permissible deduction will mean that only top executives and members of Parliament will benefit. Probably one of the reasons why the Government has been prompted to lift the ceiling on life insurance and superannuation is the penalty which has been imposed on members of Parliament. We are well aware of the situation. We know perfectly well that, as members of Parliament, we pay over $800 a year into the retirement fund. Those members who have insurance policies as well do not receive a rebate in respect of the insurance premiums because under the taxation legislation only $800 is allowed. I wonder - and I put forward the thought - if that is one of the reasons why the Government has seen fit on this occasion to lift the permissible amount.
My time is fast slipping away but there is one other matter with which I have interested myself over a considerable period of time. That matter is the establishment of government offices in Hobart. Honourable senators will recall that in 1947 a committee was set up to inquire into ways and means of purchasing property in Hobart for building a Commonwealth office block. That property was held by the Government until quite recently when the Government decided in its wisdom to dispose of it. In answer to a question asked on 19th May last, the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) told me that the Government was paying S247.733 a year in rent for premises occupied by Commonwealth offices in Hobart, lt is rather significant that in almost every insurance office building in Hobart some space has been rented to the Commonwealth Government for office purposes. This makes one wonder whether the Government has been pressurised by the insurance companies to take space in their buildings. Unfortunately, my time is up. I would have liked to pursue this matter further, but I conclude as I began by saying that I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
Debate (on motion by Senator Davidson) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 128), on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Senate take note of the following paper:
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - There being no objection, this course will be followed.
– We have interrupted the debate on the Budget papers to deal with two items that have been on the business paper for some time. I suggest that in this fast moving world it would be a tremendous help if ministerial statements such as these were debated much closer to the time when they are made. I appreciate the difficulties experienced by the Leader of the Government in arranging the business of the Senate, nevertheless I throw that suggestion out to him. To debate statements soon after they are made would be to debate them when they were still topical. This would be of advantage for I think all will agree that in this strange old world of today, if debates are left for very long we find ourselves debating matters which are no longer topical.
In one of his statements the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) mentioned the withdrawal of the British from east of Suez. I do not think any Australian or anybody else who is interested in this problem and who realises the vital interest Australia has in the Asian area can fail to have his thinking moulded in some way by the prospect of Britain’s moving out of localities in which the stationing of British troops has been traditional. But there is nothing new in this. We have been expecting this action by Britain for a long time now. We have had ample forewarning of it. It is rather remarkable really that we have another 8 years in which to adjust ourselves to Britain’s withdrawal from the area. I can only urge upon the Government the
Importance of making use of every day of those 8 years in adjusting ourselves to the new position because of the great stakes for which we are playing in this area.
Britain’s moving out is not hard to understand from the economic point of view alone. In her last Budget, she made provision for defence expenditure equivalent to SUS5.6 billion and the defence experts advised that even this amount would be inadequate to equip forces merely for the holding commitments which Britain has throughout the world today. When we take this into consideration together with all the other problems with which Britain has been confronted since the end of the last war, her withdrawal is not hard to understand. Indeed, it is a wonder to me that the phasing operation is to take 8 years, especially when 1 remember that Britain is turning her eyes towards the European Common Market. Being a European country, it is only natural that Britain should seek to do this. Nobody would imagine that she would never apply to join the European Common Market. So surely no-one would believe that in the year 2000 Britain would still be maintaining forces in countries so far from her own shores as Malaysia.
Why does Britain find herself in this position? Clearly she has been caught up in the fast moving times. Britain is not economically self sufficient. It is estimated that about half of her food, raw materials and manufactured goods are imported. Her overseas investments bring in about half of her income. Because of this dependence the greatest threat to Britain during the First World War was the U-boat. Probably during the Second World War it was an equally great threat, although the bombing posed an immense problem on that occasion. Britain’s vulnerability to U-boat attack stemmed from the commitments she had built up all over the world over the centuries. To put it bluntly British troops have been stationed in various parts of the world to protect British investment. But because of the changes that have taken place in the world since the last war, she is finding these commitments extremely heavy. Her investments today are being eroded or dissipated not so much by frontal attacks as by revolution. Changing ideologies are the main cause of losses to British investors. Although most of the controversy over Communist revolutions and takeovers rages in the United States of America, in fact Britain has as much if not more interest in these matters. With the changing times, and with this new type of takeover, one has to consider just what is the value of having troops in any particular area. Certainly they have not the value today that they had when we were threatened by frontal attacks. Whereas, once they were very valuable in a head-on collision wilh another army, today they are being outflanked by ideologies. Because of these realities and particularly because of the tremendous economic burden involved Britain is withdrawing from this vital area and Australia will have to play a very much more prominent part, not in the military sense, bin diplomatically and by way of aid. We must learn to live with the peoples of Asia and to understand them. I do not say that when the 8-year phasing out period has ended we shall have to step in and fill the vacuum - as some people would say. But we certainly will have to play a very much greater part in that area where we already have our own troops stationed. This will give rise to all sorts of questions. One is the future of the great Singapore base. We certainly will not be able to make the contribution to that base which the British have made over the years. Although we lost much of our confidence in the base in 1942, we are advised that it still can be very important, not in an all-out nuclear war but in the brushfire type of wars that have been occurring over the years. I refer not so much to great wars with a nuclear background, but to the brushfire wars that we have become accustomed to in the last few years. Australians must cast their mind forward and ask whether to some extent the Singapore base is doing today what Australia might have to do in the future from her own shores. Obviously the north west or south west coast of Australia must be considered in this respect. I do not say that the possibility is imminent. It could arise in a year or two. It is a matter to be considered when these problems are faced up to and examined in discussions on papers such as those before the Senate tonight.
In the event of an attack upon Australia naturally an enemy would want to knock out a base. We have to decide whether the establishment of a base is politically desirable and then to choose an area with the social, economic and industrial requirements to back up a great naval base, as is done in other parts of the world. The effect of British withdrawal is a tremendous weakening of Singapore’s economy. It is to be seen whether Singapore can make the adjustments necessary over the next 8 years. The naval base is of great economic value to Singapore. It would not be possible to return to England so many working people and their families without making a great difference to a small island like Singapore with a population of about 1£ million people. I believe that the base will be weakened by the tremendous withdrawal. It will not be the type of base we have been used to; I doubt that it will be an efficient base. Only time will tell.
Cognisance must be taken of Singapore’s position in this area in which Australia is so completely involved. Many people eulogised the formation of Malaysia but very few of them deplored its break-up when Singapore left the Federation. Singapore without Malaysia is completely ridiculous. Malaysia composed of Sabah, Sarawak and the Malay States is not a federation in the way that it ought to be. When Malaysia was composed of Singapore and the old Malay States it was a perfect economic and geographic unit. One of the great ports of the world was attached to a fairly wealthy hinterland. For economic and geographic reasons it was obvious that Singapore and the Malacca Straits ought to be joined to Malaysia. Now Malaysia and Singapore have parted in bitterness and Malaysia for economic reasons will want to develop its own ports. This will strike at the very strength of Singapore, with its great entrepot trade supported by its wonderful harbour and its attachment to the hinterland. There is no doubt that Singapore will bc weakened because it is virtually a metropolis and has no natural resources. Even the drinking water of the people of Singapore comes to them across the Causeway.
Sabah and Sarawak were never at any time much more than appendages. Before they joined the Federation they did a lot of soul searching. They joined because of the presence of Singapore and the obvious trade advantage and the help they could get from Singapore while it was in the Federation. Grants of money were made to help the development of the smaller partners. On the level of diplomacy and external affairs the lesson Australia must learn is that a situation cannot be altered and everything fixed simply by setting up a federation. A federal system works in Australia and Canada, but in Canada and to some degree in our own arrangements we encounter enough friction, although we do not get to the point of breaking up. It is no answer just to bring together into a federation all sorts of diverse people. There are lessons to be learned from Indonesia and Malaysia. It is not sufficient for Britain to move out and say: ‘Let us have a federation. Let us put all these people together. We can walk out quietly and everything will go along smoothly.’ That is the lesson we must learn. In the Asian area we as Australians on an official level have to take a very much greater interest to make sure that these babies are not left on our doorstep when they start to cry and their mothers move off. A pattern has been established in these break-ups. A form of agreement is drawn up to paper over the cracks in the walls. They say that everything will be all right. I remind honourable senators of the Geneva Agreement in Vietnam, the agreement between India and Pakistan, the West Irian agreement and the separation agreement between Singapore and Malaysia.
At the time of the separation of Singapore from Malaysia a lot of pious resolutions were made about how they were to get on together. It seemed to me that they were saying they would do precisely the things that they could not do while they had a federal government and co-operation; while they were one political entity. They broke up in bitterness and disappointment and said they would then do the things they could not do as a federation. The separation agreement was obviously weak and served only to exacerbate the situation. It has not helped at all. I believe that the situation in the Asian area has been lightly glossed over. Obviously the first fall of Singapore was a tragedy. We have to watch very carefully that the second fall of Singapore - its placing outside the Malaysian Federation - does not also develop into a tragedy in years to come.
I have stated some of the problems over which my mind has roved when examining the two statements before the Senate tonight. I have asked myself why these countries broke up. They seemed to have so much to gain and so very little to lose by joining together, yet they broke up. There was a clash of strong political personalities. Two personalities clashed because they did not understand one another sufficiently. They did not sufficiently understand each other’s racial characteristics. They certainly did not get around to a sufficient examination of one another’s problems to enable the Federation to work. Whatever political satisfaction was gained by the participants, the economic damage has been weakening to all of the countries involved. As I have said, Sabah and Sarawak joined after a lot of heart burning. They came in because of Singapore but now find themselves linked to a country with which, so far as I can see, there is not a great deal of common thought, on economics or anything else. The political side would have been bad enough, but obviously a move should have been made towards a common market in this area. There should not be this breakup. These people should be getting together in an attempt to emulate some of the brilliant performances of the European Common Market. Instead, there is a complete worsening of the situation. The problem is multiplied in a very sensitive area in which it is clear Australia has a big interest.
There is one bright spot. Almost coincidentally Indonesia was reborn so that on the economic front a country of about 105 million people is moving away - not for economic reasons but for political reasons - from trade with Communist countries. Naturally, Indonesia will look to Singapore. From one part of Indonesia the lights of Singapore can be seen. The rebirth of Indonesia is one of the bright gleams on an otherwise dark horizon. Indonesia involves another great study that Australia must make in the near future. Indonesia’s economic situation is akin to that of a country which has just come through a terrible war, but a country emerging from a war and starting to rebuild has an asset that Indonesia lacks. I refer to the singlemindedness and drive of the people to put their country back on its feet. Indonesia has not the good side of this situation; it has all of the bad side of it. Its terrible economic situation had been suspected for many years, but because of the flamboyance and extreme political activities of the Sukarno Government the situation was not disclosed and proper assessments and surveys of it were not able to be made either within Indonesia or by outside observers. Now the world knows about it, but we do not know the extent of the problem. Where the solution of it lies is even less clear. There are some signs of the way in which the Indonesians are approaching the solution of their problem, such as the rescheduling of the repayment of debts. Other countries are taking a very sober look at it.
The only consistent fact that arose out of Sukarno’s irresponsibility was inflation. It was consistent and brilliant in that it was uncontrolled and meteoric. The situation was very peculiar. Generally when a coup occurs in a country the chain snaps very suddenly. Generally the regime is defeated and, for good or evil, there is a very rapid change in the administration. But in Indonesia there was a counter-coup and it was the reigning people who finally threw out the people who started the coup. So there was not a sudden change. After the coup, because of the brilliance of Sukarno, the great, almost mystical, grip that he had on a large section of the Indonesian people, and perhaps because of the Indonesian temperament, it was 18 months before the end of the first phase was reached and there was some sanity in the administration and other countries started to come to the party. Even then no high priority was given to economics.
Political decisions had to be made before other countries started to get back their confidence in Indonesia. One step that was taken was the rescheduling of the payment of debts which were pressing down very quickly on the administration. The terrible economic situation was perhaps the third thing that Indonesia was able to look at. Now at long last the situation is being dealt with. At long last the Indonesians have given away government by slogans and are starting to get some sanity into correcting a situation that will be very difficult to correct. I have looked at some figures. They are probably not as accurate as they might be. They show that Indonesia owes $US2.400m to overseas people. It was forecast that its foreign exchange earnings would cover only half of its requirements for imports and debt servicing. Because of falling imports and the rundown state of the economy, it is estimated that the industrial capacity of Indonesia has fallen to as low as 20%. It is almost unbelievable. The transport system is rundown. Laws are not being respected. People are getting around regulations because that is the way they have been trained to live.
Inflation, both in degree and pace, is unbelievable. It is estimated that in 1965 prices rose by 500%. The price of rice, the staple food, rose by 900% . Some people put that figure at 1,000%. In 1966 there was further inflation of the order of 1,000% on top of the 500% in 1965. The price of rice continued to rise. The budget estimates for 1966 were that revenue would be nine billion rupiahs and that expenditure would be twenty-one billion rupiahs. In such a situation money loses most of its significance. The rice and clothing ration becomes far more important than money. Another twist of the wheel is that there is always a demand to keep up rice supplies, even if they have to be imported, because rice has become part of the reward system. On the employment and industrial side, again the picture is confused. At one stage two and a half million people were unemployed. Many people are underemployed. The civil service is probably 30% overstaffed. In the country areas many people are not fully employed. They are working at about half pace and working for only a few hours a day.
However, the interesting point - this is a terrible indictment of the world, particularly of the Asian area - is that despite all these things Indonesians are still better off than Indians. Although the Indonesian economy, which should be a very wealthy economy, is run down, at least the Indonesian people are not starving to the extent that Indians are. Because of the rich Indonesian soil and the village economy and life, many people are able to eat or to maintain some sort of subsistence level, instead of starving as the Indians are doing. The Indians are finding very great difficulty in doing very much about their situation.
– A good deal of the Indian situation is due to misuse of resources.
– I do not want to be involved in an examination of the Indian situation, as my time is running out. What Senator Cormack says is partially true, but the situations are vastly different, with about 400 million people in a fairly poor country in India and about 105 million people in a very wealthy country in Indonesia. I do not think a comparison can be made on that basis. Although people may say that Australia has its own problems, obviously Australia is on the verge of moving into this situation. It is one that we cannot ignore. Many things have been listed which need doing and in which Australia could help. Roads have to be built and rebuilt. Railways have to be rehabilitated. Harbour facilities have to be provided. The oceans around the harbours have to be chartered. I suggest that these are types of work that Australia can do well. These are the types of aid that Australia will have to give to a country such as Indonesia. I do not think it is sufficient to say that we will give a few million dollars here and there. This aid has to be very well planned, very earnest and prolonged.
The killings that occurred in Indonesia were dreadful and regrettable. After the first night, when the generals were murdered, people went on the rampage. Goodness knows how many thousands or hundreds of thousands of people were killed. But however dreadful and regrettable the killings were, the fact is that this is our second chance in AustralianIndonesian relations. We did not handle our first chance as well as it might have been handled. I have never given great credit to this Government for almost ignoring Indonesia in the period from 1950 onwards. During that period relations between the two countries became badly run down. This is our second chance and we must not muff it. We have a grand and glorious opportunity to work with our neighbour to establish a lasting friendship.
Indonesia is a very great country. Do not let us make any mistake about that. In terms of population it is the fifth largest country in the world. It has 105 million people. It is probably the third most naturally wealthy country. Any country of its dimensions and with its potential, if given a chance, will be a great country. It is our nearest neighbour. We must remember that we will remain in this area. The British will go. The Americans finally will go when they can extricate themselves from this area. They will not come back, except under tremendous pressure. They are taking enough abuse because of the way the world is moving. I hesitate to use the word ‘neo-colonialism’, but it is one of the epithets that are hurled at people who come to the countries of other people. Australia will remain in this area. Prom Pakistan across to Hong Kong there are more trouble spots than there are nontrouble spots. The picture in this area is not a very pretty one, but it is one with which we have to live and to which we have to face up.
I believe that Australia has a very special role. Our special role is to avoid debacles such as the Malaysian one. We have in our own political people something that we can give to other countries, namely quality. We have to start that off in this very Parliament. I say with the very greatest respect that we can do without such terms as ‘huffing and puffing’ and ‘the answer is to keep banging away’. When dealing with the people of New Guinea Mr Barnes used the phrase ‘when they get independence, if ever’. They are two fatal words. Those are examples of the undiplomatic approach which the present Government is making to the situation in this area and which we can we’l do without. The contribution to the debate by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) in another place was unworthy of a Prime Minister. With the tremendous help that he has at his fingertips he could have made a much more constructive contribution to the debate than the one that he gave.
We in Australia have qualities to give. We are basically an educated people. We are technically good and we can get on with other types of people. We are not an arrogant race. These contributions which we could make not only would help others but would benefit ourselves because overhanging all this is the threat of war. That threat will always be there. How we have dodged war for so long goodness only knows. There are changing situations in the world and situations change within the United Nations itself. It is obvious and self evident today that the United Nations at San Francisco, the body which we created with such tremendous hope in 1945, has now only that strength which the nations give to it. It has no great strength of its own. lt has no powers over nations nor can it compel them to do things. Unless the nations by their co-operation make the United Nations a strong place it can do nothing but exhort, and exhortations lo not achieve anything unless, the great nations stand by and co-operate for peace and better living everywhere.
This Asian area in which we are so vitally interested has the great conglomerations of people. Surely we are battling for peace based on a rising standard of living for people who have had so little lor so long. Our great contribution to this is to see that we advise the great western powers, because we are in the unique situation to be able to do this. If we do not uplift these people and if we do not see an end to the tremendous and awful mistakes that have been made since the end of the last war in this area where we have such responsibility we will become pawns in the great nuclear game. Then our voice will not be heard from the moment that the great powers come into terrible conflict. That is why in these periods when things are quiet we have to make these tremendous contributions. Unless we do that, all the things we talk about in this Parliament will amount to nothing. We have to make our contributions to organisations such as the United Nations. We have to make special contributions because we have the power, the strength, the brawn and the sinew to do it in these areas. By doing so we will not be cutting the painter with the United States of America or with Britain. Those countries “are very glad to be getting out of these areas and they are very glad to see us take our part and do the things that they would want to see us do. This is Australia’s heritage in these places and the more serious minded we are in our approach to these things the greater will be our opportunities for success.
– I am very grateful for the fact that the Senate has agreed to discuss both statements together. I say that because in February last when the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) made his first statement to the House of Representatives he was subjected to a very bitter and vicious attack by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr Whitlam. The Minister for External Affairs does not really need any defence, but it is because he cannot speak for himself in this place that I propose to outline his magnificent record since he has held that portfolio. It stands second to none since the Department of External Affairs was created.
– 1 ask the honourable senator to reserve his judgment until he has heard what I have said. I shall be interested then to hear him refute it. The Minister has made numerous visits overseas. Surely this is important if he is to inform himself as the Minister representing Australia in external affairs. He has been to the United Kingdom four times, to France twice, to Italy three times and to the following places once: Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Switzerland, Berlin, Israel and the United Arab Republic. He has been to Canada twice, the United States of America four times and has visited India once and Burma once. He has been to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia three times, to Thailand four times, and has twice visited Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines. He has been once to the Republic of China and once to Korea, and he has been to the United Nations headquarters three times.
– Just because he has travelled does not necessarily make him a good Minister.
– I am not suggesting that; I am refuting what Mr Whitlam said about this man’s dedication to his portfolio. He has attended several conferences. He has been the leader of Australian delegations to conferences of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East in Wellington, Manila and New Delhi. He was leader of Australian delegations to a Colombo Plan conference in London. He was leader of the Australian delegation to conferences of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation in Washington, Canberra and London. He was leader of the Australian delegation to ANZUS conferences at Washington and Canberra. He was leader of the Australian delegations to the conference of the Asian and Pacific Council in Seoul. He was leader of the Australian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly on two occasions, once in 1964 and again in 1966. It is a good job that this man has a fairly safe seat because his dedication to his portfolio is such that he would not have been able to hold that seat, merely because he is so dedicated to his task as a Minister.
He has had personal discussions with many heads of government, including the following: Mr Wilson of the United Kingdom, President Johnson of the United States of America, Mr Kosygin of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, General De Gaulle of France, President Moro of Italy, Chancellor Erhard of Germany, Mrs Gandhi of India, General Ne Win of Burma, President Sukarno of Indonesia, General Chiang Kai-shek of China, President Park of Korea, Air Vice-Marshal Ky of Vietnam, Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia, President Ayub Khan of Pakistan and Mr Pearson of Canada.
– All the honourable senator is doing is name dropping.
– I am not name dropping. The honourable senator does not like me defending this man and placing on record the fact that he is one of the most dedicated Ministers to have held the portfolio of external affairs. He accompanied the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, to three Commonwealth Prime Ministers conferences and has accompanied the present Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) to one conference. Within his own Department he has made numerous changes which I believe are significant. In Athens, where previously there was a double accreditation with Rome, a separate Ambassador has been appointed. At Belgrade a new post has been opened. In Dublin, which previously was vacant, an Ambassador has been appointed.
– Hear, hear!
– Yes, and the honourable member for West Sydney, Danny Minogue, would agree with the honourable senator. At Brussels, where previously there was a double accreditation with the Hague, a separate Ambassador has been appointed. In Malta a new post has been opened and Mr Opperman is the new Ambassador. Stockholm, which previously had a double accreditation with Moscow, has been given its own Ambassador. A new post is to be opened at Beirut and an appointment is to be made. In Africa a post has been opened at Nairobi with accreditation also to Addis Ababa and Entebbe. The post at Ghana has been raised to a full embassy. The post at Singapore has been raised to a full High Commissionership since its separation from Malaysia. An Ambassador has been appointed to Taipeh which previously was vacant. At Saigon the staff has been strengthened to deal better with civil aid questions. The Minister for External Affairs is the man who has been responsible for all this in the short time that he has held the portfolio. He opened a new post in Mexico City where an Ambassador has been appointed.
In his own head office arrangements for dealing with external assistance programmes have been reorganised and strengthened. Recruitment has continued. The programme of official level consultations with other countries sharing common problems has been initiated. I remind honourable senators also that it was the Minister for External Affairs, Mr Hasluck, who made arrangements for parliamentary delegations to go overseas regularly during winter recesses. He has been responsible for six delegations touring Asian countries. I remind honourable senators that these visits have been on a joint basis, the parties being equally represented. The Minister has made major statements. He was criticised by Mr Whitlam, I think viciously, and I ask honourable senators to read Mr Whitlands speech if they do not believe what I say. It was suggested that he had not made sufficient statements to the Parliament to keep it informed on Australia’s relationships on external affairs. But let us consider his record. He made major statements in Parliament in August 1964, March 1965, August 1965, October 1965, April 1966, August 1966, February 1967 and August 1967.
– None of them was any good.
– That may be the honourable senator’s opinion. It is not a bad statement that we are debating now. I shall get round to it in a minute and the honourable senator will be a little disappointed that he has reminded me of it. He has made major statements outside the Parliament.
– The honourable senator is huffing and puffing.
– I hope the honourable senator has finished huffing and puffing because I am not even puffing yet. He made major statements outside the Parliament and the full texts were distributed to members of Parliament and the public. During a 12- months period he made statements on 8th and 14th November 1965, 24th and 29th January, 4th and 25th July, 27th August, 27th September and 16th October 1966. That is not a bad record for any Minister. But I do not need to defend him; he can stand on his own two feet. I merely wanted to place on record in the Senate his performance in this field.
In that portion of his statement relating to Hong Kong he said:
On 15th May an abusive note was delivered by the Chinese Communist regime to the British Government. In the following weeks in Hong Kong the Communist elements called strikes in the transport services, public utilities and dockyards. Bombthrowing, acts of terrorism and intimidation, blocking of food imports and other efforts to disrupt services brought danger, inconvenience and loss to the people of Hong Kong. There have been a number of deaths and some hundreds have been injured. What has been happening in Hong Kong can fairly be described guerilla warfare in an urban area.
What did we find in Australia? We found that at least twenty trade unions decided to support the Communist regime in Hong Kong. I remind the Senate that at least some of the signatories to the petition expressing this support were prominent members of the Labor Party - not the Parliamentary Labor Party, 1 hasten to add. The events in Hong Kong are the result of efforts by the Peking Communists to achieve their objectives. I remind the Senate of that fact. In this regard Mr Hasluck said.
Responsible officials of more than twenty Victorian and Federal trade unions had strongly denounced ‘the British Fascist’ atrocities against Chinese in Hong Kong.
It is a shocking state of affairs when a country like Australia has within it people who actively support, by way of petition, the activities of the Communists in Hong Kong.
I am convinced that external affairs cannot be divorced from defence. When I speak on the subjects of defence and external affairs I relate my remarks particularly to our allies, the Americans, and to Vietnam. I repeat what I said in the Senate the other day: If the Labor Party were ever elected as the Government nf Australia - God forbid - it would impose such terms and conditions on our involvement in Vietnam that America just could not accept them, and the Labor Party has said that if America did not accept its terms and conditions our forces would be withdrawn. The Labor Party also claims that our forces are not in Vietnam as a result of Australia’s association with the
South East Asia Treaty Organisation; that they should not be there because they have not been requested, and that the SEATO pact does not apply in this instance.
– It has nothing to do with SEATO.
– The honourable senator may think so but he can take up that point with a Minister who has held ministerial rank for at least 9 years now to my knowledge. I refer to Mr Freeth, Minister for Shipping and Transport, who has gone on record as saying: ls il not :i fact that from the time that the National Liberation Front started to operate in I960 until 1965 the South Vietnamese people received no greater assistance than was given by military advisers and instructors?
If the honourable senator casts his mind back to those times he will remember that we had only military advisers and instructors there. Mr Freeth went on:
It was only when ii became apparent that the war in Vietnam was being stepped up - not by the Americans . but by North Vietnam and the Vietcong - that it became necessary to intervene in a military sense.
Now I come to the point about which Senator Ormonde has been seeking to interject:
It was then that the South Vietnamese Government made a formal request as it was entitled to do under the SEATO agreement, to Australia and to America for assistance.
– What about the Geneva Conference?
– Mr Freeth made that statement in the House of Representatives and if the honourable senator wants to argue with him and try to refute it, he can do so. I repeat that Mr Freeth said that a formal request to Australia and America for assistance was made by South Vietnam, as it was entitled to do being a protocol state. I am not allowed to quote from a recent debate in another place so I will leave that aspect now and will set off on a different line.
For quite some time I have been of the opinion that some steps could be taken to stop infiltration from North Vietnam into South Vietnam. Certain people who have thought that this could be done by some kind of blockade have been regarded as cranks. I think that any effort, no matter at what cost, which may achieve a cessation of hostilities in this area should be exploited. I firmly believe that there is not one person in this Senate who does not wish sincerely in his heart that something can be done to stop what is going on in Vietnam. I have a hope although it is a faint one. I do not know what the cost will be but I am helped a little in my mind when I read that Mr Robert McNamara referred to what was termed a secret weapon. The following report appeared in the 15th September 1967 issue of ‘Time* under the heading ‘Secret Weapon’:
Marines are fighting ferociously guarding the DMZ in 1967, but the invasion continues unabated. And so, in an effort to stanch this wound. Defence Secretary Robert S. McNamara last week confirmed long-rumoured plans for a 47-mile barrier across Vietnam just below the DMZ. lt will stretch from the South China Sea to Laos, running only 25 miles south of the two great walls of Dong Hoi and Truong Duc, erected in the 1630s by the Nguyen dynasty to fend off the warring Trinh emperors of the North.
Military engineers will start work late this year or early in 1968 on the barrier known so far to the Pentagon as Project Dye Marker and immediately nicknamed ‘McNamara’s Wall’. But it will be no ordinary wall. Instead of a Maginot line of concrete and steel, great tracts of rugged, mountainous jungle will be guarded by hidden electronic devices. Some, no larger than a silver dollar, can be seeded by aircraft. Once in place, they will detect the movement of the smallest enemy groups and transmit warnings to gun crews miles away. We are getting better and better at this sort of thing’, says Charles M. Herzfeld, until recently director of the Defence Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency. ‘1 think that it is really our secret weapon*.
I have heard - I cannot substantiate this - that it could cost up to $1 billion. I think $1 billion would be well spent if it put an end to what is going on in Vietnam. I do not know how many air raids could be put on for $1 billion or how many divisions it would create, but at least the new proposal is worth trying. Let us assume that the North Vietnamese go around the barrier and through Laos. At least we will know that we have closed up some of the area through which infiltration has been taking place.
On Saturday last I attended the commissioning of the naval communications centre at North West Cape. This complex is part of our external affairs setup because it is part of our defence setup in relationship with our ally, America. I was amazed that the Labor Party had not forgotten its opposition to this communications station.
The commissioning ceremony was boycotted by the four parliamentary leaders of the Labor Party.
– They were not invited.
– That is not true. I have checked and I have learned that they were invited. My information is fairly reliable.
– With whom did the honourable senator check?
– I checked through the sources which issued the invitations and I was informed that the Prime Minister himself had personally invited Mr Whitlam. But that is beside the point. I have no doubt that a printed invitation was on the Labor Party’s notice board and if any member of the Labor Party had wanted to go he could have done so. The notice was on my Party’s notice board and I am sure it would have been on the Opposition’s. I know that Senator Tangney accepted the invitation but for personal reasons or because of ill health she could not be there. I exclude her completely from my remarks but I repeat that Mr Whitlam, Mr Barnard, Senator Murphy and Senator Cohen were invited and did not attend. The only reason that a Labor member from the National Parliament was there was that the station was in his electorate and he did not dare refuse to attend. I refer to Mr Collard.
– What did the honourable senator do on Friday afternoon?
– I am not talking about Friday afternoon, I am talking about the opening of the base on Saturday.
– Would the honourable senator have travelled from Perth to Sydney, three States away, if the ceremony had been held there?
– I would have attended because the occasion was one of great significance. I wish the honourable senator had been there to hear what Admiral Johnson, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, had to say about it. I was very proud of the Prime Minister. Without doubt the speech he made was one of his best. Honourable senators opposite did not want to go to the opening because they bitterly opposed the establishment of the station. Let us just go back and see what was said about it. 1 do not like to do this but it has to be done. Mr Haylen, the former member for Parkes, said:
I refer to the question of bases of all kinds . . .
So that there will be no doubt about the attitude of the Australian Labor Party on this matter, let me read a decision of the Federal Executive, made at a meeting in October 1962. It is in these terms:
The Australian Labor Party is opposed to any base being built in Australia that could be used for the manufacture, firing . . .
Here it comes: or control of any nuclear missiles or vehicles capable of carrying nuclear missiles. Our script is entirely clear. There is no division in the Labor Party on this matter and there never has been any suggestion of division.
I recite this to the Senate only because it is my belief and the belief of a lot of other people that if the Labor Party were elected to government it would insist on what it propounded in this Parliament, namely, joint control of this station.
– Read page 29 of the Labor Party platform and you will see that you are right off beam in relation to that.
– Does the honourable senator say that Labor would not insist on joint control?
– If you read page 29 of our current constitution you will see that it makes all that you are saying right off the beam.
– I am asking Senator Mulvihill a question. I know that I am out of order in doing it, Mr President, but I only hope that Senator Mulvihill will tell the Senate after I have sat down whether the Labor Party has retreated from the stand that it took and would no longer insist on joint control of the communications station at North West Cape, because if it did insist on joint control it would drive the Americans out of this country in the same way as Labor would pull our troops out of Vietnam after imposing impossible conditions on the Americans. We would see the same spectacle as we saw here last night. I have never seen such an example of chickening or running away from an issue. Labor senators were not game to vote for the postal legislation and they did not have the guts to vote against it. They let down their other colleagues on that side of the Senate. They would do exactly the same thing to the Americans in respect of the North West Cape installation as they would do in respect of Vietnam. 1 can excuse Senator Mulvihill for not knowing what happened in relation to the legislation covering the establishment of this station. He was not in the Senate but he probably read about it. On 24th May 1963 during the closing stages of the debate on the legislation, Senator Gorton summarised the position magnificently when he said:
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and those who sit behind him are certainly going to extraordinary pains to prevent the establishment of that which they say they do not oppose. lt was like the situation last night. They did not oppose the legislation. They did not vote for it but they did not vote against it. They wanted two bob each way. The Minister continued:
In the first place, they insisted on a power of veto over messages, although honourable senators opposite know that this would prevent the establishment of that which they say they do not oppose.
The Americans would not have a bat of it under those conditions, if there was a power to veto their messages. The Minister continued:
Secondly, Opposition senators proposed an amendment that, had it been passed, would have prevented the establishment of that which they say they do not oppose. Thirdly, they objected to the adoption of the committee’s report on this measure - a most unusual proceeding and one that, if the Opposition had won the vote, would have prevented the establishment of that which they say they do not oppose. Fourthly, we now have before us an amendment that is, in effect, a motion to defeat the Bill straight out.
I remind honourable senators of what I hat was. The motion before the Senate was:
That the Dill be now read a third time.
Senator McKenna had moved an amendment to provide that the words ‘this day 6 months’ be substituted for the word ‘now’. The Standing Orders of the Senate provide:
Amendments may be moved to such Question by leaving out ‘now’, and adding ‘this day six months’, which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill. . . .
Labor senators did their darnedest to get the whole thing thrown out of the window. They have carried this attitude on to the present time by boycotting the opening of the station on Saturday last.
– As you did with the Snowy Mountains scheme.
– 1 have not boycotted the Snowy Mountains scheme. I have been to the opening of all of the power stations except one. Senator Cant ran away from this issue. I went back over the debates to see what he had to say about it but. I could not get anything on him because he did not say anything about it. He is a Western Australian and he knew that if he opposed the establishment of the station it would be used against him at the election. He was very wise and remained completely quiet. Although he sneaked in a few odd questions he did not debate the matter.
– But he voted attains! the Bill.
– Yes, on the third reading. I want to remind honourable senators of what Mr Chamberlain had to say about this.
– Mr Chamberlain. He is pretty well known to the honourable senator, who may disagree with him.
– Which Chamberlain is that?
– Mr F. Chamberlain of the Australian Labor Party. He announced to the Press decisions and conditions of the ALP conference in relation to the North West Cape station. He said:
Australia now has its own bases capable of being used by itself and its allies in war. A defence radio communications centre capable of communicating with submarines, operated by an ally in Australia, would not be inconsistent with Labor policy if -
The radio communications centre is under the joint control and operation of the Australian and United States Governments. . . .
Senator Mulvihill insists that this is not so. I am glad to hear from him that if Labor is elected to government it will not insist on this condition because if it does the Americans will walk out and leave it. I have referred to a statement made by Mr Haylen. He also said that a vote for the amendment represented not merely a vote against the Bill but also a vote against the station.
– Under those circumstances, yes. We wanted to be partners.
– We are partners. I shall tell the Senate in a moment what Admiral Johnson had to say on Saturday. Honourable senators opposite cannot talk about this because they did not have the courage to go to the opening of the station. Mr Collard was the only one of their colleagues who did so. To introduce a more sober note I want to deal with what Admiral Johnson had to say on Saturday last because it was very important and he raised an issue which many people in Australia do not appreciate. He said:
In speaking about North West cape, most people seem to think that its only purpose is to talk to submarines. That is one, but only one of the reasons we are here. Very low frequency is also an excellent medium for long range surface communications. The high frequency transmitters and receivers in areas B and C and the satellite communications equipment which has recently been installed are other vital parts of a comprehensive communications system linked with the worldwide naval and defence communications networks of the United States and our free world allies, including our good friends in the Commonwealth of Australia. While we do talk to submarines, it’s far from being the whole job.
He announced that this station will be used for communicating with all types of ships at sea as well as aircraft in the air. It will be able to receive reports in respect of weather, storms, and all types of things that shipping out in that lonely ocean and aircraft flying over it will know. When honourable senators opposite talk of Australia being a sycophant of the Americans, let them stop to think that this is a two-way traffic. The Americans are mighty grateful to have as an ally a country which has a stable government and hopes of a continuing stable government, a country in which it can invest money in remote areas and construct a communications station of this type. Where else in Asia could they put such a station and be sure that they would have access to it for the next couple of years? That is why I have raised this situation for the benefit of the Australian electors. If Labor insists on joint control and the other things that it stipulated when the Bill was being debated the Americans will not have a bar of it. They will walk out. In relation to Britain’s moving out of this particular sphere, I was delighted to hear, admittedly by inference, from the admirals who were at the North West Cape base on Saturday last that America was prepared to move in and fill the vacuum.
That must be very good news to every Australian. I will never forget that after being a prisoner of war I came back to this country in 1945. I would not have done so if it had not been for the part played by the American forces. God bless them.
– As part of my contribution to this debate I want to correct a couple of statements that were made by Senator Branson. The honourable senator is still adopting the same old attitudes, is still wandering from goal to goal, from speaking point to speaking point and, as a colleague of mine has just remarked, from one bush to the shelter of another. He is still unreliable. I remind him that a few years ago he had to withdraw statements that he made about two very great Australians. I suggest that the honourable senator should correct his thinking in relation to the point he made when he quoted a statement made by the Australian Labor Party in October 1962. He may quite easily correct his thinking if he likes to obtain a copy of our policy. Unlike the Liberal Party, our political organisation is not a secret organisation. Labor’s policy in regard to bases states:
Labour is opposed to the existence of foreignowned, contolled or operated bases in Australian territory, especially if such bases involve a derogation from Australian sovereignty.
Labour is not opposed to the use of Australian bases by Allies in war time, or in periods of international tension involving a threat to Australia, provided that Australian authority and sovereignty are unimpaired, and provided that Australia is not involved in hostilities without Australia’s consent
I venture to say that nothing could be more democratic or fairer than that. It provides for the emergencies. Senator Branson made a claim about Australia’s involvement in Vietnam under the SEATO pact, but he was not prepared to substantiate it. I suggest that you, Mr President, and honourable senators should completely disregard the statements that have been made by the honourable senator, because they are quite unreliable.
– I said that Mr Freeth made the statement.
– The honourable senator made the statement but he could not substantiate it. Let him not start to back down now. I agree with Senator Willesee’s criticism of the short story that was produced by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck). In the time allotted to me I will not be able to go into much detail. I want to deal in particular with two or three headings. Before doing so I must again take Senator Branson to task. He mentioned a whole series of dates when he said that the Minister had kept this country informed of international developments. I suggest that this is not so. If anybody cares to peruse the eighteen typewritten pages which contained the Minister’s statement, he will find that there is very little meat in them. The statement is merely a reiteration of points that have been contained in previous documents. There is one paragraph which I think ought to be incorporated in Hansard for emphasis. The Minister said:
In the 3 months during which the House has been in recess great and critical events touching directly on Australian interests have occurred.
We do not disagree with that He continued;
The full effect of some of these events may not be felt immediately but in years to come. Listing them in the order in which they rise in my mind, they arc the internal struggle in Communist China-
You will note, Mr President, that China is now referred to as Communist China; but when we are dealing with the sale of wheat, tin plate or anything like that, she is referred to as mainland China - the announcements by Great Britain on defence and economic policies - -
May I suggest that the criticism of Britain has been unnecessary and unjust, because this phasing out will take place over a number of years. If Labor were in office in this country there would be no problems. But while this Government is in office there will be continuing problems because, as in the case of Britain’s application to join the European Common Market, it will do nothing until the day before Britain leaves this area. Then it will sit back and cry about how badly it has been treated. The Minister continued: the conflict in the Middle East, regarded as both a period of difficulty and danger for the nations directly involved and as a testing ground of great power relationships; the trend in French foreign policy; the moves towards regional organisations in Asia and, as part of it, the increasingly useful and significant role being played by Japan-
Later I will tell the Senate about questions I have asked in this respect but which the Government does not know how to answer - measures taken for the economic rehabilitation of Indonesia-
The Government has given a fantastic sum to help Indonesia to overcome her economic problems, the amount being $5.2m from memory - the continuance of the war in Vietnam and, at the same time, the constitutional progress being made in South Vietnam and the advancement of the programme of revolutionary development for the improvement of life in the villages; the anxieties on the frontiers of Burma, Nepal and Thailand resulting from Chinese pressure-
I note that Cambodia did not even get an honourable mention - and the determined Communist efforts to disrupt life in Hong Kong-
The Government has discovered lots of Communists in Hong Kong; it is fantastic just where it finds them - recent and impending international discussions on trade . . .
So it goes on. The Minister wound up by saying:
It will not be possible for me to deal in this statement with all of them, let alone with several current questions that I have not mentioned.
Quite frankly, he need not have made this statement, because very little has been dealt with in it.
I mentioned Cambodia advisedly. Undoubtedly the present situation in relation to Cambodia has been brought about by the stupidity and weakness of the Minister for External Affairs and the general overall weak attitude adopted by the Government. We should not have a break in our relations with such countries. The story is quite different today from when the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) was being entertained in Cambodia a few months ago. He came back and said what great friends we were. Within a few days the Cambodian Embassy will have only a caretaker in it. If the Government continues with its present attitude, the Cambodian representatives will not come back. Either today or yesterday - certainly within the last few hours - the Minister for External Affairs decided to blame the Press for the present state of affairs. If that is the only excuse that he can find for handling this matter so badly over thi past few weeks, then it is a very poor excuse indeed. Nobody in Australia will believe it, and nobody in Cambodia will believe it. It is significant that the Minister is still extremely sensitive to public criticism. The Prime Minister is even more sensitive to public criticism. If anybody disagrees with the Government in relation to foreign affairs, he is immediately branded as a Communist, a Communist sympathiser or something of that ilk. I should say that a few paragraphs in the editorial of the ‘Australian’ of 10th November 1965 would still apply today, 20th September 1967. They are these:
The Government’s increasing use of the labels Communist’ or ‘tool of the Communists’ for those who question its policies is, at the very least, disquieting.
Red labelling, of course, has long been a favorite tool of those who seek to discredit industrial agitation of all sorts.
But more recently its use has been extended beyond these traditional limits: It has been used in attempts to stifle all discussion, even on the most intelligent level, of our involvement in the Vietnam war.
The Minister for External Affairs, Mr Hasluck, went to great pains in Parliament to connect demonstrations against the Vietnam war, in Australia and elsewhere, with a call from Hanoi for a ‘Hate America’ month during October and November.
He did point out that not all those who took part were Communists, but he said that behind the majority of these demonstrations was an initiative ‘carefully contrived by Communists in Australia’.
The average Australian is getting sick and tired of having this sort of thing put up to him every time somebody wants to disagree with something that this Government does, particularly in relation to foreign affairs.
The Government has stressed the fact that it granted something in the vicinity of S5m to Indonesia for economic relief. If the Government had adopted that attitude at an earlier date it might have been able to save a lot of the worries that have arisen in Indonesia. I shall read to the Senate the titles of some of the annual addresses made by President Sukarno. In 1961 his address was titled ‘Revolution, Indonesian Socialism and National Leadership’; in 1962 A Year of Triumph’; in 1963, ‘The Resounding Voice of the Indonesian Revolution’; in 1964, The Vear of Living Dangerously’; and in 1965. ‘Reach to the Stars’. That is precisely what almost one million Indonesians have done since that date. They have reached to the stars. 1 refer to a statement made by the Prime
Minister (Mr Harold Holt) as reported in the New York ‘Times’ on Wednesday, 6th July 1966. When asked about Australia’s attitude to Indonesia the right honourable gentleman said:
With 500,000 to one million Communist sympathisers knocked off-
Crude, was it not? -
I think it is safe to assume a reorientation has taken place.
If that is the sum total of reorientation and contribution that the Government intends to make by way of aid to that country, obviously the Government is not very interested in Indonesia.
– It has cost the Government 3c a head.
– As I am reminded by my colleague, Senator O’Byrne, it is 3c a head. That figure almost certainly would be accurate. The Government must be very proud.
– Who used those words knocked off’?
– The Prime Minister of Australia, none other than the Right Honourable Harold Holt. That statement was quoted in the New York ‘Times’ of Wednesday, 6lh July 1966. It was made after the upheaval had taken place in Indonesia. I would like to refer to some of the other countries that are proving to be problem areas. This Government has adopted a half-hearted attitude to the problems of Rhodesia. Britain had to take a very strong stand because it felt that what was going on in Rhodesia was not democratic. All freedom loving people throughout the world would agree with Britain’s approach to the Rhodesian problem. The situation in that country has not changed. I notice that a prominent back bencher recently resigned as the Deputy Whip in another place. I refer to Mr Killen, so that there can be no suggestion that by inference I am referring to somebody else. 1 understand that he is having his fares and expenses paid for a trip to South Africa and Rhodesia and that he will come back with an open mind after the governments of those countries have paid these expenses for him. Honourable senators will recall that s few years ago he embarrassed the Government when the Australian equivalent of the
John Birch Society paid his fares and expenses so that he could visit Britain and work against that country entering the European Common Market. I assume that the Government has forced him to resign from the position of Deputy Whip because it knows lt will be embarrassed by what he says when he returns to this country.
– That is complete nonsense.
– Senator Wright says that this is nonsense.
– Complete nonsense. Anybody who knows the integrity and independence of Mr Killen would never make a statement such as the one the honourable senator has just made.
– Senator Wright has proved an embarrassment to the Government on occasions. Other people have embarrassed the Government also. The honourable member to whom I referred is another one. Let mc quote from a document entitled ‘Defend Rhodesia - Australia’s Second Front’, which states: in the last four years alone, .17 African States have been the setting for continual outbreaks of tribal warfare, racial persecution, riots and waves of terrorism - as many as 20 revolts from the beginning of 1963 until the present time. Let us look at a few assessments from highly qualified observers:
Some of the observers have never been heard of. Nevertheless the African nations continue to struggle so that they may be able to speak for themselves and have freedom, particularly political freedom. The struggle is going on in all the countries that are trying to break away from the yoke of colonialism. Rather than help the people break away from that yolk, this Government, is perpetuating colonialism as far as it possibly can in as many places as it can. One has to refer only to Papua and New Guinea to see what the Government is doing. One only has to look at the Aboriginal problem In the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland. The Government does not want these people to have freedom.
The Manila Summit Conference which took place in October 1966, when the Government, and particularly the Prime Minister, did a lot of bell-ringing, carried a resolution known as the Goals of Freedom, which stated:
We, the seven nations gathered in Manila, declare our unity, our resolve, and our purpose in seeking together the goals of freedom in Vietnam and in the Asian and Pacific areas. They are:
To be free from aggression.
The Government has made sure that it will continue to act as an aggressor in Vietnam.
The Government has made a contribution well below 1% of the national income by way of overseas aid.
A region of security, order and progress is the last thing that the Government wants because then it would have no control over the people who are now suffering under the restrictions of colonialism.
The Government is taking steps, not to bring this about but to create problems for the people of this country and for the economy in the future. I now refer to Vietnam. I noticed that the Minister glossed over this as much as he possibly could. Honourable senators will recall that a few moments ago 1 mentioned the sum of $5m odd which the Government has given for relief to Indonesia. The Government has given a certain amount of relief by way of civil aid in Vietnam. But the total expenditure in the financial year to 31st March 1967 - and this is for only one year -on the war in Vietnam is $20,287,000. That is what the Government has spent for the killing of people and for the destruction of property and life in Vietnam.
As at 8th August this year, 9 days before this famous document from the Minister was published and delivered, 133 Australians were killed in Vietnam during the previous 15 months. Of the 133, 44 were conscripts. Over the same period 521 were wounded. Let everyone remember that in some instances the people who are wounded will never have a whole body again. They will not be able to participate in life as we can. They will not be able to enjoy the fruits of the democracy that the Government tells them they are fighting for. Of the 521 wounded 139 were conscripts. Now the new President of South Vietnam is calling for more troops. He wants more Australians, too. So far no announcement has been made of the additional troops that this Government will send. Recently I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) what had happened at the Liberal Party Federal Council meeting of the Party’s faceless men - a meeting held in total secrecy behind closed doors - to a resolution, if it ever reached that stage, that 2,000 troops be mustered to go to Vietnam. Honourable senators know that the Minister evaded the question.
– The honourable senator has a very good imagination.
– The Minister’s imagination is better because he did not have the courage to say that the muster would not take place. He said that the Government would make an announcement at the appropriate time. Apparently my suggestion was well founded on fact.
– The honourable senator has a very good imagination.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood) - Order!
– Senator Sim can make his speech later and make a hash of it then. I ask him not to make a hash of my speech now. At a later date, probably after the Senate election, additional troops will be sent to Vietnam. The Government will not be able to run away from that because it will be told by LBJ to send them. After all, Harold said: ‘All the way with LBJ’. The Government cannot afford not to go all the way with LBJ, and thousands of Australian lives will be lost in this war which we shall never be able to win militarily.
A great deal of excitement was caused by a statement appearing in a publication called ‘Ramparts’. The following is a quotation from the remarks made in the Senate of the United Stales of America on 22nd August 1966 by Senator Wayne Morse:
As Mr Pepper makes clear, by far the majority of present refugees in South Vietnam have been rendered homeless by American military action, and by far the majority of hospital patients, especially children- especially children - are there due to injuries suffered from American military activities. The plight of these children and the huge burden they impose upon physical facilities has been almost totally ignored by the American people.
By the same token it has been ignored by the Australian Government. To counter this, we have a statement in the United States Information Service’s weekly bulletin - the publication which tells us how many people have been killed by guerillas, how many have disappeared and how many have been kidnapped. A person named Dr Rusk is quoted as having said:
The picture that has been painted by some in the United States of large numbers of children burned by napalm in Vietnam is grossly exaggerated.
Elsewhere in the article he notes that:
Of course, that is the excuse given, but if this Government had spent more on aid to these people earlier they might have had some knowledge of the different uses of gasoline and kerosene. I repeat that the excuse offered was that the burns were caused not by napalm but by the improper use of gasoline. Is not that utterly ridiculous? Who is going to believe that? The use of napalm cannot be justified under any conditions at all. At our last Federal conference, we spelt this out clearly when we resolved that this and other objectionable methods of warfare should never be used. Napalm, chemically, is a soap and is mixed with petrol in proportions up to one part napalm and ten parts petrol. This forms a jelly. Napalm slows down the burning rate and greatly increases the temperature of the combustion of the petrol. The jelly sticks to all substances including skin, and continues to burn. Of course, what is happening in South Vietnam is that the victims of these burns are not receiving proper medical treatment. There are insufficient doctors and insufficient hospitals. Of course there is still plenty of money for war and still plenty of our products being sold on the black market by corrupt officials of the so-called democratic South Vietnam Government. These people are looking after themselves very well indeed. They do not want the war to finish any more than do some people in this country who are making a good old Australian quid out of it. The whole point is that it is no longer a Vietnam war; it is now an Australian and American war. It is not a declared war, as we saw recently when this Government saw fit to introduce special legislation to prevent a few kids from sending a few bob over to Vietnam for civil aid. Recently, elections were held in Vietnam. This Government sent over four observers.
– 1 do not suppose you believe their report either, do you.
– No, and I will bet that the honourable senator does not believe it, either. He probably thinks that the Government was lucky that it could get a favourable report from somebody. The Americans also sent observers, but at least they sent some who could go there with open minds. This Government did not even take that risk. It sent over four Government representatives who would be expected, if not requested, to submit a report acceptable to the Government when they came back. Their report has been made available only today and it has not been possible for me to examine the whole of it in detail. However I have read enough to know that it is a very pretty report. The Minister for External Affairs referred to portion oi the report in the following terms:
In section V a painstaking and objective examination is made of allegations of malpractice by unsuccessful candidates and others. The report discusses in some detail charges of wrongful influence, wrongful voting, use of double cards, switching of voting boxes, intimidation and obstruction at the polls.
– It sounds like an election ballot here.
– It does - in the good old days prior to 1955. The honourable senator is quite right. The Minister continued:
The Australian observers noted some minor irregularities during the voting but found little or no evidence for these charges of malpractice.
Is that not just what we would expect the observers to say? Surely no one would expect them to submit a report statin? that they had found evidence of malpractices. I want to conclude by referring to one or two points that I think are important. I want again to criticise the ballot system of conscription subscribed to by this Government and to quote our policy on the matter. The decision of our Federal Conference in Adelaide was:
Conference condemns the ballot system and requests the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party that so long as the existing system of selection for national service continues, to press the Federal Government to arrange (hat the numbers drawn from the barrel, with the names, addresses and occupations, shall be published.
The other day I issued a challenge to the Government to prove that a son of a Country Party politician or a Liberal Party politician was serving in the front line in Vietnam. I know there are relatives of Government members in Vietnam, but they are not in the front line. The challenge was thrown back at me. I again throw it back to the Government to furnish this proof. To give some idea of the Government’s interest in foreign affairs, 1 point out that on 16th August, just a month ago, I asked a question relating to a French Mystere twin-engine jet plane that had been seen making regular flights over the Atherton Tableland. 1 have not received a reply to this yet. Why has no reply been given? Does the Government not know what aeroplanes are flying in this country? Does it not know what is going on in its defence system? I know that a Government member sent a message along a reliable grapevine that this was a VIP flight. But the VIP planes do not carry French Air Force markings. Why does the Government not answer the question? Is it afraid to answer or is it unable to find out?
On 29th August I asked a question drawing the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minister to the admission that had recently been made in the Japanese Parliament that Japanese tourists going overseas were receiving substantial sums of money for spying activities. I ask that this country be assured that Japanese nationals visiting Australia as tourists or for business reasons were not gathering information, as was done prior to World War II. There is reference in this ministerial statement on foreign affairs to the great friendship that the Government has developed with Japan. Government supporters ought to be proud of that. They have sold out this country to the Japanese. The things that the Japanese could not obtain in war time at the cost of Australian lives and of Australian property have, over the last few years in particular, been handed over by this Government to Japan, bit by bit for the ordinary handful of silver.
The statement on foreign affairs is of very little value. It would do very well as a Cook’s tour guide if one wanted to have a look at some countries purely from a tourist point of view, but it is impossible to learn anything from it because it does not cover the things that the people of Australia want to know and the things that the members of the Opposition in particular want to know. Anything that looks like being dangerous is dealt with in the same way as it is dealt with in the document called ‘Questions and Answers’ published by the United States Information Service. It states:
Question 1: Why is the United States waging war against North Vietnam?
Answer: The US is not doing that at all. We are helping the free government and people of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) defend their freedom and independence against attack, directed and in part supplied from North Vietnam. Our purpose, like that of the South Vietnamese, is peace in the RVN - a peace which guarantees South Vietnam’s independence and right of selfdetermination.
Who is going to believe that baloney? It continues:
Question 2: What you mean is that you are helping another country wage war? Isn’t that true?
Answer: We are helping the South Vietnemese sustain and defend their freedom and independence against invasion from North Vietnam. We are helping to prevent the forceful conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam. We are helping to prevent the success of aggression.
It reads like one of Grimm’s fairy stories. lt is the same type of statement as is published by the Government in the booklets it brings out from time to time. I refer to publications like ‘Our Progress in Vietnam’, ‘Vietnam 1965-66’ and so on. They are published at the taxpayers’ expense. Government supporters are not paying for them out of their own pockets or from party funds. The taxpayers of Australia are paying for the Government’s propaganda. If the Labor Party wanted to publish materia] to counter the false propaganda put out by the Government in its publications, it would be an unheard of thing, lt would be atrocious because it would be opposition to the Government’s point of view. The Government is quite prepared to spend the taxpayers’ money for all sorts of frivolous reasons when it thinks the occasion warrants it, but it is a different thing altogether when Government supporters think that a fair story is being published.
I believe that the documents we are considering tonight are not worth the paper they are written on. It is a pity that Australia’s money has been spent on publications such as these. The outlook for this country is hopeless unless the Labor Party is able to achieve office and set right our relations with our overseas neighbours, and establish a stable defence system for our own protection.
– Mr President, I claim to have been misrepresented by Senator Keeffe and I wish to make a personal explanation. During the course of my speech I said that a Minister in the other place had stated in a speech that South Vietnam as a protocol State had made a request to the American and Australian Governments for assistance. Senator Keeffe said that I had not identified the Minister. I had, but he could not have heard me. I said that it was Mr Freeth, who has been a Minister for 9 years. I want to correct the record because what Senator Keeffe said is completely wrong.
– Earlier this evening, after the suspension of the sitting, I came into the Senate chamber to listen to a speech on foreign affairs by Senator Willesee of the Opposition. I have heard Senator Willesee speak on foreign affairs many times since he first entered the Senate in 1951, a time when I had a most pleasant opportunity to meet him. A characteristic of a speech by Senator Willesee on foreign affairs - although I may not always agree with him - is that at least he is reasonable in his outlook. He does not become angry. He espouses a particular cause and deals with the considerations that he believes should be applied to certain problems that exist in the world. His speech this evening was reasoned and moderate. One of his colleagues said to me after Senator Willesee had finished his speech that he thought it was a very good speech. I agreed with him.
However, for the last 20 minutes we have been listening to the President of the Australian Labor Party, Senator Keeffe. He is a political field-marshal who wears two hats. At one time he wears the organisational, administrative hat and at another time he wears the hat of the demagogue. The speech he made tonight filled me with a great deal of terror. It was a series of statements, I do not think supported by any reasonable evidence, and characteristic of the speeches we have learned to expect from Senator Keeffe, the President of the ALP. I can best illustrate the type of speech it was by telling a story of a small country newspaper in the area in which I live. The owner and editor of the newspaper produced each week an edition filled with the most interesting pieces of information. One day I said to him: ‘You must do a lot of reading and writing to be able to produce a newspaper like that.’ His reply was: ‘No, I have not the time to do a lot of reading and writing. The way I put this newspaper together is by getting a pair of scissors and cutting pieces out of other newspapers. I then get a pot of paste and paste them on a piece of paper. When I have all these snippets of information on a piece of paper I give it to my compositor. He puts it into columns and then it goes on the flat press and becomes a newspaper.’
We have learned to appreciate that the speeches of Senator Keeffe are of that order and nature. He gathers snippets of information by cutting out pieces of paper. Sometimes their origin may be very obscure. He strings them together with a great number of words which provide no sequence and no coherence. His speech tonight was characteristic of that method. It was a tissue of quotations taken from all over the world and assembled into some sort of pattern that he hopes is coherent. It then becomes, as it were, the policy of the Labor Party on foreign affairs. It must be the foreign policy of the Australian Labor Party because Senator Keeffe is its President and the President of the Party makes the policy for the Party.
– The honourable senator is getting mixed up.
– I am not getting mixed up. The policies of the ALP are made by men who are outside Parliament. They, as it were, give instructions as to the policies to be followed. It is the function and responsibility of the parliamentary members of the Australian Labor Party to carry out those policies. The man who directs those policies is Senator Keeffe. Therefore it seems to me to be proper that we at least should pay attention to some of the policies Senator Keeffe has enunciated tonight and some of the statements he has made from time to time - in between giving the snippets of information - which indicate that he is the policy maker, and this is the policy. I believe I should do that before I begin my own remarks on the documents before the Senate.
Senator Keeffe made a great number of flippant statements. I think they can be described properly only in that way. He has said, for example, that Australia is not giving enough foreign aid; that we should be giving % of our gross national income, which is the desirable figure laid down by the United Nations for the developed nations of the world to contribute as foreign aid. It is sometimes forgotten, but I am sure that Senator Keeffe knows perfectly well, that in terms of the percentage of gross national income devoted to foreign aid Australia ranks as the second highest nation in the world. We are second only to France, but the foreign aid offered by France is based on loans. All foreign aid given by Australia is in the form of outright grants. No country gives 1% of its gross national income as foreign aid. I repeat that Australia ranks second highest in the percentage of gross national product devoted to foreign aid, and it is given in the form of outright grants. Senator Keeffe said flippantly that we are giving less than 1% of our gross national income as foreign aid, but in fact we are the second highest aidgiving country in the world, and it is all given as outright grants. This distinguishes us from France, which gives the highest amount of aid, but it is in the form of tied loans.
Amongst all the flippancy, as it were, and the quotations gathered by Senator Keeffe to form his speech, he referred to the American paper ‘Ramparts’. If he does not know, he could easily find the information by rummaging through the papers on his desk, that it has been demonstrated rather conclusively that ‘Ramparts’ falsifies its photographs and news press. When in future Senator Keeffe makes a quotation I suggest that no honourable senator can place any credence in the source material to which Senator Keeffe has directed his attention. The honourable senator made the devastating statement that no son or relative of a politician who may be serving in Vietnam is anywhere near the front line. What evidence is there on which to base an allegation of that nature? In reality it is an interesting illustration of the frightful allegations that have been made by Senator Keeffe in the course of the last 25 minutes. I do not propose to pay too much attention to his speech. I propose to turn my attention to the policy of the Australian Labor Party. 1 gave myself the exercise of looking at that Party’s platform on foreign affairs. When I last spoke on foreign affairs - on 4th April this year - I also followed Senator Keeffe. I hoped to enlarge his mind by suggesting that the Labor Party should follow certain principles in varying its foreign policy. I suggested that in contradistinction to the Labor Party we on this side of the chamber recognise that the first function of foreign policy is the maintenance of the integrity of the nation; in this case the Australian nation. That is fundamental. Neither I nor any other honourable senator on this side of the chamber has any apology to make for recognising that fact. We do not run away from the fact that the first and fundamental responsibility of Government senators, members of the Government Parties in another place and the Government itself is to have a policy based on national integrity in the physical sense and in the long term sense. I obtained agreement with that by interjection. I remember and have confirmed by reference to Hansard for 4th April that certain honourable senators opposite said: ‘Yes, that is right’.
However, when I gave myself the exercise of obtaining the document containing the most recent platform of the Australian Labor Party, to which Senator Keeffe referred several times in the course of his speech this evening, I turned to section XXII 1 - Foreign Affairs - and found this remarkable first placitum - I suppose that would be the best way to describe it:
The Labor Party, as a democratic socialist and internationalist Party, believes . . . and so on. Here is the fundamental difference between honourable senators on this side of the chamber and honourable senators opposite. We believe in the national integrity of this country; honourable senators opposite believe in something else. The Party to which they belong is an internationalist party. It seems to me that their first loyalty must go to an international party outside Australia.
– What other conclusion can be drawn from those words? What is the difference between nationalism and internationalism.
– That is a complete misinterpretation.
– I am glad to hear Senator Cavanagh say that, but they are the words of section XXIII of the platform of the Labor Party. I quote them again:
The Labor Party, as a democratic socialist and internationalist Party, believes . . . and then it goes on.
– Does the honourable senator believe in pacts with other nations?
– 1 am pointing out the fundamental difference between honourable senators opposite and honourable senators on this side of the chamber. Our first aim is the establishment and maintenance of national integrity. That is fundamental. Later in our policies we concern ourselves with the problems of internationalism and the methods by which we can achieve various objects.
I now refer to what might be described as the sixth placitum of the preamble to this section of the platform. It is very interesting and I am very pleased to find it in the platform. No-one should run away from it. I believe that it is a remarkable piece of drafting. I agree with it. It is important in the context of what I will say in a few minutes. It states:
Australia should co-operate in the development of the South East Asian area to strengthen the fabric of peace and freedom and to uphold the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, and to promote economic well-being and development.
No-one could object to that. I do not. What I want to know is this: What are we trying to do in South Vietnam at the present time?
– Slaughter Vietnamese.
– Notwithstanding Senator Cavanagh’s interjection, I say that what we are trying to do there is to promote and maintain the principles of democracy, individual liberty and rule of law.
– Who gave you the right to do that?
– As the honourat senator will recall and as Senator Branson stated earlier, this evening, we were invited - in fact, appealed to - by the Government of South Vietnam to go there in association with the United States to help the South Vietnamese to maintain the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.
– Produce the invitation.
– I have known Senator Hendrickson for too long. He is trying to get mc off the track of my speech because it is disturbing to him. We are in South Vietnam in accordance with the principles of the Australian Labor Party as contained in the sixth paragraph of the preamble to section XXIII - the foreign affairs section - of its platform. So I just do not follow how the Labor Party arrived at the resolutions that it adopted at its 1967 Federal Conference which was presided over by Senator Keeffe. In those resolutions it said that it opposed the continuance of the war in Vietnam and so on. It also said that, if it came to power, unless the United States did this, that and the other thing it would withdraw the Australian forces. Who is to set in being in South Vietnam the maintenance of the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, as stated in the Party’s platform?
– The Vietnamese.
– The North Vietnamese.
– Yes, the North Vietnamese. Tonight there has been a singular silence among members of the Opposition on the Report of the Australian Observers for the Presidential and Senate Elections of the Republic of Vietnam, apart from a fleeting and flouting reference to it by Senator Keeffe. A covering statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) was read in the Senate this afternoon. The full report has been circulated o all honourable senators. The appendices arc available in the Parliamentary Library, where they may be looked at. I would like to make a bet, but I am sure that no-one would take it up. I would bet that not one member of the Opposition has been to the Library to look at the appendices. I will return to them in a moment. The delegation, in the first paragraph of its report on the
Vietnamese elections held on 3rd September 1967, stated:
In February 1966, at a conference in Honolulu the Prime Minister (of South Vietnam) announced among the aims and intentions of his government the following:
We must build » true democracy for our land and for our people’.
That is in accordance with the platform of the Australian Labor Party. Since that date there has been a singleness of purpose devoted to the establishment in South Vietnam of the very first principles by which the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law can be maintained; namely, free elections. Earlier this year many questions were asked and jeers were made about the election. These statements were made: ‘This will be a phoney election. This election will be rigged. Noone will be able to vote freely’. So the governments of Australia, the United States and many other nations sent delegations of observers to South Vietnam. The lengthy report by the Australian delegation has not been mentioned tonight, apart from being jeered at by Senator Keeffe. On page 21, under the heading ‘Post-election Period’, the report states:
Of the 4.8 million voles cast (83% of the registered voters) . . .
Then it gives details of how the votes were cast. The delegation made an examination to see whether this was a fair election. The interesting thing is that they have been able since 1966, when the promise was made to hold free elections, to get 80% of the South Vietnamese people to the poll voluntarily to vote at an honestly conducted election. Some honourable senators opposite, particularly Senator Keeffe, have been jeering. If he and other honourable senators opposite will go to the Parliamentary Library and look at appendix No. 9 attached to the report they will see references to the most flagrant attempts made by the Vietcong to disrupt and destroy the election.
I find myself in the extraordinary position at this late hour of the sight of being on a voyage of discovery. I did not realise that there were so many fruitful sources of information. I have discovered at long last that we, in common with the Australian Labor Party, have been carrying out the wish of that Party to create in South East Asia the methods by which the rule of law can be maintained, a situation in which
Justice may exist and where democracy may flourish. At long last after 9 years I believe the opportunity has been given to the South Vietnamese people to go freely to the polls. This they have done. They have endorsed President Thieu and VicePresident Ky. The tender flowers of democracy may be taking root in South Vietnam. This has been achieved as a result of action by the United States of America and its ally the Commonwealth of Australia. I hope that this will lead to an end of this bitter war. It is a bitter war. It does not give me any more comfort than it does Senator Cavanagh to see this war continued. But at last the opportunity for these people to live their own lives is being produced, and this is being achieved under the majesty of the United States of America. Therefore, I believe there should be no further criticism of Vietnam from now on. There should be a unity in the Parliament which will enable us to look forward to the end of this bitter struggle. But it is a bitter struggle which will only be ended because two of the great democracies in this part of the world and the United States of America went into the area to see that democracy was not trodden underfoot by Communist aggression from North Vietnam. I support the statement.
– I think most honourable senators welcome the periodic statements on external affairs from the Minister, Mr Hasluck. Many of us wish that he would make these statements more regularly. Whether or not we agree with what he says, his statements are expressed with great clarity. They enable us to know what is in the mind of the Government and, by virtue of his frequent visits abroad, they often help us to realise what is in the minds of other governments. Naturally, because of its importance, he devotes a great deal of attention to our involvement in Vietnam. It seems to me that in regard to Vietnam today we are in a sense fighting two wars. As I have said before, we have troops in Vietnam fighting a war which I believe will be won by our troops and their allies. But there is also a second war being fought inside Australia - it is a propaganda war - and I am far from confident that we are winning that.
In Australia today there is a strongly organised and well-financed campaign to express in Australia the views of Australia’s enemies. That campaign seems to have unlimited funds. For example, at present there is a campaign to bring to Australia a professor who has pro-North Vietnamese views and an American general who I suspect has the same views. That campaign is able to finance propaganda of all kinds. I have an example of this propaganda in my hand. It is a postcard of which I have received a number of copies, and no doubt other honourable senators have received copies through the mail. It shows a picture of a child whom we are supposed to believe is suffering from napalm burns and it states:
We cannot allow this suffering to continue. Please help to stop the bombing now.
This is a very subtly conceived piece of propaganda. But if one looks at the very small print at the bottom one finds that it is issued by the UAW of 64 Druitt Street, Sydney. The initials UAW stand for the Union of Australian Women which is located at that address and which is the official women’s organisation of the Australian Communist Party. I referred to this women’s organisation as an official Communist body some time ago and I received an indignant letter from the Secretary. She assured me that there were many people of high integrity in the organisation. At least she was truthful enough not to mention whether or not it was a Communist women’s organisation. Everybody knows that it is. It is their official body. I might say that I am interested for more than one reason. Last year when the Victorian Australian Labor Party municipal candidates were announced I was interested to note that one of them advertised herself as the ALP candidate and said that she was the vice-president of a branch of the Union of Australian Women.
– Is the honourable senator referring to Freda Brown?
– No, a Victorian lady. This campaign has been under organisation in our community for a considerable time. One feature of it has been the movement for aid for the Vietcong, which the President of the Australian Labor Party, Senator Keeffe, dismissed not long ago as being a few kids sending a few bob to Vietnam. If he thought that, why did he not have the courage to vote against the legislation which we passed in regard to that matter? Senator Hannaford stood up and said that he intended to vote against it and was the only one who did so. He implored members of the Australian Labor Party, some of whom had been calling out Hear, hear!’, to support him because it is necessary to have two senators in favour of a division before a division is permitted. He said: ‘If I get a division my name will go down as opposing it’. Then there was a deathly silence and he could not get one senator to support him. If Senator Keeffe thought that this legislation was so unnecessary, if he thought it was just a few kids sending a few bob, why did he not have the same courage as Senator Hannaford and vote against the measure?
It is well known in Melbourne Communist circles that this campaign did not originate with a few foolish students. Some time ago there was a break in the Communist Party in Australia. One organisation still retains the name while the other, the breakaway body under Ted Hill, calls itself the Australian Labor Party MarxistLeninist. There is great competition between them to be regarded as the true blue Communist Party. One feature of the competition is that they try to out-do each other in this type of campaign. The young man who has been particularly prominent at Monash University in sponsoring this campaign inside the Labor Club, about which I have pointed out that not all of them are Communists or have Communist views, that some are misguided idealists, some are just excitement chasers, but others are politically sophisticated, has been one of the main instigators of this campaign. He is a close associate of Ted Hill and has done a great deal of the organisation for this campaign.
Publicity was given to the telegrams sent to Hong Kong by the so-called trade unionists in Melbourne but no publicity has been given so far to the equally large number of telegrams along the same lines that went from Sydney trade union leaders. That campaign was also organised by the pro-Chinese or, as they call themselves, the Marxist-Leninist group under Hill. The telegram campaign in Melbourne was organised by Pat Malone, a well-known pro-Chinese Communist who is influential with the proCommunist section at the Melbourne Trades Hall.
For some years now all of these people have been carrying on a campaign in the interests of Australia’s enemies. They attack, denigrate and smear everything that is done to help the South Vietnamese and by implication they uphold everything that is being done by the North Vietnamese. My only regret is that they are doing it with success. They are winning the propaganda war because so little is being done by other people in the community who have a responsibility in this matter.
Senator Keeffe said he objected to the Government putting out propaganda stating Australia’s point of view. I do not. After all, it is an elected Government. It fought an election on the issue of Vietnam and was returned to office. In my view it has not only the right but also the responsibility to put out literature stating why Australia is intervening in South Vietnam, what our allies are doing there and what should be done there in the interests of the people of Australia. I repeat that I believe the Government is letting down our troops and the Australian people because it is not taking steps to combat, in an effective way, this wave of propaganda. Nearly every Minister has his Press officer. These officers are experienced pressmen and propagandists. Why cannot the Government form a small committee of the best of them to put Australia’s case? Let other people put the case for North Vietnam but let the Government put Australia’s case. I do not suggest that only the Government should do so. Other people in the community have a responsibility in this matter. I too have a responsibility. We should not sit back and say nothing and allow the people who are active in the interests of Australia’s enemies to put over this propaganda.
One of the favourite campaigns at present is the napalm campaign. Honourable senators would be amazed at the number of Vietnamese children who allegedly have been burned by napalm. We have seen on television Australian doctors who have been to Vietnam. They have travelled up and down the whole of South Vietnam and have said that they did not find one child who was burned by napalm. But if we read the propaganda put out by Australia’s enemies we would be led to believe that American helicopters and aeroplanes and Australian aeroplanes are flying over the country and whenever they see a Vietnamese child they drop a can of napalm on him. That is the suggestion being propagated by the kind of propaganda to which I referred a few minutes ago showing a picture of a child wearing a bandage. One could not tell whether he had any injury. One could not tell whether he had been burned by napalm or by anything else. Very subtly the propagandists distribute these postcards to people all over the country. Unfortunately, because no effective reply has been made to them, they are getting away with it.
– Has any reply been made as to the extent of the use of napalm?
– I have seen replies but comparatively little is done to give them the effective publicity that the opposing side is getting for its allegations that napalm bombing is being carried on to an excessive degree.
– An authoritative statement could be issued as to how much is being used.
– I believe that an authoritative statement should be issued. An effective reply to all these allegations, smears and charges should be prepared and placed before the people of this country.
– A truthful reply.
– An effective and a truthful reply, yes. I object to the selective indignation of these propagandists. They are most indignant - I do not contest their right to indignation - about injuries suffered as a result of action which they say comes from our side. Some churchmen have expressed anxiety and indignation over what is happening on both sides - that is the correct attitude - but I have never seen any indignation from the people who are behind this anti-Australian propaganda about what is done by the North Vietnamese. They reserve their indignation for what is done by our side.
As honourable senators know, before the recent election in South Vietnam frantic efforts were made by the Communist guerillas to frighten the people away from the polls. The guerillas had said that there was no effective way for the people to express their views because there had been no true elections, but when an election was in progress they used violence ‘.o keep the people from voting. Here is one statement of what happened just before that election:
Bomb-shocked Vietnamese dragged their dead and wounded into the streets yesterday after a murderous Vietcong mortar barrage. Walkingwounded men painfully carried their critically injured wives towards the shattered Can Tho hospital. Dazed women stumbled under the weight of litters bearing their husbands or children.
The mortar bombardment killed at least 46 and wounded 222. The guerillas rained more than 100 mortar and recoilless cannon shells into Can Tho. Many scored direct hits on 7 of the military hospital’s 14 wards.
In Hoi An, at least 60 Vietnamese were killed or wounded when a Vietcong battalion stormed the town behind a barrage of mortar and burning white phosphorus shells.
I presume that a white phosphorus burn would be practically as serious as a napalm burn. All of these people who are so much against us and so much for our enemies seethe with indignation when anyone is injured in North Vietnam but they regard with the greatest equanimity and do not say one word about the disgraceful atrocities being inflicted on the South Vietnamese by the Vietcong and the guerillas. They apparently regard that as OK. There is the supreme example of the hypocrisy and indecency of the attitude of these people who pretend to be great humanitarians but whose humanitarianism is limited to only one side. 1 shall repeat a statement which was made by Mr Beazley, the member for Fremantle in another place, when delivering the Chifley Memorial Lecture 2 years ago. He said:
We need to think of the battle in world terms, and in human terms. In Vietnam today one of the key issues is - Who is to teach in the schools? It is seen by both sides as crucial for the control of the country. In the last 2 years 13,000 village leaders have been killed - and many of them have been school teachers. A teacher may be approached at night and told to distribute pamphlets to the children o like o tl’.sir parents. If he refuses, and goes on refusing, he disappears - and his friends arc left in no manner of doubt about the death he has died.
That is what the Communist guerillas are doing to the people of South Vietnam but the demonstrators have not one word to say about that. They are not interested. That convicts them at once of being supporters of the enemies of democracy throughout the world.
When people speak about Vietnam and Australia they always ask: ‘Well, is Australia in danger?’ Many of them scorn the idea. They say that the Chinese have not enough boats to enable them to come here, that the Chinese do not want to come here, and that therefore we have nothing to be afraid of. That is the attitude that one expects, unfortunately, when people think they are far enough away to be safe. There is a different attitude, for example, in a country like India. The Indians do not share the kindly view of Chinese benevolence that other people have. In the Indian Parliament on 16th August the Defence Minister told the Council of States that China was working feverishly on a medium range ballistic missile. He said that the Indian Government was aware that China had been working on the production of a medium range ballistic missile and I*i fact a missile fitted with a nuclear warhead had been launched by China on 27th October 1966. India’s assessment had been that China was likely to acquire a short range ballistic missile in an operational role fairly soon and was working feverishly on a medium range ballistic missile. He said that the threat to India was in China’s nuclear capacity and that India must not forget that any country that goes in for a nuclear programme is also bound to develop a proper carrier system of heavy bombers. The danger to India was much more from the short range missiles and heavy bombers carrying nuclear weapons than from the long range missiles which were intended for use against other, far off countries.
Of course, we are one of the far off countries. For the life of me I cannot understand in this era of the intercontinental ballistic missile the attitude of many people that Australia has not anything to worry about in relation to China. Mr Beazley, in the Chifley Memorial Lecture that he gave 2 years ago, stated his opinion of China’s attitude and whether it was the kindly nation of rural reformers that some people like to think it is. He said:
The militancy of the Chinese ideology is not in doubt. In August 1958 Mao Tse-tung launched the still continuing ‘Everyone a Soldier’, lt was declared in ‘Red Flag’ to be ‘A new development in Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s strategic thinking on the people’s war, and has a profound political and strategic significance’, lt was declared to be proletarian revolutionary militarisation’ and was associated with intense ideological training.
When Mao Tse-tung says that a world war is inevitable from which Communism will triumph and that the duty of Communist parties in countries which are not under Communist rule is to help to prepare for that day, I think he means it, but other people do not think so. For some reason that I do not understand they assume that when he says it he does not mean it. I think he does mean it and it is for that reason that I always support measures for the effective defence and protection of this country.
– As long as you do not have to be in it.
– The honourable senator is not the only one who ever went to war. The two biggest issues of the next 20 or 30 years will be food and population. They are the issues, probably, on which the wars of the next 30 years will be fought - food and the right to room in which to exist, to work and to grow food. We are in a remarkable situation. We have space for population and we have land on which food can be grown. Who will say that a country that is in that situation - that can grow food and has the room for population - has nothing to worry about in a world in which the issues of food and population will be decisive?
– Is not our greatest defence achieved in developing and populating the country?
– Everybody would like to think that all we have to do is to sit back, develop and populate it, and merely put up on Cape York a notice saying that trespassers will be prosecuted. If we could get away with that it would be lovely, but unfortunately we still live in the same kind of world as Bismarck lived in when he said that the great questions of the day were decided not by conference and discussion but by blood and iron. Under these circumstances we have to prepare to face the future. According to the statistics of the organisers of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, two-thirds of the world’s population are underfed.
– Do you blame the Communists for that? Whom would you blame for it?
– I would blame the Communists for much of what is happening in India. The Indians were trying to develop their country and to grow food but because of the aggression of Communist China millions of pounds that could have been spent on food and the development of the country have now to bc spent on aeroplanes, tanks and rifles. The Communist Chinese are responsible for a good deal of the trouble that India is in today because of the money that it has had to spend for this purpose.
– What rot.
– The honourable senator says that it is rot but it happens to be what is said by the leaders of the Indian people. I notice that on every occasion when an attempt is made to put the point of view of the Indian people as against the Chinese we find that there are members of the Australian Labor Party who will come in and stand up tooth and nail for the Chinese point of view. For example, when the Chinese invaded India the journal of the Plumbers Union in Melbourne, run by a member of the executive of the Australian Labor Party, published an article of which the heading was ‘India must stop aggression against China.’ In the world today two-thirds of the people are underfed. By the 1980s the number of underfed people will have doubled. In many instances their countries will be in a desperate situation. In that kind of world we in Australia have to look out for ourselves.
What my Party has advocated is that we should endeavour to join with friendly Asian countries in a collective security system. We have advocated that we should try to retain in our area both Britain and the United States. Unfortunately, it appears that Britain will be going. We have advocated that in case our allies may not be able to be relied on entirely we should have the best defence system that we can possibly have. We have advocated that we should step up migration in order to fill this country and to give us people. We have advocated establishing friendship as far as possible with Asian people by giving aid to underdeveloped countries and by having humane immigration laws. These are some of the things that my Party advocates.
Of course, there are people who object to these things. There are those who will admit, or pretend to admit, that we need the American alliance and then they will damn it with faint pr;.i-.e. i hey will say that they are not against the American alliance and then every dirty allegation and smear that can be thought up against the Americans is repeated by these people who for political purposes will assure us that they have nothing against the American alliance. I am entirely for the American alliance. I like the American people but apart altogether from that I support the American alliance for reasons of self preservation. When some people opposed an American base in this country I welcomed its establishment because that American base will be a factor in retaining an alliance that is vital for the future of this country of ours. 1 would be quito prepared to allow the Americans to establish other bases in our country. I believe that that is a policy that would ultimately ensure tho security of this country. I do not want it to be thought that my attitude and that of my Party to Asia is based purely on military considerations, fear or anything of that sort. We are close to Asia. Ever) thing possible should be done to ensure that we are friendly with those Asian peoples who are allowed by their rulers to be friendly with us. That is why my Party has advocated that we should take a lead in bringing about, if possible, an economic and defence confederation of friendly Asian countries.
We applaud the decision of the Australian Government to be represented at a number of Asian organisations, particularly those which meet under the auspices of the United Nations. I would like to see Australia attend meetings of those organisations as a member if she is so accepted, and if not then as an observer, because our future is inseparably bound up with Asia. I believe that that friendship should be a powerful factor in the future. I hope the Australian Government will do everything it can to associate on terms of friendship with the Asian people and that it will help those who are underdeveloped and underfed to the extent of allocating either 1% or 2% of our national income for that purpose.
Finally, I wish to say a word or two about peace. I have said before that I regret incidents that occur in our community when people make a great parade of the fact that they support peace. I do not deny their right to do so; I think, it is a very fine thing if they do it with sincerity. The people I object to are those who say: ‘I want peace. This is my method of getting peace. If you do not agree with my method of getting peace, then you are against peace; you are a warmonger.’ That is said day in and day out by people who think that the way to achieve peace is to walk down the street carrying placards or to lie down in the middle of the road until the police have to carry them away. That is not the proper way in which to secure peace. All that that does is to sully the word ‘peace’.
– They are doing something.
– All they are doing is to sully any decent peace effort. One finds in almost all cases that the accusations of such people are levelled against Australia and America but none are levelled against Hanoi and Peking.
– We are the greatest war countries.
– There you have a statement by a senator who belongs to the Australian Labor Party that Australia is a warmongering country but China and North Vietnam are peace lovers.
– I did not say that.
– That is the implication. De not run away from it. Senator Cavanagh believes that, and he said it. He cannot erase from Hansard the fact that he said it. What countries have said that they are prepared to negotiate to end the Vietnamese struggle? They are Australia and the United States - our side. What countries say that in no circumstances will they meet to settle the struggle? They are China and North Vietnam - the peace lovers. I resent the hypocrisy of people who see in the warmongering of China and Hanoi their version of peace and who accuse their own country of being a militaristic, warlike country which is destroying the liberty of other people. What liberty would there be in South Vietnam if North Vietnam were to win this war? Does the Labor Party say that there is liberty under Communism? If it says that, it is a different Labor Party from what it used to be.
– If the Vietnamese want Communism, what has that to no with America?
– Senator Hendrickson says: The Vietnamese want Communism. Let them have it.’
– I used the words If the Vietnamese want Communism’.
– He said, in other words: ‘Communism is not good enough for the Australians but it is good enough for the Asians. They can live under Communism..’
– If they want it that is their business.
– Can Senator Hendrickson tell me one country where Communism was forced on the people as the result of an election?
– I know what brought it on.
– The honourable senator cannot mention one country where the people freely voted at an election to bring in Communism. In Hungary after the war there was an election at which the Communists got a miserable vote. But today Communism rules in Hungary. That kind of thing is defended by members of the Australian Labor Party who say: Communism is not good enough for us; we want freedom. But anything is good enough for the people of Vietnam. They can have Communism.’ If that is the internationalist humanitarian outloook of the ALP today, if members of the ALP say that the Asians can live under a system of tyranny which they would not have for themselves, I wonder even more than I did last night what has happened to the l abor Party.
– Tonight we have been debating a statement that was made in August. As Senator Willesee said, we know that the pattern of world affairs is constantly changing. Two features have emerged from this debate. First, we were honoured by a Government senator quoting extensively from the policy of the Australian Labor Party. Secondly, Senator McManus referred to South Vietnam. In the time at my disposal I shall concern myself mainly with those two matters. I discovered that there was a wide difference of opinion between Senator Branson and Senator Cormack. Senator Cormack expressed concern about the phraseology in the preamble to Labor’s policy on international affairs whereas Senator Branson, when referring to our attitude on bases in Australia, implied that we were not sufficiently nationalistic in our outlook. Being a member of the standing committee which deals with Labor’s policy, I am as fitted as is anybody else to indicate what Labor’s policy is. At page 29 of our Platform, Constitution and Rules, this statement appears under the heading ‘Bases’:
Labor is opposed to the existence of foreignowned, controlled or operated bases in Australian territory, especially if such bases involve a derogation from Australian sovereignty.
Labor is not opposed to the use of Australian bases by Allies in war time, or in periods of international tension involving a threat to Australia, provided that Australian authority and sovereignty are unimpaired, and provided that Australia is not involved in hostilities without Australia’s consent.
I draw attention to the latter paragraph in response to Senator Cormack’s claim that to be internationalist in outlook was incompatible with Australia’s wellbeing. That paragraph indicates that we are acutely nationalistic in outlook. Words should not bc taken out of their context. Quite a number of leading statesmen in the United States such as Averill Harriman have conceded that any nation that is involved in an alliance with the United States has a prime responsibility to its own Government. The previous Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, on a number of occasions implied that the Labor Party was being a bit harsh in suggesting that he went along slavishly with the British Government or the United States Government. The Labor Party and I think the majority of the people do not expect any country to have an inferiority complex. If anybody says that the United States will not accept that thesis, I refer him to the Sydney ‘Daily Mirror’ of 20th October 1964. No less a person than Rear Admiral J. P. Monroe, Commander of the United States Naval Forces in the Philippines, after visiting the Cape in West err Australia made three statements, as reported in that newspaper. The first was that Australia had never sought joint control of the base. The second was that Australia had never felt the need for a say in its control. The third, and this is the crunch one, was that joint control, while impracticable, was not impossible. Stripped of all jargon his statement meant that had the Australian Government argued along those lines obviously some agreement would have been effected. If the Government felt, in its wisdom, that it did not want to force the issue that is its business. But the Government should not say that a Labor government, by pushing this line, would have more or less made the base untenable so far as the United States is concerned. The question of base control is not new. The British Government had to face the same situation. Nobody will deny that Britain is just as jealous of its sovereignty as Australia. I repeat that the Government has to choose whether Senator Cormack or Senator Branson is right.
Reference has been made to the nationalistic attitude of the Australian Labor Party. Our attitude on the base is reasonable. Nobody likes to be taken for granted, whether it is a local, a State or a Commonwealth organisation. The Labor Party’s policy is quite clear and unequivocal. I have spoken to quite a number of United States Embassy officials, as have other people. The officials are not antagonistic towards the ALP. The United States Government does not regard the ALP as agents of the Kremlin or anything like that. The issue has been created by certain Government back benchers. Senator Branson referred to the official opening of the base last Saturday. Speaking for honourable senators from New South Wales, the majority of us met our various commitments in our own State and did more for democracy there than by having a free trip to Western Australia to participate in the official opening. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) deputed Mr Collard to represent him at the official opening. Mr Whitlam has deputed other honourable members to represent him at other functions throughout the Commonwealth. Members of the Parliamentary Labor Party are deputed to be there. Government Ministers have deputed members to represent them at certain functions also. If honourable senators opposite want to argue the motive for a person being present, I would invite them to look at the position with regard to members of the New South Wales Liberal Government. I go to eastern European countries’ consular functions. Members of the Askin Liberal Government in New South Wales, as the State Government, have moved toasts to the various Polish and Yugoslav rulers. I do not rise and say that those members are dupes of the Communist Party. It would be ridiculous to say that. If it is good enough for those people to attend these functions it is good enough for Labor men to be there. That statement raises the question of dual standards.
I turn now to Vietnam. The first thing that strikes me is that one of the earliest speakers, I think it was Senator Keeffe, referred to the Manila Summit Conference promise of national reconciliation and general social changes. ‘Time’ magazine of 15 th September refers to the recently elected leaders of that country and to what is expected of them. There has been the demotion of certain military commanders. There has been visible evidence that some promised reforms have been brought about. The difficulty is that the war has been in progress for 9 years. I turn to the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of 20th September which states that the director and key field staff of a major volunteer agency supported by the United States Government have resigned in protest against certain aspects of the Vietnam war. The point I am making is that obviously when these people went to South Vietnam they were screened and approved as being patriotic Americans. They have had misgivings, as have members of the Labor Party and myself. That in turn is fortified by an excellent series of articles on that ill-fated country by Denis Warner. He would have no affinity with the Labor Party. He has gone on record as saying that the new leaders will probably put out certain peace feelers. That brings me back to statements so often made in this chamber. Everything is either black or white. There is no in between.
Let us turn to the situation at the time of the Greek civil war. The United States Government reached certain agreements with Marshal Tito in relation to Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, Senator Cormack is not here. While we differ in detail he has a healthy appreciation of eastern Europe. One of the by-products of the agreements reached was that the Yugoslavian frontier was closed to Greece, which brought about a cessation of hostilities in the Greek civil war. If that analogy was applied to South Vietnam at the present time I would say that if a greater accommodation between
Russian and Chinese viewpoints could be achieved it is not impossible that some solution would be reached. I am not concerned whether the election in South Vietnam was favourable or not. I do not envy the new parliamentarians in that country the issues with which they are confronted. That country has had 9 years of mismanagement. The evils of colonialism extend back to 1945. Of course Communism has more or less flowed from some of these things. The only point on which Senator Branson and I agree is that we want peace. I do not want any Munich type agreements; I do not believe in them. I say - and I said this a few weeks agoinevitably some form of settlement will be reached, such as the settlement between North and South Korea. I refer now to the de-escalation of the war. Again the new leaders have suggested this.
I say to Senator McManus that I believe that the crystallisation of public opinion in this country is virtually like people watching their favourite football team. As much as they like the local side, if certain players are not standing up to it and giving good performances, the supporters want the team changed and new measures taken. The Labor Party made a clear distinction between the Government and its views on Vietnam and the Trotsky-ite elements or their counterparts referred to by Senator McManus. That is where I part company with the honourable senator. On the one hand, as a democrat, he says that we are entitled to differ on the war. Then he is somewhat regretful because the Labor Party makes a sharp distinction between disagreement with the Government on one hand and treasonable activities on the other. Obviously the Labor Party cannot win. As I said recently, the honourable senator is waiting for us to commit errors, which we will not. Of course that is politics. If one keeps one’s defence up one does not give opportunities to opponents.
I return again to the situation in Vietnam. Each time a new development takes place the statement is made that democracy is on the march. I do not see anything repugnant if, at a given time, the United States in order to obtain a cease-fire asks certain people to come to the conference table. The Labor Party has always argued on the rights of minorities. At the same time, reading this article of Denis Warner’s, he is offering various alternatives. One of the alternatives is this: Are fifty divisions of Americans and Australians to be put in the field to seal off the whole area? To go along with that idea will not mean complete pacification in 2 years. One of the most damning indictments, as he points out. is that the United States has relied on persuasion of the South Vietnamese Government. He points out that successive rulers have let us down. I believe in aid to countries but Australia is entitled to a dollar’s value for every dollar spent. By that I mean that the aid should go to the peasant masses. The difficulty is that at present the aid is not going to them. That is what we find so fearful. This document does not refer to the matter at all.
Senator McManus referred to making agreements with friendly nations. In the Labor Party’s policy document, which I have here, we refer to regional pacts. I do not see anything wrong with that. The remarkable feature about the Indonesian situation is that it is a clear demonstration of nationalism triumphing over certain forms of subversion. The Indonesians had no American, British or Australian troops. Their own independent spirit asserted itself.
Australian Meat Industry: Hygiene in Abattoirs - Matrimonial Causes Act
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I take advantage of the motion for the adjournment to raise once again in this chamber the question of hygiene in Australian abattoirs and the manner in which the Government is administering this matter and, generally speaking, throwing the onus for cleanliness on the employees engaged in the Australian meat industry. Let me say at the outset that I know that, because of the severe drought conditions that have existed in this country for some considerable time, this industry has been going through a very difficult period. I want to refer in particular this evening to the requirement by the Government that those who are engaged in the slaughtering and dressing of cattle, especially for our export trade. shall provide for themselves suitable, proper, adequate and clean clothing.
Some 3 or 4 years ago a Dr Pals of the United States Department of Agriculture, visited Australia and, as a result of his tour, the United States authorities insisted that Australia improve its standards of hygiene throughout its killing establishments. During the course of last year, I raised this matter with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) by way of correspondence. In a letter dated 30th May of last year, I pointed out to the Minister that the 28th report of the Australian Meat Board set out that part 27 sub-section (2) of the United States Government Regulations filed on 6th May 1963 requires that inspection of meat in foreign countries must be a substantial equivalent of United States standards or, alternatively, as efficient as the United States system. This question arose as the result of a judgment delivered by His Honour Mr Justice Cook of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales on 20th October 1965, arising out of a dispute then existing between the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union and the Riverstone Meat Co. Pty Ltd, regarding an interpretation of an award that had been made previously by Mr Justice Cook. It virtually revolved round the interpretation of regulation 61 (2) that had been introduced by this Government.
During the course of his remarks, the learned judge said that upon the facts as presented to him at the conference, and assuming for present purposes that Regulation 61 (2) did apply to slaughtermen and assisting labourers, he was not prepared to hold that such persons had been required to wear a special style of clothing within the meaning of the award. Subsequently, as I have already said, on 30th May, I raised the matter by way of correspondence with the Minister for Primary Industry.
On 17th July of last year, the Minister for Primary Industry, in replying to my representations, referred to regulation 6 1 (2) (a) of the Export (Meat) Regulations, the matter upon which the judge of the New South Wales Industrial Commission had been asked to give an interpretation. He said:
The intention of the Regulation is to ensure that all employees-
I emphasise the word ‘all* - engaged in operations in rooms or areas in which the slaughtering and dressing of animals for export lakes place, or in which meat, meal products or edible offal intended for export are prepared, packed or stored, should be dressed in clean clothing and the Regulation has been so interpreted. 1 appreciate, however, thai the manner in which the Regulation is expressed may give rise to doubts about its application to employees engaged in the slaughtering and dressing of animals and I have, therefore, requested my Department to have an appropriate amendment of the Regulations prepared which will clarify the requirement. The amendment will be introduced as soon as possible.
The Minister went on to say in his last paragraph:
You mentioned that the Union’s proposals were that clothing worn by persons employed in meat export establishments should be supplied by employers who should also provide a laundering service. 1 am not in a position to comment on these proposals which, 1 feel, are matters between employers and the Union. The Exports (Meat) Regulations are designed primarily to ensure the preparation of a clean, wholesome product free from contamination which might arise from any source in the premises, including employees’ doming. I believe that a statutory requirement that employees shall wear clean clothing made of a material which will nol contaminate the product with loose fibres achieves this aim and is as far as the Regulations should go.
In other words, the Minister was saying that in his opinion a statutory requirement that employees shall wear clean clothing was as far as the Regulations should go. That was in July 1966, the matter first having been dealt with by Mr Justice Cook of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales in October 196S. I raised the matter again during the debate on the Estimates in, I think, October of last year. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) representing the Minister for Primary Industry, informed me at the time that the matter was still being viewed by the Department. Now I find that on 18th August 1967, almost 2 years after the matter had been dealt with by Mr Justice Cook, Statutory Rules No. 113 of 1967, setting out amendments to the Export (Meat) Regulations, was brought down. I shall not read the whole of the amendments, but the ex planatory statement connected therewith said:
Some doubt has now arisen as to whether slaughtermen and assisting labourers are ‘handling meat’ within the meaning of the existing Regulation 61 (2) and the purpose of the amendment is to remove this doubt. The proposed amendment requires all employees engaged in the processing of meat in a registered export establishment to wear clean washable outer garments including head covering on the commencement of each day’s operations. Specific provision is also made for the officer-in-charge at the establishment to direct an employee whose dress is likely to cause contamination of carcasses, and meat to replace it wilh garments complying with the requirements of the Regulations.
As I understand it, ‘officer-in-charge’ means the officer in charge so far as the Department of Primary Industry is concerned. I have already mentioned the statement in the 28th annual report of the Australian Meat Board setting out the United States Government’s Regulations which require that the inspection of meat in foreign countries must be a substantial equivalent of United States Standards-. The Secretary of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union has informed mc that he has been in touch with his American counterpart who in turn has advised him that in the union contracts in the United States, in addition to regular established wages, there are what are known as fringe benefits. In these fringe benefits is included, among other things, the furnishing of clean outer garments. He points out that these are usually white coats or jackets worn over the employees’ clothes. The garments need not be issued daily, but if they are soiled they must bc changed. He states that usually a laundry is on the premises and during the night all such garments are cleaned. The material used is substantial. It is usually linen, cotton or other cloth. There is no requirement that the cloth be white, but it usually is. Apart from the matters to which I have referred, the important point is that he goes on to say that an employer is required to observe all the regulations. In the new regulations drafted by the Department of Primary Industry there is no provision for an employer to ensure that the clothing worn by a worker is of a substantial nature; in other words, there is no provision that an employer provide the clothing concerned.
The Department of Primary Industry has been insisting on a particular standard at export works in Australia, not only in respect of the United States market but for export markets generally. Unfortunately, it appears that the Department is not prepared to adopt in regulations the standards adopted in America. I have referred to American insistence that meat from foreign countries must be substantially equivalent to United States standards, or alternatively that the works must be as efficient as the United States system. Veterinary officers and Commonwealth meat inspectors employed by the Department of Primary Industry are supplied with clean clothing by the Department. They are given white dust coats to wear in abattoirs. But whilst the Department provides clothing for its employees engaged in operations on the killing floor, it seems that at the same time the Department is not prepared to insist that companies do the same thing for their employees.
I understand that most companies are playing the game with their workers, but there are some companies who will not budge. If the question of hygiene is to be affected it is up to the Department of Primary Industry to act. I am told that in Victoria a number of years ago the Victorian Government introduced legislation compelling employers in the slaughtering industry in Victoria to supply daily clean outer garments free of charge to each employee in slaughtering operations. In South Australia clothing is provided and laundered free of cost by the Metropolitan and Export Abattoirs Board which administers the abattoir at Gepps Cross, which I am told is the largest abattoir in South Australia. In Western Australia the State award covering the Midland Junction Abattoir Board at Midland provides that an employer shall provide free of charge to each employee engaged in handling carcasses of meat or edible offal, singlets or flannels and denim trousers or overalls, or blue coats and denim trousers to suit the circumstances of the particular works. I understand that the same situation applies in Tasmania through a public health regulation.
As I have said, one or two establishments are not playing the game. I am told that one large company which operates on the western fringe of the Sydney metropolitan area is now purchasing uniforms to be worn by its employees while engaged on the killing, slaughtering and dressing of cattle, but it is deducting from the employees’ wages 50c a week so that each employee can pay for the purchase of a uniform. The company is offering 50c a week to employees for their wives to launder the uniforms. 1 suggest that this is a very paltry attitude. These methods are allowed to operate in a loose knit sort of fashion and I just do not know how the Government expects to get adequate cleanliness and effective hygienic standards in meatworks while it is prepared to stand on the sidelines on an important matter like this.
On 25th August last, according to a report in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, a Mr John Luxford, an Angus breeder from New Zealand, visited Australia. I do not wish to read the full report of his remarks because I might then further publicise statements which could cause greater difficulties for the Australian meat industry. Generally he said that the hygiene in meatworks he saw in Australia could be of a much higher standard. We of the Labor movement and members of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union want to be sure that the best standards of hygiene operate in killing establishments. We want. to ensure not only that we retain existing markets but that we also obtain other markets. I plead with the Government, despite the regulation that has been recently introduced, to take a positive step of insisting that employers provide their employees with adequate clean and laundered overalls so that proper standards of hygiene may be observed. By so doing it will guarantee real and effective standards of cleanliness in the killing works. It is the only way in which they can be properly done. If employers are prepared to cooperate they will be doing much to assist the Australian meat industry.
– I carefully took note of the honourable senator’s remarks. He started by being very critical of standards of hygiene and then enlarged on things he had been told, mainly about the wearing of clothes in abattoirs and meatworks. I have visited quite a number of these works. At one particular abattoir I was asked for comments as the result of my inspection. 1 told them the most striking feature J found was the cleanliness. One could not help but be struck by it. I do not know whether the honourable senator has had an opportunity to visit these abattoirs.
– I have visited a lot of them.
– The honourable senator’s experience has been very different from mine.
– I said that most of them were playing the game.
– Apparently I have not been unfortunate enough to visit those visited by the honourable senator. The greatest incentive to abattoirs to ensure that the standard of hygiene is high is that they are not allowed to export meat unless the hygiene in the works is of a very high standard. Senator McClelland referred to the visit of an American a few years ago as the result of which quite a number of Australian meatworKs had to spend many thousands of dollars to bring their works up to the standard and conditions laid down by the Americans before their products could be exported to America. Veterinary officers are stationed at all of these meatworks. They inspect the beast before it is killed. In many cases Federal and State inspectors inspected the meat after the beast had been killed. 1 said at the time that I thought it was too silly for words that two sets of officers should be doing the same job. That is still my opinion. I am not sure whether that form of inspection is still in operation.
The honourable senator mentioned the matter of caps. I distinctly remember that at the last abattoirs that I inspected caps were worn. I was told that the hair of the head is considered to be one of the worst carriers of infection. It is very important that the hair of the head bc covered. It seems to me that Senator McClelland is complaining about many things that he has been told. Inspections are pretty rigid. I am quite certain that if the hygiene at these abattoirs were not up to the required standard the operators of them would be told very speedily about that and they would run a very great risk of losing their export licences. Whilst the honourable senator has some qualms principally about the fact that the clothing should be supplied to the employees by the employers, I do not propose to enter into that argument. It is a matter between the employers, the employees and the Act that governs it. That is all I can say on this subject.
Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) [11. 22 J- -1 feel compelled to speak very briefly on this question. Harking back to what Senator McClelland said, I believe that all of this trouble would have been avoided if the Government had acceded to submissions that were made by the Meat Industry Employees Union and ventilated by both him and me in regard to the Union having representation on the Australian Meat Board. The Board naturally is interested in expanding Australia’s export trade. I merely reiterate that if the Union were treated as a partner in that supreme body these matters could be argued across the table. When we talk about solving these problems, I can only express my hope that in the not far distant future the Meat Industry Employees Union, as the major union in this industry, will be made an equal partner on the Board. If that were done the problems that have been ventilated tonight could be the subject of agreement and a common policy could be arrived at. That would be much cheaper than some of the arbitration processes which are certainly an imposition on the unions concerned.
– I wish to say a few words on this question. My main interest is in the industrial issue involved in it; but I also have an interest by virtue of my membership of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I have had discussions with Senator McClelland on this question. The Committee is meeting tomorrow morning, and I presume that it will consider this question. I rise to speak because I do not think the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) appreciated what Senator McClelland was seeking to convey. Obviously, payment for overalls, etc., is an industrial matter between the employer and the employee, and one for consideration by an arbitration tribunal. But Senator McClelland’s objection is that we are now introducing by regulation a law that decides this issue and says that the employee shall provide the clothing.
The regulation states that a person to whom the regulation applies shall not commence work at the registered establishment on any day unless he is wearing white overalls and a covering over his head. I believe that it is an infringement of the rights of the individual to say how he shall dress to come to work. The man who is concerned with and responsible for the cleanliness required in the establishment must obviously be the proprietor of it or the employer. Why should the regulation say that a person shall not commence work in certain circumstances? Why should it not say that the employer, occupier or owner of the establishment shall not permit any employee to work in the establishment unless be does certain things?
Numerous employees will not know the regulation and will not know that they are in breach of it. Whilst a man who is regularly employed at the establishment will gain knowledge of the existence of the regulation, we have to think of the causual employee who comes in from time to time.
– Before he was put on he would bc told what clothing he had to wear.
– That relies on somebody advising him. If that person does not advise him, he may then be subject to a fine of $100. But there is a man who has the responsiblity of seeing that certain things are done. The Government is trying to place the responsibility on someone who should never have to carry it. The regulation states: a person to whom this regulation applies -
That means that a person shall not wear clothes made of hessian except in certain circumstances or when he is working in certain occupations. Some employees are directed by their employer to different locations. Obviously the employer should be responsible for seeing that his employees are appropriately dressed for the occasion.
– ls not the employee advised about the conditions of the job by his union official before he takes a job?
– 1 believe that a union would advise its members. If we had compulsory unionism-
– He would be a member, would he not?
– -If we had compulsory unionism he would be a member; but this relates to the engagement of labour. Some employees may not be members of the union. Even if an employee is a member of the union, if he has not read a notice from the union or a particular instruction, why should he be liable to a fine and why should he be placed in the position of contaminating meat because of his neglect to do that, when the proprietor of the establishment is responsible for retaining his licence and seeing that certain things are done? I believe that this regulation is such an infringement of the rights of the individual who goes into the workshop that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee will not permit it to stand. I predict that a motion for disallowance will come from the Committee.
– 1 think it is improper for the honourable senator to canvass this matter before the Committee has considered it.
– I am only saying that I believe that that will be the opinion of the Committee. If I am wrong in that belief, I am sure that the Labor Party will not let this regulation go through without a protest. There will be a motion for disallowance of it.
But I make an appeal to the Government on the issue that Senator McClelland has raised. Whilst we accept the necessity for cleanliness, we should place the responsibility for that on the one to whom it really belongs and who can enforce the regulation. This question should be argued not on the basis of whether one person or another should do these things but on the basis of what is best for the industry. The only matter about which the Department of Primary Industry is concerned is that the employees should be dressed for work in the factory according to the requirements of cleanliness. Irrespective of what the regulation now provides it should be the employer’s responsibility to ensure that special clothing is worn. Only he is in a position to do so. Consequently, I suggest that the regulation should be altered.
– On the adjournment motion in the Senate on 6th September, Senator Turnbull made a statement criticising the effect of section 123 of the Matrimonial Causes Act. The section is a little too long for me to read out in full. It provides that, generally speaking, particulars of divorce proceedings cannot be published. It then goes on to make certain exceptions. The particulars that may be published are:
The section then goes on to give the court a discretion, if it thinks fit in any particular proceedings, to order that none of the matters to which I have referred may be printed or published.
Senator Turnbull referred to a particular case in which such an order had been made and suggested that the matter had been hushed up because the husband was prominent and wealthy. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) has asked me to point out that since the discretion is one vested by law in the judge, it is, of course, one with which the Executive Government cannot interfere. No doubt the judge had grounds in the particular case for exercising his discretion. It is understood that the judge in question has previously stated in open court, in indicating the basis on which he would approach the exercise of this discretion, that he would not make an order under section 123 to save the face of the people involved, and that he would only consider making an order in very special circumstances to protect innocent persons.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 September 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670920_senate_26_s35/>.